Ever-Reliable Ekka Westerlies
Westerly and northerly winds dominated our weather over the past week, leaving the bay too messy for boaties most days. There was the odd day where winds were light enough for local sojourns and a glass-out Tuesday morning, but generally speaking it was a tough week all-round.
Expect a few more days of westerly winds that will see out the weekend and result in another cold snap from Sunday. By mid-week, the wind will turn onshore, but unfortunately it is forecast to ramp up to somewhere around 20 knots from the southeast for the latter part of the week.
Tides are quite large right now, courtesy of yesterday’s new moon. There has been a lot of water moved over the past few days and the fishing is on the cusp of changing, so it’s time to start thinking of springtime options and looking forward to warmer conditions.
Westerly Winds Hamper Snapper Fishing Inshore
The opening of the snapper season occurred at a time dominated by the abovementioned westerly winds locally, which has effectively diminished fishing opportunities and could almost be seen as mother nature extending the closure. The snapper are out there, scattered across much of the bay, but getting to them during conditions that will encourage them to bite has been nigh on impossible this week.
Our inshore snapper typically don’t bite well during periods of offshore (westerly) winds. It is a different story out wider though, with southwesterlies seeing snapper at places such as the Gutters and Rooneys areas biting quite well. If you can get out during periods of lighter winds over the coming days, then try the abovementioned areas, the 25 Fathom Hole, or the reefs off Station Hill or Wathumba.
Once the wind turns back onshore, you can try the inshore hotspots such as the Roy Rufus arti, Moon Ledge, the Burrum 8 Mile and the Outer Banks for snapper. Best success will come from areas carrying larger volumes of baitfish, with evening bites typically best this time of year.
Whilst snapper will be the primary inshore target species, there will be a few somewhat lethargic coral trout and cod on offer, and perhaps the odd sweetlip. Sweeties are hardly common this time of year, but those that you do catch are typically quite large. Blackall will be abundant for those that like these hard-pulling reefies, and don’t be surprised if you score a couple of scarlets.
School mackerel numbers are on the increase inshore. Undersized fish are common, though enough decent schoolies are about to make the effort of chasing them worthwhile. They can be found anywhere from Woodgate to the central Great Sandy Straits, with places like the Fairway, Outer Banks, Gatakers Bay, River Heads, Mickies and Christies Gutter all worth a look.
Latest from Offshore
Only the bigger boats made their way over the Breaksea Spit this week due to the weather. Professional game boats found small black marlin east of the bar. No bycatch was reported at all from the marlin grounds, though spanish mackerel, cobia and green jobbies can be found hovering above reefs up on the Shoals.
Poor water quality down south of Sandy Cape due to the westerlies has limited the billfishing opportunities in that area, but a decent blow from the southeast should soon rectify that situation. In the meantime, when the weather allows it will be worth a look outside the 13 Mile bar crossing in coming weeks for black marlin and sailfish.
Snapper and pearl perch were on the chew offshore for limited periods. As any regular offshore fisho will attest, these species tend to bite well over certain stages of the moon and can be a non-event when conditions aren’t quite right. The best pearlies come from out along the shelf line (or deeper for those with electric reels), though you can expect to score a few pearlies in depths as little as 40 metres this time of year.
The snapper offshore school up along the shelf line in 100 metres of water and will rise to mid-water in that depth at times. Slow-pitch jigs are a great option when targeting them in those depths, as are large soft plastics. Watch your sounder and target the fish at the depths at which they are holding. Various jobfishes and big angry amberjack can also get in on the action along the shelf. The sharks can be atrocious in some areas, so be prepared to do the miles if they find you.
Snapper can also be found on some hangs in close to Fraser Island or the bar during the evening for those opting to stay outside during light westerly winds. After a reprieve from angler effort of late, the fishing over the shoal country offshore should be great. Maori cod, coronation trout, scarlets, parrot, red-throat, green jobbies, hussar and many other reefies will all be on offer. We just need the weather to improve.
Great Sandy Straits Popular This Time of Year
The big tides building to yesterday’s new moon saw plenty of action for those venturing down the straits. Success was not enjoyed by all, but many found the fishing quite good in the right areas. Barra and threadies reacted to the warmer conditions over the bottom of the tide, but only in some cases, as it seems some fishos were able to scan up a few fish without tempting them to bite.
Grunter were certainly more willing targets and bit quite well throughout the creeks and over rubbly country out in the feeder channels. An influx of grunter into our rivers and creeks over recent weeks has seen them regularly taking baits such as yabbies, small herring, prawns or small squid.
The larger grunter (and the smaller ones unfortunately), just love a small soft plastic hopped slowly along the bottom. They will also scoff a soft vibe, but it can be quite annoying trying to remove treble-armed vibes from their small mouths if you plan on releasing them.
Whiting fishos anchored up along the mangrove line at high tide will often get a screaming run from grunter as they mooch along looking for a feed. If this hasn’t happened to you before, then don’t panic when your line takes off and you will easily land them on the light gear.
There have been a few flatties about in the little creeks down the straits. It is still concerning just how few fish have been spotted in the usual easily-accessed haunts locally though, so let’s continue to hope that their numbers improve as the spawn gains momentum.
Juvenile school mackerel have been an absolute nuisance down the straits of late. Be it up on the flats or even up in the creeks, these toothy little beggars are snipping off all manner of baits and lures frequently. In some areas, they are such a regular issue that it actually pays to slowly wind your lure back up from the bottom so as not to attract their attention. Of course, shore-based anglers out at River Heads are revelling in the action from schoolies spun up off the stones, with enough legal models to make the effort worthwhile.
Sand Whiting Biting
The big new moon tides have brought on the local sand whiting, which have been very active locally and down the straits. Boaties have scored their bag limits of quality whiting from the local flats and also from up inside the creeks dotted along both sides of the straits.
Brown algae has been a real issue in many areas however, so have a Plan B if your chosen location is inundated with too much of this snotty brown stuff. For those unfamiliar with this alga, it is an annual phenomenon, where-in the algae that has grown on rocks and hard bottom in our creeks over winter breaks away. This event seems to be triggered by the westerly winds and gains momentum as our waters warm. It will dissipate in time, but for now this water-borne nuisance will ebb and flow with the tides and winds.
Even those fishos not actively looking for whiting have been regularly sighting good quality whiting up on the flats and over the rocky shallow fringes of the bay islands. Perhaps you could try a little finesse angling with small poppers or mini stickbaits over these waters for a bit of fun with the ‘ting. Of course, there are still numbers of bream mooching about in the same shallow margins and they too will take a liking to the same topwater offerings.
As anticipated, the local north-facing town beaches fired during the recent spell of northerlies. The whiting came in on que to feed in the stirred-up shallows over the big tides and provided a great feed and a ton of fun for many.
The Torquay and Urangan beaches produced good bags of fish for those who don’t mind a bit of sand between the toes, whilst the first section of the Urangan Pier has been particularly popular for those favouring an elevated platform. Night sessions have produced the best numbers, including bag limits for some, though a feed can be scored during the daylight as well.
Expect the whiting bite to taper off as the tides fall away. Less tidal movement means less forage opportunity. Fear not however, as they will be back once the full moon approaches and the tides build again. Northerly winds will become more common from now on and whiting would typically be a common catch from local beaches and the pier over the next couple of months.
Weed Inundates Fraser Island’s Ocean Beach
News from fishos over on Fraser Island is not good this week. The dreaded weed has inundated much of the beach and has made fishing nigh on impossible in many areas. The great gutters formed along much of the beach that would normally see keen tailor fishos lining up are full of weed and too frustrating to fish.
We can only hope that a change in weather will see the weed washed away offshore at some stage very soon as we are about to kick off the serious part of the annual tailor season. Apart from this disappointing news, the only comments we’ve heard this week is of giant trevally and spanish mackerel sighted free-swimming off Indian Head.
Before anyone gets too exciting about the prospect of drone-baiting or slide-baiting the headlands for these apex predators, we should mention that the annual fishing closure is in place right now. From 1st August to 30th September each year, the taking of fin fish is prohibited from the waters from 400m north of Waddy Point to 400m south of Indian Head and 400m to seaward from the low tide mark.
Whilst on the subject of Fraser Island surf fishing, we struggle to get reliable reports on a regular basis, so anyone venturing over to the island, or working on the island, that wishes to contribute to our weekly fishing reports is welcome to do so. Simply drop us a line on 07 4128 1022 or email your reports and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck out there y’all.