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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 22nd September, 2023

Brocky Rideway's young bloke, Kingy, is already very accomplished and can handle longtails such as this with no fuss. A future young gun in the making.


Windy Weekend, But Much Better Next Week


Yesterday’s spike in temperature was quite short-lived, as the latest trough passed through and the next high down south formed a ridge along the Qld coastline. It is windy right now, as you all know, and it isn’t going to improve until early next week.

We could see today’s 25 knot south-easter reach 30 knots before nightfall here in the bay, and almost certainly offshore. Unfortunately, 15-25 knots of south-easterly trade wind is forecast for the whole weekend. Sunday will be slightly better than Saturday here in the bay, but only slightly. Offshore will be more like 20-30 knots, so no-one is heading out there.

For those holidaymakers here to play, the weather will improve Monday, and get even better thereafter. Expect no more than 15 knots from the south-east Monday, and even lighter winds of around 10 knots Tuesday. Mid-week looks great, with light winds early on Wednesday and Thursday, preceding a pleasant sea-breeze early each evening. Rain is highly unlikely at any stage, though the cloud cover will keep things cool this weekend and into early next week.

Saturday’s first quarter moon phase sits us smack bang in the midst of the latest set of neap tides. Good for many things, and certainly easier to handle for visiting fishos than the spring tides coming in a week’s time. Building tides under a waxing moon all week will enhance many fisheries and shift increasing volumes of water daily.

Peter with a blue salmon sight-fished from the harbour pontoon whilst launching or retrieving the boat.


7th Annual Woodgate Beach Hotel Fishing Classic Wrap-Up


Woodgate’s biggest event of the year has been run and won, and everyone in attendance would have to agree that the 7th Annual Woodgate Beach Hotel Fishing Classic was an absolute success. The weather may not have been the best, but that didn’t stop the huge crowd from having a great time.

There were some quality fish weighed in that kept everyone monitoring the leader boards, but as is the case with events run with fun in mind, the fishing was only one aspect of the big Woodgate getaway. It is hard to know who had the best time, the parents or the kids, so its fair to say that many of the same faces will be back again next year, a little older and even keener to rejoin the fun.

Due to weather constraints, not all eligible species were caught this year, so the organisers simply came up with Plans B and C and handed out the great bundles of prizes for alternatives captures where deemed appropriate. For a full wrap-up of the event, and details of the lucky winners, suss out the Woodgate Beach Hotel Fishing Classic on social media. 

Undoubtedly, Fisho’s Tackle World will be on board again for next year’s event, which continues to grow in stature each and every year. Entries were limited to 750 this year, which sold out early. Mark it on your 2024 calendar and don’t miss that one – it will be huge!

A great crowd with lots of kids front and centre at the prize draws during the recent Woodgate Beach Hotel Fishing Classic.
It was smiles all round for the junior prizewinners at the recent Woodgate fishing comp.
Dane with young Vinnie who won the Cadet prize and Ricky who picked up the Fisho's Photo Comp prize at the Woodgate Beach Hotel Fishing Classic last weekend.
Winners are grinners! The Woodgate fishing comp was a resounding success, even if the weather was challenging.


Quiet Times on the Pier – But for How Long?

As the new moon passed and the tides fell away last week, the fishing took a downward trend along the Urangan Pier. Plenty of keen holidaymakers joined the regular daily locals all the same, but the fishing tended to slacken. 

A limited few caught decent hauls of whiting at the beach end at one time, but that was hard to replicate thereafter. There were good whiting being caught within eyesight of pier-goers though, if they looked towards the harbour. The limited number of flathead that might temporarily call the pier’s waters home succumbed to the fishing pressure and even the mackerel wandered off in search of happier hunting grounds.

There is less baitfish gathered under the pier right now than recently; very few apparently. Diminished bait schools possibly had some effect on pelagic activity in particular. No bait = no predators. Making tides next week will see baitfish moving closer inshore, followed closely by their predators. The big question is however; will the herring re-amass at the pier, or will they join their brethren down the straits? Only those out there next week will know for sure.

If the mackerel return to hunt the herring, then it will be on for young and old again next week. Flasha Spoon sales in our store are very indicative of pier pelagic activity, with any decent mackerel run keeping the lads re-stocking the metal lure wall regularly. Anyone keen to wander the planks of the pier at the right time with a spin rod in hand can assess the pelagic scene within a handful of casts.

The winning spanish mackerel weighted in at the Woodgate fishing comp blitzed all others.

A Woodgate fishing comp entrant with the winner in the Coral Trout category.


Local Beaches and Creeks Entertaining the Kids


Stretches of our town beaches offer good protection from the south-easter this weekend, so beach-goers can cast a line with the breeze at their back or at least a workable angle. The Torquay strip will be the most popular with fishos, and is also often the best for whiting. Neap tides are hardly encouraging to a serious whiting fisho though, yet many a family can enjoy the peaceful setting and trouble-free fishing with the light rods in hand. 

Blustery conditions initially will concentrate all keen fishos in limited areas. Our local creeks will again be popular. Flatties, bream, whiting and queenfish have been the main targets for most, though a couple of intrepid folks have wandered upstream where they can in search of mangrove jacks and barramundi.

The beach out the front of Toogoom has been the most productive shore-based whiting hotspot over the past week. The south-easter will blow parallel to that beach, so take that into consideration if planning a foray out there in coming days. As the winds ease and the tides build later next week, that beach, and hopefully our town beaches, might experience another run of better-quality whiting.

The Burrum Heads foreshores will be popular with visitors this week. Offering better protection from the prevailing south-easter, any of the bread-n-butter species can be encountered, along with the occasional grunter, queenfish or shark. Given the clean water and time of year, tailor and mackerel are also a chance, though it seems many of the kids are simply content just catching baitfish and tiddlers of various types.

Out at River Heads, it has been a little more exciting for a couple of fishos. There has been estuary cod snatching live baits, flathead, and even the odd stray mangrove jack. Given the super-high salinity levels of our estuaries this spring, we might anticipate continued pelagic activity at the heads as well. Take a spoon for a spin and see if there are any mackerel or tailor harassing the baitfish seeking shelter from the high winds out the front.

One of Adrian Martin's kids, Tyler-James, with his hands full of springtime whiting. Great fun for the little ones and a good feed to boot.

Watch a flounder chase a softie and you can't help but giggle. Occasional bycatch whilst fishing the local flats.


Boaties Should Seek Protected Waters


Frustrated boaties with small vessels can consider forays along the close fringing reefs of Gatakers Bay in coming days. 25 knots of wind is annoying even there though, so only the super keen will bother. Go super early to get the best conditions. Coral trout will be target number one, particularly for keen trollers. Cod bycatch will be encountered by those that troll “too slow”, and mackerel will be possible for those picking up the pace.

Anyone considering fishing baits will need to anchor. A sound reef anchor will do the job. Periods when wind and tide are not opposing are preferred during high winds, to decrease your vessel’s tendency to yaw to and fro. Some might consider a second anchor aft if necessary, particularly in larger craft that catch more wind.

Baits of larger banana prawn, small squid, hardy heads, herring and pilchards will see you catering for all-comers. It is a bit early for sweetlip, so the main catches will be trout, cod, blackall, and the lesser perches. A berley trail will aide those not willing to spot-hop regularly, though that technique should be considered. Mackerel are a real chance if the baitfish seek shelter along the reef, so ensure you have a selection of gang hooks to match your baits.

When the weather improves, most will seek deeper and potentially much more productive waters. Having said that though, the tides closer to the next full moon will see a spike in shallow reef trout activity, so many will favour the early morning troll once again.

Kids and longtails go hand in hand. Jacob's young bloke can be justifiably proud of this beauty.

Jacko's new Daiwa combo of a TD Black matched to a TD Zero sorted out a swag of quality grunter including these two 60cm models.


Great Sandy Straits has Endless Options


Capable vessels with experienced skippers at the helm can consider departure from River Heads for forays down the straits, but surely no-one will risk it when the winds are peaking and the tides opposing. It can get downright rough just crossing the passage at the wrong time.

When conditions allow, the straits offer countless options. Our flathead fishery is peaking, as the big girls are flanked by their courtiers willing to spawn. The big blow won’t appeal to flathead or those that pursue them, but thereafter, it is game on again.

Look for drainage channels that feed the last of the waters off the many vast flats of the straits, or position yourself downstream of similar ambush points in the many creeks, and you will soon find yourself connecting to flathead. Hopping small soft plastics is the preferred and proven technique in these parts, but you can catch them with small shallow-diving hardbodies, blades or vibes if you prefer. 

Trollers enjoy regular flathead captures this time of year, so long as they focus on the right terrain at the right time. Bycatch whilst casting or trolling can be interesting, but also a tad frustrating if said bycatch happens to be the dreaded green toads or an endless stream of baby cod and mackerel.

It sounds as though there is plenty of large tarpon on offer down the straits for those keen on tangling with these high-flyers. Baitfish numbers are high, and certainly a vast improvement on the noticeably absent baitfish of recent months. Herring are abundant, migrated from our inshore waters to the north of the straits. Many other baitfish are represented too, so an abundance of fodder will attract an array of predators.

Small trevally are just one such predator, and one willing to take a swipe any decent lure presentation. Great fun for the kids at any size, the average mini-GT is only a kilo or so, but enough muscle-bound 3-4 kilo models turn up frequently enough to warm the drag on your light reels. Golden trevally can also be found harassing the baitfish, both along the reef lines but also up on the flats proper. Don’t be surprised to find both species well into some larger creeks this time of year.

Queenfish are an even more spectacular target for the family fisho looking to get the kids hyped-up. When the weather improves, you can seek them out along the verges of the channels that dissect the flats and islands down the straits. You can also go looking for them around the bay islands. There has been a few large giant herring swimming in those waters recently too, adding yet another high-speed acrobat to your potential list of target species.

Blue salmon are worth pursuing up on the flats of the straits, or within the creeks. They are highly mobile, but also very ravenous, so expect plenty of action if you can track them down. The kids will love catching blues; they are fast, they jump and they don’t give up easily. Just make sure your leader is up to the task if you trip over the really big ones.

Many will seek out the big grunter that are in their prime in and around our estuaries at present. You can hop small softies or vibes or sit back and soak a variety of baits. The grunter are on the chew and can be found within many of the creeks, both large and small, up on the flats, and along the rocky ledges that fringe the western side of Fraser Island. Think about the state of the tide and the appropriate zone to focus on should be reasonably obvious.

Jacko picked up a beaut 68cm grunter on a Rapala Crush City Imposter last weekend.

Jacko's mate, Daniel, with a solid flathead just barely under the legal maximum size. It swam away healthy to continue the annual spawn.


High Salinity Levels in Our Rivers


The lack of a wet season last year is still impacting our local estuaries. High salinity levels right now are good news on some fronts, not so good on others. Anyone who ever wanted to catch a Mary system mangrove jack has a better chance this year than last. The Mary and Susan are not considered productive jack waters by any stretch of the imagination - due to the generally muddy-bottomed nature of these rivers - but in dry times such as these small numbers of jacks make their way upstream.

Fraser’s western creeks, the creeks of the central and southern straits and the Burrum system are vastly more productive mangrove jack waters in these parts. Even our local creeks hold quality jacks that have surprised many a fisho in the past and will surprise many more in the future.

Sure, the chill brought about by this latest blow is less inspiring than the heat that preceded it, but your chance to tangle with the red devils will come around again later next week. Tone down the lure size and pick up the pace on what you might otherwise cast at barra and you will soon tempt them. You will only succeed if you can get your lures tight into their territory though (or otherwise just go at night when they are out and about roaming their patch).

Barra fishos will be out in force again this week, or at least they will be after the blow settles. Time spent scanning likely waters down the straits is productive, as is time spent seeking them out in our rivers. Both the Mary system and the Burrum system house some impressive barra right now and this is a prime time of year to pursue them. 

King salmon are also quite active at present, though they have borne the brunt of heightened pressure in some waters. Their mobility is key to their success, yet also their demise during the times of harvest. Arm yourself with a selection of soft vibes, prawn imitations and other relatively small lures and you are in the game. Time spent scanning likely waters will soon reveal their presence and they shouldn’t be at all hard to tempt.

The lower reaches of the Mary/Susan system are worth considering for those seeking a feed of whiting, some bream or a bit of fun with the flatties. Wait until the winds ease and try the many flats and channels of that area. Grunter won’t be far away either, and you might even chance a decent jewie or two if you focus on the deeper waters. Sizeable jewfish are not as common as they might be this year apparently, with more undersized fish than bigger ones the subject of most tales.

It is crab pot central in the Burrum system right now. The rivers are choked with pots along many stretches, making night-time travel that bit more hazardous. How they are faring with the crabs, we don’t actually know. This can be a challenging time of year, and “empty” crabs can be an issue. The next full moon will serve crabbers better than now, but you might need to scope out terrain away from the crowds to score.

Tarpon are great fun for the kids (and the big kids like Jacko). Take care when handling them though, as they are masters at throwing hooks your way.
Daniel enjoyed a day out with Jacko catching grunter. Great fun fish and much better table fare than some of their neighbours in our estuaries.
Side scanning sounders leave no doubt as to the presence of fish. Barra of all sizes are particularly obvious.


Bay Options When the Winds Ease


Better weather next week will see our boat ramp parking facilities overflowing once again and many happy holidaymakers roaring around the bay. Many will be happy to chase the current run of school mackerel and should fare well if they focus on reefs that are flush with baitfish. Herring and small yakkas in abundance will draw mackerel in like the proverbial.

As always, some will opt to troll minnows capable of 6-8 knots, whilst others will burn some energy spinning spoons and twisties vertically from the bottom. Bait fishos shouldn’t be left out either, and can suspend a simple gang-rigged pillie or source some livies and pin them on their trailing gang hook instead. Live baits should score better every time, so consider making the effort if you can.

Word from the past week is that there is good numbers of school mackerel well spread across the southern bay. Platypus Bay is also home to plenty, as are some of the isolated reefs and rubble patches of the central bay. ‘Beacon-bashing” might be worth trying as soon as the wind eases enough. First in best dressed is often the case at popular beacons such as the Fairway and NU2.

Many will focus on the last of our season’s snapper in coming weeks. The full moon in a week or so, and the tides immediately beforehand offer prime opportunities to get connected to ol’ man snapper. Platypus Bay, the 25 Fathom Hole and the usual inshore hotspots will all be worth a look. Dawn, dusk and evening sessions are favoured, particularly as our waters warm further.

Out wider, the Gutters and the reefs off Rooneys Point are worth a visit for those seeking a feed of reef fish. The perennial shark depredation issue is at its least devastating at the moment, but that will all change again soon unfortunately. Until then, snapper, coral trout, cod, scarlets, sweeties, tuskies and a mix of other reefies are possible up that way, and if you are really lucky, then you might even chance a red emperor. 

Cobia are still widespread across the northern bay and can be found anywhere there is an abundant food source. Many folks are blown away by the sheer size of the cobia that migrate through our waters, but should never feel under-gunned when battling these big bruisers. Sure, they fight hard, but they fight clean, and with smooth actions and a drag-setting that isn’t too high, huge cobes can be landed on medium tackle with ease. Fight them hard under heavy drag and they will fight back.

We are still waiting to hear of the first marlin our spring season. Perhaps they have been caught and kept on the down-low, as they were by so many in the past? Or maybe they are still on their way? Word from ports to our north is encouraging, and given that there are always little blacks caught from Hervey Bay waters in September, one would expect to hear of captures next week.

In the meantime, if you aren’t willing to be one of the scouts, and still want a sporty fix out on the bay, then you can always go seek out the many schools of trevally and get jiggy with them. Whilst doing so, you just might trip over a few deep-feeding longtail tuna as quite a few crews have done in past weeks.

Golden trevally can be found all over Hervey Bay. If your 'snapper' keeps thumping its tail constantly, chances are its a Trevor.
Get out this week when the weather improves and get amongst the bay's snapper before they move on. The weather should be this good mid-week.
A rare barramundi cod from the northern bay that had to be released. These fish rarely survive encounters with fishos, so do your best to get them back down quick.


Fraser Island Tailor Drawing a Crowd


Those fishos enjoying the fabulous surf beach scene over on Fraser Island have had plenty of company this week. The school holiday crowds have descended on the island and travel has become quite chaotic on many inland tracks. Dry conditions mean boggy conditions in the soft sand and delays are being experienced all too frequently when inexperienced drivers get stuck.

Many are over there to enjoy the annual tailor run. A major tradition for so many locals and visitors alike. A heritage if you like, passed down through generations of keen surf anglers that make the annual pilgrimage as part of their yearly rituals. May this never change, and may the younger generation get to enjoy the very same scenes that their forefathers have relished their whole lives.

The tailor are biting well apparently, but specifics are a bit light on this week. The central and northern beach sections have been, and traditionally always have been, the focus of most tailor fishos. We wish we could offer more info this week, but simply don’t have the specifics. 

This blow will be a brief game changer of course. It simply won’t be fishable along exposed coastal beaches due to heavy surf and strong winds. Holidaymakers still keen to wet a line whilst on the island might make the journey through to the western side during the blow. Fishing creeks such as Wathumba, they can still enjoy their fishing, out of the wind, and expect to take home a feed of whiting, flathead and bream. 

Once the high winds ease, there will be variations to the gutters formed along the surf beaches. The headlands will be open to fishing again too after the 30th September, so we will endeavour to bring you a feature on the latest from Fraser Island and a piece on spinning for tailor in the surf next week.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Scoring a feed of tailor isn't too hard on Fraser Island's surf beach at present. Best you eat them fresh though, or prepare for the smoker.
A selection of proven impoundment barra tempters. You can kick off your barra arsenal with the Fisho's Impoundment Barra Pack - rigged and ready to rumble.
Boxed up and ready to fish. Simply walk in, grab your Fisho's Impoundment Barra Pack and head for a lake. The lures are retrofitted, so no guess work required.

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