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Weekly Fishing Report - 12th December 2019

A Brief Reprieve From The Northerly Winds

Prolonged periods of northerly winds have been fairly consistent for much of the spring just passed, with the first weeks of summer not much different. A couple of days offered lighter winds this week, though the northerly breeze has kicked in again today and is set to dominate for the next few days.

The coming weekend won’t be too bad if you can time it right. By this we mean heading out whilst the wind and tide are flowing in the same direction. A flood tide Saturday and Sunday mornings coupled with a northerly below 15 knots will be within the realms of capability for skippers of suitable vessels, though don’t expect any glamour conditions out on the bay.

The rivers, creeks  and dams will be a far more enjoyable option for those with smaller boats, and the hot conditions of late have really spurred the estuary dwellers into action. Tonight’s full moon will see plenty of run in the tide and enhance the activity of a range of fish and hopefully some crabs.

Hervey Bay Alive With Spotties & Tuna

The annual run of spotted mackerel is in full swing in Hervey Bay waters, with huge schools of spotties well scattered from Coongul Point to Rooneys Point. Literally acres of surface-feeding mackerel have been ripping into schools of tiny baitfish in scenes reminiscent of a David Attenborough documentary.

Large schools of mack tuna and smaller pods of longtails have been joining the melee or have otherwise balled up their own schools of hapless baitfish. Accompanying the tuna and macks are numbers of large sharks and a string of sub-surface pelagics picking off the scraps from below.

The action off Coongul has been fairly spectacular in recent days, saving fishos the big slog up the island, not to mention the fuel. Bag limits of spotties are particularly easy to achieve when they are feeding hard like this, so we suggest you get in there, grab a feed and move on. Catching spotties can be a lot of fun, but they are not a great candidate for catch and release, particularly with so many sharks in attendance.

Turning your attention to the prolific tuna schools is possibly a better bet for the sportsfishos out there as not only do they pull harder and go faster, they typically release in better condition if brought to the boat quickly.

If you have kids and you haven’t taken them spotty fishing, then do them a favour and get out there while they are so thick. The spectacle of having literally thousands of spotties, often swimming head to tail, several fish deep by several wide, in perfect circles as they round up schools of tiny baitfish will have the kids on their toes and itching to cast a slug into the melee.

Their squeals of excitement as they hook up and the spotty goes for a run will seem quite faint by comparison to when they see a dirty big whaler enter the fray. Make sure the kids are wearing polarised sunglasses or they will miss out on what is going on all around them. Take plenty of small metal slugs and if you can get close enough to the spotties, try to keep your casts short and swing the fish safely into the boat as long casts and hot running fish often don’t make it past the sharks.

Sharks Proving Hard To Beat Over Inshore Reefs

The shark activity isn’t limited to the surface-feeding pelagics either as many reef fishos have found again this week. The number and sheer doggedness of big bull sharks and other whalers is taking a terrible toll on our reef fish populations. Many fishos are claiming they barely get a fish or two to the boat for a day’s effort, even though they hook plenty.

The shallow reefs fringing the bay islands are typically a lot "safer" option sharks-wise, but even those fishing in 5 metres of water are having trouble this season. All you can do is move elsewhere when the sharks move in and hope that they get distracted by some other boat nearby. They will follow your boat, so move some distance away or to another area altogether.

It is a crying shame the sharks have been allowed to get this bad. There is no easy answer to this problem and it is a political "hot potato" that no-one in power seems willing to take on head first. This is possibly the single biggest issue our fish resources have ever faced and the problem is getting worse year by year.

If you are so lucky to find a spot not being shadowed by noahs, then you can expect to find cod, trout, sweetlip, blackall, moses perch and mackerel on the chew of late. Sessions after dark can at times be particularly fruitful this time of year, but you will need to pick an evening without the usual 15 knots plus of sea breeze.

Hit The Great Sandy Straits Over Full Moon

As the big tides dirty up our rivers and a lot of fish move with the tides you might find the smaller creeks and channels of the Great Sandy Straits more productive. Having said this, timing your efforts around low tide might still see you reap the rewards in the lower-mid reaches of the Mary or Susan if salmon, grunter or flatties are your targets. Bait fishos will do well with live baits, whilst lure fishos should turn their attention to the many drains, creek mouths, rock bars and gravel runs as the fodder species are forced out by the tide.

The straits is perhaps a better bet with a bigger range of species on offer that will enable a keen fisho to be fishing right through various stages of the tide. Whiting will move up into the skinny shallows of the flats with the flood tide, as will a few grunter and trevally. Mangrove jacks will be all over any baitfish schools passing their lairs and will be heard crunching crabs in amongst the mangrove forest over the top of tide.

The ebb tide will see the most action still from the likes of salmon, grunter and flatties in the deeper holes, around the rock bars and drains. Estuary cod are quite prolific in the deeper channels out in the main strait, particularly along the deeper ledges inside Fraser. Smallish sweetlip, decent blackall, the odd trout and some quite impressive blueys call the reefs down the straits home this time of year.

Trolling deep diving lures is a very productive way for those new to the area to not only score a few fish but to familiarise themselves with the many ledges, drop-offs, reefs and channels of the straits. Expect mostly estuary cod, but a big session trolling might produce anything from fingermark and big jacks to jewies, trout, trevally, flathead and of course barra (which must be released).

Fraser Island Update

It has been a while since we mentioned the beach fishing scene over on Fraser, so here is the latest update courtesy of a keen fisho working on the island. Firstly, there is a major bushfire down the southern end of the island that has been burning for a couple of weeks.

The southern inland track is closed to all traffic, but beach travel is okay at present. Time your travels around low tide if venturing south of Dilli Village. Contact the barge operators or seek local advice if accessing Fraser via the barge at Inskip Point.

Beach conditions are a little lumpy generally but improving. There are plenty of obvious low tide gutters and a few very nice deep high tide gutters with quite steep banks. No word of any issues with weed at the moment.

Beach worms are starting to make a comeback, but are very small at present. There are scattered patches of eugaries (pippies) along the beach. Take heed of the new bag limit of 30 for these critters (that is a combined limit with other molluscs/gastropods like cockles and mud whelks).

There has been some large tailor caught recently, with some of the best coming from pre-dawn sessions in the deeper gutters. A few decent jewies have also made an appearance around the Maheno and other rocky outcrops up that way. The whiting fishing is just starting to improve so should be good for Xmas.

Good luck out there y’all.

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