Billy Moore is an avid fly fisho. This big golden trevally would have been a real battle on the long wand.
Better Weather to Kickstart 2024
Stiff northerly winds, oppressive heat, the odd shower or storm and very little fishing, pretty much sums up the past week here on the Fraser Coast. We trust you all enjoyed quality time with your families over Xmas and Santa was kind, but would guess many of you are a tad frustrated with the recent weather.
Well, you can look forward to a vast improvement over the coming week. A continuation of hot north-westerly or northerly winds will deny access to the bay for most boaties today and again tomorrow. Those that can handle a 15-knot northerly inshore might be tempted to go early, but it won’t be pleasant too far from the mainland (and even less so after the tide turns to run out against the wind).
It will be smiles all round as boats are readied and tackle rigged come Sunday, and chaos at all local boat ramps. A period of calm, after what might turn out to be quite interesting storms the preceding evening, will offer boaties the first real crack at the bay for the holiday period. Light, variable winds are likely New Years Eve, with a light onshore sea breeze late afternoon.
New Year’s Day looks awesome wind-wise, if not potentially a little damp. More light winds will have the bay frothing from the wake of hundreds of boats scattering in all directions. You might stand a better chance of a park at the boat ramp early at least, as many will be sporting sore heads from the NYE celebrations. Keep in mind the potential of further storm activity and play it safe – we have already lost too many Queenslanders this silly season.
The BOM altered their outlook for the working week yesterday (and yet again this morning), and if they are to be believed, then we are in for a blinder. Light winds of barely 10 knots is their call, generally from a south-east or north-east direction. Given the light onshore flow and inherent moisture in the atmosphere, showers, and even the odd storm are possible any and every day, but there should be periods of sunshine in the mix. Offshore looks just as good as the bay, so boats of all sizes will be roaring away from our ramps day and night.
The moon’s been waning since Wednesday’s full. The tidal flow is diminishing daily as we approach the next set of neaps around next Thursday’s last quarter phase. Make the most of the opportunities to get out on the water over the coming week, and relieve your pent-up frustration amongst the many fisheries on offer this time of year. Do so safely, watch out for storms, and be patient and considerate at our boat ramps. It will be chaos!
BOM's SST Chart tells the story offshore - hot water. Will the EAC be roaring south. You won't know 'til you go, so pack the jigging gear just in case.
Josh Crang was happy with solid pearlies from offshore. They will be a popular target species next week.
Luke hauled up this solid bar cod from the depths last week. Just one of many fish the lads caught that day.
Esky-Filling Missions Out Wide
Most won’t venture beyond the rivers until Sunday, but from then onwards, it will be a race for the best spots out wide for those with larger vessels. Offshore will beckon for many, be that over the Breaksea Spit to the north of Fraser Island, or over the Wide Bay Bar to the south. Either option should be exciting and fruitful, with little effort offshore recently due to weather constraints.
There are likely to be many tales of good hauls of reef fish from the fish-rich Sandy Cape Shoals and the continental shelf waters just east of there. A veritable who’s who of the tropical reef fish clan could be chilling on ice for the long-haul home – if the current is manageable. Hopefully, the sharks are scattered out that way due to the lack of recent boat traffic. That should be the case initially at least, but maybe not so if the good weather prevails.
Tropical reefies such as red emperor, red throat, tuskies and others will be eagerly sought, but will likely share esky spare with the likes of green jobfish, cobia, pearl perch and snapper. The pearlies and snapper have headed wider and deeper and can be found along the shelf line from 100 metres onwards. Deep dropping will be popular due to the light winds and the usual mix of cod species, various jobfishes, pearlies and snapper will be hauled unceremoniously from depths beyond 200 metres.
Before heading offshore, you might want to take a gander at the latest SST Chart from BOM – a very different picture to a few weeks ago. That is a seriously broad band of warm water out there right now. Given the period of time over which the north wind has prevailed recently, one might expect a significant south-bound EAC. Go prepared to deal with stronger currents (typical for mid-summer) and have back-up plans if the EAC is roaring and the bottom fishing is too challenging.
Of course, excessive current flow won’t deter the pelagic species offshore, so giant trevally, spanish mackerel, cobia, mahi mahi, tuna and marlin could all be worth pursuing. Pack a heavy spin outfit for casting stick baits or poppers or take the heavy tackle trolling gear for the ride. Otherwise, be prepared to jig the depths with slow-pitch or other jigs in lieu of bait fishing, as such techniques will handle the extra tidal flow with comparable ease.
Lochlan caught this solid cobe during calmer weather recently. They have been prolific offshore.
You can catch jobfish of many varieties deep dropping on the shelf. Flame 'snapper' like this one of Adam's are certainly the most photogenic.
A lot of offshore fishos have deep drop tackle these days, enabling them to head deeper beyond the sharks and score fish such as this flamie.
Barotrauma pretty much denies catch and release for any fish hauled up from continental shelf waters. This perch is just one of the many varieties you might catch.
Heading north, but staying “inside” will suit many crews. The Gutters will be popular amongst those relatively new to the bay. Longer-term locals have largely given up on those grounds in favour of better fishing further away. Perhaps those first to fish the Gutters after this prolonged northerly spell might be rewarded due to so little effort up that way. With any luck, the sharks will be scattered, or off elsewhere shadowing the hordes of tuna and spotties.
Coral trout will be the number one target from the northern bay, as usual, but won’t be alone in most eskies. Sweetlip, cod and emperor species might join the trout, or maybe some scarlets and a mix of lesser reefies. If the sharks are indeed there, then they will be vicious. The heat turns them on and they are super aggressive. Anyone new to this game should do the fish, the reefs and the locals a favour and keep moving on any time you get sharked. Not after you lose several fish – immediately!
Jordan Hislop caught this nice scarlet recently. They are known by many names, but these large-mouthed models are great eating.
Lincoln Hislop went one better with this beaut red emperor.
Luke scored a ripper red recently. There should be a few caught from out wide next week.
Inshore Reef Fishing Will Be Hectic
Many won’t burn as much fuel, and won’t need to either. After such a prolonged spell of northerly winds, the southern bay’s reefs should be quite productive. The usual candidates will be on offer, being coral trout, cod, grass sweetlip, blackall and mackerel. A few squire could be caught, though their numbers are minimal this time of year. Inshore scarlets will be on the chew and they are one of the best local prizes, if you can get them away from the sharks.
School mackerel will be worth pursuing for those that are into that sort of thing, and many will be caught well away from the usual bait-laden reef haunts. Schoolies love to hunt the pencil squid as they traverse our shipping channels, so many are caught in very open waters well away from any reefs. Trollers will have an edge when it comes to tracking them down.
Churned up waters over our shallow reefs will be hosting reef fish predating on all manner of prey disorientated by the messy waters. Coral trout will be eagerly pursued by trollers and those flicking softies alike, though just as many might be caught with age-old bait fishing techniques. No-one would out-fish an accomplished hand-liner over shallow reef terrain if the fish are stacked up.
The shallows will be favoured by many chasing a feed of sweetlip. Avoiding the sharks in deeper water draws more to the shallows than ever before, yet even there you are no longer safe. Stories of sharks predating on fish hooked trolling were common prior to this blow, so expect more issues in the future. Snorkelers should be very wary in the turbid stirred-up waters post-northerly winds.
Many crews will include sessions plundering the squid grounds as part of their days on the water. Catching pencil squid is a ton of fun, especially for the kids. Some folks are good at it and take no time at all to secure their bag limit of 50, whilst others struggle and take ages. Day or night, the technique varies greatly, but both are productive.
Ben scored a handy feed of sweeties and mackerel. These two species offer perhaps the easiest feed for the family fisho, so get into them when the weather improves.
It’s Been a Spotty-Fest Inshore
Prior to this sustained northerly blow, there were schools of spotted mackerel all over the south-eastern bay. The waters off Coongul Point were particularly productive, and many crews didn’t bother heading any further north. Spotties were also rounding up their favourite tiny baitfish further down into the northern straits, seen feeding off Kingfisher Bay, the Picnics and throughout the nearby shipping channels.
Having a tendency to push their prey into the prevailing waves, the spotties might be expected to have migrated back northwards up the bay this week. That may be the case for many, so be prepared to run up the island or out wider into the central bay if the schools inshore have dispersed. You shouldn’t have to drive far to track them down.
Platypus Bay will be popular once the weather settles this week. Not only is it a haven for spotties and tuna, its vistas are vastly more appealing than those of the southern bay, so tourists and locals alike get a more rounded day on the water, and a cool breeze to take the sting out of their sun burn as they do the extra miles. Rainy and cloudy weather might make the spotties and tuna that bit harder to find at times this week, so if you aren’t the best scout on the water, then perhaps you should go late.
A fistful of small metal slugs is all you will need to get amongst the spotted mackerel, and the same lures will get you hooked up to tuna as well. True tuna fans will also go armed with jerkshads fitted to heavy jig heads and a selection of stick baits as well. Masses of flying fish, small to medium in size, have been abundant throughout much of the bay recently, whilst masses of tiny baitfish are being balled-up as well. Match the hatch as they say, and you will do well.
The kids will love fishing for spotties. It is visual, their runs are fast and purposeful, yet they are a very easy fish to subdue on fairly light tackle. Warn any novice crew of the very real shark issues you might encounter, and have a camera or phone at the ready when you come across bait balls in the water. The ensuing melee, as spotties and/or tuna tear into the hapless baitfish under low-flying swooping terns, with huge bull sharks and their cousins menacing all that swim, are sights that should be captured for the archives. The kids might be screeching louder than the birds when they see the size of some of the noahs shadowing the tuna and mackerel.
Mel enjoyed a great day out chasing spotty macks in better weather last week. She caught this one on the troll.
Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing has been putting clients onto the spotties. A great outing for father and son, or the whole family.
Kieran used a slow pitch jig to catch this fine Hervey Bay golden trevally.
Staff Member Jacko picked up an early morning queenie off Gatakers Bay before work last week.
Tropical Estuary Brawlers on Fire
The recent heat has triggered the expected response from our estuarine predators. Mangrove jacks in particular are fired up and cranky. You can find out just how cranky they are by fishing for them in our local creeks, the Burrum system or down the straits. Daytime sessions have taken a back seat to dawn, dusk and evening sojourns of late, even if just for the comfort of the angler.
A stain of freshwater is making its way downstream in some of the Burrum’s tributaries, most notably the Cherwell. There is no form of flooding, not even minor, just that flush of localised run-off from passing deluges. This is a good thing. Concentrations of target species will be easier to locate as such minor flows impact our waters. Baitfish movements will dictate the where and when to a large extent, and should always be monitored as you traverse a given waterway.
For now, it is still the mid reaches of the Burrum’s rivers that are most consistent for jack fans. The upper reaches certainly shouldn’t be ruled out, but annoying critters such as pike eels and mud crabs will make life difficult for the bait brigade up there. Avoiding barra won’t be hard for those that actually try to do so. Their season is closed by the way, for those unfamiliar with Qld’s rules.
Brave the mozzies and sandflies and you can enjoy a particularly productive session chasing mangrove jacks from the smaller creeks in our area. The local mainland creeks support big jacks and a surprising number of them, but it is the many creeks of the Great Sandy Straits and those weaving their way into Fraser Island’s western perimeters that really shine.
Seek shady haunts along stretches of creek housing plenty of baitfish and you are in the game. Imitate their prey, be that mullet, gar, herring, prawns or crabs, and get your lures or your baits in tight to their lairs - unless you are brave enough to fish the low light periods or into the evening, at which time jack comes out to hunt. Diminishing tides will favour many a creek goer this week, or at least those that understand the relationship between jack and the mangrove forest in which he resides.
There are broad-barred mackerel about inshore and up the island. They are suckers for metals of all kinds.
Just as active are the big threadfin salmon wandering the Mary system and the straits. Finding numbers isn’t easy this summer, yet it is a simple matter of scanning until you do so. Be prepared to fish for lesser numbers of larger fish in many stretches. Big sambos bettering the 120cm are quite common. They may still be full of roe or milt in readiness for further spawning, so take extra care when handling them and keep them in the water if planning to release them. This heat doesn’t help them recover from the exhaustion of a fight any more than it would you.
Grunter are quite active in our creeks and rivers right now too, and they will become temporarily easier to target with a hint of freshwater in the upper reaches of any waterway. They will be on the move and quite aggressive, so a well-positioned bait fisho might score well soaking yabbies, prawns or small baitfish, whilst lure fishos drift likely grounds hopping small prawn imitations and other softies.
Jut as the heat-loving estuary predators revel in the recent heatwave conditions, others such as bream, flathead and whiting can become less active. All the same, the wet weather, cloud cover and cooler conditions next week should suit the family fisho soaking yabby baits and the like in the lower reaches of the Mary, the Susan or down the straits. Think deeper waters than you might have back in spring. Whilst the whiting may not be overly active as the tides diminish, perhaps a few passing grunter will liven things up on the kids’ little rods.
Mud crabbers have been active in the lead up to Xmas, and the number of pots in our waters is set to explode. Better crabbing has been well upstream in any system, be that a river, a creek or the tiniest off-shoot or drain feeding one of those waterways. Those pushing the limits and getting muddy have snared the best muddies.
That very hint of freshwater that will grow with every passing storm in the headwaters is just the ticket to get the muddies on the move. Crabs retreating to the main stream are easy targets for all and sundry, so you will have to be quick to beat the crowds in some waters. Having said that, many keen crabbers will be feasting on mud crab in the near future.
For anyone thinking they might go prawning – be prepared for disappointment. Recent rains are certainly encouraging, but more-so due to the likelihood that retained moisture and subsequent evaporation might spawn heavier falls in the future, than having flushed out any serious prawn. Generally-speaking, you might score a few for bait or a sandwich within a few casts upstream, but any sign of a banana prawn run is still a thing of the future for our neck of the woods.
Mary River regulars would be well aware of the presence of some prawn in that system, from their observations whilst catching threadies and blues that have been chasing them. Should enough localised run-off occur to aggregate the river’s prawn population, then we might see somewhat of a late summer run, but early autumn seems more likely at this time. Bring on the wet! In the meantime, our smaller local creeks could fare slightly better for those willing to prospect.
Mud crabs were on the menu for Xmas and will be highly sought after into the new year as well.
Wind-Blown Waters Impact Pier Fishing
There has been too much northerly wind for even Urangan Pier regulars to fish some days of the past week. Better days and nights of lesser breeze has seen a smaller crowd gather though, if only for the continuing run of pencil squid. Right now, you can wander out towards the deep end after dark and realistically expect to catch a feed of pencillies. A bag limit of 50 each is also easily achieved, so long as you are out there when the tide is in. Forget low tide.
A lack of fish, and a lack of fishos was the scene for many days straight this past week, though the late mail is that the GTs have returned, along with a few broad-barred mackerel. When the winds ease come Sunday, expect a return to the “holiday normal” at the pier, with quite a mixed crowd of locals and visiting families.
Toby was chuffed with this low tide spaniard from Urangan Pier.
Young Carson with a typical night-time pencil squid. They are abundant this season, so a bag limit of 50 is quite easy.
Our north-facing town beaches have been a real mess this week. Dirty, churned-up waters, soupy warm from the incessant heatwave have been less appealing for both fishos and bathers looking for relief from the heat. Many will enjoy the improved conditions when the winds ease next week. There won’t be much tidal flow, so whiting catches will be a bit random, but there will be more than enough to entertain the smaller kids.
Those that read between the lines of our fishing reports, past and recent, may well have scored a good feed of whiting, the odd grunter and very likely a flathead by wandering the local mudflats where the winds blew slightly offshore. More of the same is possible this week.
The River Heads option has been a very popular one this week, mostly due to the prevailing northerly winds. There hasn’t been a lot of fish caught, but plenty of folks have been trying all the same. Cast netting herring and fishing them live has accounted for the odd random cod, but other than a few small bream, the fishing has been slow.
Kingfisher Bay Resort’s jetty is a great day trip option for frustrated folks holidaying here without a boat. You can walk onto a barge and spend the day at the resort over on Fraser for a fee. Some locals even do it, and catch anything from mackerel, tuna, trevally, queenfish, flathead and cod during day trips, to jewies after dark and plenty of squid. Wandering the beaches is an option for some, flicking lures or baits for whiting or flathead, but most ply the jetties’ waters and do so whilst taking in the sights so unique to this location.
Good luck out there y’all and Happy New Year from the whole crew at Fisho’s …… Jase
Luke with a perch of some sort hauled up from the depths offshore.
Pearl perch are one of the tastiest fish found along the continental shelf. Darby got into them last week.
Adam managed a good feed from the shelf last week, including a brace of flamies.
That's a slimey cuddle for Ash Ross and his mate. Bigger cod over 120cm (about 80lb) are protected and must be released.