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Weekly Fishing Report - 1st April 2021

Tuna on the flats, how cool is Fraser Island! Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing producing the goods. Let's hope the weather improves soon, last week was unreal.

Wet and Windy Easter Long Weekend

Tragically, the current southeasterly wind is forecast to strengthen substantially throughout the Easter long weekend. A strong wind warning has been issued for Hervey Bay waters for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Frequent showers are likely as well, with the possibility of fairly heavy falls Sunday and Monday as a low pressure system forms off our coast.

If this low drifts southeast as predicted, then there will be a day or two of very calm conditions in its wake. Make the most of these days during the week if you get the chance, as it looks as though a moderate southeaster will build as we approach week’s end.

This is all fairly typical autumn weather in these parts, it is just a shame that this latest weather event had to occur over Easter. The last quarter moon phase this Sunday means fairly lack lustre neap tides, but a late-rising moon during the evening suggests a good morning bite should the winds offer any reprieve early in the day.

Wind, wind and more wind!

Great Fishing Offshore Over the Recent Full Moon

Plenty of boaties got out over the past week whilst the weather was so glamorous. The full moon tides really turned the fish on and some impressive captures were recorded from all over the bay, offshore, down the straits and out on our impoundments.

Whilst the offshore scene is a definite no-go for the immediate future, some crews will be feasting on fresh reef fish fillets over Easter courtesy of the great bite from over the Breaksea Spit last week. Apparently, the current was fairly pumping at in excess of 3 knots at times, but the fish responded well to baits and jigs drifted over the shoaly country.

Mixed bags of reefies were common, with some crews managing some nice red emperor, green jobbies, pearl perch, maori cod and coronation trout. Venus tuskfish were common captures when the current dragged you over the less reefy bottom.

Quality reefies were also reported from offshore of the Wide Bay bar, with wahoo and mahi mahi making an appearance out wide as well. Crossing this bar south of Fraser Island will be an increasingly popular option as autumn rolls on, offering great access to scattered offshore grounds that suffer substantially less shark attrition than the waters to the north of Fraser.

Back inshore, the Southern and Northern Gutters produced a few coral trout, grass sweetlip, scarlets, squire, tuskies and cod for those that were willing to risk the battles with the local sharks. Some crews lost the battle and came home frustrated with very little to show for their efforts. As we keep harping on, the sharks are atrocious out at the gutters, so look for little isolated lumps and bumps well away from the ledges and keep on the move to avoid the noahs.

Spiro with a solid coral trout caught on a recent charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Hervey Bay Alive with Tuna

Hundreds of sportsfishos have been enjoying the autumn run of tuna in the bay over the past couple of weeks. Whilst the impending blow will deny access for a few days, we can look forward to possibly even more numbers of longtails entering the bay as a result of the strong winds. “East coast lows” and strong southeasterly events trigger a mass inshore movement of baitfish eagerly pursued by hordes of hungry tuna.

An average day spent chasing tuna of late will typically see crews score big tallies in the hook-up stats, but rarely will these hook-ups all be converted to captures. The sharks are relentless around the bigger schools of tuna in particular, taking fish after fish if you are foolish enough to keep casting in their presence.

Mack tuna and longtail tuna are both prolific right now, turning up out wide in the northern bay, throughout the central bay, and often over in Platypus Bay. There have also been numerous schools venture right down into the straits, though often these fish are a bit more flighty and tougher to approach.

Once this latest blow passes, a day or two spent with the kids chasing these terrific sports fish should be a blast. Newcomers to the bay be wary of the sharks - particularly when landing or releasing fish boat side.

Big golden trevally have been quite common throughout much of Platypus Bay of late. They offer a change of pace (and technique) for sportsfishos keen to do battle with hard-pulling adversaries. Jigs and plastics are the deadliest offerings for the goldies, though they will also take vertically-spun spoons, live baits and trolled deep divers.

Double hook ups on longtail tuna can be pretty common this time of year. Getting both fish past the sharks can be another story. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

How cool is this micro black marlin caught on the flats up the island! Kurt from Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing has been getting his clients onto some great fish.

Staff member Josh with a longtail tuna caught on a self tied clouser. If you want to have a go at tuna on fly drop in and have a chat, we have everything from rods, reel and line to pre-tied flies and all the materials to tie your own. Josh will be more than happy to help out.

Tom McKean christened his new Sage/Waterworks Lamson combo on a nice longtail. Tommy grabbed a handful of materials from the shop and tied up his own pink clouser which did the damage.

Options Inshore After the Blow

Those chasing a feed of reefies without venturing out too far will likely find grass sweetlip their most common catch at present. They can be found around the fringes of many of the reefs within our local shipping channels, and over soft coral or fern country throughout the northern straits.
Coral trout, cod, blackall, squire and even the odd knobby snapper or scarlet sea perch are possible on a variety of baits and lures. The sharks are terrible around many of the common inshore hotspots, so keep on the move to avoid them if necessary.

There has been a good run of large grunter inshore of late. The full moon period saw great sessions on grunter to in excess of 70cm from local waters. Bait fishos scored well, but those opting for artificials found some of the best quality fish more than willing to scoff soft vibes or heavily-weighted soft plastics. The Fairway and Burrum 8 Mile had their moments and may again see a repeat of this grunter action, but we won’t know until after the blow.

Good-sized grunter in the 50-60cm range are fairly common down the straits at present. Sneaking up creeks and fishing yabbies, prawns or small herring is one option, though drifting the same likely areas with small prawn imitations is vastly more fun and typically produces the best quality without the annoying pickers.

Some of the best grunter will be outside of the creeks in the nearby feeder channels and along the deeper ledges where they will spend much of the tide waiting for the cleaner top part of the flood tide to enter the creek to feed. This is particularly the case if the creek/s in the area are stained from recent rains. Try the muddy flats down the straits over the high tide as well, looking for feeding grunter along the mangrove fringes.

There are plenty of queenfish down the straits at present, as well as a few around the bay islands. Schools of whiting have been milling about along the beaches and flats around Kingfisher Bay, with a few decent flatties also on offer from there south.

Undoubtedly, some will be tempted to fish the protected waters of Gatakers Bay during the Easter blow. This is an option, but be aware that even there, when the winds are pushing 30 knots it will be uncomfortable and challenging to say the least. Certainly, avoid wind against tide and be prepared to swing wildly in the wind if you do not double-anchor. Berley and lightly-weighted baits are possibly your best bet. Expect fish such as small coral trout, grass sweetlip and decent grunter if you can handle the conditions – safely.

Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing with a beautiful diamond trevally caught on a guides day off.

The Palms Slow Blatt jig is a solid favourite for Fraser Guided Fishing when chasing big golden trevally. Give Tri a call if you want to get jiggy with it!

There's been heaps of queenfish around over the last few weeks and boy do they love a popper or stickbait. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Cale Cale trevally would have to be one of the coolest species and put up a great fight. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Rains Set to Improve a Tough Scene in Our Local Rivers

Many have found the usually productive river fishing this time of year to be very tough this season. We can lay most of the blame on the devastating drought that has affected our local waterways for the past two years. Albeit somewhat belated, we can only hope that the recent rains and those to come will rejuvenate our estuaries and enable all creatures big and small to propagate and replenish their depleted populations.

Threadfin salmon should be quite prolific this time of year, but they are not. There have been a few schools in the mighty Mary if you can track them down, but be prepared to do some scouting with your sounder. Forget the Susan for the time being, the net stakes in the mud are a fair indication as to the lack of fish.

Barra will be on the chew if you can find them in our rivers or down the straits. Heavy harvesting in the rivers has been devastating to these precious fish, particularly at a time when they likely missed another opportunity to spawn due to a lack of wet season rains at the right time.

You should be able to track down a barra in the Burrum system, along with plenty of mangrove jacks. The high banks of the Burrum and its tributaries offer some shelter from strong winds for those keen/desperate enough to fish during the blow. Double-anchoring and soaking baits will likely be more successful than lure fishing options during such strong winds.

Bream will be starting to make the move downstream and gather in schools as our waters cool. Over the next month or so, there is likely to be mass migrations of bream passing through the lower reaches of our rivers. In the meantime, bream fans can find plenty in the rivers, particularly if they anchor and berley deeper rock-strewn waters or heavily timbered banks.

Crabbers will be keen to set some pots for Easter. Please make safety your priority and don’t risk open waters in small vessels just to retrieve pots that you left somewhere you shouldn’t have. The crabbing in our rivers is a little hit and miss since the last rains. The straits sound like a better bet once the wind eases.

Prawners too will struggle whilst the winds are high. Trying to throw a cast net in 30 knots of wind is seriously challenging, as the wind collapses the net, even when thrown down wind. You could always try and find a bank sheltered from the southeaster and there are plenty of such locations that often hold prawn.

Better still to wait until after the blow and then go prawning. There is a sneaky feed on offer at present. Not bucket limits, but a few kilos of medium bananas. The Burrum, Cherwell, Isis or Gregory are possibly your best bets, though there are small numbers of quality prawn to be found in our local creeks. The feeder creeks of the Mary/Susan are also worth a look. Should we get any serious rain this weekend then that will benefit prawners greatly, so more on this subject in the future if the prawning improves.

Lake Monduran Barra on Fire Over the Full Moon

The results of the Lake Monduran Hummingbird Classic held last weekend are indicative of the terrific barra bite many experienced over the full moon. The barra have been a little frustrating at times over the past month or so, but they certainly turned it on last week.

Team Humminbird: Roderick Walmsley and Jason Harwood

Even your old scribe scored over 30 fish for a few days, with a couple of metre-beaters and the average fish being in the 80s and 90s. Plenty of rippers were lost, primarily to chafed-through leaders trying to keep the brutes clear of the heavy timber. Standout lures were weedless-rigged Hollowbellies and Keitechs, but suspending hardbodies scored a few.

It was very encouraging to see so many fish moving back into the bays. The recent rains and slightly cooler nights may have been the trigger. There are still stacks of fish in the deep timber in the main watercourses as well, which augers well for trollers and casters alike. Fish were found all over the lake. The difference this week just gone, being the ferocity of their feeding. They fair scoffed the lures, with many hooked deep in the throat.

Bass fishos keep giggling to themselves at the quality of the bass fishing in Monduran and the lack of effort from other fishos. Nearly all Mondy visitors are focussed on barra and don’t give bass a second thought. Simply trolling 4-5m divers along the timbered edges of the main watercourse will score plenty of bass. No need to do big miles either, with bass galore from “A” to White Rock, and more again not far inside “B” Bay.

Staff member Jas had a couple of excellent days of fishing around the full moon. Check out the deformed tail on this particular fish.

It's hard to get a better garfish imitation than the Daiwa Double Clutch. This one scored one of Jas' bigger fish.

Team Humminbird/Edge Rods: Jake Schwerin and Craig Griffiths 

Team Garmin - Matthew Mott & Dave Nelson

Happy Easter y’all.

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