Glassed-out seas and barely a puff of breeze has greeted boaties heading out today. A repeat of the same glamour weather is likely tomorrow and Saturday, with light and variable breezes below 10 knots for our stretch of coastline.
Even offshore, there is minimal wind or swell, particularly in the south over the Wide Bay Bar and outside Fraser Island. More wind is likely further north off 1770, so we would expect the effort to be local this week.
We can expect a bit more breeze Sunday, with 10-15 knots of southeaster. Still good conditions for all but the fair-weather sailors. Monday offers a similar scene, though the breeze may tend a little more southerly in the morning. A spike in wind strength is likely mid-week, and we might even see a few scattered showers.
The weather boffins are claiming that the La Nina in the Pacific is on hold for the time being. Good news for a more stable and rain-free winter perhaps. They are still suggesting the La Nina is a strong chance of returning in the spring.
Our tides are building whilst the moon wanes and we approach the new moon next Wednesday. The current neaps still offer a fair degree of tidal flow and of course that will increase in coming days.
Those planning a bit of surf fishing are in for a treat if they head for Fraser. The beaches are looking great, there are well-formed gutters in the mid-section and the waters and sand are alive with baitfish, eugaries (pippies) and worms.
Exposed rocks are worth noting, not only due to the challenges of traversing the beach but for the enhanced fishing on offer around these rocks. At the moment, 4WDs need to use the inland tracks at Poyungan and Yidney during much of the tide.
Scoured out holes and exposed rocks mean foraging opportunities for the likes of bream, tarwhine, trevally and jewfish. Tailor also raid these waters looking for baitfish, which have been quite abundant along the surf beaches in recent weeks.
The baitfish schools have been pushed into the shoreline gutters at times, and can otherwise can be spotted hanging in the outer gutters. Schools of tailor have been drawn in to feast, and some very good fishing has been enjoyed in recent weeks.
Right now, the tailor have thinned out a little, but are still scattered along the beach in good numbers. You might need to sift through a few smaller models in some gutters, so keep mobile and seek out better fish if necessary. Casting metal slugs and spoons has been most successful for mobile tailor fishos. This option beats bait fishing hands down when it comes to scouting out gutters and finding the tailor.
It hasn’t been just the tailor tearing into the baitfish of late either, with schools of other pelagics coming right in onto the beach. Trevally, tuna and queenfish have all been reported from various sections of beach. Slide-baiters and drone fishers have the perfect recipe for fun right now. Calm seas, no swell and baitfish holding out the back that are drawing in the predators.
There has been enough jewfish caught lately to suggest they are a viable target. Nocturnal sessions soaking a range of baits in the deeper, often rock-strewn gutters, will soon see some action from the jewies, or at least from the sharks. Working big grub-tailed plastics through the gutters or around the rocks on a change of light can be fruitful as well.
Those favouring the light gear can have a ball at present. The beach worms are easy to pull once again, and eugaries are making a comeback after a fairly substantial hiatus. Excessive rains, freshwater run-off and big sand-scouring seas can be blamed for the lack of these forage species earlier this year, so it is great to hear of their return just in time for the peak surf season.
Quality whiting have been caught in recent weeks. The darker skin colour of the whiting seemingly indicative of fish that have escaped the dirty estuary scene of the Great Sandy Straits. They still taste great and are quite fat and of very good size at present.
Winter whiting fishos launching from Gatakers Bay boat ramp haven’t had to travel far to find the whiting. Over the past week or so, there has been schools found fairly close to the ramp or the point, and a few off O’Reagans and Toogoom, as well as around the corner out in front of Pialba-Scarness.
There has also been a few winter whiting showing up down along Woody Island in the coloured water. We assume that there will be whiting turning up south of Round Island and within the gutters off Booral in the near future. The waters north of Woody, from the bait grounds to the NU2 are also likely to produce.
Bream fishos are spoilt for choices right now. The shallow fringing reefs around Gatakers Bay – Pt Vernon offer champagne bream fishing for those favouring bait. Lure fishos can also ply the same waters, but if the pike are thick, they can make for frustrating fishing in all but the shallowest of water.
Bait fishos need only anchor up and start a decent berley trail. Masses of bream can be attracted and cricket scores can be caught. The size of the bigger fish can be quite impressive too and they will take some stopping on the light gear.
Lightly, or unweighted baits are the go for these reef-dwelling bream. Strip baits work a treat in particular. Fillets of mullet, pike, herring, bonito and other baitfish are popular. The frames and scraps are mulched through the berley pot and the lightly-pinned fillets are float-lined to the fish milling in the trail.
Bream fans can also check out the rocky foreshores from Gatakers to Pialba on foot and expect to pick up quite a few fish on lures. Carefully hopping blades above the coral-encrusted rocks, swimming micro hardbodies or hopping and rolling small plastics will all work. However, it is hard to beat the fun of surface lures with the added advantage of less snags and bust-ups from juvenile cod and trout.
There are ample bream to target at River Heads on the light gear, and you can also try for a jewfish, grunter, cod, flathead or blue salmon on appropriate tackle at the right time of tide. The blues will be quite prolific from now on through winter and offer great sport for boaties plying the local creeks, rivers and the channels and flats of the straits.
Flathead are starting to feature in catches again and are a viable target for the next few months. Shore-based, you can try the Urangan Pier or around other structures along our beaches, out at River Heads along the rocks, or along the shorelines of our local creeks.
Boaties chasing flathead can explore the vast Great Sandy Strait network of creeks, flats and channels, or could also opt for the lower reaches of our rivers this time of year. Hopping plastics will probably always be numero uno when it comes to tempting flatties, though trollers can ply their craft in the creek channels and across the flats when the tide is in.
Common grounds fished for snapper inshore from the Burrum reefs to Moon Point are all copping a hammering, yet they are producing good fish quite regularly. Many fishos are enjoying a feed of fresh snapper, and thankfully, the bag limit is restricting the take, as without such measures, our fisheries would soon collapse under the ever-increasing pressure.
Releasing snapper in the bay is a great idea for those keen to look after the future of the species. We have a better run of fish this season than the disasters of the last few years, purely thanks to the excessive rainfall and resultant nutrient-filled bay. We would encourage one and all to enjoy this magnificent fishery, but would also suggest that avoiding sharks and taking only what you need is the go if you want a future snapper fishery.
Snapper will now start to turn up throughout the whole of Hervey Bay. The reefs, weed beds and bait schools of Platypus Bay will attract plenty of schooling fish, as will the reefs of the central bay such as the 25 Fathom Hole. The Gutters and Rooneys reefs also draw in decent numbers, but the bigger fish are likely to fall victim to the noahs out there all too often.
Even our shallow fringing reefs get a visit from squire and the odd snapper over winter. You won’t find them in the shallows in the daylight, but could pull a few during dawn, dusk or evening sessions. Trollers looking for an early morning trout occasionally encounter a decent squire or two at picaninny dawn in only a couple of metres of water.
Reef Fish Continue to Feed the Masses
Great weather will always see big numbers of boats heading out wide these days – even when the tides are crap. Many enjoyed good catches and brought home more than enough seafood over the full moon, but the great bite diminished somewhat and plenty were left scratching their heads thereafter.
The lack of current offshore has enabled a few crews to winch up big hauls of deep water reefies from over the continental shelf. Large pearlies featured heavily in catches, as did plenty of snapper and various jobfishes.
The edge of the shelf, in around 100m of water, has been very shark-infested east of Breaksea Spit. So too, the shoals country to a large extent, though there is miles of ground out there to spread your effort and attempt to avoid the noahs. Large venus tusk fish are a true bonus for bait fishos drifting the shoals, however, it isn’t too hard to pick up a feed of red-coloured fish in the vicinity of the reef ridges and isolated rocks if you keep on the move.
Those who don’t woos-out and drop the pick for an overnighter offshore can be well-rewarded with some sensational lutjanids and snapper after dark. Huge mango jacks frequent our offshore waters, and whilst a very rare capture during daylight hours, are often out there tearing new ones in the wee hours.
Reds, big spangos, red throat, cod galore and even some XOS scarlets are known to haunt similar reefs and add some variety to a shoals overnighter. The water isn’t all that deep on some country outside, and on some sites jewies and cobia can also be on the chew in the black of night.
The reefs out at the Gutters and off Rooneys continue to give up a few snapper, plenty of squire and scarlets, and of course, the standard-issue bar-cheeks. The mix of reefies this time of year is vastly better than in the warmer months, and can include some better-quality fish for those hanging out there after dark.
Winter-time Pelagic Activity Mostly Sub-surface
The odd blue marlin is possible offshore of Fraser Island this time of year for those dragging out the heavy tackle and heading wide and deep. The easier option remains the smaller black marlin found in closer to the island, and they are in reasonable numbers, even now.
Cobia, spaniards, GTs and a host of other trevallies will soon scoff jigs and trolled lures dragged over the shallower shoal country offshore or around sites such as Spit Bombie. Cool fish such as green jobbies also get in on the act, and it would be a very interesting exercise to slow-troll proven deep divers such as Dr Evils over the shoals and see how many reef species one could tally.
For those willing to jig the deeper stuff, it is the big amberjack that will keep you huffing and puffing and your chiropractor busy. Yellowtail kingies also join the fray down south off the Wide Bay Bar, but they don’t rival the size of their AJ cousins.
Back inside, and those heading out to the Gutters are likely to encounter a few more spaniards for the time being. Cobia numbers are increasing as winter unfolds and the winter-time trevally invasion is well underway.
The trevors can be notoriously hard to avoid over the reefy ledges, particularly if jigging with plastics or slow-pitch jigs. The variety is expansive, with the most common of the larger varieties including long-nosed, bludger, golden, gold-spotted, brassy and diamonds – just to name a few.
Tuna fans will have to settle for daggy old mack tuna for their surface fix much of the time nowadays, though a pod of larger longtails or the odd solo fish seen sipping is still a possibility. The macks are quite prolific and well-spread. They are all through the bay from north to south and east to west. They are also working their way through the shipping channels of the Great Sandy Straits.
Longtails are vastly more prevalent well down in the water column in winter where they are feasting on the very same yakka and herring schools and the like that the trevally, snapper and other fish are chasing. Whilst these longtails can be targeted, they are just as likely to be accidental bycatch whilst targeting other fish.
There hasn’t been as much talk of school mackerel in close as there was a couple of weeks ago. Since the passing of the full moon, their numbers have declined. There are still schoolies scattered throughout the bay however, so spin some spoons or troll high speed divers around the bait schools and see who’s home.
Broad-barred mackerel are a winter feature inshore and are very prone to linger up on the flats. Chasing hardiheads and garfish is their thing, but they are easily fooled into eating a metal or plastic if they spot it. Yes, they can be very annoying and bite you off, so stall the lure and don’t move it if they home in and they will reject it and turn away.
Queenies, small GTs and a few of the other trevally clan will become more prevalent in the improving water quality of the straits. Fun sessions chasing queenies could see you tangling with blue salmon and even a large goldie or two on the flats one day, and mack tuna tearing around in the skinny stuff the next.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Peter Morse Fly Casting Clinic 2022 wrap up
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