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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 5th April, 2024


Tuna, tuna and more tuna. The longtails are here in huge numbers and they aren't spooky yet.

Light Winds Prevail - But Keep Your Rainwear Handy

Easter holidaymakers have revelled in the glorious conditions here on the Fraser Coast this week. The Easter weekend itself was less than ideal until Monday, but since then, it has been quite warm with light winds and clear skies all round. Magnificent boating conditions that look set to continue right through this weekend into next week, albeit a little damp.

There is 10-15 knots of east to north-easterly breeze out there today. It will tend more south-easterly overnight. Saturday looks like another great day on the water; almost a carbon copy of today. Showers are possible today and even more likely tomorrow, when a storm is also on the cards. Significant storm and rain activity is dominating the weather to our west and south, however, we should fare better than our neighbours.

The breeze is expected to weaken further for Sunday, whilst at the same time tending more northerly. The wind will be insignificant, though showers and storms are far more likely. Even though the seas will be very calm and inviting, it will pay to ensure you keep an eye on the weather, and the radar, as storms can ruin your day if caught out in open water. Hervey Bay will likely be just to the north of the major rain events unfolding in southern Qld and northern NSW this weekend, so here will be as good a spot as any for campers.

We can look forward to more glamorous days on the water next week. Monday and Tuesday both look sensational at this stage, with less than 10 knots of breeze from the north, then south-west. There is a chance of continued rainfall Monday. Going on what the bureau is suggesting at this time, your opportunities to go boating on the bay or offshore will be minimal thereafter. There is a southerly change coming mid-week and it will be a cool one.

The moon is waning and our tides are building daily as we approach this Tuesday’s new moon. The tides will be pretty big by then, bettering the 4m mark at high tide overnight from low lows of around 0.4m in the afternoon. Great tides for so many things, from crabbing and prawning, to reef fishing and pelagic pursuits. Make the most of the next few days if you get the chance.

 


Catching longtail tuna one after the other is part of a day out in Platypus Bay for many fishos at present.

Platypus Bay is Tuna Central Right Now

Many visiting and local fishos have headed up the island this week chasing tuna. Mack tuna have been in abundance, but it is the excellent numbers of longtail tuna that are bringing the smiles to their dials. There are big longtails to be caught and plenty of smaller models as well. The tuna have been absolutely ravenous all week, scoffing a huge array of lures, indicative of their varied diet at this time.

Many of you will know one of our staff members, Jacko. He took another local lad, Riley (that also works for us behind the scenes) for a run up the island last weekend. The weather wasn’t ideal, but the fishing was exceptional. When quizzed on how he fared with the sharks, Jacko said they never saw a noah all day, even though they boated in excess of 20 solid tuna and a large array of other species. This is extraordinary for Hervey Bay, and almost unheard of these days, particularly during prime tuna season.

I started to question what was so remarkable about their ability to avoid the noahs when virtually every other fisho I talked to had been destroyed by bull sharks wherever they went. I need to investigate further, but am left wondering if the amount of bile being spewed forth into the water by poor little Riley was enough to deter the sharks. Seasick as, the poor bugger was seemingly near death at times and not in a good way. Jacko fished on though and made him get up and hook into a few tuna when he could stomach it. Stay tuned for updates on Biley Riley and whether or not there is any truth in the above assumptions. 

Also notable from the boys’ trip was just how many different lures they (mainly Jacko) caught their longtails on. The list is long, and included the Nomad Ridgeback metals, Zman Jerkshads, Halco Slidogs, Westin Swims, Pro Lure Ultra Gar, the Zerek Flash Minnows, Zerek Zappelin and the GT Ice Cream. Quite a list for a single day of “tackle testing”, and as mentioned above, indicative of the tuna’s varied diet and need for sustenance right now.

This tuna bonanza is set to continue for some time to come. Yes, they will swim vast distances within the bay and some areas will go cold as others heat up, but tuna will be constant captures now through autumn. Learning to read the water, the birds and the fish will help you track them down. Actively observing and learning from each encounter will ready you for the next encounter. 

Like getting a tangle and accidentally letting a lure sink below a school of mack tuna only to come up trumps on a much larger longtail from beneath, then repeatedly sinking lures to achieve the same result time and time again - eh Francois? The birds will lead you to the tuna; it’s up to you to trigger the bite from the right fish when you get there.

The sharks are really bad of course, with rare exceptions as mentioned above, so keep mobile and seek out smaller pods of larger longtails away from the major melees. The shark packs will often stay focussed on the larger biomasses and ignore larger individuals or small pods some distance away. If you are into your stick baiting for tuna, then now is your time to get excited.  A few of those lures might be too exy to throw into the massive bust-ups too often though, so ensure you have a mix of plastics and metals in your arsenal as well. Oh, and don’t take the proverbial knife to these gun fights, as the days of fishing super light for Hervey Bay tuna are well in our past.


Jacko took young Riley for a fish and absolutely slayed the fish all day.
Jacko did that is, Riley was near death and mostly too sick to function.

Shark Repellent producer extraordinaire, Biley Riley. If you want to avoid sharks in the bay, then take this young bloke with you.


Catching this cobia was easier than it was to get Riley up off the floor to take the photo.


Variety on Offer Throughout the Bay

It wasn’t just tuna on the chew this week, as many other pelagic species and reefies also smashed lures and baits with gusto. There was cobia caught up Rooneys way and plenty of school mackerel within Platypus Bay. The schoolies have been highly mobile, chasing the bait schools as they migrate across the paddock. Find bait lingering over a patch of low-lying reef up that way and your chances of repeat schoolie sessions is possible, but comments of ‘there one day, gone the next’ are noted.

Spanish mackerel have been quite abundant in Platypus Bay too. Apparently, some folks have been taking spaniards from those waters this week - which is a big no-no! At the risk of repeating myself so many times over, the spanish mackerel are a year-round no-take species from Platypus Bay waters (east of a line drawn from Rooneys Point to Coongul Point). The risk of ciguatera fish poisoning is so high in that area that spaniards have been a release-only candidate for eons.

If you want to catch spaniards, then they have been scattered from wide off Arch Cliffs to the northern bay. Stay west of the aforementioned line and you can keep one (or a boat limit of two only if two or more people on board). Trollers can catch them with ease out wide, whilst others will opt to spin them up on spoons or larger metals. Stick baiting for spaniards early in the day is even more fun again and can produce some mammoth specimens.

There is numbers of small trevally deep in the water column on many sites within Platypus Bay if you wish to entertain the kids with jigs. They are enough of a nuisance factor for those jigging for reef fish to make some folks move on, yet only a subtle shift can see the little trevors avoided and better quarry such as scarlets, squire, grunter, cod and sweetlip swung aboard. The sharks? Well, you can imagine.

The Gutters up in the northern bay have been challenging to fish. Sharks are heart-breaking along those ledges and absolutely relentless. Sneak onto a secluded spot some distance away that is rarely visited by other boats and you could come home with a handy feed of the usual reefies, but those spots are fewer and fewer. Finding the scarlets out in the paddock is a great alternative. A fishery only a select few have really well wired, but a highly productive one all the same.

There are spaniards feeding above the ledges of the Gutters and large school mackerel over some of the flatter terrain nearby. Get lucky, and you might come home with a mixed bag of coral trout, scarlets, cod, squire and other reefies, but if you don’t get lucky, then you might come home with an empty fuel tank, way less tackle and a cranky disposition. Late winter will be a different story hopefully, but until then, the Gutters sharks will keep breaking hearts and destroying the fish that reside there.

Unfortunately, we have no word at this time from offshore fishos that ventured over Breaksea Spit, the Wide Bay Bar or further up into the GBR. Many of the offshore fishos are still out there into it, so we should have a few tales to tell and photos to back them up next week.


Birds typically try to avoid cats .... but not Ben the birdman this week. All the way to the Gutters for this ....
Schoolies galore for Hot Reels Charter clients. There has been mobile schools of mackerel harassing the bait schools in Platypus Bay this week.

 

Varying Water Quality Impacts the Inshore Scene

Our inshore reefs have been very popular over these Easter holidays. Easy access and ample protection from the weather over the long weekend meant plenty of boats stayed local until the wind eased. They were greeted by relatively green water inshore north of the bay islands, and even dirtier water south thereof. This is not a bad thing at all, meaning plenty of nutrient and a real drawcard for the baitfish that will inundate our inshore reefs as our waters cool further.

Dirtier waters mean tough times for those chasing squid and those keen to sight fish the shallows, yet others seeking reef fish such as sweetlip, squire, scarlets and the like have good reason to cheer. The run of inshore scarlets continues, although numbers are dwindling in many areas. No surprise there, given the number caught this summer-autumn. 

Sweetlip still lead the charge in the esky-filling stakes for inshore reef fishos. Visiting family fishos are often stoked to catch a dozen sweeties to feed the fam, and can do so rather easily. The bigger tides this weekend will see more sweeties return to the fringes of the shallow reefs for those willing to forego some sleep at dawn. Evening session plans might be curtailed by the risk of storms this week, but if not, then the dark night under no moon will see the bigger sweeties out hunting a feed.

Pressure on coral trout stocks in our shallows over summer translates to less fish from deeper waters in autumn, so return for effort at this time is not nearly as high as it might be. Jigging for trout is so easy that these very curious fish can be hard to find on grounds visited by others before you. Live baiters stand a better chance of tempting some of the larger and more cunning trout that possibly sported some temporary jewellery from previous pursuers that went into battle under-gunned.

The good old estuary cod is vastly more prolific and will fall for all the same techniques as the trouties. Sure, you will have to troll slower to tempt cod than you would for trout, if that is your thing, but otherwise, they can be hard to avoid wherever they hang out. They are quite tasty and a good alternative to the primo species, though we do suggest letting the big fish go to keep the reefs clean and the hidey holes dug out. Without sizeable codgers in residence, a reef can soon lose its appeal to neighbouring reef fish that enjoy the shelter offered by cod that fan the sand away from the nooks and crannies.

Squire are becoming more commonly caught inshore, but still only in fairly small numbers and size. The cool change riding the back side of this new moon could trigger a good bite from those in the area, and if there are indeed any proper knobby snapper about, then they too should bite. If you can land a big one without predation from a noah, then I will bet pounds to peanuts that it will be a male fish. 


Scarlets continue to feature in reef fish catches from all over the bay. Here's Jeff with a couple of tasty morsels for the Easter seafood banquet.


Young Archer caught this mackerel, and also tuna, whilst fishing out in the bay.

 

Action Aplenty Down the Straits

Schools of mack tuna have lingered in the northern section of the Great Sandy Straits, and so too have the masses of large sharks in hot pursuit of the tuna. There are a few stray pods of longtails cruising the shipping channels too, however, landing them has been nigh on impossible. Better to head up the island for your tuna fix, and maybe hit the flats down the straits for other species.

There are large blue salmon feeding in the dirty waters down the straits, and plenty of large queenfish too. Both species are easy targets in quite skinny water and an absolute hoot for a sports fisho. Neither will give up easily, and both fight almost to the death, so be prepared for a lengthy battle if you choose to fish the light gear. The blues are substantial in size and far larger than the average run of fish found throughout our creeks and rivers over summer.

GTs are a chance from many deeper ledges down that way too, but they are rarely ever targeted with what is considered GT tackle these days. They are more of an incidental capture by live baiters, trollers or jiggers working ledges packed with baitfish and other prey species (which is anything that will fit in a GT’s mighty maw by the way). Alternatively, back up around the bay islands might be worth a prospect for those favouring conventional GT tackle over these bigger tides.

There have been a few jewies getting about, and they will become more prevalent as our waters cool. The deep ledges are still the hotspots for them, particularly those in dirtier waters where submersible fishers cannot get at them. Trolling for jewies is an underrated technique in these parts, yet potentially very productive. Many of you own the right lures, you just need to swim them past the right spots when the tide isn’t raging.

Golden trevally have been cruising over certain flats down the straits of late. They get rounded up if they pull that caper too much in these parts, so enjoy that fishery whilst it lasts. Otherwise, it’s the usual suspects on the flats and around the creek mouths such as grunter, flathead, queenies and blue salmon. You might find some whiting over the upcoming bigger tides, or even a few schools of bream preparing for the kick off for their annual spawning run.


Bobby Jeynes from Hot Reels Charters with an example of the calibre of blue salmon swimming through the straits right now.

Queenies are happily feasting in our stained inshore waters. There are plenty getting about in ultra skinny water too.

 

Rivers Running Fast and Dirty

The new moon tides will crank up the tidal flow in our rivers and shift larger volumes of dirty fresh water from the upper reaches. Both the Mary and Burrum systems continue to benefit from minor freshwater flows upstream, and if the weather on its way for our southern and western neighbours clips those catchments then those stream flows could heighten quite quickly. The hinterland is saturated and run-off is imminent should the storms come our way.

Some will know how to fish the current conditions in the Mary and will likely be hooking threadies in skinny water as the drains drain and the jelly prawn is flushed out into the open. They might also turn their attention to barra that have sought reprieve from the main flow and are feasting on larger quarry washed their way. The mobility of those barra in such conditions is what makes them easy targets for those that might harvest them en-masse, whilst that also makes them more of a challenge for we lure fishos.

The Burrum is an easier option for a lure fisho seeking barra. There are great fish on offer, from many stretches of all four rivers up that way. The jacks are hyperactive again too no doubt, spurred on by the spike in temperature this week and threat of impending rain or storms. The fact that there is prawn on the move only adds to the feast for these species and creates additional opportunities for we fishos. Top water options just went next level.

There is any number of shore-based spots you might catch a barra in Hervey Bay. Take some small lures for a flick and try your luck.
Xander was only fishing for bread n butter species but managed this ripper barra on 10lb line. Beauty mate.

It's not hard to guess where this grunter came from. The big tides will have them on the move this week.

Happy Crabbers and Eager Prawners

Our excellent run of mud crabs continues. From the largest river to the smallest of our streams, there has been fat muddies, full to the brim. They’ve been on the hunt, and readily crawling into pots. Some folks haven’t even needed crab pots, picking up crabs wandering the flats, or snaring them as they pick up baits meant for nearby fish. Actively line fishing for muddies is a reasonably simple and successful tactic when the crabbing is this good, so long as you are parked in the path of the right crabs and can endure the attention of the jennies.

More showers and storms this week will likely keep the muddies marching through the main flow and accessible areas, whilst the big tides entice them onto the flats. Any excess fresh water run-off in the back waters will deter them from the hard-to-get-to spots they seek in the dry. Get your pots in for the big new moon tides, and if you have chosen your crabbing grounds well, then the feast will continue.

If that is all too messy, or you don’t have a handle on mud crabbing, then you would be well-served turning your attention to the sand crabs out in the bay. Whilst the weather remains kind, take your pots for a run up the island and you can get into the absolute bonanza of sandies on offer up that way. You won’t have to head far up before you can unload your pots and try a spot of fishing.

Ensure your pots are the larger, heavier types, and you have ample rope (twice the depth is a good idea). They need to be larger to accommodate the number of crabs that could crawl in. Park your pots in 10-15 metres of water and come back and check them in a couple of hours. If you arrange them correctly, then you can observe which pots are more productive and shift the less productive pots into the path of the mobile sandies.

It can pay to be a little selective, bait-wise, when targeting sandies. Whiting frames are excellent, as are the carcasses of any other small fish species that lives over sand. General reef fish frames and mackerel frames are fine, or you can buy mullet from stores such as Fishos. Consider resisting the urge to use fresh tuna, purely due to the enhanced chance of attracting sharks to your pots. Pot destruction by noahs is a very real thing, that can be minimised by not overloading, and not using bloodier fleshed bait.

The sand crabbing has been that good this week that bag limits have been very easily achieved and an overnight soak has seen folks pitching quality crab back into the drink the next day. That has been the most recent experience of some locals once they have filled their 20 sand crab per person bag limits.

Unfortunately, the local prawners haven’t fared so well just as yet, and a bucket limit is a real challenge. However, the prawns have started to move and a good feed is in the offing for those willing to go for a throw. The Burrum and its feeder rivers have been most productive as yet, whilst our smaller local creeks have also given up a feed. The average prawn is still only small to medium at best, but as always, this early season fast-growing prawn is sweet to eat.

The new moon will flush prawn from the backwaters and drains in the lower Mary and Susan this week. The water is generally dirtier down there, and even smaller prawn could be a real nuisance at present. The impending rain and cool change this week are potentially good news for prawners. The mainland creeks down the straits will have their moments in the very near future, as will Fraser’s western creeks south of Kingfisher.

We are stocked up and ready for what hopefully will be a decent banana prawn season. We’ve got the bigger serious prawning nets in top pocket only such as Pro Throws; all the best top and bottom pocketed nets from Wilson and Fintek and stocks of drawstrings for the shallows too. We even have the maximum legally allowed 50’ drag nets for those that would rather wade out and drag their prawns ashore. 

It will be all eyes on Woodgate when the weather tends south-west or southerly. There is an abundance of mature bananas in the rivers to the north thereof, so there might be an early show someday soon. As always, only those that go for a look will know initially, and it will likely be the very same scouts as every other year. Word will travel fast if it fires though, so be ready once news hits the grapevine.

Corey caught a nice jewie from a popular local hotspot.
Michael Taylor enjoyed catching dart from our town beaches over the Easter long weekend.
'Now son, this dart is extra special. They call them a Permit'. Many a fly fisho would be chuffed with a fish such as this caught right here in town.

Urangan Pier Comes Alive

After a period of relative quiet, Urangan Pier has sprung to life for land-based fishos keen to tangle with pelagic sports fish. There has been some solid longtail tuna cruising the deeper waters, and good fish have been spun up or tricked into eating live herring suspended under balloons. 

The return of mackerel to the deep end has drawn an increased crowd once again too, so many holidaymakers and local pier regulars alike are into the action. Word of some folks keeping undersized fish is disappointing. Bream are there in small numbers and of relatively small size. Sufficient to keep a few family fishos entertained. It won’t be long and the autumn bream run will commence, but our waters will need to cool somewhat first.

The local beaches have been busy with holidaymakers swimming and strolling, yet those wetting a line are still snaring a few fish. Decent-sized dart have been offering sport for the kids and a handy meal for those keen to try them fresh. The whiting along the main town beaches have been small, yet some very good quality whiting have broken all the rules and fed well over the Eli flats during the recent neaps. 

Bream are handy targets for the kids in our creeks and just enough flatties pop up to keep the lure casters keen. Bigger quarry has been seen smashing the mullet off Eli recently. Identity unknown, yet intriguing all the same. Possibly queenies, possibly blue salmon, though going on some recent captures not far away, possibly large barra. 

It has been ages since the wind hadn’t blown onshore, so the Booral Flats have had a chance to shine this week. Big tides coupling with light breezes might see the usual mudskippers out there seeking whiting, flathead or grunter, and they might even trip over a salmon or two. Best they watch where they walk actually, as the muddies are still active and the smaller bull sharks and plenty of stingrays tend to cruise those mud flats.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase


It was a dream come true for Ben when he spun this ripper longtail tuna up from the Urangan Pier.

Max had a battle with this shovelly.

Results from the Burum Heads Amateur Fishing Club’s Easter Classic

A good time was had by all that entered into the recent Easter Classic hosted by the BHAFC. There were some lovely good news stories that emanated from the event, a true credit to the style and community spirit of the organisers. The weather was challenging, yet there were still plenty of quality fished brought to the weighmaster. There might even be a future champion angler in the making too by the looks of the junior results. Here is the official wrap-up as supplied by the good folks of the BHAFC:

 

Fish Winners:

 Junior (under 16yrs) Fish Prizes


Secret Weights

Species

Secret Weight

Closest Weight

Name

Flathead

none

Bream

0.385

0.382

CJ Higgins

Whiting

0.179

0.178

Zac Onoprienko

 

Heaviest and Runners-up

Species

Weight

Name

Flathead

0.670

CJ Higgins

Flathead Runner-up

none

Bream

0.900

CJ Higgins

Bream Runner-up

0.682

CJ Higgins

Whiting

0.306

Mackenzie Munton

Whiting Runner-up (tied)

0.282

Kate Ozanne

CJ Higgins

 

Note:

  • Only 1 flathead was weighed in(live only) by juniors, but anencouragement prize was given to Harrison McDonald who tried (unsuccessfully) to keep his catch alive (TWICE!) so failed to be able to weigh in.
  • CJ Higgins from Buxton won 6 of the 8 junior prizes awarded !
  • Lost rod – (good news story) – Reuben Woodrow of Bundaberg lost his near new Ugly Stick rod and kit when it was dragged overboard by a good hook-up.  Thank you to Lucy and Sam Fleming (BHAFC members) who replaced it with the same rod and kit that Sam had recently received.

Crab Secret Weights – Junior or Senior

Mudcrab

0.932

0.934

Kim McDonald

Sandcrab

0.300

0.302

Adam Hand

 

 Senior Fish Prizes


Secret Weights

Species

Secret Weight

Closest Weight

Name

Flathead

0.810

0.734

Wayne Nolan

Bream

0.496

0.496

Dylan Slatter

Whiting

0.297

0.306

Nikki Nolan

 

Heaviest and Runners-up

Species

Weight

Name

Flathead

3.132

Joshus Ozane

Flathead Runner-up

2.658

Lewis Blair

Bream

0.948

Ajay Ped-Trost

Bream Runner-up

0.900

Jodi Borg

Whiting

0.474

Darren Munton

Whiting Runner-up

0.432

Amber Klump

Grunter

2.104

John Brown

Grunter Runner-up

1.792

Connor Robertson

Mackerel

4.886

Stephen White

Mackerel Runner-up

2.012

Patrick Lewis

Grassy Sweetlip

1.886

James Palmer

Grassy Sweetlip Runner-up

1.550

Anthony Sheppard

Mangrove Jack

2.122

James Drew

Mangrove Jack Runner-up

1.940

Matt Higgins

Trevally

8.022

Jack Hodges

Trevally Runner-up

2.520

James Palmer

 

Note:

  • Flathead  - Lewis Blair’s flathead (runner-up) was weighed in first thing Friday morning at the start of the comp and stayed at the top of the leader board until final weigh-in on Sunday morning when it was pipped by Joshua Ozanne.
Happy times at the Heads .... Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Club's Easter Classic is always a great social event.
A champion angler of the future. Young CJ Higgins took out nearly all the prizes on offer in the junior categories.
BHAFC's Easter Classic is a great fishing comp for the kids. The Burrum turned it on too, with swags of fish caught in breezy conditions.




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