Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 28th February, 2020
Say Goodbye To The Hottest Summer On Record
Milder conditions over the past week were a welcome reprieve from what has been the hottest summer in living memory. A repeat of similar conditions this coming week with the odd random storm or shower and a few days of stiffer southeasterly breezes will ease us into one of the most pleasant times of the year in SEQ, that is - autumn.
A bit of breeze is likely over the coming weekend with forecasters suggesting up to 20 knots of southeasterly. The passing of the new moon last Monday will see diminishing tidal flow as we approach the next quarter moon next Tuesday.
Muddies On The Move
Stories abound of crabbers getting into a feed of succulent mud crabs from all over the Fraser Coast. Mainland creek systems from 1770 to Tin Can Bay have been producing good quality muddies, with the lower reaches and adjacent flats and channels outside these systems giving up the best numbers.
The same can be said for the lower reaches of the Burrum system and the Susan River, but the extra flow from recent minor flooding in the Mary has seen most crabbers favour the saltier waters of the straits. Fresh baits of mullet, bonito, tuna or fish frames have been scoring well and most are saying the crabs have been nice and full.
Mixed Bag Of Estuary Predators Down The Straits
Post flood times such as these offer great opportunities to tangle with numbers of sizeable estuary predators in relatively open waters. Recent reports from mud flats and creek mouths down the straits confirm the movement of threadfin salmon, barra and grunter into these areas as they feast on baitfish and prawn washed out with the fresh.
We would typically target most predators around the bottom of the tide as this is when bait is washed out and concentrated, making it easy fodder for the predators. In areas awash with volumes of freshwater run-off there are often times when the higher tide phase will bring on the action as both bait and predator seek out the more saline waters brought in with the tide.
Looking at the week ahead, with low tides reasonably early in the day, there will be ample opportunity to target the likes of barra and salmon during the last of the ebb around likely ambush sites where bait will be flushed, then hit the nearby flats and mangrove edges as the bait attempts to seek refuge from the predators in hot pursuit.
Grunter washed out of the creek systems are suckers for little softies or vibes worked across the flats or around any rock or gravel bars in the area. Some of the biggest of this species will tend to retreat to deeper waters and will often be found in the vicinity of reef systems and ledges down the straits.
Queenfish, small GT’s, flathead, jewies, jacks, cod and bream are all possible from open water ledges and rock bars throughout the straits. The pelagic species will move with the tides, seeking their favoured water quality and food sources, whilst the more sedentary species will be inclined to settle in areas offering comfortable water, food and shelter. These species may lay dormant for periods, feeding only when water conditions are suitable and their food is washed by or is accessible.
Don’t Forget The Cast Net
Gathering baitfish for a live baiting session is a relatively easy task during times like these. The coloured waters offer cover for the bait and makes them less spooky when your boat approaches. There are also vast masses of baitfish washed out of the backwaters of the creeks and rivers, making them easier targets for a well-aimed cast net.
Baitfish aside, it is the possibility of prawns that really draw out the cast netters. Whilst a few locals scored a feed or two before and after the onset of the rains, most are waiting for the right conditions (or word from the grapevine).
News from down the straits suggests the larger creek systems in the central straits are worth a crack for those inclined to travel the distance. Small prawn seems to be fairly prolific the further south you venture, with some creek systems offering a good feed, or even a bag limit. Word is these are only “boiler” type prawn of a few inches in length, but the numbers make up for their size if you strike the right patch.
Prawns grow very fast in brackish waters as they use less energy keeping salt out of their systems. It will only be a matter of weeks till we are all enjoying easy bag limits of quality prawn, but till then, keep a cast net on board and watch your sounder or the surface of the water for evidence of mobile prawns.
Reef Fishos Struggling To Beat The Sharks
Reef fish moving in to feast on the renewed abundance of food washed out from our estuaries are a reasonably easy target right now. Or, at least they would be if it wasn’t for the ever-present and seemingly relentless sharks inshore right now. It is becomingly concerningly rare to speak to any reef fisho that has enjoyed a successful fishing session without being taxed on an alarmingly regular basis.
Coral trout have always been a major target species this time of year inshore in our waters. Cod too are prolific and fall to the same live baiting or soft plastic tea-bagging techniques. Trying to extract these hard-fighting structure dwellers is tough enough without having to then try to drag them up past the noahs. Good luck to you if you can find a spot unattended by sharks. Protect your spot and avoid being discovered by others as boat traffic brings the sharks.
Grass sweetlip are quite prolific this time of year inshore and offer a great feed using the simplest of reef fishing techniques. Running sinker rigs, weighted well enough to stay on or near the bottom and baited with the likes of squid, banana prawns, baitfish or flesh baits will soon see a steady string of sweeties coming over the side. They don’t hang on the gnarliest parts of the reef, more-so favouring the fringes, or nearby rubbly country. Drifting will score a few, but nowhere near the number that can be caught when anchored up-current of likely grounds.
The reefs and ledges in our local shipping channels hold plenty of sweeties, but this is where the dreaded noahs are at their worst. Early risers or nocturnal fishos should consider the fringes of the shallower reefs where the sharks are rarely a problem. Expect to score the odd hard-pulling blackall when fishing for sweetlip, particularly after dark.
Plenty Of Pelagics Up The Island
Recent reports from sportsfishos venturing up into Platypus Bay suggest there are plenty of quality golden trevally and queenfish to be found within a couple of miles of the beach. Avoiding reef systems and seeking out aggregations of baitfish in open waters goes a long way to avoiding the sharks, as does running the beach looking for pelagics harassing hardiheads and the like up in the shallows.
Longtail tuna numbers are swelling week by week, with good sized fish being regular captures as far south as Coongul at the moment. There’s no rocket science to tuna fishing, but learning a few tactics on how to approach them without spooking them and then how to shorten the battle to increase their chances of survival thereafter will see more fish in your boat and more fish for the future.
Simple little metal slugs in the 20-40 gram range will have their moments with the longtail, and certainly with their cousins the mack tuna, but this time of year is when you want to start mixing up your offerings and being ready to match what may be a few differing food sources throughout the bay.
Sinking stickbaits and heavily-weighted jerkshad-style plastics are well proven on Hervey Bay longtails and when thrown from the appropriate rod and reel set up will see you armed with enough grunt to get them boat-side as quickly as possible.
Everybody knows that the sharks are a major issue when chasing tuna these days, so being mobile and being willing to leave shark-infested waters to seek out other schools on the horizon is strongly recommended. The sharks themselves, when circling and erupting into bait balls rounded up by the tuna, are a true spectacle in their own right. It is such a shame they are so hell bent on stealing your prize.
Good luck out there y’all.