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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 24th May, 2024

Russell Donovan got stretched by this ripper bluey recently. There is no other fish that pulls so hard or fights so dirty on our reefs.

Long Weekend Looks Quite Good

Our local Show Day long weekend is looking quite reasonable. It has started out a bit breezy, but it will get much better. Showers are a chance (but aren’t they always when the show is on?). The breeze has turned onshore, moderating the air temperature, so the last week of autumn should be a pleasant one.

Today’s 15-20 knot south to south-easterly is scheduled to drop back to 10-15 knots throughout both Saturday and Sunday. Expect lighter southerlies early in the morning tending more south-easterly throughout the day. The wind seems unlikely to reach the 15-knot mark either day close inshore, though it just might out wide. Whilst an offshore trip is on the cards for larger vessels, only those experienced skippers willing to take on the onshore sea and resultant bar conditions will consider that option.

Each day of the working week looks like a copycat image of the day before, with pretty much moderate south-easterlies to 15 knots each day. Light and scattered showers are likely; being of more nuisance value than any significance. Fairly consistent cloud cover should result in milder nights and cooler days, without being cold. Mother Nature must have a southerly blow or something in the pipeline for us soon though, as we would usually see a major cold snap heading into winter.

Last night’s full moon means that it will start to wane thereafter and so will the tidal flow. Full moon tides aren’t overly huge at this time of year (that comes late winter), yet there is certainly enough flow to get many species on the move and create ample fishing, crabbing and prawning opportunities for us.

The Johnston boys proudly displaying their ripper flattie caught from the beach at Urangan recently. Well done lads.
Dane tested the large King Brown Killer Prawn lure on the local barra population and came up trumps with this beauty.

New Rules for our Great Sandy Marine Park 

The big news this week has been the rollout of the new regulations within our Great Sandy Marine Park. As of last Tuesday, the 21st May, many rules have changed, and many new restrictions on certain activities are in place for the betterment of recreational fishing and our lifestyle within the park.

There are many changes that will affect us all. From expanded go-slow zones that are vastly wider than before, to new green zones and changes to rules within conservation zones, new no-anchoring zones and more. Gill netting activities are heavily restricted within the park now, and effectively banned from within any of the new conservation (yellow) zones. The fact that the marine park’s boundary finishes some distance up the Mary River means that gill netting above that boundary will continue, but elsewhere will be largely net-free.

We have been supplied with a small number of Great Sandy Marine Park Zoning Plan brochures for handout to customers, so drop in and get yours when next you can. The brochure will help generally, but isn’t large enough or detailed enough to explain all. To this end, you all need to get online and download the new App which is now available. Search for “marine park qld” in your app store on your phone or other device and download the southern parks app. This will give you access to info for both our park and the Moreton Bay park.

The App will alert you when you cross a boundary in the park, so long as your ‘location’ is switched on. If you are worried whether or not Marine Parks can tell if you are in a green zone - then you have others issues to worry about! Have a play with the App and open each ‘button’ at the bottom. The info button will tell you all the rules, but perhaps you should open each of the coloured zone tabs first, as otherwise the “Notes” thereunder could be a little confusing.

When you do so, you will notice that our conservation zone rules have changed. From here on in, we are permitted up to 2 lines with up to 2 hooks on each within our yellow zones, as opposed to the 1 line 1 hook rules of the past. This is to bring our park into alignment with Moreton Bay’s and alleviate confusion. Many will cheer when they realise this change. 

Okay, so this bit could get a little technical, but is worth investigating: The map that is the default map of the park is very limited in size, and in that it does not show the demarcation of water versus land, only zone versus zone (in the River Heads – northern straits in particular). Via the GSMP website page, you can scroll down to see a “benthic habitat” version of the map which will detail the land and water, or, and preferably, you can download a KML/KMZ file, then open Google Earth to overlay the GSMP zones over satellite imagery by applying the KML/KMZ file. I did say it would be a little technical. It is a little challenging, and still being perfected, but trust me – it helps. This shortcut will get you to where you need to be:https://parks.desi.qld.gov.au/parks/great-sandy-marine/management-and-zoning/app-and-maps

At this time, your phone or other device is going to be your main source of data relating to this new zoning plan. Operating a phone whilst driving a boat is not a lot different to operating a chart plotter etc, yet doing so in a car would have you booked and paying a fine. Google hasn’t helped me clarify this issue, but I am informed that different rules apply to phone use in a boat. If anyone can confirm to the contrary that would be good to know.

GPS coordinates for the various zone boundaries are available via the GSMP website. There is a tab that is quite clear on the appropriate page (see shortcut above). We have a printout at the shop or the option to email to you if you drop in. Unfortunately, marine electronics suppliers like Garmin etc do not have the zoning plan uploaded and ready for you as yet. We will inform you when such is available.

There will be no beacons erected to declare any of the boundaries of the new zones. Indeed, existing beacons and near-water posted signage will be removed. The FAD off Rooneys Point was located within the new expanded green zone up there by the way, but I am reliably informed that the FAD has been moved somewhat beyond the green zone. Your GPS will confirm that if you are a regular fisher of that FAD.

We at Fishos will endeavour to get a greater supply of Zoning Maps when they are available. For now, it is first in best dressed, so to speak. We will also help you understand the new regs where we can, but you will need to be patient, as we are a busy store and many folks are in need of assistance. Let us know if you need help when you drop in next.

Drop and grab your Great Sandy Marine Park Zoning Plan brochure when you get the chance.
The map contained within the GSMP brochure. It is very limited, so getting online and downloading the App will be necessary.
The 'benthic habitat map' is a better version that the default map on the GSMP website, purely because it actually shows the land and water.

Urangan Pier Has Been a Busy Place All Week

The making tides over the past week kept the pelagics rolling in, much to the delight of many pier goers. School mackerel were caught in reasonable numbers some days, and tuna made appearances quite regularly. The fishing was good enough to draw quite a crowd out towards the deep end, so things got a bit hectic at times. People spinning, people live baiting, and others dangling baits beneath the jetty aiming for other quarry, all mixed together in a melting pot of piscatorial pursuits.

Whether the mackerel and tuna will remain in the area now that the tides are waning is yet to be seen. If things go quiet on the pelagic front, then there is always the lighter option of targeting bream or perhaps a flathead. The pier’s bream fishery has been slow to get going, and to date quite lack lustre, but last night’s full moon likely had a couple of regulars out there taking a look, so we should know if the better bream have started to roll in by this time next week.

There is plenty of baitfish gathered under the pier. Herring are there in sufficient numbers to draw in the pelagics, and the pike are well-represented too. Jigging herring is an easy affair, as is jigging pike. Both can be hard to catch when the tide is slack though (particularly low tide), and larger jigs make catching pike much more efficient. 

Learning to catch pike with tiny plastics attached to heavy enough, yet small, jig heads is one way of tempting fish that ignore the bait jigs, as is jerking tiny minnow lures 40cm behind a 3-ball sinker. Unconventional I know, bit it has worked for eons. There is no better live bait for a pier flathead than a pike, and few better baits for the likes of queenies, goldies, jewies or cod.

You would actually stand an even chance of landing a few half decent bream if you gave the pier fishery a crack at present. Mostly out towards the deep end, along the sloping edge of the sandbank. You might even score a few whiting from the beach end after dark, or a flathead or two from the first channel. Undersized squire have been hooked and returned to the water, so maybe a couple of better-sized models may appear in winter. Ensuring you have a quality 2.5 or 3.0 sized squid jig with you will ensure you are in the game should you spot a tiger or two day or night.

Nocturnal activities haven’t been limited to bream fishos. Those seeking a bit of late season shark action have been trying their luck. No monsters, but enough smaller models to entertain those keener sharkers on lighter tackle. The pursuit of a jewfish has otherwise kept a few fishos out late at night. Just how they are faring is not for this report, as success in that department is often hard-won and something for all and sundry to find out for themselves.

One issue that I will raise on the subject of jewfish however, is the very disappointing reports of undersized fish as tiny as 60cm being retained by certain individuals that have no regard for the rules. The minimum size for a mulloway jewfish is 75cm, and everyone knows that. The bag limit (in possession) is only 2 fish too, so repeat efforts to take more and more fish night after night are downright rude. This issue is not necessarily an Urangan Pier-related issue. It is a shore-based one though, and one that needs to be nipped in the bud.

Whilst on the soap box, another concerning issue that has crept along the grapevine recently, is the alleged killing of numerous undersized grunter, for no better reason than slab baits. These activities need to stop. Should it be “just kids” then that is still no excuse, as we are constantly reminded that the new-age fisho is supposedly more enlightened than his/her predecessors and much better behaviour is expected.  

Small-medium giant herring (ladyfish) are quite prolific in our local estate lakes. Tiny lures will tempt them, as will surface lures.
Young gun Kade Whittle has been at it again. That is a thumping jewie young fella. Well done (once again).

Inshore Reefs Poised for the Arrival of Snapper

It is taking its time to cool down this season, but it won’t be long and the chill of winter will arrive. The full moon in May is a snapper-special in these parts, and it is highly likely that a few quality knobbies have already been landed from our inshore hot spots and kept on the down low. Squire were starting to chew quite well in recent weeks, so now all we need is the snapper schools to arrive.

Popular grounds such as Moon Ledge, the Roy Rufus arti, the Simpson Arti, the Outer Banks, the Burrum 8 and 12 Mile and so many other inshore reefs are due to host schools of snapper now or in the very near future. The water might still be a little warm for the purists, but they are still worth investigating. Today’s modern technology and luring techniques will soon turn up any larger snapper that have wandered inshore early. 

This week’s onshore weather is a bonus in the pursuit of inshore snapper (even if the tides are not). Snapper are not fans of south-westers in close (and nor are many of us fishos either for that matter). Go for a scan, and seek out bait-rich reefy areas and hop your favourite softies over any likely shows on your sounder. If the bait is there and the snapper “arches” elude you, then try a quick drift or two regardless, as these ghosts of our inshore reefs can be just off-scene and appear out of nowhere to snatch a well-presented bait or lure.

Take the time to gather prime local baits to float-line back to the snapper should you be so inclined, and you just increased your chances of connecting to the more cunning old knobbies multi-fold. The usual likes of pike, herring and yakkas are all winners, and a few alternatives are gold as well. Live baiting certainly pays dividends too, with the added bonus of a coral trout or a few cod if said baits are placed too near the reef structure. 

This is as good a time as any to take your Dr Evil deep divers for a troll. Given the inherent scattered nature of any snapper inshore this early, trolling will cover more ground than any alternative option and could well come up trumps. The worst you could do is a couple of estuary cod for your trouble.

Otherwise, a bait fishing session targeting sweetlip, squire and scarlets is a worthy project, particularly while the moon still has some pull. The sweeties are bigger on average at this time of year, even if their numbers are starting to dwindle. You will have to beat the sun up by a fair margin if you want to catch them in the shallows, or otherwise fish deeper. Try for a coral trout over the turn of tide whilst they still have some energy to burn, and again, the worst you could do is a couple of cod. The usual live baiting or tea-bagging of prawn imitation lures will see if Mr Trout is home and hungry.

It has been encouraging to hear that many folks have scored a feed of reef fish inshore without constant shark attacks of late. Of course, not everyone has been that lucky, which just goes to show that mobility is key, and you can win a few battles if you keep moving on away from the noahs. There has been that much tuna in the bay of late that many of the sharks are quite likely out in the paddock shadowing them, but let’s not get complacent, particularly as the winter snapper schools arrive.

Snapper fishos are spoilt for choice in the tackle and lure department these days. Get your gear ready and get out there - it is snapper time.
We have had to resurrect an old photo of inshore snapper from last year due to the lack of fish so far this season. That is all about to change very soon.
Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing certainly knows how to put his clients onto the bay's big goldies. He is a master jigger and a great teacher of the art.

More Pelagics Than You Could Poke a Stick At

As you all know, we have been enjoying a ripper tuna season nearly all autumn. The longtails are still here in large numbers and so are the mac tuna. Given the onshore breeze all week, the waters of Platypus Bay will be most popular amongst tuna fans. Reports of big numbers 3-4 miles west of Arch Cliffs is the late mail in that department. There are undoubtedly many schools right across the bay from west to east. Some flighty, some not so flighty. 

Mac tuna rode the making tides down into the straits once again last week, and a few smaller pods of solid longtails made it as far as the bay islands too. Take the kids for a run this weekend and you should have a ball chasing tuna all over the paddock. Keep an eye on your sounder while you do, and you just might trip over a random school of trevally or a few larger longtails feeding beneath.

Trevally numbers will explode throughout Hervey Bay when the chill of winter finally sets in. For now, it is more a matter of tracking down the goldies that circle the bait-laden reefs inshore or up the island. A few cousins from the trevally clans might join them here and there for now, that will be hard to avoid by mid-winter. Something to look forward to if you are into jigging for sport.

The school mackerel have been on the move once again. A bit of weather of late let them escape the radar, but they will still be out there. Try the Burrum 8 Mile, the Fairway, the Outer Banks and the Simpson arti, or head up to Arch Cliffs and look for the biggest herring schools you can find. The local shipping beacons are worth a look too if they have a bait shadow. Schoolies are due to make an appearance in Christies Gutter if the water quality is good enough, and given their prevalence at the Urangan Pier, one would expect a few lurking in Urangan Channel.

Go for a troll if you cannot pinpoint the mackerel at first. High-speed-capable diving lures are very effective. The likes of Halco Laser Pro 120s, Rapala X-Raps and Rapala Count Downs have their fans due to their proven consistency, and many other alternatives such as Nomad DTX Minnows, RMG Scorpions, Classic Barras and other similar lures have their followers too. Indeed, if a lure is swimming straight and looks appealing, then a schoolie will take a swipe at it – fast or slow – just ask the snapper or coral trout trollers.

You can try the flats for queenies, and you might trip over a school of goldies in the process. Ladyfish (giant herring) are a good target species for inshore sportsfishos too. Their high-speed, high-flying antics will have you coming back for more of that action. Handle with utmost care though, as ladyfish don’t take kindly to being fondled out of water.

There are big numbers of bonito out in the bay, up the island and in the local shipping channels. Another good target for the kids, and a fish that makes great bait for those so inclined. They can be a bit random to find on the surface, though they are very obvious when you do see them. Lots of white water from fish that are clearly smaller than the average tuna. Their tendency to lurk around the reefs across ‘the banks’ might mess up a few bait jigs at times, but makes them a bonus for bait gatherers all the same.

Braden from Daiwa joined Dane last week for some tackle testing. The new Saltiga Over There 80S is a dynamite tuna slayer.
Longtails are day to day captures for clients aboard Tri's Fraser Guided Fishing charters.
The time-proven 5in Zman Jershadz matched to a heavy 50 jig head does it again.

Lack of Current Offshore is Very Appealing

The weather was less than ideal for offshore forays last week, yet those that made the effort were rewarded for the bashing they endured. Crossing Breaksea Spit and heading east into very green nutrient-rich water and a general lack of current meant there were many options for the active fisho on a day trip.

Spanish mackerel were prevalent in the waters east of the bar. The shallows up Spit Bommie way produced cobia, goldies and shark mackerel for Dane and crew. Ploughing east thereafter and jigging heavy metal in the depths saw them mixing with the usual candidates in 140 metres initially, with pearlies leading the charge before a few bar cod, kingfish and amberjack got in on the act.

Heading a little wider saw even more AJs, more kingies and some snapper hooked on heavy jigs worked in differing manners in 220 metres or so. We won’t talk about who got spooled in this forum, but you might ask the skipper about that one in person perhaps.

Some of you will recall the reports from Double Island Point Fishing Charters from last week that relayed a similar current-free scene east of Fraser Island and D.I. as well. Now that the EAC has backed off, generally-speaking, the offshore scene is set for some of the best fishing imaginable. You just need the weather. 

A thumper blue eye from deep water offshore. A real prize for those fishing 400-600m on deep drop tackle.
Ensure you have squid jigs with you this time of year. The 2.5 or 3.0 sizes are the go for the larger tiger squid.


Water Quality Improving Dramatically in Our Estuaries

The Mary and Susan are clearing up quite well downstream, finally, though there is till pure freshwater in the upper reaches of both rivers. Some outstanding barra are on offer for those willing to put in the effort, and they tend to bite quite well this time of year too. It won’t be long and a series of cold snaps will make barra fishing too hard for most folks, so unless you are one of those die-hards, then get your fix while you can.

Try the larger prawn imitation plastics rigged weedless amongst the timber and across the rock bars. Suspending hardbodies will have their moments too, but in both cases, retrieves that imitate a banana prawn are going to get bit. Expect some frustrations with late autumn or wintertime barra, and be prepared to drive away from fish with what seems like lockjaw. Offer them a smaller presentation in kinder terrain if you get the opportunity and that might trigger a bite from a barra in denial-mode.

A few jewies in the waters near River Heads and some beaut flatties caught from the heads itself has both shore-based and boat-based fishos working lures and live baits in the vicinity. Blue salmon are also a possibility as they swim on by, but they are rarely inclined to linger.

The best target down the straits has been the grunter over the past week or so. Quality specimens are eagerly pouncing on small prawn imitations, soft vibes and other plastics. Bait fishos can catch them too, but they will have to put up with a lot more bycatch and smaller grunter. That bycatch might be annoying if it is juvies of any kind, but not so much if it is a good barra or thready, so be ready for allcomers down there this time of year.

Your best jack fishing is behind you for this season now perhaps, but feel free to prove that statement wrong. It is still relatively warm for this time of year, and if those really big jacks are yet to make their way off to the reefs, then here is possibly your last chance to tangle with them. Bait fishos will probably do better on the jacks than those favouring lures (but isn’t that always the case?).

Big blue salmon continue to terrorise baitfish on the flats and in the nearby feeder channels of the straits. So too, a few large queenfish if you can find them. Some have commented on passing large schools of bream moving across certain flats south of the river, which are likely enroute to their winter spawning grounds. The winter bream fishery is about to go next level with the next major cold snap and set of larger tides, so if you are bream fan, it is time to dust off the finesse tackle.

Ensure you carry squid jigs just in case you trip over some tigers, or go seek them out in the right waters. Clarity is important, and our waters are clearing with each passing week. Sight-fishing to tiger squid is a ton of fun, but also insanely popular, so squid numbers of the past are but a distant memory. It will be competitive, yet a feed or a bit of fun is available for those that enjoy the craft. Whilst not deemed worthy of their own specific bag limit, tiger squid (or “locallies” as they have been known here for eons) fall within the default limit of 20 for a species that is not otherwise regulated.

There are plenty of grunter down the straits, and small prawn or yabby imitations such as the Rapala Crush City Imposter are as good as any to tempt them.
The new 180mm King Flick Prawn from Chasebaits was too tempting for this barra caught by staff member Scotty.
Staff member, Jacko, fooled this fine flattie with the Powerbait Nessie 7-inch soft glide bait. The 5 inch is in stock now too, which will be a flatty special.

Anyone for a Feed of Crab or Prawn?

The muddies have gone from strength to strength all autumn, and the full moon tides this week had them on the move and potting well once again. They could well slow down soon and move back to their burrows in the backwaters, but whilst it remains this warm and the jennies are moulting, you are in with a chance.

Sand crabbers are very spoilt this season. Excellent catches have been enjoyed from the waters off both the west coast and east coast of the bay. Heading well beyond Coongul has been necessary to get the best crab up the island, though you didn’t need to go far at all to get amongst them off Toogoom or the Burrum recently. 

Bag limits are almost a given if you are on the crab, and throwing back excess has been a regular event for many. The bucks continue to outnumber the jennies in the right water, so move your gear if you are bringing up anything other than bright blue.

Prawners are in their element right now. Great catches from Woodgate could continue when the weather tends offshore again (or maybe even this week if the early southerlies hold out long enough). A trip upriver into the Burrum or its three feeder rivers would be a worthwhile exercise too, with good prawn now on offer from the mid reaches of those streams. The lower Mary and Susan are worth cast netting for bananas and the creeks down the straits and along the western side of Fraser are due for their turn.

Jessie enjoyed feasting on one of Qld's finest recently. The muddies are moving back upstream, but are still readily available.
The Daiwa Kodachi is a gun bream lure for flats fishos. Dane had no trouble tempting quite a few on these lures last winter.

Surf Fishing on Fraser Island is Excellent

A lot of folks make the annual pilgrimage to Fraser Island each year from August to October to get the best of the tailor fishing that it is rightly famous for. If that is you, and you haven’t experienced the island’s surf fishery in May or June, then you are missing out.

As a few lucky locals have recently experienced, the whiting fishing over there is excellent right now, and there is plenty of handy bycatch too. From the dirtier waters to the south of Eurong, and from the primo gutters formed in the central sector of the island, a constant stream of quality whiting flows. Fish-a-cast scenarios unfold for some, whilst others still manage a very good feed of plump whiting not even close to needing to be measured. 

Quality dart have also been quite abundant in many of the deeper gutters. The usual low tide gutters have been highly productive, yet so too have the occasional high tide gutters. Pippies have been quite scarce in the central sector, being most available just after low tide as they move back up the beach. There’s been plenty of sweep along the beach, caused largely by the prevailing south-easters of late, but this has only added to the ease of capture for those experienced beach fishos.

Differing reports over the past fortnight suggest there has been a bit of weed re-appearing here and there. Nothing permanent, and nothing of major concern. Some appeared along the strip near Yidney a week ago. Not snot weed, but a stringy green variety. The rocky outcrops are all passable at low tide up to and beyond Yidney at this time. 

Thanks to Tony for sharing some of his recent observations, and of retelling the yarn of the solid trevally that he hooked and fought for ages on the light gear in the surf. A battle royale that ended well and will be remembered for quite a while.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Tony Gaunt's Pyrography Art is something very special, and has a very local influence.
Custom-designed artwork from Tony Gaunt is highly sought after. Contact Fisho's or Tony if you are interested. We have samples of his chopping boards.


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