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Weekly Fishing Report - 15th February 2018

Welcome fellow fishing fanatics to our inaugural weekly fishing report.

Stinking hot northerlies over the past week have restricted angling activities to our local rivers and creeks. A south east change forecast for Saturday morning will bring much improved conditions and allow boaties to get out onto the bay. The week ahead looks good inshore, with small breaks in the weather allowing access to the wider grounds for larger vessels.

This Friday’s new moon will see plenty of run in the tide, and should fire up the pelagics, with good "black" bite periods throughout the weekend for reefies.

The Bay

Mack tuna and a few longtail can be found working the surface wide off Platypus Bay and through the central bay. The southeaster this week will draw fish closer to Fraser and more accessible for smaller vessels. Arm yourself with a supply of small metal slugs and a few stickbaits and Zman 5 inch Streakz and you’re ready to rumble. Take a mix of metal sizes from 15 – 40 grams as you will find the tuna feasting on different sized baitfish as you move from school to school. Bring the stickbaits into play when you suspect the bigger longtail are feeding on gar or flying fish.

A few school mackerel can be found over Platypus Bay’s wider reefs, much to the dismay of plastic fishos targeting scarlets. Spanish mackerel are also in the area, albeit a catch and release option only, as they are a no-take species in Platypus Bay courtesy of their strong tendency to contain Ciguatera.

As mentioned, scarlets are taking plastics worked near the bottom, as are trout and cod on the better grounds up the island. Sweetlip and big grunter can also be found on some grounds up that way, which will take a variety of baits, jigs and plastics.

Inshore Reefs

Back closer inshore and our local reefs have had a brief respite due to the wind, so you can expect the usual species to be active. Sweetlip are common on many of our deeper reefs and ledges, taking a variety of baits, but especially squid, prawns and hardiheads. Blackall and scarlets will take the same baits if found around some of the gnarlier country. All of these species are more active at night, when there is also a chance of a few decent squire.

Coral trout and cod are very active this time of year inshore and can be taken either by fishing live baits on heavy tackle over the tide turns or by jigging heavily-weighted plastics at similar times.

School mackerel are turning up around inshore reefs holding bait (mostly small herring). Spin them up on Flasha spoons or fish livies, herring or whole pencil squid mid-water if anchored. Huge GTs can be found on a few of the Roy Rufus shipwrecks which are prone to scoffing your hard-earned reefies mid-retrieve. You can try large sinking stickbaits over these wrecks on heavy gear, but do so early before the boat traffic arrives, and better still, spin up a legal schoolie and swim it boatside to draw the GTS to the surface.

Pencil squid are starting to taper off for day time anglers but those with strong lights at night will still draw schools of squid to the boat. They can be found anywhere from the Straits right through to Rooneys, so if fishing at night make sure you carry a couple of small (1.5-2.0) squid jigs.

Sharks continue to be the bane of all fishos targeting larger fish, be they reefies or pelagics. Areas that see significant boat activity tend to be hangouts for large whalers that have become accustomed to following boats and waiting for us to bring up an easy feed. These beasts are devastating to our fisheries and we all need to become shark-savvy and move away from sharks when encountered. The only areas relatively unaffected by these huge sharks are our shallow reefs and flats.

There are still a few coral trout to be found on our shallow reefs off Pt Vernon and around Woody Island and north of Round Island. Select a diving hardbody with the appropriate diving depth and troll at a medium pace just after dawn, or flick 4 inch plastics over the coral bombies for best results. Sweetlip and blackall can also be found on the reef edges, with the best catches coming during low light periods or at night. Some excellent grunter can be found off Gatakers Bay using taking squid or prawns.

Great Sandy Straits

The Straits should fish well with the bigger tides, enabling our big estuary predators to gorge themselves on the prawns and baitfish pushed off the flats and out of the creeks by the tide. Whilst you can certainly fish the mangrove edges and rockbars over the higher stages of the tide, you will find the creek mouths, drains and nearby holes most productive for threadfin salmon and barra. Flick small 80-100mm hardbodies into the drains and twitch them out or hop paddletail, grub or prawn imitation plastics into and across the drain mouth. Use vibes in the adjacent deeper water or in the deeper holes.

Good grunter can be found in many of the creek systems as well as along the numerous deep ledges along the western shore of Fraser. They love small baits of live/dead prawn, small squid and yabbies, but are a dead-set easy target on small plastics worked gently near the bottom.

There are a lot of queenfish and smallish GTs busting into schools of hardiheads and herring, particularly around places like Ungowa and other rocky outcrops further south. Bigger GTs can be targeted around the bay islands and River Heads for those with the gear to tangle with them.

Jewfish can be found in schools over the better ledges and drop-offs on Fraser’s western shore. Be mindful of the 75cm minimum size and bag limit of 2 only, as there can be a lot of sub-75cm fish in mixed schools. Vibes and larger plastics work well over the turn of tide, with deep-set baits a better option during the run.

It is prime time for mangrove jacks and they are super aggressive courtesy of the heat. Best populations of jacks can be found in virtually all Fraser’s western creeks and in mainland creeks south of the Turkey Straits. Live baits or strips of fresh mullet will secure a feed for bait fishos. Those choosing lures will find small hardbodies and plastics the best options. With so much prawn around, there is rarely a better time to try for a jack on surface. So, bust out the small poppers, lock the drag up and pack a spare set of jocks, but make sure you do so during low light periods or at night.

Banana prawn can be found in numbers in many of the creeks and along muddy banks adjacent to creek mouths during the last of the run out and again during the early flood tide. Top pocket cast nets are certainly the go for any deeper prawning (say 2m+), particularly the excellent new "Pro Throw Cast Nets" with chain bottoms. If you only have a bottom pocket or drawstring net then best you locate the prawn in the shallow margins.

Mary & Susan River System

The River Heads boat ramp closure is frustrating to say the least. Remember you can only use the single lane exposed ramp on the eastern side of the peninsula at present, so take a deckie if you can because launching and retrieving is a real chore in anything but the lightest of winds.

Some great barra can be found in both rivers, but with the bigger tides you will be well served sticking to the lower reaches. Trollers and live baiters will be able to target fish further upriver as they can contend with the current a lot easier. Threadfin salmon are the other major target in the river and can be found working drains and muddy flats for prawn and jelly prawn.

A few grunter can be found in the lower reaches, particularly over the many gravelly areas in the Susan. Pikey bream are active around bushy snags further upstream and in the feeder creeks, and surprisingly large silver bream can be found around deeper rock bars.

Mud crabs have been active in recent weeks, so drop the pots in if that is your thing. Fresh bait is best, and make sure you throw out the old smelly bait when re-baiting. Also make sure you set the pots in waters that will still be covered at low tide as the crabs will cook in the heat if exposed.

Burrum River System

Numerous reports have been flooding in of barra caught around Burrum Heads since the season opening (and well before unfortunately). Good fish to a metre have been caught from near the ramp, from the Black Banks, upstream around the islands and in the lower Gregory. The Buxton area will be well worth a look, as will the lower Isis and the Cherwell if you know your way around those systems.

Jacks have been firing in all 4 rivers this year, you just have to find the right water quality and bait and target that stretch of river. You can choose to fish rockbars or snags with prawn imitations, paddletail plastics or small hardbodies, but you cannot beat the take of a jack on a surface lure so give it a go at dawn or dusk or into the evening.

The great run of big grunter around Burrum Heads and the leads out the front appears to have tapered off. The Buxton area would be worth a look for grunter, particularly for bait fishos at night. A few scattered schools of small GTs and queenies have been reported around rock bars and deep holes in the lower reaches, along with schools of large surface-feeding tarpon that are tremendous fun for the kids.

Local Beaches & Creeks

Several days of pumping northerlies onto our town beaches has stirred up the shallows giving the local whiting ample cover in which to feed on the freshly dislodged food items. There were good schools of whiting spotted "blinking" along Scarness and Torquay beaches prior to the northerlies. The coming big tides should see good catches over the latter part of the rising tide from Pialba to Urangan, in particular from Shelly Beach and the first part of the pier. Very good whiting can also be found inside and out the front of Eli Creek.

Barra and flathead have been the main targets at O’Reagans Creek, with soft plastics producing the best fish.  Beelbi Creek has given up a few nice jacks and barra from the mid reaches, with the odd flathead, some whiting and small queenfish closer to the mouth.

Urangan Pier

Horse GTs were the most exciting captures from the pier prior to the onset of the northerlies and associated dirty water. Lure fishing for GTs takes a backseat to live/dead baiting at the pier given your height above water. Whether it’s a live legal schoolie, a dead mackerel slapped on the surface and allowed to sink, or "throwdown" herring rigged on small but super heavy duty hooks, you are going to need heavy tackle and a fair degree of luck to extract these animals from around the pylons.

Once the water cleans up after this northerly blow, you can expect a return of the baitfish, followed by mackerel, queenfish and goldies. Whiting will be a light tackle option for those fishing the shallow start of the pier.

The Wrap Up

Well, there you have our first report from our fantastic Fraser Coast. Our fisheries are so varied and diverse that it is challenging to cover all aspects without being too longwinded. Of course, our highly experienced local staff can fill in any gaps instore or you are welcome to request additional information via our Facebook page or to our email info@fishostackleworld.com.au.



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