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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 29th March, 2024

Mud crabs will be featuring in the Easter seafood banquet for many households this Easter.

What’s the Weather Doing Over Easter

We’ve had some wonderful rain and showers over the past week, but we are all pretty much over it and keen for better conditions for the Easter break. The daily news media has been suggesting a wet Easter for south east Queensland, yet we might fare a little better than our southern neighbours. The weekend itself might not be great, but it sure is thereafter.

Your Good Friday fishing opportunities on the bay are limited due to a persistent 15-20 knot south-east trade wind, but at least the showers are easing. Saturday could be slightly windier than today, yet relatively similar inshore. Better conditions averaging 15 knots Sunday will get boats floating that are rested prior, and things just get better from there.

Easter Monday looks pretty darn good potentially. A south-easter of around 10 knots, peaking at maybe 15 knots out wider is the worst you can expect. Our waters will be busier than ever that day, and those that don’t need to return to work Tuesday will be considering overnighters or wider trips offshore. Indeed, the weather mid-week looks sensational, so there will be many happy holidaymakers and locals alike.

Offshore is a write-off until next week. The swell isn’t too bad, but the seas are rubbish. There is wind of around 20 knots from the south-east off Sandy Cape until Monday. Larger vessels or the super keen will be watching for easing conditions Monday, though Tuesday through Thursday look the best. Glamour conditions are in store for the offshore crews if the current forecast is correct.

The moon continues to wane on the back side of last week’s full. This means the tidal flow is diminishing daily, which isn’t necessarily a great thing, but hey, decent weather and less than ideal tides trump bad weather and good tides when you haven’t been fishing for a while. All in all, Easter looks vastly better than the past week, and improving dramatically into next week. There are ample opportunities to wet a line or seek some fresh seafood, so let’s take a gander at your options.

Ryan caught this solid barra at Lake Monduran recently. With fish like this on offer, it is likely to be hectic up there this Easter.

Don’t Forget the Burrum Heads Easter Classic

As mentioned last week, the Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Club is running their major annual fishing competition this Easter weekend. In fact, the comp has already started today, but you can still register to enter if you wish. The comp is being run at Burrum Heads (from the Lions Park on Burrum Street) and is a great event to get the kids involved in.

Check out our fishing report from last week for more details, or google the Classic online. We wish all entrants the best of luck, and trust everyone will have a great time at what has long been a major highlight on the Burrum Heads fishing calendar.

Longtail tuna are once again abundant throughout the southern and eastern bay. Here is Dylan with a typical school fish.

Tom enjoyed a day out with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters and caught this chunky mack tuna amongst other fish.

Quality Fish Biting in the Burrum

The Burrum and its three feeder rivers will be rather hectic this weekend for obvious reasons, yet there are literally oodles of prime spots within those rivers that a keen fisho or comp entrant can fish without too many prying eyes. A lot of effort will be focussed in the lower reaches due to the dirty fresh waters well upstream, yet the mid reaches offer some excellent fishing right now as well.

Whilst not on the hit list for Easter Classic entrants, barramundi will be one of the most sought-after fish, and they have been going from strength to strength recently. Improving water quality and numbers of sizeable barra at this time of year can mean exceptional fishing. Many are schooled up and relatively easy to tempt with the right lures or live baits. Those with scanners won’t have too much trouble tracking them down if they have a handle on barra movements.

Prawn imitation lures excel at times such as these, particularly given the emergence of banana prawn within the river. Trollers are in with a chance too, as many barra have been moving regularly and they are very partial to a morsel of mullet, or something that resembles one.

The Burrum jack fishery is showing no signs of slowing either, so spend the time between periods of slack tide chasing them amongst the snags, rock bars and man-made structures. They are well spread and very active, so the mangrove jack category of the Classic should be well contested.

Quality bream are possible in the mid reaches for those inclined to target them. The diminishing tides aren’t ideal for whiting fans, but there are quality fish in the lower reaches if you can get them to bite. The same can be said for the grunter. There are possibly comp-winning grunter in the river, yet one might expect the true horses to come from out the front. 

Big kids with energy to burn could try their hand at a little shark fishing in the Burrum if they wish. The bull shark population is very healthy and big baits set out for a bull won’t last long in deeper water. There are some truly scary-sized bulls in the river too, so be prepared for some serious runs. Expect smaller bullies further upstream, right up into the fresher waters. 

All four rivers will be a veritable minefield of crab pots, as they are pretty much every Easter. The muddies have been on the march of late too, so someone is bound to score a winning crab for the comp. Don’t wander the Burrum system without a cast net on board either. Word of banana prawn in the mid reaches will spread like wildfire if they continue to be caught this week. 

The Burrum’s boat ramps will be hectic, and possibly found wanting over the Easter break. Burrum Heads will be crazy, Buxton will be busy, Walkers Point not so much perhaps, whilst Wal’s Camp and the Howard ramp will also have plenty of traffic. Patience, common sense, courtesy and good old Aussie comradery will keep things moving smoothly enough though. However, if it is peace and quiet you seek from your river sojourn this week, perhaps the Burrum system isn’t for you.

Pete picked up this nice jack recently. You can catch them from our creeks and rivers or from local reefs to offshore. The wider you go, the bigger they get.

Daiwa's Insulated Fish Bags are absolute gold for charter boat clients.

The Mary is Dirty yet There Are Great Fish on Offer

The vast expanse of the Mary River will be much quieter than the Burrum. The fishing could be even better though. Dirty fresh water continues to flow downstream from overflowing barrages in the upper reaches. Most effort remains focussed right downstream in the section below Beaver Rock. That is not to say that it should be though. The barra have spawned and that event is over, so their focus now is feeding and finding ‘comfortable’ water.

Barra on rock bars, barra on snags, barra along shelving banks chasing prawn and baitfish in muddy waters. All these scenarios might unfold in front of you on a given day on the Mary this week. Predatory activity can be highly visible these days too, with prawns and baitfish showering or skittering away from the likes of barra and salmon.

It is time to focus some attention on the drains and tiny creeks of the lower reaches. The major feeder streams demand some attention too. Threadfin salmon will be the main target for many fishos, and often they will be tossing tiny lures at big fish erupting into masses of jelly prawn in the muddiest of drain-offs. Many a fisho will go home frustrated by the commotion and opportunities missed if they aren’t armed with offerings the jelly-prawn-focussed threadies might accept.

Some will simply seek grunter, flatties, whiting and bream, and they may well be rewarded. All these species have representatives in the dirty, yet saline, waters of the lower reaches not far from River Heads. A jewfish or two would be no surprise from River Heads itself either, and anyone daring to take on the massive bull sharks that lurk in that neighbourhood had better have plenty of line on their reels.

Daytime or night time, saltwater or freshwater; you can catch quality barra in our region this time of year.

What Can’t You Catch Down the Straits

As soon as the wind drops below 20 knots, the vast expanse of the Great Sandy Straits south of River Heads will come alive with tinnies. Until then, capable vessels and crews can still make the journey over towards Fraser Island where they can fish the many ledges and creeks along the island. Some will head for Kingfisher Bay Resort and fish its jetty or nearby in the hope of perhaps a jewfish or other ex-river predator. Pelagics, reef fish and plenty of cod can also be found over that way, as well as whiting flathead and squid, so there is plenty to keep a fisho from getting bored.

There have been masses of tuna plundering schools of smaller baitfish down that way over the past week. The tuna arrived on the latter making tides as the full moon peaked (as they do), drawn in by the masses of baitfish flushed in by the tide. Some may well turn around now and head back out into the bay. If not, then you can add tuna chasing to a day out down the straits.

The sheer diversity of species on offer in the straits at present is mind boggling. You could be chasing queenies or tuna and have a monster GT bust you up or even eat your target species. You could keep the Easter seafood banquet going with fresh fillets from reefies such as scarlets, sweeties, blackall, cod or trout. Grunter might be a feature of your next meal, or perhaps a mighty mangrove jack. There are big barra and big salmon on offer too, and plenty of whiting, flatties and bream if they take your fancy.

Take your crab pots for the run and dump them along a mangrove-lined bank or up a creek. If you’ve got a decent cast net on board then you might even be feasting on fresh bananas when you get home, or squid if you remember to take some jigs. It is all happening down the straits and the weather has kept the masses from the spoils. Now is your chance.

Whatever you end up doing, don’t be too complacent about the sharks. Big bulls are raging right now, and their numbers increase wherever the tuna turn up. Expect plenty of attrition in open water, but be prepared for issues within the estuaries too. Small sharks are a big enough hassle for bait fishos, whilst the mega noahs will go on breaking hearts when trophies are stolen. Those with kids be super wary when handling fish destined for release.

Billy Green with a nice grunter from a local estuary. Grunter are a prime target from many local waters this time of year.

Steph enjoyed the battle with this mack tuna she caught with Hot Reels.

Seeking a Seafood Platter Inshore

If you are out there today seeking seafood for your Good Friday dinner, then hopefully you succeed. Chances are you are somewhere sheltered from the buffeting south-easter and chasing a feed of reef fish. The shallow reefs may not offer the banquet they did months ago, though they are still worth a crack for those fishing dawn, dusk or into the evening. Sweeties, grunter, cod and coral trout are the main targets from the shallows still, yet all species have been under immense pressure and time spent deeper would be time well spent.

Local artificial reefs such as the Simpson, Roy Rufus and Hardy all offer a variety of reef fish, as well as mackerel and trevally. Coral trout and cod will be eagerly sought by live baiters or those opting to jig softies or jigs over the turns of tide. Scarlet sea perch, grassy sweetlip and to a lesser extent blackall, are also species some will be chilling on ice for the ride home.

Squire are quite a reasonable target, and you might even chance a proper knobby snapper if you get super lucky. Our serious snapper season is still some time off, yet folks such as yours truly have consistently caught large snapper in March inshore (on better tides) in the past. Consistently that was, until the shark invasion many years ago that simply destroyed every fish hooked and soon demolished any desire to pursue them again so early.

The inshore run of grunter hasn’t been as substantial this year as others, due mostly to the lack of proper flooding in our rivers. All the same, those in the know will be looking for them over the usual rubbly grounds out towards the Fairway, over Burrum way or up the island. If there are any still around Pt Vernon or the bay islands, then their days are numbered.

Dean Abbott with a better class of inshore trout. Good Friday seafood feast sorted.

Mackerel fans might take a trolling run past the beacons or go spinning spoons around any baitfish-rich reefs. The Simpson arti, the Outer Banks and the reefs off the Burrum coastline are worth a look. It might be broadies more than schoolies in some locations, but they, as well as spaniards, will fall for the same lures and techniques.

Whilst not really in the seafood category, there are plenty of pelagics inshore to get the kids into when the wind eases enough. Just out of Urangan Harbour this week there have been schools of mack tuna working baitfish washed down with the flood tide. Small slugs spun past them at speed will soon have the kids’ drags squealing (as loud as the kids).

Golden trevally have also been turning up inshore over the past week. Many large fish have moved right up into the shallows too, so they could be worth pursuing on the flats. Add queenies and the very real chance of a GT, and the inshore shallows and nearby shipping channels could keep many of you entertained for days. 

You won’t even have to leave Urangan Channel to catch a feed or have some fun at present either, as the abovementioned pelagics are swimming above plenty of sweetlip, estuary cod, blackall and a few coral trout within cooee of the pier or the harbour. Be warned however, that the waters just beyond the harbour entrance can be some of the roughest in the lower bay when the wind is up and it opposes the tide.

Longtails of all sizes are suckers for stick baits this time of year.

Coxy managed a nice spaniard after the season re-opened. You can find them all the way from the inshore reefs to the Gutters and beyond right now.

Heading for the Northern Bay Next Week

Better weather next week will have lots of crews steering north towards the Gutters and Rooneys. The sharks will be waiting for them, in serious numbers unfortunately. The common grounds, known to all and sundry and fished regularly when the weather allows, are where you will encounter the worst of the sharks. Spend some time searching for smaller isolated grounds and you might enjoy a reprieve from the noahs.

The Gutters will give up a feed, but you will likely lose more than you take. The downgraded average size of the reef fish such as coral trout from those once productive grounds is indication enough of country in trouble. Take a feed if you can manage it, but please keep on the move to avoid the noahs. 

Scarlets, sweeties and even red emperor are possible from the fringes of those reef systems and many tiny isolates not that far away. So too are squire, tuskies, spangos and other lesser reef fish. It is a similar story over Rooneys way, with the addition of grunter to the south thereof potentially. 

Catching spanish mackerel will be easy enough at either the Gutters or Rooneys. Avoiding them might be more challenging. Large school mackerel can be just as big a nuisance (or bonus depending on your outlook). They are more likely to be found lurking over low-lying rubbly country then the dramatic ledges of the northern bay. Quite often, locals seeking live baits out in the paddock will trip over schoolies that are wandering the open plains feasting on the myriad of small fish that call this ‘barren wasteland’ home.

Steph was happy with this nice moses perch she caught whilst out with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.

Ian was happy with a solid spaniard from a recent Hot Reels charter.

Marg hauled in this nice spaniard on a rainy day out with Hot Reels.

Something for the Landlubbers

Once again, this week, many folks with boats will leave them on the trailer and join the landlubbers until the winds ease. Luckily, there are ample shore-based opportunities for family fishos and others to get amongst some of the best land-based action in southern Queensland.

Taking the long walk out to the deep end of the Urangan Pier will be popular for many. There has been golden trevally caught there this week, and by the reports of so many tuna from Urangan Channel, we would expect tuna as well. Mackerel are a chance this time of year, as are queenies. What pelagics turn up and when, you won’t know until you are out there.

Take a stash of metal spoons (Flashas are the numero uno) and some bait jigs. If you can’t spin up a pelagic, then you can always live bait for one. Any flathead silly enough to park itself near the pier’s pylons has a serious death wish, and won’t grow much older if it falls for the usual live baiting tactics. 

Take a wander out the end after dark and you could join others soaking larger baits for sharks. Ensure your tackle is at the heavy end of the spectrum and your reel full to the brim if you do though, as there have been a few beasts prowling those waters too big and strong for the locals of late. Shark fishing from the local beaches after dark is also an option for those so inclined. You will get action, and perhaps plenty of it.

Serious whiting fishos might scoff at the tides this week, yet mums and dads keen to keep the kids entertained can enjoy a session of two on the rising tide in town catching small whiting and dart. Some might even get lucky and land a few better whiting, or perhaps a flathead, a bream or a grunter. Large roaming golden trevally hoover up yabbies with gusto too by the way, so there might be screaming drags and potential spoolings on the cards for anyone so lucky to hook one.

There are beaches to the west of town that offer a better chance at an actual feed of whiting, as do the Booral Flats when the onshore wind eases enough. Mud skippers keen to venture down that way will need to wear appropriate footwear and be wary of what they tread on, but the spoils can be great compared with the easier options over sandy stretches elsewhere. Flatties, blue and threadfin salmon, grunter, bream, bull sharks and mud crabs share those waters with plenty of sting rays and who knows what else. Be wary, but enjoy.

The local creeks continue to impress with the calibre of fish they are giving up of late. Some stonker barra have joined a growing list of estuary species such as mangrove jacks, grunter, flathead and bream. Mud crabs are also on offer and anyone keen to risk their cast net amongst the mangrove roots, abandoned crab pots and other junk is in with a chance at a feed of prawn too.

Max caught these solid bream from a local creek. Something many family fishos could replicate this Easter.

It's not just fish you can catch wandering our local creeks, but muddies too, like this ripper Max found.

Crabs & Prawns Compliment the Seafood Banquet

The great run of mud crabs from our local creeks and rivers continues. Last week’s full moon saw many local crabbers out in force and they fared very well indeed. Of course, not everyone scores crab every time, yet those with practice and time in the mud on their side have done very well once again. Getting the pots in before the onslaught over the Easter break was a great ploy that will see many rest their pots whilst others try their luck.

You can try the Burrum system, the Mary system, the straits or our local creeks. The muddies are on the move and pretty much full as a goog. Whilst many crabs are retreating back up into their favoured estuaries (and that is where most of the action has been) there is still the chance of potting a few from the local mudflats. 

Sand crabbers should do very well when the winds ease. The waters off the Burrum coastline are worth a look going on recent catches in the western bay, whilst heading up the island with a quota of pots is a good idea too. There is plenty of sandies on offer within Platypus Bay right now, and you might not even need to go a long way past Coongul. 

The cooler weather, the full moon and the persistent showers has kickstarted the annual banana prawn season locally. It is very much early days yet, but we can divulge that small-medium sized bananas are being caught in the mid reaches of the Burrum (very likely in the other rivers up there too), the lower Mary and from our local creeks.

It might be more a couple of kilos than a bucket full for many hopefuls, but at least it’s a start. The winds have been too much onshore for Woodgate to be considered as yet, though word is there is quality prawn to the north thereof in the Elliot and Burnett. Landlubbers have their chance to get a feed right now too. Wandering our creek banks is just one option. The other one will soon become obvious if you haven’t discovered it yet.

Bennie & Hudson Koeppen helping their dad sort their latest feed of mud crab.

Matty has been into the muddies once again. Local crabbers have been feasting regularly for the past month or so.


Fraser Island is Messy but Fishable

‘Dirty’ water and patches of weed will greet beach goers heading for Fraser Island this week. The surf has been pounding the eastern beaches for weeks now and the churned-up seas have been at best challenging to fish. 

All the same, a few die-hards have taken the long rods for a walk and have been getting into some very nice dart. The central section around the Cathedrals has been productive this week. That is all we have heard of at this time, though we expect there will be plenty of folks holidaying over there this Easter and if there are other fish to be caught, someone will find them.

At least the tracks are good and the beach is easy to travel on, being very wide and quite flat. This means low tide gutters are the principal formation, so fishing efforts are best focussed at or near low tide. From what we know, pippies are hard to come by, so keep that in mind and gather them when you get the chance. 

Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and surrounds will be very hectic over these Easter holidays. With the weather coming good next week, our boat ramp parking facilities will be overflowing and the ramps super busy. Everyone is out for a good time though, so we trust good cheer and the great Aussie spirit will prevail. Happy Easter everybody.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Dart are the main catch from Fraser Island's surf beach at present. Many are good quality too. Here's Mack with one of his from a recent trip.

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