This week’s bitter cold snap was a shock for we Queenslanders and made many think twice about early starts. Things have certainly improved since earlier in the week and we can all look forward to milder overnight temperatures for several days, leading into possibly a bit of rain mid next week. Sunday looks like being the pick of the days to come, though wind-wise it looks fairly fishable inshore most days. With the recent passing of the quarter moon and building tides for a week leading into the next full moon, we can expect the fishing to improve as the week goes on.
The Bay & Offshore
It has been a bit too rough offshore for trailer boats since last weekend, though the crew from Time & Tide Charters still spent time over the bar north of Fraser for a decent haul of reefies. The stronger winds and increased current of 2-3 knots restricted their fishing to the shallower shoal country and reefs, and kept them away from the shelf waters for a change. They managed to score some very nice reds, a few decent knobbies amongst a number of squirey snapper, plus a heap of big venus tuskfish, gold-spot wrasse, big cod and a few cobia amongst others.
Just a quick reminder that humpback whales are migrating north outside of Fraser at present and it is not uncommon to see many pods in a day’s fishing out there. In a month or so their cousins that headed north earlier will be making their way back south and entering Hervey Bay for a spell. So, for the next few months it will pay to keep a keen eye out for these majestic giants and enjoy one of the true bonuses of the Hervey Bay winter fishing experience.
One area that has been producing some exceptional catches of late is the grounds off Double Island Point and the Wide Bay Bar. Weather pemitting, there have been great catches of red emperor, snapper, sweetlip, coronation trout, moses perch and pearlies out wide, with a some great jewies, squire and cod coming from grounds closer to the bar.
The Gutters continues to produce spanish mackerel, cobia and yellowfin tuna for those lucky enough to get out there when the weather allows. The reefies out that way have also been on the chew, with trout, sweetlip, scarlets, squire, blackall, cod, moses perch, hussar and parrot making up a nice mixed bag. Only small numbers of bigger snapper have been reported of late, and only by those fishing very early or into the evening. Sharks continue to wreak havoc over much of the Gutters country, but hopefully this week’s cold snap helps to slow them down.
A few good knobbies are starting to make their way onto isolated reefs off Rooneys and in the central bay, with evening sessions producing the goods for bait fishos. Working the same areas during daylight with plastics and micro jigs is worth a try for snapper, but be prepared to sound around a bit wider of the actual reefs looking for schools of fish roaming the area. As always, if there isn’t any bait in the area, then chances are there won’t be any predators.
Scarlets, squire, sweetlip and grunter up in Platypus Bay have kept fishos busy during night sessions up that way. As we head further into winter the yakka numbers will continue to increase and the big schools of snapper will make their way into the bay. Whilst many would suggest that July heralds the start of the true snapper season for much of Platypus Bay and beyond (and rightly so), they are a very viable target from now on, particularly during the "spring" tides.
Golden trevally continue to haunt many reefs in Platypus Bay, taking a range of artificials including micro jigs, plastics and vibes. A whole variety of trevally species will start showing up throughout the bay as winter rolls on, with species such as diamond, brassy, long-nosed and bludger trevally dominating catches in some areas. Tuna numbers are dwindling up that way, but small pods of larger fish can be found feeding sub-surface around the bait schools.
Inshore will be the go for a few days, so break out the light snapper gear and try the usual spots for a knobbie or a feed of squire. We are still waiting on the big schools of herring to settle around our inshore reefs to attract the school snapper, but till then they are worth a try late in the day and into the evening. Bait fishos shouldn’t find it too hard to secure a feed of squire so long as you are willing to keep moving around or deploy a berley bomb to bring them to you.
Late season sweeties have been on the chew of late, with some great fish turning up on the soft coral and ferny country in the channels between the bay islands. Coral trout and estuary cod will slow down a bit as the water gets colder, but are still an easy target with a live bait over the turn of the tide.
Expect to get some quite large blackall as well, and although you might well see schools of them milling around the shallow inshore reefs, they will be hard to catch when you can see them and will be an easier target during low light or dark periods or in deeper water. Folks further north of us would treat a blackall with great disdain and would throw it back in disgust due to its smelly flesh from ingesting weed as it feeds. Whilst most locals would still feel the same way, there are plenty who actively target them and enjoy their eating qualities, claiming that they are quite palatable here in the bay. Love them or hate them, there is no denying their strong fighting attributes.
Another fish that has featured in catches inshore recently have been big grunter. Nocturnal fishos are doing very well with baits such as herring, squid and banana prawns, and with some of these grunter going over the 70cm mark, they are proving to be quite a lot of fun and a great feed.
Bream are schooling around the bay islands around the current lines just off the shallow margins, and although a bit flighty when sighted, they are very responsive to baits floated back into a berley trail. Don’t be surprised to have a few pan-sized squire mooch in on the action in some of these areas during evening sessions. Chubby-style hardbodies, minnows, topwater lures, mini-blades and plastics will all account for big bream around the rocky island fringes as well as up on the flats at present, so if nothing else is happening for you then break out the light gear and give the bream a shot.
Mini GT’s and queenfish have been chasing hardiheads around the points of the bay islands at times lately, with broad-barred mackerel getting in on the act up on the flats as well. There are still a few schools of large mack tuna down the straits, but they are proving to be very flighty and fast-moving, so good luck with them.
Those looking for winter whiting can follow the crowds and head out from Gatakers Bay. Most effort of late has been concentrated in the areas from Gatakers to Toogoom, though surely it won’t be long and the winteries will start to filter through to the grounds off Urangan and Woody Island. In the meantime, be prepared to move around in the search for quality fish and don’t settle for catching the dregs left behind by others.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
There are plenty of great quality bream to be caught from River Heads and surrounds, along with some nice estuary cod and the odd big flattie. Jewies are featuring less in catches from the heads of late, though they are still a good option for boaties over the turn of tide with either a live bait fished near the bottom, or a soft vibe hopped over the rocky ledges and into the holes.
Blue salmon can be found in the lower reaches of the Mary feeding on herring schools and will take a live bait, and often enough a dead herring, hardihead or pillie. They will relish the chase on a range of plastics and vibes and can be quite easy to track down when feeding due to their habit of busting up on the surface.
There have been a few threadies caught down the straits as well, but best catches are coming to those fishing at night with live baits. If looking for them during daylight hours, then seek out areas with a bit of "colour" as whilst often visible in the clear waters they can be frustratingly hard to catch when you can see them. We are still waiting on any significant reports of tailor from the straits, though they shouldn’t be far away. In the meantime, flatties are becoming more active around creek mouths and rock bars down that way.
The crew at Fraser Island Retreat have reported another small run of chopper tailor over the past week from north of the Maheno to the Cathedrals. Yidney rocks and Poyungan have again been the spots for a few good bream and jewies are showing up at night for those targeting them between Happy Valley and Yidney.
Worming on the island is still very good, but eugaries (pippies) continue to be a challenge to find. Some good gutters have formed along the beach and at this stage there has been no mention of any weed from the areas mentioned above. There have been whispers of weed down around the Eurong area though, so if anyone can confirm or deny this rumour then that would be greatly appreciated.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
It is still the bream that are drawing the most attention out at the Urangan Pier, though flathead numbers are improving and they are a really viable target over the current neap tides. For the best chance at a flattie, simply seek them out with the aid of your polarised sunnies in either the first channel or the slope towards the deeper end and drop a live pike or herring nearby with a 6/7 ball sinker and watch it swim over and scoff your livie.
Unfortunately the dreaded green toads have again moved onto the town beaches en-masse. These vermin will destroy all baits and lures within their range, so unless you are lucky enough to find a toad-free-zone, then you won’t stand much of a chance. Best you take you gear and head out to other areas such as the Booral Flats, the Eli Flats or the local creeks and look for your whiting and flatties there.
Good luck out there y’all.