Tommy with another Burrum barra. The warmer nights of late are encouraging for a winter foray.
Absolute Ripper Week Ahead
You wouldn’t want to have your boat out of action this week folks, as it’s going to be a ripper! The wind dropped right out yesterday and calm seas greeted all the lucky fishos heading out this morning.
The breeze will strengthen ever-so-slightly over the weekend, but it still looks great. 10 knots of southerly looks likely early Saturday, tending more southeasterly during the day. Inshore should remain similar into the evening, with a tad more breeze expected out wide. 10-15 knots from the southeast Sunday morning will see boat ramps busy again, and with the wind expected to ease during the day, the family is in for a great time on the water.
Come Monday, the wind is forecast to drop out altogether once again, with barely 10 knots from the south or southeast. A random shower or two is possible, but nothing dramatic. Tuesday looks superb at this stage – glassed out and oily calm after a slightly cooler start, as the light breeze swings offshore again.
We will start to feel the effects of the offshore breeze mid-week, with stiffer south-westerly winds likely to impact our area Thursday. Time will tell as to how this unfolds. The bureau gets the forecast wrong so many times, but we can only hope they have it right this week.
The moon is waning at present, and will pass through the third quarter phase this Sunday. Although deemed to be neap tides, there is 2 metres or more of tidal variation as a minimum this time, so there is enough vigour in the current flow to trigger a positive response from many species – so go get ‘em!
Tony proving that winter barra are quite possible from our waters. Pick your days and tides and you too could be grinning.
2023 Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic & Expo
The hugely successful and popular Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic & Expo kicks off this Sunday 11th June and concludes with a huge grand finale Saturday 17th June. This is most certainly one of the premier fishing competitions on the east coast and boasts an incredible $200,000 worth of cash and prizes this year.
As so often happens, the weather is looking sensational for a large portion of the event, so there is bound to be huge crowds drawn in from near and far, all vying for the massive prize pool whilst having a ball with the family or mates. Google the event and you can get all the info on registration, boundaries, prizes, events and so on.
Given the event’s popularity, we sought a bit of local fishing gossip from one of the best charter skippers down that way and can share his observations, amongst those from other locals, from recent trips offshore. There are plenty of large longtail tuna and spanish mackerel terrorising the baitfish schools not far out from the Wide Bay Bar. Trolling, live baiting and vertical spinning can see you hooking these speedsters readily enough. When they’re found working the surface, both species are suckers for stick baits; and if the tuna are being fussy, then break out the ever-reliable 5” jerkshads.
Without traveling too far offshore, you can find yourself amongst good schools of squire. Larger snapper are indeed possible, though so far this season, the majority of the snapper in closer have been smaller. Head wide and your chances of connecting with old man snapper are far greater.
Jewfish are worth pursuing around lumpy inshore grounds, wrecks and the like, and cobia are also possible. There have been a few XOS amberjacks in quite close of late, so those into jigging or live baiting are in for a proper arm-stretching if they drop their presentations amongst the big banana arches on their sounder screen. Get these offerings to the bottom around the gnarlier terrain and large coral trout and cod might join the fray.
Out wider, it has been a matter of spot-hopping to see where the bait is hanging out to find schools of quality pearl perch, snapper and red emperor. Stonker venus tuskfish continue to be a feature of the offshore fishery wide of Fraser and D.I., and one can expect a real mixed bag of quality reefies that could include red throats and maori cod when bouncing baits or jigging the reefy bottom.
The Rainbow comp offers competitors such diversity in their fishing options rarely matched in this country. You can spend a day or three offshore and smash the reefies and/or pelagics, then stretch your legs along the surf beach hunting all the regular beach-goers from whiting and bream to tailor and mulloway. Options to explore the vast expanse of the southern Great Sandy Straits are many, and there is a long list of target species in those waters.
Add to this the great mud crabbing down that way, the chance of sandies in the straits or in the bay offshore, spanner crabs out wider and both pencil and tiger squid within the straits and around the local foreshores, and you are set for a great (and possibly quite exhausting) time at Rainbow Beach this week. Good luck to all competitors - you are in for a great time!
Offshore Beckons Once Again
Avoiding the crowds down south next weekend will be a good idea if not in the fishing comp. Heading north and crossing the Breaksea Spit is certainly an option, though perhaps only for those with larger vessels and confident skippers initially. There is a bit of residual swell on the bar at present, which is expected to ease as the week wears on. Check the latest reports and pick your window.
If game fishing is your thing, then pack the light tackle trolling gear, your teasers and a good mix of 6-8” pushers and head for the waters immediately offshore from Sandy Cape. Here you will find plenty of juvenile black marlin. Regular game skippers have been scoring great numbers from recent outings and there is no sign of that scene going quiet any time soon.
You need not venture too wide at all either. Focus your attention on waters around 15-20 metres deep whilst looking for the baitfish schools that draw the marlin to the area. Crossing the 4 Mile and setting your spread as you head south should soon see you amongst the action.
Smaller profile 6-8 inch lures are required to tempt the juvenile blacks outside Breaksea Spit at present.
The sort of close quarters aerial action you could be enjoying off Sandy Cape right now.
If reef fishing is more your thing, or you are keen for a little of both, then you will be spoilt for choice offshore this week. Minimal current can be expected over many prime reef systems, including the vast stretches of the continental shelf so teeming with life. The shoal country east of the spit will be popular for those not blessed with deep-drop tackle, where the sheer variety of reef fish is bewildering.
The snapper and pearlies have made movements “inshore” and are now possible from waters a mere 50-65m deep. This depth hosts numerous reefs and rubble patches that are home to a wide variety of fish such as reds, coronation trout, red throat, maori cod, green jobbies and many more. Be prepared to offer substantial baits in these depths, and even out to 85m or so, as the hussar schools can be very taxing and ravenous.
Head deeper and you can still ply the 100m line of the shelf with conventional tackle - so long as your muscles aren’t painted on! Smaller baits are the go in that depth, offering less water drag on the way down to quality fish below that have few “pickers” to compete with. Snapper, pearlies, rosy jobfish, iron jaw and pigfish are all possible. Big amberjack, and occasionally, schools of medium-large kingfish share this depth of water and will soon ravage any live bait, whole fish, whole squid or jig you send their way.
Looking for large banana-shaped arches on your sounder will soon alert you to the presence of the AJs or kings. You can then decide whether to target them or avoid them. Of course, if the arches look huge, then a move is on the cards, as these will be signals bouncing back from the noahs.
You are missing out if you are spending time offshore these days and haven’t been tempted by the slow-pitch jigging craze. This technique not only enables you to present offerings to fish in more current or faster wind-assisted drifts, but typically attracts larger predators worthy of a little bragging when you get home. It is pretty simply to get into, and although certainly at its best on purpose-specific jigging tackle, can actually be achieved on standard stout-heavy offshore reef fishing tackle if you just wish to “dabble”. Try it – you will be amazed!
Chris Bowe with two hands full of delicious 1770 red emperor.
An Orange Roughy caught whilst deep-dropping off Mooloolaba recently. Typically a species from southern waters. Unusual perhaps ....
Northern Bay Waters Still Warm but Cooling
Opting to steam north and bypass the bar crossing in preference to the waters closer to Lady Elliot Island will appeal to some crews this week. Decent tidal flow, without the challenge of the springs will mean those waters will be readily fishable. Reds, scarlets, snapper, green jobbies, cod, big sweeties, trout and plenty of other reefies are possible. Enhance your chances by offering large or live baits, slow-pitch jigs or heavily-weighted plastics. It is a big run, so make sure you are on the fish when the moon is right.
Half the distance will see you pulling up at the Gutters. It is still popular with many fishos that discovered those waters in recent years. At the same time that many former Gutters regulars of the past stopped heading that way due to diminished results and sheer frustration with sharks, it is somehow drawing more boats than ever. A visit these days will still see you risking encounters with sharks, but if you can avoid them, then you can look forward to a little reef fishing and/or pelagic action.
Given that the water is still holding at 21C or even better, there are spaniards terrorising not only the baitfish and smaller demersals, but the fishos dropping expensive lures on mono leaders as well. Trolling at dawn is a great way to connect to a roaming spaniard or two. You can go to the trouble of rigging baits, or simply opt for the well-proven high-speed minnows from the X-Rap or Halco stables.
Coral trout are still the number one target at the Gutters and will respond to the usual live baits or jigged lures. They aren’t well-represented over much of that country like they used to be unfortunately, so keep on the hop to get connected, as the techniques we’ve been sharing for so long now certainly work well – yet nothing works if the fish aren’t there.
Squire are a good target along the fringes of those reefs, particularly at dawn and dusk. Bigger snapper will be much more likely when the tides build again. You can still score a mixed bag of sweeties, tuskies, cod and the like, and even a few quality scarlets if you drag yourself away from the ledges and spend some time searching the paddock. The trevally have started to turn up. Small numbers as yet, but it won’t be too long and they will be everywhere out there.
Time spent scanning the central bay and wide Platypus country can be time well spent this time of year. Quality scarlets are easy enough to catch if you can find them. Seeking out bait schools over any form of bottom, be it weedy or gravelly let alone reefy, might see you trip over quality snapper, squire or large grunter. All fun and a beaut feed.
It might be pods of longtail tuna or large trevally that you stumble onto searching these same waters. The longtails have notably moved deeper and are actively hunting larger baitfish such as yakkas and herring down in the water column. Indeed, the southern bay is home to quite a few schools of goldies that have been thrilling sportsfishos on and off for several weeks.
Don't pack the wire traces away just yet -there are still spaniards in the northern bay. Hot Reels has been spending quality time on the troll this week.
Happy punters aboard Hot Reels Pro Fishing Charters.
Float-lining for Snapper
Many folks go fishing frequently and catch a feed, yet some of these same fishos claim they never catch a large snapper. There could be many reasons of course, but we can make a couple of suggestions with confidence. Firstly, presentation is everything when it comes to wiser old fish – and that goes for both bait fishing and lure fishing. Present a bait poorly and it will spin, present a soft plastic that spins and it will be rejected just as vehemently as the spinning bait.
The simple art of float-lining has been around for eons, consistently slaying snapper, as well as plenty of bycatch. I could go on right now and describe the technique in great detail, but perhaps that could be done at another time if you, dear readers, desire. Let me know and I will incorporate a step-by-step how-to in a future report, or simply drop into the store in the meantime and the lads or I will happily school you up.
One of the greatest assets a float-liner can own is a reel that can feed line to a fussy fish under controlled and minimal tension. An overhead offers such an option, (particularly a star drag with a spool tension control), but it often takes an experienced hand to master the release of line without issues. Luckily for all of us, the “baitrunner” spinning reel concept was spawned many years ago, and has been responsible for the capture of many trophy snapper ever since.
Shimano have “owned” the baitrunner market for ages, and rightly so perhaps. Their reels were the standard by which any alternatives were measured. Come 2023 however, and there is another player in the game. Daiwa released their Freeswimmer BR reels not that long ago, and they are set to challenge the top dog for a share of your hard-earned.
These “Bite’N’Run” reels offer many of the superb features now standard in quality Daiwa reels, and boast rubber gasket seals against the saltwater environment and ATD drags which enable smooth start-up and heavy compression under load (up to 10kg in fact). They are quite light for such a reel, yet strong and sturdy – certainly Daiwa’s best ever offering in this field.
So … if you are a Daiwa fan, then your choice will be simple. Similarly-so for the die-hard Shimano fans. If you are on the fence and seeking to get into float-lining for snapper this winter, or even just need a robust live-baiting option for the pier, then we stock all the best from several stables, so you can compare and choose for yourself. If you are yet to experience the benefits from a reel of this nature, then your fishing is about to be revolutionised!
Daiwa's new Free Swimmer BR reels are the perfect tools for floatlining snapper or live baiting the pier. Light, strong and sturdy - let 'em Bite'N'Run and enjoy the fun.
A selection of the you-beaut new Glow Sinkers we are now stocking for floatlining. Perfect for snapper season.
By the way though, you can have the best reel for the job and still stuff up royally. Appropriate sinker selection is paramount if you are to tempt a cunning old knobby. Rarely would they fall victim to a paternoster rig in the lower bay. These waters are for running sinker rigs – hands down. You might trick the smaller squire, sweeties and cod, but perhaps rethink your strategy when it comes to paternosters and “snapper leads” for inshore waters. Deadly offshore for sure, but a less suitable option for cunning fish in highly-pressured waters.
We have just recently added another beaut addition to your float-lining arsenal in the form of Glow Sinkers. There will be a picture hereabouts that shows our initial range selection glowing bright in the darkness. Proven fish attractors for years, and super-popular down south, these sinkers are now available in a range of sizes from 1/2oz to 5oz in pink or green. Try them this season and let us know how they perform.
The weather this week will see many hopefuls out chasing snapper. Given the slow start to the season, for some, the next fish will be their first. Water temps inshore are lower than out wider, with around 18-19C on average. Still not cold, but cool enough. Find the bait this week, scan up a few knobbies on the fringes and toss them your favourite snapper lolly - and you too could be losing line to a big maroon Qld champion like our southern neighbours are so accustomed. Heh heh!
The Outer Banks, Simpson arti, Roy Rufus, Moon Ledge and Burrum 8 Mile will all get visits from multiple crews hunting snapper this week. Tides closer to the new moon in a week’s time will increase everyone’s chances, as will early morning forays whilst the moon is in the sky in the meantime. Another month or so and central Platypus Bay will hit its straps - just as the snapper closure will come into effect.
Sight-fishing Opportunities Abound InshoreOur inshore waters are clearing, offering abundant opportunity for sight-fishing the flats and shallow reefs. Head for the straits and you can target blue salmon, grunter and flatties with confidence, or see if the queenies have moved down there yet. Some of the creeks dotted along the western side of Fraser Island offer tremendous views of fish cruising with the tide, so long as you get in early in the flood.
Closer to town, you can prospect for queenies, goldies and small GTs up on the flats, either over along Fraser or around the bay islands. Try to avoid the broadies if you are worried about bite-offs or alternatively, seek them out whenever you see hardy heads or garfish getting out of their way.
Many fishos have been enjoying the flathead fishery in recent weeks, both on foot (“shank’s pony” for the younger ones that didn’t get the reference last week) and from boats. It is great to see quality flatties about, in stark contrast to the drought years not so long ago. Creek mouths, drains, and muddy/rocky verges such as those flanking River Heads are good flathead hunting territory. The Booral Flats offer similar success for those willing to get messy.
A day spent chasing grunter, blues, flatties and perhaps a thready from the creeks of the straits is a good option. Similarly so, opting to head upstream in our rivers looking for salmon schools could see you hooked up regularly. You might find more smaller sub-metre threadies than true horses, but there are still enough large fish prowling the Mary to justify the hunt.
A decent Mary River threadfin salmon caught solo by Phil Bradford this week on a Nomad Vertrex Max soft vibe. Nice one Phil.
Hopping vibes past deep structure in the river right now could see you connected to a jewfish or two. The lower reaches are certainly most popular with jewie fishos, yet many options abound. Deep rocks, holes breaking the current and deep snags all draw jewies. The ones caught at River Heads might be the most obvious, but certainly won’t be the only jewies to fall victim to lures or live baits in weeks to come.
Sight-fishing to the Burrum’s barra is quite possible this week. Warmer nights recently saw their lockjaw issues subside somewhat and a few rippers have been caught (and hopefully released). Another spell of westerlies late next week won’t do the barra fishos any favours, so get in and have a crack beforehand.
The full moon period again produced good hauls of quality “summer” whiting for those that fished the mainland creeks. The Burrum itself gave up some thumpers, particularly after dark. The beaches west of town also produced a feed for some, whilst the Booral Flats offered a muddier option when the wind wasn’t blowing onshore.
Bream fishos have plenty to cheer about right now. The bream are schooling in the lower reaches of the rivers and are also quite abundant over several stretches of local flats. The flats fishery offering champagne bream fishing with the right tackle and a stealthy approach. If you haven’t got the right tackle yet, then guess what – we can help! Nowadays, we boast a range of the very best bream rods and lures, and every accessory to boot – all hand-picked by tournament-winning bream specialists.
In coming weeks, there will be bream schooling in increasing numbers over shallow reefs locally, offering yet another option for the bait fishos keen to berley and toss lightly-weighted baits to their quarry. Apply those techniques within the confines of the rivers near the heads right now and similar success is likely. Berley is certainly key though, and can mean the difference between a couple of fish and a cricket score.
Brett looking less than comfy with his grip on a quality flatty. Sometimes you've gotta get muddy to get the fish.
Another mudskipper, Tony, with a decent lizard caught whilst wandering our local mudflats.
Urangan Pier Keeping the Kids Entertained
The bream run is getting pretty serious at the pier. Regular bream fans are catching plenty, albeit rarely bragging about any true whoppers. This run will continue on for some time to come, and will be a feature of the pier for the remainder of winter.
Flathead are abundant right now, and receiving plenty of attention from above. Kids and adults alike are spotting them lurking below and dropping live baits to them with quite often, instant results. Catching livies can be a real challenge at prime flathead bite time in the first channel for the unaccustomed, so we would hope never to hear of anybody jagging the flatties instead.
The odd queenfish has made the fatal mistake of hanging around the pier too long recently. As mentioned in the past, pike aren’t just the gun flatty bait, but also tempt queenies with few peers as well. Indeed, anyone serious about live baiting for a pier jewfish in coming weeks would be well served making the effort to secure some pike.
Local lad, Tom, with a solid textbook queenie from the first channel at Urangan Pier. A live pike was its undoing.
When helmets are a must at the Urangan Pier, you know there is a few stray sinkers and slugs flying around. Nice fish Will.
Winter Whiting, Mackerel & Sand Crab for Dinner
The winter whiting fleet have started to spread their effort, but it is still the same local grounds producing the goods. Gatakers Bay, Toogoom and Woodgate are all worth prospecting. Moving away from schools of smaller fish and crowds of boats to find better quality without competition is still a sound strategy.
There have been reports of school mackerel in the same areas, often predating on hooked whiting. There is a simple solution for this, and you all know it. Alternatively of course, a session spent trolling in the western bay will soon see you connected to schoolies. Anywhere from Pt Vernon to Woodgate can produce, with the grounds such as the Burrum 8 Mile, Fairway and Outer Banks to the east all worthy of a visit or passing troll.
Run some heavy crab pots out wider into the bay off the Burrum coastline and you should score a good feed of sand crabs. 8-12m of water is the comfortable depth for many crabbers pulling pots by hand. There is no better bait than your whiting frames either by the way, so there is a prime recycling opportunity right there.
The word from down the straits is that the whiting are fairly consistent, but are also quite mobile. Getting ahead of their movements is easiest for those that go every other day. Pencil squid are prevalent over some whiting grounds down that way (and in most cases are actually bigger than the whiting). Ensure you have both large and small squid jigs on board if wandering the straits this time of year, as you can literally target both pencil squid and tiger squid in the same outing.
Deeg and his faithful decky with one of the better whiting from a recent nocturnal session.
Deeg swapped the deep-drop gear for the light stuff and came up trumps with a feed of sand whiting.
Pencil squid can be caught from the southern Great Sandy Strait. Jacko scored a feed this week.
Bass Season Closed in Qld Tidal Waters
We meant to mention this matter last week and forgot – oops! The annual closed season for Australian Bass kicked in on the 1st June and won’t open again until after the 31st August. This closure only applies to tidal waters in Qld, so bass above weirs and dams can still be targeted. The tidal waters closure is designed to enable the bass to spawn in peace during their key winter spawning period.
The way the southern Qld lakes are fishing for bass so far this winter, the option to hit the lakes within easy drive of the bay should be very tempting. Ahh … camping at a lake catching bass, yellas and ‘toga, rugged up by a fire on a crisp winter’s night listening to the sounds of the bush. Sounds awesome eh? Probably. But alas, it ain’t for me - I will stick with the barra!
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
The author tempted a few bigger Mondy barra as the full moon rose last Sunday. Smaller fish were also happy to pounce on a slow-moving frog during bankers' hours.
Young local, Kyah, with a handy inshore longtail tuna caught recently.