Cool Change Welcome
The past week has been rather windy and oppressively hot and humid. Unseasonal northerly winds really cranked up the moisture levels, triggered a few wild storms, and generally kept boats on trailers. Fishing activity has been largely non-existent, due not only to the weather, but also due to the reduced opportunity inshore and within estuaries due to recent flooding.
Today’s cooler change, brought on by the return of the southeast trade wind is very welcome. The strength of the wind isn’t nearly as welcome though, as from today onwards we can expect around 15-20 knots of southeaster daily for the next week or so.
Chances are there will be lighter winds inshore early in the mornings, and these lighter breezes may tend a little more southerly (albeit only briefly). If intending to take advantage of the light winds early, then ensure you are either back home before the wind strengthens or somewhere duly protected inshore. Suss out the tides too when considering dawn sessions, as in a few days’ time you will have a wind-against-tide scenario early that will exaggerate wave heights and make for less comfortable boating conditions.
We can expect a few more scattered showers this week, but thankfully no serious rain or storms. Today’s first quarter moon phase explains the lack of tidal flow at present – something that will change as the waxing moon builds the tides towards next Friday’s full moon.
A nice golden trevally caught in less than ideal conditions with Kurt from Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Inshore Waters Messy but Improving
The northerly winds blew a bit of flood debris onto our north-facing beaches this week, but more notable has been the masses of dead micro fauna and various flora washed ashore. Beach walkers have mentioned swags of tiny barnacle-like shellfish that met their demise, most likely due to the continued freshwater inundation.
In addition, there is apparently a fair degree of soft coral, fern, sponge, sea slugs and other wondrous critters washed ashore. Again, the excessive barrage of freshwater and length of time submerged therein could be blamed. This phenomenon might appear a little unsightly, and less appealing that a crispy clean sandy beach, but as fishos we might ponder the forage opportunities for a range of beach species that could now thrive due to this “event”. Think crabs, think prawns, think whiting, bream and others and you will get the picture.
Flood debris is still a very real issue for boaties out in the bay and throughout the Great Sandy Straits. Extra care should be taken and a good watch maintained whilst traveling. Night trips are fraught with danger at present due to the volume and scale of some of the debris. Prevailing winds from the southeast for a sustained period, combining with building tides should help push a lot of debris onshore this week.
Casey (above) and Dad, Daniel Bates (below) with a couple of chunky Mondy barra. Casey was stoked as this was his first ever barra and landed him in the metre plus club.
Lake Monduran has been a great option lately whilst we've contended with strong winds and local flooding. Scott with a barra from a recent trip to the dam.
The major demarcation line of dirty water remains just outside “the banks”, from Coongul to the Fairway, and then wide along the Burrum coast up to and beyond Woodgate. The waters beyond this line are largely clear and alive with pelagics etc, but scattered debris remains an issue.
Fishing-wise, the building tides should see the shallow reefs recover somewhat by the time the full moon rolls around. The Pt Vernon – Gatakers Bay reefs will be popular due to the protection from the wind. Coral trout, cod, sweetlip and blackall will feature in catches in coming weeks, though for now you would be just as likely to haul quality grunter and the odd mangrove jack over the gunnels.
The shallow reefs fringing the bay islands are adversely affected by the dirty freshwater from the Mary at present, though bigger tides will help to flush these waters over the coming week. Expect similar species to above, but look for them deeper for now, out in the nearby shipping channels. Over towards Fraser, pelagics such as queenies and trevally can be found working deeper current lines as they feast on passing baitfish.
The deeper inshore reefs will still be home to plenty of reef species, comfortably lurking below the freshwater above, getting fatter and fatter on the massive influx of forage species washed their way by the flooding. Again, coral trout and cod will be active and abundant, as will grass sweetlip, squire and blackall. Quality grunter, jacks and jewies will likely make some reefs their home temporarily and are great additions to a session inshore, be it bait fishing, trolling or jigging lures.
Clear Waters of the Central and Northern Bay Alive with Pelagics
The weather this week is going to frustrate many boaties, particularly those with a lack of experience or smaller vessels. Capable skippers with appropriate vessels will be able to access the clean waters of Platypus Bay and enjoy some degree of sportsfishing etc, but those that have done so in the past will tell you just how much more challenging this activity is with a 20-knot breeze buffeting the boat.
Yes, Fraser Island offers great protection from the southeaster once you traverse the shipping channel to get there, but you will still be largely restricted to the waters within a few miles of the island in the southern to central sector of Platypus Bay. If targeting pelagics, then boat manoeuvring, casting, retrieving and then fighting fish is all that little bit harder.
Nath (above) and Scott (below) had a good session on the longtail tuna last weekend when conditions where more favourable.
Luckily, surface-feeders such as tuna force baitfish into the prevailing waves, so there should be growing numbers of these speedsters within close proximity of the island once the southeast wind dominates for a few days. There have been hordes of tuna, both mack and longtail, throughout the whole of Platypus Bay and the central bay in recent weeks. That is unlikely to change.
Queenfish activity is ramping up as well, with big queenies just as likely along the island’s western beaches as out in the paddock rounding up baitfish. Add goldies and other trevally over the reefs and under the bait schools and a good mix of non-toothy pelagics is on offer should the weather ease.
Word recently was that there were large numbers of tuna just outside the dirty water line above the banks. That is where the mackerel have been concentrated of late as well. They will still be there once the weather eases, so avoid any questionable trips to open waters whilst it is rough and capitalise on the better days.
A good table size spanish mackerel caught with Bobby from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.
More to Report Next Week
Given the lack of effort from local fishos this past week, and the general rundown on post-flooding fishing options we provided last week, we don’t want to bore you with any more generalisations at the moment. Suffice to say, that the sheer volume of freshwater that spewed out of the Mary recently, coupled with northerly winds and small tides has had a negative impact on our local fishing scene.
Next week, we hope to bring you a more positive outlook, once the full moon tides shift some water around and things improve inshore. Whilst the crabbing has been adversely affected for now, it will improve dramatically. The prawning scene will burst into life shortly too, and once the weather improves, then fishos of all kinds can get back out and enjoy our wonderful stretch of coastline.
We will have feedback from impoundment fishos, both successful and otherwise that have either fished the rising waters from recent storms and rains, or plan to do so over the coming full moon. Stay tuned, and we will bring you more on our local fisheries as they unfold.
In the meantime …….
VMR 466 – Saving Lives at Sea
With so little to write about fishing-wise this week and a bad weather forecast, we thought we would take the opportunity to inform our local boaties and many new residents of our tremendous local marine rescue organisation and the services offered by them and their team of dedicated volunteers.
Qld’s Volunteer Marine Rescue operations are stationed in major ports along our coastline. Our local service operates out of an office overlooking Urangan Harbour, and their call sign is VMR 466.
VMR do a fantastic job on a daily basis, not only rescuing and recovering vessels and people in distress at sea, but performing medivacs and providing many radio-based services for boaties on the water. They even offer a “Burial at Sea” service, wherein a loved one’s ashes can be despatched to the waves, with up to five family/friends onboard the VMR vessel.
VMR provides boaties with regular weather updates over the radio each day, and broadcast securite warnings whenever navigational hazards are reported or observed. Several securites have been broadcast in recent times to warn boaties of known hazards such as 44-gallon drums, large wheels, trees and other flood debris. Issues with damaged, missing or non-functioning navigation beacons also rate a mention when necessary, ensuring no nasty surprises for navigators.
Many mariners, particularly yachties, pass on weather observations to VMR that are broadcast across the airwaves for boaties to hear. These snippets of first-hand information can be invaluable for long-range wanderers and fishos that might be heading for offshore destinations from where the observations were broadcast. For example, yachties passing on wind strength and conditions from anchorages off Lady Elliot or Musgrave Islands.
Technically, all marine radio operators should be licenced. However, it is fair to say that very few are. Whether or not you are licenced should never put you off having and maintaining a suitable radio onboard your vessel. It is not illegal to use a marine radio when in distress, and after all, that is the primary reason for which vessels are required to have a radio in open waters.
Anyone interested in obtaining a radio licence can contact VMR, who offer marine radio licence courses, either online or at their base in Urangan. Your marine radio itself does not need to be licenced.
VMR Hervey Bay monitor VHF channels 73, 16, 22 and 67 between the hours of 0600 and 1800, 365 days a year. Hundreds of boats can be out on the water on any given day, yet very few will have logged in with VMR. There is a misconception that a boatie needs to be a VMR member to avail of their log-on monitoring service. This is not the case, as anyone can log on and register their plans for the day, safer in the knowledge that someone will be looking out for them if something goes pear-shaped.
Hyne Timber Rescue, VMR Hervey Bay's Noosa Cat at work.
For those new to our local radio channels and monitoring services, here is a quick rundown. Channel 16 is the emergency channel, which should be kept clear unless in emergencies. When leaving Urangan Harbour, you can log on with VMR on channel 73, then switch to channel 67 whilst in the Burrum – Coongul area, and then switch to 22 once north of Wathumba or thereabouts. If heading up towards Bundy, then use channel 67, or 22 if heading out wide.
Our local VMR handled some 420 tows and medivacs in the past year. (Interestingly, VMR couldn’t offer any banana-related statistics regarding their tows and recoveries). One would anticipate these numbers growing organically as our population of eager boaties explodes. Getting towed back due to a breakdown or other issue can be quite expensive, as VMR need to recover the cost of recovery. There is a way to alleviate or indeed fully avoid such substantial costs, and that is to join the VMR’s on water membership.
SOS Membership costs $90 per year, and is for the nominated vessel (not the individual). SOS Members receive two free assists up to the value of $500 (per assist), per membership per annum. Application forms for membership can be found on their website www.marinerescueherveybay.org.au
Part of the wonderful volunteer crew at VMR with a vessel under tow.
VMR is always receptive to new Radio Operators and crew for their rescue vessels. No previous qualifications are needed, and they will supply all the training required. Perhaps some of our new residents or retirees could offer their services and learn a great deal, not only about radio operation and vessel handling, but also about Hervey Bay waters as well. You will meet a great crew of like-minded individuals (all of which are volunteers by the way) and enjoy the great satisfaction that comes from giving back to our boating community.
VMR Hervey Bay can be contacted at their office on 07 4128 9666, or you can ring the radio room direct on 07 4125 5225, within the hours of 6am to 6pm.
Good luck out there y’all.
Offshore FAD Info Night
FADs of this kind are magnets for baitfish and their predators, in particular pelagics such as mahi mahi (dolphinfish) and marlin. Anchoring several such FADs off Fraser Island certainly adds greatly to the options for local sports and game fishos. Fisheries is keen to monitor results from fishos fishing these FADs and are seeking feedback, whether successful or otherwise.
Tag along for the night if you are interested and not only will you learn of the whereabouts of the FADs, but you will meet like-minded fishos and will likely discover a few tid-bits of info regarding the FAD program and how it can benefit you.
Peter Morse Fly Casting Clinic - 18th & 19th June
Don't miss this great opportunity to improve your fly casting or get started with the right instruction. Peter is an International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Fly Casting Instructor and has over 40 years of fly-fishing experience in fresh and saltwater and 25 years teaching fly fishing and fly-casting. Peter is also a Sage and RIO ambassador and will have Sage rods, reels and Rio lines with him if you wish to have a cast of one.
Courses are a full day from 8-30am to 4pm. Numbers are limited to 8 per day and the cost is still only $150 pp for the day.
To secure your spot contact Josh on (07) 4128 1022 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org