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Weekly Fishing Report - 20th February 2020

Cooler Southeasterly Change On The Way

After another very hot and humid week, we can now look forward to a cooler southeasterly change that is forecast to move through our area this evening. Winds will stiffen a bit for a few days, primarily from the east-southeast, with the likelihood of showers.

Whilst this weekend might be a bit breezy, the weather gurus are saying light winds will dominate much of the working week, with the chance of showers and storms some days. Their predictions were a bit off for the week just gone so let’s see how the next week shapes up.

Tides are building over the next few days as we approach the new moon on Monday. Not huge tides compared to the recent full moon, but still ample to get a range of species on the move.

Rivers Running Fresh

Run off from recent rains has come down our river systems and made its way out into the straits and the bay. Minor flood warnings for the Mary and Burrum river catchments have been lifted and the river levels have settled. Our rivers, and many of our larger creeks, are still running quite fresh, so concentrate your fishing and crabbing efforts in the lower reaches where the saltwater influence is greatest.

One critter that has been on the move courtesy of the fresh is the mud crab. Good reports have filtered in from many local estuaries. The lower reaches of the Burrum system has been fruitful, though it is often the pots set in the deeper waters that are producing the best hauls. The sight of 20 crab pot floats in Buxton Hole alone is a bit of a dead giveaway, though crabbers working channels from the mouth of the Cherwell to the heads seem to be scoring.

Beelbi Creek and Eli Creek have been crabbing well since the fresh. Again, the lower reaches and feeder channels off the flats are giving up the better crab. The Susan River and Bengstons Creek are worth a try in the lower reaches and the big gutters around River Heads are also producing.

Given the intense crabbing effort in the lower reaches of the rivers it might pay to consider the vast expanses of the Great Sandy Straits. Numerous creeks, channels and large mudflats offer a plethora of crabbing opportunities with a much greater chance of finding a stretch of water all to yourself.

Great Sandy Straits Stained But Prime For Fishing

With such a fresh in the rivers, the River Heads area has been a focal point for many fishos chasing barra and threadies. The rocky verges of South Head and the swirling currents of North Head have produced a few decent sessions for those that timed their assault just right.

The nearby big gutters of China Bight, Burtenshaw Gutter, Prawn Gutter and the Shell Gutter will see numbers of both species move through these areas at times and can be very productive in times of minor flooding. As the run off recedes and the saltwater pushes back in in coming weeks these areas will be well worth a look.

Those venturing down the straits and over to Fraser’s western shores will encounter barra and threadies in better numbers at present. Many of the smaller creek systems clean up quicker and are flushed daily with saltier waters from the nearby straits.

Grunter will move out of the creeks when they are too dirty, but can be found out in the deeper channels at times or up on the flats as the tide floods in. Strongly scented soft plastics such as GULPs work well in the stained waters, though other softies emitting strong vibrations will also work well.

Jewfish, cod and jacks will all feast on the masses of baitfish flushed out of the local creeks. You will often find these species along the many ledges and drop offs along the inside of Fraser during post-rain periods like this. Threadies will be seen tearing into baitfish and small prawn around the creek mouths and the odd school of queenies or small GTs will rip into baitfish flushed out into the open.

Shallow Reefs Fish Well Over Bigger Tides

The bigger new moon tides should see good catches from our shallow reefs. The Pt Vernon / Gatakers Bay area is likely to continue to produce a few coral trout, grass sweetlip, blackall and grunter. Getting there super early and fishing around dawn is likely to pay dividends as these shallow reefs can be quiet during the middle of the day when it is this hot.

You can troll for the trout with diving lures early in the morning till the sun gets a bit too high. Trolling quickly usually produces the best response from the trout, but it might pay to do a few slower passes as cod numbers often swell on these reefs after rain. There is also the chance of scoring a barra, or even a big jack whilst slow trolling this area this time of year.

Torquay and Scarness Reefs get very little boat pressure at all. Being barely off the beach they are typically overlooked in favour of other spots further out. Occasionally these reefs become quite productive, and with such numbers of hardiheads and other baitfish schooled along our town beaches that time might be right now.

These little reefs offer great opportunities for kayakers or those in small vessels with a nervous crew to tangle with the likes of sweetlip, trout, cod, mackerel and at times (like now) grunter or squire. Large sharks are rarely an issue in these areas, or over our shallow reefs in general, though smaller versions offer a bit of fun or a feed for those that like that sort of thing.

The fringing reefs of the bay islands will offer similar opportunities for those that rise early and are willing to move about to locate the fish. Berley can work, but can also attracts a lot of vermin during the daylight. Dirty water from the Mary system will have a negative impact on some areas and some species, but the coloured water carries lots of forage and offers some comfort for fish easily spooked in the clear shallows. Expect trout, cod, sweetlip, blackall, blueys or grunter depending upon location, bait or technique.

Sharks A Major Hassle For Reef Fishos

Reef fishos vying for a feed inshore have struggled to beat the sharks lately. Shark numbers around the reefs in the deeper waters of our shipping channels have seemingly increased, or perhaps their aggressive nature has peaked due to the intense heat. Keep this in mind when fishing inshore grounds and keep moving whenever they track you down.

If you can manage to avoid the sharks then you should find plenty of sweetlip on the chew when using dead baits on the bottom. Floatline similar baits, in particular whole squid or fish, and you are a chance of pulling the odd out-of-season squire or even a few scarlets.

Live baiting for trout and cod is worth a try over the turn of tide, but again, only if the sharks leave you alone. Keeping in mind that the dirty fresh water floats over the top of the saltier stuff (with some mixing in shallower waters) you should not be surprised to find reef fish in numbers inshore right now.

Those that ventured out wider this past week found that the sharks were insatiable in numerous areas. Good trout can be found out at the Gutters but finding a spot not shadowed by sharks has become increasingly difficult. Some have simply given up on the ledges and now focus on the flat country for a feed of sweetlip and parrot etc.

We haven’t heard much from offshore apart from a crew that battled with sharks till they stumbled over an area over the shelf that produced a good haul of pearlies, jobbies and snapper on deep dropping tackle.

Lenthalls Full & Overflowing

Recent rains in the catchment for Lake Lenthalls saw it rise from 58% capacity to well over 100% in just a week. Word from Rob the ranger out there reveals that about 250mm of water went over the wall with all five gates open for a brief period. The waters have settled back to normal containment levels, with only small inflows from feeder streams at present.

Dirty water in recent years has been bad news for Lenthalls fishos. Disturbed earth from earthworks and roadworks in past years were likely contributors to excessive sediment levels, with subsequent periods of inactivity from the lake’s fish.

That situation may not eventuate this year. It seems that the majority of the dirtiest water from recent run off washed straight through and over the wall, leaving dirty, but reasonable waters in its wake. How the fish react will be reported in coming weeks as we get some feedback from Rob or local fishos once they head back out for a look.

Till the water flowed over there were stacks of barra in the 60’s being caught by all and sundry, with a few better models in the 80+ range turning up at times. Bass fishos were also scoring quite well, and those bass fishos that favoured trolling often encountered some of the biggest of the barra as bycatch.

Mondy Barra Still Biting Well

Lake Monduran has been fishing well again. The shallow margins of the lake have been producing good fish on suspending hardbodies and paddle-tailed plastics. Many fish have been biting in water barely a metre deep at times, suggesting that topwater lures might well be worth a try.

It is not just the shallows that are firing either, with plenty of barra still lurking amongst the tree tops and branches of the bigger trees lining the original water courses. Twitching and stalling suspending hardbodies will stir these fish up, as will slow-rolling floating models through the timber.

Trollers are really enjoying the fishery at present. The main basin, Bird Bay and the entrance to ‘B’ Bay are just a few of the areas that have been consistent. Fish to a metre have been caught from ‘B’ which is great to hear, whilst the majority of the fish caught on the troll have been of better size in the 80’s and 90’s.

Old school regulars on the barra trolling scene are again drawing the strikes, with 3m+ RMG’s and Barra Classics doing the most damage. These super noisy hardbodies have been renowned for this purpose for eons, but there is nothing to say that some of the flashy new-age lures with reasonable diving capabilities cannot produce the same.

Good luck out there y’all.

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