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Weekly Fishing Report - 12th March 2020

Windy Weather Continues

The heavens opened up last Sunday and gave the local coastal strip a good drenching. Falls of in excess of 100mm were recorded here in town, with even more out at River Heads and over on Fraser Island. Burrum Heads and Howard missed out on the big falls, though the Mary River catchment faired a little better.

A strong southeaster settled in following the initial rains and has been blowing dogs off chains ever since. Strong Wind Warnings have been issued for Hervey Bay waters and Fraser Island offshore waters for the coming few days.

This weekend is looking very windy and potentially a little damp. As the southeaster tends a bit more southerly in the mornings there will be opportunities for quick trips to our most sheltered inshore waters but other than that it will be a matter of sneaking up the creeks looking for prawn and crab or riding this one out on the home front.

The weather gurus are suggesting that a spell of sensational weather might grace our region by about this time next week. Calm conditions often follow the passing of a cyclone such as the one out wide in the Coral Sea, so use this spell of bad weather to sort out some tackle maintenance and log a few brownie points at home.

Windy Weather Options Inshore

It is hard to keep a keen fisho down, so some diehards will be looking to sneak out during this blow. Obviously, crew safety should be the number one priority in such conditions so don’t take unnecessary risks and understand that the lighter winds inshore early will increase dramatically as the morning rolls on.

Having said this, we are blessed locally with a few close options that can provide a fishing fix. The sheltered waters in Gatakers Bay offer fairly calm waters when the winds are from the south or south-southeast, so long as you don’t venture too far from the coastline.

These waters fished well over the tides building to this week’s full moon, with catches of coral trout, estuary cod, grass sweetlip, blackall, blueys and grunter reported. Drifting along flicking soft plastics will score quality fish from these waters and usually avoid the pickers. This technique is a lot more challenging when it is windy, though those with electric motors should have little trouble.

Trolling diving lures will score trout and cod early in the mornings as well. Slow-paced trolling produces more cod, whilst a quicker pace will score more trout. Those favouring a session of bait fishing should definitely anchor up and be prepared to move often or deploy berley to keep the fish coming over the side.

Experienced skippers in capable vessels might consider options out of the wind along the inside of Fraser Island, though the passage between the island and mainland will be treacherous at times and particularly so when the wind opposes the tidal flow. Even the trip from River Heads to Fraser can be very hazardous and should only be attempted if safe to do so. Remembering that the return journey must also be considered at what will be a different stage of the tide and possibly even windier.

Even professional skippers such as Bob Jeynes from Hot Reels Fishing Charters have to think twice when heading out in rough weather, but being one that doesn’t like to disappoint his clients, Bob has braved the conditions on occasion this week locally and produced the goods along Fraser’s protected western shores.

Bob found the grass sweetlip on the chew virtually anywhere he went down the straits, with plenty of fun-sized sweeties coming over the side from the deeper waters along the ledges, drop offs and rubbly country down that way. Cod of all sizes, a few nice coral trout, some decent grunter and a mix of other fish kept his clients entertained and offered a good feed for those keen on taking home a few fillets.

Sneaking out around the bay islands when the winds allowed saw his crew mixing it up with plenty of small trevally and some very big dart. These little scrappers are a ton of fun on the light gear and offer some drag-pulling action when it is too rough to get out wider. Queenies of all sizes are a chance in these same waters and take things to the next level with their aerial antics.

Things To Look Forward To After The Blow

The passing of another east coast low (aka ex-tropical cyclone) to our east should see an influx of longtail tuna into Hervey Bay waters. Mack tuna numbers will swell as well though they are not nearly as sought after as the longies. Once things settle out on the bay you can again venture north with the sportsfishing gear and seek out some topwater tuna action.

Another bonus of a big blow is the tendency for other pelagics to move inshore to feast on the baitfish seeking shelter from the rough waters. Expect to find increasing numbers of golden trevally and queenfish around inshore reefs and deeper passages that draw smaller baitfish. These same predators will also be found feasting on hardiheads and gar washed out of Fraser’s creek systems by the recent deluge, so keep an eye out for signs of them feeding along the western beaches and around the creek mouths.

Demersal reef fish have been drawn inshore of late as well seeking out the volumes of baitfish and prawn washed out of our estuaries. An upside to this blow is that our reef fish population has had a spell from angler effort and their numbers will be enhanced in some areas as more fish aggregate inshore.

Grass sweetlip, coral trout, estuary cod, blackall and squire will all be reasonably reliable targets once the winds back off. Sweeties are thick around the fringes of many of our inshore reefs and the cod and trout are at their prime this time of year. Nice eating size squire around the 50cm mark will be an increasingly common catch as our waters cool, but are a good chance right now, with the potential for a proper knobbie snapper if you are really lucky.

Hit The Rivers & Creeks To Escape The Wind

Till the winds ease, plenty of eager anglers will be sneaking up the local creeks and rivers looking for a feed of crustaceans. Mud crabs have been on the move and the culmination of heavy local rainfall and the recent full moon should see your chances of scoring a feed of muddies as high as it has ever been.

The fact that the heaviest of the recent rainfall fell locally means that local streams would have been inundated with volumes of freshwater runoff that pushed out into the mainstream during a period of maximum tidal flow. This augers well for those chasing prawn locally as the freshwater flush will be relatively brief compared to runoff from the headwaters of the rivers and is going to get the prawns on the move.

The lower reaches of the Mary and Susan rivers will be worth a look whilst the wind denies access down the straits. Once the wind eases the creeks of the straits and Fraser’s western creeks are likely to produce big numbers of prawn when the tides are right. You will have to grade out the smaller ones in many areas for a while yet, but prawn numbers have been on the increase and their size will be improving each week as well.

All the extra freshwater in the streams to our south is generally local runoff too so it should escape fairly quickly. Threadfin salmon and barra have been active around drains, rock bars and shallow verges recently chasing mullet and prawn so expect more of this action as the freshwater mixes with the salt. Grunter have been very active out in the channels outside the creeks and will move in and out of some creek systems when water conditions suit.

Given that the Burrum catchment and local area received far less rainfall it is likely that there has been little change up that way this week. Latest reports from the Burrum suggested there were still a few good sized barra around the heads, along with some decent grunter in the first few miles of river. The crabbing has been good, but we are yet to hear anything about the local prawn scene.

Lake Monduran Fishing Well Though Lenthalls Is Quiet

A few fishos have snuck out to Lake Lenthalls since it filled a few weeks ago. Word is the lake is very quiet with no significant catches of either bass or barra. The water clarity is quite reasonable out there so hopefully it won’t take too long for things to return to normal, as this little lake has experienced a great barra bite late autumn in years gone by as the barra feed up in readiness for winter.

It is a different story for those that ventured up to lake Monduran recently. Good fishing has been enjoyed by plenty of crews that have found active barra up in shallow water barely a metre deep that have responded to a huge range of lures. Anything from suspending hardbodies to stickbaits and weedless-rigged critter-style plastics have all had their moments and have produced some quality barra to over 90cm.

The big southeaster at the moment hasn’t deterred the barra either as windblown shallow points and other points semi-protected from the main blow have continued to draw active fish. Local guide, Rob from Guidelines Charters says that the barra have been most active around the designated bite periods as indicated in your Anglers Almanac, so it might pay to have one of these great little booklets on hand when next venturing to the dam.

Trollers have not been left out up there either, with a lot of larger barra falling to diving hardbodies trolled along submerged water courses and tree lines in the larger bays and the main basin.

All in all, Mondy has been a very productive place in recent weeks, with cooler water temperatures appealing to the barra that became a bit lack lustre during the extreme heat of summer. The Easter period is a great time to visit Mondy as the barra fishing can go next level. Consider booking ahead if you want a cabin or powered site as the lake will be especially popular with such high-quality fishing on offer this year.

Good luck out there y’all.

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