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Weekly Fishing Report - 17th September 2020

Tri aka "Captain Hot Pot" from Fraser Guided Fishing putting clients on to some tasty coral trout.
 
Spring Spring Tides

We copped an unusual amount of rain last weekend from unseasonal showers, but they soon cleared and left us with a few days of better weather. A few more light showers are forecast for the next couple of days, though don’t expect too much rain.

A mix of light to moderate easterly breezes will prevail till Sunday afternoon when a northeaster is scheduled to kick in and sustain northerly breezes till at least mid-next week.

Big spring tides are shifting a lot of water around right now, courtesy of tonight’s new moon. Tidal movement from 0.3m lows to 4.1m highs can see local waters churn up when the wind opposes the tide, so take a little extra care when boating in smaller vessels in areas prone to this effect if the wind is up.
 
Bring on the Spring ‘Ting
 
These big tides have got the local whiting fishos out and about, gathering their favourite baits of yabbie or worm at low tide in readiness for the next flood tide. Catches over recent days have varied a little depending upon who you talk to and whether or not the water-borne weed has been an issue in their chosen location. Generally speaking, a bag limit of sand whiting is very achievable right now and this should be the case for a few days to come.

Boaties are spoilt for choice, having the vast flats and plethora of creeks down the straits to choose from, not to mention the Burrum River system, the lower Susan or Mary and even creeks such as Beelbi at Toogoom. The beaches north of Moon Point are worth a look as well, but it is more-so Fraser’s western creeks and their feeder channels and adjacent flats that produce the big numbers.

Night sessions are still favoured by boaties (and land-lubbers alike) this time of year. The biggest fish are typically caught at night in skinny water as they are far less flighty and feed voraciously in preparation for spawning. Having said this, plenty of quality whiting can be caught in daylight sessions and this trend will tend to increase as we head further into spring.

Shore-based whiting fishos can try the local beaches at Torquay and Urangan, or can try the beach end of the Urangan Pier. Beach fishos often do well around the storm-water pipes that traverse the beach, which is handy as these platforms offer a convenient spot to stash your gear up off the sand as well. The big rock groynes are equally popular and offer the chance of the odd bream and flattie at different times.

As the tides wane in a few days we would expect the whiting bite to taper off. Given that a northerly breeze is on its way at about the same time however, we just might see an extended bite as the local whiting feed in the stirred-up shallows caused by the wave action from the northerly.

Anticipation of Increasing Billfish Activity
 
The passing of this new moon should see an increase in billfish activity both inshore and offshore. A few baby blacks have been sighted and a small number caught already this month. Anytime from now on should see more of these juvenile baitfish terrorists rounding Rooneys Point and heading down into Platypus Bay. Reports of masses of unattended baitfish schools scattered throughout the bay suggest the food source is there.

So, light tackle sportsfishos, it’s time to get your favourite marlin gear ready and make some prospective forays towards Rooneys scouting out any fish moving into the area. Of course, you can always wait till we report about the marlin others are catching, but as you might already know, this fishery is very popular nowadays, so you might end up chasing caught fish if you leave your run till the grapevine makes everyone aware of their arrival.

Just over the Breaksea Spit, just off Sandy Cape, at what is now known as the Zero Mile, is a great spot to stretch the light tackle gear on small blacks when the weather allows. The eddied waters outside the 13 Mile crossing are also worth a look for little blacks and sailfish. Baitfish movements through the area will dictate which area fires at any given time, but both grounds have the capacity to offer multiple shots at billfish at the moment.


When Luke isn't busy running charters on Kekoa Sport Fishing, you'll often find him out on the water keeping in tune with what's happening.

Perhaps the popularity and ease of access to the inshore marlin grounds has distracted game fishers from the lucrative waters towards the north end of the Breaksea Spit in recent years. Records were broken and ridiculous catch rates reported from these very grounds many years ago. Wolf packs of big sailfish in such numbers that multiple hook-ups were common, often caused chaos on the deck of game boats working the area back then.

So, if you’ve scored a few baby blacks and are looking for the next light tackle challenge to tick off your list, then suss out the waters north of Fraser Island this spring in the hunt for your first sail. Cross the bar and try off the 13 Mile or stay inside and troll the big sand ridges such as Long Shoal. Sails were occasional visitors to the Rooneys area in the past as well, so don’t be too surprised if you trip over some just north of the point.

Heavy tackle game fishers will also be dusting off the big gear in readiness for the fantastic blue marlin fishery east of Fraser. Huge blues are possible from these waters over the next couple of months, with many “average” fish in the 200-400lb range encountered frequently when conditions are suitable.

Marlin grand slams of blue, black and striped marlin have been achieved in these waters in recent years. Bycatch can be minimal in the deeper waters at times, but you might find wahoo, yellowfin and mahi mahi at times when the bait is thick. Stay tuned for updates from the offshore grounds in coming weeks as the local and visiting game fleet gather and better weather enables access to smaller vessels.

School Mackerel Common Inshore
 
After what was a slow start to this mackerel season, we are now getting reports of numbers of good-sized schoolies from various locations in the southern bay. The mackerel grounds from the Burrum to Gatakers Bay have been productive, with the Fairway beacon and the Burrum 8 Mile producing good numbers at times.

Queenfish and golden trevally have also been recent captures from some parts of this same stretch of our coastline. The queenies just love hunting down poppers and stickbaits blooped or worked at speed across the surface, but the goldies will respond more-so to metal spoons, jigs, plastics or soft vibes which will also score plenty of queenies.

Baitfish movements will dictate where the bulk of the mackerel schools will venture, so be prepared to move from spot to spot looking for schools of herring. Trolling likely country around schools of baitfish is a very simple and effective technique when it comes to tracking down roaming mackerel.

Schoolies can be found at numerous inshore spots right now. These include the likes of the Bait Grounds, Rayners, the Outer Banks, Moon Ledge, Mickies, Christies, River Heads, Kingfisher Bay and around the bay islands. Spinning with metal spoons such as Flashas is deadly effective for the energetic, but plenty of folk are scoring a feed with a humble gang-rigged pillie or live bait.

A solid pennant fish caught on a plastic. Pic: HBFS

Still Good Snapper About

These big tides will stir up the snapper in the area and should see a few good knobbies caught over the coming weekend. Dark nights are great but it is the daytime bite from snapper on the back side of the new moon that can be very productive. Soft plastics, jigs and trolled deep divers could all score, it is just a matter of tracking down the fish.

Try the local artificial reefs, Moon Ledge, the Outer Banks or the Burrum 8 Mile, but stick with the spots showing a sign of snapper or at least a good aggregation of baitfish. Expect a few bite-offs from those pesky mackerel and don’t be surprised to find schools of large trevally inshore on some of the artificial structures such as the Simpson or the Roy Rufus shipwrecks.

Heading up to Platypus Bay whilst the winds are light easterly will see pleasant boating conditions and should see you score snapper around dawn, dusk or into the evening. Seeking out the bait schools away from reefs during the daytime could score you some snapper, but look out for the trevally schools as they are quite abundant up that way at present.

Grass sweetlip are becoming increasingly active inshore, but their numbers are still only minimal. At least the fish that are here are quite sizeable. It won’t be long before the hordes of smaller sweeties turn up. They will inundate some of the local shallow reef systems for a period till the waters get too warm then move back onto the deeper inshore reefs in the shipping channels.

Blackall are common bycatch and continue to fool many a hopeful into thinking he/she has hooked a good snapper. Using live or whole baitfish usually deters the blackall, which tend to favour squid and prawn type baits. Coral trout will start to bite a bit more freely as our waters warm. For now, target them around the turn of tide with live baits for best success, or tea bag plastics near their lairs during the warmer afternoon tide turns. Expect plenty of cod as bycatch.

Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing getting onto some quality snapper.

Toni Hollands looking chuffed with a painted sweetlip aka blackall

A bit of jigging action on a recent charter with Fraser Guided Fishing.

Plenty of Pelagic Action at the Pier

There has been a stack of pelagics smashing the schooled-up herring out along the Urangan Pier this week. Big queenfish have been turning up in the mornings and longtail tuna have been common in the afternoons. This scenario will change somewhat as the tides vary in coming days.

School mackerel have been regular captures and will no doubt be a drawcard for plenty of kids over the coming school holidays. It would be no surprise to hear of big GT’s turning up with all the mackerel action. Undersized schoolies are still an issue at times, so ensure they are released to grow (and not used as live baits for GT’s).

Half man half tuna, Dax with a nice school longtail caught off the Urangan Pier

Mondy Barra on the Chew Again
 
What a difference a week makes. After a slowdown in action due to cloudy, then showery weather, Mondy’s barra are back on the chew. As soon as the wet weather passed on, the barra moved back into the shallows and those lucky enough to be up there have been scoring well.

The bite hasn’t been constant, as some periods since have seen the barra a bit hard to tempt when the wind dropped off or the moon wasn’t quite right. The consistent southeaster over the past week aggregated fish along windward banks and exposed points and according to some crews the fish stacked up on their side scanners needed to be seen to be believed.

Suspending hardbodies have been scoring plenty of fish, but large paddle-tailed plastics have been equally productive in the weed-free waters. Most of the action has been in less than 3 metres of water, with some fish coming from water barely deep enough to cover their backs.


Luke Fallon from Kekoa Sport Fishing with a solid Mondy barra caught on one of our exclusive Jackall Squirrel colour "Spangled Perch". More stock arriving soon!

There’s been no mention of surface lure action, but as anyone familiar with Mondy back in its hay day can attest, as these fish get bigger their tendency to smash surface poppers, fizzers and stickbaits grows. So many fish exceed the 90cm mark now, with a few topping the magic metre, and these fish are super aggressive and highly susceptible to a well-presented surface lure. By the way, you’d better pack a spare pair of jocks if you are yet to experience a barra boofing topwater.

Those looking to stay at the lake had better pack a tent by the sounds of things, as all fixed accommodation is booked out for the school holidays. There is very little left in the way of powered sites at the park either, so it looks like glamping is out in favour of some simple old school camp outs.

If Lake Monduran is too far, or for some reason deemed too hard, then there is always Lake Lenthalls out off the Bruce Highway between Maryborough and Torbanlea. Good barra exceeding 90cm were caught out there during winter and the local population has become quite active this week.

Lenthalls offers a very easy fishery, being such a small lake. It is quite a lot easier to track down the fish and many that have failed on the bigger lakes have scored great catches from this lake quite regularly. The barra love suspended hardbodies, weedless-rigged paddle-tailed plastics and topwater offerings in this lily-fringed little gem of a lake. There is also stacks of sizeable bass in Lenthalls that respond to a wide range of lures and techniques.

Camping is limited to a very small number of people, so you must book ahead with the ranger if planning on staying out there. Only four stroke outboards up to 60HP are allowed on the lake, and a 6-knot speed limit applies. It is the perfect lake for kayakers.

Staff member Jas was lucky to land this barra, check out those trebles! Jackall Squirrel does it again.

Lukey with another solid Lake Monduran barra

 

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