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Weekly Fishing Report - 24th January 2020

Australia Day Weekend Looks Promising

Well, so much for all the rain we were supposed to get last weekend. At least there have been a few showers here and there since then, but nothing like the goldy or “sunshine” coast experienced. To date there has been next to no run off locally, so zero influx of freshwater into our salty waters.

The northerly breeze has dominated for the past week, exceeding forecast strength at times and keeping most boaties confined to our sheltered estuaries. Whilst the wind is still from the north at present it is forecast to turn more easterly throughout the coming weekend, with a few light showers still possible over the coming week.

The light winds forecast for the Australia Day long weekend will see a lot of boat crews out enjoying our protected inshore waters. Saturday’s new moon will see quite a bit of run in the tide, though nothing too challenging for these parts.

Bay Waters Have Had A Brief Spell

A week of northerlies has given our bay waters a bit of a reprieve from the considerable number of boats that plied our waters over the Xmas holiday period. For this reason we have little to report from out on the bay this week, but going on recent forays there will be ample schools of tuna for the sportsfishos to chase when the weather conditions allow.

Cloudy or rainy days are rarely conducive to surface blue water action, so don’t be too surprised if the tuna and remnant schools of spotties are a little hard to track down in the overcast conditions. This doesn’t mean they are not here though, just not feeding on top at that time. If surface action is minimal then turn your attention to the subsurface bait schools and seek out their predators in the form of trevally, queenfish, school and spanish mackerel.

Reef fishos will likely score well if they can find a patch of fish-holding reef that is not attended by sharks. The deeper inshore reefs are home to small numbers of coral trout and plenty of estuary cod with good numbers of grass sweetlip around the fringes.

The shallow reefs off Pt Vernon and the bay islands are likely to produce a few trout for those trolling hardbodies early in the morning or for those bait fishos quick enough to muscle them out of the reef on live baits or fish baits. Big grunter are a chance for those lucky enough to encounter a school off Pt Vernon, whilst a few decent grassies, cod and the odd bluey will make up the remainder of catches.

Try The Flats If The Sun Comes Out

Flats fishos will be eagerly watching the weather patterns looking for sunny periods over the mid-morning highs in the hope of sneaking up on a few flats dwellers. Queenfish are possibly the most common predator up on the flats at present, though golden trevally are a chance, as are GT’s and even the odd pod of tuna.

The flats of the northern beaches inside Fraser will be worth a look for those venturing north, with longtail tuna and queenfish the main targets up that way. More locally, the flats south of Moon Point and those around the bay islands are likely to produce queenies, small goldens and the odd bruiser GT.

Venture further south again and sneak up onto the more narrow mudflats along Fraser’s western shores south of Kingfisher Bay and you might encounter threadfin salmon, flatties, grunter,  golden trevally and queenies. In either of these cases stealth will be vital to success, as will the ability to present a lure or fly that suitably mimics the forage species these skinny water predators are there to hunt.

Thugs Of The Reefs On The Prowl Inshore

For those of you out there looking for a good old-fashioned arm stretching now is the time to try your hand at the local GT populations. These big black bruisers are calling our local shipwrecks and some inshore ledges home for the time being and are regularly busting up reef fishos trying to sneak in a few reefies from their lairs.

Whilst sinking stickbaits are certainly worth a try during dawn, dusk or the evening, it is those that deploy large live baits on heavy tackle that will likely come up tight to these tackle busting demons. Quality tackle, locked drags a strong back are a must when it comes to extracting GT’s from “upright” structure such as shipwrecks and vertical ledges.

It is not only the GT’s giving the reef fishos a hard time, of course the sharks are an absolute nightmare for so many, but the big XOS spaniards are also making their presence felt in some places. These speedsters sport a serious set of dentures that usually means a brief encounter at best for most fishos but those “lucky” enough to stay connected will find their fight consists of a couple of spirited runs followed by a weighty resistance that will see them boat-side in fairly quick time on heavy tackle.

Keeping big spaniards is a no-no in these parts due to the very high risk of ciguatera toxin they may be carrying, particularly those larger models from 20-35kg that are about at present. As a reminder, spanish mackerel cannot be taken from Platypus Bay waters east of a line from Coongul Point to Rooneys Point.

No Fresh For Our Rivers But Fish Still On The Chew

The new moon tides should see some good catches of grunter and threadfin salmon from both the Mary and Susan rivers and from the larger creek systems down the Great Sandy Straits. Both species were quite active over the recent neaps and the bigger draining tides this weekend should see them even more aggressive.

Salmon have been fairly easy to catch along shallow mud banks and in the bigger drains during the last of the ebb tide as they feast on the small prawns flushed out by the tides. You will note the use of the word” small” prawns in lieu of “jelly” prawns in the above statement. When they are feeding on jelly they can be incredibly frustrating, but luckily of late the prawns have grown a little in some areas and the salmon are fairly easy to catch when eating little two inch prawn.

Grunter are quite abundant at present and although their sizes vary dramatically there are enough larger 50cm+ models in the mix for those looking for a feed. Soft vibes, prawn-styled plastics and grub-tailed plastics will all take their share for the lure fishos, whilst bait fishos will have to contend with the pickers and catties amongst the better quality grunter at times.

A few hard-pulling little GT’s are still showing up in the lower reaches of the rivers where-ever schools of herring are gathered. Flatties are hardly common by winter/spring standards, but a few are turning up as bycatch around the drains and rock bars.

Up in the Burrum system it has all been about the jacks this season and the past week of northerlies and oppressive heat has taken them to the next level. Night sessions are best this time of year for those chasing trophies in the 60’s, though even daytime sessions in deeper water have produced some great jacks in the mid 50’s. This system offers one of the best jack fisheries on the east coast when it comes to size, and the endless variety of structure within these four rivers spreads the effort and tests your fish-finding skills.

Mondy’s Golden Barra Still On The Loose

Lake Monduran’s elusive golden barra still evades capture, and with the competition closed as of the 19th February 2020, now is the time for a visit to Mondy. In fact, none of the specially-tagged prize-winning barra have been captured so far, though plenty of fish have been caught this summer. The end of this month will see the last opportunity for a crack at the Rapala giveaway as well, so make sure you give your Rapala collection a good swim if you are heading up that way.

On the fishing front, the lake’s barra population have moved away from the edges of the lake due to the rapid drops in water level in recent times. Many are struggling to score any numbers of fish due to this factor, though some who are tuned into the lake fishery are scoring reasonable numbers fishing deeper waters in the big bays. The dam level is sitting at around 60% and is currently stable, though it might take a little while for the fish to move back into the shallows.

In the meantime, seek out barra lurking in tree tops or along gully or creek courses in deeper waters around 20-30 feet deep. Fishing this sort of country is the domain of hardbodies lures, be they suspending or floating. Old school techniques of slow-rolling floaters down amongst the branches will work, as will the more entertaining technique of twitching suspenders through the same type of furniture.

Lenthalls, Mondy, Awoonga, Callide – So May Choices

Till the east coast barra season opens February 1, you have ample opportunity to hone your barra fishing skills on the awesome lakes in our area. Mondy will (and should be) option number one due to the chance at the Golden Barra and the fact that it has just given up a couple of metre+ fish. However, if Mondy is too challenging then Lenthalls is definitely your best bet. This little lake continues to fire pretty much week in week out this season and is proving to be the most consistent of Qld’s barra lakes.

The big numbers on offer in Lake Awoonga are impressive and when this joint fires it can be barra fishing heaven. Fish over a metre are proving elusive but enough bruisers in the 90’s are regularly hooked to keep everyone on their toes, particularly in the timber. Night sessions anchored off points have been the most productive, though be prepared to mix it up lure-wise as these schools of barra have seen some serious pressure this season. Swimbaits are proving to be real game-changers on Awoonga this year and this fact should not be ignored on the other lakes either.

The big metre+ barra out at Lake Callide are also liking the enticing tail-swinging action of mid-sized swimbaits and these lures, both hard and soft, can sometimes mean the difference between sharing happy snaps or sounder shots of what might have been. Mix it up with hardbodied divers, plastics, vibes, poppers and stickbaits and you have all the bases covered, day or night. Again, night sessions, dawn and dusk, are the go when it is this hot.

Trollers need not feel left out at present either, as all four lakes are currently offering the best barra trolling we have seen in years. With so many of the bigger fish positioned out in deeper waters the age-old art of trolling creek courses and targeting thermoclines is back in vogue.

Good luck out there y’all.

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