Finally, we can look forward to some great weather over the coming week, after what has been a fairly sustained spell of southeasters. Light winds are forecast for several days ahead which will see big numbers of boats on the water this weekend.
It is going to be very interesting to see how our Urangan boat ramp refurbishment will cope. No doubt the ramp usage will be a prime spectator sport this weekend. Boaties will need to be patient like never before, and crews will need to be efficient or chaos will ensue.
The new moon next Monday sees us entering a period of productive tides for reef species and pelagics alike, not to mention the fantastic prawning on offer right now.
The Bay & Offshore
As you know, our offshore reefs and wide grounds have had a reprieve from angler effort of late due to windy weather. That is all about to change. Those heading offshore should take extra care on the bar crossings, as the early morning high tides will be fine, but the mid-afternoon lows could be a little more exciting with the swell outside at present. Obviously we have had no reports from offshore of late, but with many crews heading that way, we expect reports to filter back in soon from the heavy tackle blue marlin grounds out wide, the topwater GT and Spanish fishery on the Sandy Cape Shoals and from those chasing mixed reef species from the shoals and shelf waters. Prevailing currents and shark activity will determine success for the reef fishos.
Back in the bay, the Gutters and Rooneys grounds will be popular for reef fishos. Sharks will dictate the level of success for most areas, but you can expect a mix of species including trout, scarlets, sweetlip and cod just to name a few. Spanish and school mackerel will be either a bonus or a nuisance depending on your view on the toothy brigade. Mackerel can be quite thick and hard to avoid out there this time of year so take plenty of spare lures if tea-bagging for reefies is your thing.
Tuna schools will not be too hard to find at present. Both mack and longtails are in good numbers throughout Platypus Bay and the central bay. Large golden trevally can be found over many reef grounds from Rooneys south to the Outer Banks.
A few locals got out and found small numbers of squire during the brief breaks in the wind recently. We can look forward to the start of our annual snapper season soon, but those with enough local experience might find a few decent knobbies (and certainly squire) if they can avoid the sharks.
Snapper and squire are a slight chance from our deeper inshore reefs such as Moon Ledge or our artificial reefs, but shark activity of late suggests it will be tough getting the better fish to the boat. Grass sweetlip are still active around many of our inshore reefs, as are a few blackall and some good quality scarlets. Coral trout and estuary cod will continue to feature in catches for those tea-bagging plastics, vibes or micro-jigs over heavy reef during the turn of tide. Live-baiting will also be productive over the tide turn, and pike are now in good numbers on several of our inshore bait grounds.
Big GTs can be found working the current lines off the bay islands in these bigger tides, as well as from the shipwrecks on the Roy Rufus arti. Queenfish have been quite prolific inshore this season and they will continue to take small plastics and stickbaits around the bay islands and along some of Fraser’s western ledges. Mack and longtail tuna schools have found their way into our local shipping channels and can be found working schools of tiny herring from Pelican Banks down to Kingfisher.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
The temporary opening of the western boat ramp at River Heads might only be for the school holiday period, so keep this in mind if heading down that way after this weekend. If we hear of its closure again, we will put a notice up on our social media platforms.
The big tides should see an improvement in the fishing down the Straits this week. Threadfin salmon and grunter will be the main species encountered by many, with the creeks south of the heads all worth a look given the amount of banana prawn coming from down that way. Whiting can be found up on the flats along the mangrove line during the flood tide or in the vicinity of the broad gutters draining these same flats as the tide ebbs.
Big bream are starting to move down river and can be caught around many of the major rock bars in the lower reaches. Rocks further upstream continue to hold bream around the 40cm mark for those working smaller artificials alongside and behind these rock features. As our waters cool further, the rocks along South Head will be a haven for numbers of bream as they gather for the winter spawn.
The upcoming new moon should see prawn schooling anywhere from Beaver Rock to the heads, as well as the lower reaches of the Susan, in Bengstons Creek and within the many creeks of the Straits. You can either find the prawn with your sounder in the deeper parts of the slower-moving channels or look for them along muddy banks and around drains and creek mouths as the tide ebbs. Some will spend hours to secure a bucketful, whilst some will do so in a matter of casts. The difference is not necessarily in your casting ability but in your willingness to leave small catches to go looking for a better haul.
Burrum River System
Smaller prawns can be found in the Burrum and its feeder rivers at present, but it seems that they are typically holding in the back of the smaller feeder creeks. Woodgate Beach could be worth a look early next week as we get our first light westerly offshore breeze of the season. Proper chain-bottomed top-pocket-only type prawning nets are definitely the go for the waters off Woodgate. The u-beaut new Pro Throw nets are just the ticket for those that can throw a larger net.
The Burrum river system has been a little quiet for many of late, however, the mid reaches continue to produce a few jacks and barra for those able to find them. Some big whiting are possible from the lower reaches, but stealth is the key, particularly in the shallow creeping flood tide on the flats. It sounds like pike are keeping a few of the locals entertained off the local boat ramps at the heads, with live pike producing the odd large flatty from the shore.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
The Urangan Pier continues to run hot and cold depending on water quality and bait gatherings. School and broad-barred mackerel, queenfish and flatties are the main targets out the end of the pier of late. Smaller gang hooks are typically required if livebaiting with the smaller herring, whilst you cannot beat a live pike if chasing a flatty.
Now is the time for the first "pilot" bream to start turning up at the pier. These are large male fish that seem to turn up first to "stake their territory" in preparation for the ensuing visit by the schools of female fish. Bream numbers will increase dramatically shortly as our waters cool further. In the meantime, night sessions will certainly produce the better quality bream.
Whiting from our town beaches continue to be of poor size and quantity, whilst heading out of town towards Booral will give you a chance at better quality fish as they push up onto the mudflats with the flood tide.
Rob, the ranger at Lenthalls says it is still very quiet on the dam, with no catches of any significance of late.
Good luck out there y’all.