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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 29th September 2022

Keep the Wet Weather Gear Handy

We trust you all got out and enjoyed the string of sensational days over the past week. The forecast doesn’t look nearly as flash this week, but there will still be plenty of local fishing and boating opportunities for the keen.

Enjoy the light winds if you can get out tomorrow, otherwise, perhaps an early session Saturday is worth considering. Sunday is likely to be wet. The winds might not be too bad, with periods of quite light winds until late in the day, but the chances are that showers will tend to rain.

More showery rain is likely Monday, with the onshore southeasterly breeze starting to ramp up. A 15-20 knot southeaster is likely to dominate the working week, tending more easterly towards the weekend. Showers are possible most days, so keep the wet weather gear handy.

Weather-watchers are undoubtedly monitoring that big system of troughs and embedded lows heading our way from the west next week. It appears to be very slow-moving, but bringing significant rain and storms potentially. Mind you, making any claims about what to expect weather-wise seems even more risky than ever of late, as the more weather sites you view, the more confusing it looks – and they often change daily.

With the new moon behind us, the waxing phase has begun. Tidal flow is diminishing daily as we approach the first quarter moon this Monday. This will see a less enthusiastic bite from a range of species, at least until the tides start to make again thereafter.

Fun Times at Toogoom Family Fishing Competition

The little village of Toogoom was central to the local Toogoom Fishing Club’s Family Fishing Competition last weekend. From what we hear, there were plenty of fish caught, and entrants and their families enjoyed a great weekend in sensational weather.

Estuarine species were well-represented amongst the fish brought to the weighmaster. Sizeable whiting featured regularly, as did quality flathead and large grunter. There were a few decent mangrove jacks weighed in too. 

Interestingly, a few flathead were caught that were too big to bring back to the comp site, as flatties over 75cm must be released unharmed immediately. The “lucky” anglers took some happy snaps, but failed to score in the prizes from the live weigh in.

The glorious weather enabled boaties to scatter out onto the bay. School mackerel and golden trevally captures jostled for prizes in the pelagic category, and a few modest reefies made their way to the weighmaster. All-in-all, the comp was considered a success and could not have been held at a better time, with such great weather during this year’s September school holidays.

Urangan Pier Productive for Holiday-Makers

The new moon tides brought the whiting back on the bite at the beach end of the Urangan Pier. The size has apparently diminished somewhat when compared with the run of better-class fish a month earlier, but no-one is complaining.

A feed of whiting has been quite easy to secure most days and nights. Bag limits were still achievable, but not nearly as quickly, with a few smaller fish and plenty of competition from fellow anglers slowing the process. The dreaded green toads gave a few hopefuls a pizzling at times, but they were thankfully not consistent.

Out at the deep end, the great run of school mackerel has kept the kids entertained on a daily basis. Spinning with spoons and other metals has been highly productive for the energetic, whilst others have been content catching their share with live baits rigged on gang hooks. The schoolies have been of fairly good size too, so many regulars must be feasting on mackerel quite often.

The odd pod of longtail tuna has been making raids on the pier’s baitfish population some days. Live baits suspended under balloons wide of the pier is a popular method for many tuna chasers. Chaos can ensue some days with this technique however – whenever the winds pull the floats and attached lines back towards the pier, obstructing others trying to fish nearby.

This is a great time of year for Urangan Pier fishos. Not only can they catch a feed of whiting, perhaps a flathead or two and with some luck even the odd large grunter, the pelagic activity can reach fever pitch potentially, as a host of passing species plunder the sheltering baitfish in their travels. 

Queenfish, golden trevally, spaniards, broad-barred mackerel and mack tuna often make an appearance or several this time of year. Reports of a couple of giant trevally last week were only slightly surprising, as they too will be a regular feature of the fishery out the end very soon. Strong northerlies and “dirty” water are typically the only issues that might see these fish avoid pier waters mid-spring.

The light northerlies in recent times have enhanced the whiting fishery along our north-facing town beaches. Some days (and nights), the northerly can blow a little too much for some stretches, so shuffle east or west and look for the fish feeding in the churned up - yet not as sloppy - waters nearby.

Yabby baits destined for a whiting have been known to take off at pace lately, as sizeable grunter poach baits meant for their smaller neighbours. The bigger tides are more conducive to grunter fishing along our beaches, so they might not be as widespread or common over the neaps, but they are still possible (especially after dark).

Great Run of Marlin on its Way

It is very encouraging to hear that there is a tremendous run of juvenile black marlin to the north of Hervey Bay. The Keppels off Yeppoon has been central to a ripper bite, with numerous multi-marlin captures recorded in that area. These fish are on their way down here, and as their southward migration brings them into the bay, the waters of Platypus Bay and the northern bay will come alive with light tackle game fishers and sportsfishos alike.

Many folks have popped their cherries on Hervey Bay’s little blacks in past seasons, so if you are yet to do so, then now is the time to gear up and be ready for the right weather and tides. Large marlin certainly have their prestige and are typically considered the play things of the well-healed, yet these juvenile blacks are within easy reach of pretty much anyone with a decent vessel.

You don’t need anything super fancy. Just decent reels with a good drag system and plenty of line capacity. Spin gear is fine for these little blacks, as many of them are barely 10 kilos, up to maybe 30 kilos. Yes, larger fish are encountered in the bay each year, and yes, you just might get spooled if you don’t react to the rampaging run of a 50-kilo fish, but generally-speaking, your medium-class tackle is fine.

A range of small skirted pushers and a decent teaser set-up to draw marlin to your boat can soon see you connected. So too, can scouting the near-shore waters of Platypus Bay with a spin outfit and suitable plastic, or appropriately-rigged garfish or live bait at the ready. These lures or baits can be cast ahead of cruising fish and worked in ways to trigger a lit-up marlin to pounce. Exciting stuff indeed!

Making sure your hooks are sharp, and indeed of the right type for the job is incredibly important. Seek advice instore if you are unsure as to how to rig for marlin or what hooks are best for these critters. The right leaders, gloves, and an observant skipper and crew with cameras/phones at the ready will soon see fish brought alongside the boat handled with due care and released unharmed.

So, consider a marlin hunting mission in the very near future, or wait for the grapevine to expose the fishery and join the growing crowds. It won’t be long and marlin captures will be commonplace and a day of sportfishing for these speedsters, tuna and eventually spotty mackerel will be raising sweats right into summer. 

Bay Reefs Better without Northerly Winds Northerly winds can tend to diminish the bite for many Hervey Bay reef fish, not to mention making the task of getting to them quite uncomfortable as well. This week should see more in the way of southeasters and then easterly winds, so the reef fishing, inshore at least, should be better. 

Snapper are still in the bay. They are a reasonable target in Platypus Bay in particular, but can also be found over bait-laden inshore reefs of the southern bay as well. They might be a bit hard to get at with softies and the like on some reefs however, due to the proliferation of toothy schoolies. Be warned.

Grunter continue to feature in catches from inshore reefs, as well as certain sites off Rooneys and in northern Platypus Bay. Otherwise, it is the increasingly active coral trout and cod that are worth pursuing inshore with live baits or lures, unless you want to settle for blackall.

It won’t be long and our waters will warm enough to draw the grass sweeties back into the southern bay. You can catch the odd fish now, but their numbers will swell in coming months. Often a good run of sweeties will take over from the grunter along the reef edges of Pt Vernon / Gatakers Bay next month, so keep that in mind if you are a fan.

Even more appealing for many is the chance to troll for coral trout over our shallow reefs in spring. The warming waters will see the trout on the chew and early morning forays can be quite productive, particularly over the bigger tides.

Diving lures that swim just above the reef are the go, attached to outfits capable of extracting the tenacious buggers. Lock your drags up and hang onto your rods. Trout will be rather unforgiving to those that leave their rods in holders whilst trolling.

Of course, you can chase these very same trout many other ways. Drifting and flicking softies or working soft vibes across the reef is popular for many. You can even try topwater up in the shallows if you like. Bait fishos will score their share if they are willing to move around a lot. Pillies and banana prawns will score, as will live baits or fresh baitfish secured from the area.

Be aware that there are a lot of juvenile coral trout in these waters. Take care of the little ones and return them unharmed. They are very quick growing, so your undersized trout today might be dinner in a couple of months’ time.

You will have to get in quick to beat the spearos to the trout and other reef dwellers this season. We (and the fish) enjoyed a reprieve last summer due to flooding rains and dirty waters, and that period alone reflected the dramatic improvement possible when the waters are of low visibility.

School Mackerel are Prolific

Trolling for coral trout at Gatakers Bay might see your favourite trout lolly intercepted by a school mackerel at present. They can be vastly more abundant to the west of Gatakers over the rubbly country a little wider, but they still wander in over the reef proper as well.

Schoolies can be found in big numbers out off the Burrum Coast. The 6 and 8 Mile reefs, the Fairway beacon and any rubbly patches in the area are likely to be home to these pesky speedsters. They are also quite prolific over many sections of reef on the Outer Banks and within our local shipping channels as well.

Troll high-speed minnows for schoolies if you like, or drift a given area trailing pillies on a set of gangs. Anchor and live bait or deploy pillies above the reefs or rubble or adjacent to a beacon and you should not have to wait long for a bite.

Indeed, if you struggle to find any schoolies, then re-rig with an expensive soft vibe or your best snapper plastics and you will soon have them snipping you off. After-all, we snapper fishos never seem to have too much trouble tripping over those flaming schoolies inshore this time of year.

Estuary Critters Responding to Increased Warmth

Springtime seas a lot more traffic on our estuaries as more and more hopefuls chase the glory species for happy snaps and bragging rights. Barra, jacks and threadies are undeniably the big trifecta for many, though some might sneak fingermark into that list whilst others consider jewies, grunter or blue salmon worthy of a top five rating.

Flathead, whiting and bream, queenfish, tarpon, GTs and cod all seem to pale into comparison come springtime for some, whilst others will continue their pursuit with vigour. All these species are available in our creeks and rivers this time of year however, so whatever you choose to chase, you are in with a chance.

With the Mary River still flowing largely pure freshwater, and more recent downpours in its catchment continuing the flow, it is the creeks of the Great sandy Straits where many have shifted their focus. Having said this, the lower reaches of the Mary are certainly worthy of a look and can produce quite bragworthy specimens this time of year.

The Burrum system is home to plenty of jacks that have started to bite. The cooler conditions this week won’t do much for their cause, but they are still worth pursuing on the better days or at night. Barra are also well spread throughout the four rivers of that system, and a few threadies, jewies, grunter, flathead and other species are possible.

Those of us that enjoy our prawning are rather spoilt at the moment. We don’t normally have access to such a great run of mature bananas this time of year, yet they are there and in numbers. Quality prawn can be found in the Mary, the Susan and the Burrum systems. The recent big tides even saw another run in the vicinity of River Heads.

Fraser Island – Insanely Crowded but Fishing Well

The tailor fishery continues to impress many surf fishos over on the island – and many of them there is. Gutters are crowded when fish are found and it can be a challenge to find a school of tailor without having to share very soon thereafter. All the same, most folks are having fun and scoring a decent feed of choppers with a few greenbacks to boot.

There has been enough dart in some gutters to add some variety and to appease those that don’t rate tailor in the eating department. Whiting too, featured in catches over the new moon, as did a few tarwhine around the rocky outcrops.

Speaking of rocky outcrops, the two big ones – Indian Head and Waddy Point – will again to be open to fishing come Saturday 1 st October. The annual fishing ban around these headlands will be lifted and rock fishos can do their thing once again.

Spinning metals and stickbaits from the stones is quite popular, and rarely ever more-so than on the first day of the season opener. Keen rock hoppers will be watching the swell and looking for opportunities to access what is likely to be great schools of tailor in the wash.

Going on how good this season has been, the rocks should absolutely fire. There might even be a few bonus species on offer, in the form of spaniards, GTs or jewies. A few select reef species are also possible from the headlands, particularly after a blow (if you can gain access to the right waters safely that is).

Possibly even more popular come Saturday will be the gutters within the 400m exclusion zone of the headland closure. Renewed access to these waters will enable island fishos to target the fish they have been otherwise just watching in the waves for the past two months.

If you a regular beach fisho and like visiting Fraser Island to get away from the hustle and bustle and the crowds of our cities and townships, then perhaps you found the island during the September school holidays a tad frustrating. Word is that the island is insanely busy, and basically booked-out. Seems the Qld Tourism mob’s big spend on advertising hasn’t been wasted.

The beach access tracks have suffered at the hands (or is that wheels) of the usual run of occasional 4WDers that tear the tracks to pieces, exaggerating the corrugations, rutting up the inclines and generally getting bogged where they shouldn’t.

True novices aren’t necessarily to blame, as they need to learn somewhere and boggings will happen. It is the heroes that refuse to let their tyres down, or spruke how tough their 4WD is ‘cause they got through in 2WD and didn’t need to engage both diffs. You know the type. Their actions make your travels tougher (and cause many delays), and it takes subsequent rains to harden the sands and return the tracks to more user-friendly passages.

Stories of high beams over gutters and the constant rumble of vehicles slowing the fishing in some areas abound during these busy times. The island will return to some semblance of normal very soon and a bit of rain will be welcomed by the locals.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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