Jacko broke in his new Samaki C12 spin rod on this Hervey Bay golden trevally last week.
Perfect Start to Spring
Our big annual clearance sale got in the way of our weekly fishing report a fortnight ago, and then your scribe snuck away for a week of barra fishing over the super moon – and what a week it was! Anyway, time for an update on what’s been happening on the local fishing scene, but firstly, the latest on the weather front.
The end of winter and start of spring were absolutely perfect weather-wise. Northerly winds, punctuated by spells of southeaster are standard fare for this time of year. Throw in a north-wester from time to time, and things will warm up nicely. Not that we can complain about the winter just gone – surely the mildest and most enjoyable we’ve had for many a year.
This morning’s light easterly will tend north-easterly once again this afternoon and strengthen to around 15 knots. There is a chance of a late storm, but a boisterous shower would seem more likely. Those rising to greet the dawn Saturday morning might witness some residual shower or storm activity, but that should pass quickly enough. Expect a southerly of 10 knots or so before the next round of south-easters starts to ramp up around mid-day.
The south-easterly trade wind will stiffen as the day goes on Sunday, kicking off with around 15 knots, then increasing to 25 knots late in the day. That sets the scene for the next few days unfortunately, so don’t plan on fishing anything other than protected waters or estuaries early next week. It looks like blowing 20-25 knots from the south-east right through until Thursday. It should then ease back to 15 knots, before easing further and swinging slightly anti-clockwise in time for the following weekend.
Not an ideal forecast for the weekend, but hey, we’ve seen far worse. Our country is tinder-dry right now too as you know, so a spell of storm rains would be very welcome. Only a fool would light a fire in windy conditions this time of year, so let’s hope everyone does the right thing and we aren’t watching bushfires raging across our landscape in weeks to come.
We passed the last quarter moon phase yesterday, and can once again look forward to building tides under a waning moon over the coming week. Better weather appears likely around the new moon in a week’s time, so plan ahead and keep your options open. There are many fisheries coming online as spring unfolds and you can get out there and take advantage.
Maree with a stonker grunter from the Great Sandy Straits. They are a prime target this time of year.
Brothers Toby and Adam with a double header of flatties caught recently. Happy days boys.
Local Beach Whiting Fishery Fails to Fire
We talked up the potential of the local beach whiting fishery in recent weeks, but what should have been an emerging day to day bonanza for the family fisho has failed to develop. The scene has been set for the perfect start to the local whiting season too, with northerly winds, a super moon and clean weed-free waters – yet results have been disappointing.
Is this another spin-off of the failed wet season of last year, or is there something more sinister afoot? Whatever has caused the current scenario, let’s all hope the fishery recovers quickly, the fish turn up, and mums, dads and the kids get to relish the spring whiting fishery so typically enjoyed from our beaches and piers this time of year.
In recent weeks, reports of small whiting have done the rounds, and whilst you can head home with a modest feed of barely legal whiting with enough effort, there has been a lot of undersized fish in the mix. That is the latest from our town beaches at least, whilst those that opted to fish our local creeks fared much better. Quality whiting have been possible from the creeks and nearby flats of late, so if they don’t appear along our beaches when the new moon draws closer, you will know where to try instead.
Boaties picked up a feed of quality whiting over the recent full moon, but few are bragging about the usual big catches. Most are marking this season down as a poor one. The lower-mid reaches of our rivers offer alternatives to the flats fishery for those hell bent on chasing the better quality ‘ting. Wait until the tides build and the south-easter abates and your chance will come once again.
Generally-speaking, focus shifts away from the winter whiting fishery once the spring northerly winds start to dominate. Chances are there are still plenty of winteries in the bay, and even more down the straits, but most have had their fill by now.
Kyle has been offshore again mixing it with the GTs. This one fell victim to a Nashy's 180mm Stickbait.
Tri Ton from Fraser Guided Fishing is a specialist in jigging the bay. Another happy client with a beaut grunter from Platypus Bay.
Urangan Pier is Popular in September
Once again, we should be talking about bag limits of quality whiting being hauled over the rails of the Urangan Pier right now – but we aren’t. Until they show up, passing pelagics will be the main drawcard for pier regulars.
We’ve seen the best of this season’s pier bream fishery, but you can still manage a few stragglers if you are keen. The bream have all spawned and are making their way back into our estuaries. Intercept them if you wish, as surely others will.
Some pretty big flathead have been caught this week. Live baiting is the go, as always, so make the effort to secure livies and spend a little time wandering the planks looking for the flatties through polarised sunnies. The early stage of the rising tide is typically the best time, and the current neaps often fish well for the big lizards.
A few decent longtail tuna were captured from the deep end of the pier during the afternoons last week. Afternoon low tides often see longtails making raids on the pier’s baitfish this time of year, so keep that one in mind for when they cycle around again.
There is a lot of school mackerel in the southern bay, so, whilst we have had no reports from the pier in recent days, we will not be surprised to hear of their arrival during the making tides this week.
The September school holidays are not far off, so it is worth mentioning the opportunities the Urangan Pier can offer the holidaying family fishos at that time. Mackerel and whiting are typically the mainstays, and they are quite often in great numbers. Other pelagics also make an appearance, and the scene can get quite exciting at times. Something for the landlubbers to consider if planning a visit to the bay with the kids. We will keep you updated as the holidays approach.
Urangan Pier regular, Adrian, with one of the longtail tuna caught recently.
Manny with a ripper blue salmon from the rocks. Great sport for a boatie let alone a shore-based fisho.
Mackerel Galore Out on the Bay
Word is that big numbers of school mackerel have migrated into the bay’s inshore waters, and they are showing up all over the place. They will probably be a bit hard to avoid for those chasing reef fish or other pelagics if they are as thick as some are saying.
You can find schoolies in the western bay from Woodgate to Gatakers Bay, throughout the central sector either side of the banks, over east around Coongul, as well as further up in Platypus Bay. Troll for them if you wish, spin them up on spoons or other metals if a little more energetic, or sit back with a gang-rigged pillie or live bait and they might find you. Focus your efforts on areas housing more substantial bait schools and you will better your chances.
Many fishos poo-poo mackerel in the eating stakes (your scribe included), whilst many others seek them out with a passion. They certainly offer a super easy feed, and our smoker box sales skyrocket when fishos new to the area discover the mackerel fishery. Kippered (smoked) fish is highly appealing to many, and oily-fleshed fish such as mackerel and tailor are perfect candidates for the smoker. Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised.
There is also another run of spanish mackerel in the northern and central bay. The new reduced bag limit is undoubtedly doing its thing to protect them somewhat, though we haven’t really noticed a decline in their numbers in our waters at any time. Spaniards come and go, delighting some and annoying others. Just remember to throw the big ones back to minimise the risk of ciguatera poisoning.
There is another run of spaniards in the bay following the schoolies. Make sure to use gangs if bait fishing as Lucas did to secure this model.
Kingfish aren't common in the bay, but you can find a few random schools at the Gutters or off Rooneys in spring.
The Marlin are Heading Our Way
There has been a few longtails taking jigs, plastics and live baits fished deep in the water column throughout the bay. As is the case mid-late winter, the tuna focus on the deeper-holding bait schools of yakka, herring and others this time of year, and are as much an accidental bycatch for a snapper or goldie fisho are they are a targeted capture.
Random schools of mack tuna can be witnessed ripping into small herring and the like pushed to the surface as they migrate into and out of the southern bay with the tides. Bonito schools move north this time of year, but tend to remain in the bay for some time yet.
Big cobia are still a feature of the northern bay and Platypus Bay fisheries. These enigmatic creatures are true wanderers of our waters and tend to roam at will. Many sites are regular haunts, such as shipwrecks and prominent reefy ledges, yet they often just turn up randomly where there is a significant food source. That is often your typical baitfish schools, but can also include micro trevally schools and even over the sand crabbing grounds when the crabs are running (they love eating sandies just in case you didn’t know).
Everyone knows about Hervey Bay’s baby black marlin fishery these days, and most are geared-up and ready to do battle when they get word of their arrival in October. Of course, there is a burgeoning earlier billfish fishery that has always been there that could see you tangled with junior stickface right now if you wish.
Heading further north to meet the baby blacks migrating towards the bay is certainly an option, as is crossing Breaksea Spit and seeking out those spawned more locally over the shallow grounds off Sandy Cape. Word is that the run from the north is seeing regular captures off Gladstone and 1770 right now, so it won’t be long and it will be our turn in the bay.
Damian Peek with a nice rambo trout from the northern bay.
Snapper and Goldies on the Chew Inshore
Snapper fans should be watching the weather and looking to take advantage of the coming new moon period. There will be big knobbies getting around our deeper inshore reefs for a little while yet, but they will soon head back offshore once our waters warm further.
The Platypus Bay snapper fishery has typically been peaking at this time of year in the past, and the new moon offers perhaps the best crack at them up that way. Watching out for whales is both a worry and a delight for different reasons, so limit night-time travel where you can. Whale numbers now, compared with 20-30 years ago appear much higher. Simple maths would suggest that more whales and more boats must mean more boat strikes, so take care.
Golden trevally have been entertaining those inshore sportsfishos into their jigging, with schools of quite sizable fish turning up over many bait-rich reef sites. The inshore artificial reefs continue to draw hopefuls seeking both goldies and snapper, and luckily (or unluckily for some of us), both species will eat the same presentations regularly.
When the weather permits again, hopefully over the darks in a week’s time, the central and northern bay reefs will certainly be worth a look for snapper fans. Focussing on reefs holding plenty of baitfish and timing your efforts around dawn, dusk and into the evening will enhance your chances substantially. Live baiting for snapper will be productive, and almost to the exclusion of all other bait fishing methods when the yakkas are thick in the area.
Scotty has been messing with the goldies again. There is schools of fish of all sizes all over the bay right now.
Jacko picked up a nice snapper on a Molix Fork Flex last week. Just one of many gun softies we stock for snapper.
Scotty with the snapper of the day, caught on Dane's rod while he was sorting out a snag. Maybe you should stick to one rod and one lure at a time eh Dane.
Great Offshore Fishing When Weather Permits
Okay, so this weekend might be out, but if you get a chance when the weather improves again, then head offshore and make the most of one of the greatest times of the year. Catches of red emperor, maori cod, coronation trout, red throat, tuskies, pearlies and snapper are on the cards, as reflected in catches from a few local crews over the past fortnight.
You can head north or south and cross either bar this time of year and expect to do well. Current is still at a minimum, and will be until the EAC kicks in some time in October. Deep dropping opportunities abound at this time as well, so those sporting the latest and greatest in electric reels and bent butt rods will be chafing at the bit.
Balin Whitford with a ripper school red jigged up on a Nomad Squidtrex recently. That's a fish to be proud of right there mate.
Cookie with a nice school red caught out wide recently. This is one of the best times of year to head wide - if we can get the weather.
Deep dropping is sensational over the shelf this time of year. Here's Timmy with a nice bar cod caught recently.
Fraser Island Tailor Fishery in Full Swing
Many beach fishos converged on Fraser’s surf beaches over the past fortnight to take advantage of the tailor run. Many scored big time too, catching their bag limits with relative ease. Differing stories of when and where abound, relative in part to an individual’s perspective, but even more-so to their timing. Some got to witness acres of tailor schooling (possibly spawning perhaps?) out beyond the surf break and well out of reach of anglers during daylight hours.
Some of the best reports suggest that the tailor really fired upon arrival of complete darkness. In some proven gutters, fishos amassed prior to sunset but had to wait until it went fully dark before the tailor would move into the gutter. Once they did, it was on for young and old, and serious numbers were hauled in with ease. Quality varied, but most have been reporting choppers up to around 55cm, with the average around 45-50cm.
The Qld Government’s Tailor Monitoring Program is in full swing this time of year, so don’t be surprised to have a visit from Fisheries folk whilst you are fishing for tailor. They will seek you out and are keen to measure your catch and record data to monitor the migration of the fish. They can turn up day or night, so help them out when you can, and they shouldn’t impede your fishing at all.
The central sector of beach south of the headlands has once again been the primary hotspot for many. The Cathedral Beach – Poyungan Rocks area is very popular with both tailor and tailor fishos – and for good reason. Some ventured north and scored a feed up towards Ngkala Rocks as well, and at one time, the gutters down south near Eurong gave up a feed.
There are excellent gutters formed along much of the beach right now. An improvement from a fortnight ago. Undoubtedly, the impending south-easterly blow will impact the beach scene, making for challenging surf conditions if not impossible for fishing at times. It will increase the sweep once again and collapse and reform gutters as it shifts the sands of Fraser in the endless battle of sea versus land.
Dart have been the other mainstay of the Fraser Island surf fishery at present, and apparently there are some decent schools on the move. Dart are surprisingly good eating, if eaten fresh, and offer a much better meal for those not keen on tailor. Dart will take a swipe at a pillie bait meant for tailor, but they are much better targeted with baits of pippy on appropriate hooks and lighter gear.
No word on the state of the bream fishery over there. They should be following the tailor schools up the beach and lingering in the rock-strewn gutters with their cousins the tarwhine.
Jewies have been on the chew though, taking baits of tailor fillet, pilchard and beach worm in some of the better-formed and deeper gutters. Reports of jewies have come from Eurong, the central sector and up at Ngkala recently. Most captures are at night, as always. The impending new moon period offers a prime opportunity for jewfish fans to test their skills against the ghosts of the gutters.
Bill again with a Fraser Island chopper tailor. The best fishing has been after dark, but they are also possible in daylight.
Time to Get Serious About Barra and Jacks
Warmer weather recently has only enhanced what was an exceptionally good winter for barra and jacks in our rivers. Whilst that may have been unseasonal, their season is now upon us. The Burrum system is fishing well for jacks, with some impressive models already taking both lures and baits. The barra have been hard to find due to the plunder over past months, but they are still there, and of good average size, for those keen to track them down.
The Mary system fired-up in winter on the king salmon front as you all know, but once again, that scene has been impacted negatively with the usual harvest. All the same, it is prime time for threadies right now, so make the effort, do the miles and you will be rewarded. A mix of soft vibes and prawn imitations will be all you will need to tempt them when you find them, or you can troll the deeper waters during the ebb or the shallows during the flood tides if you prefer.
Barra are also back on the chew in the Mary system and some serious fish are in the mix. Numbers are possible, but best you keep your catches from prying eyes or we will have another repeat of the winter threadfin scene of a couple of months ago.
This is a great time of year to chase estuarine grunter. The same big fellas that you will catch out the front of town here this summer are currently doing their thing upstream in our estuaries. Try the big rivers if you wish, or take the easier option and scope out the creeks down the straits.
Flathead are also at their prime right now. It is spawning time, so it is more important than ever to release the big breeding females unharmed as quickly as possible. Don’t lift them from the water if you can avoid it, or at least support their big fat bellies (full of roe) if you do. You will find flatties in the lower reaches of the rivers, in and around the creeks along Fraser’s western shores and all over the place down the straits. Fun aplenty when the weather permits.
Paddle-tailed plastics are a definite go-to for mangrove jacks. Dane with a nice fish caught recently.
Ben with a ripper 55cm mangrove jack from the Burrum system last week. He caught it slow-rolling a Pro Lure Clone Prawn across a rock bar.
Impoundment Barra Already Drawing Crowds
It didn’t take long for social media to destroy the peace on our barra impoundments, as word got out of the capture of some big barra recently. Winter is over, and those of us regulars that enjoyed perhaps the best winter on record without saying a word have got plenty of competition on the lakes all of a sudden.
Monduran has been popular, as witnessed by anyone there last weekend that struggled to get a park at the ramp. The fish bit particularly well prior to the super moon, then got a bit flightier with all the excess traffic thereafter. Plenty of fish were still caught, with stacks of small fish around the 65cm mark offering a distraction between key bite periods for the bigger fish.
Catching a metre beater is once again quite blasé, like in the “good old days” as they are quite common and readily available. True big fish are also on offer, and will continue to break hearts and freak-out those unfamiliar with their power. Barra over 120cm are proper monsters and there are fish in there that will dwarf those critters. Witness a barra boofing a shag one day and you will see what I mean.
Trolling isn’t really the done thing at present – it is all about casting. Trollers will get their chance when the big fish head for open waters with the bigger storms leading into summer. In the meantime, if you must troll, then try the flats of the big open bays, or rig weedless plastics and wind your way through the timber.
Lures-wise, you can try any proven barra lure now with some degree of confidence. Twitched and stalled hardbodies are the order of the day for those proficient in the art, whilst slow-rolling softies of swimbaits is once again effective. Slow roll anything after dark for your best chances, or get creative if bored with the usual and get out the topwater lures. So far it has been fizzers rather than poppers after dark that have produced better - but that will change.
Berkley Shimma Shads, Molix Shads and Zerek Mullets all tempted barra for Dane and Logan mid-week. Here's logan with another victim.
Awoonga is firing on all cylinders at present. This is great news for barra fans up that way and locally as the lake was super tough for an extended period until just recently. Or was it just a case of those having success keeping it to themselves again?
Awoonga offers a different - and it is fair to say, much easier fishery - than Monduran. Such massive numbers of fish reside in that lake that simply sitting on the point of a bay or an appropriate passageway for feeding barra can see literally hundreds of fish pass your way at prime time. Big numbers are very possible, particularly at night, but you can go on the hunt during daylight too and scour the weed-fringed bays looking for active fish.
Awoonga’s barra are the same age as Mondy’s - both lakes spilling and renewing during and post the big floods years ago. One big advantage to Awoonga is the on-lake camping option up the back at Boynedale Bush Camp. A new and vastly improved boat ramp offers access to the Boyne River arm that was very restrictive in the past.
This will be a ridiculously hectic spring on our barra lakes. Please do the right thing by your fellow fishos and respect their space whilst fishing. Consider that perhaps that boat ahead of you has intentions to fish well beyond its casting range and has some form of right to fish unimpeded by others. And please try to do the right thing in the car park. There cannot be that many bad drivers out there that can’t reverse a trailer straight into a parking spot – surely!
Twilight is prime bite time on the barra impoundments, regardless of moon position. Dane with a nice 105 from Mondy.
Metre barra are common in Mondy and Awoonga. Logan with a nice fish that just made the mark mid-week.
Woodgate Comp is on Again Soon
The very popular Woodgate Beach Hotel Fishing Classic is on again next Friday-Sunday. There will be over $100,000 in prizes up for grabs and a fun time is guaranteed. You can register your entries by looking up their website and following the prompts.
Mossy will be there with the Shimano Reef Science Super tank. Celebrity Chefs Dan and Stef will be there to delight the crowd with the finer culinary arts. Juniors and seniors are well catered for in the prize pool, with many species to target from the estuaries to offshore.
This is a great family event, with plenty of entertainment for the kids and parents alike. It happens to be a highly sociable event too, as you can well imagine, with the beers flowing freely for the duration. Book a campsite or whatever it takes, and get amongst the fun and prizes next weekend.
We will remind you all again, with a few of the finer details, in next week’s report.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Save the dates for one our region's best fishing comps
Wyatt's brother Lucas also picked up a beautiful Murray Cod on a Stumpjumper down south. Another great fish mate. Well done.
Josh and Riley with a couple of solid reds from offshore a fortnight ago. Nice fish lads.