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Weekly Fishing Report - 20th October 2022

 

Showy Hoy with a nice saltwater barra, caught on his lucky silver spoon

Wet & Wild Weekend then Bring the Heat

We hope you all got to enjoy last weekend’s good weather or perhaps slipped out between showers during the week. Unfortunately, as you would all be aware, our weather is about to turn foul and get very damp for the next few days.

The onshore northeaster will bring showers, rain and possibly severe storms to much of the Qld coast and inland districts and we won’t be dodging this system. As the trough approaches and crosses our coastline Friday through Saturday, we can expect quite heavy falls of rain and moderate winds from the northeast (15-20 knots perhaps).

Sunday is likely to dawn wet too. The wind will swing to the south and strengthen initially as the trough moves offshore and turns into a weak low-pressure system. We might normally expect lighter winds from the south or west following such an event, but not this time, as the big low tormenting the southern states draws energy from the Qld coastal districts and northerly winds are re-invigorated locally.


Another nice coral trout hits the deck for Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters


At this stage, we are likely to see a continuation of showers and storms in some form for the start of the working week. Hopefully, this precipitation will be limited to the late afternoons and an opportunity for a fish might present itself for the early-risers.

Northerly winds are likely to dominate the remainder of the working week too, with a bit of heat brought on by the humid northwesters we typically either love or hate this time of year. Finally, some warmth to get our spring and summer species a bit more active. This has to have been the mildest spring for years, and the wettest too, with every reason to believe the weather gurus and their forecasts of an early start to our wet season this year.

For those of you enjoying your first spring in the district, be wary of the thunder storms that build in the west. They can be quite slow-moving as you watch them on the radar building throughout the day, and then they seemingly pick up pace as they approach the coast. Don’t get caught out in open waters and be storm-ready no matter where you fish.

Tides-wise, the moon continues to wane as we approach Tuesday’s new moon. The tides are currently building and will peak with about 3 metres of tidal flow in coming days. Not bad tides for the shallow reefs, or for chasing pelagics (including marlin) or a trip down the straits – if only the weather gave us a break.

Time is Running Out – Have Your Say!

Use the downtime during the bad weather to have your say regarding the proposed changes to the Great Sandy Marine Park. There are many changes that will affect you, how and where you can fish.

You may agree with some proposals and disagree with others, or you may believe there are other conservation issues that have not been considered. Whatever your take and your personal views – now is your one and only chance to have them heard.

Oh, and if you find the standard government survey format daunting or too limited, then have your say by way of a direct email to the marine park managers. Your voice will be heard even louder in this instance.

You only have until the 23rd October to have your say. Don’t miss out. This affects you and the future of your fisheries and marine park.




Marlin Fishery Hampered by Weather

The great weather last weekend saw a virtual flotilla of boats up the island chasing baby blacks. Most failed to raise fish, and by the sounds of it, only small numbers were landed. The neap tides and cooler-than-should-be water can be used as excuses, as can the crazy amount of traffic in the focal point off Station Hill.

A quick check of Sea Surface Temperature charts will show you the dramatically warmer waters to our north, and the cooler pocket of water in northern Hervey Bay. The marlin are likely to follow the warm currents southward, and until the status quo changes and the sun comes out and warms our waters, many of these billies might just cruise by offshore.

Having said this, the impending new moon typically sees a peak in billfish activity. Chances are that only the bigger boats and the hardiest skippers and crews will brave the conditions out on the bay or offshore. We are aware of charter operators booked to fish offshore over the next few days, so it will be interesting to see how they go.

Once the weather settles and the northerlies ease, those chasing marlin can head back up to the northern bay with improved confidence. The spate of northerly wind this week is just what we need to push that warmer water down from up north and hopefully good numbers of marlin are hitching a ride south.

We are told that there are swags of bonito and small mack tuna in the northern bay at present. The bonito are prime marlin tucker and a major drawcard for fish swimming into Platypus Bay.

The heavy tackle fishery for big blue marlin, stripes and blacks offshore kicks up a notch at this time. Improved weather will enable the keen local crews to get out and test the waters off Breaksea Spit, Sandy Cape and Waddy Point in coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates as we get a handle on this fishery from vessels first on the scene.


Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters with a nice little juvenile marlin caught on a Pakula skirt we rigged up in-store.

Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure 22 – 26 October

It will probably be of little consequence this year due to the prevailing weather, but you should be aware that the first of our two Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures starts this weekend. Commencing at midnight on Friday night 21st October and concluding at midnight on Wednesday 26th October, fish species governed by Qld’s Coral Reef Fin Fish Plan cannot be taken.

This closure applies to waters north of Latitude 24°50’ south. Basically, draw a line from a little south of Bargara to a little north of Station Hill on Fraser and then to seaward, and you cannot target coral reef fin fish north of that line during the closure.

You can still catch and keep the same species south of that line, but do not be tempted to cross that line with those fish on board. You won’t be able to talk your way out of the fine, no matter where you caught the fish.


Damo with a solid day time reef jack, nice fish mate!

It is ever-concerning that our government has found it necessary to protect our reef fish in the waters to our north, yet for some unexplained reason, the very same species found south of the abovementioned latitude are not afforded the same protection.

This measure was put in place to enable these species to spawn in peace over the new moon each year. So why is the same protection not applicable to the very same species in our waters and waters to our south? These very fish are in lesser numbers in our waters when compared to further north, yet subject to even greater pressure during key breeding periods.

The next gazetted closure for Coral Reef Fin Fish is 21st November to 25th November 2022, inclusive, so keep this in mind if planning reef fishing trips next month.


Damo with a solid coral trout caught on a prawn plastic. The Zerek Live Shrimp & Samaki Live Shrimp would have to be two of the most effective trout lures out there. When rigged on a suitable 1 to 2oz jig head they can be comfortably fished in 30-50m of water.

Inshore Reef Fishing Options are Limited

The building tides in coming days might offer the right flow for inshore reef fishos to have a crack at our shallow reef fish, but the weather gods have other ideas. If you chance a break in the northerly, the rain and swell, then have a crack, but at this stage it looks like it might be an opportunity lost.

What you might catch includes coral trout, cod, grass sweetlip and grunter. Trollers probably stand the greatest chance of a quick early morning troll if they dare, and may well be rewarded, but few would bother when the conditions deteriorate.

We have heard that the sweeties are starting to turn up in some numbers along the fringes of our shallow reef systems. Something to look forward to there for those that like the taste and scrappy fight of grassy sweetlip.


A nice cod caught with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

More Freshwater Flows for the Mary

The weather forecast suggests that the Mary River catchment will receive fairly substantial falls in coming days. Not major flooding thankfully, but certainly enough to run-off the already soaked earth and add to the current flow of surplus freshwater down the river.

The Mary is basically freshwater all the way down to the Brothers Islands at present. For this reason, the lower reaches have been the target area for anyone chasing threadies, barra and other estuarine predators.

The many creeks and channels of the Great Sandy Straits offer vastly better opportunities for those seeking barra, threadies, blues and grunter, with salty creeks and plenty of baitfish in the right waters.

Flathead are still a good target down the straits and along the inside of Fraser, if you can get to them. Whiting fishos have enjoyed what might prove to be the best of their season for the flats, but the big tides will still create opportunity for whiting fans to scope out the skinny waters for their favourite delicacies between spells of inclement weather.

Mangrove jack fans would normally be gearing up and heading for the backwaters of Fraser’s western creeks this time of year and over tides such as right now to boot. The cooler, cloudy and ultimately wet weather might delay those activities a tad but the rise in temperature next week is certainly worth noting.


Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters, getting clients on to some nice lipper.

Burrum Barra and Jacks

The Burrum system’s jacks have been on the chew recently. Not intensely, as can be expected in cooler conditions, but their hunger has spurred them into action all the same. These four rivers offer literally hundreds of potential jack hangouts and could see you targeting rock bars, overhangs, logs, bank slips and man-made structures all in one session.

Smaller 3-4 inch paddle-tailed plastics, prawn imitations and tight-shimmying hardbodies all have the runs on the board for the local jack populations. Once the warmer weather finally arrives, you can add topwater options to that list and really get the adrenalin pumping.

The barra have been on the chew up that way and some crews and solo fishos are scoring quite good numbers some days. The water conditions vary as you travel and so does the condition and enthusiasm of the fish.

The waters in the upper reaches are somewhat nasty and devoid of any significant baitfish. There are carcasses of dead bass floating on the surface, all victim of the salty waters and their inability to return upstream after flooding. Unfortunately, the masses of mongrel tilapia seen milling about amongst the snags seem healthy and happy.

Barra that suffered injuries from their misadventures during summer and autumn flooding events can be found in these waters. Perhaps they are still in a weakened state, evidenced by their lack of fight. They have already copped a bit of a flogging this season and are a little lure-shy in many cases.

Better to track down the fish in the mid reaches that are healthier and more inclined to survive encounters with catch and release fishos. These fish are vastly more active too and subsequently easier to tempt.

You can hunt barra around the snags and rock bars, but schooling fish also hold station for periods behind sandy drop-offs and along steep banks with overhanging mangroves. Armed with a mix of soft vibes, paddle tails, prawn imitations and suspending hardbodies, a fisho chasing barra will soon enjoy success.

You only have another 10 days in which to scratch your salty barra itch by the way, so make the most of your opportunities in the coming week or so. Inclement weather can often excite barra too, so this fishery might offer one highlight in an otherwise miserable week.


Staff member Dylan loves chasing jacks and barra

Lake Monduran Family Fishing Classic on Again

The annual Lake Monduran Family Fishing Classic is on again this weekend. The weather is hardly ideal but there might be some interesting results if competing anglers can handle the inclement weather and persist when the downpours arrive.

Those familiar with Mondy barra in major rain events will be all too aware of their tendency to feed voraciously at times. This activity is reliant on warm enough water temperatures to maintain their metabolisms and enthusiasm, so that factor alone might be the telling factor during this fishing comp.

Cloudy skies and cooler conditions have prevailed far too consistently this spring, so barra activity has been somewhat diminished when compared with better seasons. Yet there has still been plenty of highlights and good fish being caught quite regularly all the same. At least the nights are warmer nowadays, and this is a major contributor to barra comfort and fervour.

Consistent wind direction all week should mean that the barra won’t be too hard to find. The big open waters of Bird Bay and South B are home to some of the biggest schools of fish, and also to a lot of the biggest fish right now. These waters suit folks unaccustomed to fishing for big barra in heavy timber and can see very large fish caught on relatively light tackle.

There is a lot of underwater shrubbery and drowned forests of all sorts of vegetation in many areas, yet the two bays mentioned above offer relatively snag-free country for those favouring treble-rigged swimbaits and other lures more prone to hanging up in the jungle. Trollers too, are well catered for in these open bays, with ample opportunity to swim shallow-diving lures tight to the banks and up into the shallow fringes where many of the barra have been lurking.


The Jackall Squirrel 79SP and Super Squirrel 115 in spangled perch, a sure winner at Lake Monduran (and pretty much any other barra fishery), available exclusively from Fisho's Tackle World Hervey Bay & Tackle World Bundy.

Casting lures and working topwater offerings across waters so shallow you sometimes wonder how the bigger fish don’t have their backs protruding has seen many fish caught of late. Topwater lures, shallow running hardbodies and lightly-weighted paddle-tailed plastics have all produced at times.

There is good reason that so many of the lake’s fish are favouring the shallows right now too, and it is not just the feeding opportunities. The core of the lake is still very cold, and barra do not like swimming in and out of warm and cold waters. They will favour one or the other, and will often move from the cooler (deeper) waters and stay shallow just before or on sunset and hang there and feed until they feel the need to return to the deeper stuff.

Other barra will actively seek bony bream and banded perch schools in slightly deeper waters and pursue them when the moon is in the right position. These fish are often caught on heavy swimbaits that swim beneath the warmer surface waters, though soft vibes worked quite quickly with a constant jigging or hopping motion can be deadly as well.

Until the lake’s core waters warm (and that will take a period of consistently warmer sunny weather), you may need to alternate your efforts from super shallow to the standard 2-4 metre depths. Favour the former if you don’t see schools of prey in the deeper stuff.

Interestingly, many barra have been caught on smaller lures so far this spring. This is indicative of their diminished appetite, but also reflects the general lack of larger garfish over much of the lake. When the waters warm further, this scenario will change dramatically, and the bigger hardbodies will shine once again.


The spangled perch Jackall Squirrel does it again!

Given that Mondy is still 100% capacity and we are looking at forecasts of storms that might dump up to 100mm of rain in the lake’s catchment in coming days, we have very real concerns for the future of this dynamic fishery. It would be no surprise to hear of multi-barra captures from the main basin during the rains this weekend, yet the backs of the gullies and localised run-offs are just as likely to produce if the heavens open.

It will take more than just a metre beater to win the fishing comp, surely. There are swags of solid 110-115cm fish in the lake nowadays, and metre fish are quite common. This season will see captures of some of the true Mondy monsters that could even stretch the tape to 130cm or more – if they don’t all head downstream in the next flood.

Good luck to all that enter the Family Fishing Comp. For anyone not involved, this would be a weekend to avoid Mondy. The extra congestion and daily frustrations at the now limited boat ramps and parking facilities would be way too stressful for many.

Alternatively, Awoonga has been fishing quite well recently, albeit mostly at night. Point-sitting and throwing swimbaits and other lures at barra rolling past the points has been producing multiple captures for many. So too, sneaking up into the shallow margins behind the fringing weed beds has produced plenty of barra for the stealthy.

Callide suffered a fairly major fish kill late winter and is recovering. Whilst several tons of large barra died, this is only a small portion of this well-stocked lake’s barra population. Cold nights are simply no good at Callide, so the warmer nights we enjoy this time of year will soon see results.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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