Last weekend’s strong southerly change left a spate of south-easterly trade winds in its wake that have prevailed all week, very much limiting our boating and fishing opportunities. A fairly immobile high pressure system sitting off the south east coast of Australia will dominate our weather for the week ahead and continue a prolonged spell of moderate south-easterlies and light showers.
Given that the winds inshore should remain generally 15 knots or less and from the south east, we will see ample opportunity to hit the water over the coming week, courtesy of our position tucked in behind Fraser Island and the great protection it affords.
This Sunday’s full moon will mean plenty of run in the tide and a significant bite trigger for a wide range of species. The tidal stream variation for this particular full moon will be solid, but not huge, as the new moon will steal the crown for extreme king tide heights from now through winter. All the same, remember to consider the affects of wind against tide when planning your boating missions during these periods of bigger tides and moderate winds.
Obviously our offshore grounds have had another spell courtesy of Mother Nature. The forecast for the week ahead suggests stronger winds outside the bay than inshore so the fish out there are pretty safe for another week. In the interests of keeping you informed of what’s going on out wide, we sought a report from gun local charter boat "Getaway" (Time & Tide Charters) this week that tells the story of their last few trips out over the Breaksea Spit.
Current-wise it has been fluctuating quite a bit over the shoal country inside the shelf, with some days quite relaxed followed by days of stronger flows. The current over grounds both north and south has been varying dramatically, and the forecast light winds have proven stiffer than suggested on many occasions, keeping the crew inside the shelf line where the drift speed is less and the fishing has been very good.
Getaway’s catches have been excellent this season but they have had to work far harder than they should thanks to the proliferation of sharks out there. They scored well on a heap of red emperor one trip to 12kg or so and backed that up with bags of big parrot and nice lippers (red throat). Adding colour and variety to the box have been some very nice maori cod, both brown and blue, along with coronation trout and some good hauls of squirey snapper to 65cm.
Night sessions anchored up in the "shallows" outside have scored them quite a few spanish mackerel late at night, big jacks to 7kg or so and heaps of quite large estuary cod. Having a big school of pilchards gathered under your boat that you can catch and drop back live certainly helps and can keep the fish on the chew.
Pelagics-wise it has been a bit quiet out over the bar, with the exception of the afore-mentioned spanish and a lone wahoo of 25kg. The shark attrition has been that bad that they have lost up to 120 heavy snapper sinkers in a single (3 day) trip, so if you do get out that way soon you had better bulk up on the leads, or learn to fish running rigs with the sinker above the hook to save on lead losses.
We were also issued fair warning that the bar itself has been particularly messy of late, even when the seas settle. One experienced crew in a substantial and capable vessel got into trouble a couple of miles north of Fraser and smashed their windscreen in and a couple of their crew suffered broken ribs attempting to cross the bar recently.
Sportsfishos will again get the chance to head up the inside of Fraser to Platypus Bay this week where great numbers of longtail and mack tuna can be found busting into balled up baitfish all over the paddock. Pack the stickbaits, pack the Zman Streakz and heavy jigheads, pack a variety of metal slugs and some high speed spinning tackle and you are in for a great, if not potentially exhausting, time.
Keep one eye on the horizon for tuna schools, but keep the other on your sounder for mackerel, trevally and cobia, and even the tuna will start to spend more time sub-surface as the water cools further. Queenfish too have been tearing into the bait schools and can often intercept a sticky meant for a tuna. As winter gets closer, the reefs up that way will become inundated with increasing numbers of various trevally species, as if the number and variety on offer right now is not enough.
This weekend’s full moon might see a few snapper caught up that way, or more likely out in the central bay if the weather permits. Squire to a few kilos are already on offer, but the sharks are a serious problem over any commonly known grounds whether inshore or out wider.
Whilst the southeaster dominates, the eastern bay is always most popular for smaller boats for obvious reasons, but you can also consider a session over in the western bay when conditions allow. Snapper are on offer if you know some sneaky spots that others (and the sharks) don’t, and the pelagics have been abundant right along the coast from Gatakers to Woodgate and beyond. Tuna, mackerel, golden trevally and queenfish have all been frequent catches in these parts in recent weeks.
The stiff southerlies recently made Gatakers Bay quite popular and some great catches were made for those that hit the water in low light and moved about to find the fish. Good quality grunter have appeared along the reef edge, with a few squire taking lightly weighted baits over the sandy fringes. Winter whiting have been reasonably consistent in those parts and of fairly good size, though few are bagging out on the better quality winteries.
Quite a good run of school mackerel is moving through the western and central bay and they can be found from numerous grounds including the Fairway, 8 Mile and the grounds to the west of Gatakers Bay. This country will also give up some very nice grunter at present, particularly for those that fish fresh baits on the bottom after dark.
The full moon should see a run of snapper at the usual haunts, including Moon Ledge, the Outer Banks and the Roy Rufus Arti. Sharks are horrendous in all these locations though, and your only real chance to land decent fish is to have some other unlucky poor chaps occupying the noahs elsewhere nearby. Notwithstanding, the first big knobbie snapper of the season are a welcome catch for many bait fishos and are not too difficult to tempt if you put the effort in with fresh/live baits and appropriate running rigs to match the current flow.
Squire are now a reasonably common catch near many inshore reefs, and a decent feed of grass sweetlip is still a chance till the water gets too cold. Hard-fighting blackall are also common catches for those favouring soft baits and cod and trout will scoff a livie dropped in front of the reefs over the turn of tide.
A few broad-barred and school mackerel are making nuisances of themselves over some of the deeper inshore reefs in the local shipping channels from the Fairway to Kingfisher. Those that target mackerel can get into some serious action at present, and those that would rather avoid them with lures aimed at reefies had best take a few spares if fishing any reef systems holding schools of small herring.
Burrum River System
The big tides will make fishing upstream in the Burrum system fairly challenging, but some great fun can be had if you locate the schools of small queenies and river GTs. A low tide session chasing barra and jacks can still produce, but things just got a whole lot harder with our water temps dropping below 22C. There has been a few large whiting upriver on the flats taking live worms and yabbies during the initial flood tide, but the better catches are more likely after dark.
Out the front there have been sand crabs in numbers beyond the drop off, with a few mackerel in the same area and even back in the channel near the markers at times. Trolling to and from the river mouth can produce a feed of mackerel, though out the front and out at the 8 Mile are even better if you are lucky enough to avoid the sharks.
Winter whiting continue to gather in better numbers up off Woodgate, and so far the size has been quite good. Lots of undesirable pickers can get a bit frustrating at times, but that can be just part of the game up that way.
Mary/Susan Rivers & the Great Sandy Straits
Mulloway jew have started to turn up around the River Heads area in small numbers. They hold much esteem down south where folks will spend countless hours seeking them out and fishing special baits in the wee hours just for a passing sniff from a jew.
Around these parts however, they are quite a common capture for those deploying suitable live baits around the turn of tide, or hopping soft vibes and prawn imitation lures over ledges and deep holes in the lower stretch of the Mary River or down the Straits. In fact, some even consider jewies a nuisance bycatch when targeting other species during a limited window of opportunity where jacks and fingermark otherwise frequent.
To be fair though, the jewfish is a handsome critter worthy of our respect, but they can suffer badly from over-fishing locally, especially where bull sharks are known to gather. The bag limit is 2 in possession by the way, and the minimum size limit is 75cm.
The big tides will see some more drain-bashing fun for those seeking out the elusive threadfin salmon. Being mobile and timing your arrival at your chosen drains to match the time when the last of the backwater and its baitfish and prawns are pushed out is paramount to success.
Bream numbers are swelling in the lower reaches of the rivers as they make the downstream migration to spawn. Big catches are certainly possible from the rocky headlands at the mouth of the river and the rock bars a bit further upstream. A bit of berley will go a long way to drawing and holding the bream and lightly weighted baits with leaders around the 12lb mark should suffice.
Urangan Pier, Local Creeks & Beaches
There have been tales of jewies landed from the Urangan Pier this past week, taken on live baits after dark. If you do get lucky and hook one, then take a second look and make sure it is a keeper if you intend on gaffing it and lifting it 10 metres to the pier above. Pike are an excellent bait for jewies, but big greenback herring can work too if it doesn’t attract the bream first.
The pier bream fishery should step up a level with the approach of the full moon this weekend. It has been a little slow to get going this year so far, but that is just due to the persistent summer and warmer than average waters that stayed with us till recently. Best sessions will be after dark this time of year, but that is not to say that a clever bream fisho can not score kilo+ models during the daytime.
There are a stack of local bream fishing techniques that work, and some that will just make you shake your head in wonder at what they were thinking. Perhaps the simplest, and one of the best, is a size 2-1/0 hook attached to a 60-80cm 12/15lb leader below a suitable running sinker that offers just enough weight to get to the bottom but not hold bottom.
Positioning yourself virtually directly above a pylon and facing the tide you can then lower your bait of fresh herring to the water below and it will wash under the pier towards the diagonally opposing pylon on the other side. You will realise why you do this when you see the angle of the current to the pier. If you want to catch the big ones during the daytime then use whole herring and butterfly them, with your hook/s hidden in the head that will hold the bait naturally facing into the current. Let the little tackers chew away at the trailing fillets and when you feel the take of a larger model set the hook and get into him to get him away from the pylons.
Flathead will start to feature out at the pier as our waters cool further, albeit more-so during those periods of neap tides. Live pike will again prove to be the best bait for the flatties. Tiger squid numbers appear to be significantly diminished this year elsewhere, so they probably won’t turn up at the pier in any great number, but best you carry a suitable (size 3.0) squid jig with you anyway just in case.
With mackerel becoming common captures for boaties along the west coast of the bay it would seem logical that the pier will see a few visit its waters in coming weeks. The odd goldie and queenfish has made an appearance in recent weeks as well and longtail tuna have turned up at times, so pack some Flasha spoons and metal slugs or the live baiting gear if heading out for a look.
Good luck out there y’all.