After a very hot week and reasonably light winds it looks like we are in for a fairly stiff southeaster that will kick in overnight tonight and stay with us for the foreseeable future. The combination of high pressure systems down south coupling with an intense low well off the east coast will generate these stronger winds and it wouldn’t be beyond the imagination for that low to form into a cyclone. It is going to be a frustrating week ahead for fishos, but certainly nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year.
It looks like this Wednesday’s full moon will be a blow out, which is such a shame as the full moon this time of year can offer a plethora of fishing options in reasonable weather.
Lighter winds during the hot spell this past week saw plenty of sportsfishos raise a sweat on the increasing numbers of longtail tuna and already plentiful mack tuna throughout Platypus Bay and the central bay. Spotted mackerel numbers are dwindling as they should at this time, but enough active surface-feeding spotties could still be found for an easy feed and a bit of fun.
Reef fishos and those hopping micro jigs, plastics and vibes over some of the reefs within Platypus Bay and further south have found large golden trevally and some very nice scarlet sea perch. The scarlets are a good species to target this time of year and can be taken on a range of baits, with squid and herring being two local favourites. Weight your presentations lightly and let your baits waft slowly to the bottom for a better chance at the bigger models.
The unrelenting sharks continue to be a constant issue around any of the better known reefs and around the bigger schools of pelagics. Given their tendency to follow our boats looking for an easy meal, it pays to move some distance at speed when they do find you. The sharks up the bay might get a bit hungrier this week as few boaties will be likely to venture beyond our inshore waters with the impending weather.
Grass sweetlip continue to be the most common catch for reef fishos inshore and that won’t change for a while yet. Drop live baits to our deeper reefs during the turn of tide and you are in for a chance at some cod or trout. So long as your tackle and reflexes are up to the task of extracting them from the reef below that is. If using baits of squid or banana prawns you can expect a few hard-pulling blackall or even a nice scarlet or two on the same baits or fresh whole herring. All these species, with the exception of the trout are an even better proposition for the nocturnal fishos out there, with the added bonuses of cooler conditions and less pickers during the evenings.
The weather restrictions and big full moon tides are likely to see our protected shallow reefs most popular this week. Launching from Gatakers Bay super early in the morning could see you troll up a trout or two on diving hardbodies, with the likelihood of a couple of cod if you slow your troll speed right down. Bait fishing throughout the day could see you connect to more trout, cod or sweetlip on baits of pilchard, herring or hardihead, or sweeties, blackall and grunter on baits of squid or banana prawn.
The bonus of fishing the shallow reefs is the general lack of larger whalers, though these days it pays to be shark savvy where-ever you go, particularly with kids in the boat and little hands landing and releasing fish boatside. Although somewhat well-protected from the forecast southeaster, these areas are quite heavily pressured, so be prepared to move around and re-anchor often if you are not getting fish within say 15-20 minutes. Don’t go too under-gunned either, as extracting quality reefies from gnarly coral country can take some doing on light gear.
Mary/Susan Rivers & Great Sandy Straits
The stronger winds this week will see plenty of smaller boats heading to River Heads looking to escape the rough waters of the bay. The full moon tides will see the rivers run hard, so the lower reaches and the big gutters near the heads will be worth a look for those chasing barra and threadies. Any good drain with plenty of backed-up water to drain will be worth a crack for a thready, especially if it houses a seething mass of jelly prawns pushed out by the tide.
There should be plenty of visual evidence of the threadies during the lower stage of the ebb tide if they are in attendance. We’ve said plenty in the past about catching threadies and the inherent frustration that comes from constant refusals from fish hell-bent on gorging on their tiny quarry and nothing else. Read the water and keep casting, as if they are there and so are you, then it is better than being somewhere they are not.
For those seeking barra you can certainly target the obvious spots like the rock bars and the big mud gutters, but look for baitfish like mullet and herring, and if there are some prawns around as well then even better. The barra can get fairly mobile on these big tides, so be prepared for encounters throughout the lower reaches of the rivers or the straits by having some paddle-tailed plastics, vibes, prawn-style lures or diving minnows at the ready should you trip over active fish. Seek them out amongst the snags over the bottom of the tide too, but ensure your timing is spot on.
If you can get over to Fraser’s western creeks this week you should find some nice mangrove jacks willing to smash small lures, live baits or mullet fillets. Grunter are also a strong chance for those fishing the same creeks or the mainland creeks south of the Mary, along with the many channels and gravelly banks within the Turkey Straits and the Susan River.
Kingfisher Bay Resort’s jetty was home to some good schools of barra of late. Nocturnal visits by fishos targeting them with live baits and prawn imitations have put a dent in their population. More barra will gather in such places and are suckers for those with the gear and technique to extract them from amongst the pylons. Please think about the future of the species if targeting these spawning aggregations and let the big girls go unharmed.
GTs of all sizes from river rats to car bonnet sized leviathans can be found scattered throughout the straits right now and also in the Mary itself. Casting big blooping poppers and stickbaits is certainly the recognised GT-specific technique nowadays, but don’t be surprised when a GT intercepts your vibe, hardbody or plastic intended for barra or salmon when fishing the rivers or straits. Queenies too have become very widespread in the upper straits and are making an appearance in the lower reaches of the rivers. Until we get some rains and decent run-off you can expect a real mix of fish from the River Heads area that will include jewies, cod and even the odd reef fish.
Mud crabbing has been fairly ordinary for many crabbers of late courtesy of the extended dry and heavy local pressure. The weather coming this week might include some moisture and could well get the crabs on the move over the full moon. The same goes for the prawns. Normally at this time of year our prawning season has kicked up a gear and its bucket limits all round, but not so this year. With our record lack of rainfall for January now behind us, surely we will see some decent rains soon that will kick start the prawn season. In the meantime, look for modest patches of smaller prawns within the big feeder creeks of the rivers or within the creeks down the straits.
Burrum River System
Some great barra have been reported from scattered sites within the Burrum system. The heat of the day made the day time efforts that little bit harder, but that same heat sure fires them up when the sun disappears. You can find barra scattered from one end of the Burrum to the other and throughout the other three rivers of that system as well. The impending big tides would suggest the flats down the lower reaches will be the go, as will the nearby channels, rock bars and snags when the tide slows.
Mangrove jacks continue from strength to strength in the Burrum this season. The heat has them firing on all cylinders, albeit much more-so during the cooler dawn/dusk periods. This bite time is not necessarily a response to the excessive heat, but just their desire to avoid strong daylight due to their big nocturnal eyes. As much as they love heavy cover for protection and ambushing prey, this same cover offers them protection from the sun. Think shade and cover when targeting them during office hours.
There are plenty of small prawns gathered in the upper reaches of these rivers, with the emphasis on “small”. Give them a couple more weeks and they will be of a decent size. Mud crabs are certainly active up that way – just ask anyone trying to bait fish in the mid to upper reaches. The problem is that they appear to be all jennies or undersized bucks, which is probably why there are stuff all crab pots in the river. Having said this, the full moon should see them super active, and with the lack of effort from locals there may be a few turn up, especially if we get some rain.
Urangan Pier, Local Beaches and Creeks
Urangan Pier regulars are saying that the fishing has been very quiet out there over the past week. It has mostly been a few fishos gathered at night targeting barra, with some succeeding. Now that the pencillies have gone, you may not see as many queenies as have turned up in recent weeks, but if you do, and you have a live pike at the ready then you will be in with a good chance.
Our local town beaches have been very quiet, at least for anything of quality. The beaches west of town can turn up a few whiting from the shallow gutters during the flood tide, but size and numbers are still lacking. The local creeks are a better bet for those chasing a barra or jack, with the chance of running into a few flatties, queenies or grunter.
The recent recovery of Lenthalls as a bass and barra fishery was welcome news for many. It is still early days yet, but latest reports suggest the barra fishery is playing second fiddle to the bass. In fact, one regular snuck out there for a few hours chasing barra and landed a few, but scored some big bass on his barra lures attached to heavy leader. Normally the bass will avoid heavy leaders, so they are obviously aggressive enough and under such little pressure of late that they are willing to have a go at anything.
So, if the weather gets you down and you feel like a crack at the fresh, then give Lenthalls a go. The barra are there, hanging around the vast lilly pads and the submerged piles of horizontal timber pushed up when the land was cleared. They are responding well to shallow and medium diving hardbodies, but will also take a fancy to paddle-tailed plastics for those inclined to favour the softies.
By all accounts the bass out there are going off. Troll them up if you like, or try hard vibes or plastics along the drop offs and points within the side arms of the lake. Sound around the points and deeper waters out from the lillies and look for schools of fish. The bass vary in size from pups through to 50cm+ models and are quite healthy and active. The barometer will play a part in their activity no doubt, so avoid the periods of lower barometric readings for a better bite.
Good luck out there y’all.