Tez pulled this ripper kingy from the Mary last weekend. It was just shy of 130cm and caught on a vibe, amongst others.
All Sorts of Weather This Week
Storms threatened late yesterday, and there is still the chance of a shower today, but probably barely enough to settle the dust unfortunately. It was extra warm last week. The cool change today will be welcomed by many folks. The weather could certainly be better, so let’s take a look at the week ahead and see if you can sneak out when a window opens.
Nigh on a week of northerlies gave way to a subtle southerly change overnight. The wind should peak at around 30 knots this evening, so if you snuck out in the 15 knot southerly this morning, make sure you head in before it unleashes. Saturday is basically a no-go. 20-30 knots of south-easter is the call, leaving little opportunity (if any) for fishing expeditions.
Sunday’s conditions improve, but won’t be real flash early. Expect 20 knots from the south-east initially, and 15 knots sustained throughout the day. Fishable inshore or in sheltered waters. Monday looks great, with light winds early and a north-east sea breeze late afternoon. That will be the precursor to another spate of northerly weather, though it will still be quite mild, even pleasant if you like.
Some weather gurus are suggesting the chance of mid-week showers; others are not. Who knows these days. All the high tech in the world and we still cannot accurately forecast weather a few days ahead. At least we know what the moon and tides are doing. The moon will be full on Sunday, and the tides relatively large.
It is going to be a little challenging maintaining a positive spin on the fishing fronts this week. Plenty of tales of woe are doing the rounds, and opportunities have been somewhat limited (and will continue to be). All the same, let’s take a look and see if you can gain some inspiration.
Gomexus handles and knobs galore. We just landed a swag of new product and are struggling to fit them in. Come buy some and save us the effort.
Gomexus jigging handles and larger spin reel handles ready for a retrofit. We have a huge range now, so something for everyone.
Offshore is Where the Game Fishing Action Is
Larger game vessels continue to ply the waters offshore of Breaksea Spit and Fraser Island when the weather is at least fishable. The inshore northerlies haven’t impacted offshore nearly as much as they have in the bay (as alluded to last week). Billfish action has been widespread and varied, and success has been almost guaranteed.
Sizable striped marlin have turned up out wide apparently, joining their black and blue brethren over the shelf. The race is on for keen crews to score the marlin grand slam, so eagerly sought yet so challenging to achieve. Heavy tackle forays have been most successful, though light tackle has still been worth deploying for a few hours in the morning closer to the bar.
There has been reports of more sailfish north of the 13 Mile crossing. Little blacks have been relatively scarce by comparison in that area. All the same, it is the close offshore waters, and the waters well north of Fraser, west of the bar that offer you the better chances at mixing it with the little blacks.
Bycatch out wider along the shelf line has consisted of mostly dollies (mahi mahi). These crazy acrobats of the sea are often a surprise encounter when raised by your spread, but also offer sensational sight-fishing opportunities when you stumble onto them lurking around floating surface structure or flotsam.
They are not always easy to tempt though, so be prepared to pull out all your tricks if they are in a stubborn mood. If you are lucky or clever enough to have a few livies on board then you are well ahead of the game, but the humble pillie sent out unweighted into a trail of pillie pieces can also get the job done. So too, medium-sized softies attached to lightly-weighted jig heads can be used to tempt wary dollies. Many of the fish reported last week topped the metre mark too, so some great sport and a handy feed is on offer if you get out there and into them soon.
BOM's SST Chart displays the major offshore currents. Monitor these charts weekly and you can visualise the movements of the bigger marlin out wide.
What’s Happening on the Inshore Billfish Scene
This is where many of the tales of woe have originated. Captures of Hervey Bay black marlin have been very limited this season. Few if any photos accompany stories of encounters so far, and the best we’ve heard of is a few sightings and the odd capture north of Rooneys.
There is likely many plausible reasons for the lack of marlin in the bay. Possibly the most significant one though is poor water quality. Latest reports, from souls who ventured into Platypus Bay and up to Rooneys this week, are that there is a substantial algal bloom all the way from the banks to the northern extremities of Fraser. This is not a good scene, exacerbated no doubt by the consistency of the north wind in recent weeks.
The southerly change, then a couple of days of howling south-easter might help to rectify this water quality issue, though the return of northerlies early next week makes you wonder. The water temperature was nearing 23C last weekend and is likely a tad higher already. It is closer to 24.5C offshore. Water temp is not the problem.
Baitfish activity is notably absent in the “wrong” water. Given that corals spawn over the dark of the moon in spring, the resultant slick will eventually drift its way into the bay, kick-starting another branch of the food chain. Things could come alive in a matter of days from now. Making tides and the approach of a full moon, coupled with a major wind change can do wonders.
If heading to the northern bay looking for billfish, you might want to burn a little more fuel and venture beyond Rooneys Point. Porpoise Shoal, Long Shoal and the various gutters that feed water, fish and their fodder into the bay are worth prospecting. Better water is reported north of the bay, so chances are it is there that you will find your baby blacks. Here’s hoping that statement is only partly true though, and they hitch a ride into Platypus Bay with these making tides as they peak.
A mack tuna spun up by Thanh a bit ago. Expect numbers to cruise into the bay with the spotties next month.
Tri Ton from Fraser Guided Fishing is a local guide with the knowledge, skill and patience to teach all members of the family the finer points of fishing.
Jellyfish Swarm in the Straits
Just as the algal bloom dominates the visible surface waters of the bay, our close inshore waters, particularly those down the Great Sandy Straits are currently hosting jellyfish in their thousands. Perhaps the two phenomena are somehow related? The bluey green jellies are far from rarities in our waters, gracing us with their presence in times of drought, in absolute hordes so thick you struggle to drive through them at times.
Some of us that have been around a little while will recall just how good the fishing has been when the jellies have infested our waterways. Talk of so many jellyfish that the netters cannot net, crab pots being washed away due to their bodies rolling into pots and general driving hazards have all done the rounds in the past.
The jellyfish biomass is not completely widespread as yet. There is a few up the Mary, none in the Susan, yet plenty down the straits. When their numbers truly explode, they will infest our inshore waters, including the harbour and our creeks. Whether or not this “bloom” will reach that extent is yet to be seen, but I guess time will tell. This could be an El Niño event, though I am not at all sure. If anyone can shed any light on this phenomenon, then please feel free to share.
If nothing else comes of this jellyfish bonanza, then perhaps at least our sea turtles will get a much-needed feed. Our governors are well aware of a major decline in sea grass habitats throughout the Great Sandy Straits and Hervey Bay waters. Turtle deaths are way too high, with extraordinary numbers suffering from a condition known as “soft shell syndrome”. Not being able to gain much-needed nutrition from their usual sea grass subsidised diet, many succumb to this syndrome and die. An incredibly sad state of affairs.
Turtles have been observed merrily munching away at the endless supply of jellyfish in blooms of the past. So too, have mud crabs. A rather strange sight to behold, when a big floater muddy is drifting by with a jelly in each claw. Perhaps someone might get a photo or two of the jellyfish during a future foray down the straits? A close-up or a shot of the masses would be interesting for many to view.
It is not the right jellyfish species, but this image from the internet shows a turtle enjoying a snack. Never let plastic fall in the water.
Inshore Fisheries Worth a Try Next Week
The big tides over the full moon will have the current racing over our shallow reefs and this will spur the resident coral trout into action. Many local fishos have discovered the art of trolling diving lures in recent seasons and now is the time they can get decent results. If the trout are there, they will respond to a well-presented lure.
Early mornings will be the go. Some waters will be discoloured from high winds and recent onshore northerlies, but don’t let this put you off. This only makes them easier to fool. Indeed, a little residual swell does wonders for varying the speed and diving action of a trolled lure when trolling with the sea. You might strike a little bycatch in the form of mackerel, cod or perch (of the stripey or moses variety), and are highly likely to have to release more undersized trout than catch keepers. Regardless, it is a fun and productive pastime for small boat owners this time of year.
It would be no surprise to hear of the return of grassy sweetlip to our inshore shallow reefs next week. Big making tides aid migrating fish and they are due any time. The waters off Gatakers Bay – Point Vernon and the northern fringes of Woody Island are some of the first places regular sweetie fans might look. In time, their numbers will flood into our inshore waters and they will be just about everywhere. They will find their way deeper as summer arrives.
Of course, you might want to consider a last crack at this season’s snapper population before the stragglers move back offshore. The artificial reefs and any of the other gravel patches or reef systems that host plenty of baitfish and snapper late winter are worth a try over this full moon. The weather has written off the pre-moon tides, but you might chance a few thereafter. Squire will remain a part of inshore reef fishing catches for some time to come, (in ever-diminishing numbers as our waters continue to warm).
Mackerel are getting a bit of a reprieve from angler effort this spring. Windy weather and dominant northerlies have kept mackerel fans at home, so their movements have been a bit harder to monitor this season. No matter where they roam, one thing remains constant – and that is that they will follow the baitfish schools, particularly the herring. Heading for Platypus Bay waters will appeal to many that have enjoyed catching schoolies up that way in the past, though the central and western bay will still be home to some.
Go for a troll, and either stick to the channels that funnel tucker into the straits, or wander the scattered reefs of the banks and beyond. Beacon-bashing can be worth a try after heavy weather such as that bearing down on us right now. Arm yourself with a handful of Flasha Spoons or similar and go for a spin around any baitfish schools hugging close to structure. They will only be hugging it if they are too nervous to stray out into the open because of lurking predators.
Quality grunter can be found down the straits. They are suckers for small plastics and vibes.
Small paddle-tails aren't the usual go-to for grunter, but they still work fine, particularly on the flats.
River Scene is Tougher Than It Should Be
You will have to excuse the potential negative undertones in the following text, but I would rather call it for what it is than feed you a pile of BS. At a time of year when our rivers should be absolutely alive with ravenous large predators – they are not! Yes, there is some lovely big salmon, a few quality barra and undoubtedly plenty of quality grunter to be found somewhere – but in nowhere near the numbers that they might be.
Side scanning sounders are marvellous tools (particularly the Garmins) and they tell the story for the viewer as they wander our streams. Where we should be viewing vast schools of king threadfin salmon, milling about along literally hundreds of metres of prime terrain, we are not. The kingies are highly mobile at this time, and they travel many miles during certain tides. This makes them highly susceptible to the standard harvest strategies of the past, and boy, have their numbers dwindled this year.
Big fish are still possible. Stonkers bettering the somewhat hallowed 130cm mark. Even bigger fish are also still possible, though you had better hope there isn’t any big bull sharks within cooee if you hook one of those. Live baiters are faring okay by positioning themselves at likely passage points, whilst those favouring vibes are doing way more miles than they should have to to track down any number of fish.
The big tides will see some kingies change their past tactics and start foraging around drains during the ebb tide. A lack of jelly prawn due to non-existent rains will make these fish easier to catch than when they are fixated on tiny morsels such as the jellies. Small vibes, hard and soft, shallow-diving hardbodies and soft plastics sporting a paddle tail or a prawn profile will soon tempt actively-feeding kingies.
There have been a few flatties lurking around rock bars and drains in the lower reaches of late. The wind has kept them a little deeper than they might be when its calmer, but they are still there.
Down the hatch. The Rapala X-Rap Saltwater Deep 11 is a dynamite suspending hardbody to tempt wary barra. Upgrade to Viper 41 trebles for more grunt and a slow sink.
The Susan River appears largely barren. The absence of any herring schools (other than at the heads) is notable and detrimental to the ecosystem. Small mullet have pushed upstream beyond the realm of the predators for the most part. There isn’t even any sign of those pesky small blue salmon that can be so annoying this time of year. The whole system is highly saline, yet there is no sign of crab scratchings.
Those seeking mud crabs will likely have to get muddy themselves for the time being. Such salty waters invite the crabs right back up into the backwaters, the salt pans and hard-to-reach stretches of unnavigable side creeks that demand a crabber’s exodus from the boat. You have to be keen! The full moon is in your favour, but the time of year is not.
Those that have ventured up to the Burrum system have reported mixed results. The fishing has been tough for those seeking barramundi, but the jack fishing has made up for it in some stretches. This is prime jack time right now, and the heat, the northerlies and the build-up to the dry storms this week couldn’t have been better. If you missed out, then you will get plenty more chances from now through summer.
The annual Qld East Coast Barramundi Closure kicks in at the end of this month. You have literally got until midnight Tuesday night to target or catch any barramundi other than those contained within stocked impoundments behind their dam walls. Ignore all the negative reporting from the past week and have one last crack this weekend. Warmer water temperatures will override the cool change, so any fish you can find shouldn’t be too hard to tempt. Live baiters will likely fare better than lure fishos in the rivers, though both stand even chances down the straits.
Deej managed fish of all sizes from a Mondy trip a couple of weeks ago. Catching bigger fish in open waters is relaxing compared to the chaos in the timber.
Lake Monduran Family Fishing Classic Was a Success
If you suss out the appropriate social media forms, you will find the results of last weekend’s Lake Monduran Family Fishing Classic. Apparently, a 109cm barra topped the leader board, which is a great fish; but it’s fair to say, a far cry from what might have been expected. Hundreds of barra were caught across a large portion of the lake. It was hectic, but the conditions were perfect and the barra bit well anywhere they weren’t totally shell-shocked by the crowds.
This weekend’s full moon will see many crews flock to the lake once again. The weather change might put some off, or just give others excuses, but take it from someone who virtually lives there, it won’t stop you catching barra. It won’t be the stock standard easy-peasy light northerly followed by an afternoon sea breeze scenario that draws so many to Mondy, but a fisho that can adapt and has a handle on impoundment barra will enjoy many captures.
Given that Mondy’s big girls are prone to pounce on just about any decent lure you throw their way these days, you can mix it up and keep things interesting. When catching them on the standard large paddle-tailed softies and soft swimbaits get a bit ho-hum, then switch it up a notch and test your skills with hardbodies. Small-medium suspending varieties have the runs on the board and many faithful followers, though some of the more cunning old hands favour the crunch of a Mondy monster on oversized hardbodies slow-rolled through the night.
It is warm enough to bust out the weedless frogs nowadays. The lake level is dropping dramatically though, which isn’t nearly as conducive to frogging as the opposite. All the same, find fish sheltering beneath or swimming around lilies, weed banks and flooded bushes/grasses and those little frogs paddling past at various speeds will get crunched.
Frogs are also a must-have addition to the arsenal of anyone heading for Awoonga from now on. Few other lures give you the access to fish lurking beneath the tall towers of weed like frogs do. Having said that, pick your terrain and find weedy bays with water above stretches of weed, and poppers, stickbaits and even paddle-tailed softies can be used.
This full moon will be very interesting at Awoonga. Great catches are anticipated. Evening sessions under a rising moon will be a special, and many will flog on into the night to fish the late moon above period.
Lake Callide will be immensely popular this weekend. Their annual fishing competition is on, and their timing couldn’t be better. Being so low at present, it will be pretty much impossible to hide your captures from other competitors. Even more-so given that some of the best fishing is in the main basin itself.
The barra have continued to bite quite well out there this week. The average barra is a fish of around a metre. Yellowbelly could be caught in numbers too, often falling to vibes worked through schools of fish, or baits dropped to fish marking on the sounder. Good luck to all who enter this great little comp.
Shallow weed-fringed bays are home to many small fish during the day, and big fish at night. Try frogging as it warms up further.
It's a crap photo, but you might imagine the fun your scribe had extracting barra of all sizes from this fenceline. Be wary of submerged fences whilst navigating the dam.
Daiwa’s Qld rep, Shannon Watson, puts Daiwa's tackle to the test on Mondy whenever he gets the chance. He does well too, particularly on the bigger fish at night.
Opportunities for Local Landlubbers
Those without a boat, or those not keen to get theirs out during this weather event have a couple of options here locally. There has been enough whiting turning up along local beaches and in our creeks to warrant a session on the noodle rods chasing a feed over the full moon. Pump some yabbies and hit the beaches or creeks when the weather settles enough.
The waters will be nicely churned up and this creates the perfect feeding scenario for foraging whiting. Time your efforts over the last of the rising tide and first of the ebb along the beaches. Similar timing is productive upstream in the creeks, and the mid-ebb tide or early flood can be worth a crack downstream.
Flathead are quite possible, though you might want to remember that they are not fans of windy weather in the shallows. Try deeper runs or pockets of protected waters until the weather settles.
There are schools of herring lingering around river heads at the mouth of the Mary/Susan. Predators drawn to such schools this time of year can be varied. It could be barra, salmon or a jewie that next erupts into the herring schools, or just a mackerel or school of passing tailor. It will be too windy for a couple of days out there, but it might be worth a look early next week.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Liam and Billy enjoying some prime reef fishing on Mornington Island.