Perfect Weather Never Lasts Forever
Wow, what a spectacular spell of weather we enjoyed here on the Fraser Coast over the last week. Light winds and glassy seas for days on end greeted an endless fleet of vessels and eager crews. Not only was the weather mint, but the cooler conditions, high barometer and super-productive moon phase all combined to provide the perfect recipe for piscatorial pursuits.
Looking ahead, the picture is less rosy, so hopefully all you fishos out there got your fishing fix last week and can kick back and chill this weekend. The forecast suggests that the next day or two of westerly winds will swing into the southwest on Saturday and stiffen to 20 knots. That cold blast is supposedly only going to last out the day though, with Sunday offering a brief window to fish locally.
A 20 knot south-southeaster will kick off the working week, easing back to 15 or less by Tuesday. Mid-week could see potentially another few days of glamour weather leading into next Friday’s full moon for those lucky enough not to be working.
Greg Lamprecht from Wicked Fishing with 13kg+ of red emperor. Pic: Wicked Fishing
Greg's rod of choice the Live Fiber Venom 6'6" PE 2-8. Pic: Wicked Fishing
Greg dropped the camera on one of his spots and was blown away when they saw 70-80 reds on the screen. Pic: Wicked Fishing
Some solid looking specimens there. Pic: Wicked Fishing
Greg's Dad with a beautifully coloured red. Pic: Wicked Fishing
And again, this time with a 15.09kg horse! Pic: Wicked Fishing
Greg with a full string of pearlies on the deep drop gear. Pic: Wicked Fishing
A big bar cod from the depths. Pic: Wicked Fishing
A big pearl perch and a comet cod/grouper. Pic: Wicked Fishing
How cool are the markings on the comet cod/grouper. This is one of the biggest Greg has seen. Pic: Wicked Fishing
Reports from local crews have filtered back in from what was a huge week on the water. You may have gleaned the subtle hints regarding red emperor in last week’s report. That dark moon just passed is prime for reds in our part of the world and going on many reports, this most majestic of our reef fish didn’t disappoint.
Quality red emperor graced the eskies of many crews from offshore from Double Island Point (DI) right through to the GBR. Fishing big cut baits, large squid heads, live or dead yakkas and the like scored great reds for those putting in the effort over the right country. The super tough, ready-made tricked-up gang rigs from both PE Tackle and Elkat proved their worth on the big reds and numerous other reef fish once again.
We’ve heard of a couple of reds that were snuck over the side whilst the sharks weren’t watching out at the Gutters, but those that ventured wider did vastly better. Good reds were found out in the paddock west of Lady Elliot and the Lightship, and a few were also picked up over the Breaksea Spit, but those that hit the 50m+ country out from the Bunker Group did better again.
The best reports, as usual, came from those chasing reds off DI and the southern end of Fraser. Several crews scored big reds, but none better than the crew from “Wicked Fishing” who enjoyed champagne fishing, hauling in quality reds to 15kg from isolated rocks out in the paddock. Check out Greg Lamprecht’s report, piccies and underwater drone shots and try not to drool on your phone.
Christie was stoked with her new PB red emperor.
Young Braith with a quality red.
Lloyd with a solid chunk of red emperor.
Adam with......yep you guessed it, another red! Last weekend definitely produced the goods for a lot of reef fishos.
Apart from reds, there were great bags of other reef species hauled over the side from our area. Those that headed over the Wide Bay Bar found plenty of snapper/squire in close and also out wider where-ever decent bait schools had gathered over reefy/rubbly ground. Pearl perch bit well too, with the bigger models coming from out wider. There was the usual bycatch of estuary cod, maori cod, moses perch, tuskfish, amberjack, kingfish and scarlets from grounds in close and out wide.
Deep droppers did very well off DI, scoring big hauls of bar cod, the odd comet cod and large pearlies. A few flame snapper brightened up their eskies down that way as well, and the sharks were not an issue. Those that attempted the same deep dropping techniques off the northern end of Fraser and the Spit didn’t seem to fair nearly as well.
Those that checked the latest SST charts would have seen the large pool of warmer faster-flowing water well offshore of Fraser from Waddy Point south. North of there, the lack of current, the eddying effect and the current swinging east may indicate the reason for greater success down south in the more productive north-south current.
Crossing the Breaksea Spit and working the shoal country was productive for many, but you certainly had to be mobile to avoid the sharks. Experienced skippers would be well aware of the shark issue associated with the bigger grounds out that way and will steer clear when the sharks are bad. Find smaller, more isolated patches and the rewards can be greater.
Dane with a solid blue maori cod.
Wayne Parr with a nice green jobfish.
Brett getting in on the Jobby action too.
Dane found some solid tuskies too.
Just some of the species reported from over the Spit include snapper, pearlies and jobbies along the 100m line down south, whilst the grounds to the north were heavily infested with sharks. The shoal country produced reds, red throat, green jobbies, spangled emperor, maori cod, coronation trout, tuskies, moses perch and hussar. Again, the sharks were particularly bad over some of the bigger country off the 4 Mile and 13 Mile.
Cobia rocking up to drifting boats and sneaking a peek at what’s going on above certainly got the odd crew excited. These brutes are suckers for virtually any decent lure or bait dropped over the side when they cruise by, so always have something at the ready this time of year. There are stacks of cobes in the bay as well as offshore and they will be with us for a few months yet.
Heading north of the bay to the wide grounds west and south west of Lady Elliot Island produced good mixed bags. The sharks were only a problem in some areas apparently, enabling quality fish such as reds, big trout, snapper, maoris, grassies, spangled emperor, cod, hussar and lots of large tuskies to be hauled up from the depths.
Those that drove up the Bruce and hit the GBR scored really well as expected. Bag limits of coral trout are a fairly simple affair from around the reefs and islands up that way, along with the accompanying limit of tasty red throat emperor. Quality reds bit well in the deeper waters of the shipping channel, as well as east of the islands. A few decent scarlets graced eskies from the shipping channel, along with cod, tuskies, squire and grassies.
Staff member Logan took a few mates for a fish over the weekend and came home with a nice mixed bag including this quality coral trout.
Little Joseph Hoy borrowed his sisters shirt and jumped on board with Logan and pinned his first decent trout.
Dax "Cool Dingo" Gallagher with a soft plastic caught throut.
Logan and Dax with a double hook up on cod and trout.
Wayne Parr found some nice reefies over the weekend too.
Right colour, wrong species. Brett with a big chinaman fish. These guys are a no take species due to the high Ciguatera risk.
Big Knobbies Bit Well in the Bay
Back in the bay, the ledges of the Southern and Northern Gutters saw a bit of traffic over the recent weekend. A few scored a modest feed of coral trout, sweeties, cod and other lesser reefies, but the sharks took a terrible toll for many. The trevally have moved in on the Gutters big time and are hard to avoid in some areas. The sharks are inclined to knock off even the trevors these days and they certainly target the bigger, harder-pulling models.
Cobia can be found lurking over bait-rich ledges of both gutters, as can snapper of varying sizes. Drift the fringes of the gutters or over scattered low-lying country nearby and you might score a few squire during the day or night. Come night-time, settle in on a likely area and either drift or anchor for a crack at the bigger knobbies.
The Qld bag limit only allows one snapper of your four to be 70cm or over. A few crews had the usual scenario last weekend of having to throw back big snapper in the hope of smaller models to take home for a feed. Thankfully, snapper release quite well when hauled up on medium tackle in the bay, so do the right thing and return the excess big models to hopefully avoid the sharks and breed this season.
Logan with a solid grassy caught on a soft plastic.
Adam with a spangled emperor.
The reefs in the western and central bay produced good hauls of snapper and squire for those hanging into the night, or at least focussing on the key dawn and dusk bite periods. The 25 Fathom Hole produced a few big knobbies right on cue, so there must be enough yakkas out that way to draw them in.
The reefs in Platypus Bay gave up a few squire and plagues of trevally, but the larger snapper (or any fish) hooked near reef were quite often sharked. It is a shame, but it sounds as though the age-old technique of anchoring and berleying the Platypus Bay reefs on sunset for snapper may be thing of the past, courtesy of the noahs.
Closer inshore, there were reports of quality knobbies caught from a few of the local hotspots. The Fairway, Outer Banks, Simpson arti, Moon Ledge and Roy Rufus arti all gave up fish, but the sharks could not be avoided by all. There was also some quality grunter on the chew out at the Fairway after dark. The smaller tides over the coming days and the westerly winds are hardly worth getting excited about for snapper-chasers. Leave your efforts for the lighter onshore winds a few days out from the full moon and have another crack.
It wasn’t just snapper that bit well in the bay, with scarlet sea perch coming on the chew over the dark of the moon as well. Small, undersized scarlets are a real issue in close and should be avoided if possible. They do not release well at all, and you can be pretty much assured that the majority of your releasees will not survive if fishing depths beyond 15 metres. It has been said that they have a bit of a pecking order too, where the bigger fish feed first, so don’t expect legal scarlets to all of a sudden turn up if you have been catching undersized models.
The local reefs in our shipping channels gave up a few sweeties, blackall, the odd trout and estuary cod as well as good squire. There are increasing numbers of school mackerel making their way into our waters, and schools of large golden trevally have turned up on some of our local shipwrecks. Look out for cobia inshore in coming weeks/months too, as they will follow the bait and turn up if we get an influx of yakkas close inshore.
You can't complain when you're getting snapper and tuskies on the same drift.
Mick (above) and Blake (below) with a couple of nice bay snapper.
Winter time fishing at it's best.
Take the Mackerel Gear if Chasing Whiting
The perfect weather saw the smallest of boats out on the briny and the winter whiting brigade had fun by most accounts. Launching from Gatakers Bay is still the go, with the best of the whiting on offer out from Pt Vernon, The Gables and off O’Reagans Creek over the past week.
Our recent mention of “single hook” limitations in the local yellow zones has certainly had the whiting fishos checking their charts and locations. As the whiting turn up further afield, baited bait jigs will be fine for those fishing outside the yellow conservation zones close to Pt Vernon. Bag limits have been achieved by several crews this week, so the slow start to the season is now well behind us and so long as you are willing to find your own fish when the crowds are bad, you should score a good feed anytime over winter.
For those that are interested, a couple of locals tried the whiting grounds out from Urangan west of Woody Island this week. A bit premature perhaps, as reflected by their minimal catches, barely scratching up a feed. These grounds will fire after a few more spells of westerly weather, but for now the Gatakers Bay option is suggested. Similarly, we have only heard of negligible catches from those who tried for winteries out from River Heads.
So, if catching 50 whiting each is so simple – and it is, then how about mixing the day up a bit and chasing something else in the area. For example, we’ve mentioned the sand crab fishery west of Pt Vernon for several weeks, that offers whiting fishos the perfect opportunity to recycle their whiting frames and convert them into succulent sandies.
Recently arrived schools of school mackerel off Pt Vernon also suggest that a whiting crew might benefit from a little trolling session back to the ramp, or perhaps out around any obvious bait schools. Undoubtedly, the mackerel will make their presence felt around the whiting schools in coming weeks too, as they tear in to knock off any hooked fish before you can get them over the side.
There is also the potentially A-grade bream fishery that is largely untapped at Pt Vernon each winter. Simply anchoring over the reef and berleying will soon see a steady stream of large bream coming over the side. Of course, floatlining techniques on light tackle are the go, and you might pick up the odd squire, blackall, sweetlip, coral trout and tailor (later in the season).
Mackerel fans can also ply their craft around any significant schools of yakkas or herring in the southern bay area in coming weeks. They can turn up anywhere from the Bait Grounds to the Arch Cliffs 6 Mile and all points in between or west of that line. The current run of schoolies includes mostly smaller fish, though few are undersized which is good to hear. Spin them up on Flasha Spoons, troll high-speed divers or fish live or dead baits back in the current and you can score an easy feed of macks in coming weeks.
A feed of school mackerel from an inshore charter with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.
Winter Species Well-Entrenched in Local Estuaries
The latest reports from down the Great Sandy Straits suggest there is a ton of fun on offer for the light tackle lure tosser or fluff chucker. Blue salmon are easy targets when sight-fished up on the flats or identified on the sounder whilst drifting or trolling the rivers and creeks. These speedsters offer great sport and are quite sizeable in our waters throughout winter. 5-6 kilo, 80-90cm blues are quite common, often amongst their smaller brethren, but the chances of fish of double that weight and well over a metre are very real.
Jewies have also been on the chew of late, as reported weekly. Their numbers are getting knocked around a bit here and there, but there seems to be a fresh run of quality jewies turn up with each major moon phase. Try Kingfisher, River Heads, Ungowa and other ledges and reefs along the inside of Fraser. There are also jewies in the Mary River if you focus on deeper rock bars or holes holding plenty of herring.
Bream fans will have plenty to cheer about from here on in through winter. To date, River Heads, South Head, Kingfisher and the Bay Islands have been yet to fire, (at least as far as we know), but the annual winter migration of spawning fish will soon inundate these areas (and Pt Vernon) and it will be on for young and old.
Immigrants from down south that love their bream fishing will be suitably blown away by how good we have it in these parts, and they might struggle to understand why the locals barely give the bream a passing glance, until they realise the plethora of other options available in our part of the world. Slow-twitching tiny topwater offerings for kilo-class bream in skinny water certainly has its appeal though and plenty will enjoy this fishery in the near future.
There has been a few tailor turn up to terrorise the local baitfish populations recently. We mentioned the tailor in the Burrum over last month’s super moon, which are still there by the way, but it is the fresh run of fish down the straits that has been notable this week.
Whilst traveling the straits, keep an eye out for birds dipping, or fish busting up on the surface. They could well be tailor in the 50cm class as recently reported, or small GTs, queenies or blue salmon. Even broad-barred mackerel can cause a bit of surface baitfish chaos, but being more loners, they act alone and their bust ups are vastly more subtle than the commotion caused by school feeders such as the aforementioned.
Our local tiger squid population took a major backwards step in their population count last week, but more westerlies this week will likely see a resurgence in their numbers. Pencil squid need not be written off just yet either, with quite a few turning up at River Heads, down the straits and out in the western bay.
Chilly Nights Productive on Urangan Pier
Take a squid jig or two with you if venturing out onto Urangan Pier this time of year. Spotting big “locallies” hanging out in the first channel or near the pylons out the end is a major part of some pier fishos average winter’s day/night. Beating others to the squid with a jig is the key though, as your neighbours are quite likely to poach the squid you just spotted if you make it too obvious.
Night sessions under the dark of the moon saw some quality jewfish over a metre hauled over the rails out the end. There has been precious little in the way of herring out the pier lately, so work out how to catch pike if you want the best results. This goes for the big flatties that have been lurking around the pylons lately as well – they favour pike over all other baits and will readily scoff them in favour of herring.
The bream have been biting well, and their numbers have improved. They are being caught day and night, with some of the better specimens gracing the planks after dark. It seems as though the usual annual run of really big bream has been yet to materialise, but it ain’t over just yet. And don’t forget – the big bream didn’t get big by being stupid, so ensure you present the most natural-looking streamlined baits you can if you want to trick the cunning old blue noses.
Good luck out there y’all.
Fisho’s Tackle World Again Offering In-House Reel Servicing
After a somewhat frustrating hiatus, we have been lucky here at Fisho’s to gain the services of a very experienced and quality-focussed reel repairer by the name of Mark. We can now again offer complete in-house reel repairs, upgrades and servicing.
We are confident that Mark will provide the utmost in quality workmanship, utilising the latest and greatest in lubrication materials and techniques. Mark is well-versed in all manner of fishing reels, including all the high-end models from all the big brands, and can attend to all spin, overhead, baitcast and surf casting reels.
Nowadays, many customers are looking to upgrade their favourite reels by way of Carbontex Drag Washers and/or Gomexus handles or handle knobs. Mark can assist in fitting these products in the appropriate manner, using the suitable lubricants for the job.
So, if your fishing reels need servicing, or you are keen for an upgrade, then bring your reels into Fisho’s and Mark will attend to whatever you need in a timely fashion.