Luke loves trolling our shallow reefs for coral trout, and why not, with fish such is as this on offer.
A Soggy End to 2023
It has been another warm week on the Fraser Coast, and humid too. Storms have been building out west daily, but they have been just teasing us and have been reluctant to wander east of the Bruce. That is all about to change however, as increasing precipitation is heading our way this week. It sure is looking like a damp Xmas in Qld.
If you are out on the water today, then chances are you will get a wet you-know-what from early rain, but at least the winds are generally light and from the south. Saturday looks absolutely awesome. Not nearly as damp, and basically, less than 10 knots all day; starting with a light south-easter early, then swinging around to the north-east in the afternoon.
Sunday on the other hand, is vastly less appealing – at least for those keen on a bay outing. Make it an early one if you do venture out, as the north wind will ramp up as the day wears on. Expect close to 20 knots from the north by lunchtime, and perhaps even more by nightfall. A storm would seem highly likely.
Christmas Day Monday looks rather unsettled. A day best spent with family and friends around the pool, the BBQ or in the air con perhaps. Not a great day for fishing (unless you are at an impoundment). We are in for 20-25 knots of north-westerly or northerly wind, that is likely to culminate in further storm activity late in the day. Boxing Day doesn’t look much better – so you might as well come in and grab some bargains (hint hint).
Holidaymakers could be a little frustrated with the weather over the remainder of the week, so alternative plans might need consideration. A prevailing north wind will likely deny access to the bay most days, so park the big boat and get the tinny out. Head on up the estuaries or hit the lakes looking for freshwater natives. Otherwise, a trip over to Fraser Island or down the Great Sandy Straits might appeal.
No matter what transpires weather-wise, we will have everything you could ever need in-store. If you arrive in the bay with nothing but your offshore gear, but need to change tact, then we can help. Whether it’s the lake fisheries or simple shore-based or estuary options, we will have all the gear you need (and the advice to turn a potential dud trip around). Make the most of tomorrow if you can, and keep your options open as you watch the weather unfold this week.
Let’s take a look at your options, based on this week’s building tides, a waxing moon, and a developing northerly as we approach Wednesday’s full moon.
You've still got time.
What to Expect if You Can Get Offshore
Pack the heavy spin tackle if you are heading offshore. The water might be a tad on the green side, but spanish mackerel, giant trevally and cobia currently abound in the waters east of Breaksea Spit. If you are into popping or stick-baiting for the bigger brutes that cruise above the shallower reefs out there, then here’s your chance (today or tomorrow at least).
If that sounds a little too exhausting, then don’t expect to relax too much whilst reef fishing out there either. The shoal country has been fishing well of late, and luckily the sharks have been somewhat avoidable. A mixed bag is almost guaranteed for those drifting the shoaly country either side of 50 metres deep. Tuskies will be common, and hopefully, the likes of red emperor, maori cod, coronation trout, red throat and a variety of other tasty reef fish will be slipped into your esky too.
Some might go deep dropping, if they have the gear. The 100m line can be fished on conventional tackle, but the deeper stuff from 200 to 700 is the domain of those with electric reels and bent butt rods for sure. Pearlies, snapper and a variety of cod and jobfish are the main targets. At least the sharks won’t be a problem out deeper.
Mahi mahi have been frequenting the offshore FADS recently, so they are worth a prospect if you venture nearby. Larger fish have been common too, so expect a battle and a ton of fun. Don’t write-off the marlin altogether yet either.
Rory will be eating well for the holiday break. Gotta love catching big pearlies from the depths in conditions such as these.
Rory put his crew onto some great reefies, east of Breaksea, including this solid Brown Maori Cod.
Fat pearlies in a glass out. Simply awesome. Get out there before the wind arrives Sunday if you can.
Masses of Baitfish Draw Masses of Pelagics to the Bay
Reports of flying fish for miles - from the southern bay all the way beyond Rooneys Point to the spit - have plenty of folks scratching their heads and wondering where the marlin are. Well, it seems that a surge of cleaner water past Rooneys last week did in fact carry a couple of beaky candidates our way.
There has been the odd black marlin capture this week - apparently. Hookups were not common, by any means, but fish were caught all the same – apparently. Once again, photographic evidence has been notably absent, but fishos wouldn’t tell porkies - surely. So, assuming there is indeed some truth to the rumours, perhaps you had better stow a bit of suitable light tackle marlin gear, including your teasers, if you are heading up the island tomorrow – just in case.
Anyone headed that way is likely out for a day chasing spotted mackerel and tuna. Success is highly likely too, though the inclement weather might see the spotties’ mood swing away from feasting at times. Cloudy, rainy weather can make chasing surface-feeders a lot harder. Spotting the fish from a distance is more challenging, whilst the fish themselves lack their usual tactic of herding baitfish against the glare of the water’s surface as well.
There’s been tons of mack tuna off Wathumba of late. Golden trevally have been hanging around up their too, as have sizeable broad-barred mackerel. Schoolies lurking around some of the reef systems, both up in Platypus and over in the western bay, have been making a real nuisance of themselves. Go spin them up on a spoon and do the reef fishos a favour.
We really should sell more scales than we do, eh.
Going on latest reports, you won’t even need to drive that far to catch your bag of spotted mackerel. The waters off Coongul Point have been absolutely teeming with small baitfish and heaps of spotties. The size of the spotties has been very good too (and for the most part, better than the fish further north).
Spotties made their way right into the straits a week or so ago, and are still busting up in the northern sector. The waters off Kingfisher Bay and near the Picnics have been hosting schools in recent days.
As usual, small metal slugs have been the undoing of most spotties. The same slugs will tempt plenty of tuna too, though you can boost your chances with them by carrying a broader selection of lures. Jerkshads in 5” size have been super popular for years, and cast and retrieve well when attached to heavier jig heads. Opting for even smaller jerkshads is an increasingly popular option these days too, so long as the sharks aren’t in attendance. They will be much of the time, so keep on the move to avoid them.
Not all the pelagics that migrate south into the bay are here to feast on tiny baitfish either. Many of the larger brutes are here to feast on the lesser pelagics themselves. We are talking GTs and spaniards here, and they are currently making their presence felt in the southern bay. They might shadow the spotties or schoolies, or take up station above shipwrecks or deeper ledges. Be prepared for them, and have the right tackle on hand, and you too can be stretched out, groaning and sweating like so many before you.
Queenies and school mackerel are drawn to the inshore pencil squid migration, as is an increasing number of human pursuers. Jigging for pencillies inshore is a simple affair that can keep the kids entertained for a couple of hours. Bag limits of 50 arrow squid don’t take long to achieve for seasoned squidders though, particularly those versed in the best techniques.
Matthew Saad and son enjoyed a day out with staff member, Jacko, and caught a good haul of quality spotties from near Coongul Point.
Jacko and Matty scored their bag limit of spotties easy as, and didn't have to drive far to do it. The minimum size is 60cm and the bag limit is 5 fish each by the way.
Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing puts his clients onto pelagics of all kinds, including the bay's big golden trevally.
You can catch big longtails on the tiniest of lures or on fairly chunky stickbaits - just as Xavier did.
A Fishy Feast from Inshore for Xmas
Some consider fish to be a Xmas staple. Others don’t. No matter your take, there is no beating fresh seafood you caught yourself. The lack of rains has denied us the chance of any serious prawning, so this summer it will be all about the fish, the squid and the crabs on the seafood front.
Crabs wise, if it is muddies you seek, then get your pots in now! There have been some beaut mud crabs potted since the humidity and threat of storms got them moving. Numbers aren’t high, and likely won’t be until real rain flushes them out, but a feed is definitely on offer for the energetic and cunning crabber.
You want your pots soaking before and immediately after Xmas to better your chances. The full moon is prime time. Post-Xmas, we will be inundated with masses of holidaymakers as we are every year, and many will actively seek the very same crabs you do. Those that go the extra mile during holiday periods will be the ones rewarded.
Sand crabbers have been largely inactive. A lack of effort has meant that any sandies shuffling across the usual grounds out from Toogoom, the Burrum or up the island have done so unhindered. Commercial crabbing effort has shifted further north too apparently, suggesting the return for effort in the southern bay has been at best, questionable. We have missed out on sandies for quite a while now, so let’s hope their return is imminent.
Ray Gostevsky has caught plenty of muddies locally over the years, but none as good as this ripper. It went 1.988kg and was full as a goog.
Rusty bucks are on many Xmas wish lists. Young Ethan was pleased with this couple of beauties.
Securing a feed of pencil squid shouldn’t be at all difficult. The size will vary depending upon where you try and when. Learning to drive away from the smaller squid is a discipline you will need to develop. Buy the best squid jigs you can afford. The Yamashita models in 1.5 and 1.8 and the killers for us in these parts. Cheaper models work to an extent, but you simply won’t catch comparable numbers as quickly. Be prepared to lose a few too. Night time is okay, but daylight efforts can be hampered by those mongrel mackerel and the dreaded green toads. Beware!
Fish-wise, a meal of fresh coral trout will be on the menu for many. Securing yours is just a matter of launching pre-dawn and trolling small deep divers over our shallow reefs as the sun rises. You will have to share many grounds, and will have to throw a few tiny trout back, but with persistence and attention to detail, you should be rewarded.
You can do vastly better by either live baiting deeper reefs or tea-bagging plastics in front of the gnarlier coral outcrops. Flicking lighter-weighted softies across the shallow reefs is productive too, so long as your timing is good. Learn to count down, and keep your lure just clear of the snaggy coral. Pick the pace up a bit too. Look for grounds the trollers don’t venture, including skinny water at low tide or areas of high current flow.
Trolling extra deep divers such as Dr Evils past deeper reef country might score you the odd bigger coral trout, but more likely, you will be tussling with estuary cod on a regular basis. Mackerel will intercept these deep divers too, as will trevally. Pick your trolling runs carefully, so you can keep the lure in the zone (within a couple of metres of the bottom).
Few would consider them anywhere near as tasty as the primo reef fish, but the humble grassy sweetlip has many fans and has fed many a family over Xmas in the past (and will do again). These scrappy little guys are abundant this time of year, turning up along the fringes of the shallow reefs as well as around any deeper reef or rubble. They are not fussy feeders and will consume a range of baits with gusto.
Keeping it simple, if you want to catch a feed of sweetlip, then use squid for bait. Obviously, squid is a prime food source this time of year, and its tough nature also helps to withstand the attention of the pickers and smaller sweeties. You can use prawns and cut baits of fish flesh, hardy heads, herring or even pillies, but squid make the task so much simpler (and more fun too if you caught the squid yourself).
Night sessions will see the quality of your sweetlip improve, particularly if you favour the shallow reef option. Their minimum size is only 30cm and fish that size to 40cm are quite common. Where you caught fish of that class or even smaller in the daylight can come alive with better sweeties to 55cm after dark. It can be one after the other and stacks of fun on the right tackle, so long as the sharks don’t find you.
Large grassy sweetlip like this are regular box fillers from out wide. You can catch smaller models inshore, averaging 35-40cm and up to about 55cm.
Nixon Muller can be justifiably proud of his recent blackall capture. These fish fight as hard as nearly any reef fish of similar size.
Busy Times in Our Estuaries
Most reef fishing this week will likely be enjoyed before Sunday. After that, the weather will dictate things and strong northerly winds will restrict fishos to our estuaries. The straits offer the most variety (everything from pelagics to reef fish to the whole range of estuarine species) and certainly some of the best fishing overall, but the wind will deny access there too some days.
When you get the chance, the straits is worth a look for mangrove jacks from the backwaters of its creeks, threadies from some of the same streams and perhaps a few flathead and grunter to boot. Small jewies, bream, baby cod and green toads have varying degrees of nuisance factor, but can keep the kids entertained at the least.
The Mary will appeal to those seeking the mighty threadfin salmon. There will be stretches of river that will be very uncomfortable in high winds, but plenty of sheltered stretches as well. Pack soft vibes and go scanning its waters while the threadies are still easy to catch. Once the rains come, if they do, then the resultant jelly prawn spawn will sidetrack the threadies and they will be vastly harder to tempt. Until then though, easy peasy and happy days.
Be prepared for the jelly fish phenomenon you will encounter if you head for the river. These blue jellies are in huge numbers and can be a little daunting for those experiencing this scene for the first time. They are harmless.
Head for the Burrum system and your time is best spent chasing mangrove jacks. A few were caught in spring by intrepid locals up that way, but since this heat has ramped right up, they have been common. Bait fishing with simple fillets of fresh mullet or whole baitfish, prawns or even pilchards can score well on jacks. The cred compared to lure-caught fish may not be as high, but the numbers and size will often make up for that.
For those seeking jacks on lures, you have ample options up that way. Too many perhaps. Deep rock bars, shallow rock bars, manmade structures, logs, mangrove slips and larger moored boats – they all host jacks at one time of another.
Now is the time to put the extra effort in with topwater lures. Skip some weedless frogs into the dark nether regions of the mangroves or beneath pontoons; or pulse a popper or walk a stickie across a rock bar or submerged log pile. The strikes will be vicious and nearly always a surprise. Jacks do not warn their prey.
You might otherwise pick up a feed of grunter or whiting from one of the Burrum’s rivers during the run of bigger tides this week. Evening sessions under a rising moon are popular with the locals, that like to park their boat in the shallows and intercept their quarry as they make their way up onto the flats. Follow suit if you wish, but pump some yabbies first to better your chances.
Squid Drawing a Crowd to the Pier
Urangan Pier is a popular spot right now. Crowds have been gathering each evening to get their share (and maybe a little more) of the pencil squid run. Lights are lowered to suspend above the water and attract the squid, and tiny jigs are landing in the glowing waters and the darkness beyond. Many folks attempt to “poach” squid from a fellow fisho’s light, whilst others twig to the fact that the squid indeed lurk and feed beyond the perimeter of the lighted area and deploy their jigs to the darkness.
The full moon will impact on this fishery this week, as will the weather. Storms are easily avoided due to radar and mobile phones, so timing your assault will be advisable. A large glowing moon silhouettes a squid against the night and makes it readily discernible by its predators. Knowing this fact, squid will avoid moving to the surface during periods of stronger moonlight. Therefore, constant cloud diminishing the moon’s glow can be a bonus for squidders.
Sinking jigs to the bottom can be worth trying on moonlit nights. As can dawn sessions in lieu of evening sessions, where once again, jigs are sunk to the bottom on paternoster-styled rigs, this time as the sun is rising. As always, smaller jigs are the go, and the Yamashitas are very hard to beat. Try some scent if you want an edge, but be wary of fish stealing your jigs if you do. Attaching tiny artificial lights to rigs is popular, but certainly not mandatory.
A live squid deployed from the pier might tempt a passing queenie if any return this week. The making tides bring many pelagics to pier waters quite often, so, whilst they have been absent for the past week, there may be another run of spotties, broadies, spaniards or even goldies this week.
Whilst that event is yet to happen, one thing is for certain. The GTs are there and in abundance. There are GTs of various size, including some true show stoppers. Bust out the heaviest tackle you can muster and pit yourself against a Urangan Pier GT if you feel up to it. Plenty of regulars catch them, and regularly, but make your best efforts before the fish get too spooked by the extra effort over the holidays. It won’t be long and the cunning GTs that have been hooked and lost will wise up and get cagey.
Our beaches are all about small fish and fun for the little kids over Xmas. A feed of legal whiting is not impossible, but challenging. The north wind will definitely stir our town beaches up this week, so the chance to feed is there over the full moon if any whiting are in the area. Try worm or yabby baits during a rising tide, or dance your smallest topwater lures across the shallows at low tide when the winds ease.
You might tempt a grunter or two from the western end of the town beach this week. They roam the waters where rock meets sand and are inclined to move in very shallow with a rising tide. Night time is certainly best for bait fishos, (using yabbies, prawns or squid), whilst a mobile lure chucker can knock grunter off at any time when they are on. The full moon will improve your chances vastly.
Sharks haven’t been as thick as expected from local beaches and jetties (thankfully). All the same, many will spend a summer’s night soaking baits meant for cruising noahs. Smaller models don’t need heavy tackle and can be good sport and practice for the kids keen to soak baits after dark over the holidays.
Even when they don't quite make the 50cm mark, grunter are a worthy opponent from the local rocks - as Tony found out last week.
Limited Reports from Fraser’s Surf Beaches
Whilst we don’t have much to offer regarding a fishing report from Fraser Island this week, we thought we would share what we know. The following is a brief wrap up from a local’s observations a week ago.
There has been a lot of weed making its way up the beach from the south. Weed has made the southern sector largely unfishable. There are decent low tide gutters near Eurong that might produce a feed of whiting, but the tide brings the weed as the waters rise. There are a few pippies in that area, but not huge numbers.
Beach travel is quite good for the southern sector. The recent rains have improved the inland tracks, though they have been drying out quickly between rain events. This week should see a vast improvement as consistent rainfall compacts the sands.
Hopefully, we can get some more up to date info from folks returning from Fraser for future fishing reports. In the meantime, stay dingo-safe and do the right thing around the island’s dogs. We do not want to hear of more dingo culling triggered by bad behaviour from a reckless few.
Xavier scored this horse spaniard on a Rapala X-Rap Magnum Stick. A lure we have just stocked and are selling cheap. Come get some.
Merry Xmas one and all.
Monduran Has Gone Quiet Again – But for How Long
Those that headed for Lake Monduran over the past week largely struggled. A lack of familiarity with the peak summertime fishery may have been a factor for some, whilst others simply drove past the fish looking for greener pastures. The weather certainly cannot be blamed, as it was awesome, with afternoon north-easterly breezes and almost daily storm activity.
The odd big barra was caught from far flung reaches of the lake this week, but in all honesty, very few indeed. The majority of the bigger barra remain in the lake’s lower reaches, where they have just proved difficult to tempt. They are spooked due to excess traffic and effort recently, evidenced by the enhanced bite in the wee hours that some die-hards experienced.
Stories of days of fruitless casting over miles of prime lake real estate, followed by success within cooee of the boat ramp, are not solitary yarns. A couple of crews lamented lost opportunities when their last-ditch efforts via a troll in the main basin brought success that their previous days could not.
Observations from the past week suggest that there are big numbers of barra in Bird Bay, albeit suffering temporary lock jaw. The same can be said of the waters a little further up the lake. The prevailing east/north-easterly weather is about to give way to a sustained spell of north-west/north wind and heightened daily storm activity. Incredible barra weather!
Do not be surprised to enjoy, or hear about, a vigorous bite from the main basin, southern Bird Bay and elsewhere this week. All indicators are glowing, so some folks are bound to get lucky. Any substantial rainfall from the storms will have its impacts - positive for some, negative for others. Those familiar with such scenarios from the past will rush to fish the unfolding fishery that subtle water rises create. No matter the case, only those that are there will catch the barra.
Good luck out there y’all and Merry Xmas from the whole crew at Fisho’s …… Jase
A Classic Barra was the undoing of this Mondy barra for Jason Wheeler. These lures have been a firm favourite of trollers for many years.
Nobody should be this happy to catch a Mondy catty. Stop it Trent.
Fisho's Impoundment Barra Packs are handy starters for anyone heading to a lake for the first time. Lures are custom rigged so you can copy and add more.
Grab your free 2024 Tide Times when you drop in next.