A solid longtail tuna caught with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing. Check out the rudder on it!
Windy Weather Returning
We’ve certainly had some interesting weather over the past fortnight. It got hot, it rained, the wind blew, then eased for a day or two, then blew again. Just like the summers of old, when we “enjoyed” a fair dinkum wet season.
There have been only very brief periods of light winds, so fishing options have been quite limited. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking too flash for the coming week either. The wind is forecast to ramp up some time this afternoon and keep building. It will even blow some showers onshore from about Sunday onwards.
We can expect up to 30 knots of southeaster by knock off time tomorrow, and this wind will maintain around 25 knots throughout the weekend. A slight easing to an average of 20 knots from the same direction is likely for the start of the working week. It looks like it will be this time next week before the wind will ease back to a reasonable level. Of course, monitor the latest weather reports, as things might change, but for now it isn’t looking good.
Making this frustrating scenario even worse, is the fact that this weather is coming at a time of optimum tides. The full moon will rise next Thursday, and the tides building to that crescendo are prime for so many species and local fisheries. Ahh well, luckily, living where we do, there are still a few fishing options out of the wind if you are keen/desperate enough.
Overview of Captures from the Last Fortnight
As you all know, we neglected to write a fishing report last week. Apologies once again. Not that there has been much to write about anyway apart from the weather and the frustrations we all endure this time of year. All the same, the brief windows of lighter winds did see plenty of boats hit the water, so here is a quick overview of the feedback we got from those willing to share their experiences.
Some crews headed up the island and found some decent longtail tuna around the 15kg mark. Surface bust-ups made them easy enough to find and the tuna were happy to scoff jerkshad-style plastics worked past them at speed. Chances are that the tuna, and possibly even a few schools of spotties will still be up there in Platypus Bay courtesy of the dominant southeasters of late.
Golden trevally have also been reported from the reefs within Platypus Bay. The sharks have been making short work of them all-too-often unfortunately, as they have the tuna and mackerel, so as always, be shark-savvy and leave the area and go hunt elsewhere when they crash the party.
Closer inshore, the rubbly ground around the Fairway has been holding quality grunter, with school and spanish mackerel harassing the bait schools milling around the beacon. Grunter also made an appearance at the Burrum 8 Mile as expected, as well as on other sites off the Burrum Coast.
The number of sharks being reported along the fringes of the dirty water line, as well as over the reefs on the banks, or north thereof, is downright scary. Often you only know the sharks are there when they steal your fish or appear on your sounder, but since the big rains a few weeks back, they have been quite commonly sighted cruising on the surface. This rather menacing scene has been replicated down at the Roy Rufus Arti and over the reefs off Moon as well.
Reef fishos trying to beat the sharks inshore have been struggling with that ongoing battle all-too-often. Those that ventured out in a bit of weather found that they had their favourite reef all to themselves, but also found that they had the sharks all to themselves too. All the same, reports of some decent grass sweetlip, a few cod and coral trout have filtered back in.
There are scarlet sea perch, some tasty squire and plenty of hard-pulling blackall poking around the fringes of some of our inshore reefs, so when the weather allows access, there should be a good feed on offer.
Add to these reef species, the chance at quality grunter, big jacks, jewies and other sporty species such as GTs and queenies and the inshore fishery is quite appealing this time of year. The sharks take the shine off for many of us unfortunately, so it is great to hear of all the keen southern shark-hunters out there eagerly stinging these critters and making them think twice about the next easy meal they steal from beneath a boat. These guys may have very little impact in the scheme of things, but it sounds like they are having a ball all the same.
One of the upsides to these periods of stronger winds is that our reefs and our fish in general gain a much-needed reprieve from the constant pressure from our ever-increasing population of hungry fishos. On the right tides, there should be some quite productive fishing to be enjoyed in the near future.
There’s not much point mentioning the offshore fishing or wide options at the moment. Once the weather eases though, being the first to visit some of the better grounds out wide can see you tangling with a run of quality reef fish. Back in the good old days, we would very often pull quality red emperor from reefs that barely ever saw a red unless it was after a big blow. Good luck to those that get the opportunity when the winds ease.
Possible Options for Die-Hards Whilst the Wind Blows
Whilst we would never advocate fishing in dangerous conditions, or taking unnecessary risks in a boat, there are actually a few reasonable options for frustrated or super-keen fishos out of the wind. The most obvious is Gatakers Bay and the fringing reefs of the Pt Vernon area. The southeaster sweeps past this area and still has a significant impact on the comfort of an eager fisho, but the landfall does protect boaties hugging the shoreline, for the most part at least.
Early starts are best, as the wind will often tend a little more from the south at dawn and for a short time thereafter. The greater protection afforded in southerly weather enables a crew to venture along the shoreline to waters that would otherwise be a little too exposed and rough once the wind swings to the southeast. Avoid strong winds from the ESE or any swing anti-clockwise from there.
Now, admittedly the shallow reefs will typically fish vastly better over the larger making tides, so the neaps at present are not likely to be as productive as the days leading into the coming full moon. Should you venture out off Gatakers Bay, then you might expect to tangle with a few quality coral trout, along with plenty of smaller versions. There are patches of grunter laying up against the outer edge of the reef in places and a feed of grassy sweetlip, blackall, cod and other inshore reefies is possible.
Fringe eye flathead aren't a super common catch but turn up from time to time around the rocks and reef.
Other than the protected inshore reefs, there is the local rivers that are recovering from recent flooding. The Burrum system and its four rivers offer little stretches here and there with high banks that can see you settled in out of the wind. Be warned though, that the wind will swing wildly as it gusts, so even spots out of the wind can see your tinny yawing one way then the next. Those spot-locking will come to terms with this scenario with far less frustration than the bait fishos anchoring up.
Word is that the gillnetters have been active in the Burrum system since the barra season opened on the 1st February. We’ve had our rant recently about the slaughter of freshwater barra that escaped Lake Lenthalls in recent flooding events. It is such a waste of a resource, yet the slaughter continues unabated no matter what we or anyone has to say.
The wind won’t help your river sojourns much, but by all means head up into the Burrum and see if you can pick up a few barra. Hopefully the majority of the fish will somehow avoid the netters and will be there to help recover our decimated barra fishery into the future. Please consider the fact that many of these fish are indeed escapees from the lake upstream and that these fish will still stink and taste awful as they do in the fresh.
Threadies will also be a chance in parts of the Burrum system. The resident jacks that have hung in through the flooding should be active once again. The cooler conditions might seem a little counter-productive to a die-hard jack fisho, but as many will know, these fish, like all estuary species are opportunists that will feast when the tucker is abundant no matter the water temp. The Burrum system is again coming alive and should see some champagne fishing for those that ply its waters at the right time in the near future.
The lower reaches of the Mary River are worth a try for those looking for barra and threadies. The cleaner waters of the Susan may produce even better, but that will depend on harvesting efforts. The creeks and feeder channels down the Great Sandy Straits are giving up threadies and grunter when the weather enables access. We haven’t heard about barra down that way, but there will be good fish to hunt when you get the chance.
Crustaceans on the Menu
Experienced mud crabbers have been picking up a decent feed at times locally, depending upon pot placement and effort in their chosen areas. The wind is keeping most crabbers from accessing the many creeks and adjacent mudflats over along the inside of Fraser Island, so these waterways should be worth a crack when you get a chance.
The flats along the Booral stretch and the banks and drains in the River Heads area have been popular for crabbers, with varied success. Poaching and pot theft is rife unfortunately, and this disgusting activity is seemingly getting worse. Perhaps the ridiculously high price people will pay for mud crabs attracts the black marketers? Surely these thieves aren’t just poaching crabs for their own table.
A couple of solid muddies, check out the claws on them!
The full moon should see another peak in mud crab activity. Word is that the crabs are of better quality of late, as opposed to the big number of floaters and partially full crabs in the aftermath of the recent floods. Muddies can be quite active this time of year, so don’t just drop your pots in for an overnight soak and hope for the best. Slip them in and come back and check your pots after a couple of hours. Move them if no success and do so again before nightfall if you get the chance.
Sand crabbers chasing a feed out in the bay should do well when the weather improves. The grounds out off the Burrum coast and out in the central bay beyond the banks will be worth a try.
Local prawners should all have their nets mended and ready for this season. The recent flooding was a god-send and has ensured us at least some sort of a decent prawn season. You could head out this week and likely score a feed with enough effort, though the big banana prawn runs that we all look forward to are likely still a few weeks away.
Do not head out on our rivers, down the straits or up any of our local estuaries without some form of appropriate cast net on board. You just might trip over a massive run of prawn in a creek or other waterway that hasn’t been exposed to the world and strike banana prawn nirvana.
We are well-stocked with plenty of cast nets in readiness for a good prawn season. We have all types of nets, including proper open-water top pocket prawning nets with chain bottoms with or without a bottom pocket. We can show newbies how to throw a net, and might even make the effort to produce a video tutorial and make that available if we get enough demand.
Stay tuned for updates as our prawn season unfolds.
Simon and his boys getting onto a feed of mud crabs.
Impoundments Will Be Popular Over the Full Moon
Due to recent flooding, you can probably scratch Lake Lenthalls off the to-do list for the time being. Our little lake will recover, and bounce back with gusto at some stage, but unless anyone has anything to the contrary to offer, we would expect lean pickings out there for the immediate future.
Lake Monduran on the other hand is still a reasonable option for those big bass and barra fans looking for a freshwater fix while the wind blows here on the coast. Fair enough, a southeaster and accompanying showers isn’t really text book barra weather, but the lead up period to the full moon is potentially the most productive of the cycle.
Observations in recent weeks suggest that the slightly cooler core of the lake has made the barra a little more lethargic at times, but they are still active. Take a swim and you will soon discover warm water, sometimes quite hot water on top, with colder water some 5 feet down. Some barra have tended to hang out in the cooler water and be difficult to tempt throughout much of the day, before heading up into the warmer water to feed come sundown.
The hottest water, found up in the shallow weed-filled margins fringing the lake are where many of the barra are heading to feed after dark. This was somewhat frustrating over the “darks” as casting amongst bushes and mats of weed in pitch darkness is both challenging and annoying. Enough fish can be found elsewhere, but a big tip to newby-type hopefuls would be to ply the shallow weedy fringes with weedless offerings, topwater lures and well-placed floating hardbodies.
Rob with a nice Monduran barra that went 102cm.
Metre barra are so commonplace nowadays that it is sometimes a little counter-productive to be throwing small offerings, particularly amongst the timber. By all means do so, and you might trigger a bite from a less enthusiastic barra, but be prepared to chase it through the sticks on a reduced drag setting if you don’t get lucky.
The topwater bite has been a cool feature of the Mondy barra fishery ever since the lake rose several weeks ago. Poppers, stickbaits, fizzers and frogs all have their moments at dawn, dusk and after dark. Yes, the catties can be a pain on the poppers (and not the other presentations), but nothing beats a surface explosion on a slowly-blooped popper.
Burning frogs at speed is worth a crack over some of the vaster aquatic weed beds in the lower reaches of the lake. This technique is best saved for windy conditions when the small wave action creates a little bounce in the lure. Slow sinking and retrieving the same frogs amongst the lilies and both aquatic and terrestrial weeds is the go at other times. The sheer visual excitement of a barra inhaling a frog retrieved in either manner can be truly heart-stopping. Just check out some of the footage online from Youtubers for a glimpse of this style of action.
Whilst there aren’t too many folks that venture onto Mondy’s waters with the intention of targeting bass, there are indeed a dedicated few that score great fish regularly. Trolling is ever-popular for some bass fishos who often ply the heavily timbered edges of the river and creek courses in the lake. Diving lures that get down to at least 4 metres do the job, as do hard vibes for those willing to risk them in the timber.
You will often see schools of bass on your fancy side scanner whilst looking for barra. They can be in big numbers at times, and are often quite large. We never hear much about smaller bass in the lake, with average fish typically being in the mid-forties to mid-fifties. These fish are sporting quite a girth, and whilst they offer little resistance on barra tackle can prove to be a real handful on light bass tackle in the sticks.
Good luck out there y’all.