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Weekly Fishing Report - 17th March 2022

A solid GT plucked from beneath a tuna school with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing.

Wind Easing Mid-Week

With the past week of windy weather now in the rear vision mirror, we can look forward to better conditions as the coming week unfolds. The standard summertime southeasterly trade wind that blew all last week will gradually abate, but not until after this weekend.

We can expect 15-20 knots of southeaster from now through Sunday. Come Monday, the wind will ease back to 10 knots with a 15-knot afternoon sea breeze. The wind should abate further Tuesday, and drop out to glamourous glass-out conditions for the middle of the working week. Weekend fishos can only hope that those conditions hold into the following weekend.

Rain won’t be an issue this week, with barely a passing shower of little more than nuisance value. Tomorrow night’s full moon sees yet another peak in tidal movement and potentially fish activity. As the moon wanes, eventually so will the bite, but that will hardly be a deterrent to keen fishos looking forward to the spell of great weather.

Limited Reports Lately Due to Weather

So little fishing activity over the past week due to weather constraints leaves us with little to report. However, there has been the odd crew braving the windy conditions or otherwise sneaking in dawn-buster sessions to take advantage of brief windows of lighter wind.

Those that made it up the inside of Fraser Island into Platypus Bay found no shortage of longtail tuna and a plethora of mack tuna. There are now good numbers of larger longtail up that way too, so once the weather settles, tear on up looking for signs of surface-feeding tuna and you should be in for a fat time.

A stonker longtail tuna caught on a recent charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

As always, tuna-chasers should be well-armed with an array of lures that should include a good assortment of metal slugs in the 20-50 gram range as well as the ever-reliable Zman Jerkshad rigged to a heavy TT Jighead. Stickbaiting really comes into its own this time of year, with the longtails preying on larger baitfish such as flying fish and gar.

This highly visual form of sportsfishing is highly exciting, as big black barrels of tuna bear down on your dancing stickbait worked at speed across the surface. The surface explosions as they intercept your sticky and the screaming drag as they bolt for the horizon are the stuff of dreams for tuna-chasers.

All the action recently has been centred up in Platypus Bay. This is mainly due to the weather restricting access to less-protected waters. Once the wind abates, the whole bay can be explored. Often there are even bigger numbers of tuna in the central bay, though the consistent southeaster this week would suggest a concentration of fish in the east is still likely.

A nice longtail caught with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing

Reports of spanish mackerel have filtered back in from crews that made their way up to Rooneys. Chances are that there will be mackerel cruising the cleaner waters just beyond the dirty water line north of the banks. Spaniards, schoolies and broadies were all common catches along this line, together with tuna and trevally in weeks gone by.

We’ve heard very little from reef fishos inshore, apart from a few hardy souls that snuck in a dawn session or two and were rewarded with a feed of sweetlip and cod. There has been very little fishing activity along our beaches, though whiting and grunter remain a chance for anyone keen to try. There has been some very nice grunter caught land-based around areas of structure again this week.

The filthy water from the Mary River has kept most regular fishos away from the Urangan Pier. Sharks, rays, and catfish are about all that we have heard of from those that wet a line from the planks recently. The stiffer southeaster even makes the pier less comfortable for the average fisho, so perhaps when the wind eases, we might hear of the odd grunter, flathead or jewie from those waters.

Queenfish can be found in good numbers around the bait balls this time of year

Plenty of Options for Boaties Mid-Week

It was once only weekends when good weather would see our boat ramp carparks filled to capacity. Nowadays, it seems that even on a weekday, there can be hundreds of boats on the water. That is likely to be the case this week, with only the mis-conception of “bad conditions” due to dirty water from recent flooding holding back some of the masses.

Those with larger vessels will be able to make their way out wide. Offshore will appeal to those that can handle a 10-knot easterly and a metre of swell. The fishing should be fantastic, as there has been minimal activity out over the bar recently. Significant current is quite likely due to the onshore winds of late, so pelagic activity should be peaking.

The full moon tides and onshore winds would suggest the shallower shoal country is worth a look for those keen on a surface session on spaniards and giant trevally. Out wider, mahi mahi are quite likely, though one might wonder how spoilt for choice these oceanic flotsam-lovers are right now. The amount of debris from the Brisbane and Sunshine Coast floods is substantial in our offshore waters at present.

A chunky golden trevally caught with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

The Gutters will likely be popular later this week. The lack of boating traffic recently will hopefully mean that the ridiculous shark numbers out there has either dwindled or they are well-scattered. To score a decent feed, a Gutters fisho must be highly mobile nowadays, or wasting precious reef fish to sharks will be the inevitable result.

A short-list of what you might expect to catch if you venture up to the Gutters includes coral trout, grass sweetlip, venus tuskfish, scarlet sea perch, squire, cod, spangled emperor, moses perch and hussar. Red emperor are a good chance after a blow, so anyone fishing the right country without sharks in attendance may score the best the reef can offer.

Spaniards are likely to be a nuisance along the ledges of the Gutters, and large schoolies could be just as annoying out over the rubbly country. If mackerel are your thing, then by all means target them by trolling, live baiting, vertical spinning or even just suspending a gang-rigged pillie mid-water and you should be in for a treat. By the way, large oceanic long toms and those annoying remoras can be a real hassle on many sites if you opt for the latter option.

Those that choose to stay closer to home will have plenty of options as well. Head north of the dirty water line (Fairway to Coongul) and you can chase pelagics until you are exhausted. Drop on the odd piece of reef structure and you might score a coral trout, cod, scarlet, blackall or sweetlip. Watch out for sharks though, as they will welcome an easy feed on way too many reef sites these days.

Back inside the banks, the Roy Rufus artificial reef, the Simpson, the Hardy and a few of the deeper ledges should be home to an array of reefies. Beneath that dirty water layer you see on top, is quite clean saltwater beneath, and our resident reefies are growing fat on all the tucker washed their way from the recent flooding.

There will be some ripper mangrove jacks, big grunter and small schools of jewfish taking up temporary residence on some inshore reef sites too, so be prepared for anything and offer them what they want to eat. Make the effort to gather the right bait, or drop appropriate jigs, vibes or plastics their way at the right time of tide and bragging rights might be yours for a little while. Don’t waste these critters, or your time, if the sharks are in attendance.

Deb with a golden trevally she caught on a charter with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing

A Few Tips for Fishing Our Estuaries Post-Flood

The Mary River system has been largely unfishable of late due to the major flooding. Those that tried, even in the River Heads area, caught catfish. Don’t expect too much to change down there just yet, and concentrate your efforts outside the river in the Great Sandy Straits.

There are likely to be threadfin salmon working the flats and drains in the River Heads area, though even more-so out in the straits. Many, many salmon met their demise along the Booral Flats recently and have been shipped off elsewhere for seafood lovers to enjoy. There will still be salmon in the vicinity, just in depleted numbers.

Being the dirty water specialist that the threadfin salmon is, these fish will use what nature gave them to great advantage in times of flooding. They are the masters of stealth in skinny water, and can be seen actively rounding up baitfish and jelly prawn with their big whiskers along the muddy verges. Convincing a thready to accept an artificial offering when it is fixated on the masses of jelly prawn so abundant in the shallows is a real challenge that many of our new fishos will need to come to terms with.

Deonnie with a quality threadfin salmon that went 117cm

Small prawn imitations have been well-proven in the past. Get your head around offering a 2-inch plastic to a 4-foot sambo on light leader and you will soon think light drags and careful manoeuvring. An alternative approach is small shallow diving hardbodies twitched hard in their vicinity to trigger a reaction more likely through annoyance than feeding instinct.

Small hard vibes slow-rolled or twitched can also trigger a sambo to bite, particularly when there is a lot of glassy perch and pony fish in the mix. Again, small lures mean light hardware, so go easy on the drag. The harder you pull or your drag resists, the easier it is for a sambo to chafe through your leader with their raspy jaws.

Soft vibing for salmon, barra and jewies will be an option in deeper waters when they aren’t otherwise preoccupied with the jelly prawn. Where once we would have targeted fish on vibes at low tide, you may need to consider high tide or nearby locations in even deeper water at low.
The deep ledges along the western side of Fraser from Kingfisher south are a good starting point. Some of the larger creeks of the straits may be worth a look by now, but you will need to judge that for yourself when you take a gander.

Mangrove jacks are super-active post flooding and very mobile in the dirty waters. As mentioned in previous reports, they can turn up on some reef sites locally, albeit temporarily. Deeper waters of the straits, heavily-laden with structure such as rock and timber that have an abundant food source hovering above will often see jacks lurking beneath.

If the creeks along Fraser’s western shoreline have started to mix with the salt from the full moon tides, and are not running pure fresh as they were weeks ago, then they should now come alive with baitfish, prawn and predators. Jacks will move back in, along with swags of annoying little estuary cod. Grunter will drift in and out with the tide and threadies and barra will do the same.

The flats fishing can be next level in post-flood conditions. Not the crystal-clear conditions that fly fishos live for, but filthy fish-rich shallows where predators, both large and small, can cruise without fear of attack from above. It can be stressful, boating over shallow flats without being able to see the channels or skinny water, but the rewards make it worth it. Think barra, salmon, flathead, jacks and grunter in various spots; GTs, queenies and bream in others and whiting over much of the shallow flats in typical whiting territory.

Speaking of whiting, something to consider is the potential for many flats in the straits to be covered in a layer of silt and mud. What used to be semi-sandy yabby banks are now immersed in a layer of mud – potentially no longer ideal habitat for yabby-loving whiting etc. Look for waters away from the influence of the Mary River floodwaters and you should find your whiting.

Chasing whiting on topwater lures is typically very productive after flooding. The abundance of jelly prawn starts to move with the tides once it grows a little. 20mm prawn that relies on drains and the like for some form of habitat protection starts to flood out onto the flats as it reaches double that length or so. Prime tucker for whiting, and how better could you mimic their prey in flee-mode than with a mini topwater lure such as a stickbait or micro popper.

Matt jumped in the car and headed north in search of big salties and was rewarded with this 118cm barra. Check out the jump shot below.

Fraser Island Beaches Awash with Flood Debris

The mess of flood debris from Brisbane and the Sunny Coast amassing along Fraser’s eastern beach is making news on prime-time TV and news feeds galore. This unsightly mess is being cleaned up by a handful of champions over there doing their bit to lessen the impact on the island’s wildlife and the environment in general. Anyone over there with time on their hands is invited to lend a hand if they can.

One of our regular fishos has been over on the island recently, and was kind enough to pass on his observations. Apparently, the litter is spread all the way along the beach to Indian Head. It is probably also north of there as well, but he couldn’t confirm that.

Not the greatest image, but it gives you an idea of the litter and debris washing up on the beaches

Beach conditions are less than ideal. There are a few high tide gutters formed that are forcing motorists up into the dunes when the tide is high. The debris settles along the high tide mark, so high tide travel should be avoided if possible.

Many of the gutters are dirty, with foaming brown waters full of fine silt and debris. There is lots of rock exposed along the beach also, so inland tracks need to be traversed at times. The seas have been very rough all week, so fishing opportunities have been very limited. Our mate on the island picked up a few dart and tarwhine but was hardly raving about the experience.

Eugaries (pippies) are scarce at the moment. Worming would likely to tough at present as well, as beach worms are not fans of freshwater. Even pro-wormers struggle to supply product at times when freshwater impacts their beach. Anyone planning to head over to the eastern beach for a fish might want to keep this in mind and pack some bait.

Lake Monduran Dishing Out Donuts

Storm rains over the past few weeks saw a number of small, yet significant, water level rises in Monduran. The biggest fall of 250mm at the wall a few weeks ago saw it rise around 4 feet, with subsequent storms dropping 120mm and 60mm in quick time and lifting the water level to some 6 feet in total.

As happened when the water rose by a similar amount a few months ago, the fishing post-rise got a little tricky. The rising water inundated the now super-lush foreshores and spread the barra out all over the lake. Some got to intercept mobile barra as the waters rose, but since then, things have settled and the fishing has been a little tough.

Darryl managed to tempt a bite from this 112cm Mondy barra

When the thermocline breaks down after minor flooding, the barra scatter. Some will head up into creeks, whilst others will drift out into the main river courses and gorge on the abundance of baitfish. The tricky bit is that many fish shift their focus to the newly-flooded fringes and flats and can be hard to spot for those relying on side scanners.

Fat barra, so full of baitfish they struggle to retain their lunch during the fight have been caught in the emerging shallow-water fishery once again, but the volume of this fringing weed mass on offer is immense and daunting for some. There has been a lot of effort on the lake in recent weeks, with a lot of donuts handed out, ala Mondy-style.

One of our regular customers Al sent us this pic of a Mondy barra that spewed up some of the bait it had been feeding on

There is a fishing competition on up there this weekend, so the full moon appeal is lost for many of us. Boat traffic is hectic at the best of times, so trying to avoid tournament fishos can add to the challenge. By all means, head up and give it a crack though, and you just might find that your tally matches it or betters the big names in the game.

Good luck out there y’all.


 Peter Morse Fly Casting Clinic - 18th & 19th June

Don't miss this great opportunity to improve your fly casting or get started with the right instruction. Peter is an International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Fly Casting Instructor and has over 40 years of fly-fishing experience in fresh and saltwater and 25 years teaching fly fishing and fly-casting.

Peter is also a Sage and RIO ambassador and will have Sage rods, reels and Rio lines with him if you wish to have a cast of one. Courses are a full day from 8-30am to 4pm.

Numbers are limited to 8 per day and the cost is still only $150 pp for the day. To secure your spot contact Josh on (07) 4128 1022 or email: info@fishostackleworld.com.au

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