Andy, Callum and Scotty with a three-way hook up on the bay's golden trevally. Plastics and vibes tempted plenty this day
Weather Not So Flash Post Super Moon
We enjoyed some more of Qld’s finest winter weather again last week, with light winds prevailing until the south-east change arrived with the super moon Wednesday. Sadly, the current south-easterly breeze will continue for a few days yet, so boaties will need to fish inshore or within our estuaries until the wind eases.
Today’s 15-20 knot south-easter will prevail right through the coming weekend. We can expect a few scattered showers to blow onshore as well. Most shower activity should be coastal, though a few light ones could reach the hinterland.
That very same onshore trade wind is likely to maintain similar strength right into the working week. Isolated showers will be a possibility from day to day. All in all, it doesn’t look great until at least this time next week. There is some hope that the following weekend will be a pearler, but we would be a little naïve to trust weather predictions that far out.
This week’s super moon was spectacular, and so were the rising moon events the nights preceding. As the moon begins to wane and the tidal flow diminishes, there will be significantly less enthusiasm from many species as the days roll by. The next set of neaps will arrive with the last quarter moon phase on Tuesday, and the cycle will begin once again.
Local diving legend, Syd Tanner, with a nice grass sweetlip hauled over the side on a Hot Reels Charter to the northern bay
It is worth noting, that considering the massive tides of recent days - in particular, the big evening highs - there is some chance that a degree of debris has been mobilised by the tide. Boaties should be vigilant when wandering our rivers and/or the bay, as trees and other flotsam re-floated by the big tides could be an issue.
Luckily, the consistent wind direction at present is likely to re-lodge any such hazards on south or east-facing land masses, so the whole issue might be a moot point by the time this wind eases. The upper reaches of our local river systems tend to trap flotsam that ebbs and flows with the tides until it finds a place to settle. Perhaps keep this in mind, particularly if travelling after dark.
We tragically lost two fellow boaties this week. Accidental drownings in both cases that are never easy to hear about. One man lost his life in Beelbi Creek and another in the Burrum River.
Also hard to stomach is the reports of boat trailers being unhitched at the Burrum Heads boat trailer park. Apparently, some louts reckon it is funny to tamper with people’s trailers, so perhaps take a quick glance and check yours when next retrieving from there. Or better still, fit a coupling lock that will deter any similar stupidity. They are quite cheap, easy to fit, and offer peace of mind and great security.
Whilst in warning phase, it is timely to once again remind boaties of the abundance of humpback whales that are migrating through our waters right now. The humpback highway offshore is alive with big numbers of these majestic leviathans and most will be dropping into the bay to pay us a visit.
One crew had a close call with a humpback east of Breaksea Spit on the weekend, colliding at a reduced speed when the whale appeared mere metres ahead. These creatures do a great job of evading our vessels whilst underway, and their job is easier if you drive in a straight line. Keep a good lookout, and reduce your speed when travelling at night.
Follow the rules regarding boating around whales and dolphins, and enjoy our spectacular humpbacks at play and at rest in the bay. They add another sense of wonder to a day on the water, that you cannot experience better anywhere else in the world.
A Recap of Last Week Offshore
The weather this week will see our offshore grounds rested once again. Many crews burnt the fuel and crossed the Breaksea Spit last weekend, and some good catches were made. Not everyone faired well though, with the residual swell unsettling some crews on the Saturday.
Efforts were made to avoid the snapper and pearl perch grounds during the current closure. Tropical reef species were the targets instead, and red throat emperor, venus tuskfish and green jobfish were the most common captures. Mixed bags were also complimented by various species of cod and plenty of hussar. Red emperor were a popular target (as always), and a few were landed with little hassle from the sharks.
Deep droppers needed to figure out how to avoid the pearl perch and snapper, and heading deeper was one option. A mix of jobfish species was once again a feature of some catches, with the photogenic flame snapper leading the charge as usual.
We have no reports from those that crossed the Wide Bay Bar, but would hazard a guess that the snapper and pearlies were quite hard to avoid down that way in the lead-up to the full moon. Needless to say, those waters won’t see much recreational boating traffic this week.
Dylan with a ball tearer of a Robinsons Sea Bream of 6.8kg or 76cm. A great fish caught after dark offshore
Leighton with one of several flametail snapper from a trip out with Dylan on Murt's boat last week
Murt scored this beautiful blue maori cod in 40 metres of water. The good old cattle dog is usually the dominant fish on its patch and the first to bite
Something else of interest might be that marine scientists have been studying black marlin spawning habits off the Qld coastline, and they have relayed some of their findings from our area. They have found that spawning events off Lady Musgrave Island are what results in the annual run of micro blacks off Sandy Cape each winter.
Alternative spawning events well to our north result in the “standard” seasonal run of baby blacks that we enjoy in the bay in spring. Suggestions that some of the fish spawned off Mussy wander past the cape into Hervey Bay “out of season” might have some marlin fans rethinking their past strategies and capitalising on unseasonal encounters with baby blacks.
It has long been known that major marlin spawning events occurred somewhere out there north of Fraser Island, so to hear that studies are reflecting the observations of locals is somewhat satisfying. Even your old scribe witnessed the aftermath of a major spawn many moons ago when he worked on the once-thriving offshore charter boat fleet.
We literally had masses of strange-looking little 4-5-inch-long fish being spewed up all over the deck by large pearl perch we hauled up along the continental shelf. These funny little fish turned out to be tiny marlin, and when scooped up off the floor and jammed back on hooks resulted in the capture of many more pearlies. Mother nature sharing her secrets in her own way eh.
Welcome Reprieve from the Sharks in the Northern Bay
It was encouraging to hear that many crews managed to avoid contact with sharks whilst fishing east of Breaksea Spit last week. Similarly so, only few encounters were reported from the reefs of the northern bay. As suggested recently, you only really have this next two months in which to fish those waters without the constant dread of the next shark attack, so make the most of them.
The Southern and Northern Gutters were ever-popular during the recent spell of calm weather. Fringe-dwelling or roaming reef species made up the majority of catches, as should be expected over such large tides. Grassy sweetlip, venus tusk fish, spangled emperor, blackall and reds were on the chew throughout appropriate stages of the tide, with all bar the tuskies biting even better at night.
Coral trout were harder to tempt last week. Large tides make them a little more challenging. Skippers need to anchor accurately during periods of reduced tidal flow that varies and swings the boat as the minutes pass. When targeting trout, close enough just ain’t good enough. Resorting to lures in lieu of live baits can and does make the task much easier, though you still had to be right on the money at the right stage of tide.
Snapper bit well of course, and we trust that everyone did the right thing and returned them unharmed. Sadly, we know that was not the case, as at least one person was handed an infringement notice for keeping snapper. The snapper season will open again after the 15th, so save your efforts until then, as we should enjoy a decent run of fish into spring.
In the meantime, if jigging is your thing, then take advantage of the abundance of trevally in the northern bay when the weather comes good again. All the major trevally clans are represented at the Gutters, many off Rooneys as well, and good numbers can be found over the wide grounds of Platypus Bay too.
Big cobia remain a regular feature of northern bay catches, and most are released to thrill another fisho another day. Their tendency to shadow the larger biomasses of baitfish can see them move on from reef system to reef system. As the yakka schools migrate deeper into the bay, the big cobes may follow. Keep in mind that many are encountered in open waters around mobile bait schools, making for relatively trouble-free angling.
A beaut bar-cheeked trout for another happy Hot Reels Charter client. Live baiting is the go this time of year
Chappy scored a thumper grassy whilst out with Hot Reels Charters early this week
Mobile Mackerel Inshore
Last week’s big making tides certainly saw the school mackerel putting the miles on their dials. Reports of fish off the Burrum coast seem to be the most consistent, but even there, it was matter of should have been here yesterday for some.
A few of the reefs and rubble patches from the Elliot River to Pt Vernon drew passing schools of mackerel, but only where there were baitfish in attendance. The average size of the schoolies has been relatively small apparently, with even a few undersized fish in the mix. As always, a mix of spinning, trolling or drifting pillie baits tempted enough macks for a feed, but some crews had to bounce from spot to spot.
We should expect a further migration of more schoolies into the southern bay and the straits in coming weeks. An apparent lack of baitfish in areas usually so well patronised by herring and hardy heads could mean visits from passing mackerel may be brief. If any numbers turn up around the peninsula at River Heads this week, then that will be indicative of what to expect in the weeks hereafter.
Broad-barred mackerel are still worth pursuing inshore, but once again, you will need to find where the hardy heads and garfish are hanging out to track down any numbers. After such big tides flooded and drained our flats, the enhanced movement of baitfish should see broadies drawn to the fringes of the southern bay islands or to the waters that channel the outflows from the larger flats from there south. Again, River Heads might be interesting this week.
Often sharing the same waters as our mackerel, the wintertime golden trevally schools have been quite willing to take a swipe at a range of jigs or plastics hopped past our inshore wrecks and artificial reefs; and just as willing to hunt down erratically twitched plastics worked across the local flats. You might even find a few deeper into the straits, sharing waters with the big queenies down that way.
This young bloke's got his hands full with this brace of school mackerel. Fun times with the fam. There will be plenty out there after this blow passes
Winter Whiting on the Move
Being such a relatively warm winter this year, the winter whiting can be excused for not turning up in the usual hordes. Having said this though, plenty of their fans have been scoring bag limits for fairly minimal effort – so long as they are willing to move on when the return for effort is poor. Fish to 25cm featured in bags hauled from the waters surrounding Gatakers Bay this week.
Further east, there has been schools encountered to the north of town. Decent winteries were possible from the waters north of Woody Island too, though putting up with the usual bycatch from that area, such as tiny squire, tiny tuskies, rock whiting and grinners made for frustrating drifts at times.
The grounds south of Round Island and west of Woody Island would normally be prime hunting grounds this time of year. Extra clear water in recent times and a lack of wet season run-off silt over those grounds have diminished the chances of a run through that area. However, the combination of the massive full moon tides and a bit of a blow might draw fish to the area. We will let you know next week if we hear of such an event.
In the meantime, a good bag of winter whiting is possible from the channels out from River Heads, Shoulder Point and beyond. The fishery down the straits continues to produce, with the added bonus of a feed of pencil squid thrown in.
Trevally numbers explode in the northern bay in late winter. Here's Syd Tanner with a typical Gutters fish from a Hot Reels Charter
Flats Fisheries Get a Spell this Week
The big making tides prior to the full moon had the local “summer” whiting fans out in force. Evening sessions paid dividends for those soaking yabbies or worms in skinny water during the making tide. Bag limits were achieved by some, and they were quality fish too. It has been a different winter this year though, so some savvy whiting fans would be reading the signs and shifting their focus from the flats to the creeks and rivers.
Expect a continued run of quality whiting within many stretches of our streams during the next few sets of large tides. Rest them for now though, as the diminishing tides and the upcoming neaps will not be productive. Get organised for further night sessions closer to the next new moon.
Closer to the end of this month, there will be another shift in focus for whiting fans. Whilst boaties will still favour sessions under the stars away from the crowds, shore-based fishos will be able to get amongst the action too. Again, it will be nocturnal sessions that produce the goods initially, at least until the first of the springtime northerlies stir the waters of our north-facing beaches.
The unkind weather this week will limit opportunities of course, but anyone keen enough can try protected waters for a bit of fun with the bream on the flats. Not demanding peak tidal flows like the whiting, the bream schools will tend to mill around rocky or gravelly areas as the tides lose their sting. Finesse lure fishing will be challenging during high winds, so many won’t bother, whilst bait fishos will have the edge this coming week.
Stretches of Gatakers Bay are quite protected from the south-easter, so some might consider a session or two anchored and feeding lightly-weighted baits back in a berley trail. Sizeable bream are very likely and offer quite a scrappy battle on the light gear. You might even pick up a few tailor or mackerel drawn in by your berley trail.
Chasing flatties was certainly popular last week, as many that attempted to fish the common grounds along Fraser Island’s west coast found out. Many flathead were caught, and hopefully many were released. They are due to spawn very soon and we want those big breeding females to do their thing (whilst smaller males also need to be present for the magic to happen of course).
Those that stretched their legs and roamed the flats and creek systems of the Great Sandy Straits found quality flathead in some areas, but not everywhere. Again, that lack of baitfish in many waters is having an impact on what predatory fish will linger. Try the bigger rivers as the tidal flow diminishes, and you can continue to have fun with flatties right through the neaps.
12 year old Alecia Watsford had a great day out with Katie and Jeff last week and caught this ripper flatty. Well done Alecia
Katie Watsford with one of the flatties caught on a day out with Jeff and Alecia. Nice fish Katie
What to Expect from Our Rivers this Week
Bream and flathead are possible from our rivers this week, whilst whiting just played their best hand over the full moon. The Burrum is still home to quality barramundi for those keen to get a winter barra fix. Persistence and a willingness to come back to lethargic fish at a better time of tide will often be necessary to tempt a bite. Bait fishos might be surprised at just how small an offering a barra will inhale this time of year, with even yabbies tempting the odd fish.
In a perfect world, like that seems not that long ago, you could fish the Burum with confidence of encounters with jewies, grunter, blue salmon, ladyfish, mini-GTs, queenfish and threadies during August. Alas, it is a different scene nowadays, but we can live in hope. Time will tell as to whether the abovementioned species make an appearance this season.
The Mary system offers better chances of connecting with jewfish, the two salmon species and grunter at present, and is just as likely to give up a few barra in coming weeks too. The blues will certainly be the easiest to track down, as quite often, they will find you. The prevailing conditions appear more conducive to sessions chasing jews, blues and grunter than barra or threadies, but you never know your luck.
Again, whiting have been worth pursuing in the big river this past week, but they will lose enthusiasm within days. Bream are a good chance from the River Heads district, particularly from South Head. The lower reaches is where you will find a few flatties, whilst the bigger predators will be further upstream.
And, speaking of upstream, anyone considering a bass session amongst the bass aggregated in the far upper reaches of the Mary River need to think again. It is still the closed season for bass in all tidal waters of Qld. Fines have been issued recently to fishers caught with bass, that also happened to be fishing within the closed waters within 400m of the barrage. The tidal waters bass season is closed until the end of August.
Billy Green with an example of the quality of our winter flathead at the moment
Tailor Arrive Along Fraser’s Surf Beaches
Just as Fraser Island’s headlands were closed to all forms of fishing, the annual migration of tailor to those waters has commenced. Early reports from the past week were of fairly modest catches for some, though a crew or two scored their bag limit of choppers in recent days.
The central section of beach is the place to be for tailor at present. The Cathedral Beach / Dundaburra region being most popular for much of the season ahead. As August unfolds, many local and visiting tailor fans will converge on the island and it will likely become quite busy. Key moon periods will be considered based on past experience, yet as many regulars will know, this year’s results will still be reliant on the right weather and water conditions.
Large swells a week ago changed the beach and flattened it right out again. It is currently wide and has very few lumps. This means high tide gutters are limited at present, which is probably not what many tailor fans want to hear.
This scenario may change again over the course of the next week, as there will again be a 2-metre swell at times that will impact the fishing as well as the ever-shifting sands. In the meantime, low tide gutters offer opportunities to fish for not only tailor at dawn or dusk, but whiting, flathead and tarwhine.
This year’s run of tarwhine so far has been a standout; akin to observations from those fishing beaches further south. The better tarwhine are often found within gutters strewn with rock, and the best bait for these guys is definitely eugaries (pippies).
Expect the beach run of bream to commence now that the tailor are arriving. Many bream will join the tarwhine in the rocky gutters. You will also find quite large bream shadowing the tailor schools, as they pick up the scraps. Look for them in the waves in deeper gutters, the same way you would the dart and/or the tailor.
We will put together a feature on surf fishing Fraser Island for you in coming weeks, with a bit of a basic guide to tackle, the island’s beaches and its features, as well as up-to-date fishing reports from those returning. If anyone is keen to share photos of beach gutters, the rock formations along the beach, the cuttings or access tracks, as well as their favourite brag shots of recent captures, then you are welcome to send such photos and your comments to us firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out via social media.
Dylan picked up a few Krasykovas Perch in 350m whilst deep dropping last week. The boys had to go deep to avoid the pearlies
Tuna, Tailor and Bream at the Pier
Those making the effort to rise early and head for the deep end of the Urangan Pier were rewarded with catches of mack tuna this week. The tuna schools don’t often hang around for lengthy periods, employing more of a smash and grab approach than the subtle attacks of other opportunistic predators. Be there at the time when they raid the pier’s herring schools and they are easy enough to tempt with a live one.
There have also been schools of tailor chasing the pier’s baitfish. Most are undersized and must be released unharmed. Four infringement notices were handed out to pier fishos for keeping undersized tailor this week. Fisheries officers are very active and they know all the tricks in the book. Remember, live baiting with undersized fish is illegal and cops the same fine as keeping such a fish to eat.
Otherwise, bream fans are stilling catching a few fish along the pier. Pre-super moon evening sessions under the rising moon added that extra touch of awe for those out enjoying the glowing night sky. You can repeat that all over again at the end of this month.
Tom with a typical Urangan Pier mack tuna. They were smashing the herring early in the morning this week
The AFTA Trade Show is on Again
The Australian Fishing Tackle Association’s annual trade show is on right now. Once again, they are opening their doors to the general public for one day, this Saturday 5th August. You can rock on down to the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre and take a gander at all the new and exciting fishing tackle being released thereafter. The doors will be open from 9am to 3pm.
Dane is down there right now, sussing out all the latest and greatest, and you can rest assured that he will be securing the best the show has to offer, so that we can bring it to you in-store as soon as it is available. Undoubtedly, sneak peaks of some of the show’s most exciting offerings will be broadcast very soon.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Leighton with yet another of their haul of flamies caught deep dropping north-east of Fraser Island
You've gotta be happy with a red emperor like this one caught recently with Hot Reels Charters. Nice fish Butch