Fisho's Tackle World Hervey Bay annual Swains Reef Trip aboard Big Cat Reality Charters was another great success. Stay tuned for the full report to come.
Fantastic Weather Ahead
The strong trade winds that have buffeted our coastline over the past week are easing and will drop out altogether on the weekend. Until then, 15-20 knots of residual southeaster will keep most boaties onshore, saving their fuel for the string of great days ahead.
Saturday and Sunday both look great, with less than 10 knots of variable breeze preceding afternoon sea breezes of still 10 knots or less. Showers and potential storms are worth noting and avoiding if they build in intensity. If you spend the whole weekend on the water, chances are you will get wet at some stage, so take precautions for your comfort and safety.
The whole of the working week looks sensational. Initially, days will dawn to light winds either side of southerly, tending more easterly later in the day. Come Wednesday, a very subtle southeasterly change is likely as another weak trough passes by. Even then, the winds should barely reach 15 knots and will soon ease again. We just might see glamour weather right into the following weekend, so fingers crossed for that.
The moon is waxing and tomorrow’s first quarter phase means neap tides on the build thereafter. It is all good news this week really. Great weather, with good tides getting even better. Make the most of it if you can.
Given the general lack of fishing opportunities over the past week, we have very little to actually report on. Instead, we will focus on what you might expect to catch next week, and the impact on our fisheries from the recent blow.
It's coming to that time of year when we can enjoy cleaner waters. Reilly took full advantage of a recent dive and was rewarded for his efforts.
Jigging goldies is a ton of fun Well done again Sean.
Firstly though, just a reminder that Australia’s biggest family fishing competition is on in the Gladstone region this weekend. Kicking off tomorrow from its base on Boyne Island, the Hook-Up will run over 3 days and offers not just a pool of fantastic prizes, but many activities for the whole family.
An incredible $400,000 prize pool is up for grabs, including a $95,000 boat and motor package by way of a lucky draw. The other prizes and activities are far too extensive to list here, so google the event and take a peek if you are interested.
The weather should be pretty good up there, though slightly breezier than locally. Good luck to all who enter – you are in for a great time!
Thanh scores a thumping goldie.
Something for the Landlubbers
Wind-blown stretches of our local beaches are now awash with forage items and could see a resurgence in fish when the wind eases. Neap tides are not conducive to better whiting fishing typically, but like all fish, they are opportunists and may surprise us this week.
Bream are now worth pursuing on the light gear and are another species that will scavenge around likely areas where their favourite tucker was dislodged during recent turbulence. They are on the starting blocks for their annual spawning migration right now, and the race to take up prime breeding sites will be led by the larger male “pilot” bream as usual.
Rocky sites in the mid reaches of our rivers would be a great place to find numbers if you are boating, but landlubbers can focus on the mouths of our rivers and local man-made structures. The rocks at River Heads will be worth a look, as will stretches of the Burrum Heads foreshore, the Urangan Harbour rock walls and of course, the Urangan Pier.
Jewfish will become increasingly common out at River Heads as we head into May. Live baiting at night from the pontoon is popular nowadays, but for many years intrepid fishos plied those waters from the stones with shallow diving hardbodies and paddle-tailed soft plastics. Bycatch from such activities can be both species of salmon, flathead and estuary cod.
We haven’t heard anything from the Urangan Pier this week. Perhaps the wind was too much. Anyway, pelagic activity had increased prior to the blow, with mackerel and tuna turning up at times. The making tides this week should see a renewed surge of baitfish and their predators into the lower bay and straits, so there may be some action at the pier once again.
Flatties were common captures prior to the blow at the pier. Given that they are no fans of windy conditions in shallower waters, the flatties may well re-emerge from the depths this week. Live baits plonked in the gaps between the pylons if not nearby to fish sighted below, will soon tempt them if they are there.
A few flatties have been swiping at small lures and plastics worked around our local creek mouths of late. The wind put them off last week, but they will be back and very likely with more mates. The Booral Flats could be quite productive for flathead and whiting fans when the southwesters kick in and the water clarity improves next week.
Bream fans will be eyeing off the full moon period in a week’s time. The bigger pilot bream are a possibility from the deeper waters out the end. Their shabby tails from all the blueing amongst their rivals as they stamp their dominance of their favoured spawning sites is indicative of these bigger males. There may not be many of them initially, but they are often very serious bream.
Those keen on a lengthy battle on something that pulls string whilst enjoying the sand between their toes can always target sharks, shovellies and rays from our beaches. Stirred-up waters from the recent winds draw such creatures into our shallows to feed, and they can even be viable options in daylight hours.
Trout for dinner again for Luke.
Mel's still trolling up trout in the shallows.
Hit the Rivers Before the Water Cools
The drop in air and water temperature is notable this week. Looking ahead, cool southerlies and cloudless nights will see temps reducing further. So too, any rainfall this time of year tends to chill the water. So, if you are a fan of warm water estuarine predators like barra, threadies and mangrove jacks, then you had better get in and make hay while the sun shines, as they say.
For now, the Burrum system continues to be your best bet at both barra and jacks if ease of access and nice surroundings are appealing to you. Fraser’s western creeks otherwise offer even better jack fishing at times, though the bugs and the tidal restrictions within the creeks can take the edge off for some. Whichever you choose, make the most of the coming weeks, and particularly making tides such as this week.
The Burrum’s barra have been starting to make their way back upstream. They are still widely distributed within all four rivers up that way and can turn up just about anywhere. Sight-fishing to big barra lazing about enjoying the warmth in shallow waters as the tide floods onto exposed sandbanks warmed by the sun can be ultra-exciting. Stealth will be key in such scenarios, and there are even a couple of sites where exiting the boat and sneaking up on them on foot over select sandbars is possible.
It is quite possible that schools of jacks capitalised on the heavy weather and receding tides to migrate beyond the estuaries this week. There are inshore reefs that offer stop-over points for offshore-bound jacks that have produced excellent specimens for locals attuned to this fishery in the past.
Jack numbers will still be prolific within our creeks and rivers all the same. Lure fishos need to make the most of any opportunity they get soon, as when our waters cool significantly, the jacks will be virtually bait-only targets, and you will need to wait until next spring for your jack fix.
Threadfin salmon are still a very viable target for now. They will be highly mobile in coming weeks too, turning up where they have been absent of late. The turbid waters from the recent blow can be advantageous for feeding threadies this time of year, and experienced fishos will know of areas buffeted by recent winds that will be prime feeding sites right now.
Pauly from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters with a nice Salty barra whilst enjoying a guides day off. And what else would he do besides go fishing.
Cool Water Estuary Options Emerge
Cooling waters mean more of the threadies’ cousin, the blue salmon. They have been in surprisingly good numbers right through the warmer months this year so far, so when the big schools expected to arrive in May show themselves it should a sambo bonanza.
For now, most blues can be found within the Mary and Susan Rivers and the creeks down the Great Sandy Straits. Looking ahead, even more fish will join those already in the streams, whilst migratory schools can be intercepted as they make their way through the feeder channels or up onto the many flats of the straits.
Within reason, you would struggle to find a decent lure that a blue salmon wouldn’t have a crack at. All the same, to improve your chances, an arsenal of soft vibes, perhaps some paddle-tailed softies and “twitchable” hardbodies that you work at a bit quicker pace will sort out the blues admirably. Of course, most of these lures will tempt the barra, threadies, jacks, flathead and jewies that also share similar waters as the blues.
Much like the blues, our mulloway jew season kicks into gear about now. River Heads is a great starting point and is indicative of the sort of location you might seek these fish. Rocky ledges and points, deep rock bars and many man-made structures all draw jewfish at times – the main variables being the tide, moon and food sources. Prawns schooled in deeper waters can be the drawcard upstream, whilst mullet milling around rock bars downstream do so at their own risk.
The other major cool water target in our creeks and rivers is the grunter. They have been making their way back upstream for several weeks now and are well-entrenched in many streams. They are easier to tempt on lures now than they will be in the depths of winter, so make the most of the grunter fishery as you traverse our local streams.
Snapper Now on the Hit List
Many might consider this time of year to be a tad early to get serious about chasing snapper in Hervey Bay, and to some extent they are right. If you want sheer numbers to improve your odds, then wait until mid-winter. If you don’t mind a challenge, and are willing to put in a little extra effort, then snapper are on the cards this week.
The spring tides closer to the full moon next week will be most conducive to a good snapper bite. The neaps might not be as productive in the meantime, yet many snapper fishos will know just how these fish move inshore to feast during a decent blow. It would be of no surprise to hear of sizeable snapper being caught within cooee of the exposed shallow reefs fringing the bay islands this weekend.
Nocturnal sessions will suit the early season snapper fishos that favour bait fishing. Otherwise, spending a few daylight hours prospecting local artificial reefs and other reef sites around the banks could be productive. Historically, it is time for Moon Ledge, the Roy Rufus, Simpson and other reefs along similar latitudes to draw a few snapper. Baitfish will be the deciding factor. No bait, no snapper (well, large ones anyway).
There will be ample grassy sweetlip inshore for those keen on a feed on these scrappy little guys. Look for them around the fringes of the reefs, deep or shallow. Their numbers will begin to dwindle in coming weeks as our waters cool, leaving just the biggest of their brethren inshore over winter. Squire will take up where the sweeties depart and offer even better sport and arguably a much better feed to boot.
The bite from coral trout and estuary cod will also become more lack lustre in a month or so’s time, so make the most of upcoming opportunities to tangle with them. The recent blow is likely to have given both species a much-needed reprieve, but also offered them the opportunity to shift house, so to speak. Trolling sessions, tea-bagging sessions or live baiting sessions focussed around the tide turn will soon tempt any hungry cod or trout on your chosen piece of reef.
Blackall and scarlet sea perch will react well to cooling waters inshore. Both species will also bite with gusto out wider in the northern bay and over in Platypus Bay as well. The bigger tides will favour those chasing scarlets, and sessions into the wee hours of night can produce the true trophies.
Sportsfishos Get Ready to Rumble
Watching your sounder whilst seeking out reefies and snapper inshore will soon give away the whereabouts of schools of golden trevally. Large goldies were being caught from local artificial reefs out amongst the banks and within our shipping channels before the blow. So long as the baitfish are still there, the goldies won’t be far away.
Indeed, baitfish numbers are gathering inshore in increasing numbers. Pike are now widespread inshore, herring are flooding to and fro with the tides and yakkas are starting to appear in better numbers to our north. These baitfish schools are massive drawcards for many reefies and pelagics.
Mackerel fans will need to scan likely terrain looking for schoolies and spaniards this week. Trolling minnows capable of speed is a great way of tracking them down, though watching your sounder and spinning metals vertically past baitfish schools or mackerel visible on the screen will soon see you hooked up too. The latitude along which you find the Fairway, the Burrum 8 Mile and the Outer Banks is a good starting point.
There is every chance there is still spaniards in numbers in the northern bay. The Gutters and Rooneys reefs are good places to start your search if you are keen. A dawn troll will do the trick. The 25 Fathom Hole might also produce spaniards if you wish to drop in for a quick look on the way north.
Sean had an absolute ball whilst holidaying and fishing our Hervey Bay waters ticking off many pelagic species, including this school mackerel.
Birchy with a school sized longtail tuna he caught whilst working the birds inshore.
You can easily put yourself in this picture. The goldies are on. Well done Sean.
Queenfish were being caught around tuna schools recently, as well as closer inshore around the bay islands. Once again, the bigger tides later next week will favour the queenie fans, but they may well be active in the stirred-up waters beforehand.
Tuna will be the focus for many sportsfishos this week. The big blow was just what the tuna fisho ordered as more and more schools of longtails have now joined their brethren and the macks in the bay. You should have no difficulty tracking down active tuna schools this week.
The making tides will see many schools riding the currents down into the straits too. Both longtails and macks will be harassing the small herring they ball to the surface in their travels. These fish will be increasingly flighty as more boats make contact, so get in first if you get the chance.
Otherwise, push the throttle down and head for the central or northern bay. Platypus Bay will be the focal point for many, though the central bay and western bay can offer less shark attrition for those that head that way. The sharks will be bad around so many schools, so keep this in mind and seek out the smaller pods of (typically) larger tuna if stick baiting is your thing.
Longtails galore. Sean having a ball recently.
Sean with a ripper bay longtail.
Venom V-swim doing the damage on this school sized bay longtail tuna.
Offshore Beckons When Swell Eases
There is a tad too much swell offshore for smaller boats initially, but as the week wears on your chances improve. Heavy ground swell has always been productive for those in bigger boats that can get out wide (so long as you aren’t prone to mal de mer), but all must respect our coastal bars and take no chances so far from assistance.
A quick glance at BOM’s SST chart will soon highlight the cooling waters offshore. Prime time is just around the corner for offshore reef fishos and you can start your season as soon as you like. The currents will be easing, however, take into consideration the chance that the consistent trade wind last week pushed the EAC back closer to the bar north of Fraser. Until the winds reverse and/or ease, there may be a little more current than expected offshore.
Once you can get back out there, expect great things. Deep dropping will be just one facet of a potential day offshore, bringing up many large and varied ooglies from the deep. Pearlies, snapper, bar cod and several varieties of jobfish will be possible from future trips. Targeting waters around 200-250m or so is most popular, though some crews spend time in 450m and some even as deep as 700m. Gear up and get ready for what will be a good season offshore if we get the weather.
Prized red emperor like this one Aedan is holding will become a more common capture from our wider reef grounds as we lead into our cooler months.
Aedan Arnold with a very solid offshore grassy sweetlip, often caught whilst fishing away from the main structures on the broken bottom flat country.
Stretch’s Last Stretch
It is with a tear in our eyes that we must farewell our beloved “Stretch”. His folks called him Josh Power of course, but anyone who has met the man will know just why he was tagged with the nickname. Towering above the rest of us, he was never hard to find in store. His life has changed dramatically just recently, welcoming his delightful newborn, Esther Jane to this world, taking on the role of new parent with his wonderful wife Rachel.
Not one to do things by halves, Stretch is also taking on a new and exciting career with a major fly fishing and apparel wholesaler – Manic Tackle. As their new National Sales Manager, he will be right in his element - swoffing all over the planet waffling on about all things fly fishing and slipping in a few sneaky trips to bucket list locations to boot.
Many of you would have enjoyed interactions with Stretch in our store over the past 20 years. He came, he went, he came back, he went again. Then he came back once more and has been a much-loved member of the Fishos team ever since.
Stretch was solely-responsible for the Fly-Fishing section of our store and can take much pride in the assistance he has given to fellow fly fishos over the years. A loud and proud swoffer, he can still be tempted to break out the “real” fishing gear at times and has enjoyed many moments in the bay and our hinterland over the years.
Josh travelled far and wide for his love of the fly.
Stretchy ticking off bucket list fish - one after the other.
Unfortunately, this is Stretch’s last day in our store, so if you missed the opportunity to come in and say cheerio, then you can look him up on his socials or you might bump into him in the street. He will still be staying local, working from home when not off gallivanting all over the countryside.
You never know, you might even spot Stretch on the water. Chasing tuna and marlin on fly up the island is one of his passions, but he also spends time on the inshore flats and up our local streams.
Good luck Stretchy One! All the best mate …. We will miss you!
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Dane took Borat, errr Josh, to catch trout that actually fight.
Stretch getting his baby bass a metre closer to camera than Dane's.
Stretchy showing off his freakishly long thumb.
Why Stretch wastes time chasing bass, we will never know.
The love child of Borat and Freddy Mercury has had a love child of his own.
This will be Stretch's standard attire in the future.
We welcomed back Mr Kotter. Then he left us again.
Steady on ladies. He is married.