Now that's a diamond trevally! Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing putting clients onto some great fish.
The past week saw a mix of northerly breezes, a band of showers and a stiff southwesterly change. Just now, the wind has lightened and turned onshore once again, and the forecast looks quite good for the weekend.
The light northerly will build throughout the weekend, so make the most of the great conditions Saturday morning if planning a day out on the bay. You can expect a light easterly tending northerly Saturday, followed by 10-15 knots of wind from either side of north Sunday.
The forecasters’ reports are clashing as to the timing of a vigorous southwesterly change early in the week. Some say late Tuesday night, some say beforehand. Whenever it arrives, you do not want to be on the water, or at least not in exposed waters. At this stage, it looks as though there is a nice spell of light winds late next week.
Tuesday night’s full moon would be prime for so many of our local fish species, but the building northerly and the potential wind shear that night suggests any fishing activities should be enjoyed beforehand or thereafter.
A nice double header of golden trevally caught on jigs with Fraser Guided Fishing.
Local Fishing Comps Coincide with School Holidays
We stuffed up last week and got our dates mixed up for two local fishing comps. Sorry about that. Hopefully anyone interested would have seen our obvious error, highlighted by the correct dates within the digital flyers attached amongst our text.
To re-cap, this Friday sees the kick off of the Woodgate Beach Hotel Fishing Classic, that concludes on Sunday. The following weekend will see the Toogoom Family Fishing Competition run from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th.
Both comps are very much family-friendly events, with stacks of prizes and giveaways for the kids. Major prizes for successful fishos, raffles and lucky draw prizes will appeal to all and sundry. If you are looking to entertain the kids or fancy yourself a chance at winning some prizes, then suss out these well-run local comps.
The weather is quite good for the Woodgate event, which should see those with larger vessels heading out wide chasing trophy reef fish and pelagics. Sunday will likely see the estuarine species targeted due to the north wind, but the southern bay will still be within reach of the right vessels. Good luck to all that compete. A great time is assured.
There's still some big bream around. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing
Yabby pumps and worming forks will be getting a serious workout this week as whiting fishos gather their baits at low tide in readiness for the flood of whiting mooching about on the flats as the tide rises. The tides are perfect right now, with bigger highs building as the full moon approaches.
Boaties and shore-based fishos alike have access to a great “summer” whiting fishery this time of year. In fact, the best of the whiting fishing for our local beaches, flats and smaller estuaries can be expected over the coming two months. The bigger tides are best, and right on que, the north wind is building to stir up the shallows and offer the ‘ting the perfect feeding opportunities in the shallows.
Those that gambled on the north wind overriding the neap tides and firing up the whiting last week were rewarded for their efforts. A bag limit of tasty little tackers up to 35cm in length was achievable for those that fished after dark with fresh baits from our town beaches.
The Torquay to Urangan stretch of beach, along with the first section of the Urangan Pier will be popular this week. Night sessions will likely still produce the fastest bags and biggest whiting, but daytime sessions will be viable now with the bigger tides and northerly winds. The odd grunter to 60cm or better is taking yabby baits along the beach after dark still, so as mentioned in last week’s report, don’t panic when you hook one and you could score a tasty addition to your seafood feast.
Giant herring and grunter are great inshore targets and will readily crunch a soft plastic. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing
The annual run of school mackerel has made its way into the bay in recent weeks, and as is so often the case, numbers of schoolies have turned up at the Urangan Pier just in time for the school holidays. There is also a few spanish mackerel in hot pursuit of the schoolies, predating on the smaller models as they do.
Pier regulars and visitors alike can enjoy some of the best pelagic fishing that the pier offers in coming weeks. Spinning mackerel up on spoons is super-popular and suits the energetic fisho to a tee. If you are new to this game, then all you need is a suitable spinning reel with a high gear ratio matched to a rod capable of casting metals, some Flasha spoons or similar, and a bit of energy.
Casting the spoon up-current and letting it sink to the bottom before cranking it back flat out is the age-old technique with the runs on the board. You can jig the spoons if your reel isn’t quick enough, but be prepared to get bitten off on occasion. Some will tie on a short length of wire to protect their lures from the toothy macks, but many will not, knowing full well that the wire spooks the fish in heavily-pressured fisheries such as the pier.
Live baiting with herring is equally as popular as spinning, and suits the less energetic. Rigging the live herring by attaching it to the trailing hook of a set of gangs is a well-proven technique. This method alleviates the need for wire traces as the macks get a gob full of hooks and not your leader (most of the time anyway).
Live baiting isn’t just a matter of sending out a herring and waiting. The more panicked the baitfish is - which is when it is first deployed back into the water – the more attractive it is to a passing predator. Plenty of slow-moving, worn-out baitfish will be ignored in favour of a fresh model tossed into the water all lit up and panicking.
Landing mackerel (and other large fish) from the pier can be a challenge. Pier gaffs on ropes lowered below the fish will soon hoist up anything large enough to warrant it, but are certainly not suitable for landing fish destined for release. Swinging the average mackerel up onto the pier with your rod is popular for those experienced in the art, but risky for those with lighter carbon graphite rods.
There will be undersized school mackerel mixed in with the better fish at present, so ensure you release the little ones unharmed. Locals like to target spaniards with live schoolies as their bait. At the risk of sounding naïve, we remind everyone that using undersized fish as bait is totally taboo and could see you stung with a hefty fine if caught. A big spaniard will soon smash a legal schoolie and it won’t even touch the sides going down.
There was a big of action from passing longtail tuna in recent weeks, out near the end of the pier. Every chance there will be more passing through on the right tides over the school holidays. Live baits ballooned-out away from the pier often account for the majority of longtails caught, but they can be spun up on spoons and slugs as well.
Once our waters warm a little more, we should see the return of the big bad bruising giant trevally to pier waters. In the meantime, don’t be too surprised if a few turn up to feast on the mackerel if there is a good run of fish. Queenies are also a possibility some time soon, as are golden trevally. Both these species are more prevalent later in the year, but are still a chance if the baitfish draw them in.
Big tiger and bull sharks have been frequenting the deeper waters in Urangan Channel. Pier fishos deploying large baits after dark have been tangling with them quite a bit lately, winning some battles and losing others. Targeting large sharks is prohibited by the way (which is partly why there is such an over-abundance), but it seems as though sending baits out for smaller models and ensuring any larger ones hooked are released unharmed is as popular as ever.
A nice queenfish caught with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing.
Full Moon Inshore Options
Weather permitting, the southern bay should be quite productive for those seeking out a feed of mackerel or snapper. Schoolies have been wide spread, turning up along the west coast of the bay, as well as around the local beacons dotting our shipping channels. There are schoolies harassing the bait schools up the island also, as well as a few making a pest of themselves around our deeper inshore reefs.
Spaniards are also making their presence felt inshore, shearing off the occasional schoolie or taking baits or spoons meant for their smaller cousins. There have also been a few schoolies taking spoons, live baits or pillies around River Heads, with a few also a possibility in the shipping channel down the straits. Yachties and cruising vessels trolling spoons or diving lures are picking up schoolies as they traverse the straits.
A solid longtail tuna caught with the crew from Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Those chasing snapper inshore will need to seek out the better bait schools to find what’s left of this winter’s run. It would be fair to say that some of the better inshore schools of fish would be up Wathumba way in Platypus Bay, but there will still be a few stragglers hanging around the closer inshore reefs. We’ve had no reports of late, but experience would suggest that Moon Ledge, the Burrum 8 Mile, the Outer Banks or the Roy Rufus arti would be worth a look.
Night sessions will suit the bait brigade, but the northeasterly sea breeze tends to upset those sessions this time of year. Have a crack whilst the wind is from the south or east if you get the chance. Trollers will still be in with a chance of a late season snapper, particularly those that troll Dr Evils or the like around the fringes of the reefs and bait schools.
A bit of dinner sorted with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Sportsfishos can find a few longtails up in Platypus Bay, along with plenty of trevally. There are a few decent cobia poking about up that way, as well as out wider at the Gutters.
Cruising our inshore flats, the verges of the bay islands, or the channels down the straits could see you sight-fishing to golden trevally, queenfish and little GTs. Tailor should be a nuisance down the straits, but we have heard very little about them of late (even though they are enjoying a great run of tailor over on Fraser’s eastern beach).
Those chasing flathead will enjoy the full moon period, with the flats, creeks and gutters all draining during the big ebb tides. Flatties looking to ambush baitfish forced out by the receding tide are easy targets if you can find them, and offer a swag of fun on the light gear if sight-fished in the shallows. Our flatties are under a lot of pressure and in vastly reduced numbers compared with what they might be, so when you find a few, consider limiting your take and leave the big breeders to do their thing.
A big female dusky flathead caught and released on a recent charter with Fraser Guided Fishing.
Should We Be Concerned Over the State of Our River Fisheries?
Side-scanning sounders make the task of finding fish in our estuaries, and dams a very simple affair. So long as you have some basic understanding of fish movements, likely habitat and appropriate tides, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding fish in these waters. Well, that is, if there is fish to be found. From what we know of the local river scene right now, let’s just be thankful for our stocked impoundments.
Harvesting efforts prior to the implementation of the new quota system 1st September has had a significant impact on our large estuary predator populations. Barra are scarce, threadies just as scarce, and even the daggy old blue salmon are in severely depleted numbers. Yes, there are still a few fish here and there, but the head count is very concerning at a time when their abundance is typically quite obvious due to a lack of angling pressure over the winter months.
The rivers we are referring to are the Mary and Susan. The Susan in particular, is apparently quite barren, with the exception of a couple of patches of easily found fish that won’t see out the efforts of those that find them in the near future. The big schools of sambos and the little groups of barra that Mary River specialists would normally be catching and releasing by now are conspicuous by their absence.
To harp on about the same issues, year in year out, with no apparent action to protect these incredibly important fisheries does little but leave a bad taste in the mouth and an increasing concern over the future of these fisheries. The lack of rains for three years now has meant little to no repopulation of these waters at a time when harvesting efforts have gone on unchecked.
So, should we be concerned? Hell yes, we should! Assuming there are enough mature breeders left in the fishery to propagate, then even after the next serious flooding events, it will take another three years for threadies and barra to attain reasonable sizes. Whilst we understand that nature works in a series of cycles, and that we are overdue for a return to big wet seasons, we feel compelled to highlight the current status quo and ask you, the caring and thinking fishos of the Fraser Coast, to take heed of our concerns and perhaps do your bit to avoid further unbridled take from these fisheries. Let a few fish go, and please avoid taking the bigger breeders if you possibly can.
Staff member Dane with a nice Mondy barra.
Make Your Own “Good ‘Ol Days” On Our Impoundments This Spring
Plenty of you have had to listen to us older fishos talking up the “good ol’ days” and the incredible fishing that we enjoyed on our stocked impoundments prior to the flooding events 10 years ago. Well, here is your chance to make your own good ol’ days, as Qld’s stocked impoundment barra are maturing and big fish are once again an everyday possibility.
The three lakes within cooee of the Fraser Coast are Lenthalls, Monduran and Awoonga, with Callide a bit more of a haul to the north west. If you are up for it, then Peter Faust, Teemburra and Kinchant ten hours or so to our north offer even bigger barra than locally. This week we will focus on Monduran for a moment and will share a little insight into the other lake options in coming reports.
So, for those that struggled to catch fish from Mondy in the past, your chances of success have vastly increased. The lake is now sitting at under 37% capacity, and is in absolutely primo condition. The barra are big, they are fat, and they are ready to rumble. An average fish from Mondy these days is around 90cm, with metre beaters now quite common. The bigger fish might stretch the tape to 120cm or more, but they are rare. There are still ample smaller fish in the 65-80cm range.
Christie with a 97cm slab of Lake Monduran 'mundi!
If you weren’t at Mondy at the right time in the right places in late winter, then you missed out on a real spectacle. A change in the weather pattern shifted focus to the opposite sides of the lake and the water cleared up so dramatically that it was possible to see the bottom in up to 4 metres of water. This incredible visibility enabled you to sneak into the backwaters and literally watch the barra you could see on your side scanner swimming around next to the boat.
That insane scenario only lasted a couple of weeks, and whilst the fish were nigh on impossible to catch when you could see them, the sheer spectacle certainly made up for the lack of bites. To watch their behaviour as they raced up to your boat and just how they cruise around was very enlightening, even for old hands, and showed just how much contempt they have for your offerings when they cannot be bothered feeding. Come back near or after dark in the same waters and it was game on.
At the same time as this event unfolded down the front of the lake, another spectacle was occurring in the mid reaches. Huge schools of baitfish made their annual pilgrimage from the deeper waters of the lake where they rode out the winter, with huge schools of catfish in hot pursuit. Reminiscent of a David Attenborough documentary, great flocks of shags and pelicans turned up at the same time to join the feast as the catties pushed the baitfish up within range of the shags.
The spangled perch Jackal Squirrel 79 strikes again, available exclusively through Fisho's Tackle World Hervey Bay & Tackle World Bundaberg.
Interestingly, whilst it was extremely rare to catch a cattie all winter, when you could see the fish in the clear cold water, the barra out-numbered the catties by maybe 50-1. That scenario is about to be completely reversed now that the catties are returning to the shallows, but for now barra bites are still outweighing the cattie bites by a fair margin.
Since then, the waters have lost a degree of that clarity, but are still quite clear in the lower lake. Bird Bay is clear, as are many of the weed-fringed bays and points up to the second shortcut. From there up the river, the water is a little coloured and prone to subtle algal blooms. B Bay is dirtier looking, but still actually quite clear. The water looks brown due to suspended sediment, but scoop up a bucketful and it is clear. In essence, the lower reaches of the lake with fringing weed beds are clearer than the weed-free upper reaches.
The fish are everywhere. Basically, where ever the prevailing wind is blowing is where you will find the fish. The night bite during winter was productive at times, but now they are back on the chew day and night. They will still shut down for hours on end though, so be prepared to fish the prime bite periods around the phases of the moon and the rise and fall of the sun.
Barra fisho's are getting pretty excited as the average size of Mondy barra is getting bigger.
Beef up your tackle if you are only used to catching the little tackers in years gone by. 90cm+ fish are a real handful in the sticks and will soon find any weak points in you or your tackle. Choose your lures carefully too, and invest in larger offerings as some of the smaller models used in the past won’t even cater for the size leaders you need for the bigger fish.
Swimbaits such as the Molix Shads and Zerek Live Mullet are popular with a lot of the new age barra fishos and rightly so. A few upgrades and adjustments and these things will catch you Mondy barra. Otherwise, arm yourself with an array of large paddle-tailed plastics and appropriate jigheads, along with a good assortment of suspending hardbodies. Upgrade everything. You might get away with some split rings, but rarely ever the trebles.
The full moon periods will be insanely busy on Mondy. This weekend will be chaotic, as will the school holiday period. The Lake Monduran Family Fishing comp is scheduled for just before the October full moon so that will be one to avoid unless you are entering in the comp. Crack the right weather for your visit and the moon won’t matter as much anyway.
Big Cat Reality Fishing Charters - Kenn Reef trips
1st November 2021 - 10th November (9 days)
Normal rate is $5500 per person
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For more details contact Chris from Big Cat Reality Fishing Charters on 0422 517 792