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Weekly Fishing Report - 24th March 2022

Sashimi time! A nice school size longtail tuna caught with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing

Make the Most of the Great Weather This Week

The wind dropped out a couple of days ago and boaties are enjoying glamour conditions right now. Glassed-out conditions with barely a zephyr of light and variable breeze can be expected for those lucky fishos that are out there today, tomorrow or Saturday. There will be a slight sea breeze late in the day into the early evening, but hardly anything to stress about.

Sunday will see a little more breeze, but still only around 10 knots. Storms are a slight chance, so keep a weather-eye out this weekend, and monitor the radar on your phone if within range. The working week will see a continuation of the great weather, with light winds accompanied by a few annoying showers daily until Friday. Come Friday, a stiff southerly change is forecast that will likely see the following weekend blown out.

Tomorrow’s last quarter moon phase heralds another period of neap tides. As the waning moon creeps closer to next Friday’s new moon, the tides will build daily and invigorate more action from a range of fisheries. Crabbing and prawning will improve, and pelagic activity will intensify, but for now, most fishos are keen to get out and score a feed of succulent reef fish.
Wide Grounds Popular in Light Winds

Perfect boating conditions and neap tides make for easy fishing for reef fishos out wide in the northern bay and beyond. That word “easy” is of course a fallacy if the sharks join the party. Several crews have plied the waters of the Gutters and off Rooneys already this week, and some were hounded by sharks relentlessly, whilst others scored a great feed of reefies.

School mackerel have been a serious nuisance on many sites at the Gutters, and small-medium sized spaniards are also testing the patience of reef fishos. Obviously, the mackerel activity is of appeal to many fishos, so those so inclined will be in for a ton of fun in the northern bay.

Brett Healey with a solid coral trout that measured 91cm

Coral trout have been very active out wide and inshore as well. Gutters trout haven’t been too hard to tempt at all, taking tea-bagged softies, vibes and slow-pitch jigs. Live baiters are also fairing well on the trout, with bycatch such as cod, scarlets, large sweetlip, spangled emperor, jacks and reds all possible from some spots.

Chinamen fish often prove a handful on some sites, scoffing any lure or live bait sent their way, but their numbers are barely a shadow of what they used to be due to the devastating sharks in recent years.

Bait fishos will pick up a feed of sweeties pretty easily if they work the fringes of the ledges or the flatter country. Quality venus tuskies also roam these fringes, and in some spots squire, scarlets, moses perch and stripies will add a little variety to the box.

Crews heading even wider will be spoilt for choice, with grounds from north of the Gutters to Lady Elliot and back towards the bar all prime for reaping after so many months of dodgy weather. Red emperor will always be the prime target in those waters and at the right stage of the tide, when the moon is in just the right position in the sky, they will beat allcomers to your baits or jigs and the hooting and hollering can begin.

We would expect catches of large scarlets, lots of cod, some maori cod, plenty of big sweeties, quality parrot and swags of hussar from some of these wider reef systems. How bad the sharks are up that way will be revealed in time as the crews that scout that country in coming days share their stories thereafter.

Those heading over the Breaksea Spit to fish the shoals country or the shelf should find no shortage of fish, so long as they can avoid the noahs. The prevailing current offshore will dictate what grounds can be fished. Checking Sea Surface Temperature Charts can be a great aide beforehand, otherwise it is a matter of “suck it and see”.

Neap tides after a period of sustained southeasterlies might suggest fairly substantial current this time of year, but the lack of wind will still enable reasonable drifts. Look out for flotsam offshore and investigate anything substantial as schools of mahi mahi may be tagging along.

A nice red emperor caught with Bob Jeynes from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters
Plenty of Pelagics in the Bay

Tuna chasers will have plenty to get excited about this week. The better weather will enable them to head out into the central or northern bay if they wish to. However, the numbers of both mack and longtail tuna in Platypus Bay sounds as though it will keep a lot of the those in smaller vessels hooked up and happy.

There are a lot of large longtails in the bay at present, so keep this in mind, as 15 kilos or more of tuna can be a rather drawn-out battle on the light tackle. Sharks will be an issue for many, though thankfully, a lot of the bigger tuna hunt solo or in small numbers so they tend to attract less sharks than the big schools.

There's been some XOS size longtail tuna amongst the schools. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

A savvy tuna chaser might risk cheaper slugs and jerkshads around the big bust-ups and save their precious stickbaits for the smaller pods of highly mobile larger fish. With that in mind, it will still be a matter of matching the baitfish profile to get the bite from boat-wary tuna once there is a bit of traffic in the bay.

Beneath the bait balls and tuna schools has been schools of large golden trevally of late. Dropping plastics, soft vibes or jigs to the trevally will soon result in a hook-up, a screaming drag and that unmistakable thumping head-shake of a trevor.

Big golden trevally are a sucker for a soft plastic or slow pitch jig and can be abundant around the bait balls this time of year

Big queenies are also a chance from some waters up the bay, so be ready for them if they turn up. Sure enough, they will rarely ignore a plastic or soft vibe worked correctly and fast enough, but catching queenies on topwater is the most fun. A selection of different sized stickbaits and poppers will cover all bait profiles and soon see these crazy fish greyhounding after your lure.

Broad-barred, spanish and school mackerel are also possible out in the bay north of the banks. Pack some spoons for vertical spinning or troll your favourite high-speed mackerel lure over likely terrain and around bait schools and the action will be fast and furious.

With so much pelagic activity on offer right now, make sure you have a good selection of lures to cover all species and their preferences. Keep mobile if the sharks turn up and remember to keep an eye on the sounder whilst spinning or fighting fish. Not only might you spot other fishy targets below, you might also see the dreaded noahs and be able to avoid them.

Another spanish mackerel hits the deck for clients on board a charter with Bob from Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters
Inshore Waters Cleaning Up and Fishing Well

The big full moon tides a week ago helped to disperse a lot of ex-Mary River floodwater and bring a substantially improved colour to our inshore waters. Yes, there is still a big plume of dirty brown water hugging the close waters from River Heads to Urangan, and a degree of dirty water in the western bay, but the waters out in the shipping channels have cleared considerably.

From Kingfisher north, you will find “coloured” water, but very much a green instead of brown. There will be a degree of twisting of the currents for some weeks to come in some areas (such as the Roy Rufus arti), where the overflow of excess water from the Mary still pushes across the top of the prevailing tides of the channels. Those lucky enough to be “spot-locking” will be far less impacted by these currents than those having to anchor old school.

You will find plenty of reef fish on the chew inshore in both deep and shallow water at present. Coral trout are biting very well, taking live baits or lures tea-bagged near their lairs. Trolling deep divers will also pick up nice trout along gnarly ledge country, be it deep or shallow. Cod bycatch will be substantial in some locales, particularly south into the straits.

Grassy sweetlip are in good numbers and ravenous. Simple baits of squid fished on the bottom around the fringes of reefs or over fern, soft coral or sponge country in the shipping channels will soon see a feed of fat little sweeties in the esky. If you have to measure your sweetlip, then you aren’t attracting the better fish or are in the nursery.

A quality sweetie inshore is any fish over 40cm (1kg) by the way, with a fish around 55cm (2.5kg) considered “large”. These critters grow to over 6kg and used to very common over 4kg in the northern bay. Many people love a feed of grassies (“coral bream” to the locals), and this is prime time for them both inshore and out wider.

Grassies are plentiful at the moment and can be targeted on fresh baits and soft plastics

Quality scarlets can be found on a few select inshore reef sites. Large structure can attract them, though funnily enough they often tend to graze the paddock nearby when feeding. Squire, and even a large snapper are quite possible inshore as well. The bait schools have not moved in to the usual winter haunts of course, so any larger fish are likely stragglers from last year.

Grunter are worth pursuing around the reefs in the western bay. The Burrum 8 Mile is very popular of course, as is the Fairway and the fringing reefs of Pt Vernon. Soft vibes are one of the best tools of trade for grunter hunters in deeper waters (not so much Pt Vernon of course). They will take a range of plastics too, particularly the prawn imitations. Bait fishos are best served offering them small herring, squid or prawn baits.

There is plenty of pike on offer for live baiters. The usual early morning chore of filling live bait tanks with pike before a reef session is fairly easy now that the dirty water has mixed up with the salty stuff.

Sand crabbers will be out in force this week thanks to the great weather. The waters of the western bay and the lower central bay were giving up a great feed before the wind blew up a couple of weeks ago. Bag limits are fairly easily achieved when the crabs are active. At times you might even consider working the pots for a while initially instead of relying on an overnight soak.
Straits Options Improving with Better Water Quality

The Mary River is still running dirty. The waters of the straits are vastly more appealing for now, though you could still pick up a few threadies in the lower reaches of the river if you put in the effort. Straits fishos will all go armed with cast nets and will either seek out prawn or at least be ready to score a feed if they trip over them by accident.

A feed of small prawn is quite possible from the creeks and muddy verges of the feeder channels. Better-quality (larger) bananas will be prime in weeks to come. We would normally already by getting fat on these tasty morsels by now, but that second flood put things back a bit. That southerly forecast for a week’s time to coincide with the new moon just screams prawn, so make sure you are geared-up and ready.

The average size of prawn at the moment is still relatively small, give it a few weeks and we should be in for a treat

Crabbers scored full muddies out on the flats and in the channels of the straits over the full moon. The slower-flowing neaps may not see as much movement from the crab, but as the new moon approaches, they should stretch their legs. Making tides some time soon will see them make their way back upstream in the creeks and eventually the river.

Barra, threadies, jacks and grunter are all major targets for straits fishos right now. That same southerly that will trigger prawn activity will trigger warm water loving species such as these to feed up preceding the change. Jacks in particular are a prime target this time of year, and can be found within the creeks, along the ledges and over reefs within the straits.

The threadies have been actively gorging on jelly prawn up on the flats. You won’t need to travel far from River Heads to find threadies, but if you prefer peace and a lack of company whilst fishing, you might favour the maze of creeks down the straits. Don’t go anywhere down there without the Bushmans this time of year – you will need it!
Lots of Juvenile Fish Along Our Beaches

We are told that there are stacks of small whiting and large schools of mullet along our town beaches. There could be a little fun in there for the kids dangling baits of worm or yabby. Expect a high proportion of undersized whiting, though you could pick up the odd better fish.

Grunter continue to surprise whiting fishos along our beaches and mudflats. Targeting them outright is a simple affair. You can still use yabbies and put up with the whiting picking them to pieces or opt for larger banana prawn on more appropriate hooks and score grunter without the hassles.

Whiting fans that favour their topwater offerings will have plenty to cheer about in coming weeks. The whiting are happy hunting up in the shallowest of margins under the cover of dirty water and respond exceptionally well to micro poppers and stickbaits this time of year.

It is the jelly prawn that are the drawcard for the fish, and the topwater offerings are the most productive and enjoyable imitation you can use. This fishery will be better on the next set of springs, but even over the neaps, you can have fun with the smaller fish.

We still haven’t heard anything worth sharing from the Urangan Pier. The dirty water has the locals spooked. Displaced estuary predators, both large and small, along with sharks, shovel-nosed rays and stingrays are about all you might expect until the waters clear up.

Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Club’s
Easter Fishing Competition

Covid put paid to the annual Burrum Heads Easter Classic that drew huge crowds and thrilled the kids in years gone by. It wasn’t just this event, but pretty much all fishing competitions that suffered the same fate during the pandemic. Thankfully, the worst of that crap is behind us, and things are getting back to normal.

The Burrum Heads Amateur Fishing Club has announced that they will be running their “Easter Fishing Competition 2022” this Easter. The comp will be run over three days, kicking off at 9am on Friday 15th April, and concluding at 12 noon on Sunday 17th April.

The organisers tell us that this event will be a somewhat scaled-down affair compared to the “Classic” of years gone by, but it sounds like a ton of fun all the same. Entry fees are quite minimal, at $30 for adults and only $5 for kids.

The comp will be run from the Lions Park in Burrum Heads. Registrations are to be made in-person at the comp site prior to commencing fishing. There will be prizes for the heaviest mackerel, bream and whiting (dead) and the heaviest flathead (live). There will even be a prize for the heaviest mud crab. The kids aren’t left out either, with prizes up for grabs within the junior category for each of the above species.

There will be a $2,500 cash Super Draw, a $2,500 prize draw for all who have registered, as well as a random draw prize for those that weighed in a fish. A Raffle will be run as well, with prizes worth $1,500, $1,000 and $500.

This is a great local fishing club, that are always seeking new members. Many new fishos have moved to the Burrum Heads township and surrounds in recent times, and might find joining a club such as this a great way to meet like-minded people and perhaps learn a little about the local fishing scene.

You can contact the club, or find out more about their fishing competition by looking them up on Facebook.
Good luck out there y’all.

🐟 Peter Morse Fly Casting Clinic - 18th & 19th June 🐟

Don't miss this great opportunity to improve your fly casting or get started with the right instruction. Peter is an International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Fly Casting Instructor and has over 40 years of fly-fishing experience in fresh and saltwater and 25 years teaching fly fishing and fly-casting. Peter is also a Sage and RIO ambassador and will have Sage rods, reels and Rio lines with him if you wish to have a cast of one.

Courses are a full day from 8-30am to 4pm. Numbers are limited to 8 per day and the cost is still only $150 pp for the day.
To secure your spot contact Josh on (07) 4128 1022 or email: info@fishostackleworld.com.au

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