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Weekly Fishing Report - 19th March 2020

Light Winds A Welcome Change

After a week or more of strong winds from the south east, the forecast for the week ahead is a dramatic improvement. Light winds and mostly sunny skies for the next few days is bound to excite plenty of frustrated Fraser Coast fishos.

This weekend looks particularly good weatherwise so expect stacks of boat traffic out on the bay. Building tides as we approach next Tuesday’s new moon will see increasing tidal flow sure to excite our local pelagic and reef fish populations. A feed of prawns and crabs is also quite achievable, so make the most of the break in the weather and get out and gather some fresh seafood.

Impact Of COVID-19 On Fishing & Fishing Tackle Suppliers

Before we go on with this week’s fishing report, we thought it might be worth highlighting a few of the issues we are currently faced with courtesy of the latest Coronavirus, at least in respect of fishing and supply of fishing tackle. Now, before going any further, we are not condoning or suggesting fishos start hoarding or panic-buying fishing tackle, but perhaps you might consider the following.

Firstly, what better ways to distance yourselves and your family from society than to hook the boat up and get out on the water, or perhaps load the 4WD and hit the beaches for some R&R away from the crowds. Of great concern is the seemingly possible scenario of localised or widespread lockdowns at some stage in the near future that would effectively deny us the opportunity to get out fishing as we would potentially be confined to our homes.

Surely this is an unlikely scenario in this great land, but given the unprecedented nature of this event we have to consider all possibilities. Perhaps we should make the most of the good weather and the freedoms we naturally take for granted and enjoy some much-needed time on the water. Of course, a feed of fresh seafood will be a great bonus of such activities.

In regards to fishing tackle, we have already been impacted by way of restricted supply from some companies that have product held up in ports overseas. We are heavily stocked here at Fisho’s with 99% of our usual products in readiness for Easter, and have made pre-emptive purchases recently to ensure ongoing supply of popular day-to-day tackle.

Having said this, the international breakdown in supply chains will see a temporary lack of some product on our shelves, or in some cases limited stock of some popular items. So, perhaps if you have a few favourite lures, hooks, leaders or other products that are must-haves that you are getting low on you might want to grab a couple of backups sooner rather than later.

Good Fishing Likely Following A Big Blow

Obviously, we have little to report on fishing-wise from the past week, courtesy of the incessant winds. Here is a bit of an overview of what you might expect after a big blow.

Those lucky enough to get out on the bay this weekend should be in for a treat. The weather will be good enough to enable capable vessels to venture up to the northern bay and the lack of recent fishing effort should see plenty of reefies on offer. The grounds off Rooneys and out around the Gutters are likely to produce a mixed bag that might include a few trophies after the latest blow.

Historically, we would often score quality red emperor and big scarlets around reef country up north as the big reefies moved off "the paddock" and temporarily ventured onto harder reef country during the blow. Quality coral trout are likely to add some more colour to eskies for those tea-bagging plastics or deploying live baits over the tide turns.

Bait fishos should expect good numbers of grassy sweetlip, a few parrot, cod, moses perch and hussar when fishing the fringes of the reef systems. Obviously, sharks will be a major issue in some locations, so do yourself and our fisheries a favour and keep moving on whenever they track you down. If you are fishing the Gutters or Rooneys reefs and tuna start busting up nearby there is a good chance there will be noahs heading your way.

Pelagics will be a nuisance or a cause for excitement out wide depending upon your outlook, but either way, you can expect to tangle with sizeable school mackerel, spanish, cobia and a few trevally if hanging around the gutter ledges. Yellowfin tuna schools might pop up out near the Gutters if there are any still hanging around, but you are very likely to encounter longtails and mack tuna on the way there and back.

Tuna schools were reasonably widespread throughout the bay prior to the blow. The strong southeasterly would have drawn baitfish in closer to Fraser, so we would expect a surge in numbers of longtail and mack tuna throughout Platypus Bay this week. Given the mix of baitfish on offer this time of year it will pay to go armed with a good selection of stickbaits, jerkshads and metal slugs, and to target the tuna on reasonable tackle as the noahs are likely to be hot on the heels of some of the schools.

Golden trevally have been in abundance in recent weeks and should offer another great target species for sportsfishos not wishing to venture too wide. Look for goldies over reefs close to Fraser up in Platypus Bay or beneath any substantial schools of baitfish you trip over out in the paddock. They were also sighted tearing into hardiheads and gar along the beaches up that way in recent times so keep your eyes peeled if running the beach.

Reef fishos venturing up the island are likely to encounter scarlets, sweetlip, cod, trout, mackerel and grunter, depending on the chosen locations, techniques and time of visit. Night sessions will produce the better fishing (except for the trout) and might just see a few squire come over the gunnels. If the sharks are ridiculous on the wider grounds, try the shallower reefs in closer to the island after dark.

Inshore Reefs Prime For A Feed

Again, our local inshore reefs have had a reprieve from angler effort and should be ripe for the picking. This is possibly the best time of year to target trout inshore and they have been super active recently. Live baits or tea-bagged plastics will score the better trout, though there will be lots of little ones in some spots and certainly lots of estuary cod bycatch.

Bait fishos dropping squid, prawn, whole baitfish or flesh baits to the bottom around the reefs in our shipping channels will score good quality sweetlip. The sweeties are best targeted around the fringes of the reefs or over any weedy/rubbly country. The Roy Rufus arti, Bogimbah, Channel Hole and Boges Hole are just a few popular grounds where sweeties aggregate in numbers this time of year. Sharks are a common problem in many of these areas so be prepared to move about to avoid them.

Squire and the odd snapper are a possibility from some inshore grounds from now on into winter. Their numbers will be minimal at this stage, but the same old spots will still produce a few fish year in year out. Where once we could readily seek out an early season knobby and brag about catching a big snapper before all the mates, now we lament the relentless sharks and the likelihood that any big fish hooked is unlikely to make it to the boat. Let’s see how this year pans out, but chances are the odd snapper will be out there after this latest blow.

As the tides get bigger closer to the new moon it will be well worth a look for reefies up on our shallow reefs. Coral trout will be a prime target for those choosing to troll diving lures early in the day. Drifting and hopping plastics or soft vibes just above the coral will see plenty of trout come undone, as will anchoring up and lowering live baits, large prawns or whole baitfish to the bottom.

Bait fishing the shallow reefs could see the likes of blueys (black spot tuskfish), grass sweetlip, blackall, estuary cod, squire and/or grunter encountered, depending upon location and chosen bait. Dawn and dusk sessions often produce the better fishing up in the shallows, with night sessions better again for the grunter.

Good Times AheadFor Prawners And Crabbers

Crabbers have been doing quite well on the muddies since all the recent rains. Good crabbing should continue for a while yet, with plenty of dirty water still in our estuaries. Some easily accessible waters are very heavily pressured in these parts, yet other more "remote" creeks and mangrove-lined channels down the straits see vastly less effort.

If you are doing it tough locally, perhaps it is time to venture a bit further afield, as doing so whilst the crabbing is at its best certainly beats scoping out new grounds when the crabs are inactive. There is a lot to be gained by spreading a few pots out initially, then running them a couple of hours later in lieu of simply dropping the pots in and coming back the next day.

The tides look good for the next few days for those seeking a feed of prawn. The creeks down the straits are going to give up the better prawn at present, though a feed is possible from all local creeks and from the lower reaches of the Mary or Susan rivers. You may find patches of quality prawn in places if you are willing to drive away from the smaller stuff and seek out the better prawn, otherwise it will be a matter of grading the keepers from the throwbacks in some areas.

Some creek systems or their feeder channels are likely to provide bag limits of banana prawn with some effort, and if the cooler weather draws them out then the same might occur in the Mary and its tributaries. If you are so lucky, then just remember that the new boat limit is two times the individual bag limit for two or more people on board, equating to two "buckets" and no more. Interestingly, this is a boat limit only and apparently does not apply to anyone prawning from the bank.

Good luck out there y’all.

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