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Weekly Fishing Report - 13th February 2020

Feels Like A Wet Season

Our district has had a serious soaking this week, with all areas receiving in excess of 200mm. Tin Can Bay topped the chart for rainfall with a whopping 403mm for the week. Here in the bay the majority of the better falls have occurred late at night, whilst the farmers and graziers west of the Bruce are rejoicing in even better falls throughout the Burdekin, Isis and Mary Valley.

There is a minor flood warning current for the Mary River and a flood watch for all catchments from Bundy to the border. Looking ahead, cyclone Uesi out in the Coral Sea looks to be heading south with no significant impact on our region apart from increasing offshore swell and potentially dangerous surf conditions on Fraser Island.

Light winds and the threat of thunderstorms dominated the past week and the week ahead looks like more of the same. This weekend’s winds will be very light indeed, as will much of the coming week, with forecast wind strengths struggling to get above 10 knots. Watch out for approaching storms obviously, but generally speaking we are in for another sensational, albeit hot, week on the water.

Those massive high tides last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday floated a lot of debris from local beaches and shorelines, and this event combined with the minor rises in our creeks and rivers has deposited a lot of flotsam in our waters. Take care to avoid floating logs and the like and be particularly cautious if travelling at night.

Crustaceans Flushed Out

Mud crabs will be on the move now as freshwater inflows flush them from their backwater haunts. Be wary of increasing water flows and try the lower reaches of our rivers and creeks as well as the vast mudflats out the front of these systems. The Booral Flats and Eli Flats west of Pt Vernon are two such areas that offer access to both boaties and shore-based crabbers.

Fraser Island’s western creeks and the many creeks of the Great Sandy Straits have had a good flushing and one would expect the crabbing in the vicinity to be dynamic in coming weeks. The further south you head down the straits the greater the run off, so the channels and verges down that way are likely to see the better crabbing.

Prawns-wise there are the odd whispers of small patches of banana prawn washed out of the back reaches of some of our creeks from those that knew of their whereabouts and pounced on them when they flushed out. For the most part however prawning right now will be a bit hit and miss, though we can certainly look forward to good times in the near future.

Those venturing around our river and creek systems should ensure they are at least carrying a cast net as there is always the chance of stumbling upon a patch of mobile prawn in these conditions. The flats and channels that feed these streams are even more likely to produce and would likely offer the better-quality prawn.

Barra Fishos Out In Force Around Our River Mouths

Well here’s hoping the big female barra got to do their thing and have spawned with the current wet weather. Stories abound from local estuaries of sizeable fish and of schooled-up barra in areas frequented by spawning fish.

Burrum Heads and surrounds has seen some of the better barra fishing in our area. Boaties are doing well on lures and live baits, whilst those restricted to the shore are also scoring, particularly at night. Queenfish are also getting in on the act up there at times, much to the disappointment of die-hard barra fishos.

The River Heads area has produced a few barra, with increasing numbers likely in coming weeks as more water comes down the Mary. Twitching shallow diving hardbodies from the rocks at the heads is an age-old technique mastered by a few local fishos in years gone by. The installation of the pontoon next to the western ramp changed things in recent years with live baiting and vibing now popular, though those willing to learn the tides and techniques will still score well from the rocks fringing the peninsula.

Barra are only one species likely from the heads in these conditions, with threadfin salmon, mulloway jew and cod also keen to scoff the right lure at the right time. Many fishos are put off by the filthy brown run off waters washing past the rocks at this time, not realising these very waters are alive with baitfish and their predators have the stealth advantage in the dirty water. Using their lateral lines and other sensory receptors the predators can track down a baitfish or lure in water almost muddy enough to plow.

Run Off Invigorates Great Sandy Straits

Freshwater run off has impacted on many of the creek systems down the straits even more-so than the rivers. In many areas grunter have moved out onto the adjacent mudflats and into the feeder channels, feasting on the small prawn and baitfish washed out in the fresh.

Grunter should feature in catches for shore-based fishos from the Booral Flats to our town beaches and piers in coming weeks, with the Pt Vernon area likely to house schools of large grunter along the reef edges. The Fairway Buoy will get a run of large grunter at some stage also and Urangan Channel will be a pathway for these fish as they move through the area.

Threadfin salmon are a major target after heavy rain and will be super active throughout much of the straits. They will be fixated on jelly prawns for much of the time and somewhat difficult to entice on lures but the techniques mentioned time and again in this report should see you convert a few.

The lower reaches of the Mary and Susan will see plenty of action from threadies around the many drains and rock bars as they feast on the bait flushed out by the rains. The big gutters in the vicinity of River Heads will be worth a look for salmon (and barra), as will the mudflats between these gutters and the rocky verges of South Head.

Reef Fish Moving In Close

It is not only the estuary species that react favourably to run off from heavy rains, as our local reef fish population moves closer inshore to feast on the bounty flushed out onto the reefs. Grass sweetlip in particular will gather in greater numbers in areas likely to receive direct overflow from the Mary and local creeks.

Areas such as Boges Hole, the Channel Hole, Bogimbah, Kingfisher, Urangan Channel and the Roy Rufus arti will see increased numbers of sweeties from now on, and when the tides are bigger the shallow fringing reefs of the bay islands and Pt Vernon will see their numbers swell for periods.

Blackall, squire and scarlets will also be actively hunting in many of the above areas, with prawn and squid baits obviously prime choices in current conditions. Estuary cod become less sedentary and move into new areas during these times and are a great target for those who enjoy slow-trolling deep divers around our reefs and channel edges.

All this enhanced activity doesn’t go un-noticed by the apex predators either and you will find big GTs, XOS spanish and countless sharks all filling their slot in the food chain. To date, the GTs and big spaniards have been haunting the shipwrecks of the arti and a few prime sites along local ledges along with a few schools of queenfish and golden trevally.

Golden Trevally & School Mackerel Common Catches

Bobby Jeynes from "Hot Reels" Fishing Charters has been putting his clients onto sensational sub-surface pelagic action lately with stacks of sizeable golden trevally scoffing softies worked around schools of baitfish. Steering clear of the known reef spots and finding fish elsewhere has been paramount when needing to avoid the dreaded noahs.

Bob reckons that the goldies are moving in closer as the wet season progresses, though they are still well scattered throughout much of Platypus Bay and the lower bay area. Be warned if heading up Platypus Bay way that school mackerel are very thick in some areas and are taking a terrible toll on softies and jig heads. If schoolies are your thing then head up north and spin them up vertically on spoons as they are of great size and in good numbers.

Mixing it up is part of the fun for "Hot Reels" clients and sessions up off Rooneys have produced the goods on longtail tuna, with mack tuna also quite abundant further south. If running the beach on your way up or back then keep an eye out for schools of hardiheads up in the shallows as they have been drawing in the goldies and giant herring at times.

Mondy Barra Back On The Chew

Rob from "Guidelines" charters at Lake Monduran also owns the caravan park and houseboat etc so is tuned in to the Mondy scene more than just about anyone. A quick chat this morning (whilst his clients were pulling in a few fish) renewed the enthusiasm for a re-visit to Mondy.

Recent storms have cooled things down up there a little and with an easing of the storms the barra have been on the chew. Great news for those of us that like twitching hardbodies along the edges, as the barra have moved back into the shallows and fish have been actively smashing lures in as little as half a metre of water. In fact, the majority of Rob’s clients’ fish have come from water barely a metre deeper than that.

Topwater options are endless this time of year, and with so many fish active in super shallow water it would make sense to take a selection of poppers, fizzers and stickbaits for what is arguably the most fun you can have on a lake. Opt for sub-surface during the day and break out the topwater lures at dawn, dusk and during the evening. The "boof" alone is enough to spike the adrenalin let alone the fight in water barely waist-deep.

Trollers are not being left out either, as good numbers of fish are being trolled up in the main basin both day and night. These fish are often the largest of the crop too with barra in the high 90’s quite common. This scene sounds reminiscent of years gone by where each wet season the bigger fish made their way towards the dam wall in a (hopefully) vain desire to head downstream to spawn.

Now, if the great fishing isn’t enough to entice you back up to Mondy for a barra session then consider the fact that the Golden Barra Competition concludes as of midnight on Wednesday 19th February. The elusive golden barra with its $150,000 prize and the other specially-tagged barra are all still at large and offer a huge incentive second to none in the state of Qld.

Good luck out there y’all.

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