Cool Southerly Change On Its Way
We trust you all got out and enjoyed that spectacular spell of light winds last weekend. The overflowing boat trailer parks at our local ramps last Saturday would suggest that few stayed home on that day at least. Bad timing saw some boat owners have to park so far from the ramp they nearly needed a packed lunch for the return walk.
Given the current COVID-19 restrictions, the crowds only came from our local area, so imagine if we had the usual tourists from down south that usually grace our waters this time of year. With lots of locals out of work and fishing more than ever, the overflowing carparks are an obvious sign that our local infrastructure simply isn’t sufficient for our ever-growing fishing/boating community – something that is apparent every time we get glamour weather on a weekend or holiday.
Parking won’t be an issue this weekend however (except perhaps Gatakers Bay and River Heads), as the weather isn’t looking real flash at all. A brisk southerly will blow in some time tomorrow morning and maintain an average of 15-20 knots (and possibly more) for quite a few days.
Living where we do, we are blessed to have quite a few inshore options in areas sheltered from the southerly winds. As the week wears on the winds are forecast to swing a little more eastward daily, with southeasters by early next week that will bring the protection of Fraser Island into play for those wishing to head up the island.
Neap tides courtesy of tomorrow’s quarter moon phase will see very little tidal movement. This can be a good thing in some areas and can also mean minimal fish activity in others, so keep this factor in mind if considering a fishing option out of the wind.
COVID-19 Restrictions Ease Further
Many will welcome the news that we will be allowed to travel up to 150km from our home residences this weekend. This is a 150km radius from home (not actual distance travelled) which opens up the whole of the Great Sandy Straits to at least Rainbow Beach and also brings some lakes back onto the hit list.
According to Qld Government websites Fraser Island is still closed till 31st May 2020. Maritime Safety Queensland is also enforcing a 100m exclusion zone in waters around Fraser Island for all recreational vessels till at least 29th May.
So basically, landing on Fraser for a walk or to gather bait etc is not permitted. We are also not allowed to access creeks such as Wathumba, Coongul, Moon or the plethora of other island creeks not mentioned. Similarly, popular areas such as Ungowa, Gary’s Anchorage, Kingfisher Bay Resort jetty (or part thereof) and numerous other spots are out of bounds for boaties.
Offshore Tough Last Weekend
The weather might have been brilliant inshore but according to a few crews that ventured over the Breaksea Spit last weekend the conditions were less than ideal. The big full moon tide and a bit of breeze in the area made for tough conditions and the fishing just didn’t fire. Few, if any, did well enough to do any bragging apparently.
The Gutters area was a bit kinder to those that headed up that way. Coral trout were on the chew and those that were able to avoid the sharks scored quite well. Hardly the sort of fishing the area was once renowned for, but good to hear that at least a few crews did okay. The sharks are still a serious issue out there for most crews and the attrition from the sharks is depleting limited fish stocks when the fish are under greater pressure than ever.
Mixed bags from the Gutters area included the odd red emperor, trout as mentioned, scarlets, grass sweetlip, spangled emperor, parrot and hussar, whilst the school and spanish mackerel made their presence felt along the ledges.
Snapper will become a reasonable target species out that way in the near future, though more-so for those that fish the periods of twilight or into the evening. You can scratch up a bag of squire right now by dropping baits, plastics or jigs over the sandy fringes adjacent to the drop-offs.
Hervey Bay Is Tuna Central
At the risk of repeating ourselves, the bay is alive with surface-feeding schools of mack and longtail tuna right now. The impending weather will restrict tuna chasing activities somewhat, but there have been numerous reports of tuna just wide of Gatakers Bay and even in Urangan Channel lately. Perhaps wait till the weather improves for a serious crack at the tuna, but at least have a spin rod rigged and ready in case they bust up within casting range when fishing our sheltered inshore waters.
Sheltered Inshore Options
The neap tides this weekend will need to be considered when selecting a fishing spot to try. The shallow reefs off Gatakers Bay are an obvious choice in a stiff southerly when it comes to boating comfort, but the neaps might see the bite drop off during the daytime. The lack of run in such places sees a lacklustre feeding response from the local fish, but there are a few things you can do to improve your chances.
Fishing “stupid o’clock” in the morning is worth considering as many cod, sweetlip, squire and blackall will be active pre-dawn. The first hour or two after sunrise will also be worth a crack, but once the sun is high in the sky you can expect the bite to taper off.
Clever use of berley is the other factor that can turn a slow bite into a good one. Fish are opportunists and a berley trail can trigger them to bite as they take advantage of the apparent food source. Anchoring and berleying with either pelletised shop-bought berley or chopped up old bait etc in a berley pot, then sending back lightly or unweighted baits, can see a real variety of fish come over the side.
Gatakers Bay and the Point Vernon area have produced a few good catches of quality grunter recently, with fish in excess of 60cm not uncommon. They are often found along the reef edge by boaties, but shore-based anglers have also scored a few beauties when their timing and presentations have been right.
Other than grunter, you can expect to pick up some decent grass sweetlip, blackall, blueys, cod, trout or squire depending upon your chosen baits, lures or timing. Sharks are rarely an issue over the shallow reefs, though please do your best to avoid turtles when trolling the area.
As mentioned last week, the first of the season’s local winter whiting schools have turned up off Gatakers Bay. Latest reports suggest their numbers are still only reasonable but the size is quite good. Some of the gun local whiting fishos have gone close to bagging out on occasion, and would have easily achieved their bags if it wasn’t for the presence of the dreaded green toads.
Small school mackerel have also taken a toll on whiting catches at times, so perhaps having a spin rod ready-rigged with a spoon could be worthwhile for when they turn up. Take note of the boundaries of the yellow zone when fishing that area, as only one line and hook can be used in close to Gatakers.
Bigger vessels can possibly fish places such as the Roy Rufus arti whilst the wind is from the south. Apparently there have been a few decent snapper on the arti recently, and there is always plenty of grass sweetlip and cod this time of year. The sharks are hard to avoid out there, but it seems a few guys can dodge them on weekends when there are numerous boats in the area (keeping the sharks pre-occupied elsewhere). That will not be the case with 20 knots of southerly however.
Seek Shelter From The Wind In The River
20 knots of wind is less than ideal, even for river fishing. However, if you simply must go fishing to get your fix then our rivers offer plenty of protection and potentially some great fishing. We have had no reports from the Burrum system of late, however, would expect there would be plenty of bream and a few flatties on offer out there, along with the odd jack, barra, jew or salmon. Tailor shouldn’t be too far away, if they haven’t started turning up already.
The Mary and Susan rivers offer a good chance of a few king and blue salmon, along with plenty of flatties, some quality grunter, lots of bream, the odd jew and perhaps a sluggish barra or two. Bait fishos should do well tucked up out of the wind. Those of us that favour lures can opt to troll for the sambos, or jig vibes and plastics in the deeper holes around low tide. The threadies have been quite visible lately, smashing bait in and around drains on the bigger tides, but they will be a bit more sedentary and likely favour the deeper waters over the neaps.
Look for schools of bream around the rocky areas in the lower reaches. They will be gathering to spawn soon and are making their way downstream en-masse. Berley and light-weighted baits will score well, both day and night, and might attract a few grunter or blue salmon in some spots.
Mulloway jew are becoming increasingly active as our waters cool. They can be found in the deeper holes and around rocky outcrops in the lower reaches as well as many spots down the straits. The COVID restrictions will keep us away from their usual ledge-type haunts along the inside of Fraser for now, so hopefully they get to gather and grow unhindered and will be a great target once restrictions are lifted.
Live baits or whole squid will score jewies for the bait fishos, whilst those favouring lures will be well served by soft vibes and large prawn imitation plastics. Nights will always be best (for lure or bait) but time your efforts around the tide turns and you can pick them up during the day as well. There are a lot of jew under the 75cm minimum in our waters these days, so take care if keeping one or two (bag limit) for a feed. Black jew are rarer around these parts, but do visit our waters. They are a no take species at present, so let them go if you get any.
Fishing On The Improve At Urangan Pier
After saying how quiet the pier fishing has been in last week’s report, things have seemingly improved thereafter. A few longtail tuna have busted up close to the pier this week and a couple of decent spanish mackerel have been landed as well.
Jewfish have been caught out the end after dark on live baits and are a good target for lure fishos during the evening with the right softie or vibe for the prevailing current. Being sure the jew is over 75cm is obviously a good idea before lowering a gaff for landing purposes. Smaller models can be swung over the rails or broken off if needs be.
Bream numbers will soon swell out along the pier as the annual spawning run kicks into gear. Apparently there are plenty of smaller models there at present. The big males will come in prior to the roed-up females and then it will be bream galore for anyone fishing appropriate tackle, terminals and baits.
Flathead will become a common sight in the shallows over the cooler months. Look for the “lies” beneath the light posts and near the pylons in the first channel at low tide, as this is a dead giveaway as to where they may lurk when the tide rises again. Using your polarised sunnies to good effect during the early flood tide will soon see you scrambling for a live pike or herring or an appropriate vibe or softie when you spot them.
Lake Monduran Back On The Hit List
The easing COVID restrictions brings Mondy back online for Fraser Coast locals. It is roughly 150km from here to the lake by road, making it well within the 150km radius. Having been closed to all access till just recently, the lake offers a crack at stacks of un-pestered barra that likely haven’t seen a lure in months.
Word from the lake is that it is in excellent condition, with clear water offering up to a metre visibility. Those lucky enough to have fished the lake since its re-opening have found great numbers of active barra around the edges, along wind-blown banks and on the points. The barra are well scattered throughout the lake, though it sounds as though there are plenty in the main basin and not far from there, so easy access and less travelling time might suit those new to fishing the lake.
Unfortunately, the Lake Monduran Caravan Park is still closed due to the virus issue so no camping options are allowed at present. The park is scheduled to re-open on the 12th June 2020.