What a spectacular week of weather we have just enjoyed here on the Fraser Coast. Light winds and clear skies courtesy of a big winter high pressure system coincided with massive king tides over the new moon to bring sensational fishing from much of the bay and beyond. Of course, those conditions never last forever, and this weekend will see another cold blast from the south Saturday morning that will gradually ease into another great looking week ahead. Sunday will be the pick of the days over the weekend, though even then most will be restricted to inshore waters.
This Friday’s quarter moon means we are back in a neap tide phase, so we can expect a lot less run in the tide and perhaps a less enthusiastic bite from many of our reefies and pelagics. Incidentally, the huge high tides a week ago dis-lodged a heap of logs from the shores of the bay and straits, so take extra care on the water as there has been an amazing number of logs floating throughout the southern bay.
The Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic & Expo kicks off tomorrow, Friday the 20th. It looks like they will get some great weather during the event, which should see the offshore categories well contested. Good luck to all those keen anglers competing for prizes and bragging rights.
Offshore conditions improved dramatically with the primo weather allowing many trailer boats to head out wide and over the bar. Fishing along the shelf line has been somewhat limited at times due to current and swell, though when conditions have allowed there have been good pearlies, jobbies and amberjack on offer if you can avoid the sharks. The deeper waters beyond the shelf edge (say 150-300m) have offered some reprieve from the noahs, though these waters are the domain of those with electric reels and bent-butt rods in the holders doing all the hard work. A variety of jobfish, big pearlies and bar cod are the standard rewards for fishing the deeper stuff at present.
The crew on Time & Tide Charters have worked hard through the rough conditions of late and are loving the calmer seas at the moment. Their catches have seen a variety of species this week including a swag of 1m+ jewies in waters under 30m whilst on overnight hangs, along with some big reef jacks and green jobbies floatlining during the evening. Their night sessions can be dynamite at times, with a liberal berley trail bringing on the nocturnal predators and some real trophies gracing the deck. Bagging out on snapper this time of year is fairly standard for these guys, though this year they are saying the snapper numbers have been down on expected.
They have found some great red emperor in 50m, but the sharks have found them as well. Big parrot are a daily capture in those depths, along with a few decent lippers and mixed reefies, but they have found the best bite to be mid-afternoon onwards, with mornings frustratingly slow at times. Big cobia have been a feature in on the shoal country and a few XOS cod have been brought to the boat and released.
The great weather this week saw a plethora of boats hit the Gutters, with a fairly slow bite experienced during the morning sou-westerlies and a much better response from the fish later in the day and into the evening. Snapper were a feature from some of the ledge country and shipwrecks, particularly where yakkas schools were in attendance. Coral trout numbers were down, with live baits producing the better fish for some. A mix of other reefies, dominated again by grass sweetlip and tuskies, saw many return home with a nice mixed bag.
Trevally numbers are exploding on the gutters, offering a heap of fun (or frustration depending upon your target species). Dropping plastics and/or micro jigs on the reefs will see you will tangle with a heap of long-nosed trevally of various sizes no matter where you go out there, with big goldies, some beautiful big diamonds, bludgers and teenage GT’s getting in on the action in many locations. Add school cobia and the odd enormous cobe to the mix and you shouldn’t need to hit the gym when you get home.
Over at Rooneys, most have been chasing snapper, with some good catches reported from the Coral Patch area and on other reefs further south. Working plastics during the day has been productive, with a range of jerkshads from GULP and ZMan working, along with the frilly Madeyes Paddle Prawns. Using you sounder to locate the schools of fish is mandatory as they can be quite mobile and found well away from the local reefs.
The 25 Fathom Hole produced some good knobbies for those hopping plastics in the area on their way further north, though the schools of fish have been fairly small and isolated, so look around till you find them. The more random technique of drifting baits through or past the hole will also work, with yakkas certainly the gun bait for that task.
Schools of yakkas can be found throughout Platypus Bay, and snapper have been in attendance in some cases. Afternoon and evening sessions have been the best producers, with a good berley trail a must for best results. Little shark activity up that way is a blessing at present, with a few good scarlets, big grunter and sweeties being reported by reef fishos fishing into the evening. Trevally of various types are a constant feature over many of the larger reef systems up that way, both day and night, with the smaller trevally being a real nuisance at times.
Once again it is snapper that are the main target for inshore fishos at present. The Roy Rufus arti produced a few decent fish late in the day, with the sou-wester keeping things quiet most mornings. Bait fishos did well on decent squire and good sweeties at times, though the catch-rate is nothing on the good old days of the arti. A lack of baitfish seems to be a factor, so look hard to find the bait to find the fish. Trout, cod and blackall can all be expected from the arti and other inshore ledges and reefs throughout the shipping channels.
The Burrum 8 and 12 Mile produced a few decent snapper this week, again during the evening. Golden trevally are schooling up over reefs wide of the banks, just look for the yakka/herring schools and drop a livie or plastic on them for a bit of fun. Further south, the Boges Hole area has produced a few decent squire and some very nice sweeties along with the odd trout and cod on the turn of tide.
Winter whiting fishos have been well-spread this week, with such great weather allowing them to look further afield. Reports from the grounds south of the harbour suggest a feed is easy enough, though the dreaded toads are making life difficult. Driving away from them is the only answer. The grounds from Gatakers to Toogoom have had a fair flogging of late, so most are saying the size of whiting is quite poor. The best reports in recent days have come from those fishing out the front of town from Pialba to Torquay.
Bream numbers are out of control this winter. The big new moon tides had them schooling up and smashing all offerings, from baits drifted into berley trails, to micro topwater and sub-surface lures. The flats along the western side of Fraser turned up big numbers of sizeable bream, as did the rocky fringes of the bay islands, the Pialba-Gatakers reefs and around the Urangan Harbour rock walls.
Flathead are gathering in the shallow margins along the western shores of Fraser. Great catches are possible from any of the creek systems over that way, with the latter stage of the ebb tide and early flood being best. You can score a few good flatties working around the coffee rocks and creek mouths along the shores of Platypus Bay if you happen to be up that way, but otherwise stick to the creek mouths, flats and drains from Coongul south. Bigger tides drain the flats better, so neap tides like we have at present are better spent in the rivers and creeks when chasing flatties.
“Summer” whiting hit top gear over the big new moon tides for anyone keen enough to spend the flood tide up on the flats or up Fraser’s western creeks during those chilly July nights. Plenty of ‘ting in the high 30’s were caught and bag limits were readily achievable. This activity can be repeated during similar conditions for the next couple of months. Daytime sessions are not as productive this time of year due to the water clarity, though a feed is certainly feasible over the new and full moon periods.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
Bream continue to feature around River Heads, though the best catches are currently coming from the South Head region for boaties working the numerous rock bars in that area. Flathead are an easy catch around the fringes of the rocks and mouths of drains in the lower reaches of the rivers and throughout the big gutters in the vicinity of the heads.
Down the straits you can expect to catch flatties around pretty much all creek mouths and larger drains, and within the creeks themselves as well. Hopping 3-4 inch plastics out of drains and along the fringes is hard to beat, but for those that enjoy trolling, you can try similar sized hardbodies trolled with the tide through the channels and along the edges of the flats.
Mack tuna schools were thick throughout the shipping channels south of the Mary over the big tides, though whether they stay around during the neaps is yet to be seen. Most reports of tailor down that way have been of schools of quite small (often undersized) fish, with the occasional greenback turning up along the flats.
There have been plenty of jewfish caught this winter, with recent reports suggesting Kingfisher and Ungowa are both worth a try. The neaps should allow lure anglers a crack at them around River Heads by tea-bagging plastics or vibes along the bottom whilst drifting in the mouth of the river. Expect a few pesky estuary cod whilst doing this, and if you work some of the undulating deeper stuff then don’t be too surprised if you come up with a squire or blackall.
Summer whiting were reported from the flats and big gutters out from the heads and from the mangrove-lined fringes of the Turkey Straits. Winter whiting are fairly abundant in the same areas within the channels down that way as well.
Burrum River System
Whiting anglers have been a bit frustrated by the lack of quality fish in the Burrum this winter. For some reason, they are just not there in any number at present, which is a bit odd as they are in good numbers elsewhere in the bay. Flathead have been a saviour for many in the river, and at present they can be found throughout the full length of the river and its 3 other tributaries. Other than flatties, we have heard of a few decent grunter coming at night for boaties in the vicinity of the heads along with a few bream.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
Some good catches of whiting to 35cm were taken along our town beaches during the big flood tides at night last week. You can expect these catches to diminish during the neap tide phase, but it might pay to dust off the whiting gear for future sessions once the bigger tides are back next week. Bream, flatties, small tailor and small mackerel have been keeping people busy enough out on the Urangan Pier.
Good luck out there y’all.