Much Better Weather In Lead Up To Xmas
We will leave the Xmas weather predictions to the BOM gurus who seem to be predicting the chance of a few showers and storms as the jolly fat man approaches. Keen weather-watchers will have already noticed the trend towards more typical summer weather this week and the week ahead looks quite good indeed.
The southeast change a few days ago brought quite a welcome drop in temperatures, though it blew a bit too hard for much fishing till now. Best we forget the week just gone and look forward to the lighter easterlies and northeasterlies predicted to grace our region this week.
As the tides build from tonight’s quarter moon we should see an improved bite from a range of target species as we shift our focus from river to reef throughout the week. The forecast of light winds will see big numbers of boaties out chasing a seafood smorgasbord this weekend.
Given the general lack of angler activity due to the weather this past week, we thought we would offer a little insight into what fishos might expect from Fraser Coast waters over the Xmas holiday break.
Shore-based Options For Those Without A Boat
There has been little to report from local beaches of late, however, once the bigger tides kick in closer to Xmas we might see a modest run of whiting along our town beaches. Enough certainly to keep the littlies entertained, though those seeking a feed will be better off heading to the town extremities.
Try the flats out in front of Eli Creek when the tide is low and starting to flood for whiting and flatties on surface lures. Bait fishos can use worms or pump yabbies; though those visiting our area might be a bit disappointed as to how challenging gathering yabbies can be in the vicinity of town.
Those chasing whiting and flathead will find the Booral Flats on the way out to River Heads to be better again, though this area is best accessed by those willing to get their feet muddy and is at its best when there is little or no onshore wind. Easterlies are not great if too strong for example. Low tide and the early flood are again best. Don’t be too surprised to tangle with grunter, salmon and sharks if fishing periods of low light.
Please be extra cautious of "critters" in this area (and other estuarine environments where wading is required) as encounters with stingrays, mud crabs, cheeky little bull sharks and even the remote possibility of a snapping handbag should be taken seriously, especially where kids are involved.
Our local creeks (Beelbi, Eli, O’Reagan’s and Pulgul) offer some reasonable options for those keen on making their own tracks. Some great mangrove jacks, small trevally, bream, cod, grunter and whiting can be found by those willing to venture beyond the easily accessed areas. Bushmans and good footwear are a must in these muddy mangrove-lined creeks.
The rocky peninsula that is River Heads is a hotspot for larger estuary predators and can really turn it on at night in particular. There is a pontoon out there these days that was designed to assist boaties launching and retrieving from the adjacent ramp, but rarely is there a time that it is not crowded with keen fishos this time of year. If fishing from this platform please do the right thing and give way to boating activities.
River Heads offers a plethora of fishing options for the keen lure fisho, with topwater, shallow diving and soft plastic lures all well-proven in this area. The main target species include threadfin salmon, flathead, cod, grunter, jew, giant trevally and occasionally mackerel. Barra bycatch is possible so ensure you put them back unharmed and do not drag them up on the rocks. Big bull sharks are prevalent in the area, so limit wading to the clearer shallow margins. Don’t go out there without the Bushmans, especially around dawn and dusk or during periods of light winds.
Urangan Pier Offers Endless Opportunities
The legendary Urangan Pier offers a unique land-based fishing platform, stretching some 900 metres into the waters of Urangan Channel. Crowds will gather most days when the weather is okay and the fishing can be anything from red hot to rubbish. The pier offers light tackle opportunities for those keen to get the littlies out catching "something" but also offers sensational light tackle sportsfishing for a range of pelagics, some decent bottom-dwellers and also heavy tackle options for those chasing GT’s and sharks.
Vast schools of baitfish (mostly herring) gather around the pylons of the pier and draw the attention of passing pelagics as they move with the tides. GT’s are the biggest bruisers out there and demand the heavy gear, but the other pelagics like queenies, mackerel, golden trevally and tuna can be easily handled on regular 10-15 kilo tackle so long as you can stay with them as they move along the pier.
Night sessions are popular for pier fishos this time of year. It is much cooler of course, but the big drawcard is the pencil squid that are drawn to the pier’s lights. Carrying a selection of micro squid jigs is a must if heading out there at night (or super early in the morning).
Better squid catches are achieved by using better quality jigs (Yamashita for example) and by adding a chemical light stick to your line or by lowering a light to water level to attract the squid to your jigs. Qld Fisheries introduced a new in-possession bag limit of 50 pencil/arrow squid just recently (or 20 local/tiger squid) so please adhere to these new regulations.
Sportsfishing Opportunities For Boaties On The Bay
Our now famous inshore baby black marlin fishery has been very much hit and miss this season. However, there are still a few little blacks in the bay and those keen enough to get amongst them have the option of trolling skirts or baits behind a set of teasers or you might otherwise chase other speedsters and simply have a bait or lure ready to toss at a cruising billy should you trip over one.
Spotted mackerel have been in abundance in bay waters in recent weeks. They can be in such numbers as to be an absolute spectacle in their own right, shredding hapless baitfish as they are balled against the water’s surface. There were huge numbers of spotties as far south as Coongul fairly recently, though just now we have some saying they drove to Rooneys and back and nary saw a fish. Such is the nature of surface-feeding pelagics – they will feed when they wish.
Mack and longtail tuna schools are well-entrenched throughout much of Platypus Bay and the central bay. Like the spotties, they are typically balling-up the tiny baitfish this time of year, so are easily spotted under the attending terns. Look for the birds as you head north and learn to differentiate between spotties and tuna. To that end, basically, spotties "sip" and "slash" at the surface whilst tuna are a lot more boisterous with a lot more "splash" and often clear the water altogether.
A selection of small metal slugs in the 15-40 gram range normally produces the goods for both spotties and tuna. You can also mix it up if they are fussy and offer them soft plastics rigged on fairly heavy jigheads, especially the 3 inch Dropshot Minnows.
Queenfish, golden trevally and their cousins, GT’s, spanish and school mackerel and cobia are all possible from varying locations throughout the bay, so those keen on a tussle with pelagics are typically spoilt for choice this time of year. Target these fish around aggregations of baitfish out wider or up the island, or over reefs or around current lines formed off the bay islands if staying in close.
A Feed Of Reef Fish For Xmas
Hervey Bay waters offer a real mix of tropical and temperate reef fish. The wider you go the better your chances are when it comes to the big prizes such as red emperor, scarlets, reef jacks and coral trout, however, a good feed can still be achieved within cooee of the harbour.
Unfortunately for us (and the fish) we have a serious problem with over-sized sharks as their population has exploded since their all-out protection many years ago. We ask that everyone be shark-savvy and extra cautious when landing, handling or releasing fish boat-side and that you drive away from the sharks when they move in on you stealing your catch.
The sharks are particularly bad around any major fish aggregations like bait balls with attending tuna or mackerel or around reefs where boaties frequent. Many of the wider grounds are particularly bad for sharks including the Gutters and Rooneys reefs, as are the more commonly fished inshore reefs.
Having said this, the strange thing is that at times of the year such as this when there are so many boats on the water it can at times work in the favour of the odd crew as the sharks may be occupied by nearby boats while you haul in a feed.
If you can avoid the sharks, then you can expect a mix of reefies from out wide that might include reds, scarlets, trout, grass sweetlip, spangled emperor, venus tuskfish, moses perch, squire and others. Back inshore the mix would normally be dominated by grass sweetlip, squire, cod, trout, blueys and blackall.
Target the shallow fringing reefs when the bigger tides are on as you will more often than not avoid the sharks. Trolling hardbodies over shallow reef this time of year can be very productive for cod and trout and you can also try super deep divers such as Dr Evils over reefs in up to 12 metres of water for the same fish and others.
Rivers & Straits When The Weather Is Less Than Ideal
Whilst many of us hardly need bad weather for an excuse to hit the rivers and creeks, our local estuaries offer great protection for boaties and sensational fishing for all manner of species this time of year.
The Mary & Susan Rivers offer great fishing for threadfin salmon and grunter, along with the standard bread and butter species of whiting, bream and flathead. A few straggler blue salmon also turn up at times and the odd school of trevally can add some variety to the catch. Mangrove jacks have been a serious option in these two rivers this season, where they were normally very rare indeed. We can likely thank the ongoing drought for that little bonus.
The Great Sandy Straits offers so much variety it is mind-boggling. Threadies and jacks are the prime targets, but plenty of mulloway jew, the odd fingermark, stacks of estuary cod, grunter, flathead and the bread and butter species are all on offer. Reefies also abound in the "open" waters fringing the channels of the straits where rocky drop-offs and ledges can be found.
Mangrove Jack die hards will be impressed with the jack fishery that is the Burrum system. The Burrum and its feeder rivers (Cherwell, Isis, Gregory) all hold great numbers of cranky red dogs that are just itching to trash you and steal your favourite lure. Word from the Burrum otherwise suggests it might be a bit tough for other species, though evening sessions are likely to produce a few grunter and big whiting for those in the know.
Festive Greetings For All Our Fellow Fishos
If you’ve read this far and haven’t nodded off yet, then we would like to take this opportunity to wish all our fellow fishos out there a safe and very Merry Christmas. May Santa be particularly kind to you all and may your stockings be full of goodies guaranteed to catch new PB’s galore.
Good luck out there y’all and Merry Xmas from all the crew at Fisho’s Tackle World in Hervey Bay.
PS: We won’t get a chance to send out a weekly report next Thursday due to our Boxing Day Sale. See you there!