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Weekly Fishing Report - 1st September 2022

Staff member Logan and Jaxon Johnson, the lucky winner of the $4000 Ultimate Fisho's Pack.

A huge thank you to the many customers that made our big annual Mega Clearance Sale such a resounding success last weekend. We trust you all grabbed a bargain or several and will be out there trialling your fancy new tackle in the near future.

Congratulations to the two luckiest customers from the sale that won the major prizes. Dylan Fryer scored the $1,000 Shopping Spree and Jaxon Johnson won the $4,000 Ultimate Fisho’s Pack.

We have extended the sale on a range of items for anyone looking for Father’s Day gifts. We have rods, reels, combos, luggage, apparel, dive sets, boating gear and plenty of other random items heavily reduced. Get in and grab something special for dad and score yourself a bargain.

Dylan Fryer was the lucky winner of the $1000 shopping spree. Staff member Dane set him up with a mint Daiwa Lexa/Nomad slow pitch jigging combo for an upcoming trip.

Unusually Cool and Damp Start to Spring

We typically look forward to warmer conditions and a change in wind direction late August each year to signal the approach of spring. This year though, we had a sniff briefly, then a return to cooler conditions interspersed with inclement spells of light rain and showers. More again this week and possibly next apparently.

This is somewhat strange. Dry, dusty conditions and warm sunny days with light winds tending northerly as each successive “dry storm”laden trough approaches are more the norm. Anyway, winter is over and we have plenty to cheer about and gear up for as spring brings on a whole new range of fishing opportunities.

Your weather isn’t looking too flash this weekend unfortunately. Get out tomorrow and enjoy the light winds if you get a chance (but don’t forget the brolly or wet weather gear). You might sneak a quick session in early Saturday before the southerly cranks up. Expect 15-20 knots by day’s end. Sunday looks even worse, with the wind peaking around 25 knots late in the day.

The wind will tend more southeasterly eventually Monday and blow up to 20 knots yet again. The onshore breeze will moderate as the week wears on swinging through the east and eventually northeast. We may see more showers late in the week, but it is too early to be sure about that. All in all, not the best forecast, so time your forays to suit the conditions and make the most of our sheltered waterways this week.

Last week’s new moon saw a peak in tidal movement once again. The waxing moon passes through the 1st quarter phase on Sunday, meaning neap tides, and making tides thereafter. Great for a range of species and fisheries this time of year – if only for the weather.

Hayden with a solid golden trevally

Gatakers Bay Boat Ramp Open Again

After a brief closure to enable dredging and cleaning works, the two-lane boat ramp at Gatakers Bay is now open. The closure frustrated a few winter whiting fishos, but generally-speaking, the closure may have re-invigorated the fishing in the area. The re-opening is quite timely, as this launching point is well protected from the southerly winds forecast for this weekend.

You might score good hauls of large bream if you anchor and berley over the reef proper. Choose a well-protected spot at a time when the wind and tide are not opposing and cast lightly-weighted strip baits into your trail and you should do well.

Don’t be surprised if mackerel, tailor and even the odd reef fish crash your bream party this time of year. The neap tides are hardly ideal for fishing these shallow reefs, but few other sites offer the protection from the wind for the casual fisho.

In fact, a couple of intrepid rock fishos have been spinning up quality tailor from the rocky foreshores of Pt Vernon. Casting metal slugs and spoons has been producing the goods. Stick baiting with long casting stickies worked quickly over the reef shallows is also a productive technique that also attracts the queenies and little GTs that so often turn up in that area this time of year.

Super-keen winter whiting fishos might launch early for a quick crack at their favourite little morsels before the wind strengthens. Chances are there are fish schooled up again not far out from the reef edge given the lack of effort whilst the ramp was closed.

There will be school mackerel out wider from there that you can have a crack at when the weather improves. Schoolies have been reported off the Burrum Coast and around many of the inshore reefs east of there. The beacons such as the Fairway will be worth a look for transient mackerel harassing the gathered baitfish schools.

The Gatakers Bay boat ramp is open again

Qld Bass Closure Concluded 31st August

The other opening worthy of note is the annual Qld bass season. You can once again legally target Australian bass in freshwater streams throughout Qld. You are no longer restricted to the stocked impoundments as you were in winter, though for many bass fishos, those waters still offer some of the best bass fishing in the state.

Having said that though, many kayakers would likely disagree and suggest that the babbling brooks and larger riverine waterways of southeast Qld offer champagne bass fishing in a truly beautiful (and safe) environment. Big fat bass smashing tiny topwater offerings or crunching your slowly twitched hardbody as it escapes the shady fringes can be some of the best sweet water fishing on offer in these parts.

It will be interesting to see how Lake Lenthalls shapes up for bass and barra this spring. The fishing has not been good at all out there during winter. Late rains, dirty waters and a spilled lake did not help. The few fishos that made the effort achieved very little return. Let’s all hope that the weather boffins are mistaken and our springtime isn’t as wet as they are forecasting. This little lake can really turn it on in spring and is a haven for small boats and kayakers alike.

Shoulder to shoulder action for those chasing tailor on Fraser Island

Best Tailor Fishing for Years on Fraser Island

The tailor fishing on Fraser Island’s surf beaches has been going off. Bag limits of quality greenbacks have been readily achievable, and the fishery is drawing a crowd of tailor fans.
Many are choosing to share popular gutters with like-minded hopefuls and put up with the shuffling, the stray casts and tangles, and the lost fish. The tailor have been so thick in some gutters that all are catching fish at some stage or another.

Other fishos choose to scope out gutters without the attending crowds and some have been rewarded handsomely. Catching large tailor without the concern of crossed lines or others poaching “your” fish certainly adds to the appeal of an island getaway.

Cast out the standard ganged pillie or garfish, or opt for a gang-rigged strip of tailor or bonito fillet and you will soon be connected to tailor. Take the more active approach and cast heavy metals or lighter stickbaits into the surf gutters and crank back at pace and you will also be rewarded with a crunching strike.

There have been stories coming back of spanish mackerel predating on the tailor schools up towards the north of the island recently. Anyone venturing up beyond the headlands should keep this in mind. Slide baiters or drone fishos might actively seek such prized beach quarry whilst the opportunity is there. Bycatch of sharks and other large predators is also highly likely with such an abundance of tailor along the beach.

It is not just tailor that have been biting on Fraser. Those bored of tailor, or otherwise filling in time between key tailor bite periods, have been having a ball on the light rods chasing other species. Quality sand whiting have been a feature of the melon hole or shallow low tide gutter fishery on the bigger tides.

Dart are scattered and active in many gutters. They can be found with the tailor, picking up their scraps, and they can also dominate a rip or high-flow gutter in their own right. Big dart offer great sport and many would say are better eating than tailor when fresh.

Many of the rocky outcrops are quite exposed and offer a real mix of species in a session. Mixing up the baits and fishing smaller offerings such as whitebait, pippies and worms on the right hooks can see you catch numbers of bream, tarwhine, whiting and even jewfish. Speaking of jewfish, there is still a distinct misunderstanding from some fishos as to what species they are catching in the surf gutters. Basically, there is no need for confusion. These fish are mulloway. The minimum size limit is 75cm and the in-possession limit is 2.

Hefty on-the-spot monetary fines can be handed out to fishos not biding by the rules. Claiming your “jewfish” are of the scaly jewfish variety, endemic to the gulf waters of northern Australia and not found within hundreds of miles of Fraser simply won’t cut it as an excuse. If you have any doubts, or wish to update your species knowledge, then perhaps you might download the free Qld Fishing App 2.0. Remember too, that the headlands are closed to all forms of fishing until the end of September.

Beach travel has been fairly good by all accounts. The beach is wide and quite flat along much of its length, with the exception being a narrow stretch down the southern end that travellers using the Hook Point barge should be mindful of. Many rock outcrops are exposed, so you might find you are using the inland bypasses at all but the lowest of tide.

Whiting Biting Well Along Our Beaches

Sand whiting fans have been having a ball for the last couple of weeks. The bigger tides of the new and full moon have been bringing in great schools of whiting to our town beaches and bag limits have been easily achieved.

The beach end of the Urangan Pier has been a hotspot for whiting fishos not keen on sand between their toes. Shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded hopefuls isn’t everyone’s idea of a relaxing fish, so luckily, we have numerous other land-based options in town.

The rock groynes at Shelley Beach are popular at or near high tide. The big pipes crossing the beach at Torquay offer great sites to stash your gear out of the sand and chase the whiting passing through the area. Equally so, the stretches of beach at Urangan, the beaches of Scarness and Pialba all offer a crack at whiting with the chance of less crowding.

Keep in mind however, that the crowds are often gathered in certain areas for good reason – that is where the best whiting are biting. The sheer convenience of a raised platform such as a pier cannot be denied, especially one so well-lit at night.

The beaches west of town at Dundowran and Toogoom are also worth a try for keen whiting fishos. Similarly-so, the Booral mudflats are also highly productive in the right conditions. The whiting fishing will be vastly improved as next weekend’s full moon approaches, so don’t be too disheartened if the bite is a little lack lustre during the neaps this weekend.

Dylan with a solid summer whiting

Increasing Variety on Offer at Urangan Pier

Urangan Pier fishos have had more than just whiting to look forward to out there recently. Walking a little further out there have been flathead on offer in the first channel, as well as along the verges of the sandbank both inside and outside.

Out the end, there has been enough school mackerel turning up to keep the mackerel fans happy. Whilst there is still a strong chance of smaller undersized fish, many of the schoolies have been of good size over the past two weeks. Live baits rigged on gangs have been scoring macks, as has the preferred local technique of spinning with Flasha spoons.

Tailor have also made a few appearances and are falling for the same techniques used for the mackerel. You might find even more success by downsizing your spoon or offering an alternative slug if you prefer the tailor, but chances are both species will eat the smaller lures anyway.

Queenfish have made a few random raids on pier waters lately. The whiting are a drawcard for species other than humans it seems. That may be the case, yet a live pike is deemed to be the gun bait for queenies when pencil squid are absent. Alternatively, toss a soft vibe in front of an actively-feeding queenie and your reel will soon be unloading line. Obviously, avoiding mackerel with these lures is encouraged.

Bream fans have been making the most of the last of the winter bream season at the pier. A few large bream have been landed this week, rounding off what has been a fairly average season. Apparently, it has been a season of reasonable numbers, but with very few achieving the one kilo (42cm) benchmark. You can still catch a few bream in coming weeks, at least until the springtime northerly winds dominate our weather.

A nice school size longtail tuna caught off the Urangan Pier

Catch a Feed of Reef Fish Before the Sharks Return

This winter has been a fairly cold one and has slowed the sharks down quite dramatically. It has been great to be able to hook, fight and actually land a quality reef fish inshore or out in the bay without being sharked. Enjoy this scenario whilst it lasts, as our waters will again start to warm and the dreaded noahs will be back.

At the time of writing, our inshore waters are a smidge over 18°C. The bay has an abundance of baitfish compared to the warmer months, but seriously, the biomass is not a shadow of what we used to enjoy in the past.

Where are the masses of large greenback herring inshore? Where are the huge schools of yakkas and sandies that inundate every reef all the way in to the bay islands? Why did the slimies that used to flood into the bay every winter stop coming? How long has it been since we have seen pilchard schools in our bay waters? What about the other baitfish species – some with oversized eyes, some looking like a pilly tampered with a herring, others with oversized gobs? Something has changed, and not for the better.

We have no answers for any of the above – but plenty of suspicions. Perhaps one day someone will be overpaid by a wasteful government to affect a study into such a phenomenon and still not offer real answers. Maybe, one day. Anyway, back to the fishing ….

Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing has been putting clients on to some great fish, like this beautiful snapper

The run of snapper continues throughout the bay, but they are somewhat scattered. As you should know by now, the better tides around the full and new moon produce the better bite from knobbies, so there is little to be missed with mad weather over the neaps if snapper are your target.
As the full moon approaches in a week or so, try the reefs of the western bay off the Burrum.

Night sessions, dawn or dusk are best, as the bigger fish scatter and wander the paddock during bankers’ hours. Make the effort to secure live yakkas, herring, pike and the like and float-line them to your quarry. Otherwise, drift the fringes and hop your latest favourite snapper lolly and enjoy the hook-up and the battle.

Try our other inshore reefs and apply the same techniques and principles. Timing your efforts to coincide with slower-moving waters over the tide turns can be a must in some areas. Look for baitfish and concentrate your efforts where they are most prolific.

Just this week, some inshore hotspots were lousy with baitfish, and others virtually devoid. Sites such as the Outer Banks, Moon Ledge, Sammies, Mickies, the Black Buoy, the Roy Rufus arti and many spots in between are all likely snapper producers at present. Which will be better on the day will depend on the baitfish movements and the snapper that pursue them.

You are likely to encounter school mackerel on many of the above sites, and possibly schools of quite large golden trevally on some. Venture a bit shallower and work the fringes of the bay islands or other current lines and ledges and you can add queenies to the hit list.
Cod and trout are hardly hyperactive inshore this time of year, but a bite can be tempted if you are patient with good timing and accurate presentations. Bait fishos will score better with live baits on hefty tackle.

If you want to catch a giant herring, Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing is the bloke to call. He's had this species dialled for years.

Giant herring (ladyfish) have been featuring in catches in recent weeks. These incredible speedsters are a favourite of the local guides and can be a real handful on light tackle. Known for their blistering speed and high-jumping antics, they are a tremendous sports fish.

Giant herring do not handle well, so take care to release with minimal handling. Look for them around the sandy drop offs and current lines inshore and target them with fast-worked plastics. Average bay fish will be around a metre in length, whilst their smaller brethren can be found up the rivers such as the Burrum or the creeks of the straits.

Giant herring are not to be confused with wolf herring. Wolfies are their ugly cousins, with a nasty set of dentures and the slimiest most horrid skin around (touch one and see – it is like you melted glad wrap). Favoured by spaniard fans up north for bait, they turn up inshore here late winter and are an occasional bycatch at places such as River Heads and Burrum Heads.

Word from Out Wide

Brief spells of decent weather over the past fortnight saw a few crews venture offshore. Jigging for reefies and AJ’s was popular, and a feed of pearlies and snapper seemed almost guaranteed. The 100m line of the shelf is still sharky, so avoiding that depth has kept skippers sane.

Reds continue to feature from the shoal country, as do the plethora of other tropical reef dwellers the Breaksea Spit country is famous for. Large tuskies are still filling ice boxes and adding a tasty bonus and some colour to the bin once you drift beyond the reefs.

If you're looking at getting into some reef action, get in touch with Bobby from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.

Scarlets of all sizes can be found in the northern bay. Some stonkers have been caught recently, typically on quite boring-looking bottom out in the paddock. Some know how to work these vast paddocks and know when likely crab, prawn or baitfish movements will draw the scarlets, others just trip over them by accident and revel in the success.

The same goes for reds, with the northern bay giving up a better run of red emperor this winter than recent years. It will get a lot harder to land them soon, as the sharks will be back, so make the most of any good weather.

The sharks are already starting to make life difficult on the Gutters once again, but not everyone is being taxed. Enough trout, sweeties, snapper and other reefies are coming over the side to warrant the effort on a good day. Trevally are still thick, and are often joined by small amberjack to pull the kinks out of your leader between bites from reefies.

It will be interesting to see if sailfish turn up in any numbers this season. They are pretty much due right now, in the waters north of Fraser. Areas such as the 13 Mile, the paddock west of the lightship and the (now green-zoned) channel around the top of the bar used to see veritable wolf packs of sails attack the spreads of the few game boats fishing the area back in the day. Are they no longer a thing?

Marlin fans will be soon dusting off their light tackle gear for a crack at Hervey Bay’s famous little blacks. Most will wait for the grapevine to give away their arrival in the bay, whilst others will sneak over the bar or a little further north and pin a few in advance.

A nice grassy caught with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Springtime Excites the Estuary Fishos

Those enjoying the late winter run of whiting, flathead and blue salmon can continue to do so. They can also turn their attention to other estuarine species in coming weeks, be it on the local flats, up the creeks or the rivers.

Threadfin salmon will become more active as our waters warm. They will be quite challenging initially, but will ramp up. Their cooler water loving cousins, the blue salmon are in full swing right now. Expect to find schools of quite large blues terrorising the baitfish of the flats in coming weeks.

There's been plenty of tailor inshore, just make sure you give them a measure as you'll encounter plenty of undersize ones in the mix.

Grunter are still being caught out in the bay, but they will be increasingly common in our creeks from now on. Hop little plastics or small soft vibes over gravelly bottom or sit back with baits and wait for the run. They are a favoured target species for many locals, offering great sport and a terrific feed.

Flathead fans should make the most of the coming weeks. They are in full spawn mode and will be done doing their thing by mid-spring. Letting the big girls go and good handling practices will help to replenish this fishery in the future.

We wouldn’t normally be speaking of prawns this time of year, but 2022 has been a different one. There are still good hauls of quality banana prawn being netted from the Mary and Susan River systems. The Burrum locals will know where and when to hunt them down up their way as well.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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