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Weekly Fishing Report - 14th March 2019

We enjoyed some great weather over the past week, albeit hot as hell at times, with just the odd shower to keep the humidity up. After such a long, hot and dry summer with less than ideal breezes, we are now looking down the barrel of a week of weather that could only be described as “spectacular”.

A trough will hover over our region over the next day or two bringing the odd shower or storm and with barely an isobar in sight for the next week it looks like we are in for light winds for the foreseeable future. Northeasterly sea breezes late in the day might put a ruffle on our inshore waters, but offshore is looking outstanding.

Add to this great weather the passing of a quarter moon phase tonight and the prospect of building tides towards next Thursday’s full moon and we have the recipe for some great fishing ahead.

The Bay

Tuna is the word right now for the sport fishos out there, with some sensational topwater action for the tuna chasers throughout much of the northern bay. Obviously longtails are typically the most sought after species of tuna in these parts, but right now it is very possible to pull a tuna trifecta of longtail, yellowfin and macks all in the one day.

Those that ventured out to the Gutters found yellowfin in decent numbers busting up on the surface, with fish ranging in size from little tiny bullets to ‘fin reaching the 20kg mark. Stickbaits, and in particular Nashy’s stickies, have been doing the damage on the yellowfin up that way, but you can mix it up if you like and throw all manner of similar stickbaits, metals and plastics at them if you wish.

Often the yellowfin can be feeding on larger bait than their cousins so respond quite well to larger presentations and even trolling. For those keen to troll the area, simply deploy a mix of smaller skirts and high-speed hardbodies and do “figure eight” passes around the schools and along the gutter edges until you hook up. On the way out there you are likely to pass schools of longtail and mack tuna churning the surface to froth which will either be ignored or a major distraction depending on your outlook.

Back over Rooneys way was where the better reports of longtail tuna came from this past week. “The pocket” up under Rooneys was particularly popular and productive, with tuna harassing numerous bait balls in the area. Stickbaits such as Nashy’s, Rapala Long Casts and Jackson Kaikens provided some mind blowing surface takes, whilst the usual range of small metal slugs and Zman Jerkshads did the job just below the surface on the high speed spinning gear.

Whilst schools of tuna were certainly encountered as far south as Coongul Point this week, it appears that those that did the miles got the smiles, so keep that in mind if heading out this weekend. Word is that a lot of tuna were found off Arch Cliffs but the shark attrition was shocking.

We are some chance of a few showers and cloudy weather, so you might find the tuna less likely to play on top during the overcast periods. During these times you can always sink your plastics, metals and micro jigs over likely ground looking for tuna holding deep or more likely queenfish, golden trevally and other trevally species that have been accompanying the tuna schools of late.

Reef fishos tore off in all directions last weekend enjoying the light winds and a chance to hit reefs out wider that have been spelled for a couple of months. Many good fish were caught from the Gutters and adjacent grounds. Time spent on the better country away from the gutter ledges produced a couple of nice red emperor for those lucky enough to avoid the sharks.

The ledges of the gutters produced plenty of coral trout, with more experienced fishos able to fill their bag limit fairly quickly. This said, pressure on this species over the past couple of years has certainly had an impact on their population and average size, with what used to be throw-backs around the 50cm mark now being slipped into eskies on a regular basis. You can still expect to tangle with the odd nice trout upwards of the 6kg mark, but you’ve still got to drag him out of the bottom with your fingers crossed that there are no sharks homing in.

For those who might be wondering, our local trout are of the bar-cheeked variety, said to attain a weight of 11kg. We could pull out photos of bar-cheeks nudging this mark from days gone by when 9kg fish were reasonably common, but then again, we used live baits in lieu of lures and once had to anchor accurately to even get the bite. Of most significance was that sharks were rarely an issue back then and our reefs were alive with unstoppable reefies. Oh how things have changed.

Both the Gutters and Rooneys reefs produced a mix of other reefies including grass sweetlip, venus tuskfish, spangled emperor, hussar, moses perch and scarlet sea perch. The week ahead should see some good catches of scarlets from these grounds for those crews over-nighting up that way. Some big grunter will also be a likely contender for those fishing off Rooneys and a bit further south, though again mostly at night.

Sharks proved to be a lesser issue out wide than they were before Xmas. Undoubtedly this is simply due to the lack of boating traffic courtesy of the weather restrictions till now. Whilst it was rare for any crew to avoid being sharked altogether, it is pleasing to hear that people are starting to become more shark-savvy and move elsewhere when the noahs turn up. Let’s hope they don’t re-appear with all the extra boat traffic likely over the coming weeks.

With such good weather over the next week we would be expecting to hear stories from plenty of crews making their way over the Breaksea Spit and beyond. It will be interesting to hear how the current is out wide and whether the sharks have backed off out there or not. Even the charter boats give those grounds a spell over the “worst” of the summer months, so these normally productive grounds should be even riper for the picking when your chance comes around.

Inshore

Such great weather of late has seen plenty of boats out locally, with our inshore reefs popular for the small boat brigade. Interestingly, the dreaded sharks appear to be a bigger issue inshore than out wide at present – again, likely due to these monsters being drawn to boating activity.

Grass sweetlip are still the mainstay for reef fishos in close, taking a variety of baits both day and night, with the better class of fish often turning up during the evening hours. Those soaking dead baits are also catching a few hard-pulling blackall, the odd cod and the occasional quality scarlet.

Coral trout are a major target species this time of year inshore and can be caught over the turn of tide on either live baits or tea-bagged plastics and soft vibes. Cod by-catch can be somewhat annoying, though scarlet by-catch is very welcome indeed.

Golden trevally are turning up quite frequently over artificial reef structures inshore of late, and are willing to take live baits, well-presented micro jigs, vibes and/or plastics. The Outer Banks and the Simpson Arti to the north thereof are both worth a look, as are the Roy Rufus shipwrecks and their surrounds. Beware of the sharks.

Queenfish continue to strip line off the spin gear for those working stickbaits and plastics around the bay islands and Fraser’s western ledges. They can often be found in the vicinity of the reefs within the shipping channels and even around the local beacons at times. The calm conditions this week are likely to see them retreat to deeper waters in the more pressured areas.

Mary/Susan Rivers & The Great Sandy Straits

Find the masses of jelly prawns either in the rivers of down the straits and you will likely find a population of threadfin salmon. Yes, they will frustrate you as they feed in plain sight ignoring your favourite lures, but persist and you will either stumble onto the lure of the day or at least annoy them into striking. Obviously the last of the ebb and first of the flood tides are the time to be looking for threadies around drain mouths etc, but you can also find them hanging behind rock bars mid-flood willing to strike all manner of lures in the 90mm size range.

Barra fishos are reporting barra from far and wide, with this species seemingly well scattered throughout our estuaries. The small tides over the next few days will make working the snags easier, so try the feeder creeks, rock bars and ledges with hardbodies, paddle-tailed plastics or soft vibes.

Some very nice grunter are possible for those venturing down the straits or staying within the lower-mid reaches of the rivers. They are an easy option for the patient bait fisho that secures live yabbies, prawns, herring or fresh squid, but are possibly even easier for a deft hand with a light rod and the right plastic (did someone say GULP?).

If you can stand the sandflies and mosquitoes, then the creeks dotted along Fraser’s western side are where you will find some impressive mangrove jacks right now. They are hungry and have been stirred into action by the latest spell of hot weather. Do not forget the Bushmans repellent. Other cheaper brands may be okay for BBQs and open areas, but not so in these creeks.

A lot of prawners are frustrated with the reduced number of prawn so far this season. We just had possibly the driest and hottest summer ever, so the diminished prawn run is no surprise. However, there are prawns to be caught for those keen enough to get dirty and seek them out in the muddier reaches of our local creeks. We have had no-one reporting big hauls of late, but hey, would you tell the world if you struck a patch that no-one else knew about?

Crabbers are still struggling to get any decent numbers of muddies. We simply need rain for them to get up and move. In the meantime, next week’s full moon is prime time for muddies, so if you reckon you can track some down then next week will be the go.

Sand crabs will be a viable option out the front in the channels adjacent to the flats over the same full moon period. Whiting frames make perhaps the best baits for sandies, though they will accept a range of other fish baits.

Burrum River System

Barra and jacks are the two mainstays in the Burrum system. This week’s extremely hot weather has stirred them up and a bit of stormy weather can only add a measure of excitement to the hunt. Both species are well scattered and this system abounds in great looking snags and rock bars, so give yourself plenty of time and make sure you work the river in the right direction to keep ahead of the tide.

Prawners up that way have had mixed results of late, though you can rely on plenty of small prawns if you target the upper reaches. Muddy banks outside creek mouths and slower backwaters behind the islands will be places to look for better prawn unless you find them with your sounder in the deeper holes upstream. The Gregory is likely to produce the better prawning till we get some rains.

Burrum Heads fishos wandering the river foresfore should do so armed with their favourite squid jig. Whilst only in small numbers and not overly large, the odd small school of tigers has being making an appearance over the past couple of weeks.

Urangan Pier

The buzz from the pier this week has been around the presence of a couple of decent spanish mackerel crashing the ever-present bait schools sheltering amongst its pylons. Add these marauders to the capture of a couple of golden trevally and small (undersized) schoolies this week and its Flasha Spoons and live baits flying in all directions. Queenfish are still an occasional visitor, albeit more likely at night.

Lake Lenthalls

After a brief period of slow fishing courtesy of an east coast low recently, Lenthalls has again fired for bass fishos out there seeking out these feisty little Aussie natives. Lenthalls is very well stocked with bass, and thanks to the great efforts of the local re-stocking group, fishos are enjoying great sessions on bass of all sizes. You might find some small fish out there but plenty of 50cm models exist to keep things very interesting.

Even more exciting is the revitalisation of this excellent little barra fishery. It was dead quiet for ages, but finally the crappy water cleared up and the barra came back on the chew. Vast expanses of lilies offer a multitude of opportunities to hone your casting skills and tangle with some topwater barra. Equally so, the numerous log piles and submerged lay-downs will keep you twitching hardbodies  or slow-rolling weedless-rigged paddle tailed plastics for hours on end.

To date, the best barra reported have stretched the tape to 80cm, but bigger specimens are in there for the catching. Check with Rob the ranger if planning to camp at the lake as there are restrictions on numbers of campers and hours of access. This lake is also limited to low emission outboards up to 60HP only and speed restrictions apply. This is the perfect lake to take the kayak for some hand to hand combat at close quarters.

Good luck out there y’all.

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