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Weekly Fishing Report - 13th October 2022

Spring time means mac tuna in the bay. Fraser Guided Fishing, getting clients into some line burning action.

Make the Most of the Weekend Weather

The southeaster is backing off as we write this, and by dawn tomorrow the breeze should by below 10 knots from the east-northeast. A light northerly will warm things up nicely tomorrow, paving the way for a great weekend on the water.

Saturday should see light winds early, followed by a gentle afternoon sea breeze of a little over 10 knots. A similar scenario can be expected Sunday, with the likelihood of more cloud cover preceding the impending rain thereafter.

Expect a bit of rain Monday, and showers possibly each day next week, courtesy of the onshore breeze. At least the winds won’t be strong. 10-15 knots of northeaster tending easterly for the remainder of the week will offer plenty of boating and fishing opportunities for those willing to dodge the showers or don the wet weather gear.

A waning moon following last Monday’s full moon sees the tidal flow diminishing daily. A late-rising moon suggests a good morning bite, but less enthusiasm can be expected from many species following the passing of their prime feeding periods, so consider your timing and put in the effort around peak bite times.

GBR Reef Fishing Beckons

As good as the weather looks here this weekend, it is even better to our north. Ports such as 1770 will be inundated by reef fishing crews (many from hereabouts) looking to take advantage of the great weather and small tides. Even more incentive is the fact that the first of the season’s Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures will deny any such opportunity over the new moon period (closed 22nd - 26th October 2022).

The shallow water reef fishing can be red hot this time of year – but more-so over the bigger tides. Red throat emperor and coral trout are the two most sought-after species around the fringing reefs. Targeting the pressure edges of the bommies is paramount, particularly during periods of such minimal tidal movement. Soft plastic prawns and vibes make the task of bagging a feed of these delicious reefies incredibly easy nowadays.

Working deeper waters over the neaps is likely to produce a better class of trout and RTE, with the same lures doing the damage once again, along with slow-pitch jigs. Red emperor, scarlets, tuskies and many species of cod are all likely to fall to a mix of baits and lures, depending on the stage of tide and time of day/night.

The conditions look good enough to venture east of the Bunker Group and fish the shelving waters beyond the reef proper. Big reds are the main target, but no-one is complaining when gold-bands, green and rosy jobfish, snapper and pearlies are coming over the side as well. These greater depths, from 60-80m or more can see big aggregations of some species and potentially mind-blowing reef fishing.

Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters scoring some tasty reefies for the table

Sharks Taking Their Toll Once Again

It is tragic to hear that reef fishos are once again being harassed by sharks throughout Hervey Bay. It is a struggle to beat the whalers out at the Gutters, off Rooneys and in Platypus Bay. Even some of the more isolated country north of the bay is now home to large, relentless noahs.

We had a good run for a while. We enjoyed a surprising reprieve from shark attrition during the latter part of winter and early spring, but as our waters warm up again, their numbers are returning. The influx of tuna into bay waters is often also associated with increasing shark numbers, which coincides with warming waters this time of year.

There are so many new fishos here in the bay, and seemingly more arriving daily. Regular readers probably got sick of reading about the shark issues week in week out for the past few years, but we feel the need to inform our new fishos of the issue.

We do not want to hear the nightmare stories of crews sitting on spots getting towelled-up by sharks and losing numbers of precious reef fish one after the other. Our advice has always been to remain highly mobile in shark-infested waters and to move on as soon as their presence is felt. Please heed this advice, and consider the shark issue no matter what you pursue in the future, be it reefies, tuna, trevally or marlin.

Many southerners consider shark fishing as a sport and an enjoyable pastime. Whilst killing any shark over 1.5m in length is prohibited (hence the ongoing and growing problem obviously), sportsfishos keen to tangle with jaws junior will have an abundance of opportunity from now on.

The tax man strikes again. Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Baby Blacks Turn Up in the Northern Bay

After hearing of sensational numbers of baby black marlin out from ports to our north, it is no surprise to hear that the first of the season’s billies have turned up in the northern bay. The southerly migration of marlin will continue for months, but your best chance to hook billies in the bay will be from now until Xmas.

Hervey Bay had its little moments of fame over the years with happy snaps doing the rounds of cool little blacks being held by fishos waist-deep in the waters off the Platypus Bay beaches. The fact that these fish can be caught in mere metres of water, and sight-fished in these shallows to boot, makes this fishery very appealing to many.

However, as cool as it is to cruise the flats and beaches looking for young stickface, very much the vast majority of Hervey Bay’s blacks are caught out wider in the bay in deeper waters. Traditional trolling patterns have developed over the years, where crews follow contour lines and undulations in the bottom to seek out marlin hunting baitfish along these paths.

This early in the season, the waters off Rooneys offer very productive trolling country and can see more fish intercepted on their migration further into the bay. Grounds west of Breaksea Spit offer similar opportunities for those keen to escape the crowds that descend on Platypus Bay these days.

Mackerel on the menu for happy clients with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Trolling a mixture of small skirts, swimming and skipping gar can be highly productive, but is vastly more effective in combination with a suitable set of teasers. The commotion of the teasers, set to imitate a small number of baitfish being harassed by birds, can be the difference between billies being attracted to your wake and your waiting lures or passing by and ignoring you.

Make sure you do your scouting in likely waters, but be in the best zone for the turn of tide. Marlin are consistently caught in numbers over the tide turn when they rise from deeper waters to feed on the likes of garfish, flying fish, bonito and yakkas.

When trolling, it will also pay to have an appropriate spin outfit at the ready. This can be rigged with a large plastic, a rigged gar, or even just a hook ready to attach to a live bait. When a billy inspects your spread but fails to eat, you can pitch the alternative bait or lure its way and very often witness the inhalation.

There will be marlin hooked and landed (and even more lost) this season by fishos casting metals and jerkshads at tuna schools. Be ready for an encounter with a billfish anywhere north of the banks this time of year, particularly in the eastern bay.

Please be mindful of the very real shark issue, particularly in deeper waters. You and your fish will be fairly safe in the shallows (but no guarantees). Handle your little blacks with care. Have the camera/phone ready, gloves ready and crew well-versed in what to do when the fish is boatside. Lift them from the water only briefly if you must, or otherwise follow the cooler trend of taking happy snaps with the fish in the drink beside the boat.

There will be insane crowds up the island this weekend chasing marlin. There has been much interest from crews heading our way from the big smokes to our south and swags of local billfish virgins keen to pop their cherry this season. Be considerate of others, monitor the scene and don’t bomb other successful fishos seen catching or trying to tempt fish. This should be a great season, so good luck this week and if unsuccessful, then gear up and be ready for the prime bite period over the next new moon.

Another spaniard hits the deck for Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Tuna, Mackerel, Queenfish and Trevally on the Move

Trevally numbers swelled in the bay over winter and they are still quite abundant in some areas. The Gutters are home to many schools of many varieties. So too, the waters off Rooneys, just in lesser numbers. South from there, the reefs and mobile bait schools of Platypus Bay attract and hold schools of trevally, some small, some larger.

Big golden trevally can still be found lurking around prominent structures in the southern bay. The artificial reefs of the Simpson and the shipwrecks of the Roy Rufus are worth a look, but so too are the ledges to the east of there or the gravelly grounds to the west. Where the baitfish are holding station is where you will find the active trevally.

Queenfish are very active this time of year. Whilst they can be found harassing the baitfish out in the bay, they are a favoured target species for inshore sportsfishos working the fringes of the bay islands and nearby current lines.

Queenies can also be super active up on the many flats of the bay and the Great Sandy Straits, and often hang along the nearby ledges waiting for the right time to venture onto the flats. Yes, bigger tides are better, but queenies are quite ravenous and suckers for a sticky, popper or fast-worked plastic if found.

Tuna fans can head out onto the bay confident in finding schools of mack tuna and perhaps a few pods of longtail. The macks have been a bit fussy at times, ignoring traditional metals, but at other times scoffing every high-speed offering sent their way.

The key is to keep your metals small this time of year, or as Bobby and Pauly on Hot Reels Charters have found, resorting to lighter tackle and tiny softies can get plenty of bites when the metals are rejected. This tactic should only be deployed when the sharks are not in attendance, as we all know what the result would be on light tackle otherwise.

The longtails have been highly mobile and have been “sipping” more-so than thrashing the surface to foam. This activity suggests scattered baitfish and lesser predator numbers incapable of balling up the baitfish for the mass slaughter. Long casts ahead of sighted fish is a vastly more productive option than random casts in a general direction in this scenario.

There has been a good run of school mackerel in the western and southern bay for weeks. Just recently though, schoolies have started to turn up throughout much of Platypus Bay as well. Beacon-bashing with spoons or spinning around bait schools and over reefs will soon get you hooked up.

Otherwise, slip a couple of diving lures out the back and troll similar grounds until you find them. A few Spanish mackerel have turned up in the northern bay. These are school fish, typically in the 6-12kg range. Spaniards are suckers for larger high-speed minnows trolled at dawn or around tide changes. They will soon pounce on vertically spun spoons and larger slugs as well, and would rarely pass up a well-rigged live bait or garfish when in the mood.

Hot Reels Charters caught a few fat spotty mackerel up the bay just this morning. Encouraging signs for an early start to the spotty season. Small slugs are the go for these little speedsters by the way. Their numbers will swell to huge proportions in coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates.

Word is that there has been some large yellowfin tuna north of the bay in the waters west of the Breaksea Light. Trollers seeking billfish are most likely to encounter these barrels, but anyone traversing the area might be left hoping they had a large stickbait attached to a heavy spin outfit if they crossed paths enroute.

We have not heard how the billfish scene is shaping up offshore. Perhaps we will have more on that subject after a spell or two of better weather in the near future.

This looks like a lot of hard work, the trevally gang

Inshore Reef Fishing Goes into Spring Mode

Catching snapper inshore just got a lot harder. You are still in with a chance, but don’t expect the bigger fish of winter, or the numbers. It is probably a good thing for our poor old snapper anyway, as when the sharks take over, the snapper (and you) don’t stand a chance when hooked anyway. Squire will continue to feature in catches from many sites inshore.

Grassy sweetlip will become increasingly abundant as our waters warm. They will turn up along the deep edges of our shallow fringing reefs initially. In coming months, sweeties will filter out around the deeper reefs of our shipping channels and eventually become quite dominant in inshore catches for bait fishos.

Grunter bit well over the recent full moon period once again. The waters of Gatakers Bay / Pt Vernon were once again popular for grunter hunters, but classy fish were also found out deeper around reefs and rubble patches of the western and southern bay.

This is the prime time of year to troll for coral trout over our shallow reefs. Early starts are a must for the best bite, and the bigger the tide the better, so expect them to be a bit lethargic this week. You can tempt the same trout by drifting and flicking softies or vibes and otherwise anchor and target them with whole baitfish or large prawn baits.

Cod will become more active on our deeper inshore reefs now that our water is warming. Live baits are best for those that haven’t mastered the art of tea-bagging plastics and vibes. Slow-trolling Dr Evils this time of year will soon tempt any cod the lure passes, and you might still score the odd snapper, trout or trevally – so long as you can avoid the mackerel and not get bitten off.

Estuary Waters Slowly Warming

This spring has been incredibly cool so far, and it doesn’t look like warming up much just yet. Barra and jacks have started to bite in the Burrum system and down the straits. The jack fishing will go next level whenever the flaming sun comes out and these southeasters stop blowing. Monitor the forecasts for northerly winds and hot muggy pre-storm weather and then you can go chase jacks with greater confidence.

The barra have been a little more active, but still have their moments, frustrating fishos spying them on their fancy side scanners without being able to tempt a bite. The barra will respond to the same weather as the jacks, so here’s hoping for a little warmth before the season closes at the end of this month.

The Mary River is still running largely fresh. The lower reaches are the go for anyone looking to tempt its springtime population of threadies or barra. Snag-bashing with hardbodies is the go for barra fans well-versed in this activity, whilst many might find the soft plastic or soft vibe options even more productive.

The creeks and channels of the Great Sandy Straits are a better bet for threadfin salmon of late, and by some reports, there are decent schools of barra holing up in some creeks as well. Add quality grunter, jacks, blue salmon and mini-GTs to a day’s potential captures and it would be smiles all round.

The easier option is to chase flatties around creek mouths, drains and rock or gravel bars. We are nearing the end of our traditional flathead season, but with such cool conditions of late, an extension might seem likely. Make the most of the flatties in coming weeks, but keep letting the big female breeders go, as we need more breeders now than ever before.

It's always great seeing kids getting involved in fishing. Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters providing the smiles

Fraser Still Crowded but Fishing Has Slowed

The insane school holiday crowds over on Fraser Island have moved on, only to be replaced by large crowds of other holidaymakers. Locals claim they have never seen the island busier. Indeed, some folks were apparently unable to obtain camping permits as the island was totally booked out.

Unfortunately for the current crowd, the fishing has turned a bit sour. There has been a fair bit of swell this week which has moved the tailor out of the surf gutters. Hopefully, the tailor are just out in the second gutters or beyond, and we might get another renewed bite before the season draws to an end.

There is very little beach at high tide for drivers to traverse at present, courtesy of the swell. You can still get around some rock formations at low tide, but maybe not all. Bypass tracks are fine, so don’t risk a dash past the rocks if there is enough surge to make you question that option.

The beach worming is quite good at the moment for those with the knack to catch them. Pippies are quite scarce along vast sections of beach, but you will find some if you are willing to do the miles.

So much pressure from visiting fishos, combining with heavy traffic and vehicle lights after dark has seemingly impacted on the quality of Fraser’s surf fishery at present. Let’s hope that once the swell eases and the crowds disperse that this tremendous fishery recovers quickly. Some of the seasons’ largest greenbacks are often encountered late October or into November.

Springtime Action Continues on Urangan Pier

The full moon saw our beaches lined with whiting fishos once again. There were plenty caught and a good feed enjoyed by many. The overall size has been diminishing over time and will soon taper right off as the best of the season’s fish are caught or move on. So, make the most of the bigger tides in coming weeks as our “summer” whiting are rarely that prolific in summer.

The best of the whiting season is now behind us for Urangan Pier fishos, but there is still a feed on offer over the bigger tides for those willing to sift through the smaller models. The bream are pretty much done for the year, after a belated season due to lingering cooler conditions.

Pelagic fans can continue to justify the long walk out the end, and will continue to do so throughout the spring months. School mackerel are still swiping at spoons or scoffing gang-rigged live baits most days, and occasionally in good numbers.

There has been passing pods of longtail tuna coming within range of ballooned live baits out the end. Queenies and golden trevally are possible visitors at times in spring too, but we cannot confirm any recent captures at this time.

It won’t be long and large giant trevally will be an everyday feature of the fishery at the deep end of the pier. Warmer waters would help, but the passage of mackerel through the Urangan Channel is bound to have GTs in pursuit at some stage. The pier GT fishery is something to behold and these leviathans will certainly leave many newcomers and regulars broken-hearted in the near future.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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