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Weekly Fishing Report - 20th January 2022

Melissa with a nice pan size grassy, caught whilst fishing the inshore reefs.

Southeasterly Wind This Week

Plenty of boaties headed out and enjoyed the lighter winds last week. Some had a ball and scored some top-quality fish, whilst many others failed miserably. Looking forward, the weather forecast is less appealing this weekend unfortunately, as a stiff southeasterly wind builds in strength from tonight onwards.

We can expect at least 25 knots of southeasterly tomorrow, with even stronger wind to warning strength offshore. Saturday will see the wind abate a little, but maintain an average of 20 knots from the same direction. Come Sunday, the wind will ease further, though it is still likely to average 15 knots or so.

It looks as though the southeaster is settling in for the whole of the working week. Expect an average of around 15 knots, reaching up to 20 knots at times. We might see a few showers today or tomorrow, but the remainder of the week ahead should be rain-free.

The moon is waning this week, behind the passing of last Tuesday’s full moon. Diminishing tidal flow as the tides neap is hardly inspiring, though in the prevailing conditions inshore, with so much dirty water around, there should be some pleasant surprises for those that head out for a look.

Luke with another grassy for the table.

Good Catches Possible from Dirty Inshore Waters

Whilst many failed to worry the scorers inshore last week, there were quite a few locals that picked up a good feed of reefies and displaced estuarine species. Timing can be everything, and a little luck goes a long way in this game.

The dirty water demarcation line this week has been laterally across the top of the banks, from the Fairway to Coongul. However, the flood tides have pushed back against the dirty water along the inside of Fraser, so this line might be closer to Moon Point by the time you read this.

There is still a lot of floating debris to be mindful of. This issue is not limited to inshore waters either, with large logs and all sorts of crap reported way up in the northern bay. More dangerous than the floating objects are those submerged barely below the surface. Keep a good eye out and avoid traveling at night for the time being.

A solid stump that washed up at Torquay Beach on Tuesday.

We’ve had reports of quality grunter from all over the bay, as well as down the straits. Grunter turned up along some stretches of shallow reef fringing the bay islands and Pt Vernon. They were also active along the deeper drop-offs along the western shore of Fraser Island down the straits, as well in the local shipping channels.

We haven’t heard from anyone looking for them outside the Burrum system, but wouldn’t be surprised to hear of good grunter off the drop off or out at the 8 Mile or Fairway. The Woodgate artificial reef could also be worth a crack. These fish are often a better target over the bigger tides, but like many other species displaced from our estuaries, they will take advantage of the abundance of prey courtesy of the floods and fatten up whilst they can.

A few large squire and plenty of grass sweetlip have been feeding along the drop offs and in the channels east of Woody Island. The sharks have been atrocious in the deeper water, so suss out the shallow fringes if you cannot beat them. There are still a few trout, cod and blackall along the edges of the shallow reefs beneath the dirty water.

Kealen with a trout caught on a Nomad Vertrex soft vibe.

For those unfamiliar with fishing our inshore waters post-flood, you might find the crazy variations in current a little perplexing. Picture a flood tide flowing in from the north whilst the remnant flood flows continue to push up from the Mary. In essence, you end up with one current sweeping over another.

Those drifting and deploying plastics will notice weird angles in the line, whilst those anchoring will find they yaw off line one way or the other depending upon the current at the time. It can be a little frustrating at times, particularly given how accurate you need to be with your presentations to score reef dwellers in our shipping channels. These twisted currents will be an issue for a little while yet, but mostly only in the waters from about Wanggoolba-Shoulder Point to The Outer Banks-Coongul.

The current lines formed by the collision of the varying currents will remain for some time. Suss out these current lines for select species that will forage beneath. This can include snapper, trevally, mackerel and queenfish in time, and right now might even include the odd triple-tail cod.
Quality mangrove jacks are a very real possibility from our inshore reefs at present. They can be caught live baiting, or otherwise you can try hopping large plastics or vibes in the vicinity of some of the gnarlier inshore reefs. Unfortunately, the sharks will make short work of far too many jacks in the deeper waters, so don’t be a fool and waste these cool fish if there are sharks about.

Trollers are struggling a little bit in some areas, mainly due to the amount of debris on the surface as well as beneath. The debris comes and goes with the tides and currents, so selecting likely ledges or reef patches to troll near is still possible. As many that headed out last week can attest, there can be debris and filthy water in an area at one time, and cleaner greener water in the same area some hours later.

Good Feed of Reef Fish from Wider Grounds

Whilst the weather will keep most vessels inshore this week, it is worth mentioning a few reports from those that headed north chasing a feed of reef fish last weekend. Many scored a great feed, and quality fish too, but as always, many others attempted to extract fish from shark-filled waters and paid the price.

By most accounts, the Gutters was heavily shark-infested and particularly hard to extract a feed from for most, though a few fish were swung over the side from the more isolated patches in the area. Fish such as trout, grass sweetlip, scarlets, jacks and cod featured from that area, but the damage done by the noahs makes this area questionable at best these days.

Staff member Logan with a solid red caught on a Nomad Vertrex vibe. His decky Pitbull had to settle for a trout.

Heading further out and wider, some crews did very well, with quality reefies adorning their eskies for the ride back to Urangan. These crews stayed this side of the bar due to the swell offshore, but that paid dividends on the great tides a few days before the full moon.

There were some ripper red emperor caught, along with the odd snapper, some quality scarlets, good coral trout, tuskies and cranky old reef jacks. Not nearly as glamourous, yet often still brought home these days, were some thumping big blackall, spangled emperor and grass sweetlip. Little box fillers such as the super-tasty hussar and their less-appealing cousins the moses perch and stripies were also abundant and keen to feed. Happily, the sharks weren’t a problem everywhere.

Brett Bartlett with an estimated 16-18kg red emperor, a sensational catch that was released to fight another day.

Robert Fox with a solid Nanny caught on a plastic.

Scarlet sea perch were on the chew up in Platypus Bay prior to the full moon. Large grunter also bit well after dark in some locales. Squire, the odd trout and an occasional cod made it past the sharks, but the shark issue is very serious up that way at present.

Pelagic Scene in a State of Flux

It seems we still have the odd baby black marlin cruising through the waters north of the bay, though of course the bulk of their biomass has migrated well south for the summer. All the same, this time of year it might just pay to have a suitable spin outfit handy should a straggler beakie front up boat-side.

Scott with a juvenile black marlin plucked from a school that they originally thought was a school of spotties.

Apparently, longtail tuna are a bit hard to find in the bay at present. There are plenty of mack tuna out there for those that need a tuna fix. As stated last week, this year’s spotted mackerel season has been fairly dismal. Having said that, there were crews that found schools of surface-feeding spotties out in the central bay last week.

Golden trevally can be found outside the dirty water line north of the banks, and are also a distinct possibility beneath the current line itself. Drop jigs, softies or vibes to any large arches making on the sounder and there is a good chance you will soon be doing battle with a goldie. Beware the sharks around the bigger schools of trevally. Anywhere in the 6 Mile-Outer Banks region is pretty risky.

Reports of spaniards outside the dirty water line continued into last week. Smaller fish in the 6-10kg range were most common. It sounds as though there will be a blanket closure on spanish mackerel next July, though at this stage, the news is a little sketchy, so we will report on that issue in a future report.

Mandy with a cobia from a recent trip.

Grunter and Sharks from Our Beaches

Beach fishos plying the town waters have had a little joy this week, with some very nice grunter taking yabby and prawn baits. The filthy brown water certainly doesn’t look very appealing if you are planning on a swim, but for the predatory species dislodged from the rivers, this offers prime feeding conditions.

Reports of baitfish showering in their bid to escape unseen predators have been relayed some days, suggesting that there might be a few pelagics or even salmon joining the grunter for a feed. Night sessions will favour the grunter hunter, though they are still a possibility during a rising tide in daylight, particularly for those using small lures.

Small sharks are making an absolute nuisance of themselves along our foreshores. These are very likely some of the masses of small sharks so many bait-fishing locals have been ranting and raving about in the creeks down the straits and in the Mary/Susan system in recent months.

The Urangan Pier is quiet by most accounts. The dirty water has put off a lot of the regulars. Chances are that jewies will take up residence at some stage in the near future if they haven’t already done so. Night time forays will be required to get the best of the jewies this time of year.

Our reel repairer Mark enjoyed a few days a Lake Callide chasing barra and yellas.

Monduran Barra Action Hot and Cold

After an incredible spring barra season at Lake Monduran, the lake rose from 34-46% (or a little over 2 metres) from locally heavy falls in its catchment two moons ago. As the verging grasses and bushland was inundated, the barra became a little hard to tempt, and in some areas, even track down.

The rise in water level broke down the thermocline and the barra (and bass) were less-concentrated. The full moon a month ago saw the thermocline resurrected and a resultant resurgence in barra activity, and they have been much more consistent ever since.

Monduran fished well around the full moon.

A lot of folks were put off by the likely de-oxygenation of the lake’s margins due to rotting weed. If this phenomenon did take place, then it was hardly noticeable, with the lake’s fringes now thick in weed, both aquatic and terrestrial. In many areas, the barra have taken to hunting within the weed and along its fringes, adding another string to the lake’s bow of potential barra habitats.

The bigger barra are now vastly more likely to intercept surface lures than they were before the rise. Frogs burned or slowly worked amongst the weed and lily pads have been accounting for some ripper fish, as have poppers and fizzers. The catties are a little too keen on the poppers in some places, so try fizzers or stickbaits for your topwater fix if the catties favour the same areas as you.

The Molix Shad 140 continues to produce the goods.

Not all the barra are up in the shallow fringes of course, with even bigger numbers still mooching about in the regular 2-5 metre depths. The lake’s core temperature is right up there and for this reason it is now very common to find barra within a couple of metres of the surface in some of the deeper waters of the lake. The fringes of the river course are a great place to start for those seeking these suspended fish.

This week’s weather forecast is hardly encouraging for those thinking about chasing Mondy barra, but with the saltwater season less than two weeks away, we would assume that there will still be quite a few boats heading up there to try their luck.

Good luck out there y’all.

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