We have enjoyed a continuation of great (albeit chilly) weather here on the Fraser Coast. The offshore breeze looks like tending onshore by the weekend, with fairly light southeasters likely till at least mid next week. Even then, after what appears to be a brief southwesterly change, we should see more glamour weather behind that change as another high pressure system drifts east over the southern continent.
Our water temperature is still fluctuating around the 18-19C mark here in the bay, with colder water found up in the estuaries. Being mid-winter we would normally expect lower water temps by now but the weather this year has been anything but standard, so who knows what the rest of winter will bring.
The annual Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic is on again. It kicks off at 4pm this Friday 19th July and runs for 8 days concluding on Saturday 27th July. This is one of the biggest and best fishing competitions for our area and will be well patronised again this year, particularly given the favourable weather forecast. There are stacks of prizes to be won courtesy of their generous sponsors and a great time is assured for the whole family.
So, if you are into your offshore, beach or estuary fishing and would like to match your skills against a field of eager peers then get on down to Rainbow Beach and join in the fun. Good luck to all that compete. We trust you will all have a great time and we look forward to bringing you the results in a week or so.
We haven’t received any reports from over the Breaksea Spit this week, but word from down over the Wide Bay Bar at the southern end of Fraser is that the fishing has been red hot. The building tides to the full moon this week fired up the reef fish big time and plenty of crews had a fat time down that way in the light westerlies.
Up along Fraser and out wider, red emperor were a major target and a few big reds were caught that might have otherwise drawn a few "oohs" and "ahhs" from the pending Rainbow Beach comp crowds. Bag outs on quality pearl perch were common for those that found them inshore under the yakka schools and dropped live/dead yakkas to the fish below. It was a similar story with the snapper, with quality knobbies turning up amongst the squire around the bait schools.
Bottom huggers like grass sweetlip, big estuary cod, moses perch and venus tusk fish have all been common catches on the close grounds and have been partial to a variety of baits. Those working plastics have done well on the snapper and pearlies throughout the lower half of the water column, with cobia and amberjack also ambushing their presentations out wider at times.
Google the forecast for Double Island Point on Windfinder and you will see a very impressive forecast till the change comes through Wednesday. It is not quite as pretty if you do the same thing for Sandy Cape, so even though the Rainbow Beach comp is on it would appear that heading south could be the go for offshore boaties this weekend.
Whether you head north or south beware of the presence of migratory humpbacks. There are large numbers of these leviathans outside and extra care should be taken when travelling, especially after dark.
Talking to whale watch operators it seems as though there are only a handful of whales in the bay at this stage but that number will increase almost daily from now on. There was even a pair of sub-adults down at the Channel Hole a week or so ago, so keep an eye out whenever you are in deeper waters.
The recent westerlies did little for the snapper fishing in the bay, but there are finally some schools of proper knobbies and their smaller brethren in the bay. Out wider, places such as the Southern Gutters will produce a few good sessions on the snapper for those fishing after dark. Snapper rarely hang around the ledges during the daytime out there, being more likely to move over that country as the sun sets.
Live yakkas, dead yakkas, herring, pike and whole squid are gun snapper baits out there (and elsewhere), with the humble pillie being a reasonable backup bait if fished well clear of the bottom. Running sinker rigs and baitrunner-style reels are hard to beat for snapper fishing, allowing the bigger more cunning fish to move off with the bait and swallow it.
Those preferring the artificial offerings will do well on jerkshads in the 5, 6 or 7 inch size range, duly matched to a jighead around half an ounce to an ounce. Keep your leader lighter than you would use for trout, with about 30lb adequate for the wider bay country. Expect to catch a lot of trevally.
Other reefies likely from the Gutters and beyond include red emperor, coral trout, scarlets, grass sweetlip, reef jacks, parrot and spangled emperor. Big cobia will be an all-too-frequent bycatch for those lurking around the bigger ledge country out that way. Oh, and did we mention that you can expect to catch a lot of trevally.
In the past we would expect shark activity to wain as soon as our water temperature drops into the low 20’s, however, nowadays it is a different story, with big whalers still lingering right through winter, at least at the more commonly known fishing spots. Please keep this in mind and be shark savvy and move on when they spoil the fun.
The 25 Fathom Hole should be worth a look for those chasing snapper on plastics or vibes during the daylight hours. Bait fishos will do better timing their assault so that they are anchored in position for the setting of the sun (if they are not there for the pre-dawn session that is). An abundance of baitfish (ie; yakkas) in the area is a definite prerequisite for successful snapper fishing at the Fathom Hole and word is that some schools have finally arrived.
Platypus Bay is now a worthy destination for those chasing snapper. A few decent knobbies are being picked up by local charter operators during the day on soft plastics. Although again, bait fishos are better served fishing that country at night, with the assistance of a steady berley trail and lightly-weighted baits. Big grunter, some nice scarlets and a few sweetlip are also likely from some grounds up that way, with trevally now an almost unavoidable bycatch anywhere that draws bait schools.
Even the passing of the July full moon failed to impress snapper-wise inshore. A lack of bait can still be blamed for the lack of snapper in some places, but not all. Smaller squire are a lot more common, but still hardly in what you would call acceptable numbers.
A lucky few scored the odd knobbie fishing after dark from places such as the Burrum 8 Mile, the Outer Banks and Moon Ledge, with smaller models more likely during daylight hours. The Roy Rufus arti has been very quiet, due to a lack of baitfish of late. There is more bait further south around the Channel Hole and Boges Hole, with both areas producing a few reasonable squire.
The odd large queenfish (and a stack of tiny models) have been hanging around the Bay Islands, along with a few rogue broad-barred mackerel. Trolling the nearby channels and current lines can produce mackerel, queenies, small trevally and a few decent tailor. Troll deeper divers over the rocky outcrops and along the ledges and you might score a trout or a few cod and squire.
Winter whiting fishos are starting to scratch their heads some days as the big schools that were spoiling them off Gatakers Bay have started to scatter. A few turned up off Toogoom, a few off Dundowran, near the NU2 as well, but generally-speaking they have been there one day and gone the next. There still appears to be little effort south of the harbour. Perhaps this area, from Round Island to the Bottom of Big Woody is worth a gander.
Now we all know that chasing winteries is a simple and highly pleasurable way of gaining a feed of fresh fish for many. Well, it just got a whole lot easier again. For years now we have been extolling the virtues of using a specific bait jig to catch winteries, and plenty of fishos have been converted.
We can now go one better, with the release of a 3 x 2 bait jig set up that offers you two rigs in a pack with 3 hooks on each, with swivels on one end and clips on the other. It is cheap as chips, and with a tiny slither of squid or GULP worm pinned to the hooks you will never look back. Leave one of the hooks unbaited and you will be amazed at how many you will catch on that hook.
Tiger squid numbers are still minimal compared to past years, though you wouldn’t want to have a squid drift up beside you without a jig on board so make sure you have a few in the kit. Try any rocky or weedy shallows in the lower bay or down the straits, so long as the water is clear. It seems the increased effort on the squid these days has diminished their numbers dramatically, so getting away from hard-fished waters and looking for new ground would be more fruitful. Head down the straits to achieve this end.
Mary/Susan Rivers & the Great Sandy Straits
The westerlies have stirred the winter estuary species into action. Jewies are still taking live baits from the pontoon at River Heads, and from nearby deep ledges and holes by boaties deploying livies over the turn of tide. Night sessions are certainly best for these scenarios, and bait fishos parked in the middle of the river mouth should not be surprised to score some very nice squire and blackall at night.
Flathead are now a very real option throughout the lower reaches of the rivers and around virtually any creek mouth or large drain down the straits. They are a stack of fun for the kids as they can be sight-fished in the shallow waters with a range of small lures, can be trolled up as well or you can just sit back with a live bait, pillie or a humble prawn on the hook and expect a few flatties in the right spot/s.
Fraser’s western creeks from Coongul south are all prolific flathead producers, as are the many big gutters that drain the vast flats along that stretch of Fraser. Target the creeks during the neaps and smaller tides and hit the drains coming off the flats during the larger ebb tides.
Big numbers of bream are on offer around the rocky foreshores of the heads as well as the rock bars and ledges down the straits. The bigger bream are heading out of the estuaries and gathering to spawn over shallow reefs and rocky ramparts and can be attracted in big numbers if you deploy a decent berley trail.
As mentioned in recent reports, there are plenty of blue salmon about as well and they are inclined to take a soft vibe jerked up through the water column in the deeper holes upstream or a plastic hopped around the rock bars. Trolling will pick them up too, just imitate a herring with your lure selection and give the lure a jerky action by working the rod whilst trolling.
The Burrum System
School mackerel are prolific out off the Burrum coast at present. The full moon tides brought in the small herring and the mackerel followed. Trolling high-speed minnows is a great way of tracking them down, and you can then bust out the metal spoons and spin them up at speed if you are feeling energetic. Of course, you can always just anchor up in their vicinity and start berleying whilst you drift a gang-rigged pillie or live herring out the back.
There are some very nice tailor in the lower reaches of the river. Flathead are becoming a more common catch too, and can be found from one end of the river to the other, not to mention the other 3 feeder rivers. A decent haul of bream is possible from the heads area if you berley up and some stonker whiting fed up over the banks under the cover of darkness over the full moon tides
Fraser Island Beaches
We mentioned last week about the driving issues around Poyungan Rocks and Yidney Rocks. Nothing has changed, so be prepared to use the access tracks if necessary. Otherwise the eastern beach is looking sensational with great gutters well spread along the island.
Very good hauls of tailor have been reported from the stretch of beach from Happy Valley to The Maheno. This area has been most consistent of late. A few jewies also turned up in the better gutters over the night tides leading to the full moon.
For those favouring the lighter rods, there have been some excellent quality sand whiting in the low tide gutters and melon holes, though dart are still less abundant than they should be this time of year.
Urangan Pier, Local Beaches and Creeks
Bream are the mainstay out at the Urangan Pier at present. Good catches of quality bream made their way onto the boards above during night sessions prior to the full moon. Day time catches are not quite as good, but a cunning angler getting his/her presentation and timing right should still score big bream up to and over a kilo. Being able to withstand the efforts of the pickers during the daylight hours is paramount to success.
Flatties will be a sight-fishing option in the shallows over the coming week or so. The early flood tide will see them move into their feeding positions which can easily be identified by the marks left from their last visit. Live baits are key to targeting these flatties in the shallows.
A few mackerel, the odd school of tuna, tailor and random queenfish have all made raids on the pier’s bait schools this past week. Beware the smaller undersized mackerel and tailor and don’t gaff fish destined for release. Bonito schools are in the neighbourhood too, so they could visit the pier waters any day much to the delight of the kids with their metal spoons.
Good luck out there y’all.