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Weekly Fishing Report - 1st July 2021

Former Fisho's staff member Brocky with a nice bay snapper caught on a soft plastic.

Better Weather After the Rain Clears

Well, so much for the rain and moderate northerly last Saturday. Hopefully those keen enough checked the latest post-report forecast and made the most of what turned out to be quite a reasonable day. Of course, Sunday dawned quite nasty, bitterly cold and wet, and was a pre-cursor to the wet and windy first week of the school holidays.

No doubt you are all aware of the wet weather we are supposedly in for over the next couple of days. The current spate of onshore wind is forecast to drop out dramatically Friday night, but the light winds Saturday will be accompanied by steady rains that could see up to 40mm fall over our district (apparently).

Come Sunday, the rain should clear during the morning and the winds turn offshore, with a fairly light southwester tending southerly for the start of the working week. 10-15 knots of southeaster should see the week out, so vastly improved on the week just gone.

Tomorrow’s last quarter moon phase means fairly minimal tidal variation for the next few days. As the tides build closer to next weekend’s new moon, we will again see a resurgence in predatory activity from our winter species.

When the weather permits, make the most of it. A nice snapper from a blue sky day with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Snapper will readily take a variety of lures including soft plastics, hardbodies and in this case a metal jig. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Two Weeks Left Before Snapper Closure

Few boats got out this week, but amongst those that did were a few crews that scored well on snapper inshore. Late afternoon and evening sessions are producing some of the best hauls, but quality knobbies and quite a few squire are taking baits and lures during the daytime as well.

Given the impending one-month snapper and pearl perch closure on the 15th July, snapper fans should make the most of the better weather and tides over the coming fortnight. Being such a nomadic species, snapper can often be found in good numbers in an area one day or week and be gone the next. They are here each winter for two reasons – to feed and procreate. So, as always, find the bait to find the fish.

Bobby from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters is well versed in bait fishing and is great at teaching these techniques to clients. It was all smiles on this day.

Bait fishos can improve their chances of scoring a feed of snapper by the careful use of berley. There are practical limitations on berley use in the bay however, so choose your tides and locations appropriately. There is very little tidal flow in Platypus Bay, so berley works a treat up there. Berley is also very effective over our shallow reef country, but becomes a lot less productive over our deeper reefs if the tide is running hard.

You can still berley the deeper reefs, but will have to limit your berleying efforts to tide changes. Obviously, berleying can be vastly more effective over the neaps, and can be just the trigger to get a feeding response from otherwise lethargic fish (hence, the reason for mentioning this age-old technique this week).

Those with kids capable of wielding a suitable flick rod can take advantage of the better weather next week and get them out chasing snapper. Simply set them up to work jerkshads or the like around the bait schools in the vicinity of our reef systems and teach them how to cast ahead of the drift with a well-rigged plastic - whilst you kick back and enjoy the highlights as a big knobbie scoffs their offering and bolts for the horizon. If all they end up catching is squire and trevally, then chances are they have still had a great day to brag about when they get back to school.

If you don’t have the right tackle for this, or the young ones are a little too young as yet, then perhaps you could have them hang onto an appropriate outfit whilst you troll deep divers looking for snapper. The hit will be quite ferocious though, so get them to sit and watch the rod in a holder instead if you doubt their ability to hang on.

It's great to see the youngsters getting into some quality snapper this season. Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing has been finding some quality fish.

School Holiday Options for Boating Families

Whilst snapper are the main focus for many this time of year, there is still a mix of other reef and pelagic species out in the bay that will entertain the kids this week. Whether aided by berley or not, there are the likes of scarlets, blackall, moses perch, grunter and swags of trevally up in Platypus Bay that will have the kids guessing what they are fighting with each hook-up.

Challenge them to “guess” the fish species before they see it for a bit of fun. The fight from the fish, the bait it ate and where and when they caught it are all factors that they should be noting. The kids that will shape up to be the real fishos of the future will soon start piecing the puzzle together.

Without doubt, the easiest and most consistent arm-benders in Platypus Bay for the kids are the trevally. Many members of the clan are represented up that way in winter, including diamonds, goldies, GTs, brassies, gold spots, bludgers and long-nosed, amongst others. The bigger trevors will respond to live baits, but the smaller models will happily scoff small strips of squid, hardiheads, and in some areas, pretty much any bait you offer.

These trevors offer the kids great sport and will soon have them refining their techniques for other more prestigious fish. Gear them up with a selection of slow pitch jigs, metal slugs or spoons, and appropriately-weighted softies and drift over the schools and enjoy the fun.

Young Rory was stoked when he landed this bludger trevally as it's hig biggest fish to date. Bobby from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters loves helping clients tick off new species whilst learning new skills on the water.

Be prepared for big XOS cobia getting in on the act. They have been turning up all over the bay and are a real prize for the kids. The little’ns might struggle to hold the bigger models up for a photo, but they will be telling stories of their captures for some time to come.

Don’t freak out if a giant cobia snatches a bait or lure on light tackle. Patience, stamina and a soft approach will soon see all but the biggest of this brood appearing boat-side. Newbies to landing cobia will then experience their power when they attempt to land the fish. They roll, they fight back, and they can even do damage to tackle, little legs, eskies and the like on-board once landed, so be aware and prepared.

School mackerel have been turning up around herring and yakka schools in the bay recently. They have been on the move since our last report, so the whereabouts of the best of the macks will be up to you to find. Try locations such as the Fairway, the Burrum 8 Mile, the grounds to the west of Gatakers Bay (if the herring are there), the NU2 shipwreck, the Outer Banks or Maringa Bombie. Numerous other reefs and transient bait schools in our local shipping channels could also be holding mackerel, as could the prolific bait schools of Platypus Bay, so perhaps a quick troll or two with high-speed diving lures could pay dividends.

Big schools of queenfish can be found harassing bait balls and provide plenty of fun on soft plastics, jigs or skipping stickbaits. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing 

For those new to fishing Hervey Bay – please be aware of our shark issue. Our waters host an ever-increasing number of over-sized bull whalers and many of their large toothy cousins. Not only should you steer the boat away from any areas where the sharks are stealing your catch, but you should always be mindful of their existence and take extra care when handling fish at the boat. Spearing the fish back into the water is much preferred to “swimming” them as they do on the tele – for obvious reasons.

Thankfully, we have had a few locals state that recently the sharks haven’t been as bad as usual in some local areas. As we all know, the sharks are tuned in to following our boats looking for an easy meal, and where you get the most boat traffic (except in the shallows) you encounter the sharks.

For those looking for a possible way to beat the sharks, there are new shark deterrent products out from Shark Banz. There is something for the bay or offshore fisho in the form of a sinker, or a device that can be strapped to the wrist or leg for those that enjoy swimming amongst these creatures. Check out the link here and drop into our store if you are keen to give one a go.

The odd longtail tuna can still be found this time of year. They're not always up on the surface, be prepared to hook a few down deep especially when chasing snapper. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

Light Tackle Fun Inshore for the Kids

Staying close inshore in protected waters might appeal to those with little kids, and luckily, we have many options to keep them entertained. Anchoring and berleying the shallow reefs fringing Pt Vernon can see them hauling bream after bream over the side if you get the technique right.
Drop the anchor in about 4 metres of water over a bit of sand or broken reef (in lieu of the gnarlier bombies and coral). Start your berley trail. You can use pelletised berley, berley logs, or even just left-over bait and scraps from previous trips. The trick is not to overfeed the fish, so mince or pound the scraps etc to a pulp so that it oozes out in smaller particles if you go for that option.

You may well find that your berley attracts a school of “happy moments” (aka black spinefoot). These annoying, small-mouthed little critters take forever to demolish a decent “hard” bait, so we suggest baits such as mullet fillets, baitfish fillets or chunks and the like, in lieu of soft baits such as prawns or yabbies. Happies are covered in spines and inflict an incredibly painful would, so best to handle them carefully and teach the kids not to swing them into the boat.

Fish light tackle, with barely any lead (if any). Flick baits out the back into the berley trail and wait for the big bream to pounce. If the happies get in on the act them carefully tease the bait off them and allow it to sink again. The more aggressive bream will soon steal a natural-looking bait from the happies. You can achieve cricket score catches of large bream from these waters over the coming two months.

If bream don’t appeal, then of course there is the winter whiting. We’ve had no reports at all this week, so can only offer a general guide as to where to find them. Reports from Gatakers Bay a week or more ago suggested that they were a bit hard to track down out that way. The waters out from the Burrum were starting to produce good quality whiting, which are also quite likely to be found up off Woodgate Beach.

Dane with a double header of snapper caught on Bait Junkie and Molix soft plastics.

Whilst not everyone has scored, a couple of locals have done quite well west of Woody Island recently. A bag limit has been achievable for those that have been mobile and found the ‘ting without attending toads. In coming weeks, areas such as the vicinity of the Bait Grounds, the NU2, Coongul, Christies Gutter and many channels down the Great Sandy Straits will be home to whiting. Be prepared to scout around and you will find your share.

Squidding is possibly more exciting than fishing for a lot of kids. Chasing tiger squid is a fairly simple affair, and can be achieved from a boat or shore-based. Those without a boat can try our local piers, the harbour, River Heads, Burrum Heads or the rocky foreshores of Pt Vernon – Pialba. Walking the rocks flicking light (size 2.5) jigs is possibly the most productive with the amount of effort from the crowds elsewhere nowadays.

Boaties can chase tigers in any shallow waters containing some form of structure. Weed beds, rocks, coral and man-made structures can all attract squid. If new to squidding these parts, set the kids up with a rod each and troll slowly across or along any likely areas with size 2.5 or 3.0 jigs. The take from a squid on the troll is surprisingly powerful and will fool many into thinking they have a decent fish until they see the tell-tale ink stain where the jig was intercepted.

Try to avoid mackerel, cod and flathead when trolling for squid, or set one of the kids up with a shallow diver to target these species. Once a squid is found, then search the waters for more. You should soon be spotting them, so long as you (and the kids) are wearing polarised sunnies. If you are not, then you are not in the game.

Options for Landlubbers During the School Holidays

The Urangan Pier has been fairly quiet of late. There have been a few jewies caught out towards the end at night on live baits, along with the odd squid or two. The first channel is the place to be for those chasing flathead. Schools of pike in the shallows are the drawcard for the flatties and the pike is exactly what you need to be feeding them – alive.

Teach the kids how to catch pike and that is fun in itself, but get them to plonk it nearby to a big flattie spotted courtesy of your/their polaroids and watch the big girl inhale it, and you will be hearing that story over and over again for some time. The slope out the end will also be home to flatties and pike, so you can repeat the same scene out there if you prefer.

Bream fishos have been getting a feed at night when the weather allows. Herring numbers have been very low out along the pier, so consider taking mullet fillets, mullet gut or fowl gut for the kids if planning a bream session. Plenty of bream can be caught during the daytime as well, but the pickers are a lot worse on the softer baits.

River Heads fishos have picked up a few decent jewies after dark recently. Jew to 120cm or more are possible without a boat, but please ensure you are not getting in the way of boaties if fishing from the ramps or pontoon. Bream, flatties and cod are all likely candidates for lures and baits out there, with squid on offer after dark when the conditions are right.

The winter bait schools are yet to turn up at River Heads, so the pelagics that pursue them are conspicuous by their absence. Once the bait arrives, expect school mackerel, broad-barred mackerel, tailor and even tuna to turn up for the feast.

Fly Fishing Options in Inclement Winter Weather

Rainy, cloudy or windy days simply don’t suit fly fishos. Clear skies and light winds are preferred to enable them to present their flies to targets spotted up in skinny water. Unfortunately, these conditions aren’t always on offer, so what can a budding fly fisho do when the weather is less than ideal?

When the weather is less than ideal; why not grab some materials, get tying and top up your fly box. Staff member Josh did just that and knocked up a batch of highly effective white clousers, these are a great bait imitation for a range of species.

Well, first of all, they can tie themselves some new flies. We stock a terrific range of all the cool fly-tying equipment and materials and have our instore fanatic (Josh) on hand to advise anyone looking to take on fly tying. Those looking to get their fly lines wet though, might consider the following, depending upon what sort of outfit/s they own:

Those with 9-10 weights, could consider dredging for snapper, trevally, tuna and mackerel. Sinking lines, coupled with larger clousers, baitfish imitation or shrimps slow-stripped with appropriate pauses on 20-30lb tippets will soon appeal to any fish found mid-water. Bycatch can be substantial, depending upon where you fish and what lurks there, so be prepared to haul hard if trout, cod or blackall take the fly, and always be ready for big cobes to rock up boat-side out of nowhere.

A selection of suitable flies for dredging inshore. A pink bucktail clouser (left), a cut bait pilchard fly (middle) and an articulated squid fly (right).

Target fish may not be visible to the naked eye, but like most fishos nowadays, fly fishos should be sporting the latest in side-scanning sounder technology. If tuned-in to your electronics, it should be a simple affair to spot target fish and deliver the fly to the fish.

Even without the aid of sunny well-lit days, the Great Sandy Straits can offer plenty of action for the fly fisho. Blue salmon are the obvious big target species, but queenies, lots of trevally, blackall, flathead and even threadies and barra are worthy adversaries on an 8-9 weight. Retrieve styles will need to vary depending upon the species targeted, with 16-20 tippets and medium-sized clousers and shrimps getting the job done.

A solid lineup of flats flies including a yellow and white bucktail clouser (left) a rabbit zonker shrimp fly (middle) and arguably one of the best options for our flats an olive shrimp (right).

For those preferring the light stuff, bust out the 5-6 weight with 8-10lb tippet attached and work the flats and mangrove lines for large bream, flathead, whiting and grunter. A range of flies can appeal, including small clousers, shrimps, gotchas, worms, or surface-blooping flies such as disco shrimps or gurglers. The low light on cloudy days can see the target species comfortably cruising the shallowest fringes, and so often in schools, so spotting them might rely on subtle water surface movements or baitfish showering, but it is a great grey-day option.

A Brief Word on Other Fisheries of Interest

Those that slipped the crab pots in over the full moon a week ago scored well. Or at least some did. Apparently, the creeks dotted along the inside of Fraser really fired. That might be it for the best of this season’s mud crabbing, but there ain’t no rules in this game, so feel free to buck the trend and let us know if you do any good over the remainder of winter.

Sand crabs wise, we haven’t heard anything this week. Chances are there are still plenty of sandies out in the western bay for those keen to drop some pots in when the weather improves.

Our man on Fraser Island tells us that there has been very little going on over there this week. The crappy weather has messed up some of the gutters and some fishos were apparently struggling to catch much at all. There should be quality whiting along the beach down south for those keen for a look and we are sure the dart, bream, tarwhine and chopper tailor will return to the gutters once the beach scene recovers from the bad weather.

Good luck out there y’all.

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