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Weekly Fishing Report - 16th June 2022

Wicked Winter Glass-outs

It was great to thaw out this week after that icy southwester. The weather really turned it on too after the breeze swung onshore and lightened. Glassed-out seas have welcomed boaties for a couple of days now, and more of the same is expected tomorrow.

There will be a little more breeze Saturday, around 10 knots or so from the SSW tending southeast in the afternoon. When our winds tend from the southern quadrant, you can expect a little more in the northern bay typically, so it might crank up to 15 knots or even more for those heading north.

Sunday isn’t looking real flash at all. 20 knots from the south tending SSE through the day suggests that might be a good day to stay home and tally up some brownie points. The breeze eases slightly Monday through Tuesday, but it is the mid-latter part of the week that should see a return to more glamour weather and glassed-out conditions once again.

The big winter night-time full moon tides are now behind us. A waning moon as we approach next Tuesday’s last quarter phase means diminishing tidal flow daily until then. A later-rising moon and smaller tides might not see a continuation of the great bite of recent days, but if the weather is good, many will head out anyway.

Tuesday heralds the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year). Whilst this will excite any local druids, it is even more appealing to the average fisho as we can look forward to our days lengthening and more daylight hours on the water.

Urangan Pier Fishing Improved
Over the Full Moon

The Urangan Pier was a great platform from which to enjoy our ripper winter-time sunsets and awesome moon rises over Fraser Island. It was also a great spot to score a feed of bream, flathead and jewfish.

The bream are on the chew and are taking baits and lures during the daylight hours as well as baits after dark. The bigger full moon tide was fair roaring beneath the pier, so the slower periods either side of high tide tended to offer the easier conditions for both bait and lure fishos.

The deeper waters out towards the end produced the best numbers of fish, but a few bream were also landed close to the beach end over the top of tide. The whiting failed to turn up at the pier, but the beaches fringing each end of town produced a modest feed for the mudskippers and beach fishos.

Flathead have been frequenting Urangan Pier waters of late. They can be a challenge over the bigger tides, but are a fairly easy target over the neaps. Live baits will soon gain their interest, as will a prawn imitation softie, a blade or vibe hopped past their lie.

The jewies came on the chew in the lead up to the full moon. Live baits suspended between the pylons out the deep end either side of the tide change got bitten and the resultant battles were either won or lost. Jewies have fallen to soft vibes and prawn imitation or other plastics at the pier in the past and will continue to do so. And yes, they – like so many other fish – do eat lures after dark.

It is probably a good thing that lures work so well day and night at present, as the pier herring have been quite hard to catch. It is rare times when pier regulars stroll in and have to buy frozen bait, but we assume the herring and pike will be easier to catch once again with cleaner waters in the near future.

By the way, for the benefit of the many new fishos to our region, we might remind one and all that the use of cast nets is not permitted from our local pier and jetties. In fact, cast netting is prohibited from Pt Vernon to the Urangan Harbour, so do the right thing and refrain from using nets in these waters or you might pay a hefty penalty.

The use of bait nets and cast nets is prohibited in the areas above

Beach fishos snared the odd flathead and a few bream from the fringes of the rocky outcrops in town during daylight hours. After dark, there was the odd grunter poking about down towards the harbour and up the other end near the rocks at Pialba. Some of the better grunter can exceed 70cm in length and go like the clappers on light tackle.

Whiting fishos often hook a big grunter on a humble yabby along our beaches and a few likely break the fish off either by accident or thinking they have a nuisance shovel-nosed shark or ray. Don’t be this fisho. Take your time and ease up on the drag and wait for the tell-tale signs.
A ray or shovelly will pause and semi-bury momentarily, but a quality fish will not. Big golden trevally used to be regular surprises for beach-going whiting fishos many years ago. These days such encounters are rare from our beaches.

Darren with a couple of nice muddies

Hyperactive Crabs

The full moon in June stands out as a great crabbing period in years when we get a good wet season. Well, this year’s wet was a ripper, and the crabbing has been pretty darn good. The Burrum system gave up some great muddies in the lead up to the moon. The crabs have been full and, in some areas, quite plentiful.

The Mary and Susan Rivers cop a hammering from crabbers, yet these rivers continue to produce this season. As the freshwater gives way to the salty stuff, then more crabs will march back upstream. Intercept them on their journey and the crabbing is easy compared to flogging through mud and mangroves when they settle in up the creeks and gullies.

Mud crabbers have enjoyed the spoils of a great season all the way through the Great Sandy Straits from here to Tin Can Bay. Crabs have been active out on the flats and in the feeder channels and are now back up the creeks as well. The season isn’t over just yet, so make the most of the coming weeks if you like your muddies.

Sand crab fans had plenty to cheer about over the full moon. The open waters of the bay is where the bigger numbers can be found, and bag limits are fairly easily achieved on the right grounds.
The waters of southern and central Platypus Bay continue to produce quality crab, as do the waters of the Burrum coast. Whilst commercial crabbers do exceptionally well in waters ranging from 18-25 metres deep, that is simply too much rope to hand-haul for the average recreational crabber, so pots are usually dropped in waters from 8-15 metres.

Those chasing sandies in closer can do well in only a few metres of water closer to port. The many channels intersecting the sand and mudflats off Urangan and out towards the banks see good crab on the move over the bigger tides.

Winter whiting fishos can add to their culinary delights by recycling their whiting frames through crabs pots set out wide of the whiting grounds off Toogoom and Gatakers Bay. Apparently, there has been a few schools of winteries found off that part of our coastline this week.

Winter fishing in a centre console...brrrrrr! Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Chilled Waters + Bait Schools + Full Moon = Snapper

“Green” waters and patches of quite dirty waters from past Mary River flooding have done little to put the snapper off inshore. Quite the contrary. This season is shaping up to be vastly better than the last few, and we can thank the exceptional wet season, and that alone, for the better numbers.

That Antarctic chill a week ago plunged our water temperature, and we are now “enjoying” a mere 17°C in the southern bay. That is a 4° drop in a week, and getting closer to our standard winter minimum of around 15-16°C.

Some of the standout snapper plastics this season. (Left) Daiwa Bait Junkies Jerkshad (Centre) Molix RT Fork Flex and (Right) Zman 5" Curly Tail Streakz

Colder waters bring in the masses of baitfish that we look forward to each winter. The big tidal flow of the full moon is the perfect conveyor for the baitfish schools, and masses of herring, yakkas, pike and numerous other baitfish species have inundated several of our inshore reefs and channels.

Showy with a big handful of knobby

Hot on the heels of these baitfish schools are schools of snapper. You can find quality knobbies and various size classes of squire on many of the usual inshore hotspots. From the Burrum 8 Mile and 12 Mile to Moon Ledge and the artificial reefs and deeper inshore ledges, there are snapper and squire worth pursuing from now on through winter.

Snapper numbers will fluctuate in a given area depending upon tides and bait movements. Trust your sounder and don’t waste time on barren ground. Troll deep divers whilst you search if you like and you just might pick up a quality knobbie like so many others do these days.

Once you find the snapper, you can deploy a range of techniques to catch them. Plenty has been said in our reports over the years about the success enjoyed with soft plastics, jigs, vibes and of course bait fishing. Quality of your presentation is everything when it comes to tricking knobbies, be that your bait, how well you have rigged your plastic or the chosen leader for the job.

Of course, there are some fishos out there that just love to try all techniques – at once. It might not be terribly convenient for anyone sharing the boat with them, but some are known to fill every possible rod holder with a rod armed with all manner of plastics on differing jighead weights whilst they float-line a bait out the back.

Funnily enough, this “technique” works often enough, so if you struggle working out plastics, or have little success hopping them, then perhaps you too could try simply casting yours up-current and dead-sticking it in a rod holder. Offshore fishos do it all the time apparently. Hardly as exciting as actually catching one whilst working a rod, but hey, the photos all look the same.

Colder Water Slows the Sharks
but Not the Fish

As exciting as snapper are for many, there are others happier to tangle with pelagics. And conversely, there are reef fishos that groan every time they hook or land a pelagic. So, for the time being, everyone is basically catered for. We have snapper inshore and out wider, plenty of reef fish on the chew out wide and a differing assortment of pelagics on offer for the sportsfishos.

The inshore mackerel fishery is showing signs of slowing, with more and more reports of smaller schoolies inshore. They haven’t disappeared as yet though. Drop your most expensive jig down on mono leader around a bait school and you will likely find that out. There are still good numbers of quality schoolies up off Wathumba and a few on the reefs in the central bay.

Spaniards out at the Gutters are just getting bigger, and are now joined by increasing numbers of cobia. You might find schools of smaller cobes in the 5-12kg bracket, but you are just as likely to have bigger 20-30kg models rock up boat-side and scoff a bait, lure or small fish you are hauling up from the depths.

A 30kg cobia is a big fish by anyone’s standards, but we will see more of the true giants again this winter/spring as fish dwarfing those fish enter the bay. We seem to sell a lot more gaffs than usual this time of year. No doubt plenty of you have a tale to tell of a gaff lost to a big cobe, and for those of you who don’t – beware.

Various members of the trevally clan are turning up on our wide reefs and in Platypus Bay. While schools of goldies move further inshore, followed by a few diamonds, brassies, GTs and the like, there are even more trevally schooling in the northern bay and feasting on the masses of baitfish migrating into the bay for the winter.

The Gutters and other reefs in the northern bay fished quite well leading into the full moon. Quality reefies such as reds, scarlets, trout, snapper and squire featured in catches, along with the likes of moses perch, spangled emperor, grassy sweetlip and venus tusk fish.

The sharks didn’t take kindly to the plunging water temperature and were a bit too slow to snatch some of the better fish this week. They are still about, and in numbers, but they can be distracted by the massive influx of baitfish and trevally this time of year and seemingly disappear from some reef sites – albeit temporarily.

Word from several boaties is that there is a substantial amount of debris out in the bay, in our shipping channels and elsewhere. The big high tides of the full moon re-floated a lot of flood debris and we are now faced with a renewed hazard until we get enough wind to push it somewhere. Take care when boating, particularly at night.

Great Fishing Offshore
Over the Wide Bay Bar

It is that time of year again where the waters east of the southern end of Fraser Island and off Double Island Point come back on the radar for offshore fishos. The reduced current-flow, westerly winds and a flattened Wide Bay Bar make for more favourable boating conditions, and it just so happens that the fishing can be red hot as well.

This week we have heard that there are swags of spaniards and long tail tuna a few miles out from the bar. There has been good jewies caught on the close reefs and wrecks just offshore, with live baits and a variety of plastics doing the damage on them.

How's this for a behemoth spangled emperor! It weighed 10kg and was caught on 20lb tackle and a 5" Zman soft plastic, onboard Keely Rose.

Schools of snapper have moved in over some of the close reefs, but they can be found out wider in good numbers as well. Pearlies too are moving in to shallower waters for the winter and can be caught in tandem with the snapper and squire. The baitfish have moved in, and so the food cycle begins.

Grassy sweetlip and moses perch also frequent many of the closer rubble reefs and can add a bit of variety to the box for those letting their baits hit bottom. Estuary cod, and often quite large ones at that, will soon pounce on any live bait lowered near their lairs. Cobia too, though still just as likely out wider, can turn up on some of the close reefs in droves.

A nice spangled and red emperor caught with Double Island Point Fishing Charters

Out wider, there has been the usual snapper and pearlies on some reefs, with quality red emperor lurking around the more isolated rocks. The big reds down that way rival the best in Oz, and indeed fish topping 20kg in weight have stretched the scales (and sometimes the tales) in recent years.

The run of large venus tusk fish continues in Fraser Island offshore waters. Tuskies reaching 5kg are superior quality for the species and are surprisingly common these days. The numbers of 3-4kg fish is quite remarkable.

A nice tuskie caught onboard Rainbow Escape Fishing Charters

For those keen to tangle with the marine equivalent of a bucking bull, there is plenty of large amberjack in the deeper waters out wide off Fraser and D.I. These beasties can reach major proportions, though most landed are in the 8-25kg size range.

Bust out the heavy jigging gear and test your tackle and stamina if you will, or simply drop a live bait or whole fish towards those big banana-shaped arches you see up off the bottom down deep. If you ain’t up for the fight, then best you steer clear.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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