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Weekly Fishing Report - 10th September 2020

Young Jackson came in and bought a new combo and christened it on this beautiful snapper.

September Showers Somewhat Strange

The weather leading up to Father’s Day was fantastic, but the shower-laden onshore winds since then have put a bit of a dampener on the overall fishing experience. It looks like we are in for more of the same this week, with the chances of fairly substantial falls of rain Friday and Saturday.

The southeast wind is forecast to stiffen this evening and blow up to 20 knots till easing back below 15 knots on Sunday. Next week will likely see a mix of southeasterly breezes and showers till later in the week when a northerly breeze kicks in.

This wet weather is certainly quite odd for September. Perhaps it is a sign of the imminent La Nina weather phase the boffins are claiming we are entering. More and earlier rains is what they are predicting, so make the most of the better days this spring in case we see a big wet later in the year.

Today’s last quarter moon phase means we are in the midst of a period of neap tides. Minimal tidal movement for the next day or two offers us a crack at a range of species if we can handle the weather. As the tides build next week there should be an increase in activity across the board.

Snapper Don’t Mind the Rain

A few decent snapper have been active inshore of late and the onshore winds and showers have suited them quite well. Overcast days will often see the snapper bite better during daylight and this past week has seen some good catches from areas such as Moon Ledge and the Outer Banks.

Flicking appropriately-weighted soft plastics up off the bottom has drawn the interest of some of the better snapper in these areas, though trolling deep divers is also accounting for a few. Bait fishos can anchor and deploy live or dead baits in a berley trail and expect to see snapper come their way at some stage of the tide. Unfortunately, sharks have taken a toll on the snapper at Moon but thankfully more fish are being landed than lost.

The lack of baitfish on the Roy Rufus arti has diminished the number of snapper available in those waters, but there is still the odd knobbie and a few squire on offer. Decent sweetlip have been a fairly regular bycatch on the arti for those fishing baits on the bottom.

The onshore winds enable access to Platypus Bay for smaller vessels courtesy of the protection offered by the Fraser Island land mass. The good weather last weekend saw boats venturing wide off the island and scoring well on snapper, grunter and a few decent scarlets. Sharks have not been too bad in that area of late compared to what we have had to suffer for the majority of the year.

There is a lot of country within a few miles of Fraser that offer good fishing in a southeasterly wind up in the bay. Find the patches of reef or weedy bottom that are holding baitfish and you can scout around the fringes looking for snapper. Avoid the spots that are covered in masses of trevally unless you are after a bit of light tackle sport.

Terry Adams with a nice bay snapper. His young fella Charlie let him off net duty for the day on Father's Day and it paid off.

Jackson has now been promoted as the official poster boy for O'Shell Plumbing, captain Owie putting the boys onto nice fish as usual.

The local guides getting in on the snapper action. Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing producing the goods.

Coral trout have been on the cards when the weather has allowed to venture further afield. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

Early Spring Pelagic Activity

Our waters are now quite famous for the annual run of baby black marlin. These fish typically turn up in numbers in October, though there is always a chance at a little black throughout the month of September.

Last weekend saw at least one boat enjoy the spectacle of a little marlin rocking up boat-side out off Wathumba that might have resulted in its capture if only they had an appropriate spin rod handy. A sinking stickbait, large plastic or an unweighted hook with a live bait (or even a dead bait) would have likely gained the fishes’ interest. Keep that scenario in mind if venturing up that way in coming weeks.

Until the marlin numbers arrive there is always the strong chance of tangling with oversized cobia in our northern bay waters. These brutes can achieve massive proportions locally, but fish around the 30kg mark are quite common. Don’t be surprised to find them hanging around some of the sand crab country up the island either as they are certainly partial to feasting on these delicacies.

As we’ve mentioned in recent reports, various members of the trevally clans have been loitering around many reef systems and bait schools up in Platypus Bay. It is the same scene out at the Gutters, with even bigger fish on average out that way. A few schools of goldies have been found around our inshore reefs and wrecks as well, offering a ton of fun/frustration on the light snapper gear.

Now that's a cobia! Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing sure knows how to find them.

Longtail tuna are always welcome on sportfishing charters. Pic: HBFS

Girl power! A solid Hervey Bay goldie caught on a charter with Fraser Guided Fishing

Check out the colours on this diamond trevally caught with HBFS

A Better Run of School Mackerel Arrived Inshore

Our school mackerel season has been very slow to get underway this year, with the first two waves of schoolies mostly consisting of undersized fish in recent weeks. That situation has changed now however, with the arrival of numbers of good-sized schoolies in the southern bay.

You can try the waters surrounding Gatakers Bay and Pt Vernon for schoolies, with trolling techniques offering a great way of tracking down their whereabouts. Once found, they will respond to metal spoons spun at speed or a wide range of baitfish (or squid) rigged on ganged hooks. The Fairway Buoy, Burrum 8 Mile and the Outer Banks will all be worth a look for schoolies when the weather allows.

These mackerel schools will scatter throughout much of the lower bay as they hunt down the mobile herring schools. They are already present in Urangan Channel and off River Heads and will become an increasingly common capture locally and down the straits.

Ben Stubbings took his young fella mackerel fishing and had a ball on the schoolies and bonito. Time to fire up the Nipper Kipper!

Whiting Biting Over the Bigger Tides

The current neap tides won’t do much for the whiting bite, but once the tides build a bit they should come back on the chew. Good catches of quality sand whiting have been reported from the Burrum River, from Toogoom and from several flats and creeks down the Great Sandy Straits.

Local beaches continue to give up a good feed of whiting over the latter stage of the flood tide, as does the Urangan Pier during the evening. Again, expect the whiting action to improve early next week. We should see some particularly good schools of whiting moving along our beaches in coming weeks, so make hay whilst the sun shines as they say.

Land-Based Action on Urangan Pier

School mackerel turned up at the Urangan Pier a week ago and have been drawing plenty of keen pier-goers ever since. The rains made for less than ideal conditions at times, but the action has been fairly consistent. Good sized schoolies to better than 80cm are currently regular captures, with some folk scoring several fish in a session.

Bonito have also been prolific out the end at times and are falling to the same baits and lures as the schoolies. In case you are unaware, Flasha Spoons are the gun local metal lure that scores more pelagics off the pier than even live baits at times. Attached to an appropriate spin outfit with a reel that can crank at speed, you can simply toss the spoon out from the pier, let it sink to the bottom, then retrieve flat chat. The hit from a big schoolie or other pelagic is what keeps keen spinners cranking all day.

Big queenfish were fairly regular visitors to the pier last week and whilst lurking in Urangan Channel they could again turn up at any time. The queenies can be sight-fished as they tear around harassing the local baitfish population. They are easily caught on live baits, but perhaps they should be released as their quality as a food fish is highly questionable. This is another species where a “lift net” apparatus offers a much better landing option than the standard pier gaff.

Evening sessions at the beach end of the pier are producing good hauls of whiting, but as mentioned above, these fish are much more active during the bigger tide phases. Bream numbers have already started to taper off, but good quality bream are still a chance around the pylons out near the end at night.

Flatties can be sight-fished in the first channel or along the slope out the end when it isn’t too windy. A live pike or herring will usually be their undoing. Tiger squid are a chance day or night, so long as you are the first to see them and you have an appropriate squid jig handy.

Gert caught this nice dusky flathead at the Urangan Pier on a live herring. After a couple of happy snaps and a cheer from the onlookers, the fish was released and swam off well.

Numerous Options Down the Great Sandy Straits

The Great Sandy Straits offers such a plethora of fishing options this time of year we are certainly spoilt for choice. Flats fishing for queenfish over the top of the tide is a ton of fun and can see your light spin tackle fully stretched. The chance at an oyster cracker (aka permit) is immensely interesting to fly fishers and sportsfishos alike, and the number of sightings and the odd capture in recent weeks has been quite exciting.

Grunter, blue salmon, threadies, little GT’s, golden trevally, flathead, bream and of course whiting are all sight-fishing options up on the flats and within our clear creek waters this time of year. Mass harvesting operations have put a major dent in the local fish populations though unfortunately, so be prepared to scout out greener pastures if your recently well-stocked waters have suddenly become devoid of fish.

Flathead should be at their absolute peak right now, but we continue to see and hear of very few numbers compared to what should or could be available. There are flatties about, and they are hungry in their annual spawning mode, but in nowhere near the numbers expected. Keep this in mind and please let the big breeders go to do your bit towards the recovery of the local population.

The rocky ledges and reef systems down the straits are home to a few estuary cod, blackall and a mix of small reef species at present. Jewfish are possible, but they too seem to be in smaller numbers this year than expected. Very few were caught from River Heads this season and places like Ungowa and Kingfisher that typically held good numbers are giving up very few for line fishers.

As water temperatures continue to rise, mangrove jack fishing will kick it up a notch throughout the Great Sandy Straits and Burrum River system.

Hit and Miss at Mondy

Well, it seems we put the mockers on Lake Monduran last weekend when we spruiked about it in last week’s report. Very few fish were caught last weekend, and barra were even hard to track down with side scanners according to a couple of crews that we’ve heard from. Perhaps the cloud-filled skies, lack of wind and timing of effort so long after the moon had some impact, but whatever the case it can be chalked-up as experience as we look forward to better times ahead.

Mitch Beyer with a nice Mondy barra. Pay attention to key bite times can make all the difference.

Rob from Lake Monduran Guidelines Fishing Charters has his finger on the pulse and is a wealth of knowledge if you're new to impoundment fishing. 

Consistent southeasterly winds this week could see a bit of action along wind-ward banks and wind-blown points, though the cloudy and showery weather is hardly encouraging to an impoundment barra fisho. If the sun comes out and the waters gain some warmth then the fish won’t be too hard to find after such consistent winds.

Keen barra fishos should be monitoring the winds and weather and looking for prime opportunities to hit the lake in coming weeks. Mondy is in primo condition right now, heavily stocked with fat barra to over the magic metre mark and water levels are currently just under 56% and dropping.
This spring and summer is going to see stellar barra fishing from Mondy – it is just a matter of when.

Good luck out there y’all.

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