A fair bit of wind over the past few days kept most boaties inshore at best, but the forecast for the next few days looks great so a lot of crews are gearing up for trips out wide. Saturday will certainly be the pick of the weekend, as Sunday is looking a bit dodgy with a stiff northerly preceding a gusty southerly change. The week thereafter looks great from Tuesday onwards. We are entering another period of neap tides, with the quarter moon next Monday, so currents will be minimal which should be considered when determining your fishing destinations and target species.
Snapper were on the chew in many parts of Platypus Bay for those lucky enough to score time off during the better tides and brief breaks in the wind over the dark of the moon. Night sessions produced best (as they do), but a keen eye on the sounder and a deft hand with a plastic brought many a big snapper undone during the mornings as well. Trolling deep divers slowly around reefs and bait schools is certainly growing in popularity and a few guys have had great success on not only snapper but also goldies and some very impressive longtail tuna. You can read into this that there are numbers of large longtails down deep harassing the yakka and herring schools, so alter your tactics accordingly if chasing tuna is your thing.
As we head deeper into spring many are thinking of the impending run of mini black marlin that we look forward to each year. News from up north is mixed, depending upon the areas, but it seems as though it may be a slightly later start down south. Time will tell, and already a few guys have geared up in readiness for the hunt in October. Stay tuned for updates on the local billfish scene as the season unfolds.
School mackerel are the most prolific species inshore at present and are now well scattered throughout the southern bay. Gatakers Bay and surrounds have been very productive, as has the Urangan Channel, Rayners, the Bait Grounds and many of the reefs within the shipping channels. Bonito schools are often seen busting up as well, and often accompany large schools of herring as they move from one area to the next. Spanish mackerel never let an opportunity go buy and have been haunting the schoolies, bonnies and baitfish schools locally as well.
Snapper season starts to wind down as the water warms, but they are still a great target inshore for those fishing the afternoon sessions. Sure enough you will do better over the larger tidal phases, but a good berley trail in the vicinity of a good bait source will hold knobbies for those keen to put in a night session or two. Smaller squire are an easy capture during the daytime and make for a nice meal when eaten fresh.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
Flathead are peaking in activity throughout the straits during the bigger run out tides, and are equally as active in the lower reaches of the rivers during the neaps. Clear waters don’t seem to put them off, they just sit slightly deeper and go about ambushing their prey in typical flathead-fashion around the fringes of the many rock bars, creek mouths and drains. Hopping plastics will always be the most successful technique, but trollers are well-served with ample opportunity to tangle with our prolific flathead population.
Summer whiting catches have been quite good over the bigger tides though will taper off during the neaps. A few schools of quite good sized winter whiting have also been active down the straits for those in the know. A bit of weed will start to break away from the gravelly/rocky areas where it grows during the winter months and will become a water-borne nuisance in some areas at times. When being annoyed by the weed you can take some solace in the fact that at times it restricts netting activity where it is so prevalent, enabling whiting numbers to move through the area unhindered.
Grunter will grace the deck in increasing numbers over the coming months and are a particularly easy target for those using the right softies, or for those keen to kick back and soak baits of yabbie, prawn, herring, gar fillets or squid. Expect to find better grunter some distance upstream in the rivers and creeks given the incredibly clear lower reaches at present.
There have been a few whispers of barra getting about already and they will become a much more viable target as our waters warm further. Once the water hits 25C you can start to get excited, and once it hits 28C you are out of excuses. Bring it on!
Burrum River System
School mackerel are still a good target for those venturing out the front of the Burrum, particularly for those heading further south. Trolling spoons, Laser Pros and the like are the go for those searching for schooling fish. Once found, you can choose to spin them up on Flasha spoons, drift livies or anchor, berley and set pillies back in your berley trail. Grunter made an appearance in the mouth of the river over the new moon, with some very nice fish over the 60cm mark coming for those fishing at night out around the channel markers out the front. A few big grunter also turned up at night for the odd angler fishing the Burrum Heads foreshores during the flood tide.
Whilst flatties and queenies have been the most consistent fish throughout the Burrum system of late, the warming waters will trigger an increase in activity from barra and mangrove jacks. You’ve got four rivers to choose from, being the Burrum, Gregory, Isis and Cherwell. All of which offer sensational snag-bashing opportunities, mixed with a plethora of rock bars, holes and eddies that can all attract and hold these most sought-after species. If you are new to this river system then get in now/soon and check it out whilst it is so clear as every year the sand banks shift and you need to become acutely aware of the many rock bars and tidal access restrictions for the entrances and upper reaches of these rivers. Stay tuned for more on fishing this system in future reports.
Fraser Island’s Eastern Beaches
It has been another rather quiet week on Fraser’s eastern beach according to the crew at Fraser Island Retreat at Happy Valley. The best tailor action reported was about 7km north of Dundaburra this week. Very good sized dart are being found in the better gutters strewn along the beach, but otherwise it’s been fairly quiet. The waters are still very clear which is of course having an impact on the fishes’ comfort in the shallows, so night sessions are suggested. Of some concern is the arrival of small amounts of weed this week. Not enough weed to affect the fishing as yet, so fingers crossed it stays away and the fishing improves again with the next weather system that rolls through.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
The Urangan Pier has been going off lately, with a sensational run of school mackerel keeping pier regulars and visitors entertained. The more energetic anglers favour spinning them up on the good old local favourite, the Flasha Spoon. Choose your sizes from 25, 30, 35 or 50 grams to suit the tip capacity of your rod. With your rod tip lowered towards the water, flick the spoon up-current of the pier and let it sink to the bottom before retrieving it at full noise. Speed is often the key to success, so crank that reel as fast as you can and be ready for a bone-jarring strike. Of course, higher speed reels make this task a little easier on the arms, but if you have a standard retrieve model (say 5:1) then add a couple of big swings (jigs) of the rod mid- retrieve to enhance the speed of the lure.
If this all sounds like too much effort then you can take the more relaxed option of soaking a live bait jigged from the masses of herring under and around the pier. Pin your herring on the last (furthest) hook of a set of gangs with a mono leader of around 50lb and choose a sinker of suitable size to keep your bait somewhere mid-water in the prevailing current. You can fish three lines from the pier, which means you can have two livies out if you wish, while you use your third outfit for spinning or to jig fresh livies. Whilst leaning rods against the rails on the down-current side of the pier will always be the most popular (easiest) option, a much more effective technique is to use one mackerel outfit at a time and flick an unweighted or lightly-weighted livie up-current and recover the slack line as it swims or is dragged back to the pier by the current. If you think about it, the baitfish are all on the up-current side of the pier, so that is where the mackerel will hunt. Conversely, the dead and discarded herring drifting away beyond the pier are a form of berley trail too, so there is merit in fishing both sides at times.
Schoolies are certainly the main drawcard out on the pier at present, but anything can happen when such a biomass of fish is in the area. The past week or two have seen a number of quite large spanish landed, along with the odd queenfish and at times stacks of bonito. The bonnies are often used as live baits for the spanish, as are small schoolies. Using undersized schoolies or any other regulated species as a livie is illegal so don’t be tempted.
Flathead will be a good target for pier-goers during the neap tides, as they should be easily spotted with a set of polarorised sunnies in the shallows and throughout the first channel. Bream are still a chance at night for those with light gear, though the bigger tides will see a better bite from them. Similarly, the whiting will again be a good option when the tides start to build late next week.
Beach-goers have enjoyed some good sessions on the whiting over the recent new moon period along the Torquay – Urangan strip. Don’t expect too much action from the whiting over the neaps, but save some energy for chasing them again when we get closer to the full moon. In the meantime, you can flick softies or perhaps a pillie, hardihead or prawn around any of the smaller jetties, groynes, Torquay Rocks or Pialba gutters for a flathead or two.
Shore-based anglers looking to tangle with something a little more exciting can consider walking the banks of local creeks such as Eli, Beelbi or O’Reagans looking for an early season barra, a jack, flathead, mini GT or queenfish. As our waters warm up heading into spring these species will become increasingly active and are quite accessible on foot if you put in the effort.
Good luck out there y’all.