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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 28th July, 2023

Christie joined Dane for a day on the flats recently. They picked up some nice lizards and bream on a variety of lures.

 

Superb Weather Precedes the Super Moon

 

Apart from a decent weekend, fishing last week was very much restricted if not curtailed altogether due to inclement weather. The wind started to ease yesterday, and today is quite good with just 10 knots of southeasterly. The days ahead look even better, and the tides are great too, so here’s your chance to get out there and make up for the recent downtime.

Light and variable is the call for the entire weekend. Glassy seas are likely both days, with just a brief onshore sea breeze late afternoon to put a subtle ruffle on the water’s surface. Both Saturday and Sunday will kick off with very light southerly breezes, tending more easterly and still remaining light from midday onwards.

The superb conditions should remain with us right through Monday and Tuesday, before the wind ramps up and draws a few scattered showers onshore on Wednesday. Around 20 knots of southeaster will adversely affect your fishing options mid-week and see out the remainder of the working week - so make the most of the coming days.

The second of four successive super moons will brighten up our night sky on Wednesday next week. A “super moon” being modern terminology for a full moon that coincides with the time when the moon passes at its closest point to earth (perigee). The extra brightness will be a wonder to behold if you are on the water (or outdoors generally).

The tides beforehand are quite significant too. Making tides in coming days will see substantial daily variations in tide heights (both high and low), that will see a huge push of excess water inshore as the tides build towards the massive king tides of the full moon. Right on the full moon, high tide will peak at 4.18m in the evening from a low of 0.32m in the afternoon. You can anticipate significant tidal flow and enhanced fodder movement and predatory activity from many species of fish in the days prior.

Young Ben scored some nice bream this winter. They are still a good target, particularly up on the flats this weekend.

 

Bright Times on Our Flats

 

Be it a super moon or just the standard full moon this time of year, you will be out pumping yabbies at low tide in readiness for an evening session under a rising moon – if you are a serious whiting fan. Night sessions have long been favoured by locals as they pursue their tasty little ‘ting in the clear waters of our shallow flats. Bag limits are pretty much expected by those in the know, and the fish making up said limits are typically of high quality too.

A somewhat surprising run of very good whiting several weeks ago indicated the potential for a different season this year. Poor results over the recent darks were notable too, as many hopefuls failed to score the usual feed from well-proven grounds. What will this moon bring? You won’t know unless you are out there - and you can rest assured that many good catches will never reach the grapevine.

You can ply the creeks or the rivers during daylight hours this week too and chance a good feed of whiting. The ‘ting may not favour the clear waters of the flats in daylight, but the faster-flowing turbulent waters of our streams offer them ample feeding opportunities. Flood tides are preferable in many locations, such as smaller creeks and the like, but the big ebbs also force the whiting back into feeder channels at a time when the water recedes from the yabby beds, so being mobile can see you capitalise more than once.

The big tides will also enhance the mobility and feeding options for the numbers of bream that gathered recently to spawn. Higher tides pushing further up onto the flats and into the mangroves offer deeper waters and greater cover for feeding bream. These highs expose food sources the bream only get to feast upon during such tides, so they make the most of the opportunity. You should too!

You could of course target a feed of bream at night in a subtle berley trail, and expect a few whiting into the bargain at some spots. Berleying efforts should be restricted to shallower waters or only deployed during periods of slower tidal flow. You could also consider creating a berley stream over shallow reefs such as those off Gatakers Bay during the daytime as well.

It’s a good-looking weekend for stealthy times on the flats or over the shallow reefs looking for big bream on lures. They won’t be everywhere, but they will be in several areas. Fraser’s western flats will be popular, as will the bay islands, the River Heads region and several sites down the straits. Bream fans only really have this next month to get their fix in open waters before the bream scatter and retreat back to the creeks and rivers.

Chasing flathead on softies and other lures will be a popular pastime in coming days. The big ebb tides will drain the flats and ambush specialists such as flatties will be taking advantage of the abundance of fodder species forced to run the gauntlet back to deeper waters. 

Keep mobile, remain stealthy and maintain a good lookout and you can have a fat time wandering our flats and estuaries targeting flatties. Sight-fishing opportunities abound, though you will find coloured waters when the excessive tidal flow recedes from flats covered in loose silt. Many times, such areas of confluence with the main stream or feeder channel is the very spot at which you will find the best flatties, and competing predators.

Make the most of the big tides and get amongst the spawning bream. This weekend should be a ripper.

It's flathead time on our flats, so get out and fish the big draining tides as the full moon approaches.


It’s Not Just the Bread ‘N’ Butter Species


Those targeting the abovementioned bread ‘n’ butter species can expect to encounter a little bycatch this week. Sure enough, the perfect session on the ‘ting will see nothing but them come over the side, but in other areas, frequented by alternative predators, the species count can get pretty high.

Grunter have moved right up into our estuaries in recent times. Enhanced mobility, as grunter and other species hitch a ride on the big tides, can see them foraging out on the flats as the tides peak and then feeding once more in the deeper waters when those waters retreat. They will be spooky if they become aware of your existence in clear waters, but it is the coloured stuff somewhere nearby in which they will feed.

Armed with small plastics, you can prospect the mangrove-lined fringes of many of the flats down the straits with grunter as a primary target. Such efforts are likely to see you encounter schools of blue salmon or broad-barred mackerel anywhere from the Booral Flats south; or queenfish, trevally and tailor further down the straits. 

Standard soft plastic casting set-ups in the 4kg range will suffice for most of this scenario, though some will favour slightly heavier tackle to cast appropriate lures at the bigger blues, the broadies or queenfish. Bent minnows, stick baits and poppers offer so much fun on the queenies and the blues, whilst metals cranked at speed will see the broadies respond.

Such big tides would normally see an aggregation of trevally, queenfish and potentially tailor at the points of current convergence around the bay islands. We say “normally” as of late there has been so little in the way of baitfish or any form of juvenile fish species around these islands that you have to wonder why any predator would bother.

You might also ask why a self-respecting tiger squid would venture into such waters if there is absolutely no food available. Sure enough, it is obvious that the dramatically increased fishing pressure on tiger squid can be to blame for their sheer absence from our inshore waters this winter – but is that the only reason?

Recent observations from fishos plying waters of the Great Sandy Straits that are typically so well-endowed with masses of hardy heads and herring this time of year are concerning. Heavily-structured areas such as Ungowa host masses of baitfish and draw in many predators – normally – but not this year. Is it just the warmer winter? Unlikely.

Anyway, keep those questions in mind as you wander the straits this week. If you do find ample baitfish, then you should find the predators. The pelagics will be highly mobile if the bait sources are not abundant. Trolling might prove effective for some folks, enhancing the chances of tripping over schools of tailor, blues, trevally or queenies.

Other predators won’t be nearly as mobile, so you will have to go to them. If the bait isn’t there, then chances are that neither will they. Jewies are a classic example. The big tides will make them a very challenging target in the river this week, but the rocky ledges of the straits are worth a look. Heading further south into the central straits could be a sound option, given the better numbers of pencil squid down that way.

Marg trolled up this nice grunter recently. Your lures should be banging the bottom if you want to tempt grunter on the troll.

Queenies are a winter-time special. They are suckers for many plastics, including jerk shads.


Mackerel and Trevally Moving Inshore


Scattered schools of mack tuna are riding the tides down into the straits, and will be hyperactive over the spring tides. There are still a few tuna out in the wide expanses of the bay too, but not in any significant numbers. If you were to trip over a pod of surface-feeding longtails then chances are you would entice a bite on a stick bait or jerkshad, but most encounters would be expected sub-surface on plastics, jigs or live baits.

School mackerel on the other hand should be abundant. We say “should” as we have no word from the past few days due to the weather, but all factors indicate a good schoolie bite this week. Big making tides, abundant baitfish in the bay’s open waters and the time of year should all increase your confidence. 

Where to start you search for schoolies is debatable, but the proven grounds and recent haunts are worth considering. The Arch Cliffs 6 Mile, the Fairway, the Burrum 8 Mile, the Outer Banks, the NU2, and the many reefs within our inshore shipping channels or the central bay are worth a look. If you find the baitfish, then the schoolies shouldn’t be too far away.

The big push in the tide might draw more mackerel back into the mouth of the Burrum River. At the very least, the drop-off out the front, or the Woodgate artificial would be worth a troll or a drift. Further up the west coast of the bay, there are many reefs that host aggregations of herring and yakkas that attract plenty of mackerel, and occasionally queenies and trevally.

Tailor are likely to make their presence felt in and around the Burrum this week. Full moon tides enhance their activity dramatically. At the same time, it would be of no surprise to hear of tailor, schoolies, or broadies, turning up at River Heads either. Juvenile tailor can be an absolute pest over certain sites in the bay this time of year, arriving in such hordes over reefs such as the 6 Mile that they are nigh on impossible to avoid.

There will be roaming schools of bonito in open waters, though many schools will also take up temporary residence over a number of inshore reef systems. Often you only become aware of their presence when you drop a bait jig for herring, yakkas or pike. A string full of feisty bonnies can be quite interesting, but good bait all the same.

Our waters are struggling to cool down this winter, yet increasing numbers of a variety of trevally have moved into the bay. The goldies are still haunting the inshore shipwrecks and artis and harassing any baitfish schools that wander by. Further north, the waters of Platypus Bay are home to goldies as well as many other trevors, large and small. Those waters are very much a nursery for smaller trevally, as you will find out if you sound over some of the reefs up that way.

Trevally numbers are growing in the northern bay too, with larger specimens of many clans well-represented at the Gutters and off Rooneys Point. The Gutters certainly plays host to the bigger numbers in the northern bay, so if jigging for trev’s is your thing, then go knock yourself out.

Grassies are suckers for all manner of baits. Fringe-dwellers such as these are standard bycatch when chasing reds and tuskies.

 

Big Cobia Shadow the Northern Bay Bait Schools


If you head for the Gutters or many of the other grounds in the northern bay, then your chances of encounters with sizeable cobia is quite high. Enormous cobia can be found at many sites. The more prominent bait-rich ledges, shipwrecks such as the Althea or Red Ned, or other grounds that host large aggregations of yakkas and juvenile demersal species are prime cobia feeding stations.

Live baits will always tempt a cobe, as will many lures either jigged or trolled. Even a vertically spun spoon or other large metal lure can be intercepted by a cobe, and the take from such a beast and its subsequent bolting run might leave you shaking. 

Given that a cobia will eat such a range of dead baits as well (whole baitfish, squid or pillies), not to mention your recently hooked reef fish or small trevally, it is fair to say that they will eat almost anything. They have been known to scoff sand crabs with gusto, the remnants of which are often evidenced within. Warnings were heeded years ago about the chances of toxic spiky fish being encountered within the guts of cobia, so perhaps such warnings should still ring true.

Most of us would let the really big cobia go these days, and rightly so. They are truly majestic creatures, so inquisitive and readily released unharmed. Deciding to keep a larger model might have you regret your decision when your gaff is broken or lost, your deck and esky trashed and as much slime as that from any big cod covers your every surface.

Another quite large but not nearly as welcome a visitor boatside up at the Gutters etc is the oceanic long tom. These cool-looking characters linger over many reefs up that way and will be clearly visible in the upper surface layer. They are great fun for the kids, but are not really much of a sportfish. Their nuisance factor is very high though, as you will find out when trying to get lures or baits past them when they are hungry.

Reef fishos will hopefully encounter less sharks during visits to the northern bay reefs in coming weeks. The building tides this weekend are highly productive for fringe-dwelling species such as grass sweetlip, venus tuskfish, spangled emperor and others. The tuskies in particular, are great full moon targets in winter.

Jigging the usual softies or slow-pitch jigs will soon see if there is any coral trout or cod home during the tide turns, as will sending a live bait to the bottom whilst anchored. Those familiar with proven red emperor tactics will improve their chances even more by venturing further north, where large scarlets are also a good chance over this moon.

A thumping big cobia had Aiden fully stretched whilst out with Hot Reels Charters recently.

Kobe took a ride with Hot Reels Charters and had some fun with this big long tom. They can be a real pest on the surface when you are trying to get lures and baits down.

 

Offshore Waters Beckon Once Again

 

Our offshore waters have been well-rested in recent weeks. There is still a bit of swell out there at present, but that will abate in coming days. The offshore weather forecast looks a little better to our south than it does to our north wind-wise, though the swell is quite comparable (easing to under a metre).

If heading south and crossing the Wide Bay bar, then you will need to factor in the current snapper and pearl perch closure when planning your trip. Heading wide and targeting isolated rocks or known red emperor haunts has merit, as does fishing grounds known to host tuskfish, sweetlip and the tropical cods. Many baitfish-rich grounds, both in relatively close and out wider, will be hosting schools of snapper and pearlies, so be prepared to move on and avoid upsetting their spawning efforts.

Crossing the Breaksea Spit will put you within range of many reef systems that host primarily tropical species, with less chance of encounters with the temperate snapper or pearlies. Such grounds exist along the 50-metre line and in depths ranging from there to 80 metres. Drifting such country will soon have you filling your esky with plenty of large tuskies and hopefully a good mix of red throat, maori cod, coronation trout and hussar.

Those in the know, or some lucky others might uncover a good red emperor bite or mix it with the odd large green jobfish. Cobia are of course a good chance, particularly over prominent pinnacles or around wrecks. Avoiding the 100-metre line is a sound strategy, given the prevalence of snapper and pearlies (and sharks) in those waters.

Such big tides as those coming create great opportunities for sportsfishos to dust off the heavy jigging tackle and match themselves against the big amberjack and kingies that lurk in the deeper waters offshore. As said so many times, their presence is often readily determined via the obvious large banana-shaped arches on a decent sounder screen - it’s your choice if you wish to do battle.

On the same day, you could also head shallower whilst offshore and pit yourself against the big pelagics cruising above the shallow reef systems. Spaniards and GTs are the main targets, but cobia, kingfish and green jobbies are also possible. The Sandy Cape Shoal itself and Spit Bommie are the two most obvious target sites. There are also wrecks worth a topwater session, and a keen-eyed crew might even spot free-swimming schools of spaniards, tuna or giant trevally not far off the back of the bar.

Brent had to let this barramundi cod go that he caught on a day out with Hot Reels Charters. They are a no-take species and very rare these days.

Grass sweetlip are a mainstay of the northern bay reefs. Fish the fringes and it can be one after the other.


Tuna and Bream at the Pier


Even the Urangan Pier got a spell during the worst of the weather last week. Better conditions and big making tides should see the fishing enhanced once again in coming days though.

There has been a few mack tuna caught recently when they made passing swipes at the pier’s herring population. Being at the ready with a live herring or a metal spoon when they rush the baitfish can result in instant hookups if you can pre-empt their movements.

Otherwise, it has been just a few schoolies, the odd broadie and a few nuisance-sized tailor on the pelagic scene. The bream slowed a bit this week, so bream fans should be thinking seriously about making the most of the impending full moon period. That may offer the best of the remainder of the bream season, so if it is the bigger fish you seek, then this is your week.

There is some chance of scoring a few whiting from our local beaches this week. Evening sessions will be most productive due to the current water clarity. Bream and flatties are possible around the harbour rock wall, the rock groynes or Torquay reef at low tide.

Interestingly, hooking a bit more that he had intended, one of our regulars hooked and landed a 3.2m tiger shark from Torquay Beach just a couple of nights ago. The local lad loves to target small sharks at times for sport and an occasional meal, but when this monster latched on, he certainly put his gear to the test. Spending much of the fight digging his heels into the sand and leaning back to keep from being dragged into the water under a locked-up drag made for a cool little home video. The big shark was released unharmed and hopefully swam off not to return.

Local lad Tom with two hands full of Urangan Pier mack tuna. Be ready for their marauding raids and throw a lure or live herring in their path.

 

Fraser Island’s Headlands About to Close

 

High winds and significant swell have restricted fishing activities over on Fraser Island’s surf beaches this week. About the only areas you might have avoided the swell was on the northern side of the headlands. If those waters appeal to you, then you had better get in quick, as they will be out of bounds in a few days’ time.

As of 1st August, the waters from 400m north of Waddy Point to 400m south of Indian Head and 400m to seaward thereof will be closed to all forms of fishing, until the end of September.

This closure has been in place for many years, and is aimed at protecting the migrating tailor schools that are known to spawn en-masse in those waters. Heed the rules and fish elsewhere during the closure. Fisheries patrol the area every year without fail.

On the fishing front, as stated, the big surf made the past week too challenging for just about everyone. The super keen were restricted as stated above, or otherwise might have found fishable waters in a low tide gutter.

Word from regulars traveling the beach just yesterday was that the beach driving conditions are very good at all times other than high tide. High tide is a nightmare due to larger swells and surge up the beach. The rocky outcrops are passable at low tide. The tracks across the island are in decent shape courtesy of recent showery rains. 

The general shape of the beach gutters is in a state of flux. A “winter beach” was forming due to light offshore winds that made it a little lumpy, but the excess surf has flattened many areas once again. This week, the surf has been big enough to make discernible gutters hard to spot along much of the stretch north to the headlands. This scene will change as the weekend unravels, so hopefully we will have more updates in future reports.

Prior to this latest blow, pippies were really abundant along the whole beach, and in the words of locals “as thick as they have ever been”. Big swell can upset the pippies, and the beach worms, but both are bound to recover and be readily available some time very soon.

There were enough reports from recent weeks of chopper tailor in the southern and central sectors to warrant an upcoming session as soon as the swell abates. That will be before the full moon, at which time there should also be quality whiting and perhaps a few jewfish on offer.

Flathead were a feature of many gutters along the beach in recent weeks apparently, and the good run of tarwhine continued. The best of the tarwhine are typically found in rock-strewn gutters, where their cousins the bream will soon take up residence. Expect a good run of snowy big surf bream shadowing the tailor schools when they arrive in bigger numbers.

Oh, and if you are heading for Fraser Island, fishing or otherwise, kindly respect the rules and avoid unnecessary contact with the island’s dingoes. Those poor creatures are locals and they are having a hard time just trying to eke out a living in a very restrictive environment. Burying fish frames or bait, feeding them, leaving fish exposed or eskies unlatched is simply not on. Take photos from a distance, and restrict your interactions. No more need to die!

Big Chris Byrnes with a solid Fraser Island Whiting. The fish might not look all that huge, but Chris is a giant of a man.

When city meets beach. Jacko hamming it up instore with a couple of new Alveys matched to some of Gary Howard's finest surf rods.

 

Good News for Alvey fans


After changing hands once again, good old Aussie fishing icon, Alvey Reels, has shifted their production facility and are back in production. We have just restocked a range of Alvey surf reels for those dedicated fans and budding new surf fishos keen to appreciate the Alvey experience on the beach this season.

Given the recent turmoil, and the simple fact that so many dedicated fans spent up big on reels they thought they would never get another chance to buy, we have kicked off our new range in a fairly modest, yet locally-appropriate fashion. We will be placing future orders for more stock on a regular basis, and will enhance our range as the season unfolds.

If there is a reel model that you desire that we do not currently carry, then just let us know and we will get it for you. At this stage, only graphite-backed reels are available, as the traditional stainless steel backed models cannot be produced. Many less popular models have been left out of their current range too, though we are stocking all the appropriate surf reels from 4 inch to 6.5 inch. Everything you might need from whiting to tailor and jewies.

Alvey’s great shoulder bags are back, along with their ever-tough large plastic handcasters and plenty of other accessories. We have restocked on spare parts too, and should have what you need to keep your old favourites in good nick for the upcoming season.

Once again, if there is a reel, a spare part, or any other product you need from Alvey that we don’t currently have, then just let us know and we will organise it for you.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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