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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 6th April 2023

Ollie absolutely over the moon with his first ever coral trout, well done young fella. Great fish.

Great Weather From Easter Onwards

Hopefully you all got out and enjoyed what turned out to be better than expected weather last week. Once again, websites spinning their forecasts from the gurus at the bureau cried wolf about the rain and storms which not only deterred fishos from potential getaways, but also impacted on local tradies planning work around the “rainy days”.

Based on their latest predictions, if you get the chance to hit the water tomorrow, then you should do so. Calm conditions early, followed by a building northerly wind mid-afternoon will precede a band of storms expected late in the day. Expect up to 25 knots from the north or northwest overnight. A spell of westerly winds will then take hold once the trough and its storms pass.

Saturday doesn’t look real flash at all at this stage, with northwesterly winds up to 20 knots likely to put any bay fishing on hold. Sunday looks much better, but a southwester early won’t impress anyone considering forays out wide in the bay. Check the latest forecasts for a lull in the southwester. It may blow 15 knots all day, but such a wind often peters out late morning.

Monday onwards looks absolutely sensational. There will be a little residual westerly still Monday, but as the high-pressure system creeps up from down south the winds should tend more easterly, even lighter again and very likely result in fully glassed-out seas. Offshore trips will be on the cards mid-week.

Tonight’s full moon sees the peak in another tide cycle. As the moon begins to wane, so will the tidal variation. Visitors to the bay will find the easing tides less of a handful, but should be warned not to get stranded at high tide – anywhere. The subsequent night highs will be a little higher than the daytime highs, but it will be a very long wait to re-float your boat.

Burrum Heads Easter Classic

Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Club’s Easter Classic is on again this Easter. The comp kicks off at 8am tomorrow, and concludes at 12 noon on Sunday. You can register at the event if you haven’t already done so, at the Lions Park in Burrum Heads on Good Friday from 9am-4pm, or on Saturday between 9am and 12 noon.

This great little fishing competition is very much family orientated, as reflected in the very affordable entry fees of only $30 for adults and $5 for juniors.

For the adults, there are $500 cash prizes on offer for the heaviest whiting, bream, mackerel, grunter and trevally, as well as $1,000 cash for the heaviest flathead weighed in alive. There will be a prize for the heaviest mud crab, as well as prizes for several secret weights (so weigh your fish even though it may not be the largest).

There are also great prizes for the juniors. Those weighing in the heaviest whiting, bream and flathead will score the major prizes and the runners-up will pick up some handy prizes too.

Super draw prizes include $2,500 cash for one lucky winner that could be adult or junior, an electric motor valued at $2,800 for one lucky adult entrant, and a stand-up paddleboard and more for the lucky junior-only winner.

Sausage sizzles, big raffles and swags of family fun activities will ensure the whole family has a great time and enjoys the atmosphere of this well-supported local fishing event. Support the local fishing club while you are there and purchase some of their merchandise such as shirts, hats and stubby coolers, as these guys put a lot of effort in to this event and your purchases will go some way to offsetting the costs.

Good luck to all entrants. The weather may not be perfect, but Burrum Heads is perfectly-positioned for fishing in westerly winds and some great fish are sure to come to the weighmaster.

Venom 'Iron Man' it just catches fish! Dane & Greg on a recent trip put the Iron man colour to the test and it produced the goods.

Check out the colourations of this red throat emperor, amazing creatures. Fooled by the Venom V-swim 120mm sinking stick bait.

 

Hyperactive Pelagics in the Bay

Hervey Bay is pelagic-city right now, with increasing numbers of various species showing up all over the place. Longtail tuna are now well entrenched in the central and eastern bay, with the better numbers reported from “the pocket” up around Station Hill.

Mack tuna are also very abundant, and can turn up in massive numbers in the western bay this time of year. They make for a great fun option for the kids, and enable frustrated boaties to get amongst the action during spells of westerly wind.

Queenfish have also been turning up along the beaches and around creek mouths in the western bay in recent weeks. They are not everywhere, but are quite easy to locate if you get close enough as you will see them in the water or see evidence of their existence as baitfish shower out of their way. Boaties should seek them out a little wider of the beaches, over the shallow flats wherever schools of herring, garfish or hardiheads are spotted.

When the weather allows, those keen to tangle with spanish mackerel have plenty of fish to chase. The Gutters and Rooneys reefs have hosted plenty of spaniards in recent times and there are small schools turning up inshore as well. Find the spaniards around bait schools hovering over reef systems such as the Outer Banks, Arch Cliffs 6 Mile and elsewhere and spin them up on spoons or send a live bait, or pillie their way. 

Trolling for spaniards is more popular than ever, and most locals can do so successfully with proven high-speed-capable lures such as X-Raps, Halco Laser Pros / Max’s and the like. Bycatch of cobia is possible when doing so, along with large schoolies, GTs and even yellowfin tuna if you are trolling across the far northern bay.

Mackerel fans have plenty of schoolies to hunt inshore at present. They are quite widespread, turning up around numerous reef systems, as well as throughout our inshore shipping channels. The schoolies are not limited to any one area at present, so find the herring and you will find the mackerel. Try the Fairway, Burrum 8 Mile, Outer banks, 6 Mile or reefs further north from there. Some can be found closer inshore as well – particularly if you tie on an expensive jig or lure meant for reefies! 

The longtail tuna run continues, Scotty found plenty of schooled fish up in Platypus Bay and managed to pull a few past the sharks.
Jackson with a flats longtail tuna. It doesn't get much better then polaroiding the gin clear waters off Fraser and sight casting to these speedsters.

There is enough cobia being reported from the northern bay to suggest that they are likely to feature in catches from now right through into winter. Being suckers for all manner of baits and lures, the cobes will soon let you know they are there if you are in their realm. 

Oh, and by the way, for those not experienced in catching cobia, they fight hard – if you do. Take it easy on them, and play them out with smooth strokes of the rod on a reasonable drag setting and they are much easier to coax to the boat than locking down and going hard. Huge cobia can be landed on relatively light tackle with the right technique, and quite often in a shorter time frame as well.

If you are into jigging for pelagics, then the bay’s large golden trevally are for you. Goldies have been turning up in numbers around many of the more prominent inshore structures such as shipwrecks, artificial reefs and beacons recently. Spotting them on the sounder is dead easy and then all you need do is drop a jig to them to tempt them.

If you struggle to get a response initially on one slow-pitch jig, then change colour, size and/or action and try again. Failing that, present them with a couple of soft plastic profiles and you will eventually find what they like. Goldies can be ravenous and compete with each other for a feed at times, then swim about quite docile and uninterested between bite periods. Monitor the moon and tide and come back if too hard to tempt initially.

Our summertime inshore giant trevally window is about to close. Large GTs are still possible from inshore shipwrecks, artificial structures and deeper ledges – but not for long. The bigger full moon tides offer a great late season opportunity for GT fans to hunt them down and do battle. The bay islands and the waters around River Heads may well be worth a look if there is masses of baitfish in the area.

Carl didn't have to go far from the harbour on a recent mission to get amongst some amazing sport fishing action, like this queenfish.
In the same session Carl scored himself a nice golden trevally too, you don't have to venture far to encounter some EPIC fishing.

Reef Fish Respond to Change of Season

Early signs of things to come have been evidenced just this week with the odd snapper and a few squire responding to the shorter days, cooler nights and change of wind direction. Inshore artificial reef systems are at times alive with baitfish, drawing a few early season knobbies to feed. Don’t expect any numbers yet, and good luck with so many sharks around, but it is fair to say you are in with a chance at catching quality snapper inshore from now on.

Trollers attuned to plumbing the depths with the likes of Classic Dr Evil lures might consider a troll over likely ground in coming weeks. Steering clear of the major reef structures and seeking out large snapper away from such grounds and their attending sharks can see you hooking and actually landing quality knobbies. This activity will become increasingly popular as winter approaches, but hey, you might as well get in first.

Bait fishos seeking snapper/squire can send thawed squid their way, or other easily purchased baits such as pillies, herring or banana prawns, OR, you can head out there and feed them what they are there to eat. That is, the very baitfish seeking shelter around the structures you are fishing. Pike and herring are quite abundant inshore right now and will get even thicker as our waters cool further. Yakkas will follow in winter and take over altogether north of the banks.

Live baiting for snapper is a great option, but for now, most will be rigging a bit too heavy as they target coral trout and cod with the same baits. Turn of tide sessions plonking livies in front of likely reefs will soon see if these reef brawlers are keen. If live baiting is too hard, then the well-proven technique of tea-bagging softies and jigs will tempt any that haven’t been stung recently.

Feeding the family can be an easy affair if you just want to chase a feed of sweetlip. Or, at least it would be if you didn’t have to pay the taxman. Sweeties are still abundant inshore and can be caught in numbers. If you fail in the deeper waters due to shark depredation, then you will have to forego some sleep and seek them out along the fringes of the shallow reefs.

Quality scarlet sea perch (nannygai) can be caught from numerous sites in the bay. A few can be found right inshore, even down into the straits, but most catches are made further north. Numbers of juveniles frequent many reefs within Platypus Bay and the southern central bay. These poor little guys suffer horrendously from barotrauma and rarely survive encounters with us in deeper waters, so please don’t hang about catching and releasing them one after the other.

Head wider when the weather improves and seek out their bigger brethren. Large scarlets were caught north of the bay last week by a lucky few, and several crews scored a feed of average specimens in the bay proper. Avoid the sharks, and seek them out over the flat, weedy country away from known reefs for your best chance. Forays to Platypus Bay saw a few decent scarlets grace the esky, along with grunter, squire and the odd cod. Night sessions produced the goods.

Mick with a solid inshore snapper, which is a great sign for the season ahead. Water temps are still fairly high, however the bait is moving in.

 

Jacob with a nice sized spangle emperor, these guys pull like freight trains.

Head Offshore After Easter

Whilst technically still “inshore” many reef fishing crews headed wide last week when the weather was great and some scored respectable catches. Not all did however, with many struggling for some reason or other. Night sessions under a rising moon produced quality red fish for some, from waters around 40-50 metres deep north of the bay. Pre-dawn bites were also dynamic and a burst of activity during the period from moon-down to sun-up was not a time for sleeping.

The sharks absolutely caned many crews, particularly around popular reef systems such as the Gutters and off Rooneys. Whether fishing inshore, up north or outside, sharks will be a problem you will have to avoid. Keeping mobile is key and moving considerable distance from sharks is necessary, as otherwise they will be right on you tail only minutes after you pull up not far away.

We make this plea to our visiting fishos: Please be shark savvy whilst enjoying our waters and don’t sit there wasting our precious reef fish one after another. Nightmare stories of the past, where folks tell us how twenty fish were eaten in a row whilst on anchor, or not even knowing that they were being sharked (thinking they’d hooked fish that were too big that busted them off) are terrible. Our larger breeder reefies are being plundered more each year and we need to take steps to reduce the decline in their numbers. You can do your bit. Take a feed and enjoy with gusto – just don’t feed the flaming sharks!

Anyway, sharks aside, there is sensational weather on the way next week and offshore forays look promising. A waning moon won’t excite everyone, but the fish-rich waters offshore of Fraser, the Breaksea Spit or the Wide Bay Bar will typically offer great sport and a tremendous feed for those willing to do the miles.

Deep-droppers didn’t score all that well last week apparently. Bar cod bit in some waters, but many failed to tempt a daytime bite from other deepwater ooglies. The lack of jobfish species was notable last week, which sent some crews back to the 100m line of the shelf where they scored a feed of snapper and pearlies. Luckily for them they were plying those waters with electric reels and bent-butt rods which enables them to haul fish up without too much attrition from the noahs.

The plethora of tropical reef fish species on offer over the bar will make for many tasty treats next week. Of late, lots of large tuskies, plenty of red throat and the usual mix of coronation trout, maori cod and other reefies, along with the odd spaniard or cobia, have been chilling on ice for the long run home. 

The current has been better the further south you fish of late, with next to none reported out wide of the southern end of Fraser last week. Cooler, slower-moving waters are tending to creep up to the northern tip of Fraser and beyond as well this week. The difference in BOM’s SST charts from last week to this week is notable. 

Reports of dollies from the FADs offshore a week or so ago might be a thing of the past if the autumn current regime settles in early. For now though, dollies and a few wahoo have been frequenting the waters off Fraser, with yellowfin sighted out wider along the shelf line.

Check the latest updates before crossing either of our bars next week. Big swells offshore are abating at present and it looks great. Opting to cross the Wide Bay Bar and head offshore from there during the residual westerly winds is sound. Snapper, pearlies, tuskies, scarlets, cod, sweetlip, jewies and spaniards are on offer in closer, whilst reds, tuskies, jobbies and more snapper and pearlies can make the trip wider very favourable. 

Rob 'Poppy' Fox with a ripper blue maori cod, a rather elusive however prized capture from our wider reefs.
Skipper Deeg & crew with a cracking double header on the pearl perch. With the shallower grounds fishing very tough, the deep water saved the day.

Estuary Options Galore

Whilst heading out from Burrum Heads at Easter could be very frustrating due to the crowds gathered for the comp, you might wish to take advantage of other launch points and fish the Burrum River system whilst the wind blows from the west. Tempting a bite from summer species keen to fatten up while they still can shouldn’t be too hard.

Barra and jacks are the two major targets for river goers up that way, though there are ample grunter, a few flathead, the odd jewfish and schools of small blue salmon in the rivers to mix it up. Get out before the full moon loses its pull and the big Burrum summeries will still be on the chew as well.

The Mary system hasn’t been anywhere as easy to fish as the Burrum of late, but there are options aplenty all the same. Seek out the grunter as they travel upstream on lures or bait, or track down the schools of threadies with your sounder and some soft vibes. You might find a few barra, and quality fish at that, but ensure you keep an eye on the sounder for the approach of large bull sharks mid-fight. The bullies have been making short work of a few salmon and barra this year and won’t back off any time soon.

Blue salmon have been quite common, and some are fairly large for this time of year. Schools of blues are easily spotted and avoided or targeted depending upon your take. They love vibes, softies, hardbodies and all manner of baits. Great fun for the kids and often in numbers, you will find them in deeper holes in the Susan River, the Mary and within many deeper creeks down the straits.

A couple of the mainland creeks down that way are hosting a run of decent grunter right now, along with a few threadies and the aforementioned blues. Baby jewies tend to get in on the act too, and hyperactive schools of tailor are a real nightmare for those hopping plastics and vibes.

Fraser’s western creeks are still home to great numbers of mangrove jacks. This last blast of warmth this week is surely a bite trigger for fish looking to lace their loins with fatty goodness prior to the impending chill of winter. You will find grunter, the odd flathead, small jewies and many little estuary cod whilst flicking lures in these creeks. 

As temperatures continue to drop prized jacks like this 53cm specimen will become harder and harder to temp.
Justin with another salty barra to add to his tally for the season. Caught whilst fishing in one of the local rivers.

Prawns & Crabs on the Menu

There are so many crab pots in our estuary waters at the moment that many hopefuls are bound to miss out. The scene in some creeks and stretches of river is insane. Differing crabbers plonking pots almost on top of another’s wouldn’t seem productive. Do enough miles and you will still find plenty of waterways with very little crabbing effort. Easter is one of the most popular mud crabbing periods on our calendar and the crabs are certainly active – you just need to find unpressured waters.

A much more productive option for crab lovers would be a foray out onto the bay chasing sandies. They just started to show up closer inshore recently and have been reported off the Burrum Coast. Head out and start your search as close as the Fairway if you wish, or head wider again. You might even score a decent feed close inshore in only a few metres of water whilst the full moon tides maintain some flow.

And now for the big one – prawns. The impending spell of westerly winds and cooling nights is notable and will have many local prawners keen as mustard. So far, there has been a feed on offer from local creeks and a few creeks down the straits, but the rivers are starting to produce better already this week and they will draw many prawners over Easter.

Head upstream in the Burrum, Gregory or Isis and you are bound to trip over prawn eventually. Numbers and quality will vary, so time your efforts around low tide for now, especially due to the excessive flow from the full moon. The upper reaches and stretches of the mid reaches are likely to produce best. Use your sounder if you don’t see them flicking.

As far as the Mary goes, again sorties further upstream are likely to be most productive. The tidal flow in this system’s upper reaches can be challenging though, so again, time your efforts for low tide. Otherwise, seek your prawns from “backwaters” that turn into blind gutters as the tide ebbs, or from deeper holes on bends that break the current flow. Trust your sounder and try to avoid the vast schools of herring – or else.

Will Woodgate fire over Easter? Maybe - but you won’t know unless you go. The usual scouts will, and if it does fire, then it will be on for young and old once the grapevine gets wind of it. Wait for the southwester or southerly breeze Sunday onwards before heading to Woodgate for a look. The Burnett prawners are still bragging about the masses in their river, so it will be our turn next.

Joseph with a big buck from a recent crabbing expedition. They managed a great feed however did mention since the cold snap they have slowed.

Easter Action at the Urangan Pier

Finally, a little action has got the kids excited out along the Urangan Pier. Just in time for the holidays, a few broad-barred mackerel turned up, if only briefly. So too, the odd large queenfish has made raids of late, but they have generally avoided capture. 

There are still a few large GTs out the end, but as you can well imagine, this late in their season they are super spooky. Many have likely been hooked and won their freedom around the pylons time and time again during recent months and won’t fall for anything but the sneakiest presentations nowadays.

Otherwise, live baiting for flathead has been productive at the pier, both within the first channel and out towards the end. It won’t be all that long and bream will commence their annual migration and take up station at the pier. That is some time off yet (next full moon), but for now, there will be plenty of little tackers there to entertain the youngest kids.

Similarly, along our town beaches, there are whiting and dart, along with a few small bream and the odd flathead. Nothing flash in the size stakes, but fun for the smaller kids all the same. The bigger kids can be entertained along the same beaches after dark with larger baits set out for small sharks. They won’t have to wait long for a bite these days.

Head for the local creeks otherwise and you can find yourself tangling with flatties or queenies around the mouth areas, mangrove jacks, cod and maybe even a barra upstream. Head out of town proper and try the beaches to our west (Dundowran-Toogoom) or the mudflats to our south (Booral) and look for whiting and flatties.

All in all, Easter looks great after the blow and storms, so make the most of it, be patient at our ramps and on our roads, and do your best to avoid the crowds – if you can.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Sam with a cracking 61cm duskie flathead from along the beach front. There are many popular land based haunts like the Urangan pier and rock groynes.

 

Scotty AKA the fish whisperer with one of the fastest and most acrobatic species you can encounter. A giant herring. They are a great sport fish.

 

Father & son duo holding up one of 6 longtail tuna that were caught for the session whilst fishing up in Platypus Bay.
Golden trevally will become a more common capture whilst working soft plastics and jigs on our inshore and offshore reefs over the months to come.

 

The holy grail of the reef! Batsey holding up his prized capture from a recent trip out wide, a 7kg red emperor. Well done mate, great fish.

 

Is it a jack... NO.... This is a red bass, a no take species due to ciguatera risks. Although no take, these guys will pull your arms off.

 

Snapper like this are another common capture whilst working the shelf line with the electric gear and can be found in massive aggregations.

 

Deep water pearl perch, they don't get much tastier than this. A cracking fish caught whilst fishing the continental shelf line with the electric gear.

 

What a double header, often found schooling together in the same areas. Snapper & pearl perch, two of the nicest table fish you will encounter.

 

BIG slime ball aka bar cod are a common capture from out in the deep whilst fishing with the electric gear. Looked after they yield some great fillets.

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