Several more days of spectacular winter weather this past week saw huge numbers of boats out on the water. Vessels of all sizes scattered in all directions vying for some of Hervey Bay’s finest piscatorial treats. The gin clear waters and light winds actually made for fairly tough fishing inshore but the visual spectacle kind of made up for the quiet periods.
The weather for the week ahead looks good again, at least from Sunday onwards. We will have to endure a couple of days of moderate winds till then, but hardly anything to complain about. At worst we should see barely 15 knots in the bay and a smidge more offshore.
The next couple of days will see big spring tides courtesy of tonight’s new moon, with the night tides peaking at nearly 4.2m from lows of around 0.3m. Plenty of run means plenty of fun if you plan your assault appropriately and target the right species at the right time.
The Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Competition is all over for another year. They were certainly blessed with exceptional weather for the duration of the event. Some great reef fish were weighed in, with big red emperor drawing the crowd’s attention each time they were brought to the scales. We have been unable to get a full rundown of the final results at this time, so look them up on Facebook or their website if you are interested.
With so many boats jockeying for spots down south the waters beyond the Breaksea Spit were popular this past week. The fishing was exceptional for some lucky crews who found great reefies such as red emperor, big scarlets, cod, snapper, pearlies, jobbies and parrot - just some of the huge variety that came over the gunnels over the shoal country.
The shelf fished well too, with pearlies, snapper and jobbies the more desirable catches. Big AJs are still out there causing havoc for those dropping live baits and big jigs to the depths. Sharks are still a problem in some areas, but not nearly at the same extent as they have been in the warmer waters prior to now.
Mixed reports from around the bay suggest timing, location and shark activity were all important factors. It is good to hear that a few crews scored some decent catches of snapper, but unless the best is yet to come then our snapper stocks are truly in jeopardy. A few knobbies have turned up at the Gutters and off Rooneys, as well as over some of the closer reefs in close to the beach off the Wathumba area.
The 25 Fathom Hole failed to produce any real numbers for most, though a few good knobbies were found around the limited schools of yakkas for those that were there on the right day. The masses of yakkas that should frequent the Fathom Hole this time of year are still absent and the snapper catches reflect the lack of baitfish.
Now that the sharks have slowed down a bit (literally) you can drag a good trout or red emperor to the surface out at the Gutters with some chance of winning the race against the noahs. Watching that big whaler tearing up behind a prized reefie adds an extra boost of adrenalin that often has the angler cranking like a madman. Slipping a few grass sweeties, parrot, big hussar and others into the esky adds some variety, but nowadays it seems the grounds out that way are under some severe pressure. Use the better weather events to venture wider and seek out new grounds for better quality.
Platypus Bay waters are now home to a few snapper, as mentioned above, with night sessions producing the better fish during the spells of smaller tides and glassy conditions. The Arch Cliffs 6 Mile area has produced the odd knobbie, as have a few grounds off Wathumba and Station Hill. Scarlets are also on the chew at night throughout the bay and are prone to rise to a floatlined bait or livie just like a snapper.
Day sessions up that way have been a bit quiet of late, possibly due to the weather being just a bit too calm. Having said that, there are schools of queenfish and big golden trevally hanging around the bait schools, along with the odd snapper and cobia.
Our inshore waters are so clear right now. It is quite spectacular driving around the shallow margins checking out the many reefs, drop offs and other structures. The big tides over the new moon might stir things up a little in the vicinity of nearby shallow flats, but generally speaking, these clear waters should be a feature till the northerlies start to blow.
The fishing has reflected the conditions, with slow periods over the smaller tides and better bites experienced in low light conditions and at night. Squire, the odd big sweetie, blackall and cod have been the main contributors to a meal of reef fish, whilst the odd coral trout has been a welcome addition.
Trolling deep diving lures is becoming increasingly popular and can produce anything from big snapper, golden trevally, cod, trout and mackerel to those ridiculously greedy grinners. Throwing a couple of high speed minnows out the back and trolling the shipping channels and the waters off the Burrum coast should see you connect with a few school , spanish and broad-barred mackerel in coming weeks.
Winter whiting schools have been found south of the harbour and down towards the bottom of Big Woody this past week. Small schools can also still be found off Gatakers and Toogoom, though it doesn’t pay to play follow the leader in these parts.
Mary/Susan Rivers & the Great Sandy Straits
Flathead fishing is a ton of fun down in the straits at present. The gin clear waters offer sensational sight fishing opportunities and can allow you to find fish rich waters and new structure on a regular basis. Fuelling up and heading a bit further away from your launching point just might find you tripping over the mother-lode of flatties, some schooled up jewies, blue salmon and even the odd threadie or barra.
Squidding is still very poor here locally this winter, though it pays to carry squid jigs with you at all times just in case you trip over some in your travels. Venturing further away from the masses is key to finding any numbers these days as you nearly need to take a ticket to vie for a squid in the usual haunts.
Evening sessions will be productive for those fishing the flats and banks adjacent to the creek mouths for whiting over the bigger tides. Bream are in good numbers over the rocky outcrops too and will respond very well to a light berley trail.
The river scene looks a bit drab in places with a big build up of slimy brown algae over some of the rocky/gravelly areas. This is a natural phenomenon courtesy of the clear waters and is responsible for the annoying bits of slime in the water in places. Notwithstanding, there are plenty of cleaner areas offering a crack at the flatties around the drains and rock bars, whilst the deeper holes are home to blue salmon and the odd decent jewie.
The Burrum System
Big whiting are on the chew in the Burrum and lower Gregory Rivers at present. Look in the channels between the flats during the daytime with live yabbies or worms, or move up onto the flats with the rising tide if fishing during the evening. Sessions with micro poppers or stickbaits are bound to be a bit of fun early of late in the day on the flats.
Further upstream you will find a few schools of small queenfish, little GTs and the odd ladyfish. Incidental catches of blue salmon, jewfish and the odd barra will keep you casting. Concentrate on the deeper holes for the bigger predators. Smaller softies and vibes are the go in winter. Take squid jigs with you even when venturing upriver as the big tigers get a bit of wanderlust when the waters are so clear.
Word is there has been a few muddies potting up in the Burrum system this past week, so perhaps it might pay to drop some pots in if heading up that way.
Fraser Island Beaches
Beach fishos over on Fraser have been having a fat time of it lately with great catches of sizeable tailor coming from a run of good gutters on the eastern beach. Most of the action is centred around The Cathedrals, with consistent quality fish coming from Yidney, Poyungan, The Maheno and Happy Valley areas of late. The tailor have been right on the chew and many fishos are throwing back any under 50cm.
All this action is bound to attract bigger predators like jewfish, spanish, GTs and sharks, so it will be interesting to see if the slide-baiters get into any bigger critters in the near future. These guys would more often target the fish-rich waters north of the headlands looking for the apex predators.
Urangan Pier, Local Beaches and Creeks
Bream fishing out at the Urangan Pier has still been quite productive. Night sessions will always score the most consistent quality on bait due to the lack of pickers, though daytime sessions with Cranka Crabs are obviously still popular.
Spotting sneaky flatties in the first channel or out on the slope nearer the deep end of the pier can be a bit of fun. Look for them just upstream (yes upstream) of the pier and drop a live pike or herring nearby with enough weight to just hold the bait against the current. Wandering out along the pier at low tide will show you where to target the flatties as their lays will be clearly visible in the sand. When looking for flatties, keep an eye out for big tiger squid and have a jig rigged and ready to go as there has been the odd one out there of late.
Targeting the fringes of the weed banks and lily pads with suspending minnow-styled hardbodies and smaller soft vibes has been scoring some great bass. Lenthalls has been absolutely on fire bass-wise for a couple of months now and offers a fantastic fishery for bass of all sizes. The consistency of the fishery makes it a great option during spells of less than ideal weather like right now.
Numbers of barra are on offer out there as well and the relatively warm winter we have been having has kept them on the chew at times. Afternoon sessions on sunny days are most productive for barra fishos due to the warmer water. Numbers of little 60cm rats can be found, but it is the bigger 80cm+ models that draw the keen barra fishos to Lenthalls.
Good luck out there y’all.