Cold Southerlies Dominate the Weather - As the Maroons Dominate the Blues
If only the weather was as good as the footy, eh? Wow! What a game last night. Our champion Maroons trounced the blues and can bask in the glory for yet another year. Good onya lads.
The warm glow from last night’s monumental win has taken the edge off this latest cold blast from the south - but only Just. 25 knots of southwester today, easing to 20 knots of southerly tomorrow has virtually written-off the last of this working week.
Thankfully, the weekend looks vastly better. 10-15 knots of southerly tending southeasterly Saturday opens up many options. Even better conditions are forecast for Sunday, with a very light breeze varying either side of southerly. The best weather will certainly be inshore, so consider a little more breeze if planning a trip to the northern bay or offshore.
Don’t look at the bay whilst heading to work Monday, as the glassed-out conditions will only exacerbate your mondayitis. That will be the day for any offshore activities, particularly to our south. It looks as though a southeaster may build through the day Tuesday and blow out the middle part of next week. We can look forward to more precipitation mid-week once again.
There is a lot of water being shifted by the big tides at the moment, courtesy of tonight’s full moon. Big highs peaking around the 4.10m mark have inundated the higher reaches of our beaches, flats and creeks. It is likely that the tide has re-floated a few trees and other debris, so keep an eye out when traveling in the bay, rivers and straits. Equally so, the big ebb tides have drained our many estuarine systems and flushed a lot of silt out into our inshore waters yet again, so don’t expect the waters to be too clear in the shallows.
Highly Productive Mid-Winter Surf Scene on Fraser
The recent building tides have had the fish on the move through Fraser Island’s surf gutters. Big whiting have featured in catches from the melon holes, and shallow low tide gutters along parts of the southern and central beach.
Bream and tarwhine have been biting well around the exposed rocks in the central sector and are likely also quite active around the headlands. Trevally can be caught from the headlands this time of year, as can tailor and a host of local inhabitants and passing pelagics. You have only got until the end of this month to fish the headlands and their adjacent waters, so keep this in mind, with the annual closure looming.
The run of mid-range jewies continues in the deeper gutters along the central section of beach. We haven’t heard of any bigger fish being caught, but chances are that a better class of fish is there after all the flooding this year. Perhaps their captors are keen to stay under the radar, which makes a lot of sense these days.
Rat jewies are abundant in some gutters and around the rocky areas. Handle them with care and return them unharmed as soon as you can. We haven’t heard how the tailor fishos have faired this week as yet, but would expect there has been a continuation of chopper captures from the many well-formed gutters in the central stretch.
Quality dart can be found in some gutters, and are often easily-spotted surfing in the face of waves across the outer banks of these gutters. Rip-style gutters, being the exit points of the long parallel gutters often produce the best dart, and often enough, a mix of tailor and large bream.
Eugaries (pippies) are still quite easy to track down. Remember, there is a bag limit of 30 on these critters, which, like all other limits, is a possession limit. The worming has improved since the scent of freshwater has been flushed from the sands.
Staff member Logan took his little apprentices Joseph and Timmy for a flathead session and got a few for the table.
Hyperactive Bream Over Full Moon
The Urangan Pier has been popular for bream fans this week. The making tides as the full moon approached has had the bream biting very well once again. Quite large fish can be pulled from beneath the pylons, and many a newcomer to this fishery is astounded at the sheer tenacity and doggedness of some of the larger specimens.
Bust-offs are common. Often due to tackle lacking enough backbone to extract the bream, but also bad positioning in relation to the pylons and other factors such as super-light leaders or drag settings. Expect the bream to remain active for a couple of days and nights yet.
A few flatties were landed over the recent neaps. The spring tides make for vastly more challenging conditions for pier flathead fishos, though they are still quite catchable. Some fish will exit the pier waters for a few days in favour of the nearby stretches of beach and a change in diet brought about by the bigger tides. Expect their numbers to swell at the pier again in about a week’s time.
Nocturnal fishos hunting jewfish can do so with a little more confidence over the full moon. Their feeding activity is enhanced and their tendency to bite for longer periods at peak time presents more opportunities. There are a couple of other land-based locations that produce jewfish quite regularly this time of year too, so if the pier is too quiet then try the others.
Beach fishos donning the winter woollies for a night session have bagged a few whiting and bream from our town beaches. The whiting fishing is fairly tough however, and won’t really come into its own until towards the end of August.
Bream fishos on the other hand, are in their prime season right now. Big spawning bream are gathering over our rocky foreshores and around other structures regularly. River Heads has plenty on offer, as do the Pialba-Gatakers Bay rocks.
Wandering along, flicking light-weight lures on finesse tackle can be a very relaxing way to spend a cool winter’s day. Add the option of topwater and fish bettering the kilo mark and the same session can hit the next level in the excitement stakes.
Our many flats and creek mouths are worth a look for those keen on chasing flatties. Gravelly, and even rocky, terrain can be more productive than the lack lustre mud and sand, but in any case, you should concentrate your efforts around likely ambush sites when the tide is forcing baitfish past such an area.
Showy Hoy with a nice dusky
Estuaries Alive with Winter Species
We are seeing a tremendous resurgence in our estuarine fisheries this winter, courtesy of the great flooding in the warmer months. Many species are more abundant this winter than they were in the past few years. We can now enjoy the fruits of a better season – but please do not over do it. Over-harvesting is a serious issue, now more than ever as our population of hungry fishos explodes.
One of the most notable species to recover this year has been the flathead. The lack of flathead in the last couple of years was so notable that we wrote about our concerns quite frequently in an attempt to lessen the impact on a fishery in jeopardy. We knew last year, that greater rainfall in the southern straits resulted in better flathead fishing down that way, whilst a lack of rain resulted in pathetic numbers in our waters.
Thankfully, this scenario has turned around this season. There are vastly better numbers of flatties being reported from numerous local estuaries. Quite large fish are fairly abundant as well, which is great to see. We trust that everyone is well-versed in flathead etiquette these days and is putting the bigger breeding females back unharmed to protect the future of the fishery.
We can enjoy a prolonged flathead season from now into at least mid-spring. Fish can be found in the skinniest of waters and also in deeper holes and runs in the rivers if there is a regular presence of baitfish. Many techniques can be used to trick the flatties, though the soft plastics fishos certainly have the edge over all others.
Sure enough, hardbodies will tempt plenty of good flathead, as will vibes and of course various baits, both dead and alive. Target them however you favour, and have some fun this winter and spring. Our waters aren’t nearly as clear as they have been in past years, so sight fishing isn’t as viable unfortunately, but it is surely better to have fish in dirtier waters than none in clear waters.
Timmy aka Muscles with a nice flathead
Our great inshore run of grunter is showing signs of tapering off. Many fish are making their way back into our estuaries, hitching a ride on the bigger making tides when appropriate. Having said this, there has still been catches of quality grunter from a couple of reef sites in the western and southern bay this week.
Hopping plastics or vibes will soon track down the grunter in our creeks and rivers, so long as you focus your attention on areas with a little gravel, shell or scattered rock. Once found, these fish can be targeted quite regularly on similar tides whilst ever those waters are to their liking. Grunter are fairly mobile, particularly in the smaller creeks, where they often enter and exit the creek with the tide.
Even more mobile, and in many cases more prolific, are blue salmon. The blues are now well entrenched in our creeks (as are the NSW blues in our jokes). Troll them up if you wish, or otherwise seek them out with plastics and vibes. What they lack in eating quality, they certainly make up for in the fun stakes.
The blues get pretty darn big around these parts and can be a real handful when they reach the 90cm+ mark. Whilst it can be a fish a cast and plenty of fun vibing blues in the holes, arguably the most joy is had when targeting them on the flats. Sneaking up on schools of big blue salmon and hopping a lure across their path typically results in blistering runs and dogged battles to rival many more prestigious species.
You might just trip over the odd threadfin salmon in your travels in winter too. Fish mooching about on the flats are not all that uncommon, and can be tempted with a well-placed lure. They are vastly more active at night this time of year. In deeper waters, they can be super-frustrating when found in schools on the sounder and cannot be tempted during daylight hours.
Our jewfish activity is peaking at the moment, and quality jewies are falling to live baits and a range of lures. Rocky ledges, man-made structures, deeper snag-strewn holes and some rock bars in our rivers and down the straits are all likely jewfish hang-outs at some time.
There are swags of bream on offer in the lower reaches of the rivers and out in the straits around the rock bars and ledge-fringed flats. Summer whiting fishos have a had a chance to get up on the flats chasing their beloved ‘ting this week, though to date we have not heard how anyone faired. Another chance presents itself for a crack at the early season whiting as the new moon approaches in a couple of weeks’ time.
Queenfish and small giant trevally can be targeted over the coming months as they round up baitfish in some of our rivers, down the straits and around the bay islands. Other species of trevally, including goldens, diamonds, gold-spotted and even more are also possible from similar waters. Even dart and the odd school of rat yellowtail kingfish turn up inshore late winter.
Winter whiting fans are in their element right now. Latest reports suggest there has been good catches on offer for those launching at Gatakers Bay boat ramp. Schools have been found in a few areas from Toogoom to Pialba. The O’Reagan Creek grounds were very popular at one stage, but every likely area has its moments as the schools move with the tides and wind conditions.
There have been schools of very small whiting found down towards the bottom of Woody Island recently. The big tides will have lifted a lot of silt from the nearby flats and once that settles with less tidal flow, the flats and channels between Urangan and Woody may be worth a try.
Straits fishos launching from River Heads or any of several other launch points in the smaller hamlets dotted along the Great Sandy Straits mainland have access to very good winter whiting grounds this time of year. The crowds are vastly less than the waters within cooee of Hervey Bay and the quality of fish on offer often a lot better. An added bonus to fishing the straits for winteries is the enhanced likelihood of catches of summeries at the same time, not to mention other species such as grunter and flathead getting in on the act.
Bob Jeynes from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters said that clients have been enjoying some great snapper fishing before the annual closure begins.
Snapper and Pearl Perch Off Limits for a Month
Just as we get into the swing of a better-than-recent snapper season, along comes the annual closure. As from 12.01am on Friday 15th July, both snapper and pearl perch are off limits in Qld waters. Neither species can be targeted or taken until after midnight on Monday 15th August.
Whilst we snapper (and/or pearly) fans may all be a little frustrated at the closure, it is incredibly important that we obey the rules and leave these fish to spawn in peace. Of course, we would be rather naïve to believe that there won’t be a few fishos that cannot help themselves and tangle with the local snapper schools during the closure. Don’t be one of these fishos!
Unfortunately, the snapper/pearly closure does take the shine off a lot of our typical mid-winter reef fishing forays. Trips to the 25 Fathom Hole would be pointless for example, as there is nothing there worth targeting in winter apart from snapper.
Similarly, trips over the wide bay bar will be vastly less appealing for many. Yes, there is ample variety down that way to target, but the snapper and pearlies really are the dominant species in many areas. Night sessions on many inshore reefs, or up in Platypus Bay, off Rooneys or out at the Gutters could all be deemed snapper sessions to some extent this time of year.
So, how to we avoid snapper and pearlies and still hunt down a feed of reef fish? Well, firstly, admitting that it will be impossible to avoid them altogether, and ensuring good fish handling and release practices, there are still certain measures you can take.
Avoiding float-lining, and keeping baits more bottom-orientated will help to avoid the bigger knobbies in many areas. Targeting the likes of coral trout, cod and other reefies tight to structure where snapper rarely linger will also help. Given that berley trails attract snapper, then perhaps re-thinking the need for a berley trail might help.
Actively seeking out and targeting scarlets, tuskies and reds over their favoured bottom, or simply avoiding the dawn and dusk periods adjacent to reef systems well-laden in baitfish could also minimise your chances of connecting to snapper.
Okay, so that was a bit weird. The first time we have ever written about how NOT to catch a species of fish. Read between the lines if you like, and think the opposite of what is written above, and there might even be a couple of tips for snapper fishos for the days post-closure.
A solid chunk of a diamond trevally caught with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.
Target Species During Snapper/Pearl Perch Closure
Inshore in the bay, you might tempt a lethargic coral trout or estuary cod on our deeper reefs with a live bait or jigged plastic or vibe. Baits weighted heavily enough to hold bottom could pick up an out-of-season grassy sweetlip, which, whilst light-on in numbers will all be of good size if found.
Whilst unappealing to most locals, schools of blackall can offer some pretty good sport. Softer baits such as prawn and smaller squid fished close to structure in daylight or hard to the bottom after dark on the rubbly stuff can see some fairly hefty blackall hoisted aboard.
Scarlets are a chance around many of the larger structures inshore, as well as out in the open bay and up in Platypus Bay. Less common than in recent months, but still about in smaller numbers inshore are some quite large grunter. Once again, this is another species you can target on or near certain reef systems in Platypus Bay and in the western bay.
School mackerel continue to wreak havoc and diminish your lure collection inshore. Look for bait schools in the southern and western bay, particularly over reef, and spin them up on Flasha Spoons, Halco Twisties and the like.
Out wider, the run of big cobia continues to excite many fishos. Sure enough, they are an annoying bycatch to most experienced reef fishos, but for many other folks they are hugely exciting. The sheer size of many of the cobes getting about this time of year is quite impressive. The largest fish are risky eating propositions for many reasons, so consider de-hooking them boat-side after a happy snap and let them swim off without engaging the gaff.
Reds, trout, reef jacks, scarlets, tuskies and a vast array of other reef species are possible in the northern bay and beyond. Hitch the boat on and take a spin up the Bruce for a crack at the huge variety of reefies on offer amongst the Capricorn Bunker Group of Islands when the weather is right and you can easily avoid the snapper and pearlies and still have a ball.
Sportsfishos can wear themselves out on our winter-time trevally population. Virtually every trevally species is on offer somewhere in the bay right now, and in some cases the schools mix, and the captures become even more random.
The Gutters are lousy with trevors, the Rooneys reefs have their fair share and the reefs, rubble and weed patches in Platypus Bay also house big numbers of various species. Goldies and others are moving inshore as well, so chances are that if you find schools of bait, there will be some form of trevally nearby and ready to rumble.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Vale Jim “Sully” Sullivan
Jim lost his battle with cancer and passed on earlier this week in a hospital in Brisbane.
Jim was a long-term owner and manager of Fisherman’s Corner, the predecessor of Fisho’s Tackle World.
Jim was a founding member of the Tackle World group, working with a small assembly of other like-minded store owners many years ago to develop a buying group that resulted in the branding and prestige enjoyed by many of Australia’s best tackle stores today.
Many locals can thank Jim for the fishing prowess that they enjoy today. Jim was very much hands-on and he, together with his staff and long-time friends, moulded many of the fisheries that we partake of in Hervey Bay.
Jim’s funeral will be held at the local J Kirk & Sons Crematorium next Thursday 21st July, at 2pm.
We will be closing our store that afternoon, so that we can attend the funeral.
R.I.P. Sully ….. from all the Crew at Fisho’s, both past and present. Cheers old mate.