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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 26th April, 2024

Fisho's Big Cat Reality Swains Trip 2024 - Kaelem worked hard this trip and scored his prized GT in the final hour of the last day! Nashy's stick bait 190F.

Enjoy These Warmer Autumn Days

How good was Anzac Day yesterday? After nearly a week of stiff onshore trade winds, showery rain and a lack of fishing; along comes a spell of awesome weather to enable us to remember our diggers (and current service men and women) on a much-cherished public holiday. Fishing and boating featured high on many folks’ Anzac Day activities list, and none were disappointed with perhaps the best day of the week weather-wise.

Sadly, the wind has returned overnight and we are once again buffeted by up to 20 knots of south-east trade wind. Saturday looks similar. 15-20 knots from the south-east is the call. Sunday should be a bit better; averaging around 15 knots from the same direction. Showers are possible today and into the weekend. More nuisance value than anything major.

Ditto for Monday and Tuesday potentially. Moderate south-east winds around 15 knots. Lighter breezes could be experienced inshore early, so those willing to forego a sleep-in might enjoy the best of the day’s sea conditions. Given the chance of the trade wind stiffening again thereafter, you might wish to make the most of a less than ideal week when the weather is at its kindest.

The moon is waning again, following the passing of the full moon on Wednesday. This means diminishing tidal flow daily until virtually this time next week. The moon will be comforting and the weather semi-accommodating certain nights, so nocturnal activities, both onshore and near-shore might be considered by some. It is still quite warm, so make the most of these mild conditions, as cooler times are on their way.

Archie Caswell supporting a lovely central bay coral trout, well done young fella.
Archie feeding the family for the week, a tasty duo of venus tusk fish and coral cod.

How Many Tuna Can You Catch in a Day?

Whilst the weather has been denying access to the bay’s open waters for most folks, there was a handful that braved the crossing to Fraser and sped up the island chasing tuna. Large longtails were there waiting for them not far off the beach near Wathumba Creek. Plenty more tuna schools were observed out wider in rougher waters.

In essence, there are abundant tuna schools scattered far and wide across most of Hervey Bay. The tuna are highly mobile, and have pushed well into the bay and the Great Sandy Straits over the recent making tides. Both longtails and mac tuna are tearing into schools of ‘whitebait’ and other juvenile bait fish throughout the upper straits. The fast-flowing deeper waters off Kingfisher Bay and the main passages between the bay islands have played host to many tuna schools this week.

It isn’t so much a matter of can you catch a Hervey Bay tuna at present, but more a matter of just how many you can catch! Expect multiple hook-ups whilst ever the tuna ‘stay up’. That can be for a matter of hours or seemingly all day some days. The weather will frustrate most folks this week unfortunately, yet if you are keen enough, then the waters of the straits or southern Platypus Bay will beckon. 15 knot south-easters won’t keep keen fishos off Hervey Bay, given the protected waters inshore and up the island.

Christie Radosevic getting in on the red hot tuna action, scoring this school sized long-tail tuna.
Staff member Dane snuck out for a family day on the bay and scored a mix of mac and longtail tuna. This Longie ate a Nashy 100mm sinking stick bait.
Jacko has been enjoying the aerial strikes from the larger long-tail tuna using the GT Ice-creams of late.


Bonito were spotted (and caught) out near the Fairway and over at the Burum 8 Mile this week. Their presence across much of ‘the banks’ would be no surprise. Those seeking bait from the Simpson arti or the Outer Banks could be in for a few tangles when the bonnies turn up. They will be a regular feature of our southern bay waters (and further north) for months to come.

More talk of spaniards wide of Arch Cliffs suggests they are semi-entrenched in that area. Abundant larger baitfish tempt such fish to linger. Broadies are snatching spoons and live baits at reefs across the banks as well as closer inshore. As our waters continue to cool, broadies will move into shallower waters and be a significant sight-fishing target for fishos cruising our shallow inshore reefs and flats.

Those of you that enjoy catching and consuming school mackerel should enjoy good catches when the weather improves. They have been widespread close inshore, from the waters off the west coast, through the banks, and into our shipping channels. They are a bit of a pest for those jigging lures for reefies around shipwrecks and deeper ledges, but thankfully they aren’t everywhere (even if it seems like they are some days).

The Sicario Bloodhawk 125mm soft plastic is a unique yet very affective profile. Max putting them to the test on the longies with great success.
Staff member Jacko loves chasing 'tail' and this one fella victim to the GT Ice-cream. Aerial strikes on these are insane!
Zman 5 inch bubble gum streakz are a must have lure if heading up the island to target the tuna.

Prime Pelagic Activity on the Sandy Cape Shoals

The making tides preceding this week’s full moon triggered an exciting bite from large pelagics over the Sandy Cape Shoals. Both spanish mackerel and giant trevally were in attendance and willing to hunt down stickbaits danced above their happy hunting grounds. Stronger tidal flow plays a large part in this bite, but so does time of year and the passage of baitfish through the area.

Other pelagics can be encountered over shoaly country east of Breaksea Spit this time of year too, the most common of which can be cobia in shallower waters to 40-50 metres, and amberjack in deeper waters. You can jig for either and will get stretched by both. The cobes may not be the dirty fighters that the AJs are, yet their tendency to resist capture with enthusiasm demands plenty of respect.

From what we know, the shoals are still challenging to fish due to persistent shark activity. The same issue denies success along much of the 100-metre line too. A reduction in the flow of the EAC should be on the cards any day now, so we can only hope for improved fishing and less shark attrition for offshore reef fishos. Until then, it will be those sporting deep dropping tackle that will reap the benefits of offshore trips when the winds ease.

Fisho's Big Cat Reality Swains Trip 2024 - Joe Psaila having a cuddle with one of the GT he caught for the trip.
Match the hatch - a fantastic example of why the Samaki Live Shrimp 127mm golden carrot is such a stand out lure. A must have for reef fisho's.

Inshore Waters are Still Warm, But Cooling

Some made their way to the Gutters before the big blow arrived. A few handy reef fish were caught by the odd crew, whilst others experienced the usual attention from sharks. Trophy fish are hard enough to land over gnarly terrain, so trying to extract them with sharks hovering above is rarely fruitful. Plenty of prime reef fish are more than willing to take your bait, lure or jig, but it is typically the smaller or more modest-sized fish that are landed up there these days.

Coral trout bit well, as they always do this time of year. Fringe-dwellers such as grassy sweetlip, moses perch, spangled emperor, cod and tuskfish made up the numbers in the ice box for some crews. A few better hussar can add a delightful bonus to a lighter-than-you’d-like esky these days. Often relegated to the bait box in the good old days, these incredibly tasty and highly underrated little reef fish are a fantastic addition to your next seafood banquet.

Scarlet sea perch (nannygai) continue to feature in catches from many parts of the bay. They are worth pursuing in Platypus Bay. Many small, undersized scarlets plague numerous reefs up that way though, as they do around the banks. Resist lingering over schools of undersized scarlets, as their inherent issues with barotrauma mean mass fatalities for these ridiculously easy-to-catch fish. 

Quality scarlets are still possible from deeper inshore hotspots. Some of the local artificial reefs have been temporary residences for fish to a few kilos. They are still a chance, and are often incidental captures for those targeting sweeties and squire. Sweeties still outnumber other reef fish inshore by a large margin. Blackall continue to give anglers a battle when hooked, and a few trout and cod can be caught whilst the tide is slack.

Snapper will be eagerly sought after in coming weeks and months. Initial encounters often come from artificial reef sites, though some inshore ledges also give up a few. Respect for these slow-growing fish is suggested when it comes to shark depredation. If your initial hook-ups to snapper end with the taxman taking the spoils, then don’t repeat your efforts in the same area. Move on and try elsewhere, so as to avoid wasting these precious fish.

There is a bit of subtle colour in the water in parts of the lower bay and the upper straits. This is a good thing heading into snapper season. Nutrient-rich inshore waters draw in baitfish and add to the smorgasbord these waters offer spawning snapper. Hopping your favourite snapper lollies along current lines or past major structures is a tried and proven method of finding these sometimes-elusive fish. Doing so over the larger tides adds to your chances of success.

The shallow reefs, such as those fringing Gatakers Bay and Point Vernon gave up good catches of sweetlip last week. Blackall were also abundant and gave fishos quite a battle at close quarters to the coral. Grunter and coral trout catches have tapered off, but both species are still possible for those that persist. Heading deeper would be a good idea if you are serious about those, and indeed most reef species, this time of year.

Max scored this flathead whilst working the fringing rocks around one of the inshore islands.
Stuart with one of the tastiest fish swimming, a fringe-eye flathead.

Seek the Shelter of the Straits

The unkind winds this week will make the Great Sandy Straits appealing once again. Sports fishos can have some fun chasing tuna through the main shipping channels, and then turn their attention to queenfish and blue salmon up on the flats, or within the shallower feeder channels further south. 

Those keen to tangle with a jewfish can try their hand at jigging vibes or softies for them along Fraser’s western ledges. Trolling deep divers can tempt jewies too often enough; the only problem with that tactic being the constant hook-ups to pesky estuary cod. Some cod can be sizeable too, though more often than not, they are quite small or at best modest-sized. 

As our waters continue to cool, the jewies will seem more active. There are numerous locations down the straits that house schools of jewfish at times. Which one might be best could be determined by the quantity of baitfish it hosts at the time. The River Heads peninsula and nearby waters also offer jewfish fans a crack at some larger specimens. Live baiting from the pontoon is certainly popular these days, where once we used shallow-diving lures from the rocks themselves.

Grunter a fantastic light tackle sport fish and an exceptional table fish.

The current water temperature and water quality is prime for grunter hunters venturing down the straits. Quality grunter can be caught with baits or many lures. It is the lure fisho that often evades the pickers and connects to the true trophies in some waters, more often than not whilst hopping small prawn imitations across broken bottom. Fish such as diamond trevally, goldies, threadfin and blue salmon, flathead and even barra can be bycatch whilst targeting grunter. How you react to a hook-up and the screaming run of the larger models on light leader will dictate your chances of landing that fish.

You could take the ultra-light tackle for a run down the straits and intercept the schools of bream making their way out of the estuaries. Rocky areas and gravelly runs in the lower reaches of some creeks offer the best terrain. Whiting are possible too, from within some of the creeks, or from the adjacent flats. Both species are at their best with plenty of run in the water, though opportunities to mimic fleeing jelly prawn with tiny topwater lures up on the flats might well get a response over the coming neaps.

The MMD Splash prawn will become a very affective topwater presentation over the coming months. Leon & Ryan with some fun sized estuary GT.
As the water temps start to cool off expect to find schools of chopper tailor terrorising the bait schools. They are suckers for topwater lures.

River Fishos Relish the Mild Conditions

Our waters are cooling, yet are still relatively warm for this time of year. Anzac Day often heralds the changing of the guard in our estuaries and inshore, as winter species make their way towards their spawning grounds. Bream fans can intercept bream on the move downstream in our rivers and creeks right now if they wish. Dirty water upstream has already aggregated them in the lower reaches, so finding numbers shouldn’t be too difficult.

A little berley goes a long way for bait fishos seeking bream. Parking the boat upstream of a likely rocky outcrop or stretch of broken bottom might see lightly-weighted baits picked off by the odd bream without berley, but add berley to the scene and it can be cricket scores of fish caught one after the other. Various baits will tempt bream, whilst the degree of issue with pickers will often dictate which is best. No pickers – go for prawns or even yabbies. Lots of pickers – then opt for mullet fillets or larger baits of herring etc.

The Burrum system has its share of quality bream for those willing to seek them out. Reports from the last week have been more about rat barra, flathead and grunter though. Undoubtedly some of the locals picked up a feed of solid whiting from those rivers whilst the tides were building towards the full moon. Grunter activity over such tides is enhanced too, and many folks catch them up on the flats after dark on yabbies or prawn baits.

Focussing on barra and mangrove jacks in the Burrum system is a good idea this week. The air might be a little cooler, but it is nothing like it will be in weeks to come. Get in now, before our waters cool too much and make them lethargic. Jack fishos in particular have an opportunity to tangle with some of the rivers’ best in the lower reaches, before they exit the river for good. 

The jacks have certainly been responding aggressively to topwater lures of late. Typical of those times when small prawn is emerging, the jacks are focussed on such an easy meal and your ability to mimic such prey is what will bring you success. You have never had it better, as a fisho, with so many prime topwater lures at your disposal. Going too small can be challenging however, as even the best possible upgrade of the smaller lures won’t be enough to stay connected to larger jacks.

Diamond Trevally are fantastic sport around our inshore islands. Tri From Fraser Guided Fishing certainly knows where and when to look.
Another happy client aboard Fraser Guided Fishing, showing off this very chunky queenfish.

Dirty Water Impacts Fraser’s Surf Fishery

Word from a Fraser Island regular suggests there is a bit going on over on the island. Easter was very busy, and extended Anzac Day long weekend traffic is expected, however, recent rains have left the tracks in quite good condition, and the beach is largely wide and flat. Beach travel is very good at present, and all rocky outcrops can be passed with no need for diversion.

Dirty water is a major feature of the island’s surf scene at the moment. Excess run-off from the straits has made its way up along Fraser and extends many miles out to sea. There is a bit of grass in the waters when the tides are peaking, but otherwise the water is stained with little to no debris as such. Quite fishable if you can get your head around the dirty water scenario.

Weed is currently not an issue which is great news. Pippies are abundant once again too, and the pro wormers have been working non-stop. With plenty of pippies and worms on the beach, it is no surprise to hear that whiting and dart are the mainstays for fishos at present. In time, bream and tarwhine will join the fray, particularly from rock-strewn gutters.

The dirty waters make one suspicious that there should be jewfish lurking somewhere along the beach. The Cathedrals area is typically a favoured starting point for jewfish fans, though we have no real evidence to suggest there is any there at present. Baby jewies are turning up in deeper gutters along the beach; all of which are being returned to the water unharmed (we trust).

There was mention of schools of chopper tailor mid-way up the island a fortnight ago. Reports from last week suggest the waters near Waddy Point are where you might find them. They are not large by any means, but if you are keen on some out-of-season choppers, then the option is there.

Fraser-based reef fishos are having a blast offshore, weather permitting. All manner of quality reef fish are coming from the grounds wide of the headlands and elsewhere. The Waddy Point gutter is somewhat closed-out though, and has been for weeks. Locals know how to traverse the gutter and escape near the rocks, but to the uninitiated it is a potentially dangerous scenario right now. Best you seek local advice before beach-launching over there for the first time.

Get them hooked young! Kurtis sharing another fantastic father son moment with Tommy as he shows of this bar-cheek coral trout.

Catching All Elements of a Seafood Basket

Seafood lovers could potentially put together the makings of a veritable seafood basket from the bay’s waters at present. You might need to purchase the mollusc ingredients from a seafood outlet, but dropping your larger crab pots out in the bay should see the crab meat component sorted. A little time spend hunting cephalopods could see the addition of calamari, and then its just a matter of throwing your cast net in the right spots for a feed of prawns before going fishing. Sounds easier than it probably is of course, yet in reality, all elements are out there for those willing to go on the hunt.

The bay’s sand crabs are still marching inshore and are widely distributed across the southern and central bay. The big tides this week offered a chance at intercepting them close inshore around the bay islands, but the weather kept most folks at home. The waters off Gatakers Bay have given up a handy feed of sandies this week, from waters accessible whilst the winds blew. Another soak in that area might be productive, though expect a retreat to slightly deeper waters as the tides fall away.

Prep your pots. When targeting sandies try to purchase the largest heaviest pots you can to ensure once set they don't drift!
Locals have certainly been enjoying the fantastic run of sand crab in the bay.

Muddies potted well as the full moon approached. The creeks and rivers are still producing a good feed of bucks, though the jennies are becoming a real issue in many stretches. It may pay to check your pots more frequently if they are placed in accessible waters. Bait-up with larger baits and be prepared to clear the jennies from your pots and move them elsewhere.

Woodgate has been the star performer in the banana prawn stakes recently. Strong winds denied access for many days this week, but Anzac Day itself offered the perfect opportunity for prawners to amass over the usual grounds up that way. When the prawns are on at Woodgate it’s a furious scene of boats gathered tightly and cast nets flying through the air. Everyone typically gets along just fine and its happy days when the prawns are thick.

Of course, banana prawns don’t stay swimming all day, and they will bury back in the silty bottom when the time comes and be impossible to catch. Strangely enough though, when the prawns aren’t available, many hopefuls keep throwing their nets, almost constantly. Experienced observers, typically cruising around looking for the giveaway signs of prawn on their sounders, are left shaking their heads and wondering what possesses some folks to keep throwing nets when there are no prawns being caught.

Bycatch whilst prawning can be significant, and frustrating. Minimising how often you throw your net will obviously minimise the bycatch and your impact on juvenile fishes etc. When the bananas are running, the shows on your sounder will illustrate them clearly, and your casts should be coming up with kilos of prawn, not a couple. To be catching less than half a kilo per throw would mean you are off the prawn and should recommence looking. Get back into the best of the prawn and you could be out of there in no time at all with your bucket or boat limit aboard.

Prawning elsewhere is improving with each passing week and the cooling waters. There is smaller prawn in the Burrum system for now, and better times just around the corner. The lower Mary or Susan are worth prospecting too, as are the larger feeder creeks that run off those rivers. Shallow water prawning along the banks and near the drains in the mid-lower reaches is productive as the tide drains, whilst the larger gutters near the mouth are worth a look early flood.

Jesse Latham with a solid buck.
A prime example of a solid rusty buck 'male' mud crab.
KRABKING CUFF - the easy and affective way to tie up and store your mud crab.

Action Aplenty for Pier Fishos

There has been plenty of pelagic action out near the deep end of the Urangan Pier this week. The wind and rain denied the fun for a few days, but all in all, it has been an exciting week for pier-goers. Broad-barred mackerel have been relatively constant visitors, whilst mac tuna made many raids some days and a few longtails came close enough to be caught too.

The odd flathead can be found lurking near the pylons, and they are most easily tempted by live pike. A live herring will also tempt a flatty, but a pike will do so more effectively. The chance of a jewfish after dark is very real this time of year. Live baiting is the preferred method for some, whilst others will opt for soft vibes or large soft plastics in the darkness.

A few whiting were also caught from the pier this week, indicative of the handy run of whiting making its way along our town beaches at present. Quality fish were in the mix too, pre-full moon, with whiting in the 28-35cm class making for a better feed than expected for some beach-goers. Wandering the beach flats with ultralight tackle and tiny topwater lures has been productive too. 

Our late autumn run of bream should commence fairly soon. Our waters are still relatively warm for now, so it has been mostly smaller fish so far. However, the larger pilot bream (large males that arrive early to stake out their territory) can be expected at places such as Urangan Pier, Urangan Harbour and Pialba rocks soon. It won’t be long at all, and bream fans will have plenty to cheer about.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Fisho's Big Cat Reality Swains Trip 2024 - Brandon and Joey pretty stoked with their efforts for a drift.
Fisho's Big Cat Reality Swains Trip 2024 - Paul showing off his 90cm blue spot coral trout, what a capture! For reference that’s a 60cm common trout.

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