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Weekly Fishing Report - 19th May 2022

Logan will be fighting off the ladies with a diamond like this! 

Another Week of Wet & Windy Weather

As you all know, big rains dumped on our district last week causing localised flooding in all streams. The big falls were received over Friday and Saturday, culminating in around 160mm in Hervey Bay township for the week.

Other local areas copped even more rain than us over the same period. Eurong recorded 214mm and Gin Gin 275mm, whilst the upper reaches of the Mary River catchment saw in excess of 200mm in two days.

The Mary reached major flood level, but this has since been downgraded to minor. The Burrum flooded as well, overtopping Lenthalls Dam once again. Every stream in the district flooded to some extent, and of course, flood debris is a major hazard for boaties in our estuaries and out in the bay.

We enjoyed three days of glamour weather post-rain as the east coast low headed offshore, leaving glassed-out conditions in its wake. Many boaties made the most of this opportunity and should still be feasting on the spoils of their efforts. Not all got out as they might have hoped however, as some found their lawns too soggy to get the boat out which must’ve been rather frustrating with barely a breath of wind.

Unfortunately, the weather is about to turn sour once again. The southeaster is freshening today and will reach up to 30 knots in Hervey Bay waters tomorrow. It won’t ease much until during the day Saturday, but even then, this onshore wind will maintain around 20 knots on average, and stay that way until mid-week.

Substantial rain is expected to blow onshore once again, with the potential of another 100mm for our area Friday-Saturday. Sunday will see more light rain and showers, and in fact, the weather gurus are suggesting showers pretty much daily until at least this time next week.

A waning moon and neap tides courtesy of the half moon of the last quarter phase on Monday will see diminished tidal flow. All the same, these is still surplus water flowing through our rivers exaggerating the current, and a similar effect in the waters beyond the river mouths out into the lower bay and Great Sandy Straits.

Rain, Flood, Flush, Repeat…..

So, here we are once again, writing a fishing report post-flood. It would be easy to suggest you flick back a few reports on our website or your email and re-read previous post-flood reports. But, we won’t.

Things are a little different with flooding this late in the year. The excess freshwater will have an impact on a different range of species and fisheries, so read on for a broad view of what to expect.

Crustaceans-wise, mud crabs will be flushed back out of our creeks and rivers, just after they made their way back upstream. They can be intercepted on their way if you choose streams that are not in high flow at the time of placing your pots. Many crabbers will prefer the option of laying their pots outside the confines of the streams and will opt to work the mudflats and channels adjacent or nearby to the creek and river mouths.

Dane with a nice golden trevally on a Molix RT Fork Flex soft plastic

Just as the prawning was reaching fever pitch, the floodwaters have sent them packing. You can forget the upper and mid reaches of the rivers for now, as the mature prawn that had made its way upstream has vacated those waters and headed for the mouth.

Or at least some has. There is a school of thought that some prawn will simply bury for a period, sometimes for several weeks, and let the freshwaters pass overhead, before re-emerging when the waters are once again to their liking. Whatever the case, prawners will need to rethink their prawning strategies and consider scouting out the waters out in the bay and the straits beyond the creeks and rivers.

Locations such as the waters just off Woodgate beach, the Booral Flats, the channels of the straits and the waters off the beaches to the west of town are all areas worthy of some scouting in the right conditions. Offshore winds are likely at some stage after this week’s rain blows away, which will coincide with the next new moon and could well suit any keen prawners.

More rain this week, particularly 100mm, will only serve to force the prawns to move and mobile schools of large bananas could turn up anywhere in the lower bay. Don’t be at all shocked to see balled-up schools of prawn swimming with the tide out into the bay. They might hitch a ride with lines of debris for shelter and the simple fact that they love to hang onto stuff, so keep your eyes peeled.

Prawning in waters flushed from the floods can be challenging, but can also be dynamite. Predators ripping into the prawn are a dead giveaway if you are so lucky to witness such an event. The straits and its numerous creeks and channels will be the first to recover from the flooding, but it will be Woodgate that many will be keen to try as soon as that wind turns offshore.

At a time when we might otherwise consider chasing tiger squid in the bay and straits, we can pretty much put that activity on the backburner for a while yet. Squid like clear waters and they will remain where they are comfortable. Perhaps a raid on the clean waters of the northern bay could pay dividends.

Josh Cox having a bit of fun on the silly string

Fish Flushed from Flooding

Big whiting in the Burrum system have been replaced by catfish. Grunter and salmon in the Mary system have been replaced by catfish. Bream have flushed from the creeks and rivers and are moving in on our shallow inshore reefs.

Big estuarine mangrove jacks are likely to move out into the bay and then offshore in their quest to mature as “reef jacks”. Drop a live bait or the right lure in their path on their way and you could pull some serious quality jacks from a number of our inshore reef sites.

Threadies and barra might be a little hard to track down for the time being, but they will soon become obvious on side scanners if not visibly on the surface as they rip into the abundance of prawn and baitfish flushed from our creeks and rivers. The straits, or indeed the flats immediately beyond the Mary River mouth are worth prospecting in coming weeks for those chasing threadies and barra.

Grunter were making their way back into our estuaries when this latest rain event hit. Once again, big grunter will be a feature of our shallow inshore reef fishery, as well as our local beach fishery. The waters of Pialba, Pt Vernon and Gatakers Bay are likely to produce quality fish in coming weeks, particularly over the bigger tides.

Dane had not trouble finding fish on the new Simrad NSX

Bream fishos were just starting to get a roll on when along comes the deluge and excessive freshwater. Bream are no strangers to a freshwater flush, but are unlikely to remain within flooded estuaries at this time of year. It is their time to gather for the winter spawn, so this flooding event has simply sped up their migration.

River Heads, South Head and the Urangan Pier were all producing a few decent bream pre-flood. The pier waters are filthy dirty once again, so it will be interesting to see if the bream culminate around that structure without the resident schools of herring to predate on.

The Pt Vernon shoreline will be an obvious area for shore-based bream fans to try until our waters clean up. Boaties can ply the same waters or give the shallow fringes of the bay islands a look. Straits bream fishos will find fish aggregating around sunken rock bars, timber and gravel beds at some stage.

The fly fishos won’t have much to cheer about on their beloved flats, but those favouring finesse spin tackle can have a ball in coming weeks as hordes of hungry bream feed in the shallows under the cover of stained waters. Masses of jelly prawn, as well as their slightly larger brethren will be the major drawcard across many of our flats, so small plastics, hardbodies, prawn imitations and topwater lures will all have their chance to shine.

A few jewies were being caught at River Heads and at South Head prior to the flooding. These fish are floodwater specialists and will be feeding voraciously as food is flushed their way. They will likely vacate the very mouth of the river for the time being, and head for nearby areas.
Jewies are likely to turn up along the ledges and under man-made structures on the inside of Fraser Island. They are highly susceptible to over-exploitation when found en-masse in such locales, so we hope everyone does the right thing and limits their catch.

Jewies will also be worth pursuing under the Urangan Pier at some stage. There were some there recently, but unless you go drop live baits or a vibe at night, then you won’t know if they are still there or not.

Jewies that turn up on our inshore shipwrecks have always been challenging to extract at the best of times. Add the constant shark menace and many of us have given that idea away as a bad joke and a waste of a resource.

Snapper and Reds Thrilling Reef Fishos

The few days of glamour weather post-rain saw plenty of reef fishos heading out into the bay. Some ventured north and plied the waters of the Gutters and beyond for quality reefies. The big ground swell from the recent blow combined with the full moon for a great bite for those on the right spots.

Red emperor are always a great target after a serious blow, and sure enough, there were a few quality reds caught by those that fished shark-free waters. There were also a few good trout caught on live baits, jigs or heavily-weighted softies, along with the usual cod bycatch. The sharks took a shocking toll as usual on the more common grounds, but lesser-known country fished well for some.

Grassies, squire and the odd snapper accompanied a mix of scarlets, tuskies and other less desirable reefies across the fleet of vessels. Spaniards continue to smash trolled lures or large baits at the Gutters and schoolies are also still quite prevalent. Trevally are starting to make their presence felt out wide, with bludgers and gold spots leading the charge into winter.

Rooneys reefs produced a mix of squire, scarlets, cod and in some areas, large grunter. Sharks are almost unavoidable and keep clever fishos on the move. Only a fool would stay put whilst being hammered by sharks.

As expected, this season’s inshore snapper run kicked off as the full moon approached. Quality squire and a number of larger knobbies made their way over the gunnels for some lucky fishos. A few failed to bother the scorers or otherwise got sharked and moved on to greener pastures.

The snapper won’t be too hard to track down this season. Find the bait in the right water quality and you will find the fish. We typically enjoy a better season in the bay after flooding rains, so this season should be a ripper. The sharks will be our biggest hassle, and they are shocking, so do the snapper and other fish a favour and vacate the area if the sharks turn up.

The dirty waters spewing out into the bay have already reached the banks. Basically, the ebb tide draws the filth out beyond a line from about Moon Point to the Fairway. Look just beyond the demarcation line in the cleaner waters for a plethora of pelagics when next you get a chance.

There are schools of mack tuna, sometimes flanked by larger longtails, and other small pods of longtails working the scum line and bait schools beyond. Golden trevally and a few large diamond trevally are schooling up over reefs to the north of the dirty water line. They are quite obvious on a decent sounder, so you can spot them with ease and make your mind up whether to drop a jig or plastic or move on in search of reefies.

There was plenty of school mackerel around the Fairway and right through the Urangan Channel all the way to the pier before the rains. Expect to find these fish back up the bay off the Burrum, the Banks or the Fairway, and don’t be surprised to see some pretty large broadies lurking along the debris line either.

Scary Times for Impoundment Barra Fans

We have enjoyed fantastic barra fishing in our impoundments this last year or so, and even with a couple of major rain events and local flooding, the lakes returned to their fishy best within about six weeks. This latest event is a bit scary though, threatening the very future of these fisheries as water levels continue to rise.

Last week’s rains dropped nearly 300mm in the Kolan catchment, resulting in a rise of around 5 metres on Lake Monduran. At the time of writing, the lake’s waters are a mere 1.2m below full water level at a smidge over 89% of capacity.

A forecast suggesting in excess of 100mm of rain for the area over coming days is very concerning. Rainfall of that nature on such saturated ground is bound to run off and will threaten to over-top the spillway.

Will any barra escape? That is an unknown, that many of us are anxious to learn. We hold some hope that the barra won’t head downstream due to spawning urges this time of year, but realistically, have to accept the likelihood that many will seek the opportunity to escape if it presents itself. Either way, a full lake makes us barra fishos nervous with long range forecasters talking up a wet winter.

What will the future of fishing at Mondy be like? Vastly tougher on so many levels, due not only to the sheer size of the lake and the scattering of the barra, but the very environment that is a full Monduran. It was so fantastic when it was low; so many fish, confined to a comparatively small waterway, and then along comes out-of-season rains to stuff it up.

One could draw some sort of analogy with the upcoming election perhaps. Mondy, like Qld, was tracking along brilliantly. Everyone was having a fat time and so many from far and wide wanted to come, live and fish here. Everyone prospered, great fish were caught and lifelong memories were made. Then along came a storm.

We cannot do a darn thing about nature and the storms she throws our way, but we can do plenty about the potential sh#% storm brewing in Canberra that will impact our lives, our fisheries and the things we enjoy so dearly.

Make your vote count at the ballot box on Saturday. Don’t be conned by the rubbish we get fed daily on mainstream media and think hard about who you want leading this country into the future. We all know what the greens mean to fishos and those that actually get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

Many folks will be voting in our electorate for the first time ever. We can only hope that their vote reflects their desire to be part of our great community and enjoy the lifestyle that brought them here in the first place. And not be driven by the angst and negative aspects of the worlds they left behind.

Remember, that is the Pacific Ocean that we look out over or float on every time we head out onto the bay. It is our piece of paradise and we should protect and cherish it and not take it for granted. Oh, and by the way, if you see a big flash boat out there sporting a little red flag with gold stars, then perhaps tell the authorities.

Think about what makes Qld great. What makes Australia and Aussies great. Would someone have done a better job than the incumbent? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s a pretty tough gig that one. There is an old saying that “red and green should never be seen” and it is about to become more pertinent than ever.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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