Less Windy Next Week
Crazy scenes at our local boat ramps during the all-too-brief spell of glamour weather a couple of days ago saw absolute chaos at the ramps and marshalling areas. Anyone that timed their arrival badly had to park blocks away from the overflowing carparks, and some even resorted to parking illegally. Ramp rage was reasonably well controlled apparently, but many had their patience tested.
Hervey Bay’s population is swollen with masses of tourists right now. When combined with stacks of holidaying locals and heaps of new residents, all full of pent-up energy and bursting to go fishing due to recent weather constraints, this sort of scene is not surprising. Expect more of the same whenever the wind eases to 10 knots during the next week or two.
Carson had his arms stretched when he hooked and landed this skip jack tuna, a rather uncommon capture for our waters.
The current post-storm westerly breeze will likely drop out late this afternoon offering a night session or early session tomorrow morning in fairly calm conditions. As the latest change comes through, the breeze will tend southeasterly and start to increase gradually tomorrow afternoon, peaking at around 15 knots by nightfall.
An early start Saturday morning should beat the worst of the wind that day, which is forecast to ramp up to around 20 knots some time that morning. A similar southeasterly breeze averaging 20 knots is likely all-day Sunday, before easing a little overnight.
Chris ‘Bestie’ Best scored himself a lovely red pushing the scales at 10kg whilst fishing the water out from 1770.
Next week’s weather is a little hard to predict. The weather gurus have changed their minds a couple of times already today. Generally speaking though, it looks pretty good for the bay. The easing southeaster should tend easterly throughout the day Monday. Light winds with subtle afternoon sea breezes are likely for the following couple of days, before a light-moderate northerly breeze takes hold for the rest of the working week. Showers, or perhaps a storm or two are possible again late next week.
Offshore, the scene is set for longer range forays perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday. Up to 25 knots of southeaster over the weekend is supposed to ease Monday, before glassing right out Tuesday morning. Similar conditions Wednesday is forecast to precede the return of light northerlies thereafter. Even the north wind looks fairly light offshore, though you might want to consider the combined effect of a strong southerly-flowing East Australian Current and a northerly breeze if planning on drifting for reef fish offshore.
The moon will be full this Saturday evening, so there will be a fair degree of tidal flow. The tides aren’t all that huge over the full this time of year though, so expect good things from many of our reef fish species, beach and flats dwellers and pelagics alike. The moon will also trigger a feeding response from our impoundment barra and river bass, so there are options galore for all and sundry.
Glenn Harling with a ripper coral trout he managed to extract from the sharks whilst on a reef mission north.
Monsters at the Pier
Mackerel fans haven’t had much joy out along the Urangan Pier this week, but there has been plenty of other action to excite the kids. The most targeted critters at the moment are the big giant trevally. As usual, most hopefuls are having their butts handed to them, but the occasional big GT is being landed. Live herring and “throw downs” have been the baits of choice due to the absence of any mackerel.
Live baiting or spinning with spoons has accounted for the odd golden trevally recently. Queenfish have also been occasional visitors to pier waters and are highly susceptible to a lively live bait. By lively, we mean a freshly caught baitfish that is in full panic mode. Such a bait is vastly more likely to attract a hungry predator than one that has been swimming away on a hook for hours on end (like many others). Turfing the baitfish up-current and unweighted and letting it swim back to the pier can also be highly successful when compared with the alternative of soaking one attached to a sinker down current.
Scotty K sporting a solid GT he subdued on light gear whilst hopping soft plastics over our inshore reefs.
Night sessions have been popular for shark fishos deploying baits from the deeper waters out the end. At least one monster shark was caught this week, but of course, this wouldn’t have been a target as only sharks under 1.5m can be actively targeted. Word is, that there were packs of sharks tearing about out off the end at times, with multiple hook-ups all at once causing all sorts of chaos. The kids have a ball with these manageable size bities, so long as they have the right tackle, a bit of luck and are able to shuffle around other fishos to keep tight to their quarry.
Incidental capture by Scotty whilst fishing off Gatakers, a school sized bone fish. These fish are more common in our waters than most expect.
A flathead or two might be possible from the slope out the end or from the first channel for anyone deploying live baits near the pylons. Grunter can be actively targeted at night with flesh baits, large prawns, butterflied herring and yabby balls. There is no need to head out the end for grunter either, as they will be mooching about on the flats or in the channel with the bigger tides. In fact, anyone chasing whiting after dark from the beach end might get a pleasant surprise if a grunter wanders by.
Jamie Lineburg scored this nice red whilst fishing the gutters system on a large flesh bait.
Options for Holidaying Landlubbers
Grunter will again be the major target species for beach goers and rock fishos plying the town beaches and rocky shoreline. There are still decent numbers of quite sizeable grunter taking baits and softies with gusto, and the full moon will see another peak in their activity. Soaking baits after dark can be most productive, but fish are still possible during daylight hours.
Once again, the full moon tides will enhance the opportunities for mums and dads to entertain the littlies with schools of small whiting, the odd bream and dart along our town beaches. Convenient spots such as the storm water pipes at Torquay, the rock groynes and the smaller jetties can aide in keeping your gear out of the sand. Don’t expect too much in the way of quality whiting in town this time of year though (their season is in spring, regardless of their nickname of “summer whiting”).
Dane managed to sneak out of the shop for a day with friends and scored a ripper trout that fella victim to a well-presented soft plastic tea bagged over some gnarly ledge country.
Small sharks (and some not so small) will entertain any of the bigger kids keen on soaking larger baits off our beaches after dark. There has been a significant run of smaller sharks recently, so it shouldn’t take too for one to track down a bonito, a mullet fillet or similar.
Land-based alternatives otherwise are to visit our local creek systems and target all manner of estuary species (except barra). Beelbi Creek at Toogoom is probably the pick of the bunch at present, offering a bit of fun with roaming schools of queenfish and small GTs, along with the odd flathead in the lower reaches and cod and jacks further upstream.
Eli Creek is basically buggered nowadays due to land developments and water mitigation, but even the remnant waters of this once thriving little creek still give up a few surprises. There are still a few resident jacks to be found if you don’t mind trekking through the mangrove forest, and on occasion, the likes of queenies, GTs and grunter make raids on baitfish schools gathered on the flats at the mouth. Otherwise, you might chance a flattie or two flicking small lures as your walk the banks or flats.
Donning appropriate footwear and heading out onto the Booral Flats during the early flood tide when the wind is light or blowing offshore can see you tangling with a range of estuary species. Salmon and grunter are quite possible, but it is primarily the schools of quality whiting and the chance at a few flatties that draws the locals to those waters. Watch out for mud crabs around your toes, and be very wary of cheeky little bull sharks mooching about in the shallows.
Mum & Son team, Rach & Carson holding up one of two cod they caught whilst live baiting the reefs throughout the Gutters systems.
Flicking shallow diving hardbodies or paddle-tailed plastics from the rocks out at River Heads may see you connect to a large threadfin salmon in the dirty water. Jewies are also possible via the same methods, though rarely would they be encountered in the daylight. Bycatch of the odd flathead is also possible, particularly if there are masses of baitfish gathered along the rocks.
Heading over to Kingfisher Bay Resort by barge and fishing its jetty was a very exciting option a couple of weeks ago. Word of late is that the masses of baitfish gathered around the jetty have depleted substantially, and the fishing has gone quiet. All the same, if you are wetting a line from the jetty over the full moon you might encounter a jewfish, a flathead or even a mangrove jack. The pelagics are MIA for now, but they will return if the big hordes of baitfish return.
Caleb Knight set the hooks into 2023 with his first fish for the year being this solid golden trevally.
Full Moon Fun for Pelagic Fans
Our pelagic species have been highly mobile this week. There has been very little surface action in the form of tuna or spotties close to Fraser in Platypus Bay in recent days, whilst the central bay and waters wide of Platypus are alive with both. The waters up towards the 25 Fathom Hole have been spotty central for a few days now, with tuna (and spotties) found eastward from there.
The tidal flow from the full moon and this weekend’s moderate southeasterly blow should see plenty of tuna and spotties make their way eastwards into Platypus Bay chasing the baitfish moving in with the tide. Every week is a little different, so keep an eye on the horizon and look for the tell-tale little birds as you steam up the bay.
Marlin-wise, our main seasonal run has peaked and is somewhat all over. Having said this, there will certainly be a few stray billies in the bay and they are still a very worthy target offshore. Head on up the bay for a troll if you wish, and you may well succeed, but if you would rather the alternative approach to a day of sportsfishing, then go chase other pelagics whilst maintaining a suitable spin outfit at the ready should a billy appear.
Braith Bartlett scored himself this ripper coral bream whilst bottom bashing the Gutters systems.
There has been quite a few spanish mackerel in the bay of late, from smaller barely-legal keepers to the larger highly-risky throwbacks. They were thick at the Fairway beacon at one stage recently, but can turn up anywhere from our wider reefs all the way in to the shipping channels and even the straits. Local artificial reefs tend to attract spaniards in summer due to the concentrated baitfish gathered thereon. Landing such large beasts with so many sharks about is nigh on impossible though, but sure makes for some exciting moments as up to 30 kilos of spaniard gets airborne trying to avoid its pursuers.
The other beasts lurking around our artis at the moment are schools of brutish GTs. These nasty buggers are very adept at snatching your prized reef fish as you retrieve them (as if the sharks weren’t bad enough). They can be targeted with live baits if you wish, or you can opt for sinking stickies or large poppers when the low tides coincide with sunset.
Clint Parker with one of ten spotties he managed to land whilst travelling home from the Gutters, the bird and mackerel activity was thick around the 25 fathom hole.
Alternatively, seek out the summer GTs around the bay islands or along the deeper ledges that fringe the western side of Fraser from Moon Point south. Dirty waters may actually make them less shy and more prone to swiping at surface lures in our heavily-pressured waters this season, so break out the heavy casting tackle and give them a crack around low tide over the full moon.
Queenfish are another inshore possibility from similar waters at present. Lighter tackle and either surface lures or softies that can be worked at speed will soon attract any in the area. Be mobile though, as the fish are often itinerant and you might need to try a few spots if you are not locally-attuned. Queenies are also a fun target for bait fishing families that have a few livies in the tank. Their high-flying antics will soon have the kids hooting and hollering. Anchoring along a bait-laden ledge or right on the current line spinning off an island is where you want to soak the livies.
Avoid the Sharks to Score a Feed of Reefies
Parking along a stretch of shallow reef chasing trout, grunter and sweetlip will be popular over the full moon for small boat crews. The Gatakers Bay ramp will be chockers this weekend most likely, as the close fringing reefs along the shoreline there are protected from the southeaster. Early forays will be best (to avoid the wind and get the best bite as well). Baits of banana prawn are most popular, yet pillies and squid will also attract their share of fish.
An early morning troll, followed by a few drifts flicking softies, vibes, stickies or glidebaits can see you returning home with a trout or two for dinner. Bycatch can include grunter, cod, stripies and even the odd mangrove jack. When the weather suits, the same tactics can be deployed around the bay islands’ fringing shallow reefs, with the added chance of tangling with schools of blackall and maybe a few tuskies.
Up until now, fishing the shallow reefs has been a ploy many have had to resort to just to avoid the sharks out in deeper waters. It was extremely disappointing to hear this week, just how many sharks are now frequenting the shallows off Pt Vernon. Recently, it was pesky little noahs taking baits meant for reefies, but now it is mid-sized models snatching your prized fish as well. Let’s hope this is only a temporary phenomenon and not a sign of these learned sharks seeking out the boat traffic once again, as our shallows are fast becoming our last bastion of hope.
Staff member Dylan took his nieces down to the local beach and had a ball landing plenty of summer whiting, although the size on most of the fish were down they are still great fun for the kids.
When the better weather returns next week, there will be a veritable flotilla of vessels out on the bay. Reef fishos plying our deeper reefs in our inshore shipping channels can use the numbers of boats on the water to their advantage. As strange as that statement is, it can be the late arrivals that turn up and fish alternative reefs in an area to the early birds that can sneak a feed over the side whilst others deal with the noahs.
On offer at present are stacks of grass sweetlip. Try the fringes of the deeper reefs, around the artis, along the deep ledges, or the likes of the Channel Hole or Boges Hole. If you cannot beat the noahs, then keep moving, or head for shallower reef. Dropping live baits or tea-bagging plastics or jigs over the gnarly reef structures during slack water could see you hooking trout, cod or scarlets. Go like the clappers to beat the noahs (and GTs) and hopefully you win more than you lose.
Dylan’s second niece with her prized capture, targeting whiting along our beaches is a very safe and enjoyable way to get kids into our fantastic sport.
Try the Outer Banks, Simpson arti, Fairway or Burrum 8 Mile when the weather allows whilst the tides still have plenty of flow and you could score a feed of grunter. Mackerel may prove to be a nuisance for those opting to jig plastics, vibes or jigs, so keep an eye on the sounder whilst scanning and avoid those long shallow arches.
Mixed results from our wider reefs this week suggest it pays to be highly mobile and rethink your strategies if you either struggle to tempt any quality fish or cannot beat the sharks. The Gutters for example, fished poorly for some, even though they bounced from spot to spot, whilst others fished other reefs and scattered ground to the north and scored better.
This time of year, it is mainly grass sweetlip that will take up the majority of space in eskies for the dead bait brigade. Not the thumping big white-chinned brutes around the 4-6 kilo mark that were so common many years ago, but a more modest model around a couple of kilos. These sweeties are quite common along the fringes of the drop-offs (shallow side) or over rubbly scattered country. They are hardly fussy, so large squid baits work a treat, as do deceased versions of your livies.
Jason Green has been putting his ‘Fishos Fraser Series’ Live Fibre rod to the test and subduing some cracking fish like this prized red.
Live baits deployed at the turn of tide can pull the best quality trout from some sites up that way. Tea-bagged softies and jigs will also score plenty of trout, but it is fair to assume that some of the biggest models may have won their freedom in battles on such artificials in the past and are quick to learn from such experience (maybe?). Try either option or both, and hopefully trout will be on the menu, along with cod, scarlets, brown maoris and other reefies.
There are a few pelagics hovering above the Gutters ledges these days, in the form of spanish mackerel and cobia. School mackerel can be hard to avoid out over rubbly country as well, very likely due to the remnant gatherings of yakkas that can be found over such country in summer.
Staff member Josh has been getting stuck into the bass of fly, our local creek systems are back and firing since recent rain events.
Offshore Beckons Next Week
Crews with larger vessels will be eyeing off the weather charts for forays offshore next week. Tuesday and Wednesday look great at this stage. There will be around a metre of swell, but the EAC will likely be roaring. Check the latest SST charts from BOM and you will see the hot water and current pouring past the top of Fraser. Great for anyone chasing pelagics such as spaniards, GTs, mahi mahi and wahoo.
Reef fishos heading wide will need to contend with the current, so take plenty of lead. At least the wind will be light, so accurate drifts will be possible. With such a huge range of tasty reef delights on offer out over Breaksea Spit, many will take on the current for the rewards that come over the gunwhales. Red emperor, scarlets, green jobbies, red throat emperor, various cods and plenty of venus tuskfish are possible, amongst a plethora of bycatch such as spangos, moses perch, hussar and the like.
Deep dropping will be possible, albeit fast-moving. Experienced skippers will be able to line up the drops for touch-down in the zone and should see the bent-butts and electric reels coming to life as pearlies, jobbies, bar cod and any number of other deep water ooglies are hauled unceremoniously to the surface.
Some crews will opt to head south and cross the Wide Bay Bar instead. Marlin were still quite prolific down off DI recently and are a very worthy target still. Spotties and tuna are likely to be distractions as you head wide or up along Fraser, and an early troll with high-speed minnows is a great option for spanish mackerel fans.
Those that stay relatively close inshore should score a feed of grassies, squire, cod, moses and scarlets. Jewies are also possible for those dropping live baits to wrecks wide of the bar. Those heading wider increase their chances of scoring red emperor, and are likely to pick up a feed of pearlies, snapper, cod, red throat and tuskies.
Pauly skipper of Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters has been guiding his guests onto some fantastic fish during the breaks in the weather.
Great Sandy Straits Offers Ample Estuary Options
The big tides this week will enhance the dirty water in our local rivers. The lower reaches of the Mary system will likely give up a few threadfin salmon for those that persist and fish the drains flushing baitfish and prawns from beneath the mangroves during the ebb tide. Many will seek the easier, and fair to say, better option however, and head down the Great Sandy Straits.
Those that head up the creeks along the western side of Fraser Island should find grunter, flathead and mangrove jacks if their chosen creeks are north of Kingfisher. South of there, the same species are still likely, along with threadies, blue salmon and small jewies. A modest feed of whiting is possible on the flats that front many of these creeks and indeed within the creeks themselves.
A great eating size cobia caught whilst on charter aboard Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.
Look for schools of nervous baitfish over the flats down the straits or along the inside of Fraser and you might trip over queenies, GTs or even the odd school of small golden trevally. Sight-fishing opportunities may not be what they are when our waters are clearer, but any predators working the skinny margins will soon make themselves obvious.
Grunter, jacks and jewies are worth pursuing along the deeper ledges down the straits. Grunter are also quite mobile and will navigate the many channels leading into the creeks as they ebb and flow from these creeks with the tides. Bait fishos can sit at appropriate junctions or along likely “fishy highways” and can intercept a few grunter, threadies or blues as they pass by. On the other hand, lure fishos will scan possible areas and hop their favourite plastics and vibes over likely terrain as they drift through the area.
Lukas has been slaying the fish down on the Urangan pier, knowing when to be there pays a lot to his success.
Make sure you take a cast net and keep an eye out for any prawn on the move. Enough effort lately has produced a few kilos of medium bananas for those plying the smaller creeks. It can be a muddy and messy task when compared with the deeper water prawning in the cooler months, but worth it if you are a banana prawn fan.
Those seeking mud crabs might have their work cut out for them given the intense crabbing effort over Xmas. The full moon will see the crabs on the move though, so slip a few pots in and keep checking them regularly and moving them if necessary. Plonking them in common waters and leaving them soak overnight with your fingers crossed can be a bit fruitless at times such as these.
Those that go the extra mile, or even get out of the boat and walk pots in amongst the mangroves and the mud in the hard-to-get-to spots are often the ones rewarded with quality crabs. Those not that keen on getting filthy could simply soak their pots out in the bay and score a delicious feed of sandies instead – weather permitting.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase