Severe weather warnings have been issued for our stretch of the Qld coastline due to the approach of Tropical Cyclone Oma. Checking all available weather sites leaves a lot of uncertainty as to the likely movements of Oma, however, at this point in time it is best to err on the side of caution as the Fraser Coast is well within the range of this cyclone and a potential coastal crossing. If ever we stood a strong chance of a cyclone crossing our coast it would have to be this season, as our water temperature is very high (near 30C in parts of the bay) due to extremely hot conditions and a lack of rains.
Most weather models suggest TC Oma currently has us firmly in its sights, but that it will stall well wide of Fraser Island then skirt northwards along the central Queensland coast. Predictions are changing every few hours it seems, so best we keep monitoring the weather sites and ensure we are all prepared for the worst should Oma pay us a visit. Even though a local crossing may be only a slim chance, you should take precautions at home to ensure your loved ones and belongings remain safe and secure.
Needless to say this week’s fishing report will be rather a brief one. In the interests of safety and plain old common sense fishos need to think twice about venturing out onto our waterways over the coming days and should certainly stay clear of open waters or areas affected by heavy surf. With last Wednesday’s full moon now behind us there is nothing flash about the tides over the coming few days anyway.
Even if TC Oma misses us directly there are predictions of winds up to 50 knots for our region, with sustained winds of 30 knots likely. Even in what we normally consider our protected waters, these wind strengths make fishing and boating almost impossible and downright dangerous. Exposed coastal areas are certainly a no-go, with swells of 4-5m predicted outside Fraser with seas of 5-8m on top of that. Avoid rock fishing exposed headlands and forget the surf beaches.
Those thinking that the Mary or Susan Rivers would be a suitable option should re-think that one unless the winds remain under 30 knots. Sure enough there may be pockets of sheltered waters, but you still need to get to and from the ramp and that can be a nightmare for even experienced skippers in strong winds. Think carefully about how you would possibly fish in such conditions and you will soon see the absolute futility of the idea.
Hopefully those that put their crab pots out for the full moon got a good feed and have now retrieved their pots. If not, then you might consider doing so while it is safe to do so. Obviously, if TC Oma crosses our part of the coast it will be with a ton of rain and our rivers will flood, meaning you may never see your pots again.
It might seem as though the higher banks of the Burrum River and its tributaries would offer even better protection from the strong winds, and to a point they will. If you know the Burrum system well though, you will also realise just how much the wind varies in direction as it gusts and twists along the course of the river. Even anchoring yourself in the lee of a high bank can see your boat yawing to and fro in the wind gusts much to your inevitable frustration.
Consider also, the very real chance of falling trees along the banks of these rivers. The extremely dry conditions of late have left the ground parched and cracked and it will take very little imagination for locals to picture many new snags after this blow moves on. There are countless big gum trees that are barely hanging in there now, with their root balls already exposed and their huge bulk unlikely to withstand a near miss from Oma let alone a direct hit.
Small numbers of prawns were just starting to show in some of our local estuaries, and without doubt a good fresh in the rivers and creeks will be just the ticket to kick our belated prawn season up a gear. Leave them till after this blow though as trying to throw a big prawn net in strong winds can be rather frustrating. The first throw with a dry net might be okay, but a wet net will drive you nuts as it collapses in the wind.
Fishing from the Urangan Pier will be quite futile and possibly dangerous if the winds reach the strengths being predicted. The town beaches gave up surprisingly good catches of whiting during the period building up to this week’s full moon. Perhaps there is potential for repeat catches over coming days from the stretches of north-facing beach for the die-hard shore-based whiting fishos. You would think this would only be an option for those soaking baits though as topwater whiting fishos won’t stand a chance. Expect the high tides to be a bit higher than normal too, and give it a miss if Oma gets too close.
Of course it is not all doom and gloom with the approach of Oma, with the potential of some drought-breaking rains likely to be welcomed by many. Only time will tell as to whether we get the anticipated rain or not, but if we do it will open up some exciting local run-off fisheries, albeit briefly. Once the worst of the weather passes look for areas that may have been inundated with water that will run into nearby systems, and venture out looking for opportunities to cast a lure into these draining waters in search of active predators such as barra and jacks. There are plenty of such places along our stretch of coastline but your timing has to be spot on.
Stay safe out there y’all.