Young Kingy with his first marlin, how good. Super quick photo and back in the water for a good swim.
Unseasonal Southeaster Eases
Struth! What a cold week for November. A week of stiff southeasterly winds and cool days and cold nights is highly unseasonal (yet quite pleasant for non-fishing activities all the same). Thankfully, that high in the Tasman and the ridge along our coastline are finally breaking down and more standard springtime conditions will now return.
Today’s 15-20 knot southeaster will ease overnight, with a much lighter breeze of around 10 knots greeting boaties tomorrow morning. A slight northeasterly sea breeze will round up a great day tomorrow and set the stage for a decent weekend on the water.
The return of the northerly breeze will put a slight “sea” on the bay for the weekend. The bureau reckons 10-15 knots is likely, though the mornings will see more of the 10’s and the evenings more of the 15’s.
Saturday morning certainly looks like the pick for smaller boats. However, both days are fine, with some consideration to wind-against-tide scenarios being noteworthy in open waters or areas of high current if comfort of your crew is a major factor.
The north wind will dominate the first few days of the working week. Around 15 knots daily is the call, with slightly stiffer breezes overnight. The latter part of next week should see a return to east or southeasterly winds of similar strength. The timing of the change will be determined by the passage of the next trough creeping our way from the west.
Last Tuesday’s full (blood) moon heralds the peak in another tide cycle. The tidal flow will ease daily as the moon wanes this week. There is still a fair degree of current for now though, so make the most of the appropriate options and fisheries before the next set of neaps.
Hervey Bay Garmin Game Fishing Classic
The Hervey Bay Game Fishing Club’s annual game fishing tournament is on again. It kicks off tomorrow and runs through Saturday and Sunday. This event is quite often hampered by strong winds this time of year, but this year looks quite good with enough breeze to excite the billfish but not enough to deter the offshore-capable vessels.
At last count there was around 30 boats entered for the comp. As usual, a mothership (Tasman Venture) is being utilised by many crews, that will be anchored in the pocket out of the wind near Rooneys Point at the north west tip of Fraser Island. The mothership is typically the hub for the nightly social activities, and offers sleeping quarters for small boat crews keen on a little extra comfort.
A barge also makes its way up to the same site and carries the additional fuel requirements for any vessels needing such a service. The barge option (and mothership) can save competitors a lot of down time in returning the 30NM to Urangan to refuel etc.
Going on the recent buzz around town regarding the sensational run of billfish in the northern bay and offshore, this year’s competition should be hotly contested. If you are on the water, and tuned into channel 22 on your VHF, then you can listen to the “scheds” at regular intervals daily and get a handle on the numbers and types of fish being caught.
Good luck to all competitors this year. We trust you will all have a great time and catch some terrific fish. We assume there will be a few sore heads and exhausted fishos putting in the hard yards on all counts. We will bring you the wrap-up in next week’s fishing report.
Hottest Billfish Run for Years
Since the last new moon, Hervey Bay has been the focus for many keen game and sportsfishos chasing the bay’s famous baby black marlin. Local crews are being joined in the hunt by an ever-increasing fleet of hopefuls from far and wide.
There have been literally hundreds of little blacks caught in the past two weeks, with some crews scoring double-digit hook-ups and captures of half a dozen or more fish some days. The waters between Rooneys Point and Wathumba Creek have been central to most of the action, yet there has been plenty of fish to be found to the west and north of there.
Staff member Dane with a juvenile black marlin. Keeping them in the water with the boat in gear increases their recovery rates dramatically as opposed to holding them up for periods of time or dragging them to the beach.
In years past when we have had marlin numbers like this in the bay, there has been many captures recorded in the southern sector as well. So, keep that in mind and keep your eyes peeled for bills, dorsals, tails and birds on your way up once you cross the banks, and especially off Arch Cliffs.
A broad band of warm water brought these fish our way, and the bay has been primed for their assault on our baitfish. Past flooding and propagation of baitfish species, along with the migration of key prey species to the bay’s open waters has culminated in the perfect juvenile billfish hunting grounds.
Andrew with another black marlin on a Pakula skirt that was rigged up in store.
Local pro fishermen have been unable to net any garfish inshore in recent months, as all the gar are out wide in the bay – perfect for the billies. There are great numbers of small flying fish throughout much of the bay too – great billfish fodder. Bonito schools are thick along the Platypus Bay coastline and out in the open bay – all billfish lollies.
Yakkas are still relatively thick in some areas in the bay and offshore, and these larger bait schools will also draw the same billies. There are also masses of pilchards schooled up east of Breaksea Spit that have been the focus of many marlin and sailfish of late.
The waters east and southeast of the 13 Mile crossing is where the majority of the sailfish action has been centred. These fish have to be considered even cooler that the little blacks for many, as not only are they a spectacular fish, with no peers in the speed stakes, they are actually adult fish of decent size.
Check out the latest SST chart and you will notice how broad the band of warm water pushing down past Fraser has become. This sheds some light on why the best heavy tackle fishing has been so wide off the coast this season so far.
In other years we would see a very narrow finger of warm waters drawing fish closer, with most captures recorded in waters 200-400m deep. This year so far, the best fishing has been for large blues out wider in 1000m or more.
A solid heavy tackle blue caught out of a trailer boat wide of Fraser
As far as we know, blues have dominated the catch cards this season out wide. Decent blacks and big striped marlin also hunt in the same waters, so a grand slam of blue, black and striped marlin is achievable some seasons (maybe this one yet).
Bycatch has apparently been minimal offshore so far this season. Again, perhaps the breadth of that band of warm water can be to blame, spreading the baitfish and their predators.
A decent set of outriggers are worth their weight in gold, drop in to check our range by Reelax. For smaller boats we also carry rod riggers.
Locked and loaded, gotta love the sound of a screaming Shimano Tiagra 80W!
There has been plenty of pelagic action between key marlin bite periods for those keen on chasing tuna, mackerel and trevally. Mack tuna are certainly the thickest, with large schools well scattered throughout Platypus Bay and the southern bay.
Longtails are also in better numbers these days, with quite large barrels tearing around up on the flats along the inside beaches of Fraser. These fish can be super flighty, but also super aggressive, offering sight-casting opportunities in skinny water rarely bettered for tuna chasers.
Very large longtails have also made their way south into the southern bay and indeed the Great Sandy Straits. They have been leaving big holes in the water in our local shipping channels, including the waters of Urangan Channel near the pier.
Sporadic captures of spotted mackerel have been mentioned over the past two weeks or so. These captures are becoming increasingly common, yet they are still only relatively small in number. The mass hordes of spotties that enter the bay late spring each year are now due, so we expect to be hearing of their arrival sometime soon.
In the meantime, ensure you have a mix of small slugs on board if you like your spotties for the table or just wish to entertain the kids. You never know, your next trip north might be the one that sees you intercept the first big schools of the season.
Nasty old giant trevally are starting to turn up inshore of late, terrorising baitfish as well as mackerel and any reef fish they can fit in their big gobs. They will become an issue for wreck fishos trying to extract the local reefies over the summer months, though for now they are still fairly scattered. You might find GTs along the ledges inside Fraser, around the bay islands, certain beacons or around the artificial reefs for now.
There are still a few loose schools of golden trevally inshore as well, though the sharks might have something to say about how many you get to the boat at some sites. Try the Outer Banks or the Simpson arti, Sammies or Moon Ledge, but move on when/if the noahs find you.
School mackerel are widespread throughout the southern bay. Many are quite big fish too, as is typical for this time of year. The schoolies have been highly mobile apparently, shadowing mobile bait schools or otherwise reef-hopping looking for tucker.
Catching Reefies in a Northerly
The weather this past week has given our reefies a welcome reprieve. The best of our snapper have moved on, though it is still possible to snare the odd knobbie or a modest feed of squire. Night sessions will obviously be more productive this time of year. Maybe the cooler temperature over the full moon period reinvigorated any fish left in the area(?).
Coral trout, cod and grassy sweetlip are the more dominant target species nowadays. You can catch your trout and cod on live baits over the turn of tide on the deeper inshore reefs if you like, but many fishos will favour the shallow reefs this time of year.
There is still enough tidal flow to warrant an early morning troll around our fringing shallow reefs. Gatakers Bay and Pt Vernon are obviously popular destinations for such activity. The fringing reefs of the bay islands can be even more productive. Otherwise, flicking softies, vibes or swimbaits over these shallow reefs can score you a few trout.
Grunter turned it on again inshore this past week. Access to open waters was very much restricted, so many just sought shelter and targeted these scrappy fighters around Pt Vernon and the town reef systems. Grunter can be found around the Outer Banks and the reefs off the Burrum coast now that the weather is improving.
A feed of grassy sweetlip is a fairly simple affair along the deeper edges of our shallow reefs. Squid, prawn or dead baitfish will soon tempt any sweeties in the area. Keep moving if you don’t find them initially, and focus on the fringes of the reefs more-so than the hard reef itself.
The deeper waters of our shipping channels will now be home to increasing numbers of sweeties. Places like the Roy Rufus, Channel Hole, Boges Hole, Bogimba and many other reefy, rubbly or weedy-bottomed grounds will produce from now on. The sharks will soon destroy your joy more often than not though, so prepare to keep mobile or head shallow to avoid them.
Speaking of sharks, it sounds as though it is hell for reef fish out at the Gutters once again. We enjoyed some reprieve last winter, but the whalers are back. Scrounge around away from the reef proper and look for isolated untouched terrain that sees no boat traffic if you want a shark-free day at the Gutters.
Lachy with a solid mangrove jack off the rocks on one of the new Jackson Pure Ebi soft plastics.
Straits Better While Rivers Fresh
Our river systems are still running fresh since the downpours a couple of weeks ago. The full moon tides pushed a degree of salt back into the lower reaches, as the extra freshwater flow has finally subsided, so focus your efforts nearer the mouths of these rivers for now.
There is good jack fishing on offer in the dirty water of the Burrum system. Admittedly, bait fishos might enjoy the most success, but hey, that is the case even when it is clear anyway. Try the deeper waters in the lower reaches, particularly those with a lot of rock in or along the fringes of the hole. The warming trend in coming days should see jack activity increase.
The local creek systems, or indeed some of the creeks of the upper straits are worth a look for jack fans. Many of Fraser’s creeks are spewing tannin-stained waters that turn pure fresh during the last of the ebb, so consider flood tides or around high tide for better results.
You might chance a few threadfin salmon around River Heads at the moment. The large shallow gutters nearby are certainly worth a look, as are the many creeks down the straits and indeed the verges of the channels that feed these creeks. You are looking for active threadies chasing displaced baitfish and prawn that can be quite easy to spot to a well-trained eye.
Jewfish are worth pursuing with live baits, soft vibes, plastics or even with trolled deep divers. The ledges along the western side of Fraser, such as Ungowa and others north or south are a good starting point. Kingfisher Bay Resort’s jetty is popular for jewie hunters after a fresh in the Mary.
Remember that barramundi are off the hit list until 1st February, so leave them alone and release them immediately if you accidentally catch one. We need these fish to spawn in peace to recover a fishery that has been devastated in past years of drought and over-exploitation.
Flatties are still worth pursuing around creek mouths and adjacent banks and drains. The cooler than normal spring weather will keep them keener for longer in the shallows, so make the most of the last of our main flathead season whilst you can.
Urangan Pier and Local Beaches
We haven’t heard much from pier fishos in recent days, yet stories are still being told of the longtails and broadies that were caught in numbers recently. Chances are there will be return visits by the longtails, and if there is hardiheads or any garfish hanging around, then the broadies will be back.
A night session might see you haul a grunter or two over the rails at the pier. Try the first channel or the beach end for the grunter. Dead baits of herring, squid or banana prawn are worth a try, unless you want to use yabbies and chance your luck with a few whiting between grunter bites.
Whiting catches along our town beaches are modest at best. The return of an onshore northerly wind might see a few mooching about looking for dislodged tucker if the wave action increases enough.
Grunter are a good chance for beach-goers working the subtle low tide gutters at Pialba or the fringes of the rocky reefs from there to Torquay. Hopping small plastics early in the flood tide is the go for some, though others might favour soaking a yabby or prawn during a rising tide after dark.
We have had no word from Fraser Island fishos this week. It would be interesting to know if the jewies fired up over the full moon since the big rains inundated the southern straits a couple of weeks ago.
Stubborn Impoundment Barra over Full Moon
Cold nights and stiff southeasterly winds are not conducive to the best fishing on our barra impoundments. The build up to Tuesday’s full moon at Mondy was a classic example. Yes, fish were caught, daily, but certainly not in the numbers that would have been in better conditions this time of year.
Big barra bit reasonably well prior to the onset of the southeaster, and then the fishery changed dramatically. Before the change, there was great fishing amongst the timbered gullies intersecting the flats and creeks, and also good fish caught out on the flats themselves.
After the change, the lily-fringed bays downwind fired, particularly for froggers, but that bite seemed to taper off fairly quickly. Thereafter, it was a matter of fishing the big open points fronting the strongest winds to find fish that were actually active and not just pretty pictures on the fancy sounder screen.
Rusty's Lake Monduran Barra Charters has been putting in the work to find some nice barra for clients.
The lake was crowded with hopefuls from near and far. Many were highly mobile, indicative of the poor bite and necessity to keep searching for active fish. Night sessions were hampered by cold winds which dampened the fishos’ enthusiasm if not the fishes’.
All the same, fish were caught, with no one method being a standout. Frogs worked at times, swimbaits worked at others, paddle-tailed plastics pulled a few good fish and suspending hardbodies tempted their share. It is hard to beat the surface explosions on topwater though, and the way the fish are reacting to frogs, poppers and stickies this season, this will be an especially good year on top.
Barra fans can only hope that we finally get some serious warmth to bring the core temperature of our lakes to where they should be. We need a sustained spell of northerlies, more sunshine and less rain. Once these factors align, the fishery will be dynamite once again.
Warmer core waters, and an established and consistent thermocline will soon see trollers prowling the lake with great confidence. For now, if trolling is your thing, then concentrate your efforts in Bird Bay, or the south arm of B Bay and work the shallow flats off the open featureless points.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase