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Weekly Fishing Report - 15th October 2020

Staff member Dane almost managed a smile for this 13.5kg red. Making the most of good conditions last week before the wind picked up and the coral reef fin fish closure kicked in.

Winds Ease for Saturday Then Turn Northerly Sunday

We’ve experienced a mix of light breezes and stiffer southeasters over the past week. Last weekend’s lighter winds saw plenty of crews venture out wider or north to 1770, but the last couple of days has been a bit windy and kept most inshore or off the water.

The winds are easing as we write this report and Saturday looks great for boaties. A northerly will spring up on Sunday and likely dominate the next couple of days. It’s hard to make a fair call on the weather next week at this stage as the modelling changes from one weather site to the next, but it seems likely we are in for showers, storms and fairly light winds by mid-week.

The tides are building towards Saturday’s new moon, so expect plenty of run in the tide over the weekend. This moon will suit game fishos, pelagic fishos and whiting fishos as well as those planning to fish the Great Sandy Straits or our local shallow reefs.

Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure in Force Right Now

The first of this year’s Coral Reef Fin Fish closures is in effect right now. The taking of fish within the Coral Reef Fin Fish Plan is prohibited from midnight to midnight, ie; from 12.01 am on the 14th October 2020 to 11.59pm on Sunday the 18th October 2020. For our area, this closure applies to all tidal waters north of latitude 24°50’.

This closure is necessary to protect coral reef species during their key annual spawning periods around the new moon in October and November and applies to all fishers, both recreational and commercial.

Effectively, you can still fish the waters for which this closure applies for species that are not within the Coral Reef Fin Fish Plan, but common sense would suggest avoiding reef fishing those waters altogether so as not to disturb our precious reefies whilst they are doing their thing.

Given that the same reef species will be looking to spawn in waters south of the abovementioned latitude and yet these same fish are not afforded the same protection as their northern counterparts seems quite strange. The need for these protective measures was identified when the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park regulations were determined, yet the same measures were somehow not deemed necessary when the Great Sandy Marine Park was introduced.

Blue maori cod and glassed out conditions, you bloody ripper! Last weekend was mint out wide in the morning.

Dylan took a break from being the anchor boy with high hopes of a red. Unfortunately this chinaman fish isn't exactly what he had hoped for.

Billfish Grand Slam Opportunity Offshore

As reported last week, the arrival of large blue marlin in the waters offshore from the Breaksea Spit and Fraser Island has already seen the local game crews out wide swimming big lures and baits on the heavy tackle. Joining the blues are numbers of black marlin and striped marlin as well, and to date at least one vessel has claimed a billfish grand slam from these waters this season.

This weekend’s new moon is prime time and will likely see a fleet of game boats of all sizes heading for the fish-rich waters over the shelf north of Fraser. Experienced skippers will be making the most of the prime bite periods and seeking out the warmer waters and current lines that aggregate the baitfish and the billies.

It is not all about the heavy tackle either, as recent weeks have seen captures of small black marlin and large sailfish outside the 13 Mile crossing. No records have been set this week numbers-wise, but the new moon should see increased activity and very likely some crew/s will trip over the motherlode.

Latest reports from the deeper waters offshore suggest that “vermin” are not an issue. Vermin being a term some game fishos like to use to describe their bycatch of non-billfish such as wahoo, yellowfin and mahi mahi etc. Obviously, this is only a tongue-in-cheek fun term bandied about the fleet, but these boys and girls love their billies and some believe there are only two types of fish – billfish and baitfish.

Mistress Sportfishing Charters certainly have their finger on the pulse when it comes to the Fraser Island billfish fishery. On this trip they managed 5 from 5 blues and 1 from 2 blacks.

Fraser Island blues have really put this billfish fishery on the map. Pic: Mistress Sportfishing Charters

How good are the colours on this black marlin! Pic: Mistress Sportfishing Charters

The Hunt for Baby Blacks Inshore

Lots of local fishos lost their marlin virginity on Hervey Bay’s little blacks and many more will enjoy the very same experience at some stage. Chasing marlin inshore is definitely not just the domain of those with fat wallets and big offshore boats as these juvenile blacks are well within the reach of the average fisho with a capable boat and fairly standard reef or trolling tackle.

A small investment in a decent teaser set up, some appropriate skirts for trolling, the right hooks for use with dead gar or live baits and you are in the running for your first marlin. We supply leaders rigged ready to attach to your skirts and can readily show you how to set up a spread and/or rig baits for billfish. Of course, nowadays Youtube and any number of tutorials online will offer you further insight into what was once inappropriately deemed a complicated and expensive aspect of sportsfishing.

Reports from Platypus Bay waters in recent weeks suggest our inshore billfish season has been quite slow so far. This may all change with the approach of the new moon and the strong tidal flows that bring bait and fish into the bay. Light easterlies over the next two days look particularly favourable for those with smaller vessels planning a trip up Wathumba/Rooneys way looking for young stickface.

Many crews will head north and concentrate their efforts along the fringe of the flats along the inside of Fraser for the chance at scoring a marlin up in the shallows that our waters are now so famous for. The prime waters for this activity can get a little congested and fish hard to tempt, whilst out wider there are greater numbers of marlin on offer for those willing to troll the current lines, channels and verges that feed bait into and out of the northern bay.

It will certainly be interesting to hear how the local crews get on this week, as it will likely be indicative of how this marlin season will pan out. The arrival of schools of spotted mackerel in coming weeks will see an increase in billfish numbers as well, so keep your eye out for the first spotties of the season whilst up that way.

Longtail tuna can usually be found up the island this time of year and provide plenty of fun if the juvenile blacks aren't playing the game. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Looking for a Feed Inshore

Those fishos out looking for a feed of reef fish or mackerel inshore might find the northerly wind and big tides a bit of a handful in smaller boats. Take extra care in these conditions, particularly when the wind is against the tide. Get out before Sunday if you can and you will be a chance at a good feed of mackerel in particular.

School mackerel and quite a few spanish have been poking around in the southern bay. Find the bait to find the mackerel and you can choose to spin them up on spoons if you are feeling energetic. Otherwise, trolling divers will help to track them down or you can always deploy gang-rigged pillies or live baits in a berley trail. Try the beacons within our local shipping channels, or the reefs off the Burrum Coast. The reefs in the southern part of Platypus Bay are also worth a look.

Trolling the shallow reefs used to be quite productive this time of year over the bigger tides. These waters are under greater pressure than they have ever been, so fish numbers are substantially less, but a savvy troller dragging the right lures for a couple of hours after dawn is still a good chance of a feed of trout and cod. The dirty waters stirred up by this latest blow will certainly help in this regard.

Bait fishing the shallow reefs is likely to produce cod, trout, tuskfish, grass sweetlip, blackall, squire, mackerel and possibly grunter. Being mobile and willing to fish numerous hangs when necessary helps to produce a feed in hard-fished waters. Lightly-weighted baits and sturdy tackle will also help in attracting and extracting the better-quality fish. Berley is the key for those that are averse to pulling the pick frequently.

Snapper are still a chance for those fishing the deeper inshore reefs such as the Roy Rufus arti, Moon Ledge and the Outer Banks. Snapper and grunter are also possible from the Burrum 8 Mile for those fishing after dark out that way. Grass sweetlip are becoming increasingly common inshore and their numbers will continue to swell as our waters warm. The fringes of local reefs, rubbly/weedy/ferny ground and the like are likely to hold sweeties more-so than right on the hard reef structure.

Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing got clients onto some quality fish earlier in the week.

Bobby from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters getting clients in on the action.

The pointy end of a spanish mackerel. Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Lee with a quality coral trout from earlier in the week. Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Big Tides and Local Estuaries

So much tidal flow over coming days will make the river scene fairly challenging, but also offers a prime opportunity to target species that hunt the fringes of our flats. The numerous flats and creek systems of the Great Sandy Straits will be well-drained by the receding tide and in doing so offer ample opportunity for predators to ambush baitfish washed from these areas.

Queenfish, blue salmon, trevally and mackerel can be found working the feeder channels where large numbers of herring, gar or hardiheads are forced off the flats. Flatties will also congregate around small drains and creek mouths feasting on all manner of baitfish and are easy targets when using a small lure or live bait.

There will be quality grunter within some of the local creeks (and our rivers) and they will happily scoff a small plastic or soft vibe. Of course, grunter are also suckers for baits such as prawns, yabbies, small squid, small herring or strips of gar or mullet. Don’t be too surprised if you hook a good threadie or other species when targeting grunter. Be prepared to go easy on them if you do, otherwise you might pop your light leader.

Whiting fishos will be out in force chasing their beloved ‘ting. The big new moon tides are primo for whiting and should see good catches from the flats and creeks along the inside of Fraser as well as the flats in the vicinity of River Heads. Weed is still an issue in some areas, but generally it is on the improve.

A modest feed of sand crabs is possible from the feeder channels anywhere south of Urangan. Whiting frames are undoubtedly the best baits for sandies in these parts.

Jacks are possible from the creeks along the inside of Fraser over the bigger tides. The cooling effect of the southeaster the past few days is less than ideal of course, but the jacks have been on the move of late. You might have to get your lure or bait right in tight under the nastiest of structure until they get a bit more active with the next spell of warmer weather, but they are still a great target species this time of year.

Mondy Tough but Northerlies on the Horizon

A bit too much cloud cover associated with this latest spell of southeasterly winds has caused a fairly dramatic drop in water temperature at lake Monduran. It was 28°C a week ago, but is somewhere closer to 22°C in parts again now. This has made the barra fishing quite tough and scattered a lot of the fish that were previously schooling up.

Barra are keen to feed and fatten up this time of year, and cooler periods such as this week might only serve to heighten their appetites. A return to northerly winds and warmer waters should see a better bite this weekend. The new moon has a similar effect on impoundment barra activity as the full moon, without the comforting glow of a well-lit night. Daytime sessions whilst the moon is high in the sky can be super productive.

Scanning numbers of barra within metres of the local boat ramp is evidence of how widespread and accessible the Mondy barra are these days. Kayakers have a great opportunity to target large fish in close proximity to their launching point and have a major stealth advantage over boaties. Extra care and good lighting is a must if kayaking after dark in our lakes.

There hasn’t been anyone trolling the lake of late, as the fish have been schooling up when the weather is good and casting has been the go-to technique. During tough spells such as right now however, trolling can be worthwhile as the fish are scattered and covering ground with noisy lures can score fish that can be hard to track down otherwise.

Vast shallow flats are now major features of Mondy since the water level has dropped so much. Slow-rolling plastics across these flats or ripping vibes at a medium pace can out-fish other presentations quite often. Dawn, dusk or evening sessions blooping poppers or walking stickbaits over the same shallows is an even bigger adrenalin-rush when the bigger barra start boofing topwater. Something to look forward to for sure.

Howdy partner! Yu Ya from Japan with a 95cm Mondy barra caught on a recent charter with Rob from Lake Monduran Guidelines Fishing Charters.


We Fish and We Vote

There is a state election coming up. Please ensure your vote isn’t wasted and consider the ramifications of throwing your vote to the wrong party. We all know too well what the Greens think of us recreational anglers, so they don’t really count in the scheme of things. The critical issue is which of the two major parties wins power and which of these the minor parties are going to hand their preferences to.

Palaszczuk’s government introduced the Net Free Zones up north and are assessing the proposal for similar zoning in other areas. Labour also has numerous other fisheries-related matters on their agenda, as a result of the ongoing assessment of the most recent fisheries review process.

The LNP has stated that they would rescind those very same Net Free Zones should they gain power. The LNP may well make other promises of other potential schemes to gain the vote of recreational fishos. These schemes should be assessed on their merit, viability and their true benefit to you, the voting fishos out there in Qld.

Many of us vote for minor parties or individuals outside the major parties. This is absolutely fine. Just ensure you know which way their vote will swing if fishing is important to you. We only get a chance to have our say every few years, so make your vote count.

Good luck out there y’all.

PS: Your scribe is off on a break for the next couple of weeks. You won’t have to prop your eyes open to read through as much waffle perhaps, but the boys will endeavour to bring you a pictorial version of our report. So, send in your pics of your latest and greatest captures and share your proud moments with your fellow fishos. And, going by the latest from Higgins Storm Chasers – enjoy the rain. Sigh ….

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