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Improved weather over the past few days looks set to continue into this weekend. Light winds either side of easterly should greet boaties, with even Fraser’s offshore waters looking good with 15knots or less most days. The full moon will rise this Monday, so you can expect plenty of run in the tide and an increase in feeding activity from many species triggered by the big spring tides.
Reports from our offshore waters have been negligible of late courtesy of the consistent easterlies for the past few weeks. This week looks better, but you can expect a slight swell up to 1.5m. The last time we had any reports from offshore, the charter boats were doing okay on the reefies when they could avoid the sharks, and the game boats were having a ball with marlin, mahi mahi, yellowfin and wahoo. If you know these waters, you won’t be surprised to find a stack of current offshore, so take the trolling, jigging, popping and/or stickbaiting gear with you and give the pelagics a touch up if the reefs are too hard to fish. It will be interesting to hear tales from offshore over the coming week as crews report back. With so little effort out there of late, the fishing should be red hot, and hopefully the sharks have given up waiting for us and moved elsewhere.
Light easterlies will enable the smaller boats to head up the island in comfort this week, where good schools of spotted mackerel can still be found anywhere north of Coongul. Mack and longtail tuna schools are also increasing in numbers so look for the surface bust-ups and choose your slug size to match the likely baitfish being harassed by the pelagics. Sharks are a given around these aggregations of fish, so take care when handling your catch and put some miles on the dial when they find you.
Big golden trevally are still an easy target for those jigging plastics, vibes or micro jigs over some of the Platypus Bay reefs and closer inshore around the Outer Banks. If reefies are more your thing, then you can always try an overnighter up the island in the hope of scoring a mixed bag of scarlets, squire, sweeties, cod and big grunter. Take squid jigs with you if you do, as the pencillies are here in numbers and are dead set easy to catch from a well-lit boat.
The lighter winds will likely see numbers of boats converge on the southern and northern gutters off Bundy. On the way there you are likely to pass schools of surface-feeding tuna and spotties, so have a spin rod handy so you can score a bit of fresh bait on the way north. Yellowfin tuna have been hanging around the gutters in recent times too, so a stickbait outfit and appropriate stickies could provide an energetic alternative to the reef fishing.
It would be easy to say that the coral trout, grass sweetlip, red emperor, spangled emperor, blackall, jacks and tuskfish will all be there waiting for you to drop a bait, micro-jig or plastic. There will indeed be some nice reefies there, but the sharks have proven so devastating during summer and the attrition is increasing exponentially each year.
Increased shark activity over the bigger moon phases just adds to the frustration, though these periods also allow you to scope out new grounds away from the “pack”. By this we mean that the stronger tidal flows will see fish more inclined to aggregate around structure “out in the paddock”, making some of these otherwise lifeless-looking small “shows” come to life. Just think about all of those sketchy looking little pieces of stuff you marked over the years that may be worth a visit. If those little gems are unknown to other boaties, then chances are the sharks won’t be there and some big scarlets, reds or trout just could be.
Thankfully our shallow reefs see little attention from the noahs, and this week’s big tides should see them fire. The high tides in the morning will be particularly big, so early starts are a must for those looking to score a feed of reefies. You can try a troll at dawn for some trout and cod, or choose to anchor and drift back baits of squid, banana prawns, hardiheads or strip baits for a mix of trout, cod, sweeties, blackall, tuskies (and grunter if fishing off Pt Vernon).
The deeper inshore reefs will be home to many of the same species, though you will need to time your efforts to coincide with the slower stages of the tide for best results. Those who know how to procure summer livies will do well on trout and cod over the turns of tide, though going on some reports from the Arti recently, it sounds like the GTs and smaller (<2m) noahs have been smashing livies with gusto. Don’t be surprised to have XOS spanish mackerel turn up and scoff your live bait or your hard-earned reef fish.
The bay islands and some of Fraser’s western ledges will be popular amongst the adrenalin junkies out there looking for a fix from their beloved GTs and queenies. Afternoon low tides will likely produce the best action around the islands and along the drop-offs where the flats meet the deeper channels. The flats along the islands and along Fraser’s western shores will be worth a look over the big morning highs for goldies, queenies and other ghosts of the flats. Stealth is ultra important in this situation, as is patience and a keen eye for shadows and fish movement.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
The big tides will again offer prime opportunities for a bit of drain bashing either down the Straits or within the confines of the rivers. As stated before, timing is the key, as is a food source for the waiting salmon to ambush as they are forced out of the drains. A mix of small shallow hardbodies, lightly-weighted softies and vibes will generally see the undoing of a salmon or ten. A particularly good lure that we have recently added to our stable is the Jackson Bottom Magic that has quickly proven itself in taking salmon, grunter and flatties in a number of drain and flats scenarios.
Bait fishos can expect a few grunter along the fringing mangroves from Shoulder Point south, as well as from the lower reaches of the Mary and the lower/mid Susan. Those choosing lures for their assault on the grunter usually do best down the straits by targeting the deeper holes and bends during the run of the tide.
Flatties will turn up around creek mouths and drains, particularly those that drain a shaded flat or mangrove strewn area. Whilst not really considered a prime target this time of year, some rather large bream can be taken from the many rocky areas within the rivers. Further upstream in the smaller creeks you can find schools of pikey bream. These scrappy little fellows might lack any size but they sure make up for it with sheer aggression. Look for pikeys around sunken mangrove clumps with plenty of cover and watch for their black shoulders as they dart from cover to smash your lure.
Our ridiculously dry wet season so far has resulted in much cleaner waters within our rivers and creeks than we would normally expect. For this very reason you could well find queenfish and GTs within the lower Mary/Susan, and most certainly down the straits along the fringes of the flats and the deeper ledges. Reef fish such as trout, sweetlip and tuskies also favour these ledges in dry times along with an almost over-abundance of pesky estuary cod.
This same drought has made for challenging crabbing, though if you were in for a better than average chance it would be over the coming full moon period. Our waters copped a hammering over the Xmas break, but few legal crabs were taken relative to the amount of effort. Those that scored any decent numbers went the extra mile and placed their pots well beyond the reach of other boats. Just about every crabber has a story to tell of poachers either stealing crabs and/or pots. Some technological advancement with motion-activated cameras and drones and the like will hopefully bring these poachers to justice in the future.
There has been little talk if any of prawns of late. Sure you will be able to score enough prawn for livies and perhaps a modest feed, but seriously it is just too hot and way too dry. Plenty of jelly prawns have hatched and are milling around the muddy fringes of our rivers and drains. If we can get the rains, then it will only be a month or so for a prawn bonanza like we get every autumn. In the meantime, look in the smaller feeder creeks for your bait prawns, and if you have a direct line to The Almighty, then pray for rain.
Burrum River System
The Burrum system continues to produce stella jack fishing and there is no reason for that to change in the immediate future. The mid reaches of the Burrum, the whole of the Cherwell, Isis and Gregory are worth a crack for a jack. Jelly prawns are gathering in abundance up that way, and a kilo or so of hard-earned prawns is possible for those willing to make the effort.
Urangan Pier ,Town Beaches & Creeks
The big XOS GTs are still the main target for the heavy tackle brigade out the end of the pier. Given that a few schoolies and broadies (mackerel that is) have been foolishly hanging around too, it has offered those in the know with a prime source of bait for the GTs. If you reckon you can stop one with a pylon every few metres, then gear up and give them a go. You may well fail more times than you succeed but the adrenalin rush from a massive black beast tearing off after scoffing a whole legal mackerel is well worth the effort. Pencil squid have still been popular targets for the night fishos, though apparently their numbers were down a bit this week.
We sold a stack of micro poppers and stickies for whiting anglers this week, so the local flats have obviously been going off. Fairly standard fair for this time of year as the jelly prawns begin their run. This week’s full moon will only enhance the whiting fishing from our beaches and flats, though those choosing the surface options may need to change their timing or locations slightly as the tides get bigger.
On a bright note; it is only 14 more sleeps till the barra season opens. Yay!
Good luck out there y’all.