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Fisho's Weekly Fishing Report - 29th July 2021

Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing making the most of some good weather and getting clients onto some nice coral trout.

Warm Spell for Our Coldest Time of the Year

Last week’s cold snap and westerly winds restricted boating to sheltered inshore waters for all but the best of the days. Luckily for some, there was a brief weather window Tuesday that saw a fleet of vessels heading north for a day trip, but all in all, it was another tough week on the Fraser Coast.

We can look forward to vastly better conditions this week. We can revel in the warmer conditions for a few days, courtesy of a spell of northerly winds. Expect light variable breezes Saturday morning, with a subtle northerly sea breeze in the afternoon. Sunday will see a more consistent northerly wind around 10 knots, stiffening a little late in the day.

The northerly breeze will dominate the start of the working week, before swinging back to the southwest mid-week. The winds should be fairly light for the remainder of the week.

Saturday’s third quarter moon phase means another spate of neap tides. This can mean tough fishing in some fisheries locally, but can also see enhanced activity from certain species in our estuaries and offshore.

1770 Beckons this Weekend

Those with offshore-capable vessels could look at the latest weather charts and be turned off an offshore trip locally due to the impact of the north wind. Look further north however, like 1770 for example, and you will see a fantastic forecast of basically 5 knots or so for the weekend and several days thereafter.

With snapper and pearl perch still off limits, a trip north to the GBR chasing the plethora of reef dwellers on offer up that way seems like a good idea. Fish the shallower reefs and island fringes for coral trout, red throat and tuskfish on baits, plastics or jigs, then ply the deeper waters nearby for red emperor and large-mouth nannygai (scarlets).

If you choose the lure options, then you are quite likely to bag out on coral trout and red throat in no time. Go for the bait scenario and you will still score these species, but will soon see a real mixed bag building in the esky. Hussar can be prolific in places and hard to avoid, so slip a few of the bigger ones in the box for a tasty meal later and fillet a few for red baits in the deeper water.

Heading east of the Bunker Group of islands will see even greater variety joining the shallow water species in your esky, but take care to avoid the snapper and pearlies out that way. What you are hunting out there in the waters beyond 50m deep include a variety of jobfishes and of course, the mighty red emperor.

If you decide to stay local and do a quick day trip Saturday, then the Southern and Northern Gutters are giving up a modest feed. You MUST be mobile and willing to shift constantly to avoid the sharks in the area. The yakkas are well-entrenched around the reefs along the gutters nowadays and this influx of baitfish draws in predators from the area.

Coral trout, cod, scarlets and reds are all possible on live baits of yakkas caught out wide, or pike caught locally before heading north. There are grounds within the Northern Gutter that contain prolific numbers of pike too, so putting in the extra effort to secure live baits is an easier task than usual this time of year.

A nice tusky caught on a charter with Bobby from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters......shame about the hat.

Bobby from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters snuck out to the Gutters last week and scored nice mixed bags of fish. Being mobile was key to success, with the sharks turning up consistently after a few fish were snuck onboard. His recent crews will be enjoying a great feed of coral trout, sweeties, hussar, tuskies and moses perch for a while to come.

Bobby reckons the snapper were almost impossible to evade on some spots, even though he has avoided using berley or floatlining during the closure. Trevally are prolific, offering endless fun for those sportsfishos that are into that sort of thing.

Find the Bait to Find the Fish in the Bay

It is a little hard to get excited about fishing Hervey Bay waters with snapper off the hit list in winter, but other species can be targeted in the right areas and a fun day out enjoyed with a bonus seafood banquet thereafter.

Heading up towards Rooneys and fishing select sites within Platypus Bay can see you connected to the likes of scarlet sea perch, moses perch and large grunter, along with the odd coral trout, cod and smallish tuskfish.

Snapper will be hard to avoid in some areas, particularly where the baitfish are gathered at dawn or dusk. Steer away from the snapper and ensure you don’t unsettle our ever-important spawning fish, particularly with such a high risk of shark predation.

A nice winter longtail caught with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing.

Numerous members of the trevally clan are well-represented in Platypus Bay to keep the sportsfishos happy. Jigging slow-pitch jigs or various softies will soon see bent rods all round. There are schools of sizeable golden trevally harassing the yakkas and herring in some areas, whilst in others it is a mix of long-nosed, bludger and brassy trevors providing most of the joy. This is a great time of year to tangle with the very large, quite photogenic diamond trevally if you can track them down.

Unless something has changed dramatically in the past week that we have not been informed of, then the greatest biomass of baitfish in the bay is still north of the banks. There are still a few fish to tangle with inshore around our deeper reef systems, but only in small numbers. Coral trout and cod will likely appreciate the warmer conditions and neap tides this week, so seek them out with livies or tea-bagged plastics over the turn of tide.

Blackall are hardly appealing to the majority of local fishos, but they certainly provide entertainment (and a feed) for many bait fishos dropping soft baits of squid or prawns around our reefs. Being most active at night, the blackall are still inclined to feed at stages of the tide in the daylight as well. They can get to quite large proportions, and pull as hard as many of their more appealing neighbours, so you are in for a battle if you connect to a big one.

Find the bait, find the predators. A nice double header of golden trevally and longtail tuna onboard a charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Inshore Fishery Still Tough in the Shallows

Everyone attempting to fish our shallow inshore reefs and flats are commenting on how tough the scene is right now. For at least a month, our once-productive bay islands and nearby flats and rubble country are basically devoid of life. We all know the reasons why, but there is nothing that we can do that will change the status quo.

Small herring have started to move into the straits during the recent westerlies, but the majority of the baitfish are pretty much concentrated south of River Heads – Kingfisher. There has been garfish about in the shallows right on dawn, being chased quite often by sizeable queenies, but once the sun gets up, the queenies have tended to disappear from the shallow fringes.

A nice grunter caught on light tackle and soft plastics with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.

A few small golden trevally have escaped attention down the straits and can be tempted with small plastics when found cruising the shallows. There has been quite decent tailor reported in the upper straits too, which might appeal to those that enjoy a little high-speed spinning or trolling.

The recent full moon saw some reasonable flathead catches from along the western shores of Fraser Island. Guys that once caught and released huge numbers of flatties, one after the other, are now saying that 10-15 fish is a good day out. The neaps won’t favour the flathead hunters on the flats this week, but the creek fishos should score a few.

Kurt Rowlands scored a nice little golden trevally on the flats. The Primal range of fly rods punch well above their price tag, drop in if you want to have a cast of one. We stock them from 6wt to 12wt.

Sight-fishing flatties on light gear with small plastics is the deadliest technique by far, but trollers, bait fishos and even those jigging the deeper fringes with vibes can pick up a few. The Great sandy Straits offers some of the greatest flathead country you would find anywhere, yet this season so far looks as though it will be a repeat of last year, with concerningly low numbers of flatties in our estuaries.

Having said this, there are still fish to be caught, particularly in the central and southern straits. Head south of the Sheridan Flats and you will encounter vastly more flathead than north of that area. This is primarily due to the substantially increased rainfall enjoyed over the past couple of years down south, and quite possibly also due in part to the hefty impact of our growing population locally.

Here is a question for you: If flathead of 75cm or more are protected, and they have been for many years, then why aren’t there large numbers of these mature females abundant in our waters? We all let them go, and they survive the release pretty much unscathed, yet their numbers are declining (at least in these parts).

Chasing flathead in skinny water can be great fun on lures (above & below). Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

Our government protected all sharks by applying a maximum size limit of 1.5m, and since then their numbers have exploded. There are huge sharks everywhere. Why didn’t the same protection afforded our flathead result in a similar over-population of large fish?

And for that matter, why isn’t there large numbers of 120cm+ barra in our waters? These big girls are incredibly successful predators with only bull sharks and us to worry about. Any ideas? Let us know if you have any theories.

Okay, so apart from flatties, there are a few other species worth chasing down the straits at present. Some quality grunter have been caught in recent weeks, mostly from shallow flats and gravelly-bottomed stretches in the creeks. Snag-strewn undercut banks in some creeks also harbour grunter, particularly if schools of small herring are milling about the snags.

Blue salmon are one of the more common species down that way at present, and they are also found in small schools in the rivers and creeks. Even the blues this year seem to be in smaller numbers than usual, but being such a mobile species, that might be just observations from a limited pool of data. Find the herring and you will often find the blues, though they are also quite partial to chasing garfish up in the skinny water too.

Whiting fishos chasing summeries scored a feed over the recent full moon. Well, at least some did. Cold nights huddled up against the cold chasing a fish so small will never appeal to everyone, but those local whiting gurus that chase these critters year in year out just love their ‘ting. Forget the summeries for the current neaps and have a crack over the bigger tides over the new moon if you wish. This spate of out-of-season northerly wind will likely spur on the whiting, so the next set of tides could be quite interesting.

Our jewfish population has been under a bit of pressure lately, but it is great to hear of guys letting the jewies go when they can. There is nothing wrong with taking a fish or two, but no-one wants to hear about anyone heading out night after night killing fish they don’t need. There has been the odd one at River Heads of late, whilst jewies can still be found in the river around deeper rock bars and the like.

Shore-based fishos at River Heads have been hauling in some quite large bream since just before the recent full moon. Bait fishing from the rocks or pontoon has been most popular. Flick appropriately-weighted mini plastics over the rocky shoreline and you will inevitably tangle with a few breambos, though the pike could be a nuisance along some stretches of the peninsula.

Queenfish are a great sports fish and can provide some line burning runs and a great acrobatic display. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

Mixed Bag of Beach Dwellers on Fraser

Our customer that just spent the last few weeks fishing Fraser Island’s eastern beach had a ball. We are told that the beach is still in great condition, making for easy travelling, even at high tide. There has been stacks of eugaries (pippies), and the beach worming has been first class as well.

Some of the fishing the guys enjoyed recently included sessions on Waddy Point chasing tailor and trevally, with the odd spinning session on the choppers in the beach gutters as well. The choppers have been mostly small, below 40cm, and have been in small numbers only, making them a far better proposition on metal lures than bait.

The most fun the lads had was with the large whiting, tarwhine and dart. The best of the whiting bite was enjoyed around the bigger spring tides, tapering right off over the neaps. The big tarwhine proved to be a handful on the light surf rods in the gutters with exposed rock, and with many of these tarwhine reaching 35cm, there were a few inevitable bust-offs.

Big dart were a feature in the odd gutter up near the headlands. These critters really pull, and pound for pound are possibly second only to their oyster cracker cousins in the surf environment. Fresh dart is surprisingly tasty too, and many would rate them better on the plate than tailor.

Apparently, there is a little bit of weed along the beach, but it is scattered. Some gutters are weed-free, some contain just enough to foul up on alternate casts, whilst the odd gutter is too weedy to fish. Let’s hope the weed stays clear of the beach for the impending tailor season.

Budding Fraser Island beach fishos beware, the annual fishing closure that prohibits all forms of fishing from 400m south of Indian Head to 400m north of Waddy Point and 400m to seaward commences 1st August and concludes 30th September. So, unless you sneak in a trip before the 1st, the headland fishery is out of bounds for the next two months.

Good luck out there y’all.

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