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Weekly Fishing Report - 21st November 2019

A Better Week To Get Out On The Bay

Putting recent weeks behind us we can look forward to the next week of lighter winds and hopefully boaties will get a chance to get out on the bay. A fairly stationary high pressure system just this side of Kiwi-land combined with a substantial slow-moving trough system out west should see our weather dominated by east to northeasterly winds for much of the coming week.

We should see periods of light winds below 10 knots with afternoon sea breezes reaching 15 knots or so late in the day. Our inshore waters, the eastern bay and our estuaries and lakes will all be options and with so little boating activity in bay waters of late we would hope the fishing leading into Wednesday’s new moon will be good.

Hervey Bay Gamefishing Tournament Wrap Up

Hervey Bay Gamefishing Club’s annual tournament has been run and won, and our congratulations go to all the prize-winners, with particular mention to the local crew on "All In" skippered by local lad Terry Young for taking out champion boat over 7.5m and champion boat overall.

The crews on the 29 vessels entered this year really had to slog it out in very trying conditions with winds mostly around the 15-20 knots from the northwest giving the whole fleet a hard time and making for very challenging conditions for any of the smaller vessels.

Fishing-wise, the billfish numbers were well down this year due to the weather and the dreaded northerly stirring up the inshore waters both inshore and close offshore. The heavy tackle crews fishing out wider in depths from 200-600 metres marked reasonable numbers of marlin but they proved hard to raise, lingering in their comfort zone some 50 metres down.

Blue marlin dominated the catch cards, but a few stripes were also tagged. There weren’t any big fish during this year’s tournament, with most fish averaging around the 100kg mark.

Sizeable bycatch in the form of wahoo and yellowfin tuna to 30kg and mahi mahi to 26kg, all weighed, kept a few crews keen between bites but all in all it was a very tough tournament. At least the overnight anchorage tucked in behind Rooneys Point was calm (surprisingly) and allowed the worn out crews some reprieve from the rough waters.

November’s Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure Pending

The last of this season’s Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures will be in force 24th– 28th November, inclusive. As a reminder, this means that species listed under the Coral Reef Fin Fish Plan (CRFFP) cannot be taken during this period.

The southern boundary of the area affected by this closure is latitude 24°50’S, so if you stay south of that line then you can legally take coral reef fin fish species. Other species taken within the boundaries of the closure that are not regulated by the CRFFP can be taken during this period.

Options For Bay Waters

Prior to the last spate of northerlies there were reports of masses of spotted mackerel arriving in northern Platypus Bay waters. The easterly and northeasterly winds this week should offer those with appropriate vessels ample opportunity to head up the island looking for the surface-feeding spotties.

We haven’t had any particularly recent reports, so cannot pinpoint the location of the schools for you just now, but a day trip up the inside of Fraser keeping your eyes peeled for wheeling terns and surface busts ups should see you trip over the spotties or at least the numerous schools of mack tuna.

A good selection of small metal slugs is the go this time of the year as you will be spending much of the time high-speed spinning through and around the bait balls pushed to the surface by the macks and tuna. Make sure you have a few of the smaller slugs around 20 grams (or even smaller) as they are often feeding on smaller "rainfish" and you will need to match the size of the bait.

Other sportsfishing options up that way will include chasing golden trevally and other trevors over the many reef systems and around the deeper schools of larger bait. There have been reports of the odd large cobia from the bay recently too, so make sure you have an appropriate outfit at the ready should one appear from the blue.

Shallow Inshore Reefs Worth A Crack

The fringing shallow reef systems around Pt Vernon and the bay islands will be worth a go for the early-risers keen on bagging a couple of coral trout. Trolling hardbodies that swim just above the bottom in depths from 2-6 metres will do the job, as will drifting along flicking plastics around the coral bombies and drop offs.

Bait fishos should also get out of the cot early this time of year if hitting the shallows and can either set up a berley trail in a likely spot or move from spot to spot frequently looking for active fish. Expect a few trout if using live baits or dead hardies, herring or pillies, but watch your legal sizes as there are stacks of little tackers in these waters.

The same shallow reefs are likely to produce a good feed of grass sweetlip. Targeting the reef edges might see you tangle with some of the better sized sweeties, and they will take a huge range of baits including hardies, squid banana prawn and strips of mullet.

The deeper inshore reefs should also produce a feed of the same species mentioned above, but the reports of shark activity from the few folk that have snuck out between wind gusts lately suggest it might be a losing battle around the usual commonly known spots. As we’ve become accustomed to in recent years, if there are enough other boats on the water to occupy the noahs then some lucky fishos get a feed, but when the sharks out-number the boats it is a nightmare.

Threadies In The Mary River & The Straits

The tides and weather auger well for those looking to tangle with the mighty threadfin salmon this week. Choose the straits or the Mary River (or both) and probe the deeper holes, ledges and creek mouths during the ebb tide with a mix of vibes for some of the best salmon fishing on the east coast.

The Fitzroy to our north gets a lot of press these days due to their NFZ and the sensational fishing that it offers (and rightly so), but the good old Mary and the Great Sandy Straits have offered champagne salmon fishing for many years, so long as you can find the bigger schools that have survived the annual onslaught.

Other catches likely from similar waters at present include grunter, flathead, cod and perhaps the odd fingermark for those in the know. Mangrove jacks will be an absolute special for anyone keen to take them on within the creeks along the inside of Fraser this week.

Burrum System Jacks Ready To Rumble

The jack bite from the Burrum system over the past two weeks of filthy weather has been absolutely sensational. Locals soaking baits at night have been scoring some great fish in the mid 50’s and better, though there have been more tales of woe than wins for many. Stopping these bigger jacks close to their lairs needs great timing, tough gear and a shipload of luck sometimes and when you are landing 55’s and still getting blown away you are left wondering ‘how big was that beast?’

Mondy’s Golden Barra Still Swimming

A few weeks into this year’s free Golden Barra competition at Lake Monduran and the much sought after specially-tagged golden coloured barra is still on the loose. The fishing has been sensational up there of late for those that were there on the better days, with other days simply reinforcing how cantankerous impoundment barra can be.

This week’s weather leading to the dark of the moon should see another great bite up at Mondy, so long as the weather gurus don’t change their minds and the winds remain consistent. The forecast easterlies and northeasterles and sunny skies offer prime conditions for the big bays such as ‘B’ Bay and Bird Bay, as well as smaller inlets such as Wiggle, Rainforest, ‘C’ Bay, Heart and the upper reaches towards ‘F’.

Suspending hardbodies are still dominating catches and it seems that mixing up the colours can at times produce a bite from the harder fished waters in the lower reaches of the lake.

A quick word on the rules of the competition: For those registering online (or for those that have already done so), please check the "Terms" tab on the website and read the rules. Many have just learnt that simply registering online is not enough, as you have to then drop into the office at the Lake Monduran Caravan Park and pick up your registration card. This card must be placed on or near the barra and photographed on a suitable measure should you be so lucky as to catch one of the prize winning fish.

Something you might also learn is that Rapala are providing a $1,500 Guaranteed Prize Pack each month for the biggest non-tagged barra caught on a Rapala lure. Regular impoundment barra fishos will all know just how good suspending Rapala X-Raps are for these barra and you would be hard-pressed to find a better barra surface lure than a duly-retrofitted Rapala Skitter Pop. Might pay to take some Rapalas and give them a good swim.

Good luck out there y’all.

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