Easter’s weather was a bit frustrating, with a fairly stiff southeaster and showers restricting fishing and boating activities. Fortunately the week ahead looks much better, with lighter winds swinging either side of southeast for much of the week. Most days will be sunny and the nights still relatively warm but we will still see the odd shower at times, so keep the wet weather gear onboard.
Very small neap tides for the next few days, courtesy of the quarter moon this Saturday, will offer easy conditions for those heading out wide or for those targeting deeper waters locally. The lack of run won’t do much for the flats and shallow reef fisheries though till it picks up mid next week.
Those that made their way up the island to Platypus Bay over the past week found the going fairly tough with the strong winds and showery conditions quite testing on most days. Some crews did okay chasing pelagics, but others were frustrated by the conditions and lack of surface activity at times courtesy of the cloudy/showery weather.
The impending better conditions should see plenty of tuna action over the week ahead as they push the hapless bait schools to the surface and gorge on them. Tuna numbers have been very high in recent weeks and this will continue for some time yet. Pack plenty of stickbaits, Zman Jerkshads and metal slugs if tuna are your target and keep an eye on your sounder for other pelagics lurking below.
School mackerel have been in abundance over some of the reefs up that way and also under the bait schools balled up by the tuna. The schoolies have favoured metal spoons and slugs and have been prone to biting off quite a few lures so take plenty of spares if they are your target (or even if they aren’t).
A few GTs, golden trevally and queenfish have been equally as active around the bait schools when the tuna have them balled up and have been prone to scoff metals jigged vertically or plastics sunk and hopped below the surface commotion. Drifting over the reefs and weed patches jigging micro jigs can produce all manner of trevally species and reefies including squire, scarlets, grunter, sweetlip and cod.
The reefs off Rooneys and out at the Gutters are likely to get a bit of a touch up by reef fishos taking advantage of the good weather this week. The neap tides will make some species easy to access, including the ever-popular coral trout. Being able to anchor accurately and get your live baits directly into their lair is paramount for success and certainly easier during the neaps. Tea-bagging soft plastics on the drift on the other hand is a deadly and very simple option for those that struggle with anchoring.
You can expect quite a variety of reefies this time of the year from the Gutters and Rooneys reefs that will include plenty of grass sweetlip, the odd cod, parrot, moses perch, hussar and blackall. Scarlets are a real special for those that find them and anyone overnighting should find a few squire or perhaps even some snapper.
Large school mackerel and spanish mackerel have been particularly annoying for reef fishos up that way of late and with cobia also likely to crash the party you can sometimes have to move elsewhere to avoid the pelagics. Of course, if big high speed critters light your fire then gear up with stickbaits and big metal jigs and get stuck into them. You can also troll up a few spaniards, schoolies or cobia and you just might run into the schools of yellowfin tuna that were out there a few weeks ago.
There will certainly be issues with sharks out wide on any of the commonly known country, and the same issue is just as bad over in Platypus Bay and back inshore. These sharks are relentless, so don’t stay in one spot feeding our limited fish resources to these gluttons. Move on when they find you and move some distance too as they will follow you. Your best chance in heavily pressured areas such as those mentioned above is to hope that there are other boats drawing their attention so that they leave you alone.
The bad weather over Easter saw bigger boats that wouldn’t normally bother with inshore waters forced to fish locally. When sharks could be avoided, a few very nice squire and the odd snapper were landed from our deeper inshore reefs. The neap tides will do little to excite the snapper, but as the tides build mid week they will again become a reasonable target.
In the meantime, grass sweetlip continue to bite well in numerous areas inshore and are making up the majority of the reef fish hauls. You will find them nearly anywhere there is any form of coral, rock, rubble, weed, sponge or fern country and they are particularly easy to catch. They will sometimes bite right through the tide phase, but are most active just after it turns and the run picks up. A few areas to look for the better sized sweeties inshore include Urangan Channel, the Roy Rufus Arti, Bogimbah Ledge and the Channel Hole. Quite simply, target the deeper areas during the neaps and re-visit the shallower country during the spring tides.
The poor old trouties have copped a flogging of late but you can still sneak the odd fish in on a live bait or lure if you can find some ground that others haven’t visited. Cod are much more widespread and are a very common catch on live baits over any decent piece of reef structure.
We will start to see more golden trevally appear over our inshore reefs as winter approaches. The schools of small herring that are moving to and fro through our shipping channels are a major drawcard for the trevally (and the passing pods of longtail and mack tuna). Try Moon Ledge, Sammies, the Outer Banks, the Roy Rufus shipwrecks and the Simpson Arti for goldies with micro jigs, plastics, vibes or live baits and look out for attending noahs.
Initial reports of winter whiting off Gatakers Bay suggest that area might be worth a look for a feed or winteries, but the numbers have only been modest at this stage. The winteries will certainly turn it on better when the tides build and the current picks up (ie; over the springs), but you could manage a feed over the neaps if you persist.
Burrum River System
Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Club’s annual Easter Classic has been run and won and by all accounts it was another resounding success. The weather wasn’t great, but they only suffered a few showers and not nearly as much as we had back here in the bay.
Almost 1400 entrants competed for a huge range of prizes that saw some 500 fish weighed for the weekend, 350 odd of which were released alive after a swim in the very popular live fish tank. Catch cards for all 11 eligible species were filled, which included muddies to 1.4kg, sandies to 500gm, a heap of large whiting to 43cm (660gm), flathead to 72cm, bream to 1.3kg, tuskfish to 4.5kg, mackerel to 2.8kg and trout to 4.5kg amongst others.
Congratulations to all those competitors that tasted victory during the comp and also to the hard-working volunteers and their families that put in so much effort to make this event such a roaring success.
After such an event the Burrum’s local fish population might be a little shell-shocked but head well upriver and you will be in for a good chance at some bream, grunter, jacks and barra over the neaps. Obviously there are some big whiting in the river (for now) but they will be better left till closer to the new moon.
Plenty of keen under-nourished prawners are waiting with bated breath for the first sniff of a morning westerly to race up to Woodgate in the hope of a feed of banana prawn. Around Easter / Anzac Day has produced plenty of times in recent years if the conditions are right. If it happens, be there on the day or you will just be reading about it afterwards.
Mud crabs have been going gangbusters in the rivers up that way, and whilst their activity might wane a little with the passing of the full moon, they have been on the move big time and are even harassing bait fishos on a regular basis. Sand crabs have also been active out the front beyond the drop off and up near the Green Zone off Woodgate, so now that the weather is coming good you should be able to score an easy feed of sandies if you have big heavy pots, fresh bait and sufficient rope.
Mary/Susan Rivers & the Great Sandy Straits
The muddies have also fired up in the Mary and Susan Rivers, their tributaries and the many creeks and channels down the Great Sandy Straits. Multiple crabs have been crowding pots if placed in the right areas and these spots aren’t too hard to find at low tide as the fresh crab diggings on the mud banks are rather obvious. If only the thieving low-lifes that insist on plundering other people’s pots could be stopped then a feed of fresh mudcrab would seem almost a sure thing at present.
Unfortunately we cannot say the same thing for the prawns. Throw your cast net at enough drains and you will scratch up a modest feed of what are often quite sizeable banana prawns, but at this stage we are still waiting for the prawn to run. It seems last summer’s record lack of rain has meant minimal prawn propagation in our local waters. Here’s hoping that the new moon Sunday-week comes with a cool southwesterly change or rain that will at least trigger what prawn are here to get up and run.
Given the good numbers of whiting found in the lower Mary this week there should be an easy feed on offer when the tides build again next week. Try the banks outside the big gutters such as China Bight or Burtenshaw before and after the big mudflats flood and then re-emerge. Bream are starting to make their way downstream too and can be found in increasing numbers near rockbars from Beaver Rock towards the heads.
Urangan Pier, Local Creeks & Beaches
The local beaches produced small numbers of legal whiting over the full moon for those that ventured down onto the sand after dark. Don’t expect them to bite much over the neaps and turn your attention more to the chance of a flathead or two around the piers, gutters and rock groynes.
The local creeks have been a bit quiet for all bar a few bream, the odd flattie and some very nice hauls of mud crabs. Once the tides build again, Beelbi Creek at Toogoom should be worth a look for some queenfish on topwater or plastics and the flats outside this and the other creeks closer to town should be worth a look for whiting.
Bream numbers are steadily increasing out at the Urangan Pier, but they too will be a better option with more run in the tide. Night sessions with fresh baits of herring gathered before sunset will be the best bet at present. If last year is anything to go by, then the little Cranka Crabs will again be a popular artificial for chasing quality bream around the pier pylons.
Pelagic action out at the pier has been very hit and miss. Longtail tuna schools have come within range of the end a couple of days recently, the occasional queenfish or goldie has been caught and a few stray mackerel have been spotted but nothing has hung around consistently of late.
Lenthalls was very popular over the Easter break, with the small camping ground full to capacity. The barra were a bit elusive for most which is no real surprise given the damp weather. The bass bit fairly well though, and trolling hardbodies and hard vibes accounted for quite good numbers of fish for some. Slow-rolling hardbodies, spinnerbaits, paddle-tailed plastics or hard vibes scored a few bass too, and enough bust offs occurred to suggest the odd barra might have got in on the action.
The return to sunny skies should see the lake’s waters warm a little and fire up the barra once again. Try the lily pads and log piles with hardbodies or plastics and give the stickbaits and poppers and go if you are out there at dawn or dusk. This little dam traditionally fishes well for barra pre-winter, with some great numbers caught in May in past years, so keep this in mind if you need a barra fix before the cold of winter sets in.
Good luck out there y’all.