Dane with a thready caught on light gear and light leader. Play them gently with a light drag or risk rub-offs.
There is a Change in the Air
We trust you all got out and enjoyed the warm conditions over the past week, eerie fog and all. As you are undoubtedly already aware, there is a dramatic change in our atmosphere that will bring a whole different kettle of fish this week.
This morning’s 15-20 knot southwester, spawned the day before, has brought back the chill of winter in a big way. As can be quite typical of a south-westerly change, the wind will drop out altogether this afternoon offering a great opportunity to hit the water ahead of the weekend traffic.
Saturday will dawn cold, with around 10-15 knots of southwester initially before once again dropping out – this time by mid-morning. Make the most of Saturday if you plan to head for open waters folks, as Sunday doesn’t look nearly as pleasant. Early risers can take on the 15-knot southerly that greets them and make the most of the day inshore. The wind should tend south-easterly mid-morning and increase in strength late in the day.
Monday will bring the rain – apparently. Our northern neighbours are likely to receive heavier falls than us, but we are in for a reasonable soaking. Combine the rain with 20 knots of onshore south-easter and it will make for a very ordinary day on the water. At this stage, mid-week looks quite damp, with plenty of showers riding 15 knots or so of onshore wind. Certainly not ideal for the second week of the school holidays.
All the same, we can do with the rain, and our geography still offers plenty of options for those that are keen enough. It is a shame that this weather event is coinciding with the full moon Monday. Make the most of the making tides beforehand if you can.
A tasty local trifecta from the northern bay.
Fun Times for the Kids on Urangan Pier
Urangan Pier is always popular during school holidays, and luckily, the fish are very active out there this week. The bream are quite thick and eating a range of baits (mostly herring though of course). Daytime sessions are fun and trouble-free for the unfamiliar visiting fishos, but it is the evening bite that has the local bream fans out in force.
Those willing to test their skills on finesse, or perhaps semi-finesse tackle, whilst dancing small sinking lures such as vibes and plastics between the pylons will find fish just as willing to smash them. This year’s run of bream lacks the really big fish that so often turn up at the pier (so far), but the sheer numbers are making up for the size of late.
Even more exciting for the holidaying kids is the run of school mackerel and bonito. The bonnies have been quite thick at times and are super aggressive little fish. Spinning with spoons or metal slugs is the cool way of catching them.
Schoolies of various sizes are turning up most days too, and they too are suckers for metal spoons. If bait is more your thing, then jigging herring and sending them back attached to a set of free-swinging gang hooks is the go. Undersized school mackerel can be quite common, so return them back a.s.a.p. (and don’t be tempted to use them as bait).
A live schoolie of legal size is a fine bait for any big spanish mackerel that might wander by, as is a live bonito (that has no minimum size). The spaniards actively hunt the schools of smaller pelagics through our waters at this time, so they are a very real possibility from the pier. Evidence of which being a 20-kilo model caught just yesterday.
Live baiting for flathead sight-fished beneath the pier has been popular in recent weeks. So popular in fact that it is a fairly lucky and perhaps lonely flatty that would lurk nearby these days. All the same, wander the planks viewing over the side for the tell-tale dark bands of a big dusky in ambush mode. If you spot one, then slip a live pike or herring into the water nearby and watch it eat - but keep your observation to yourself or otherwise your bait may not be the first the flatty sees.
A nocturnal session chasing pier jewfish would seem a reasonable bet as the full moon draws nearer. Securing live baits and soaking them mid-water could work, though these days, many regulars will favour large prawn imitation lures or soft vibes – and yes, these lures work just fine in the dark.
If you prefer the sand between your toes, then you can try an evening session chasing “summer” whiting from our local beaches. To date, the beaches west of town were producing better numbers, though the Booral mud flats can be worth a try during spells of light offshore wind.
The beaches within town can produce a few keeper whiting, but it is fair to say that most will be undersized. A few bream are possible from the rocks, particularly if you berley then throw unweighted baits into the zone. Wandering our rocky foreshores flicking several candidates from our ever-expanding range of bream lures would offer vastly more fun again.
Otherwise, you can wander the banks of our local creeks seeking flatties, or stretch your legs over the flats outside the creeks west of town in the hope of tripping over a few queenfish.
An Oceans Legacy Keeling Lure tempted this ripper of a GT for Lochie.
This young fella was chuffed with his tuskfish caught on a recent Hot Reels charter.
Fish the fringes of the reef if you like grassies. This young lad had a great day out with Hot Reels.
Time Your Reef Fishing Forays
North-westerly winds, freaky fogs and neap tides all had roles to play over the past week, and the results from those seeking a feed of reef fish told various stories. It was pretty tough inshore for most, though a few quality snapper were caught, along with coral trout and a few cod. The warmer conditions haven’t been ideal for the snapper so far this winter, but trout and cod have maintained the rage.
As the tides build in strength on the approach to the full moon, you might want to consider your timing when targeting certain species. Trout and cod will be most active when the tide is slackest. Snapper will feed at various times relative to movements of food through a given area. Some fishos new to our waters might struggle with the stronger currents in the deeper inshore waters, so turn of tide periods will be better all-round.
Out wider, the ever-popular Southern and Northern Gutters saw plenty of traffic when the weather permitted. Venus tuskfish and grass sweetlip were on the chew along the fringes of the reefs, as were a few squire, squirey snapper and the odd scarlet. Trout and cod were possible over the reef proper on live baits or tea-bagged lures.
There has even been the odd red emperor caught at the Gutters recently. Heading much farther afield is a wiser move if red emperor are your target species these days though, as the Gutters is no longer a happy hunting ground for our apex reef fish. Good numbers of quality reds have been on the chew of late too. The fuel burn might be painful but the rewards are there for the more adventurous fisho with a healthy dose of wanderlust.
There seems to be no end to the run of spanish mackerel in the northern bay. Warmer than usual water temperature is keeping them comfy perhaps. They are sharing the full range of the water column with plenty of cobia these days. The cobes are increasingly widespread and are turning up all over the northern and central bay.
The shoal country east of Breaksea Spit has produced a mixed bag of reefies this week. Red throat, red emperor, a few green jobbies and the usual bonus tuskies have chilled out for the long ride back to Urangan. Pearl perch and snapper have also been active in deeper waters offshore. Sharks are an issue in many areas, yet not everywhere.
Simon snared a nice red emperor off D.I. recently.
Cocky parrot (venus tuskfish) look as good as they taste. They are common offshore, but you can get a few out at the Gutters too.
Big cod are common bycatch when targeting trout and other reefies. Releasing them helps preserve our reefs.
A nice box of fish for the crew aboard Truansea Charters out of Bundy. The cap just makes it look even better.
Snapper Numbers Improving in Platypus Bay
July marks the traditional time of year that local fishos might seek out the big snapper that head for the Platypus Bay spawning grounds. There have been reports of a few decent knobbies from up that way this week, so perhaps the reefs throughout that bay are worth a visit. The wider or more northerly reefs rubble or weed patches are likely to produce the earlier run of fish, with the grounds close to Fraser seeing their share as the snapper filter through later.
Of course, the relatively new Snapper and Pearl Perch Closure will deny us the opportunity to catch those two species between the 15th July and 15th August. You’ve got the next two weeks beforehand to get your snapper fix. More reason to consider an early run up the island.
Night sessions will favour the bait fisho plying those waters. Night travel is fairly low risk at the moment, but it won’t be long and the first of the humpbacks will arrive in the bay. There are many more close encounters in Hervey Bay than you will ever see on the news, so take care to minimise your chances of collisions in coming months. For now, the whales are still traveling via the humpback highway offshore, and we would expect the first early scouts to enter the bay in late July.
Anyway, berleying and fishing lightly-weighted baits down the berley trail (ie; float-lining) is the favoured technique that has been bringing snapper undone for years. Spending the time it takes to catch baitfish that inhabit those waters is often the difference between trophy fish and just fish. Yakkas and herring arrive in hordes with the snapper hot on their heels, so give them what they came to eat.
Lure fishos will have the edge over bait fishos throughout the daylight hours in Platypus Bay. Don’t over-weight your plastics up that way either, as the current is minimal when compared with the open waters or the “funnel” of southern Hervey Bay.
If you haven’t quite mastered the art of snapper on plastics, or other lures like jigs or vibes for that matter, then you could always consider a troll. Dragging super-deep divers such as Dr Evils, Crazy Deep RMG Scorpions or Nomad DTX Minnows around at a couple of knots has caught many folks quality knobbies in recent years. The ability to avoid the sharks so often lurking around the reefs has been a bonus and a major drawcard for many, and some even troll as standard practice these days.
There has been no talk of snapper from the 25 Fathom Hole but some might risk an early visit to suss out the baitfish scenario. If there are towering high plumes of yakkas spread wide across and beside the hole, then the snapper will be there. No yakkas = no snapper – simple.
The 25 Fathom Hole so rarely houses much in the way of large demersal reef fish, being more a nursery for juveniles these days that move elsewhere when they mature. Quality trout, cod, jacks and scarlets once frequented the gnarlier reefs of the western side, but alas, those reefs are mere rubble nowadays.
A lack of boat traffic for nine months of the year and no regular charter boat visits means the hole rarely has issues with sharks. When the snapper turn up, we’ve been able to target them on softies on relatively light tackle without the hassles experienced elsewhere – let’s hope that is the case again this season.
By the way, the wreck of the HMAS Tobruk is settled on the bottom only a couple of miles NNE of the Fathom Hole. If you want to see some impressive reefies and get a picture of what grounds such as the Gutters used to be like, then google the wreck and check out the you tube footage. The Tobruk is off limits to fishos of course, as are the immediate surrounds. Turns out there is a surprising amount of fishing tackle evident on this shipwreck, given that it is located within a no-fish zone.
Closer inshore, it will be the Simpson Arti, Outer Banks, Moon Ledge, Roy Rufus Arti and Burrum 8 Mile that will see the biggest number of boats chasing snapper this week. Some get lucky, some don’t. Nocturnal sessions will likely be most productive as the snapper don’t respond well to excess traffic. Be there early or be there late basically.
Out-stretched arms aren't required when your fish is big enough. That's a ripper snapper Keira. Well done.
Golden trevally are common bycatch when chasing snapper in the bay.
Another Hot Reels client with a small mouth nannygai.
A dark-tailed sea perch caught on a Hot Reels Charter recently.
School Mackerel Everywhere Inshore
If you like school mackerel, then you are in for a treat. There are good numbers of schoolies off the Burrum coastline (and even some within the river). Trollers are faring quite well, be that with paravanes or trolling boards trailing spoons, or with high-speed-capable diving lures. There are undersized fish amongst the better ones, so keep releasing the little ones unharmed and a bag limit of keepers will come your way.
The mackerel are also frequenting many of our local beacons, and are following the bait schools as they traverse our inshore shipping channels. Artificial reefs and the abundance of baitfish that they attract are magnets for schoolies too. There are also a number of spanish mackerel shadowing the schools of schoolies, some of which predate on the smaller mackerel, others of which eat baits and lures targeted at the schoolies.
Interestingly, some folks have experienced too much carnage for their liking when trying to catch schoolies at the Burrum 8 Mile of late. Sharks and large cod/groper have been active and taxing many fish. Those folks have resorted to trolling and relieved themselves of those issues.
Schoolies are terrorising the winter whiting fleet on some shallow grounds, and have made their presence felt off Woodgate, the Burrum and Toogoom this week. Of course, a whiting fisho need only deploy an appropriate bait or lure when the mackerel turn up to add a little extra omega 3 to their diet.
We hear that the winter whiting fishos are generally quite happy with their catches this week. From Woodgate to Gatakers Bay has been popular. Those favouring the Great Sandy Straits are still getting their bag limits quite easily throughout the central and southern sectors. As mentioned recently, good numbers of decent-sized pencil squid have been an added bonus for whiting fishos down that way.
Matty Keyworth is still having fun with the bay's Spaniards.
Dane hitched a ride with Logan and they tempted a few average threadies. Soft vibes worked well, as did shrimp imitations.
King threadfin have been popular targets of late. Kristen enjoyed the battle with this one.
Lots of Traffic on Our Rivers
The threadfin salmon bite on the Mary River has drawn a lot of extra traffic again this week. Teched-up fishos sporting the latest in sounder technology are scanning the river finding fish that locals took years to track down in the past pre-tech days, subsequently keeping such exploits to themselves.
Finding threadies has never been easier of course, as such large and prominent fish are very obvious on the array of quality sounders available to us today. It may be that technology has overcome a lack of time on the water and has short-cutted the learning experience for the lucky new-age fisho. When combined with exuberant you-tubers promoting their latest trip and the abundance of social media information that proponents troll so diligently, the fish and the more cunning fishos of the past have nowhere to hide.
Not in the game? Then get a Garmin and get in the game!
Cooler water will cool the threadies’ enthusiasm some time soon, but the past three weeks of warm weather has certainly had them on the chew. Soft vibes are their main undoing and without par in deeper waters. Enough pressure from constant fishing will dictate the necessity to drop small plastics to fussy fish, but to date that hasn’t been the case.
Average threadies are still around that 90-110cm mark, with bigger fish on offer. Big numbers at a rate of a fish-a-cast are certainly possible when you hit the motherlode, so if you are only getting a couple, then your retrieve ain’t quite right or you just ain’t on the money. Removing hooks whilst the fish is still in the water and sending your lure back to the school below not only gets you back in the game quicker, but is better for a fish that suffers badly from barotrauma.
There are jewies in the river too, and they are a good target over the impending moon. The barra that have bitten so well (relatively speaking) over the past couple of weeks are likely to be a bit lethargic in cooler times ahead. Schools of blue salmon are abundant along many stretches of river and are highly mobile.
The Burrum scene is a rather different. Barra are certainly still possible, albeit in vastly less numbers than they were at the season opener. Grunter are eagerly sought after and a few locals will lose sleep chasing them over the moonlit nights this week, as will other locals that just cannot resist chasing their beloved whiting at all hours.
There are enough flatties lurking along the banks to warrant a session or two chasing them, and in some stretches of the lower river, trolling for flatties is occasionally popular. Trolling the shallow verges and avoiding the deeper waters would be advisable for those keen to avoid attacks from tailor. There are a few schools in the river and the full moon should see their activity heighten. As mentioned earlier, there are even school mackerel in the mouth of the river near Burrum Heads.
Logan's better half, Tiarna, had a ball catching threadies recently.
Staff member Jacko with a nice thready from the Mary.
Jacko is pleased as punch with his first salty barra.
Bragging Class Crabbing
Sand crabbers have reported a few hits and a few misses out in the bay recently. The crabs have certainly been on the move and there has been a lot of effort from crabbers recently due to the great weather. Some scored bag limits with enough effort, but the cup has not runneth over, so to speak. Inshore movements over the bigger tides can be taken advantage of for those familiar with such.
Mud crabbers on the other hand have been having a great time of late, and in some cases, their cup has runneth over! Having to throw back muddies in excess of one’s bag and/or boat limit is not a common problem in these parts.
Whilst the creeks of the Great Sandy Straits continue to give up quality muddies in good numbers; the high salinity levels of the rivers have triggered upstream migrations that many have been able to intercept. The crabs have largely been full too, so dropping the pots in over the full moon should be worth the effort.
A nice little red for a happy chap aboard Hot Reels. Tough conditions eh.
Pauly from Hot Reels Charters with the leftovers. The carnage is heartbreaking.
Tuskies are certainly photogenic, and tasty too.
A Winter Beach on Fraser Island
We haven’t got too much to report on from Fraser Island’s eastern beaches this week, but the changing face of the beach itself is worth noting. Westerly winds and calm seas have triggered a build-up of sand along many stretches that island locals refer to as a “winter beach”. In essence, it’s a much lumpier ride along the beach than it was weeks ago, as there are a lot more ups and downs – high tide gutters in the making.
This scene might slow the traffic ever-so-slightly, but also creates potentially prime terrain for tailor schools to hunt within when they arrive en-masse soon. Until then, there are still elusive tailor to be found, but the excitement of that wave of large fish a month ago has certainly waned. Let’s see what the full moon and a weather change brings.
Surf fishos with a taste for jewfish might be missing out on a bit of sleep this week. The full moon is prime time for many and some jewie fans are addicted. Last reports of any sizeable jewies came from waters north of the headlands.
Rocky outcrops are still producing a few tarwhine, which will soon be joined by big snowy surf bream. A lot of whiting have moved on, but they are still potentially worth pursuing in the better low tide gutters over the next few days. Otherwise, it has really only been the healthy numbers of dart that have kept some fishos entertained over on the island this week.
Wayne Parr scored a ripper red throat offshore last week.
Wayne's better half, Sue Parr, with a decent pearlie from offshore.
Happy Days Aboard Calypso Fishing Charters
Local lads, Sam and Josh Peaker run a great inshore charter boat operation called Calypso Fishing Hervey Bay. Departing Urangan Harbour every day, weather permitting, the lads offer a very unique half day on the water for the casual fisho or family looking for fun times and a cruise of our local waters.
This is very much a fun boat, with no egos to massage, that offer a great time for all who come aboard. True saltwater therapy and a real fish-feeding good time. Spend a few hours with the Calypso crew and you and your family will disembark all the merrier for the experience. Local fishing club members and other groups have become cherished return clients that know a good time when they’ve had one.
You don’t need to bring anything either. Just turn up and step aboard. All is provided, from fishing tackle to morning tea and snacks. The lads actively promote catch and release, but of course will let you keep a good fish if you so desire.
So, if this sounds like a fun day out for you, your friends or family, then checkout their details below and book a trip online. You will be glad you did!
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Calypso's wide spacious decks cater for families and large groups out for a hassle-free day on the water.
Book on-line for a trip on Calypso.