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Fisho's Weekly Fishing Report - 6th February 2020

Our whole region has enjoyed some fantastic falls of rain over the past few days, with more of the same forecast for the week ahead. Every day will see the chance of thunderstorms and at least a few showers, with winds generally below 15 knots anywhere from ESE to NE till late next week.

According to BOM, some of the higher rainfall recordings in the past 24 hours from our area included Tin Can Bay 230mm, Teddington Weir 163mm, Tiaro 162mm and Rainbow Beach 142mm. The whole area has received 50-125mm over this period alone, following on from soaking rains days prior which should now see some much needed run off. Minor flooding is likely in some streams, so take care when venturing into these waterways.

It doesn’t look like we will get much of a look at the full moon on Sunday night, though it’s presence will certainly be felt by all marine creatures. The big tidal flow in coming days will certainly stir things up, and with the run off from freshwater streams there is bound to be a period of major piscatorial activity locally.

Wet Season Crabbing Set To Fire

Heavy rains and a full moon are likely to see a major spike in mud crab movement this week. Crabbers will be out in force vying for this precious commodity in all of our rivers and creeks. Make sure you keep an eye on the forecast and any potential flooding events as you do not want your pots washed away.

Freshwater run off into our estuaries will see the crabs exit their backwater haunts and move downstream. Right now, the best crabbing will be within the creek systems, though if we get any proper flooding the flats out in the straits will become most productive. So, monitor the local falls of rain and position your pots in the path of the migrating crabs, but be prepared to move your pots day to day.

A quick reminder for those that may not be aware, there is now a “boat limit” on mud crabs of 14, being twice the individual bag limit of 7 (with 2 or more persons on board). The size limit remains unchanged at 15cm across the widest point of the carapace, and only males can be taken.

In times like these it will be prudent to pay particular attention to the “fullness” of the crabs as “empty” crabs could be plentiful and should be returned to fill out. A rusty-coloured, barnacle-encrusted old buck is a sure sign of a quality “full crab”, but you can check them all by depressing the shell at the underside rear of the crab and if firm it is okay. If soft and easily dented then the crab is hollow or “empty” and will return no meat for you.

Prawn Season Just Around The Corner

We missed out on a prawn season last year due to a lack of any decent rainfall and till now this season wasn’t shaping up to be much better. What a difference a good spell of rain can make however, as we are now quite likely to be enjoying a run of prawns in a few weeks’ time.

Unlike last year, we did actually get a couple of half decent showers and storms during early summer that propagated a bit of jelly prawn in our local streams. There have been very small patches of prawn in the very upper reaches of some of our feeder creeks, but hardly the sorts of numbers that we would get excited about. Just enough for a sanger or two or maybe a live baiting session.

Freshwater run off will now push any of these more mature prawns out of the back reaches and will see the jelly prawn amass in the same areas, growing all the time. It would be premature to expect any significant run of prawn just yet, however, if you are lurking around a local creek or river mouth in the near future you just might trip over an exodus of prawn should there be enough run off.

Spawning Barra At Your Mercy

Barra season kicked off with quite varied results from around our district. Burrum Heads featured quite heavily in the bragging rights for those that put in the effort after dark, with sizeable fish proving too good for some. Live baiting paid dividends for a few fishos, though slowly worked shallow divers and prawn imitations proved the undoing of plenty of good fish also.

We can expect more catches from the Burrum Heads area, and good-sized fish too, though big barra are likely to turn up at any of the river or creek mouths in the area now that the rains have set in. The River Heads area and its immediate surrounds will likely be the hot spot down this way as fish that were recently well-scattered throughout the Mary and Susan rivers move downstream.

Obviously, these are spawning fish that unfortunately no longer enjoy the protection of the annual closed season, so some thought should be given to releasing the bigger barra so that they can go on to propagate more progeny for the future. Of course, there is nothing wrong with keeping a barra or two for a feed, though most would agree that they are a far inferior food fish when compared to the other big river predators.

Possibly the most frustrating thing about practicing catch and release on our beloved barramundi is doing so when there are others practising mass harvesting tactics in the vicinity. A tough call indeed, but any barra swimming has a better chance than one that is not. The choice remains yours. Perhaps Qld Fisheries could re-visit their closed season parameters and consider re-aligning the annual closure to incorporate at least part of their actual (west season) spawn.

Big Movements In Our Estuaries

Barra will not be the only species moving downstream during the wet. Threadfin salmon are increasingly common in the lower reaches of the Mary and Susan rivers and throughout much of the straits south of the heads. Indeed, the big gutters in the vicinity of River Heads will provide some great salmon fishing in weeks to come.

Grunter have been well-scattered throughout these same rivers but will not relish the freshwater influx, so expect to find them downstream as well. The bigger creeks down the straits, their feeder channels and adjacent flats will all be worth a look for grunter at the moment. If the wet gets serious and flooding occurs then look for big grunter around places like Pt Vernon, the Fairway Buoy, the Booral Flats or along the ledges along the inside of Fraser.

Mangrove jacks have been in great numbers throughout Fraser’s western creeks this summer, and possibly unprecedented numbers were reported from the Mary River as well. Whilst jacks often revel in the freshwater inflows, they can be challenging to track down in the bigger systems during the wet. However, if you familiarise yourself with the inflows from ponded waters you just might stumble onto jack fishing nirvana.

Snag-bashers would be well aware of the schools of bream gathered around many of the bushier mangrove clumps in the clear waters of the Mary and Susan of late. Silver bream have been the most common but a few small schools of pikey bream have been quite obvious due to their semi-black colouring and inquisitive nature.

Our flats and skinny channels fringing the local coastline are about to come alive with species moving in (or out) to feast on the myriad of jelly prawn and other fodder washed out by recent rains. Those that enjoy twitching poppers over the flats for whiting are about to appreciate some of the best that that aspect of the sport has to offer.

The list of other species likely from our local flats will be expansive in coming weeks. Right now, you can find queenies, little GT’s, diamond and golden trevally, and as the inshore flats get dirty from run off that will include the likes of barra, threadies, grunter, whiting and flathead.

Flats fishos focusing on the bay islands will still find big GT’s, sizeable queenies, diamonds and blackall over the bigger tide phases. Come an influx of river run off and dirty water and don’t be surprised to encounter schools of grunter, the odd big threadie or even a stray blue salmon or two.

Mid-Water Pelagic Action Out On The Bay

Cloudy conditions of late have done little for our famous topwater pelagic fisheries, however, below surface there has been a less obvious but none-the-less exciting mid-water fishery going nuts for those seeking out baitfish schools throughout Platypus Bay. Big golden trevally, queenfish and spanish mackerel have all been actively hunting schools of “pilchard wannabes” mid-water and they have fallen to a range of jigs and plastics.

Trying to extract any hard-fighting fish from around the commonly known reefs and artificials up that way has been basically pointless, courtesy of the relentless bull sharks and their cousins. Steer clear of these reef structures and seek out schools of baitfish out in the paddock and you will stand a much better chance of landing your quarry.

Further north there has been plenty of tuna, including small yellowfin, longtail and lots of macks. Spanish and school mackerel have been lurking around reef ledges in the central northern bay and have also been found out in the open around remnant schools of yakkas.

Closer inshore and areas such as the Outer Banks and similar depths have been home to smallish spanish mackerel around the 7-8kg mark. Their presence often given away due to them free-jumping as they rocket vertically through the schools of pillie-like baitfish. Large queenies have been fairly common even closer inshore and they are often found shadowing schools of pencil squid when not around the baitfish.

A bit of “late mail” would be of the potential cyclone that may form north east of our coastline next week and head in a southwesterly direction. Whilst only theoretical at this stage, even a tropical low heading our way will be a major game changer after the wet weather we are currently enjoying. At the very least, such an event will trigger our annual longtail tuna migration and will see an influx of these great sportsfish to bay waters in coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates.

“Hot Reels” Offering Customised Primo Local Fishing Charters

You might have noticed the flash new 6.7m Hooker “Hot Reels” out and about on our waters in recent weeks. At the helm is Bobby Jeynes, a gun fisho if ever there was one, with countless hours fishing our local waters and the adjoining coastline from the Sunny Coast to The Capricorn Group.

It would be hard to find a more affable skipper to spend a day at sea with and Bobby has a serious passion to share his great knowledge of all things fishing with his on-board guests. Catering for small groups or even individuals Bobby is offering a first-class service that will pretty much guarantee smiles all round at days end.

Whether it be offshore sport, game or reef fishing, inshore sports fishing with all manner of techniques or a humble day out with the kids or missus straining the ultra-light tackle on our local flats-dwellers, Bobby can cater for your every piscatorial desire.

So, if considering a local guide or charter operator, then give Bobby a call. You can learn more about his operation by simply googling “Hot Reels” or looking him up on facebook.

Good luck out there y’all.

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