Keira caught this beaut knobbie on a softie in the southern bay recently. You are a magnet for the bigger snapper girl. Well done.
Another Windy Weekend Ahead
We trust you’ve all been enjoying the glorious spring weather of late. It has been warming up nicely all week, but that has peaked yet again. This morning’s subtle southerly change is a precursor to the return of the onshore trade winds again this weekend that will bring a cooler change via stiff winds and partly cloudy skies.
Expect the wind to tend south-easterly this afternoon and reach up to 20 knots by nightfall. 15-25 knots from the same direction is the official call for both Saturday and Sunday sadly, so fishing and boating activities will be restricted this weekend.
The working week looks much better. Initially, Monday should see lighter winds around 15 knots, mostly prevailing from the south-east, but tending a little more easterly late in the day. Tuesday should be quite similar, with a slightly lighter breeze that will continue that trend into mid-week. Thereafter, the usual eastward passage of the latest southern high should see the return of a northerly breeze by the weekend and warmer conditions once again.
Today’s last quarter moon phase heralds the recommencement of the next set of making tides under a waning moon. There is minimal tidal flow initially, which will suit many folks seeking their estuary predator fix – if only the weather was a bit better.
Doreen caught this ripper pearlie deep dropping offshore in perfect conditions recently. Daiwa's Sea Power Combo in the background makes plumbing the depths a breeze.
Coral trout of all species are suckers for the highly productive jighead-rigged Samaki Live Shrimp. Joey with a ripper strawb.
The Marlin Have Arrived!
The big news this week is the much-anticipated arrival of the first of this season’s juvenile black marlin in Hervey Bay waters. The truth is, that the first fish rode the big making tides preceding the recent super moon into the northern bay, but the scouts that found them opted to keep their arrival on the down low (and why not).
The waters of northern Platypus Bay and those that surround Rooneys Point will be alive with eager marlin fans in coming weeks and months, whenever the weather is kind. If you happen to be up that way today, then perhaps you are enjoying a good bite, as these juvies are known to react well to a change after a spell of northerly wind.
Whether the baby blacks will be concentrated along the drop-offs along the reef flats of Fraser, or out wider in the bay initially will be determined by availability of their favoured food sources. If the garfish and other baitfish aren’t gathered on or near the flats, then chances are the deeper waters to the west will be where you should focus.
Looking for bird activity that declares the presence of predatory pelagics pushing their prey to the surface out wider is worth noting and heading towards if concentrated. Sub-surface schools of yakkas etc are also major drawcards for billfish and lesser pelagics, so monitoring your sounder as you travel is a must.
Identifying potential larger bait sources that marlin prey on is productive, particularly the likes of bonito, finny scad, ribbonfish, long tom and other smaller pelagics. Finding garfish out in open water and exposed to predators is something to get even more excited about, as is trolling through waters where flying fish are taking to the air constantly.
For those that haven’t experienced the Hervey Bay marlin phenomenon as yet, and are keen to do so, you are in for a treat! You don’t need anything fancy either, just a capable vessel, and a crew that will keep their cool when the inevitable chaos erupts behind the boat.
Grab our pre-made rigs, some skirts and a teaser, or select all the gear you need from our extensive range and rig yourself.
There are a few must-haves for marlin fishing success though, and luckily for you, we stock all the right gear that will get you raising, hooking and landing your first of many marlin in no time. You will need a set of teasers and a spread of appropriate small skirted lures for these marlin, and you can troll these lures on fairly standard medium-sized tackle. Good line capacity will be a must, especially if you hook a larger fish, and smooth drag systems will aid in keeping you attached.
We create our own custom rigs instore that you can simply slip your favoured skirt over and you are good to go. Alternatively, we have all the gear for making your own, so you can customise your approach. Our rigs, our selection of skirts and even our teasers are all proven from seasons past. The only variable being what colours you might run on a given day relative to weather conditions, water depth, likely bait sources and position in your spread.
Many experienced game fishos will opt for rigging baits, and we cater for all-comers in that department too. Rigging garfish to swim or to skip has never been easier than it is nowadays, with the introduction of the you-beaut “ringer swivels” revolutionising this approach. Quality frozen garfish are also on hand instore, sourced in advance of an anticipated good season, so we can give you the freshest locally-caught vac-sealed product available.
So, whist this weekend is a flop, you might want to gear-up and be ready for better conditions at a proven prime bite time closer to the new moon in a week’s time. Early signs of good numbers of baby blacks in the northern bay is great, and as the weeks pass, more and more will arrive and more will spread throughout the bay. Stay tuned for the latest updates when the grapevine comes alive with more and more captures as the season unfolds.
Sailfish have been caught off the 13 Mile recently. They will take the very same lures or baits set out for little blacks.
Joey with a hard pulling turrum jigged up on a standard trout lolly. A real handful over nasty terrain.
Offshore Fishing Restricted by Weather
As always, opportunities to get out wide are far too few, but for those that made the most of the spell of good weather pre super moon, there were some quality catches brought home. Some crews headed offshore over Breaksea Spit and plumbed the depths with deep dropping gear for a good return. Heading north was the go, with bar cod, comet cod, flamies and quality pearl perch gracing those crews’ eskies.
There was a bit more current to the south, but the deeper water was still fishable during spells of ultra-light winds. Snapper and pearlies featured along the shelf line, as did members of the jobfish clan. The shoal country also fished well, with a mixture of tasty reef fish, and most notably some quality red emperor.
Spanish mackerel have been wandering the shallower country east of Breaksea Spit, and are often concentrated over shallower shoals where bait is gathered. Marlin are very much back in the sights for game fishos offshore, and the big fish have arrived as well as the juvies.
A 400lb blue marlin was caught this week wide of the 4 Mile crossing, and this fish will certainly not be alone out there. It is at this time that the heavy tackle marlin crews will be starting the season out wide, and reports will soon be filtering back in of large blues, large blacks and perhaps a few stripes in the not-too-distant future.
Monitor BOM’s Sea Surface Temperature Charts and you will notice how the East Australian Current (EAC) morphs into a narrower and narrower funnel of warmer faster-flowing water as spring unfolds and summer approaches. Visualise that funnel of current as a conveyor of food and channel of passage for large predators and you will understand how marlin are brought to our offshore waters from up north, and how, as our season concludes, that very same finger or funnel of hot current delivers those fish further south down the east coast (somewhat akin to the scenes in Nemo featuring the surfer-dude turtles hitching a ride in the current – perhaps).
Bree picked up this nice red emperor offshore from Fraser Island recently.
Bree with one of the most photogenic fisho from the depths. Nice flamie Bree, and superb weather too.
Clayton couldn't let Bree catch all the fish.
Declan hauled up this bar cod from the depths recently. Deep dropping is all the rage these days and we have all the gear to get you into it.
Mother Nature Our Primary Protector of Reef Fish
Once again, mother nature denied many holidaymakers access to Hervey Bay’s wider reefs during much of the recent school holidays, though the second week was vastly improved. Reports came in of some decent catches from the Gutters that included a few red emperor, quality bar-cheeked trout, snapper, cockies and cobia.
Scarlets and grunter joined the snapper for a night time bite up in Platypus Bay and off Rooneys, but they were not alone. Sharks are starting to make their presence felt again, but for now they are still somewhat scattered, which is good. Cobia are still thrilling newcomers with their sheer size and power, and thankfully, most of these majestic cruise missiles are being released to wander our oceans.
Keep in mind that the first of our annual Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures is coming up – set for the 12th to the 16th October, 2023. More on that one next week.
Snapper are still a viable target in the northern, central and eastern bay – but not for long. It would be fair to suggest that the next new moon will bring to a close the best of our season for this year. There will be stragglers, of course, and they are still worth targeting, but many locals will shift their focus to other quarry. Sharks have returned around some of the southern bay’s snapper hotspots, stealing quality knobbies hooked this week.
Closer inshore, it has been all about the snapper on the deeper reefs, the coral trout in the shallows, and the school mackerel everywhere in between. There are other species on offer, such as cod, blackall and in some areas, large grunter, as well as a few random schools of trevally. Sweetlip numbers are at their minimum right now, but that is not to say you won’t find the odd one. They will start to return to our inshore waters by month’s end, arriving first in the shallows, then tending deeper in time.
Trollers will be hyperactive over coming months. If they aren’t out doing the laps chasing mackerel, then they will be dragging their favourite diving hardbodies across our shallow reefs in the search for coral trout. Peak activity will be closer to the new and full moons, but many will still troll at alternative times. Gatakers bay will probably even have a few hopefuls out there this weekend, hiding from the wind along its protected shores. The early birds will get that worm, so to speak.
Estuary Predators Hot to Trot
There is potentially no better time of year to be pursuing our larger estuary predators than right now. Sure, the cool change and strong trade wind this weekend won’t help the cause, but that aside, this is a great time to be out chasing barramundi, king salmon, grunter and mangrove jacks.
The Mary system is home to some beaut barra and a few mobile schools of king salmon. The blue salmon are still turning up too, and there is no better time to be targeting the rivers’ best grunter of the season. Much of this activity will take place some distance upriver, whilst similar fish are also possible from the lower reaches at times.
Flathead are a good target closer to the heads, and estuary cod and the odd jewfish keep live baiters or tea-baggers entertained in the deeper rocky holes nearby. Good catches of whiting have been reported from the shallow channels and flats in the lower Susan and Mary, as well as out the front in the vicinity of Shoulder Point.
You could seek the very same fish down the straits too, where you will find even better numbers of flatties, a few queenfish, good barra, salmon and quality grunter. You could even turn your hand to bream fishing and intercept the schools returning up the estuaries, but few would, with so much larger and or tastier quarry on offer.
There have been mixed reports from the Burrum system. Some found the only bites they could manage came from the dreaded green toadfish that have swum upriver in the clean waters. The mid reaches are toady central along some stretches, so keep that in mind when dangling expensive lures in their midst.
Others found plenty of barramundi by scanning likely waters with their fancy side scanners. Getting them to bite proved challenging for some, whilst others scored quality fish. A few king salmon are also possible throughout that system, particularly in the upper reaches.
It doesn’t sound like the queenies and mini-GTs that so regularly frequented the Burrum system have made much of an appearance again this year, which is a crying shame. These sporty characters, along with large tarpon, blue salmon and a few random ladyfish (giant herring) offer such great sport for the kids, so they are sorely missed. If anyone can contradict these observations, then that is welcome news.
Focussing your efforts on mangrove jacks in the Burrum system is a great idea, and one that should reap rewards when conditions are right. Our waters are warming nicely, and plenty of quality jacks have been caught already. Whether you opt to bait fish, or flick lures, your chances of engaging the red devils gets better by the week. Spend some time up that way after dark and the odds are even more in your favour.
Even our small creeks continue to give up a mix of estuarine predators. Many will only encounter the odd flattie or those pesky small estuary cod, whilst others find barra, jacks and queenies. Despite the substantial pressure on our little creeks during the recent holidays, Beelbi, O’Regans and Eli are still worth a crack. Timing will be everything though.
Scotty has been catching some ripper salties lately. Prawn imitations are proving a hit consistently.
Jeff Hirning and his young bloke enjoying happy times on the water. Nice flatty lads.
Piers and Beaches Entertained the Holiday Crowds
It hasn’t been one of our best September school holiday periods for land-based fishing families this year, but there has still been enough action to keep the kids keen and the family fed (for some). The most disappointing fishery has been our town beach whiting scene, that has still largely failed to impress.
There have been a few fish in the mid-high twenties caught dancing micro poppers over the shallows at low tide recently, but bag limit hauls of quality fish have been few and far between. Neap tides such as right now are hardly conducive to prime whiting fishing, so if you are keen to try your hand, then do so closer to the new moon next week.
We live in hope that bigger schools will arrive in town, but no-one is holding their breath. Soaking yabbies or worms over the top half of the flood tide or first of the ebb is your best bet in town. Otherwise, heading for the creeks, the beaches and flats out of town is potentially a better bet, as proven by quite a few locals and visitors recently.
The Urangan Pier has been popular and very busy throughout the recent holidays. The making tides pre super moon brought the herring back, and in good numbers. Hot on their heals were the school mackerel, which have been a fairly regular daily feature of the pier fishery since. Sadly, green toads also turned up a week ago and went about wreaking havoc and destroying terminal tackle as only they can.
There has been the odd longtail tuna hooked, but not all landed. Flathead have been caught too, and they certainly don’t stand much of a chance if they decide to hang around the pier for long these days. The appearance of the odd large GT very early this season was notable, and we can assume with some confidence that their numbers will swell beneath the pier in months to come.
Young Georgia did a great job landing this lovely flathead recently. Nice hat too Georgia.
Canal bream are big and feisty, as Charmaine found out recently.
Hectic Times on Fraser Island
There has been so much going on over on Fraser Island this past fortnight, that we have decided to bring you the latest gossip, in lieu of the afore-promised feature on spinning lures for tailor. Once again, much of the information below is extracts from observations from local gun fisho and Fraser fanatic, Wayne, as well as other returnees from the island.
So, there were periods of settled or light northerly weather in recent weeks, with the standard stiff south-easterly interlude. The tracks were powdery and boggings were somewhat commonplace, but a few well-placed showers improved the traveling conditions (if only briefly). All in all, beach travel has been good, with the exception being the king tides over the super moon that marooned fishos or campers where they settled until the tide dropped a couple of hours.
Holiday crowds are pretty intense these days, so most fishos have come to terms with sharing a productive gutter. When everyone is catching a feed, everyone gets along just fine, but those inept in the casting department are soon noticeable in a line up. Tailor have been the main target, as you can imagine, yet other species have been possible.
A fantastic surf beach flattie for Tash. Always a bonus fish in the surf. Well done.
Whiting have been scarce along much of the surf beach. The best of their season is now well behind us, but many still live in hope. Quality dart were a welcome feature in weeks past, though at present and throughout the latter part of the holidays, it was more their pesky little bait-stealing brethren that were frustrating many fishos. A few flathead rated a mention, often found in gutters adorned with a little rocky feature.
That stiff south-easter that blew for much of the first week of the holidays created a lot of very nice gutters north of Eurong. There was a bit of action fishing-wise from there to Yidney Rocks too; mostly chopper tailor and small dart. The schools of tailor continue to migrate north along the beach, some staying for prolonged periods in better gutters, or potentially just replaced with similar-sized fish on the next tide.
North from there is where you would chance a jewfish if you were to target one, and not all fish caught recently have been during the evening either. All the same, night tides are the preferred time for serious jewie fans, often in deeper gutters when the tide is high. The next new moon will be worth another crack.
The bigger king tides a week ago created a lot of sweep along certain stretches, most notably near Waddy Point. The annual two-month fishing ban that denied access to the headlands concluded at the end of September. This is a time when many eager fishos gather to get their share of the fish so well-protected in recent months. Many time their trip to coincide with the opening, but not all years are gems.
Alas, this was one of those years. Many crews fished near Waddy and Indian, but very few tailor were caught in the early days after the opening. Fish caught north near Ngkala Rocks were heavy in roe and indicative of schools continuing their northern migration to spawn. We assume they spawn in the closed waters as suggested by past science, yet observations prove Sandy Cape and beyond can be their chosen spawning grounds too.
As always, the more successful surf fishos were those that were mobile, and able to read the beach. Typical of the beach scene, certain nights will produce early, at dusk, and then progressively later thereafter for a period. It hasn’t only been the classic well-formed gutters that have produced the best catches consistently either, with many fish intercepted as they travel through fairly featureless stretches of beach.
This is where lure casting can really excel. The ability to drive to a gutter, or likely stretch of water, and launch a few casts out for tailor enables a mobile fisho to scope out more terrain much quicker. Get a response and catch a few and stay. No joy - move on to the next spot. It is fair to say that there will be many times when the humble pillie will catch better than lures, but the easier nature of lure fishing is undeniable.
Happy days for family fishos on Fraser during the school holidays. These tailor were caught north of the Cathedrals. Pic courtesy of David Lawton.
Dane spent his bucks party on North Straddie with the lads. The tailor fishing was great, but he has taken all week to recover.
Dane and Andrew spun up plenty of tailor on North Stradbroke last weekend. The 60 gram Arma Twists worked a treat.
Barra Impoundments Fired Over the Super Moon
With the exception of Lake Lenthalls, the barra-filled impoundments to our north fished very well over the recent super moon. Word from Lenthalls is that very few if any fish have been caught lately. The water remains quite dirty, with lots of suspended sediment. The water level is dropping, down at least 1.5m to a capacity of 70%. This means less lilies unfortunately, a major feature of this beaut little lake. At least the road out there has been improved, with recent works fixing some of the worst sections of gravel.
Monduran has been dropping steadily for months now, and is currently sitting at just under 91% (about a metre below full). As expected, the boat launching and parking facilities were found wanting with the huge crowds that descended on the lake recently. Scenes of cars and trailers parked well up the access road greeted many as they arrived and often joined queues to launch or retrieve.
Plenty of barra have been caught recently, and many of them well over the metre mark. Rats around 65cm are still prolific and great fun when caught cast after cast. Sessions fishing the “rats’ nests” can be punctuated with a big fish or two getting in on the act, but resisting the urge to mess with the small fish and go hunt their larger brethren is a discipline some might need to consider.
Barra have been highly mobile. Where they once settled for prolonged periods before the crowds returned, boating pressure is once again moving them on. Night sessions have been vastly more productive on the big fish scorecard and will continue to be.
Daytime sessions can be spent twitching smaller suspending hardbodies, or slow-rolling all manner of other offerings. Come nightfall, the slow-roll is often the best approach, and often with the biggest lures you carry. Large paddle-tailed plastics dominate for many, whilst soft and hard swimbaits also score incredibly well. Topwater is worth a try, but that scene will improve with further temperature rises.
Jayde fished Mondy with Trent and scored a lap full of barra.
Adrian Knight tempted this Mondy barra with a Molix Shad. Just one of many lures catching these beauties at the moment.
Adrian again, with another barra tempted by Daiwa's Steez Current Master. Possibly the best small suspending hardbody you could throw at them.
Think barra tucker and you will get a handle on what lures to use based on what you observe in or above the water. Imitating garfish is an absolute winner. Ditto any lure that mimics a bony bream. Watch the banded perch in the shallows and you will see the benefit of twitching shad profiles. Feeding fish that fit in a barra’s gob are fair game too – this is where poppers come in. Burn a frog that is more of an impression of a duckling and you will know why mother duck is hugging the shallows.
One thing you might consider, is the devastating proliferation of invasive tilapia in Lake Monduran these days. The mind boggles at just how many of these destructive pests are now rampant throughout the lake. Wind your way into a quiet weedy backwater and you might witness hundreds in only a few square metres. This battle is lost. The barra eat them, with gusto, which is a small bonus – the big one being that tilapia imitation lures are now worth a swim.
So, where are the fish? They are everywhere! Follow the breeze and you will find them. Standard practice these days. The big open bays harbour the larger numbers, whilst smaller bays still produce well if not over-loved. Trolling open waters is still a tactic of the future at this stage, better left until the big fish follow their urge to get the heck out of Dodge and make some babies.
We can expect the continued popularity of Mondy to impact on the barra fishing to some extent, but at least the fish are biting, and biting well. It is really only the excess boat traffic and the way the barra spook so readily in areas visited too frequently that is holding back huge scores of big fish so easily attained when the crowds disappear.