Blowy Weekend, Better Mid-Week
Make the most of a good day tomorrow if you get the chance, or consider an early run Saturday, as otherwise, it is going to be a blowy weekend, with the better weather arriving mid next week.
As another trough approaches us from the west, the north wind is going to strengthen late Saturday and freshen to 30 knots Sunday. Expect a storm late Sunday, with a few light residual showers on Monday.
It will still be blowy on Monday, with up to 25 knots of northwester likely, before an easing trend Tuesday and a swing to the south, then east, as the trough clears the coast and the barometric pressure rises and the winds ease further.
Mid-late next week is vastly improved, with fairly light onshore winds and light-moderate afternoon sea breezes. It should be warm, with mostly sunny skies.
The tides are building under a waning moon this week. Thursday’s new moon will see this cycle end, with high tides peaking around 3.9m from lows of around 0.45m, meaning increasing tidal flow as the week progresses.
Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure Next Week
Qld’s second annual Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure will take effect next week. From midnight on Sunday night 20th November, until midnight Friday 25th November, the taking or targeting of any species contained within the Qld Coral Reef Fin Fish Plan is prohibited.
This closure effects waters north of latitude 24°50’ (which is roughly a line drawn from just south of Bargara to just north of Station Hill on Fraser Island). So, don’t go planning any reef fishing trips in the far northern bay, off Breaksea Spit or north from there next week.
Hervey Bay Garmin Game Fishing Classic
The Hervey Bay Game Fishing Club’s annual tournament has been run and won. For those interested in the overall results, then here are the stats:
There were 26 vessels entered, with 86 anglers onboard. 167 fish were tagged, including 9 blue marlin, 144 blacks and 2 sailfish. Bycatch of cobia, mahi mahi, spanish mackerel and tuna made up for the rest of the fish tagged.
Champion vessel 7.5m+ was “Chaos”. Champion vessel <7.5m was “Seagull”. Champion vessel fishing inside only was “Ikanui”. And champion vessel overall was “Seagull” from the Gold Coast.
All in all, the whole fleet had a great time in prime weather and made the most of the inshore run of black marlin as well as the light tackle offshore fishery. It seems that the local heavy tackle scene is not nearly as productive as it has been in other seasons.
The blue marlin caught were only relatively small fish up to an estimated 300lb. Even the blacks caught on heavy tackle were only small, in the range of 100-200lb. The lack of striped marlin is also notable.
Many of the black marlin were truly micro versions, with the smallest fish being as little as 10lb. Better baby blacks were caught of course, though average fish seem to be only 20-60lb. The sailfish that were so thick outside the 13 Mile crossing must have got wind of the fishing comp and high-tailed it elsewhere. Apparently, there was vastly more action south of the 13 Mile last weekend.
Christie with a baby black caught during the comp
Hervey Bay Pelagic Action Continues
Baby black marlin are still the big drawcard for many hopefuls heading out onto the bay. Station Hill was once central to the majority of the billfish action, but varying weather conditions have seen the fish highly mobile some days and they are now well scattered throughout Platypus Bay.
We have heard of at least one marlin caught just off Coongul, and several others sighted or caught not far north from there. Sounds reminiscent of other great seasons where we had marlin taking mackerel baits or livies and otherwise exciting the you-know-what out of fishos close inshore. There is even a rumour of a sighting just off the stones at Pt Vernon a few days ago. Can you imagine the social media storm if someone actually landed one land-based locally?
Anyway, if you are still yet to catch your first marlin, or you want to repeat past success, then either tear on up the bay tomorrow or Saturday morning, and make sure you keep your eyes peeled on the way. You might be able to save some fuel and time and ply the waters off Arch Cliffs and even wide of the Outer Banks if there is sufficient baitfish and resultant surface action in the area.
A juvenile black marlin takes flight, a lumo Pakula Sprocket does it again!
Once the winds ease after the big blow Sunday-Monday, you can have another crack. Expect the marlin to have been highly mobile during such a weather event. There will likely to plenty of stories of unexpected marlin encounters from next week onwards, as the fish scatter and feed across much of Hervey Bay.
Tuna fans have plenty to look forward to out on the bay. There are mack tuna galore and plenty of longtail schools to boot. Occasionally, the longtails are mixed with the macks, so it can be a lucky dip at times, but you can tip the odds of tangling with longtails in lieu of macks in your favour with alternative lure selection. The macks rarely favour larger lures, but the longtails will crash-tackle a stickbait or fast-cranked jerkshad when in the mood.
Spotted mackerel numbers are gradually increasing in the northern bay. Still not the massive hordes as yet, but better numbers week by week. There are also loose schools of spotties making their way well down into the bay. There is a mass gathering of “rain fish” (micro baitfish 30-50mm long) in the bay at the moment, and these are the favourite fodder of the spotties and tuna. So, be prepared to match the hatch.
Make sure you have a good selection of small metal slugs if you are keen on chasing spotties in the future. Slender-profiled slugs are the go, in weights from 15-40 grams. Some slugs need absolute speed to incite any action, whilst others (such as Halco Twisties) have enough “kink” in them to cater for the slower cranking reels (or fishos). These very same slugs are the go for tuna chasers too by the way, particularly those who don’t mind spending time connected to mack tuna.
There are plenty of school mackerel scattered throughout the bay at present. Many are feeding over bait-laden reefs, though plenty of solo roaming fish and small schools are making their way through our local shipping channels as well. Platypus Bay is home to plenty of schoolies. Just look for them over reef or rubble in lieu of charging all over the paddock chasing surface feeders (they are the bonito, spotties and tuna).
Jackson Sewell with a mac tuna that was spun up on a 5" Zman Streakz.
Broad-barred mackerel are possible inshore right now. They will be a nuisance to those trolling coral trout over our shallow reefs at times. Luckily however, broadies tend not to bite lures off nearly as efficiently as schoolies and spaniards seem to, so lure losses are fairly rare.
Queenfish and giant trevally will be worth pursuing inshore next week. The bigger tides this time of year should see both species terrorising the local baitfish populations. Try the deeper ledges along the inside of Fraser, the bay islands and their current lines, or even select beacons. Stickbaits, poppers, many forms of soft plastics and even trolled hardbodies and swimbaits can all account for GTs and queenies. It is up to you and your tendency to experiment or not.
Trout, Sweeties and Grunter Inshore
As the new moon approaches, our shallow inshore reef systems will be worth a try for those seeking trout, sweetlip or grunter. An early morning troll with diving lures capable of swimming just above the reef can be highly productive this time of year. As mentioned above, you might encounter bycatch of broadies, or even better, cod or squire (at dawn).
The deeper inshore reefs are also worth a prospect around the turn of tide for a trout or cod. You can choose to hop vibes or plastics as the majority do these days, or otherwise source some live baits and get the heavier tackle out. It would be of no surprise to hear of large GTs making live difficult for live baiters in the near future, especially around shipwrecks and steep ledges.
There is a feed of scarlet sea perch and grunter on offer out in the bay around the Outer Banks and beyond. Squire are still a reasonable chance too, with their bigger knobby brethren becoming less likely with each passing moon.
Great Sandy Straits Comes Alive
This is a great time of year to be targeting the waters of the Great Sandy Straits. The excess freshwater run-off from the Mary and from the streams impacted by the heavier rains in the central and southern straits has become well-mixed and salty and the whole area is again quite “fishy”.
Target threadfin salmon in the creeks and along the muddy verges feeding these systems. Look for grunter up on the flats when the tide is high, or seek them out over rubbly or broken bottom within the bigger creek systems. The main channels leading you into some of these creeks are prime areas for grunter hunters also, with mobile fishos hopping plastics and small soft vibes as they drift with the tide typically finding the better fish.
You can still expect to find a few flathead around the creek mouths, gravel bars and large drains. Working the lower stages of the tide will see best results in most areas. It won’t be long and flatties will be scarce in such shallow waters as they retreat from the heat. Make the most of the last of the season if you are a fan.
Deeper rocky ledges along the western side of Fraser Island are home to a mix of cool estuary predators and inshore reefies alike. In some areas, you can be releasing jewfish after jewfish and snaring the odd coral trout or mangrove jack along the same stretch of structure. Fingermark are certainly possible in some spots, and during periods of low light or in dirtier water, threadies can be quite possible along these ledges.
A feisty plastic crunching jack, gotta love those humid afternoons.
Fraser’s western creeks are still a better bet for threadies, and are possibly the prime choice for anyone wanting to tangle with mangrove jacks. The recent heat and pending spells of warmer weather will see an increase in jack action over what has already been a decent start to this season.
Choose your potential tides and timing carefully if you want to see the best jack fishing these creeks offer. If you can handle a buzz in your ears then by all means try dawn or dusk, but otherwise, fish rising and falling tides before and after they flood right up into the mangrove forest, and target the shady overhangs and junctions with small lures retrofitted with hardware up to the task of extracting the red devils.
Small GTs, and indeed some particularly large models, will be terrorising the baitfish schools and smaller predators down the straits in coming months. Queenies will get in on the act too, though they are certainly the most fun up on the flats in waters just clear enough to sight-fish them.
Tarpon can be good fun on light tackle and soft plastics when the jacks aren't biting.
There are substantial schools of mack and longtail tuna chasing schools of micro herring and hardiheads throughout the main shipping channels of the straits at the moment. They can be found from about Kingfisher south and are fairly flighty, but still catchable with the right approach. Some of the longtails are sizeable too, so sort them out before they attract the attention of the local bull sharks.
Lower Reaches Best Bet in Our Rivers
The dirty freshwater flows from rains a few weeks ago have started to subside in the majority of our local rivers. Indeed, the four rivers of the Burrum system are clearing up nicely (though you can expect a renewed flush of dirty water from the bigger ebb tides next week).
There is grunter being caught by land-based fishos at Burrum Heads itself. Soaking baits of prawn, small squid, yabbies, herring or strip baits can be productive, particularly after dark. Hopping plastics or soft vibes is even better for the fisho willing to risk the loss of lures to the structures along that stretch of water.
Further upstream in the Burrum system, there has been jacks taking live baits, mullet fillets and pillies. The approaching new moon and warming weather should see their activity increase another notch. Lure fishos can seek jacks in the lower-mid reaches in quite shallow water whilst the water colour is still dirty. It is amazing just how shallow jacks can be found on rock bars covered in dirty water. All that much easier for them to pounce on passing mullet perhaps.
Barramundi are also quite active, but of course it is closed season and they must not be targeted. The grapevine is alive with way too many tales of multiple barra captures recently, obviously not accidental. This closed season will see our existing barra stocks breeding and ultimately replenishing our future barra fishery – so leave them alone!
Staff member Logan took shop regular Hayden for a run in the river to show him how effective the Garmin Livescope is. Hayden pinned his first thready on a Nomad Vertrex vibe.
The River Heads area and the lower reaches of the Mary and Susan are worth a look for those seeking threadfin salmon. The big shallow gutters are prime sites for feeding salmon with enough tidal flow, as are the rocky shores of South Bank. Grunter are also a chance from the lower reaches and the heads itself, particularly where rock meets mud or along the gravelly stretches.
Otherwise, apart from a few remnant blue salmon, the odd flathead, and barra that cannot be targeted, the very much fresh waters of the Mary River are generally devoid of fish. Your best chances remain near the mouth for now, or the flats and drains out the front of the heads.
Mud crabbers have been laying their pots in the lower reaches of the rivers too. It is always frustrating to have a crab pot blocking the path of your lure in your favourite drain/s, so keep an eye out for semi-hidden ropes to avoid contact.
Prawns-wise, we have not heard anything about larger mature bananas since the flush out from the rains a few weeks ago. There is swags of smaller prawn being ravaged by predators along many banks in the rivers and creeks though, so even without the return of the larger prawn, there will be another feed on offer very soon.
James Otto with a solid thready from the weekend.
Pelagics Get Pier Fishos Excited
Good numbers of broad-barred mackerel have taken up temporary residence along the Urangan Pier. They are being heavily targeted, so their days might be numbered, but at least the landlubbers are getting a regular feed.
The broadies are joined by another run of school mackerel of mixed sizes too. Plenty of fish are falling to spoons, whilst others are taking gang-rigged live herring. Some are undersized, so release them unharmed.
More remarkable though is the run of spotted mackerel at the pier over the past couple of days. We had our doubts as to appropriate identification when first told, but have had their identity confirmed by a pier regular in the know.
Some nice spotties are starting to turn up throughout the bay.
Spotties were certainly a summer feature at the pier many years ago. They are typically a no-show most years though. Perhaps we have the great wet season last summer to thank, but whatever the case, this arrival is incredibly early in their season.
It just goes to show how much further some specimens of a species can travel when they get the urge. In theory, the spotties should be limited to the northern bay at this time. Go catch one land-based whilst you have the chance, as this may only be a brief visit that isn’t repeated this season (or will it be?).
The arrival of mackerel in numbers cannot go unnoticed by the giant trevally that show up around now and haunt the deeper waters towards the end of the pier. Mackerel of all types are prime live baits for monster GTs. They must be legal-sized mackerel to use as a live bait by the way, so don’t be tempted to use the smaller models. We cannot confirm the presence of the GTs as yet, but they are certainly due.
There has been the odd large queenfish caught from the pier recently as well. These big queenies often show up just when the pencil squid run commences. Depending upon water quality both in Urangan Channel and elsewhere inshore, the annual pencil squid invasion should kick off soon.
Northerly Winds and Heat Brings
on the Impoundment Barra
If planning a trip to Lake Monduran this weekend, then give yourself a little extra time on the highway due to all the roadworks. It can add another half hour to the trip if you get unlucky at lights or stuck behind caravans and the like. You will need patience at the boat ramp too, as it will be hectic and queues of cars and trailers waiting for their turn to launch or retrieve is becoming frustratingly common.
Whilst on the subject of boat ramps, there is a major issue that some drivers might consider when it comes to parking their vehicle and trailer. The parking facilities at Monduran are unmarked and substantially insufficient for the number of visitors these days. So, please make the effort to park close by to neighbouring vehicles when you do park, as on any given day, far too many drivers give no thought to the next bloke and leave massive gaps between parked vehicles. Surely there cannot be that many bad drivers on the road that need 2 metres between vehicles at a car park.
Anyway, once away from the ramp, you can relax and enjoy the lake. There is miles and miles of likely terrain to explore, so forget everyone else and go find your own spot away from others. The barra are well scattered across the whole lake. The biggest numbers are certainly in the lower reaches and in Bird Bay, but you can try anywhere the prevailing wind is blowing into or onto.
Bird, SDA, B Bay and the main basin points are all obvious areas to target whilst the northerly blows. If fishing tight timber and getting trashed by monster barra is not to your liking, then there are swags of open, grassy or weedy areas well worth fishing. Indeed, some of the bigger barra can be found along open stretches such as this, and once hooked are quite easily landed in open terrain.
The lack of moon at night will mean the bugs will be hyperactive. You will soon find this out if you turn on a headlamp or light anywhere out of the strongest wind. Don’t let this put you off though, as the dark of the moon can trigger a tremendous topwater bite from big barra relying on sound and vibration to hunt in the darkness. Something to consider in that statement for those fishing sub-surface at night as well.
Some fishing the lake this past week scored quality barra in the 90s and low 100s. Metre-beater barra are quite common nowadays, which pushes “bragging class” fish that bit higher. Many also found the bite to be frustrating at times, with big fish barely tapping a lure or otherwise spooking on touchdown or the first twitch. Persisting can pay dividends, as can trying elsewhere and returning at a more favourable time.
Up until now, Mondy’s barra have favoured relatively small lures. Swimbaits, paddle-tailed plastics and suspending hardbodies from 4-6in (100-150mm) have been scoring most fish. They have not responded to the bigger lures so far this season. That could be due to the cooler water until this week, but could also be due to the lack or larger garfish and the proliferation of smaller fodder such as bony bream and banded perch.
Frogs worked a treat recently when the lake rose, and should be worth a try again when the storms bear down on the lake this Sunday. Topwater lures are working at night too, which adds a whole new level of excitement to an evening session.