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Weekly Fishing Report - 15th September 2022

Clive with a nice longtail

Typical Early Spring Weather

Some of us enjoyed a few days of spectacular weather and mighty fine fishing last week, whilst others struggled with the stronger currents and rougher than expected conditions offshore. The week ahead is a tough one to predict at the moment, as the weather sites have conflicting forecasts. Read on, but check the latest forecasts, as things may well change quite a bit.

One thing the weather boffins all agree on is that the north wind will blow for the next couple of days. We can look forward to 15-20 knots of northerly both Friday and Saturday, with a possible storm or shower Saturday.

Sunday should be vastly nicer, with light winds from the south west early, followed by a north east sea breeze late in the day. The winds will be light enough to head out onto the bay, but be warned, that there will likely be substantial residual slop from the strong northerly the day before.

As the working week unfolds, we might enjoy fairly light winds initially, then see a north-easterly sea breeze dominate thereafter with showers and potential rain. If the trough that will govern our weather mid-week moves eastward quicker, then expect a southeaster instead. Like we said above – a tough one to predict right now.

As the moon’s glow diminishes and we approach the last quarter moon phase this Sunday, the neap tides will see minimal tidal movement until at least mid-next week.

Tim with a solid flatty
Woodgate Beach Hotel Fishing Classic

The Woodgate Beach Hotel Fishing Classic is on again this weekend. In fact, it kicks off tomorrow, Friday 16th September and concludes Sunday 18th. This is one of the most popular and best-run fishing comps in our area and is well-patronised by swags of regulars returning after enjoying previous comps. Many first-timers will get to see what all the fuss is about and will likely have a ball.

We are a major sponsor of this event and are not only providing a sweet range of Shimano rod and reel combos for numerous fishing category prizes, but also three very impressive Yeti Lucky Door Prizes. In addition, there are several other sponsors offering up stacks of prizes, culminating in a total prize pool of $95,000.

There will be plenty of action onshore for those not fishing. Mossy is there again this year with the Shimano Reef Science Fishing Show which will be a delight for the kids, young and old. Dan and Steph will be giving cooking demos, and the highly entertaining “Best Dressed” competition will be a highlight for many.

Unfortunately, the weather is not ideal, but not everyone is there for the fishing. For those that are, you might get the big boat out Sunday for a quick session before the final weigh-in, but it will be the crews in tinnies and those working the local beaches and estuary verges that will be bringing the fish in to the weighmaster.

The local estuaries will be very popular. The Burrum will be hectic. Those camped at Woodgate might be launching from Walkers Point boat ramp, but many entrants won’t be camped onsite and will be using the Burrum Heads ramp or those further upstream. If you are not in the comp, then this might be a weekend to fish elsewhere.

The four rivers of the Burrum offer entrants a crack at barra, threadies, jacks and jewfish, as well as queenies, GTs and grunter. Whiting, bream and flathead are also possible, and catching estuary cod is almost inevitable. There has been that much tailor around lately that they might even be on the hit list for those fishing the lower reaches.

Mud crabs and banana prawns will also be highly sought after in the Burrum system. A large muddy is a potential prize winner, but the prawns will be purely for the seafood banquet.

The smaller creeks will also be popular this weekend. Beelbi at Toogoom might give up a few decent jacks, flathead or whiting, though the chances of queenies and little GTs is even higher at present.
Theodolite Creek will see plenty of traffic, being so local to the comp site. This lovely little creek offers nice vistas whilst fishing for the local population of flathead, whiting and mangrove jacks. Queenies and grunter are also quite possible, as are bream or trevally.

Good luck to all entrants in this great local comp. We trust you will have a great time and make sure you say g’day to Dane and seek his expert advice if you need any tips on catching yourself a prize winner.

Action Continues Beneath Urangan Pier

School mackerel, spanish mackerel and longtail tuna have justified the long walk for Urangan Pier regulars and visitors alike this week. The mackerel have been taking spoons, as usual, and the odd longtail has fallen victim too.

Live baiting on gang hooks has been productive and popular amongst the less energetic fishos. Herring are in abundance and are easy to catch. We have a huge range of bait jigs in store, at prices that will impress. Many will know how fussy pier herring can be over neap tides, so we continue to stock a selection of smaller, less blinged-up jigs for these tides.

Flathead are again a worthy target over the current neaps. Live baits plonked upstream of their ambush position will soon bring a hungry one undone. Night sessions might turn up a grunter, a jewfish or for those with heavier tackle – sharks.

Whiting fishos lined the rails along the beach end of the Urangan Pier over the full moon period, and by all accounts, swags of whiting were caught. The average size may have diminished somewhat on previous big tides, but a great feed was enjoyed by everyone all the same.

Once again, the whiting bite tapers off with the neap tides. Having said this, intrepid whiting fans might consider the feeding opportunities created by the stiffer northerly winds and stirred up waters, and will likely still catch a feed along our beaches this weekend.

Our north-facing beaches can be rough and churned up whilst the north wind blows, so consider the other stretches where residual wave action still dislodges food items for the whiting. Try the north-facing stretches of beach after the wind eases or swings to another quadrant.

Some whiting fans stretched their legs and wandered the beaches to the west of town and scored a better class of whiting than that found in town. Where the best class of fish will turn up over the new moon is anyone’s guess, but rest assured, that there will be another good feed on offer again once the tides build.

A lucky few whiting fishos caught bonus grunter on their yabby baits, and big fish at that. Word is, that there was quite a number of quality grunter feeding along our beaches over the full moon. Similarly too, some folks fishing our local creeks picked up a few horse-class grunter.

A nice golden trevally for Clive

Bay Options When the Wind Eases

The good weather over the full moon saw boats scattered all over the bay. Snapper featured in catches for some, whilst others chasing them failed to find them. They can be highly mobile this time of year. Their spawning is done and they will be making moves for other pastures soon.

Snapper are still a highly viable target and can still be found across a range of reefs in the bay. As always, concentrate your efforts where the bait is thick. The northern bay reefs are most productive this time of year. Pick your times though, as they can be hard to track down on some sites when the sun is high in the sky.

The inshore reefs were seemingly a bit fickle as far as snapper were concerned, but it sounds as though a great run of large grunter made up for that. Several crews found large grunter over numerous inshore rubble patches over the big tides, both day and night. Soft plastics, soft vibes and slow-pitch jigs accounted for plenty, as did baits of squid, banana prawns and herring for the bait brigade.

You might not score grunter so readily over the neaps, but you could turn your attention to cod and coral trout. Both species will become more active as our waters warm inshore, and will be highly sought after over our shallow reefs in coming months.

Melissa with a solid grunter caught whilst trolling

School mackerel have been turning up in droves throughout much of the western and southern bay. From the reefs off the Burrum Coast to the fringing shallow reefs of Pt Vernon, there has been ample mackerel captures on lures and bait. Spinning for them with spoons is quite popular with the energetic fishos, whilst trolling often produces the goods for those that like one hand on the wheel/tiller.

There have also been small numbers of spanish mackerel in the same areas. Basically, look for the bait schools and you will soon track down macks of some sort. By the way, the Qld government has passed new legislation in response to concerns over the East Coast Spanish Mackerel Fishery. It won’t impact on our area until next year, so we will decipher the document and bring you a rundown in a future report.

A bit of heavy tackle bi-catch, a nice yellowfin tuna

Golden trevally continue to thrill sportsfishos jigging around reefs in Platypus Bay and the southern bay. Many of their cousins are in big numbers around the more northern reefs of Platypus Bay as well, and as anyone fishing the ledges of the Gutters or off Rooneys can attest, they are well-represented out there too.

Queenfish turned it on for those working topwater lures or spinning slim-profiled plastics around the bay islands over the full moon. Again, they won’t be nearly as active over the neaps, but are still a worthy target in the deeper nearby waters.

Those that like to be ahead of the pack will likely be viewing the new moon in a week’s time as a candidate for a prospecting trip for marlin. The offshore waters just out from Sandy Cape are a darn fine bet for anyone that can get out there, but the waters of the northern bay will also be keenly monitored and scanned by those familiar with the early marlin scene.

A current sea surface temperature chart. No suprise that the current was too strong offshore for a lot of reef fishos, however we can expect good things to come for the marlin fishery.

Local Estuaries Alive with Prawn

The local rivers and some creek systems are alive with large banana prawn. Bucket limits were easily achieved by keen cast netters last week. Whilst the big full moon tides very likely shifted some prawn, there are still big numbers in those waters.

Hot on the heels of some of these prawn schools have been loose schools of threadfin salmon. They are still largely scattered, as the prawn is wide spread, but they are becoming increasingly active and willing to take lures once again.

Many will turn their focus to barra now that our waters are warming. Many fish, seen but not tempted during cooler times, are a lot more likely to pounce on the right lure or live bait swimming past their nose. They are definitely not hyperactive, as our waters are still only 21°C or so at best, but you stand a better chance as each week warms our waters.

Grunter have been a great target this past week. So too, blue salmon out in the straits on the flats. Both species will be making raids on smaller creek systems and will be caught in their passage throughout the Mary as well.

Flathead have hit their prime time. Make the most of the shallow water flathead fishery now, as once the northerlies really kick in and the shallows warm too much, they will head elsewhere. For now, the mouths of drains that feed the vast flats of the straits, local creek mouths and adjacent mangrove-fringed verges are all flathead central.

River Heads fishos can expect a continued run of school mackerel and the odd tailor on the right tides. Jewfish will again be possible at night, and bream are there for those that like to mess about with the light gear.

Barra Impoundments Popular Again

Now that it is warming up, our impoundments will become popular once again. There are nervous times ahead for impoundment barra fans, as the weather boffins have declared a La Nina pattern again. The prospect of excessive rains this spring, and the potential of major spills from our dams is the stuff of nightmares.

Many of us remember what happened last time. Dams full of massive barra one day, all gone the next. Luckily, there is some leeway behind some dams to allow for a substantial water level rise, but that is not the case for our beloved Lake Monduran.

Mondy has been flowing over the spillway for months. Sure enough, it is just a trickle at present, but it peaked at around 800mm over the wall at one stage during winter. Well-sodden countryside is prime for run-off from any substantial storms or rains in the near future, and the risk of losing the lake’s barra is very high.

They didn’t swim over the wall in winter, but that period of year is low risk. If the rains come in October or November, or indeed thereafter, then goodbye barra. It won’t take much of a fall at the right (wrong) time to see barra triggered by their instinctual spawning urges heading for the wall. Let’s all cross everything and hope the rains are only gentle in the Kolan catchment.

A fit looking impoundment metrey

The larger barra were challenging to catch over the winter months, and even more-so from a full lake. Their activity level has already started to increase since the water temperature climbed above 20°C, but they are still a bit fickle. Periods of northerly wind and sunny days will help regenerate their metabolisms and see them actively hunting again.

Mondy is a vastly different lake to what it was last season. At 100% capacity, it is a huge body of water, with long arms and countless fishable shorelines. It is no longer the wondrous vista of dead timber and bare earth banks, but a lake fringed by greenery and shady trees.

Below water it is dramatically changed too. This time last year, you could let lures fall to the bottom or wind deep diving or heavily-weighted lures through standing timber with some confidence of not fouling up. That is no longer. You might now want to revisit your lure arsenal and consider weedless or hard bodied options that are more snag resistant.

There will still be plenty of places that swimbaits rigged with belly trebles will reign supreme for fans of such lures, but those lures will be very much restricted to the open paddocks that were well stocked with bovines. The underwater shrubbery almost everywhere else is substantial and will warrant the right lures to contend with the submerged jungle.

There were stories of big numbers of tiny barra being caught in winter. These little tackers can still be seen on a decent side scanning sounder and are easily avoided. Look for the bigger fish on the usual wind-swept points and hidden underwater ridges and follow them into the backs of the bays when the time is right.

An average Mondy barra typically betters the 90cm mark these days, and metre beaters will be common this spring. Smaller lures, sporting decent hooks can produce the goods whilst the water is still relatively cool. Upsize your offerings as the waters warm and summer approaches.

Give topwater lures a go in Mondy this season too. They are typically at their best in a full lake, and your observations of your environment will tell you why. Stickies and frogs will likely out-fish poppers in many environs, but there is little that beats the boof of a mega barra on a slowly-worked popper.

Lake Awoonga is nowhere near full at the moment, though someone might have to tell us what the water level is as we gave up trying to google it. There was a small rise in the lake late last wet season that turned the barra off big time apparently.

A fishing tournament held there just this past week failed to impress as far as barra caught was concerned, though word is that there has been a great night bite enjoyed by some crews that stayed on at the lake since then. Let’s all hope that Awoonga returns to its former glory, as the challenges of parking, boat ramps and a full lake at Mondy will see many seeking alternatives.

Right now, Awoonga’s fringing weed beds are submerged in water with pockets of weedless water in behind. This scenario is typical of a weed-fringed lake that has had a water level rise. Very often, the barra will hold station in these comparatively warm waters behind the weeds in the daylight and feed actively in there after dark. Keep this little factor in mind if heading up that way and look with your eyes as well as your scanners as some gems can be revealed that your fancy electronic gadgetry cannot see.

Awoonga’s average barra are much the same size as Mondy’s. Both lakes spilled in the same floods many years ago after all and both recovered at similar times. The big drawcard for Awoonga fishos is the sheer numbers that can be caught in a session there compared with other lakes. Crazy night sessions in particular can see you put on a dozen big barra in no time on all manner of offerings.
Let’s all hope that Awoonga’s barra fire back up this season and give us another spring of life long memories and tales of bust-ups and monsters alike.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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