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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 22nd March, 2024

The BUKU 100gm sinking stick bait was too tempting for this awesome footballer. Yet another ripper fish for Kealan that crews on Big Cat Reality.

If it Isn’t Blowing - It’s Raining

The south-east trade wind blew pretty much all last week, limiting fishos to sheltered inshore waters and our estuaries or lakes. I wish I could paint a prettier picture for the week ahead, but for the most part, it looks as though when the wind actually eases, the showers could increase.

We have been ‘enjoying’ showers on a regular basis of late, and the week ahead looks wetter than the last. The south-easter cranked up again last night, and is easing as today wears on. It is blowing 15-20 knots from the south-east this morning, and we can’t expect too much change until Sunday. You could sneak out Saturday and fish protected waters, or perhaps sort out some chores or something and ready the boat for a local trip on Sunday.

Fingers crossed for a decent window of opportunity Sunday morning, as the bureau is suggesting around 10 knots from the east early, increasing to 15-20 knots and swinging south-east again late in the afternoon. Take a brolly or some wet weather gear, as showers are likely at some stage.

We can expect the breeze to maintain a moderate 15 knots or so for the first days of the working week; again, from the south-east. Showers are highly likely once again, taking the edge off the appeal of a ‘roughie’ for those keen to take on the moderate south-easter. If the bureau’s longer-term predictions are indeed correct (insert smirk here), then Easter could start out damp and quite breezy too.

The autumnal equinox was reached this week (on the 20th), so our days will be shorter and our nights longer for the next six months. The full moon might cross our night sky Monday without us being out on the water to enjoy it. All the same, the tides building prior, and the large tidal flow over the coming days will still trigger many of our piscatorial friends to feast. If you get the chance, then get out there and get amongst them.

Looking back over the past week might be a tad boring in the fishing stakes, so once again, lets review the limited catches that occurred and see what we can look forward to this week coming.

Alecia Watsford joined the crew from Hervey Bay Amateurs Fishing Club at Boondooma last week and showed her bass catching skills.

Good-sized red claw are active at Lake Boondooma, as Jeff Hayes and other Hervey Bay Amateur Fishing Club members found out recently.

Get Ready for the Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Club’s Easter Classic

Family fishos and serious fishos alike can all look forward to the major Easter fishing event on the Fraser Coast. That is, the time-honoured tradition of the Easter Classic, brought to you by the hard-working and community-focussed folks of the Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Club. It’s on again over the Easter long weekend, and if you don’t register prior, then you can register for the event from 9am Good Friday 29th March until registrations close at midday on Saturday the 30th.

The fishing competition itself runs over the three days Friday to Sunday. This is very much a family-focussed fishing comp, so there are plenty of activities for all members of the family to enjoy. The event is based at the Lions Park on Burrum Street in Burrum Heads, and you can fish pretty much anywhere in our local waters. It costs very little to enter too, with adults a mere $40 and only $10 for juniors.

There are plenty of great prizes up for grabs. There are both senior and junior categories, as well as super draws, raffles and prizes for secret weights too. There are eight primary fish species that are eligible for seniors; including flathead, bream, whiting, grunter (javelin), mackerel, grassy sweetlip, mangrove jack and trevally. There is a secret weight prize for the best crab (mud or sand) too, so dropping the pots in during the comp could win you a bonus.

For the juniors, it is all about flathead, whiting and bream. The flathead category is a live weigh-in only for both senior and junior, so keep that in mind and ensure you have a suitable way of keeping your winner alive if you rate yourself or your kids in that category.

So, why not get your gear ready and blaze a trail to Burrum Heads for the Easter Classic. Your kids will have a ball, and so will you. Support the good folks from the Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Club via their raffles and so on, and you never know, you might be heading home with some terrific prizes. Fisho’s Tackle World is happy to be a sponsor of this well-organised local event year in year out, and we hope to hear of some of our regulars coming away with the spoils. Good luck to all who enter.

Oh, and for those from out of town that are looking to stay at Burrum Heads, just a little something worth noting. The council-owned caravan park out there is undergoing major renovations/upgrade works, so its capacity to accommodate visitors is drastically reduced. Consider booking early if planning to camp there. Alternatively, there is another private van park not far away with plenty of space, and even a couple of Hip Camp options in the area. A quick google should reveal your options.

Beelbi Creek Stop & Stay is a great Hip Camp option not far from Burrum Heads. A fantastic camping option for those looking for an Easter getaway.

Luke V found this large wobbegong floating full of air off Gatakers Bay. He towed it ashore and deflated it before it swam off healthy. Good job mate.

Full Moon Offers Better Opportunities for Landlubbers

From whiting to sharks, the bigger tides and stronger tidal flow of the full moon period offer shore-based fishos enhanced opportunities locally. Our town beaches might give up a few handy whiting amongst the tiddlers and small dart, but heading west of town and fishing the rising tide on those beaches could produce a proper feed. 

If pumping yabbies to tempt some whiting is your thing, then perhaps consider a larger hook, slightly heavier leader, and a bunch of yabbies instead of a loner. Switch the game up a notch and target the quality grunter that can be found cruising our skinny beach waters over this moon. Use a prawn otherwise, and you could achieve the same result. Do so after dark, and your chances improve dramatically. 

Small grunter can be a problem (as can small whiting, dart etc), so consider a wander along the beach looking for better fish. Choose to target these same grunter with lures instead of baits and you negate the tiddler issue for the most part, and can often tempt the best fish on offer. Small prawn imitations are the go, but other small plastics, vibes and blades will also work.

The mouths of our local creeks and the adjacent flats are possibly even more conducive to grunter fishing success than the open beachscape. Your chances of hooking a flathead or two is enhanced too, and you might even get to tango with a queenie, tarpon or even a barra. There have been some impressive fish caught from the lower reaches of our little creeks of late, and this full moon might see some more.

As mentioned in recent reports, the run of mangrove jacks from the mid-upper reaches of these very same small creeks continues to impress. They have always been a highlight of these systems in the warmer months, and are a species well adapted to living with neighbours such as us. Stream degradation and habitat destruction are very real issues that have changed the look, and even the flow, of our local creeks - and still, the mighty mangrove jacks adapt and thrive.

Those keener to stretch the line on their heavy tackle will be out soaking large baits for sharks under a moonlit sky this week. How appealing such an adventure might be will be determined by the potential rainfall more-so than the probable action. There are plenty of sharks about inshore, and their nocturnal raids along our beaches and inshore shallows are easy enough to predict. It can be less a matter of whether you will get a bite as to just how many runs you might receive. 

Tim caught this sizeable lemon shark from Urangan Pier this week. Whilst our waters remain warm, large sharks are in their element close inshore.

The Bay Will Fish Well When the Winds Ease

Reduced fishing effort across Hervey Bay should mean good things for those that finally get back out there when the weather improves. Reports from those souls that braved the less-than-ideal conditions over the past week are certainly limited, but of interest all the same. Bobby from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters was one such operator that spent some time putting clients onto fish when the wind was a grade less than howling.

His main focus is often reef fish, but of course, Bobby also targets pelagics when appropriate, and even sharks if his clients so desire. There is certainly no issue getting folks onto the latter, with their penchant for stealing the former being all too frustrating at times. All the same, some selective shifts and a willingness to keep actively hunting, sees his clients regularly going home with a handy feed of tasty reef fish etc.

Bobby has been catching nice scarlets, squire, sweetlip and a mix of other reefies of late. Favouring the protection offered by Fraser Island has had he and his crew heading for Platypus Bay and Rooneys, or when necessary, staying even closer inshore. Interestingly, he suggested that he is catching a better class of scarlet (nannygai) in closer and a bigger number of undersized fish up the island. That observation mirrors many others’.

Mack tuna have been quite abundant up off Rooneys and also off Wathumba Bobby tells us. They are also cruising our inshore shipping channels in reasonable numbers too. It has been too rough to get out into the wider northern bay or even the central bay this week, so the notably smaller numbers of longtails in the abovementioned areas up the island might be indicative of better numbers out wide right now. Perhaps the blow this past week or so just wasn’t strong enough to draw them in like an east coast low does.

A general lack of activity up along the beaches and flats of Platypus Bay has been mentioned this week. Even the pros are driving for miles without stopping apparently. This situation can change dramatically very quickly, particularly as a major moon such as this week’s full peaks. If you are heading up that way then have a scout on the flats for sure, but from what Bobby tells us, the surface action has been a few miles or so off the island.

Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters clients have been catching a few nice scarlets inshore recently.

Large blackall are hard-pulling reefies, if not a bit disappointing in the seafood stakes. Hot Reels Charter clients get to battle them often enough.

Inshore Pelagic Activity to Look Forward To

The second three-week closed period for the taking of spanish mackerel in our waters concluded at midnight last night. It is once again legal to target and retain a spanish mackerel of 75cm or more. Your possession limit is only one fish however, or a boat limit of two fish if there are two or more people on board.

Now is still a good time to target an inshore spaniard. You might find one hanging around our local shipwrecks or other prominent sites such as the Simpson artificial reef. Otherwise, spaniards can turn up anywhere there is a major and consistent bait source, including many low-lying reef sites in southern Platypus Bay such as those found off Arch Cliffs.

Out wider, at places such as the Gutters or off Rooneys Point, the spaniards can actually be a bit challenging to avoid. Their presence might be given away (frustratingly) by the all-too-common bite-offs of lures or live baits deployed towards the bottom whilst targeting reef fish. Get up that way early and you can troll up a boat limit quick smart, then refocus on even tastier reefies.

School mackerel wise, it has been a bit of a mystery of late. Yes, there are schoolies in the bay, but they have been absent over grounds where they might typically be expected. At the same time, the local shipping channels and elsewhere are hosting schoolies intent on pursuing the pencil squid traversing those areas (as noted by either squid jig losses or schoolies caught oozing black liquid from their innards). Their general whereabouts after a blow such as this – part of the mystery. 

Broad-barred mackerel have been reported from the Outer Banks area of late, adding a little spice to a spinning session out there. Minimal effort due to the weather could mean a productive session on many counts for those lucky enough to beat everyone else to these commonly fished grounds.

Queenies are a true inshore special this time of year. Whether it be the broad flats of the western bay, the fringing reefs of the bay islands or the sandy gutters of the Great Sandy Straits, there are ample spots to seek out some high flying queenfish. These bigger full moon tides will aide you in your quest, ramping up the queenies’ activity as they pounce on prey pushed off the flats by the receding tide. A stick baiting session should be a lot of fun if you get the chance this week.

Our summer run of giant trevally inshore is winding down. As our waters cool further, the GTs will head off for greener pastures, but until then it is still game on. These big tides offer you another crack at GTs on topwater offerings at the usual sites around our bay islands, inshore ledges and shipwrecks. Heading down the straits further could also put you in touch with a few giants, particularly along the rockier bait-rich ledges along Fraser Island’s west coast.

Mack tuna such as this one of Stuart's are turning up in our shipping channels as well as up the island.

Young William was chuffed with his recent mackerel catch. Well done young fella.


Reefies Will Be Eagerly Sought if the Wind Eases

Again, a lack of effort from local and visiting fishos of late spells ‘more fish’ for those that get out there soon. Sunday looks like the go, but the window is only open so far, so our inshore reefs will be very popular. There will be plenty of run in the tide, so those unaccustomed will be challenged at times, and good advice would have you favouring the tide changes regardless of your past experience. 

Grassy sweetlip should still be abundant. More-so in the deeper waters than the shallows, yet the shallow option is still a sound one for those willing to put the time in around dawn, dusk or into the evening. The full moon tides will have any grunter on the chew, so grounds out near the Fairway will be popular. 

Cod and coral trout will be very active when the current slows over the tide changes. Live baits will be gathered and deployed by some fishos, whilst others will favour tea-bagged softies and jigs, and others again will troll. The aforementioned run of inshore scarlets is set to continue too, meaning that a lucky enough or skilled enough fisho might end up with a very tasty mixed bag from an inshore session this week.

How anyone fares is so often determined by shark activity these days. Reports from local charter operators and other fishos suggest it isn’t looking good. Shark depredation is rife all over the bay. Tuna numbers tend to spike this issue somewhat each autumn, just in time for the poor old snapper to wander in later. Its is heart-breaking and incredibly frustrating to witness and to hear about the level of shark attrition our fish species suffer these days. You can do your bit to reduce this issue, so be shark savvy and avoid wasting our precious piscatorial resources.

Spot-locking electric motors have certainly changed the way many fishos target reef fish. For many, gone are the days of anchoring and constant re-anchoring just to keep right on the spot. Now it is but a simple push of a button and voila, you are spot-on. 

An unexpected upside to this convenience perhaps, is the simple fact that by not needing to drop and retrieve anchor every time a shark is encountered, a fisho is more likely to move on after an initial encounter. If anchored by conventional means, then he/she might ‘give it one more drop’ due to the inconvenience and effort required to shift. Not so nowadays for many of us, so utilise these wonderful tools and keep a step ahead of the noahs.

Grassy sweetlip and scarlet sea perch are commonly caught over the same grounds. Both species are readily available throughout the bay.

Trey Brough was justifiably proud of this magnificent red emperor he caught in recent times.

Estuary Options Most Popular

The big tides will have the water roaring past your favourite snags or rock bars in our rivers, so best you time your efforts to be there when its not. That is, if you intend spending time chasing barra or threadfin salmon this week. The Mary system is still quite dirty, but potentially productive all the same. Scan up some fish and drop prawn imitations or vibes their way if you can’t get at them with hard bodies. Otherwise, kick back with live baits and let them come to you.

Weather permitting, the Great Sandy Straits will be a good place to be this week. The big tides will drain the vast flats and the smaller creeks too. Look for barra, salmon and grunter capitalising on this phenomenon and spend extra time sussing out the flats themselves, the creek mouths and rock bars whilst you’re at it. Flatties will be possible, and blues almost assured if you get around enough. You might even trip over a school of jewies hard up against some deeper rocky feature somewhere.

Mangrove jack fans will be keen to maintain the rage of the summer past. It sure has been a good season for jacks and the ongoing bite is showing no signs of slowing just yet. Of course, our water temperature has dropped dramatically over the past fortnight, yet that in itself can be a trigger to spur on jacks eager to fatten up before the chill sets in. Fraser’s western creeks are definitely worth a look, but monitor the rain and see how much falls on the island. So too, anyone keen to try the mainland creeks of the central straits should be watching the weather this week. There could be good times ahead on the jack front.

Those opting for a Burrum system foray have a few options. The full moon tides should have the Burrum’s larger whiting on the prowl. An evening session on a suitable sandflat could be very productive. A few locals have been catching some very good quality whiting when the tides have been favourable. Don’t be surprised to score a few quality grunter whilst chasing whiting either, particularly after dark.

Otherwise, it will be all about the barra and the mangrove jacks as usual up that way. The big tidal flow will favour the bait fishos to some extent, but a savvy lure fisho will have his/her moments. Schooled-up barra are easy targets for all and sundry, and one would hope that restraint is considered when large fish are on the bite. No-one wants to see big dead barra in photos these days.

Cassie has many fine salties under her belt. This is yet another ripper at 117cm and one of her best so far.

Great Crabbing on Offer

If this full moon period is anything like the last one, then there will be plenty of happy mud crabbers out there this week. Even on potentially less productive parts of the moon phases, the muddies keep potting and the quality remains great. Full crabs and mighty feasts all round.

This showery weather won’t dampen the mud crab fishery in any way either. In fact, it should enhance it. The upstream movements of muddies have been interpreted by many crabbers in recent times, and intercepting their march hasn’t been too difficult. There could well be more activity in shallower waters due to the tides this week, whilst the main stream should continue to produce.

It should be happy days on the sand crabbing grounds when the weather comes good too. There was that sniff of sandies off the Woodgate/Burrum coast a few weeks ago, but a shift of focus (possibly due to the relentless onshore wind) has the waters of Platypus Bay looking like crab central. There are pro crabbers running their gear up the island and they don’t waste time, money or effort if there are no crabs in an area.

You could slip a couple of pots in whilst up that way chasing tuna or whatever, and reasonably expect to come home with a good feed of sandies. The bag limit of 20 crabs is very generous and makes that little extra effort worthwhile. Ensure you have enough rope for each pot, as you aren’t crabbing in shallow water like you do in the rivers. Oh, and don’t dump your pots on top of the pros – that is just asking for trouble. Read the scene and see if you can work out which way the crabs are marching and slip your pots in front of them.

Its all whispers when it comes to banana prawn for now. Whispers of some down the straits, and maybe some in the Burrum or Gregory. There will be prawn caught over this full moon period by those savvy enough to work them out, or maybe by those just lucky enough to trip over them whilst being clever enough to have a cast net on board. The showers and south-east wind are good things and could well aide your cause this week.

The Rush Family headed north for a fishing holiday. They caught some nice fish, including this beaut fingermark for Cathy.

Fingermark such as this one of Jamie's are standard fare from inshore waters to our north.

Slimy laps all round. Estuary cod are highly active throughout Qld marine waters this time of year, and always good for a Rush.

Rough Surf on Fraser

And finally, just for interests’ sake, or for those thinking about an Easter trip to Fraser Island. Observations from a regular fisho who happens to be ‘working’ over there at the moment suggest the surf beaches are a mess and the seas generally too rough for fishing. All the same, the lads have managed a few quality dart for a little effort when the wind has eased enough. Not many, but good quality dart all the same.

Driving wise, the tracks are pretty good due to all the showers. The beach itself is largely flat and wide, meaning beach travel is excellent. Pippies still seem to be pretty scarce, so if you head over and spot some, you had better gather your limit whilst you can. We might have further word on conditions and what’s biting for next week perhaps, but for now you can bet on the march flies biting even better than the fish.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Proposed boat ramp extension and additional parking at River Heads. Question - just an election issue or something to look forward to.

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