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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 23rd June, 2023

Kyle Leaver with a nice Flame Snapper of almost 4 kilos. They beat the pearlies to the baits this day.

 

Unseasonably Warm this Week

 

We’ve all been spoilt over the past two weeks, as day after day of light winds and mild winter conditions greeted all that headed out on the water. Topping off such a great spell of weather was the fantastic State of Origin game Wednesday night that has the blues still reeling. The mighty maroons are the 2023 champions and we can all bask in the glory for yet another year!

The week ahead is rather interesting. Unseasonal northerly winds will impact our region and bring a very spring-like feel to the atmosphere in coming days. Today’s north-westerly winds could peak as high as 20 knots late in the day, before dropping out altogether overnight.

Saturday looks quite good. An early south-westerly will drop out late morning, making for a great day on the water. Sunday morning is looking great too, though a northerly breeze is expected around midday that will strengthen throughout the afternoon to almost 20 knots by nightfall.

The early part of the working week should be reasonable, with mostly around 10 knots from varying directions. What happens after that is anyone’s guess (the weather sites certainly cannot agree on a forecast). There is a chance that the rain band creeping across from the west could impact our region next weekend, which would be quite annoying if it arrives with the full moon.

Yesterday’s winter solstice marks the mid-winter turnaround of day versus night, so we can expect slightly longer days and shorter nights from now on (miniscule as the variation may be initially). Next Monday’s first quarter moon phase means another period of neap tides ahead, before the tides start to make again next week.

Mel scores really well on the shallow water coral trout. A trolled hardbody tempted this beauty.

 

Offshore Super Boats in Hervey Bay this Weekend

 

Round 3 of the Offshore Super Boats Championship is on in Hervey Bay this weekend, the 24th and 25th June. 

If the north wind springs up more than expected, then that would be just the ticket to get a bit of air under the big hulls roaring across our waters at break-neck speed. The sights and sounds of these racers is a true spectacle for the casual observer, so if not planning on boating or fishing this weekend, perhaps rock on down to the esplanade and enjoy the high speed on-water action.

The fish might be a little shell-shocked in the vicinity of the race, so don’t make any plans to fish the close waters just north of our township this weekend. There will be marshals on the water to keep boaties clear of this event.

Of course, there is a potential downside, and that is that much of Urangan Harbour is cordoned off for the super boats and their entourage. The southern set of ramps is already closed off, as is much of the harbour’s boat parking. With up to half of the parking capacity and only half the ramps, patience will be required, or consideration given to alternative launch sites.

Coxy snared a snapper during a recent glass-out. Winter fishing certainly has its appeal.

One of three Bonefish caught aboard Calypso Fishing Charters recently. Fly fishos & sport fishos take note.

 

VMR Bundaberg Family Fishing Classic

 

The 16th annual VMR Bundaberg family Fishing Classic is on again. It has already kicked off as you read this. It starts today and concludes this Sunday 25th June. This popular fishing comp is run from Burnett Heads and caters for estuary, inshore and offshore fishos in both senior and junior categories.

There are many big prizes worth big bucks up for grabs, yet entry fees are quite minimal at only $50 for adults and $10 for juniors under 16 years of age. Many fun events can be enjoyed at the comp site and the kids won’t be getting bored in a hurry.

The weather could be a little better, though all-in-all the periods of light winds will enable entrants to get offshore and the windier periods could be considered as somewhat of a leveller, giving those without larger vessels a chance. Good luck to all who join in the fun.

A nice little red emperor for a client of Hot Reels Charters.

Ado Martin straining under the load of a big cobe. These bruisers will be cruising bay waters for the next few months.

 

Our Rivers Will be Popular this Week

 

River Heads boat ramp will certainly be popular this weekend, and the boat parking will very likely be less-than-adequate with additional school holidaymakers out to share our waters with the locals. It is obvious that the pontoon at the main ramp out there has been a popular fishing platform of late too. 

Perhaps some folks could splash a bucket or two of water across the pontoon after cleaning fish, squidding and cast netting, so boaties or other users don’t go A over T on the slippery surface. A simple common courtesy to keep the peace and maybe save someone an injury.

A warm spell mid-winter will not go un-noticed by local barra fans, or those keen to tangle with king threadfin salmon either. Threadies have been quite active in the Mary system of late, taking soft vibes and various soft plastics during the ebb tide and early flood. 

Trollers stand a good chance of connecting to a few threadies at the moment too. Troll deeper divers during the ebb tide over schools located in deeper waters, then tie on shallower divers and work the edges of the mud banks, rock bars and creek mouths during the flood. Casting lures around the snags is vastly more fun again and can see you hooking into barra at times as well.

There are schools of blue salmon scattered throughout much of the Mary system at present. As stated plenty of times before, these fish will scoff just about any well-presented lure or small live bait. The blues will even take dead baits of prawn, herring, pilchard, squid or poddy mullet. Get the kids jigging soft vibes or soft plastics for them though and they will have a ball.

Grunter have made their way quite some distance upstream in our rivers and creeks. Seek them out with small softies, particularly prawn imitations. GULP is pretty hard to beat of course, but many others work as well. Select jig heads that can keep your plastic on the bottom. A 1/4 or 3/8oz will handle most grunter country. Small jig heads around 2/0 will catch plenty, but you might be wishing you had at least a 4/0 on when the bigger fish find your lure.

Jewfish will be another good target species over the next week or so. Experienced jewie fishos will know where to find them over the neaps and then change tactics as the full moon draws nearer. The River Heads area will attract many a jewfish fan in coming weeks, as will the ledges along the western shores of Fraser and the deeper rock bars in the rivers.

Salty barra were fairly easy to tempt on a favourite hardbody for the author during a warm spell recently. Another opportunity arises this week.

Jacko certainly loves his flathead fishing. And why not, with fish of this quality on offer.

Those heading up to fish the Burrum during the warm spell this week should do so with confidence. There are still numbers of barra in stretches of the Burrum itself, and very likely within the Gregory, Isis or Cherwell as well. Heading further upstream than in previous months would be a good strategy.

Threadies and jewies are also possible from that system. Both being suckers for soft vibes, they shouldn’t be too hard to tempt if you can track them down. Think deep rock bars and major eddies, which is potential barra terrain too of course.

Grunter are now spread right through the Burrum system. They are often targeted, though can be elusive. Night sessions soaking yabbies or prawns over sandbanks are worth the effort, albeit closer to the full moon in a week or so. In the meantime, drifting and hopping softies over gravelly ground or along deeper runs adjacent to sandbanks is worth a try.

Holidaying families can spend quality time targeting big bream in the lower reaches of the river, whiting over the sandbanks and yabby beds, flathead throughout the whole system or even a few estuarine pelagics. Queenies are a chance sometime soon if not already, as are small river GTs. Tailor will make their presence felt in the lower reaches closer to the full moon. Large tarpon upstream are fun for the kids too - just take extra care when handling these master hook-throwers. 

There is plenty of pike at Burrum Heads to entertain the littlies and get them mastering the art of soft plastic jigging. Fishing from the foreshores at the heads, you can expect bream and the odd flathead for now, and perhaps tailor as the full moon approaches.

Salty barra were fairly easy to tempt on a favourite hardbody for the author during a warm spell recently. You may not get a better opportunity than this week until next spring.

 

Wear the Kids Out on the Schoolies

 

There is plenty of school mackerel on offer inshore at present. Many reefs are drawing vast schools of herring, and in turn the predatory schoolies. The Burrum 8 Mile is a great place to start for those departing from Burrum Heads, though there are fish to be found off Toogoom and Gatakers Bay at times as well. There are many alternative mackerel grounds further up the west coast. Artificial reefs just off the coastline will appeal during spells of light westerly wind.

For those new to the game, targeting school mackerel is a fairly simple affair. Many favour trolling, and will catch fish after fish when they track down the masses. More exciting though, is spinning spoons vertically or at angles through the water column. Flasha Spoons are the undisputed local favourite, yet alternatives from Halco, Nomad and Arma have their followings.

Schoolies are suckers for many bait options. Gang-rigged pilchards are still popular, though many fishos will make the effort to secure live baits and pin them to trailing gangs instead. School mackerel are so aggressive that they will strike at almost anything moving at speed through the water, including sinkers, swivels and bare hooks.

Fishos new to Hervey Bay waters can take some time to realise just why we don’t sell the shiny brass swivels so common down south. Black versions are favoured to avoid bite-offs. Similarly so, elongated sinkers wound through the water at speed can appear baitfish-like to a hungry mackerel, so ball sinkers are most popular locally. 

Interestingly, we have sold vastly more bean sinkers in the last two years than ever before – the demand for such being from recently arrived fishos from down south. There is no denying the reduced water drag of elongated sinkers, but the chances of bite-offs override this advantage in mackerel-infested waters.

Keep an eye out for white-water commotion on the surface of the bay when traveling and you can get the kids casting small slugs at schools of bonito. Jig some of our inshore reefs and the bonito will soon let you know if they are there too. As mentioned last week, strings of bonnies are quite common when they intercept bait jigs meant for herring, pike or yakkas.

Taking the kids for a session or two on the winter whiting will suit many. These fish are in numbers and incredibly easy to catch. Simplified by using 2x3 bait jigs spiced with a little squid or worm, a good feed can be hauled over the side in no time. 

Latest reports suggest the best of the whiting have been off Toogoom and Burrum Heads this week. That can change quickly though, particularly with a lot of boat traffic and effort, so be prepared to scope out other grounds nearby. There should be fish off Woodgate, and there is certainly plenty down the central straits. 

Flamies were on the chew over the shelf again last week. Dane showing the average size.

Chris scored a nice Green Jobbie out wide last week.

 

Snapper Catches are Improving but Our Waters Are Still Quite Warm

 

A couple of cooler days and chillier nights over the new moon period enhanced the inshore snapper fishery somewhat, but is fair to say that our season so far is still fairly lack lustre. Enough quality fish are turning up to keep keen snapper fans on the hunt, and it has been those that followed the strategy of ‘find the bait to find the fish’ that have scored some of the bigger knobbies this week.

Grounds north of the banks are loaded with baitfish right now and are giving up a few snapper. Making tides next week will see a southerly migration of baitfish schools through the banks to closer inshore grounds. The Roy Rufus arti being one such area. In the meantime, it has been the Outer Banks, Simpson arti and the small isolated reefs beyond those systems that are producing.

Closer to the full moon, the Burrum 8 Mile will again be worth a try after dark or pre-dawn. Moon Ledge may have its moments again, though it has been disappointing so far this season for many. Trollers dredging the inshore channels and fringes of the reefs with Classic Dr Evils, 8m Scorpions or Nomad DTX Minnows stand every bit as good a chance as tuned-in snapper fishos at present. Excessive traffic over popular reefs is not conducive to extended stays by visiting snapper.

Schools of golden trevally have been tricking many fishos into a jig through what they hope are schools of snapper on their sounder screen. The consistent thumping headshakes of a hooked trevally are quickly recognised though, and vary significantly to the lunging runs and erratic headshakes of the big knobbies. Shipwrecks are favoured hang-outs for goldies inshore, but you can find them milling around other artis and many ledges.

Evidence of sand crabbing activity is widespread throughout the southern bay, the western bay and throughout sectors of Platypus Bay. Complaints about crab pot floats positioned in the middle of major thoroughfares inshore suggests either a lack of common sense or local knowledge of high traffic areas. Keep this in mind when cruising at night in particular. Ropes and props don’t mix well.

Dane spends a day as deckie with a Hervey Bay Amateurs Fishing Club member once a quarter. Members go into a draw when they spend a buck instore. Snapper were the target.

Deckie Dane winner, Chris, with his first quality snapper within 15 minutes of fishing. Caught on the trusty Molix Fork Flex Shad in Acid Pink.

 

Sharks Over the Darks!

 

Unfortunately, way too many snapper and other quality fish are meeting their demise courtesy of the sharks inshore again this season. The ridiculous carnage continues right into the depths of winter these days as large individuals and packs of sizeable whalers devour hooked fish all over the bay. Occasionally, we get a brief reprieve over the neaps, but the dark of the moon sees some of the worst of the bloodshed.

The wide reefs of the northern bay are often vastly worse. Cooler waters July into August should see less issues with noahs at places such as the Gutters, but how many fish will be left by then? The demise in reef fish numbers and the relatively poor quality of the fishing up there nowadays is notable and very concerning. Catching a couple of good fish amongst a heap of what was otherwise once deemed to be vermin or B-grade reef fish is not good fishing.

As more crews stretch their legs in the constant hunt for better fishing and shark-free grounds, the wider reefs that were so irregularly visited and largely devoid of traffic, are now havens for hungry sharks awaiting the next boat and an easy meal. The sheer numbers of XOS whalers and other large sharks take a lot to feed and they soon hone in on major food sources, be that tuna schools at one time, or aggregations of baitfish and reef fish at others.

We are constantly bombarded with green-sponsored TV articles and the like spruiking the need for more protection of our sharks. Often such advice is predicated on the observed lack of sharks in divers’ happy hunting grounds in green zoned sanctuaries up and down our coastline. These folks don’t see the big sharks we do, as they appear more inclined to seek out boats in other waters.

There is potentially an oversight as to why there are less of the cute and cuddly sharks in those diver-friendly waters. That is, the depredation of smaller sharks by the larger models! Perhaps some of our sharks DO need greater protection – from other sharks!

Anyway, we can but warn you of the issue out there. Do your bit PLEASE, and stop fishing grounds that are so consistently hosting so many sharks. To have to listen to comments that a certain (often high) number of casualties is acceptable in a day’s fishing these days is very disturbing. At no time in history have our fisheries faced such a threat. It should be obvious that without immediate remedial action, there is a major problem that one day (if not already) will be beyond recovery.

Sharks!!! It is an absolute tragedy when they turn up in the deeper waters over the shelf.

 

Recent Reef Fish Captures

 

Those that headed wide and went deep-dropping over the shelf largely avoided the sharks and came home with a good feed. Flame snapper, pearl perch, comet cod and bar cod were some of the more common captures we heard of in 200 metres or so, though there was bound to have been snapper and various other jobfishes caught out there in other depths somewhere as well. 

Deep-dropping has had a huge following in recent years, and many folks have put a lot of money into the equipment required to successfully plumb the depths beyond the shelf. Those waters beyond a couple of hundred metres deep have long been the last bastion of hope in the desire to avoid the sharks, and until recently, these waters were “safe”.

Word from popular grounds off the metropolises to our south, as well as from very experienced deep-water specialists not far to our north, is that sharks are now pursuing boats travelling beyond the shelf. These creatures are quick to learn and very opportunistic, so they are tracking the boats and lurking beneath waiting for their next meal to be dragged up from the depths.

Luckily, so far, this is not a huge issue in our waters. The vagaries of distance and weather preclude consistent boat traffic out wide for much of the year. Prolonged spells of glamour weather can potentially change the status quo though, so here’s hoping we don’t lose these tremendous fisheries to the sharks in the future as well.

Dane with a double-header of pearlie and flamie from 200 metres.

Dane with a fat Comet Cod caught deep-dropping over the shelf. Mmmm .... Tasty.

Bar cod are common captures from the depths.

Live Fibre bent-butt rods are particularly effective in deeper waters. The clamp-on lithium battery makes the task much easier, and the safety lanyard is a good idea.

The shoal country over the Breaksea Spit has had shark issues of late, but thankfully not everywhere. Good catches of red throat, coronation trout, maori cod and green jobfish have been possible over the pinnacles and reefy ridges. Hussar are thick and hard to avoid, demanding larger more resilient baits or even better, slow-pitch jigs or heavy Nomad Squidtrex lures. A good feed of quality venus tusk fish is possible by drifting less reefy country.

Masses of life, both in the form of baitfish and quality reef fish, was abundant on the flat country and channel country west of Lady Elliot and the Lightship. Red emperor bit really well a week ago, with some crews scoring great numbers up to 12kg or so. Green jobbies, trout, tuskies, sweeties and various cod species also bit well with few issues from noahs. A week later, and the dark of the moon saw the sharks turn up, and similar grounds were very challenging to fish, requiring a shift to Plan B.

Many crews headed for the Gutters and a few scored a good feed. Of course, the sharks towelled up way too many quality fish and some crews came home with just mackerel and some of the smaller reef fish species. The trout bit well for those that found a few in shark-free waters. Few were able to avoid them for long though. Squire have been a mainstay along the rubbly fringes recently, along with small tuskies and a few grass sweetlip.

Encounters with big cobia are increasingly common. Even these bruisers don’t appear to be in numbers enjoyed in the past, but some true monsters still swim the northern bay waters, so a serious arm-stretching is on the cards for a few fishos in the near future.

It has been hard to avoid the taxman off Rooneys of late, but if you can, then snapper, squire, scarlets and some large grunter are on offer. Big cobes and schools of large golden trevally, along with increasing numbers of several other members of the trevally clan are hounding the bait schools moving through the area. In no time, the reefs of Platypus Bay will be home to trevally and snapper – just as the whales start to arrive.

And speaking of whales, you should be extra careful and keep a good lookout when travelling offshore this time of year. Many humpbacks are still travelling north and the humpback highway off Fraser is in better shape than the Bruce.

Matt Cawley with a ripper trout from the Gutters aboard Hot Reels.
Matt with an Estuary Cod from the Gutters.
A quality bar-cheeked coral trout caught aboard Hot Reels.
A first drop red emperor for Dane on a recent trip north of the bay.

 

Latest from Fraser Island’s Surf Beaches

 

The beautiful vista of clear oceanic waters lapping the long sandy beaches of Fraser Island’s east coast has been complimented with the consistent sightings of humpbacks offshore this week. Low swell has diminished the surf and white water is confined to small rolling waves.

The fishing has been productive for most, whilst the variety on offer is almost at its best. There are small pockets of decent tailor to be found, with captures reported from down Eurong way recently. Whiting have been on offer within many of the excellent low tide gutters formed along the beach. The larger new moon tides stirred them into action, with better numbers coming from sharper-edged gutters with a little more turbulence.

Tarwhine still seem to be outnumbering their cousins the bream at this stage, but that is bound to change some time soon. The arrival of the late winter choppers should see the bream right behind them, mopping up the scraps as they go. Keep focussing on the rock-strewn gutters and the headlands for tarwhine and bream, where you might pick up a few soapy jewfish as well.

A better class of jewfish has been prowling some of the more northern rocky outcrops recently. Evening sessions have been the go. Making a concerted effort nearer the next full moon should pay dividends. There has been a few quality flathead lurking in rocky gutters and along the leading edges of the entrances to the odd low tide gutter as well. 

The surf beach is wide and quite hard. Low tide travel is great, with no need to divert around any of the rocky outcrops unless your timing is out and you come past when the tide is in. Pippies are prolific and easy to find along vast stretches of the beach. The worming is good too and unlikely to falter without large surf or freshwater run-off to upset them. Crowds have been minimal to date, but you can expect a heap more traffic during the school holidays.

Ed Chandler scored a lovely Fraser Island flatty from a rocky outcrop on the surf beach.
Walter Chandler with a ripper dart from Fraser's surf beach.
Sam Chandler with the best flatty of their Fraser trip. It took a pilly in a berley trail of pilly pieces and was chocka-block full of berley.
Sam again, with an undersized soapy jewfish from Fraser Island. Bigger jewies will be worth pursuing next full moon.
 

Urangan Pier Will Keep the Kids Entertained

 

There is plenty of bream at the Urangan Pier, so mums and dads can take the kids out and expect quality catches with a little attention to detail. Using bait jigs to gather herring not only secures one of the best forms of bait, but keeps the kids entertained as well. Bouncing appropriately-weighted baits back under the pier whilst facing into the tide is the go. Don’t throw your baits down current away from the dinner table.

A couple of spanish mackerel turned up out the end this week. Live school mackerel (of legal size we trust) or live bonito were the undoing of a couple. The kids can have a ball spinning for schoolies and bonnies day in day out whilst they keep coming back, and are always a chance of something more substantial as well. A big queenfish is possible, as are golden trevally, big flathead and perhaps even a jewie or a shark.

Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters is still catching spaniards in the northern bay.

Rainbow Beach Comp was a Roaring Success

The annual Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic & Expo has been run and won. Glamour weather made the event even more enjoyable this year and all categories were hotly contested throughout the week-long event. 

The quality of the fish weighed in daily is a testament to the wonderful fishing on offer down in that neck of the woods. Mid-winter into spring sees many fishos from our local area turn their attention to the Wide Bay Bar and the waters beyond. Spells of westerly wind and low swell offer prime opportunities to head offshore and replicate some of the magnificent captures of the recent comp.

Check out the copy of the competition results, listing all the category winners, following this report.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Many quality fish were regularly brought to the weighmaster at the recent Rainbow Beach comp.

A huge crowd and prizes galore. The Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic & Expo was a tremendous success.
Kord Luckus from L Wilson & Co got amongst the reefies offshore during the Rainbow Beach comp. Here he is with a quality pearl perch.

 

Winners are GRINNERS!!!!

Here are our overall winners:

JUNIORS - Beach 

Bream - 0.762 - Ollie Pearce 

Flathead - 1.163 - Harry Carter

Dart - 0.440 - Charlie Madden

Whiting - 0.324 - Madelyn Midgley

Tailor - 0.680 - Lachlan Brooks


CADET - Beach 

Bream - 0.781 - Ben Hoffman

Flathead - 0.478 - Sonny Bennet

Dart - 0.478 - Brody Miles

Whiting - 0.390 - Brody Miles

Tailor - 1.275 - James Bergin


CADET - Reef

Snapper - 4.165 - Charlie Wandrey

Red Emperor - 4.390 - Luke Treloar

Tusk - 2.416 - Luke Treloar

Pearl Perch - 2.952 - Luke Richardson

Sweet Lip - 2.560 - Sienna Arthur

 

ADULTS - Beach 

Bream - 0.979 - Kim Prange

Flathead - 2.630 - Alan Balfour

Dart - 0.676 - Kaleb Hamilton

Whiting - 0.501 - Craig Hamilton

Tailor - 3.236 - Brian Byrne


Adult - Reef

Snapper - 5.960 - Rowdy Corbett

Red Emperor - 12.995 - Justin Walters

Tusk - 8.431 - Stephen Askew

Pearl Perch - 3.969 - Ryan Walters

Sweet Lip - 5.328 - Patrick Koch

Mulloway - 10.556 - Suzie Arthur

 

BIG FISH 

Blue Eye Trevalla - 21.237 - Ian Brookes

Peter Brady Memorial Trophy Winner

"Best & Fairest Fisherperson"

Ben Horne (Junior)

Cedric Byrne Memorial Trophy Winner

"Tailor Fisherperson"

Lachlan Byrne (Adult) 

$10,000 Adult Major Draw Down winner

Wendy Blake

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