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Weekly Fishing Report - 22nd March 2018

Firstly, apologies for the lack of a written fishing report last week. Things have been a little overly hectic around here due to the impending opening of our second store "Fisho’s Boating & Tackle" at Urangan Harbour next week.

You probably didn’t miss much last week anyway given the heavy weather associated with the brief ex-tropical cyclone that passed by us well offshore. At least this past week has given us a couple of decent days on the water, albeit too brief as we have yet again endured another southeasterly blow mid-week.

The weekend ahead will see lighter winds, but with enough breeze to keep most boaties inshore. The mid-week forecast looks great for anyone so lucky to have time off work, and the quarter moon Sunday suggests building tides for the whole week ahead.

The Bay & Offshore

Sportfishos heading up to Platypus Bay have encountered longtail and mack tuna, but seemingly not in the same numbers as prior to our latest blows. Of course, these highly nomadic species will move with their food sources and we often find that when numbers dwindle up that way close to the island that there are plenty of schools to be found throughout the central and western bay. If chasing tuna is your thing, then simply arm yourself with a good array of small metal slugs from 15-40gm, some stickbaits and 5" Zman Streakz and head out looking for bird activity. Remember, that small birds eat small baitfish and larger birds larger baitfish, so sometimes you can choose the appropriate lure size and type simply from the bird species in attendance.

At the risk of sounding like a scratched record, the attrition from sharks, not only on tuna schools but on all fish in general throughout the bay is atrocious. The lobby groups that keep the world informed of our apparent demise in shark numbers obviously have never been fishing in Hervey Bay (or from most ports in Australia it seems). So, try to be shark-savvy and move on when you encounter them.

Surface feeding frenzies often attract an array of other species sub-surface and lately that has been school and spanish mackerel, golden trevally and other trevors. Watch your sounder for tell-tale signs of other species mid-water and drop metals, plastics, vibes of micro jigs into their realm for some added variety. That great late run of spotty mackerel a couple of weeks ago would not have been the last of them, so keep an eye out for them when scanning the surface.

Some great quality scarlets have come from isolated reef patches up the island and out in the central bay at night, when the weather allows. Squire, sweetlip, moses perch and some great grunter have made up the rest of the catch for the night owls. Don’t forget the mini squid jigs if staying out after dark anywhere north of the banks.

The wider grounds will likely get some attention next week after a much needed reprieve. Expect coral trout, cod and trevally on tea-bagged plastics when conditions allow, or try slow pitch micro jigs for the same species as well as scarlets and virtually every other reef fish swimming. These little jigs have a knack of catching fish when all else fails, and can contend with much more current and/or wind drift.

Inshore Reefs

Our deeper inshore reefs will be worth a look for reef species over the coming period of neap tides. Expect coral trout and the ever-present estuary cod to take livies, plastics and vibes over the turn of tide. Pike have been filtering back onto our inshore reefs over recent weeks, so getting a few prime livies is no longer a hassle. Sweetlip are still in good numbers, along with blackall and some nice scarlets for those dropping squid and banana prawn baits.

Queenfish have been quite prolific throughout much of our inshore waters since recent minor flooding. Look for them up on the flats outside major creek systems, along the drop-offs and deeper ledges along the inside of Fraser and around the current lines and eddies formed by the bay islands.

Big bruising GTs continue to wreak havoc on the Roy Rufus arti wrecks and some of the deeper inshore ledges. They are more of a livebait or sub-surface stickbait option when found in these areas, and are often the culprit when a reefie or mackerel is taxed whilst being brought to the boat. If you’ve never caught one, and aren’t a purist, then simply catch a legal mackerel and sink it mid-water over the "3 ships" and hang on. Big whalers may of course ruin even the best laid plan.

Great Sandy Straits

There have been very mixed reports from anglers visiting the straits lately. Reading the water is as important as ever for success, and down that way that means finding the bait and the right mix of dirty and clean water for your target species. The recent dirty water offered many normally structure-orientated species the opportunity to venture, and likewise to move to new more productive locations. Jewies are one such species that are again showing up along Fraser’s western ledges that were found in better numbers out in the nearby channels recently.

Mangrove jacks are a great target within Fraser’s western creeks and down the mainland side of the straits south of Turkey Island. An abundance of prawns and baitfish has drawn out the salmon and barra as well, and flathead are starting to re-appear around creek mouths. Grunter will be active out in the feeder channels to the major creek systems and within those "saltier" creeks.

Prawns are the big target for many fishos heading down the straits, and the rewards can be great for those with a good top pocket cast net and a little experience. If you want a good catch of prawns, then don’t settle for getting a few per cast. Keep looking for better numbers and you will find them. Remember that 10 litre bucket limit.

Mary & Susan River System

Prawns have been thick in the gutters in the vicinity of River Heads recently. Good schools of prawns have been clearly visible flicking on the surface at times, so should not be too hard to track down. Better quality prawn will be found out in cleaner, deeper water, with large numbers of smaller prawn in the shallower back reaches of gutters and around drains.

The prawn run is not going un-noticed by the local threadfin salmon, so either target them using live prawns, or try vibes in the deeper waters or twitch small 100mm hardbodies in and around the drains. A few flatties are starting to show up around the heads, though they are still a bit random compared to what we can expect when it cools down.

Barra are a good target around rock bars, and snags within the lower reaches of the Mary and even more-so the Susan and its tributaries.

Burrum River System

Sizeable barra continue to be the main target from within the Burrum system. It has been somewhat disturbing to view so many photos of numerous large dead barra on boat decks and laying out side-by-side for brag shots on the lawn. These iconic sportfish are mostly ex-Lenthalls Dam stocked barra that have lived in freshwater most of their lives and just made it to the salt for their first chance at spawning. It is a shame that so few will get that chance to re-stock our waterways, and even more-so when you consider the inferior eating quality of recently ex-freshwater barra.

There has been talk of a few large whiting getting caught from the Burrum Heads area this week, though they will be a better target when the tides build again. In the meantime, try for a few queenies and grunter out around the channel markers and the drop-off. Grunter should re-appear on the Burrum 8 Mile and around the Fairway beacon, particularly for those fishing after dark with fresh squid and prawns.

Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier

The Urangan Pier has been firing this week. Good catches of both school and broad-barred mackerel have come from the first channel, where large schools of small herring have been aggregating. The shallower water depth in this channel usually means that livies are more effective than spinning spoons, though if you hang over the rail and keep your rod tip as low as possible you can get the spoons to stay in the water long enough to entice a strike. Head out there mid flood tide and fish over the high and into the ebb. Head out to the end of the pier for the lower tide period for another go at the mackerel, queenfish and golden trevally. The GTs lurking under the end section will take a live legal mackerel if you reckon your gear is up to the task. Apparently small black tips have been a bit of a nuisance out there of late.

Expect the town beaches to be a bit quiet until the tides build later in the week. At that time you can again try for some whiting along the Torquay – Urangan stretch. The Booral flats would be a better option for whiting in the meantime, and don’t be surprised to get connected to a big thready down that way.

Good luck out there y’all.

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