More Strong Winds And No Relief For Firies
The past week has been fairly forgettable weather-wise with a strong southwesterly wind giving way to stiff northerlies offering little if any chance to get out beyond the estuaries and dams. Bushfires in the Woodgate-Buxton area were thankfully contained last night, but the threat of a flare-up is still very real.
The week ahead looks possibly worse than last week, with a stiff northerly scheduled to return some time tomorrow. Boaties will be hard-pressed to find any form of fishable water out on the bay for much of the week ahead, but luckily we live in an area surrounded by large estuaries and well-stocked impoundments.
Hervey Bay Gamefishing Tournament On This Weekend
Hervey Bay Gamefishing Club’s annual tournament kicks off tomorrow and concludes Sunday. Urangan Harbour will be abuzz tonight with crews prepping for the big event the next morning. The weather looks like crap, but hey, they’re big boys, with big toys so they will take it head on and laugh it off.
Mother-shipping from larger boats moored up near Rooneys Point is a regular feature of this tournament and offers crews in smaller vessels the opportunity to raft-up and enjoy the comfort and re-fuelling services on offer. Without the aid of the mother-ships the crews on the smaller vessels would lose significant fishing time and incur substantial costs in returning to Urangan for fuel each day.
The relaxed and jovial atmosphere overnight at Rooneys is a significant part of the whole Hervey Bay experience for gamefishers and we hope the weather doesn’t dampen their spirits. There is no doubt that the weather will impact on catches this year, but with the event playing host to some of the best skippers and experienced crews in Oz there are bound to be plenty of exciting captures over the next three days.
Going on recent reports from offshore waters beyond the Breaksea Spit there are plenty of large blue marlin on offer out over the shelf in waters ranging from 200-600 metres in depth. A few stripes of 100kg or so have also been hooked in similar waters adding a little variety.
Other bycatch of large mahi mahi has dispersed for now, courtesy of a band of cooler green water that pushed in just a week ago. Whilst the big billies will still hang about they are supposedly quite lethargic compared to when they are hunting in the warmer blue waters.
Amidst the green water, our very own Corey crewed a small boat last weekend that picked up a fair lump of a mako shark on the troll that played up with their renowned aerials and was certainly a surprise to all on board and those hearing the yarn ever since.
If the weather gets quite rough then the crews switch-baiting will often gain a significant advantage over those towing lures alone. A spread of skirts will surge and stall as the boat surfs and climbs the waves, putting quite unnatural actions into the lures at times that diminish their appeal to the fish. Switch-baiting offers the crew the chance to tow essentially a spread of teasers around until a billie is raised and then drop a bait or fly on its nose.
Whilst the heavy tackle crews will venture beyond the shelf, the light tackle crews that make their way outside will likely focus their attention on the productive grounds off the 9 and 13 mile crossings. Grounds further south were impacted by the arrival of the abovementioned green water, so northward bound is the go.
Marlin and sailfish score the biggest points in tournaments such as this, and rightly so, but bycatch of other pelagics also scores on a lesser basis, so smaller vessels towing spreads of smaller skirts etc can still be in the running for prizes even if they cannot get out wide and match it with the big boys. The inshore black marlin fishery has been a bit hit and miss this season, but crews seeking them out around the Rooneys area will hopefully hook into a few.
Spotties Arrive in Northern Bay
We have mentioned the approach of the first of the season’s spotted mackerel schools recently, so their arrival off Rooneys this week should come as no surprise. Acres of ‘rain-fish’ or ‘rain-bait’ (tiny baitfish so named as their rippling on the surface is somewhat similar in appearance to that of light rainfall) have arrived in northern Platypus Bay, with schools of spotties and mack tuna hot on their heels (tails).
Early season spotties can be hard to catch at times due to the tiny size of their food source, so be prepared to ‘match the hatch’ and tone down the size of your lures. Micro slugs in the 10-20 gram range are often the only lures they will eat, so even the standard 40 gram models favoured by many can be totally ignored. There are a couple of metal slugs in-store here that offer the micro size required but at a heavier weight than others due to the heavier metal used in the slug.
Mixed in with the spotties and macks are a few decent longtail tuna as well, but even the longtails are favouring the micro slugs when found in the vicinity of the rain-bait. So, once this latest spell of northerlies passes, we would expect plenty of hopeful sportsfishos to point the bow towards Rooneys looking for the spotties, tuna, marlin and cobia that are all a chance up that way at present.
Look Out For Angry Red Dogs In The Rivers And Creeks
Given the weather forecast there is little point talking about fishing options inshore apart from the rivers and creeks. Luckily, our estuaries teem with great numbers of sizeable mangrove jacks that respond particularly well to the heat and wild weather associated with a spate of springtime northerlies.
Bait fishos and lure fishos alike will all be in with a chance at the angry red dogs, though a bit of careful thought about location and timing might be worthwhile. Looking at the pending tides, there is a great opportunity for dawn sessions around low tide in some systems, whilst the delayed tidal movement upstream in others will see this tide change fall much later in the morning.
Night sessions will likely produce the best bite and for bait fishos keen on a feed it shouldn’t be too hard to bring home a reasonable meal of these tasty critters. Lure fishos venturing out into the darkness will have no moon in the early evening which will negate the chance of peppering snags with accurate casts, but thankfully, the jacks often tend to venture into open waters at night and will respond to the sounds of a surface lure with a degree of ferocity that might just leave you shaking (and checking your jocks).
Mary River Threadies And Grunter
The mighty Mary might only give up a very rare mangrove jack or three most years, but the record-breaking drought this year has already seen more jacks caught than might be considered the norm. Let’s hope this trend continues (the jack catches, not the drought) and more fishos actually try to target them around the big rocks bars and snags instead of chasing the usual threadies etc.
Speaking of threadies however, if you can handle the wind and find some fishable water somewhere upriver you should encounter a few decent salmon willing to scoff the usual array of vibes, plastics and hardbodies. Some might find trolling deep divers helpful in not only locating the salmon but in handling the windy conditions as well.
Big grunter are a fairly common catch in the Mary for bait fishos this time of year. Parking the boat somewhere adjacent to a patch of gravel or a rock bar and deploying a mix of baits of prawn, yabbie, herring or small squid will usually see if there are any grunter (or catties) nearby.
Lure fishos will do really well on grunter in depths of say 2-10 metres in similar areas or along deeper straits with muddy drop-offs from nearby shallow flats. GULP shrimp stand out as a grunter slayer, plastics-wise, but plenty of other curly-tailed varieties will work from numerous stables, along with other jerkshad-styled GULP and small vibes.
Stocked Impoundments Set To Fire – Big Time!
Lake Monduran’s Golden Barra Competition is undoubtedly drawing the additional crowds to its waters of late, but the barra fishery is about to go off in a big way. At least that is what we are predicting anyway. The combination of northerly winds and big numbers of fish that often refused to bite for much of the last couple of weeks should culminate in one of those once-a-season epic bites this week. At the risk of jinxing such an event, let’s just say that if you aren’t there to get your share then the stories will be hard to listen too thereafter.
A return to warm weather and a brisk northerly wind last Monday saw the barra fire up after another period of general lethargy. All of sudden, barra that refused to bite starting smashing hardbodies and plastics with renewed vigour. The ferocious bite and tenacious fight in amongst the timber was a stark reminder of the power of these awesome fish and the stuff that keeps a barra fisho coming back for more and more.
Tough conditions at Lake Awoonga also made for tough fishing in recent weeks, but the weather forecast looks great for there too, so it will be another great option a little further up the Bruce. For many of us, the extra hour and a half in the car up the highway can be a lot better time spent than the hours searching Mondy for barra – but hey, there ain’t no golden barra in there.
A big difference with Awoonga is the wind and the open nature of the lake. Be prepared to fish exposed, wind-blown points on and after dark if you want big numbers of the bigger fish. A good anchor and plenty of rope is a must, as often some of the better spots are weed edges just off a deeper section of water and the good old ‘spot-lock’ just won’t cut it.
North west of us by 4.5 hours is Lake Callideout near Biloela. The weather gurus are calling for 36-38 degrees by day and 20+ at night with winds under 15 knots. This situation screams barra and the big girls littered around this lake will be sure to fire up. Forget fishing during the daytime – it is too hot – for us and the barra. Early mornings and evening sessions are the go and this time of year often spawns the yarns of multiple metre+ captures that echo in the ears of those that weren’t there to witness the event.
Then again, just out the road is good old Lake Lenthalls. Small it may be, and restricted access it may have, but this little gem of a lake has been possibly the most consistent producer of mid-sized barra this season so far. There are stacks of 60-80+ models in there and they are very willing fish that will leave you wanting more after a session of multiple hook-ups and the odd heart-breaking loss. Oh, and there is also big numbers of bass in there as well.
So there you have it. The weather is crap but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our favourite pastime. A strong northerly, threat of a storm and warmer nights – pass me a barra rod and stay tuned for updates.
Good luck out there y’all.