After a few days of less than ideal school holiday weather it is very encouraging to look ahead at the weather for the next week, with this weekend looking sensational, courtesy of very light winds and mostly clear skies. The good spell of weather is forecast to continue well into next week, so our waterways are about to get rather busy again.
Couple the great conditions with Friday’s new moon and we have a recipe for some sensational fishing. Take into consideration the huge night tides at this time of year though, with tidal variations of around 3.9m (Highs of 4.2m and Lows of 0.3m) sure to test your anchoring skills in the more current-prone parts of the bay.
Offshore conditions are set to improve this week which will enable the larger trailer boats to get out over the bar and onto the productive grounds northeast of Fraser. The shoal country should fish exceptionally well for the likes of red emperor, green jobfish, redthroats, maori cod, coronation trout and parrot, just to name a few. Be prepared to offer fairly decent baits as the hussar can be thick in many areas and will quickly clean up any smaller offerings. Favoured baits for outside include yakkas, mullet fillets, whole pencil squid, cuttlefish heads and of course, hussar fillets. Float-lining pillies can see you connected to snapper, pearlies, green jobbies and amberjack, though keep your baits well off the bottom unless fishing beyond the shelf.
The deeper waters of the continental shelf will see pearlies, snapper, jobbies and amberjack on the chew. Take plenty of big sinkers if fishing northeast of the bar as the run-out tide can be fairly fierce up that way, with the “overfalls” pushing east around the top of the bar being a dead giveaway of the arrival of the stronger current. Unfortunately, shark activity outside has been a continuing problem whether it be along the shelf line or the shallower shoal and reef country, so be prepared to move some distance if they find you.
Fishing over the Wide Bay Bar will be popular over the next week, with small swell offering safer access to the vast grounds from Double Island Point north along Fraser. Snapper, jew, sweeties and moses perch will be expected from the closer reefs, with pearlies, reds, maoris and snapper being the main targets out wider.
The Southern and Northern Gutters will be very popular this weekend with such light winds. Red emperor, trout, snapper and scarlets will be the most sought after species out that way if the sharks back off. To date the noahs have still been a problem for many, so please be “shark-savvy” and don’t sit on a spot feeding the beasts if they track you down. For those over-nighting, or at least being on the grounds at dawn or dusk, snapper will be a real chance, particularly if fishing plastics off the bottom whilst drifting across the reef edges. Sweetlip, moses, parrot and hussar will certainly feature heavily for the bait brigade, with the added bonus of reef jacks for those staying into the dark hours. You will be quite likely to encounter cobia of various sizes out at the gutters, along with the odd spanish mackerel, yellowtail kingfish and an ever-increasing variety of trevally species.
The 25 Fathom Hole will be a target area for a few crews chasing snapper, and success will come to those using soft plastics that look for the yakka schools and active snapper during the daytime, or for those that sit and wait with float-lined yakkas whilst anchored along the edges of the hole during dawn or dusk.
This weekend’s moon phase would be seen by some locals as the start of the proper snapper season in Platypus Bay. The diminished current in that area allows for much easier conditions for not only chasing snapper with lures, but for anchoring and float-lining into a constant berley trail. Day-time assaults up that way are more suited to those using lures than baits, with the low light and dark hours preferred by experienced bait fishos. Whichever technique you favour, you will likely encounter a mix of trevally species, some big grunter and nice scarlets this time of year.
Out off Wathumba Creek has been the place to be for those chasing tuna this week, with schools of mack tuna on the surface and big longtails found deeper in the water column whilst chasing snapper. There have been reports of school mackerel around the bait schools up that way as well, with some big cobia turning up randomly.
The days immediately following the new moon should see a good bite from any snapper found inshore. Snapper numbers are certainly still down on what we would expect, and this surely has something to do with the higher than average water temperature and general lack of bait schools in closer. The impending big night tides are sure to bring about the sound of squealing baitrunners as nocturnal snapper fishos target the big knobbies with live baits and large whole baits suspended off the bottom during the tidal run. Spots worth a try will include the Simpson arti, Outer Banks, Moon Ledge, Burrum 8 Mile, the Black Buoy and the Roy Rufus arti.
For those more inclined to fish their baits on the bottom there has been an ongoing run of quite large grass sweetlip inshore lately, that again must be hanging around due to the higher water temperature. Nice scarlets in the 2-3kg range have been an inshore bonus of late, and you can still expect a trout and plenty of cod if fishing live baits during the turn of tide.
Broad-barred mackerel continue to turn up on the flats and fringes of the bay islands, with a few making a show down Kingfisher way as well. Diamond trevally and the odd school of small to mid-sized queenies can be found at times around the Picnics, whilst tailor are a popular target for trollers in that area.
Winter whiting are now well scattered throughout our inshore waters. The grounds from Gatakers Bay to Toogoom continue to produce a feed, though the size of the fish out that way is not as good as it once was. The grounds from Round Island to the southwest corner of Woody Island are now producing schools of better fish, though the toads in some parts can be a real nuisance. Areas such as the NU2 and the vicinity of the Bait Grounds north of Woody don’t get as much pressure as elsewhere and can produce a better class of whiting at times. Regardless of where you may target them it will pay to drive away from patches of small fish (and toads) to look for better quality whiting. If you haven’t tried a GH Signature bait jig in size 6 for winteries, then do yourself a favour and give it a go (just do so in areas that are not yellow zoned if baiting the hooks).
You can and will find crazy numbers of bream around the Gatakers Bay / Pt Vernon reefs and the fringing reefs of the Bay Islands. Simply anchor up in 2-4 metres of water and get a good berley trail going. Give it 20 minutes or so and employ a simple float-lining technique (unweighted or barely-weighted running rig) with a strip bait pinned to a size 2 to 1/0 hook and you should be able to score quite big bream one after the other.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
Bream are still on offer in the vicinity of River Heads and even moreso for boaties working South Head. The same berley trail option mentioned above will work, though for a lot more fun break out the light gear and try surface stickbaits, mini poppers, small plastics and cranka crabs.
“Summer” whiting are turning up in the mid-low reaches of the Susan River and down the Straits in the creeks and adjacent flats. The Booral Flats will be well worth a look for whiting, with plenty of flathead and bream also likely from that area.
Flathead have been turning up in increasing numbers throughout the straits and the lower reaches of the Mary/Susan of late and we are now entering the flathead prime-time. Expect great catches of flatties for the next 3 months as they gather to spawn. Flicking soft plastics around creek mouths during the latter stages of the ebb tide and the start of the flood will produce great numbers so long as you are mobile and keep moving from one creek/drain to the next looking for the fish as you go.
Blue salmon can still be found in small schools with the bigger creeks of the straits, as well as in the lower-mid reaches of the Susan River. Trolling small 4 inch hardbodies is a great way of finding blues if you cannot locate them otherwise. This week’s big tides will stir up a bit of colour off some of the flats down the straits and will make threadies a reasonable target, though they can be finicky at best this time of year.
The turn of tide will be the time for those targeting jewies down the straits to concentrate their efforts, with soft vibes and prawn imitations still some of the best artificials to try. Chopper tailor can be found around areas such as Kingfisher, Ungowa and other ledges and rockbars further down the straits, with spinning metal spoons or trolling hardbodies often producing the better fish. Stickbaits worked over the schools of hardies and herring in these areas can be a lot of fun, with not only tailor, but queenies and mini GT’s getting in on the action.
Burrum River System
The Burrum system is still a little quiet, with the heads area producing a few bream, flatties and grunter, with tailor holding in back gutters between there and the Gregory. Mackerel are starting to show out the front, though they are still somewhat scattered, with trolling seemingly the preferred technique at present.
Upriver further, the flatties are featuring regularly in areas that offer a bit of “colour” in the water and any form of bait. The river is largely devoid of bait in many areas, so find the bait to find the fish. Small schools of queenies, mini GT’s and tarpon can be found in the mid reaches, though their numbers are still fairly light on at present.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
The Urangan Pier still offers shore-based anglers a crack at some quality bream. The better fish are coming at night for those using butterflied herring or pieces thereof. Reports of chopper tailor from the pier suggest they are worth a go, but be prepared to throw back more than you keep as the size range appears to be either side of legal. A few unseasonal pencil squid have turned up at the pier for those fishing out there at night, so take the micro 1.8 / 2.0 size squid jigs out there with you along with the 3.0 size more commonly used for tiger squid this time of year.
Our town beaches will be worth a look for a feed of whiting during the mid-flood tide and early ebb on either yabbies or sand worms, though we would expect the best catches to come at night given the current water clarity. Head out of town to Eli Creek’s flats or the Booral Flats for a better chance at the whiting, particularly if you are keen on using topwater stickbaits and mini poppers.
Good luck out there y’all.