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Weekly Fishing Report - 19th August 2021

Shop regular Ben Stubbings was stoked with this nice feed of grunter.
Fantastic Weather for the Full Moon

How lucky are we here on the Fraser Coast? Yet another fantastic forecast for the coming weekend, makes it three in a row. Light and variable winds with a light northeasterly sea breeze in the afternoon coupled with Sunday’s full moon. We couldn’t ask for better.

By the looks and feel of things, we can pretty much assume that winter is done and dusted for 2021. Our winter was certainly very mild this year, and somewhat damper than usual. Our water temperatures failed to plummet to the typical winter lows, but that is hardly a bad thing.

Looking at the week ahead, the only days that are unappealing weather-wise are Tuesday and early Wednesday as the breeze stiffens from the north then turns southwest with the passing of the latest trough. From Wednesday afternoon onwards for a few days we should be again enjoying light winds and clear skies. Simply awesome.

Sunday’s full moon is a ripper. The moon this time of year is very significant in the overall scheme of things piscatorially, triggering major fish movements and enhancing feeding activity. The tides will be fairly large which will stir up the reefies, the pelagics and our flats dwellers.

Fraser Island Surf Fishing Just Keeps Getting Better

Many fishos have been heading over to Fraser Island to join the locals on the beach for a crack at the surf fishing. By all reports, everyone is having a ball, catching a stack of fish and enjoying this glorious “winter” weather.
The tailor have been on fire. Stacks of choppers and quite a few decent greenbacks have been feeding ravenously in the deeper gutters both north and south of the headlands.

The annual Waddy Point / Indian Head fishing closure restricts any fishing to waters beyond 400m either side of these headlands, but that is of no concern to anyone with such terrific fish-filled gutters along the beach proper.

Large dart have also been quite prolific in the same areas as the tailor, though the better dart have been more-so south of the headlands down Dundubara / Cathedrals way, with fewer and smaller dart to the north. As expected, a few of the lads fished the deeper gutters in the area after dark for jewies this week and picked up a few. No bragging-class fish that we are aware of, though decent jewies all the same.

The full moon tides will see the big sand whiting over there kick up a gear once again. Lighter, shorter surf rods and baits of worm and eugarie will soon see a good haul of whiting from the melon holes and shallow gutters. Try any gutter with a bit of rock in it and you are still a chance of scoring quality tarwhine, with the added bonus of large sea bream joining the party. A little berley in these gutters goes a long way towards attracting and holding the bream.

The beach is largely weed-free which is great news. We have not had any reports from the southern sector of beach, down Eurong / Dilli way, where there was some weed a few weeks ago, but with all the action to the north there is every chance that there are tailor, dart and whiting moving through down there as well.

There are plenty of eugarie (pippies) along the beach, and the worming is excellent in some areas. Remember to stick to the bag limits on these bait species, and catch them fresh each day anyway, as alive or fresh is always best.

It is not just the surf fishing that is keeping the locals well-fed and entertained over on the island either. The reef fishing for those beach-launching near Waddy Point has been first class. Very large venus tusk fish to 4 kilos or so have been a regular feature of catches, with bag limits a very simple affair. The tuskies really fire on the full moon too, so they will undoubtedly feature on the menu for some time to come.

Big pearl perch and quality snapper have also been on the chew. Again, the full moon will see their activity peaking, particularly during the prime phases of the moon as well as dawn and dusk. A mix of other reefies as long as your arm is possible east of Fraser and includes the mighty red emperor in sizes pretty much as big as you will find.

Local Beaches Primed for the Annual Whiting Invasion

This full moon should see a few schools of summer whiting making their way into the shallows of our town beaches. The best fishing will certainly be after dark, as our waters are still very clear, but that will soon change with the increasing frequency of northeasterly winds as spring unfolds.

For now, pump some yabbies, or pick up some worms, and fish as light as you can along the Torquay-Urangan stretch of beach during the rising tide late in the day into the evening. The Urangan Pier will soon fire for whiting, but whether that happens this week or during the next set of big tides is yet to be seen.

If you prefer to get out of town, away from prying eyes, then the Booral Flats offer just the ticket. The vast mudflats down that way are not for everyone, but they certainly produce quality whiting (and bycatch such as flathead, bream, grunter and blue salmon). Alternatively, you can head west of town out towards Toogoom and fish those beaches for whiting, with flatties quite likely around the creek mouths.


A couple of soft plastic munchin' lizards with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Flats Set to Fire Over the Full Moon

Summer whiting fans will be out in force this week. The big building tides approaching the full moon this time of year mean whiting in good numbers and size. Bag limits have already been reached with ease this week for those venturing out late in the day and fishing into the night. It is a simple matter of heading out whilst the tide is still low, pumping a heap of yabbies, and then settling in up on the shallow flats or the feeder channels to the flats waiting for the whiting to come through under the cover of darkness.

Summeries can also be caught during the daylight hours, but this activity is better suited to the creeks more-so than the exposed flats due to the water clarity this time of year. The whiting can be simply too spooked to venture into the clearest of waters until the sun goes down.

You can choose to target summeries along the beach north of Moon Point, but the big gutters, flats and creeks south of there are vastly more popular for good reason. Plenty of whiting can be found over the Booral Flats, as well as the fringes of the mangroves east of River Heads and down the straits from there. You can even pick up a great feed in the lower reaches of the Susan or Mary, with Burtenshaw Gutter and the flats near the islands in the Susan being good producers most years.

So, whilst the big rising tides will get the whiting fishos excited, the same stage of tide can be fished up on the flats chasing grunter and blue salmon if you prefer your fish a bit bigger. Sight-fishing to jet-propelled blues or the cunning old grunter can be a real hoot, and some sizeable specimens of both species are quite possible. You should see and be able to catch a few flatties whilst the tide rises too, but they will be even easier once the tide falls again.


Now that's a queenfish! Kurt Rowlands with 117cm of sight cast queenie. A great way to christen his new Scott Sector fly rod. Drop in and check out the range of Sectors, they're definitely something special!

Some flats, particularly those holding quantities of baitfish such as herring, hardiheads and garfish, will also see plenty of skinny water pelagic action this week. There has been quite a few golden trevally poking about in the northern straits, with schools of large queenies and a few small GTs terrorising the bait schools further south.

The big GTs mentioned last week around the bay islands appear to be hunting the mature sea mullet that are running at present. Vast schools of these big bully mullet can be seen from a distance, and if they are showering then their likely pursuers are GTs or bull sharks in the daylight.

Down the straits, come nightfall, the bigger versions of our local jewfish, barra and threadies can be causing the ruckus (as can the GTs and sharks). If you have witnessed this sort of feeding event first hand, after dark, where the bait being devoured are averaging close to two kilos, then it is something to behold. The roar of the mullet leaving the water en-masse coupled with the explosive boofs of their predators will have even the most seasoned fisho shaking in his/her thongs.

Squid fishos have been doing it tough locally. Their numbers are depleted unfortunately, but they are still a chance. Our waters are super clear right now, making for easy sight-fishing for tigers if you wish to try. There are still quite a few pencillies and a few tigers poking about down the straits, with River Heads drawing crowds almost nightly.


Queen of the queenfish! Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

Pelagic Action Ramps Up a Notch

Local guides and sportsfishos alike have been having a ball up the bay this week. Big longtails reaching 120cm or more have been scoffing jigs and plastics deep in the water column around the bait schools. Platypus Bay and the central bay have both produced - just find the bait and search for the fish in the vicinity.

There has been a lot of spanish mackerel snipping off lures or otherwise hooking up in the same areas too. Those new to the bay should be aware that spanish mackerel are a no-take species within Platypus Bay due to the high risk of ciguatera fish poisoning. Indeed, locals would rarely ever risk keeping any spaniards in Hervey Bay over say eight kilos or so. Some will of course, and good luck to them if they avoid the toxin, but you will be very sorry if you get a dose. We might call keeping bigger spaniards a game of “Spanish Roulette” in these parts perhaps.

School mackerel on the other hand are not known to carry the toxin. Happily, they are swimming into the bay in numbers at present and are already prolific over some bait-rich reef systems in the western and lower bay. Schoolies will only get thicker (and bigger) in weeks to come, so good times for the mackerel fans of the bay.


You can see where they get the name golden trevally from. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Trevally have been a feature of our winter fishery, and their numbers are peaking right now. Whether it be out at the Gutters, off Rooneys, or around the reefs and rubble patches within Platypus Bay, there are swags of trevors milling about in vast schools just waiting for you to turn up and drop your artificial offerings in their midst.

Bait fishos will struggle to avoid the trevally in many areas too, particularly if live baiting. Some members of the trevally clan are very mobile and will shadow bigger schools of baitfish as they move down into the bay. Expect to find schools of goldies in particular lurking around local shipwrecks and other local sites where bait is thickest.


A solid Hervey Bay golden trevally, these guys love soft plastics and jigs. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Queenfish are also featuring in catches from numerous locations. Big models can be found skirting the fringes of the bait schools up the island, whilst the arrival of schools of hardiheads and garfish inshore along Fraser’s western beaches and the bay islands won’t escape their attention.

As stated at the start of this report, this full moon, and indeed the week leading up to it are significant in our parts. Just look at the volume of baitfish and their pursuing predators that have reinvigorated our rather stressed local fisheries. The local scene is much more appealing than it has been all winter, so plenty to look forward to in coming weeks.


Another quality queenfish caught with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing

Full Moon Snapper Sessions Should Be Red Hot

The recent opening of the snapper and pearl perch season on the 16th came at a time of neap tides. Reports so far suggest that there are decent numbers of quality knobbies and plenty of squire about, so this full moon should be a snapper special. Night sessions should be red hot, whilst even the daytime bite will be good.

The big snapper have arrived in Platypus Bay just in time for the season opening and are very active. They were hard to avoid during the closure apparently, but can now be targeted without the shame and guilt of the preceding four weeks. Stories of bycatch of large snapper whilst fishos targeted pelagics around the bait schools up the island were common, so this will be the place to head for those with smaller vessels during the light winds this week.

The wider reefs in the central bay, the 25 Fathom Hole, the Gutters and the reefs off Rooneys will also be worth a look for snapper. Big models are very likely, so be prepared to release plenty and have to seek out smaller models you are allowed to keep within your bag limit. Do all of us, and the fishery, a favour if the sharks find you though, and move on.


Aedan with a nice school size snapper.

Experienced snapper fishos staying inshore should have no trouble connecting to a few this week. Seek out the areas holding quantities of baitfish for best results, and if necessary, try trolling deep divers such as Dr Evils whilst in search of the baitfish and snapper.

The long list of potential inshore snapper hotspots includes the Burrum 8 and 12 Mile, the Fairway (after dark), the Outer Banks, the Simpson Arti, Moon Ledge, Mickies and the Roy Rufus arti. There are numerous other inshore spots that will give up decent squire and the odd knobby, including the Channel Hole, Boges Hole, the ledges off Kingfisher, the Urangan Channel and plenty more.


A solid knobbie caught on a soft plastic. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Such clear waters and inshore movements of baitfish will also see squire moving right into the straits and even the mouth of the Mary River. Night sessions floatlining baits in the deeper waters of the main river channel in the vicinity of River Heads can see you connecting to squire to a few kilos along with blackall, estuary cod and occasionally jewfish.

Reef fishos heading for the northern bay this weekend should do better than they have for most of the year. The snapper will be on the chew around dawn and dusk and into the evening, but so too will plenty of other species. Expect spangled emperor bycatch, along with dirty big blackall, but better fish such as scarlets, reds, moses perch, grass sweetlip and reef jacks will all join the party if you get your hang or drifts just right.


Trout for dinner, you beauty! Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Daytime sessions will produce a few trout and cod for those tea bagging plastics or jigs whilst the tide is slack. Tuskies will be chewing big time and will be keen on strip baits or squid baits fished hard to the bottom along the rubbly fringes of the reefs. You won’t be able to escape the sweeties day or night, though the times of having to tangle with huge white-chinned grassies in the 5 kilo+ plus class one after the other are definitely a thing of the past.

Cobia are very likely to rock up for a look at your boat in the northern bay. They are suckers for all manner of lures and would rarely pass up an easy meal such as a live bait of whole fish/squid bait suspended in the water column. Good luck avoiding the trevally out at the Gutters in particular this time of year, unless you are more into the sport than the feed, then go your hardest and enjoy the variety of big hard-pulling critters keen to scoff every plastic or jig you send their way.

If you have the option, keeping a medium-heavy spin outfit at the ready could be a good idea this time of year. Marlin are quite a possibility around the bait schools out deep in the northern bay. Like the cobia, they just turn up unannounced and quite often do so whilst in hot pursuit of some small reefy you are hauling to the surface. If you have a hook attached to a heavy leader and livies swimming in the tank, then you are prepared for just such an event.
 
Good luck out there y’all.
 

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