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Weekly Fishing Report - 24th November 2022

Joup and his Dad with a juvenile black marlin caught with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Big Blow on its Way Next Week

A continuation of the pleasant weather enjoyed over the past couple of days will see out the working week, with barely a breeze in the mornings and a moderate sea breeze in the afternoon. The weekend is reasonable, but the bay will be a bit bouncy courtesy of a re-invigorated northerly wind.

A series of troughs approaching from the west are what will turn the wind to the north for the next few days. 10-15 knots of northwest – northeasterly breeze is the call for Saturday. Early-risers Sunday might enjoy a brief reprieve before the northerly cranks again throughout the day.

Up to 20 knots is likely Sunday night, and this wind, basically blowing from due north, will dominate the start of the working week until a round of storms late Tuesday herald the passing of the latest trough. Thereafter, the southeaster is going to crank right up and progressively increase to possibly gale force offshore the following weekend.

Staff member Dylan just got back from fishing a billfish competition off Port Douglas. The boys didn't tag any monsters, but got some nice blacks around 350lb. How blue is that water!

There is a chance that another east coast low may form off Fraser Island again late next week. Modelling varies (as usual), so monitor the weather sites and plan around the latest. Essentially, we might not be doing too much fishing this time next week.

Tonight’s new moon sees another peak in our tide cycle. A waxing moon from now on will see our tidal flow diminish daily until the first quarter moon phase next Thursday. Great tides for a host of species over the next couple of days if you can get out on the water.

The last of our annual Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures concludes at midnight this Friday, 25th November. The closure kept everyone either inshore or otherwise focussed on pelagics and estuarine species this week. Let’s all hope that the latest spawn from our coral reef species has been a successful one and we get to reap the rewards in the future.

Young Malakai fighting an est. 350lb black marlin on a recent charter with Kaizen, not bad for a kid that weighs 23kg!

Pelagics Popular and Plentiful

“The Pocket” up there southeast of Rooneys has been crowded any day the weather has been reasonable for weeks on end now. Baby black marlin are the drawcard of course, and some days they are there in numbers, whilst on other days they are scarce to non-existent.

As mentioned recently, there have been marlin captures reported well south of that region, and we would anticipate further “surprise” captures right in close this season. The Pocket and the drop-off out from the beach of northern/central Platypus Bay will continue to be the focus of many marlin hunters, but it would be no surprise to hear of more fish south of Arch Cliffs and across the bay north of the banks.

If last month and history are anything to go by, then the waxing moon after the passing of the new moon tonight should see marlin numbers ramp up again and their feeding activity enhanced. Time will tell of course, but if you are heading up for a look over the next couple of days, then you should do so with confidence.

Whilst the potential east coast low next week might have an impact, we would expect marlin activity in Hervey Bay and offshore from Fraser Island to be heightened right into December and perhaps Xmas this year. Random captures are still possible thereafter in a good season such as this, but your best bet is to get into that fishery right now.

Brock took his Aunty Lee out to catch her first black marlin, mission accomplished. Keeping these fish in the water with the boat in gear keeps the colours super lit up and is a much better option then dragging them over the sides or into the beach, great work guys.

If you’ve done the baby black thing or just want a bit more consistent action, then the bay will dish up plenty of pelagics for all and sundry from now on. The bay is alive with masses of mack tuna, there are pods of longtails mixed in as well, and the spotties have started to arrive en-masse.

So, bundle the kids into the boat and head north looking for wheeling birds and surface commotions. The best of the spotted mackerel schools are to be found in the waters of northern Platypus Bay. Indeed, many trolling the deeper waters for marlin have encountered spotties that failed to read the text books and have been swiping at skirts and larger lures.

Typically, spotties have a case of tunnel vision and are intensely focussed on a given size of tiny baitfish (we call “rain fish”). For that reason, typical spotted mackerel arsenal would include a range of small metal slender-profiled slugs that can be cast and retrieved flat-chat on appropriate high-speed spin tackle.

So, gear up with plenty of small slugs in the 15-40 gram range and you will be all set for the spotties (and indeed, the tuna). Expect plenty of bite-offs as you should avoid wire if you want consistent bites. The sharks are likely to be a nightmare again this spotty season, as they have been in recent years, so remain mobile and bounce from school to school to avoid the noahs.

It was particularly interesting to have schools of decent spotties making raids on the baitfish at Urangan Pier last week. Schools of spotties were also reported surfing the waves of Urangan Channel one day, in substantial numbers. These fish have moved on since apparently, but it suggests there are likely spotties somewhere in the southern bay at this time.

Good-sized school mackerel have been regular captures across a lot of Hervey Bay. They have been caught from local beacons marking our shipping channels, as well as from a swathe of inshore reefs with baitfish in attendance. These free-roaming fish can be an absolute nuisance to squidders and others fishing our shipping channels in coming months, and can take a truly devastating toll on your lure stocks on a “bad” day.

For now, if you want to chase schoolies, you could try the reefs off the Burrum coast, the Fairway, Outer Banks, the reefs off Coongul or the likes of Moon Ledge or Mickies. The schoolies are supposedly so thick at the Burrum 8 Mile right now that it is a struggle to catch bait. They are also well scattered throughout Platypus Bay, and will be indeed hard to avoid on any bait-rich reefs in those waters.

Queenies and GTs are worth pursuing inshore over the bigger tides right now. The current lines spinning off the verges of the bay islands are popular, particularly around the afternoon low tide. Otherwise, the deeper drop-offs along the western side of Fraser, or the beach flats themselves are worth a look. These fish are certainly not limited to the eastern bay either, as some fishos plying the waters off Pt Vernon found out recently.

Kyle with a nice spanish mackerel caught on a stickbait.

New Moon Spawn Hungers our Reef Fish

I have had a “whinge” in the past as to why our coral reef species are not afforded the same protection as their northern cousins. Surely fish south of latitude 24°50’ spawn too, and yet they are not deemed worthy of any protection, even though they exist in lesser numbers and are under even more pressure than stocks to the north.

Yet, the passing of this new moon will see gatherings of prime inshore breeding stocks plundered quite lawfully. It was once possible to troll the shallow reefs around the new moon and quickly recognise aggregation points for groups of coral trout which could then be targeted on the cast. These aggregations likely still occur, but in vastly less numbers as to make such an accumulation difficult to recognise.

Anyway, with those concerns aired once again, there is no denying the increased popularity of fishing our shallow reef systems. The fringing reefs of Pt Vernon / Gatakers Bay and the bay islands, along with some isolated shallow ledges along the inside of Fraser are prime for a feed of trout, cod, sweetlip and grunter. Make the most of the bigger tides for this activity, but please don’t be greedy and throw the barely legal fish back if you can.

Jaxon Johnson with a nice flametail from a recent trip.

The deeper inshore reefs are also worth a try for the same species, with the added bonus of perhaps a few squire or scarlet sea perch. Daggy old blackall are a constant of course, for what seems to be an increasing number of fans of this under-rated sports fish. Sharks are already a problem over some reef systems, and will be an even greater issue in the very near future. Keep on the move when necessary and please don’t sit there feeding the buggers.

The reefs of the northern bay have had a spell of late, courtesy of the annual closures as well as periods of northerly winds. It is likely that the wider bay reefs such as the Gutters and those north of Rooneys will get an extended spell, as few would venture up that way in a north wind or the weather coming next week.

Once the weather settles again though, many of those reefs will be worth a look for those chasing a feed of reef fish. The sharks were horrendous at the Gutters early spring, but the lack of boats lately may see a few areas less sharky until the traffic returns. Species to target this time of year are coral trout (as always), cod, grassy sweetlip, scarlets and reds. There will be other reef fish for variety, a few loose schools of trevally as well, and mackerel will be a nuisance for many and a bonus for some.

Prime Jack Time in Our Creeks

A spike in the mercury a few days ago and increased humidity did wonders for the local mangrove jack fishery. Avoiding the worst of the barren dirty waters of our rivers and fishing the better waters of the lower-mid reaches of the Burrum or Gregory will soon see you hooked up and groaning under the strain of a solid red devil.

The same can be said for the many creeks along the western side of Fraser, and the creeks south of the Germans on the mainland side of the straits. Indeed, Wathumba Creek is known locally as a particularly productive waterway for hunting jacks, but you have the vagaries of distance and tide to contend with up there. The creeks from Coongul south offer vastly easier jack fisheries and good numbers if you get lucky.

Even our local creeks systems – Beelbi, O’Regans, Eli and Pulgul offer surprisingly good jack fishing for the fisho willing to wander on foot or carefully manoeuvre the tinny. The latter two creeks are only fractions of their former selves unfortunately, due to mitigated water flow and silting brought on by local developments. Decent jacks still make even these creeks home, just in lesser numbers than they used to.

Spring time is prime for targeting jacks on the Fraser Coast.

Bait fishos typically score the best numbers of jacks and will continue to do so. Catching a string of jacks one after the other on baits of mullet or livies such as prawns, herring or poddies can be a relatively simple matter for an adept fisho with a knack for finding them.

Many fishos start their jack fishing career focussed purely on lure fishing – and this is great – but the reality is, as mentioned at times in the past, those failing or struggling would benefit greatly from a session or two fishing baits. Once you know where jack lives, when he feeds and on what, then the whole lure fishing puzzle is easier to put together.

A couple of the more obvious considerations when it comes to lure selection is size, profile and imitation. Smaller is often better with jacks, at least until you are up to the task of chasing true trophies. A degree of speed in the retrieve will also trigger responses, with straight retrieves in lieu of twitching motions often proven with the likes of paddle-tailed plastics and hard bodies. Twitching prawn profiles deep in the jungle or over the rocks is dynamite as well and will typically maximise your bycatch as well.

Getting your casting up to scratch can be the difference between landing a lure in the zone and falling short, particularly amongst the mangroves or laydown timber. Jacks are prone to remain within cover during the daylight and will only venture so far if tempted by a potential meal within their comfort zone. Night time is a different story and they will roam far and wide and smash topwater and sub-surface lures with gusto.

One of the greatest assets you can have on board your boat/yak for jack fishing (and indeed any form of estuary / lake fishing) is a telescopic lure retrieving pole. This apparatus will not only save you big bucks in lost lures, it will give you the confidence to push the limits with your casts. Without a pole, you would tend to err on the side of caution and be falling short all too often. Great Xmas gifts by the way, in store now in a range of sizes.

Estuary Species Respond Well to Heat

It is not just the jacks that respond well to a spike in water temperature. Obviously barra do too, but no-one would be targeting them during the closure – right? Threadfin salmon really hit their straps this time of year. They are ravenous and highly mobile. They can be caught from all of our major rivers and from most creek systems down the straits south of River Heads.

A strange thing about hunting threadies is that when the water is dirty, you are looking for clearer waters; and when the waters are clear, you are looking for dirtier waters. There is water that is “just right” and that is where they will feed. Seeing them in particularly clear water will rarely result in hook-ups. These fish will either feed there under cover of darkness or feed elsewhere.

Threadies can certainly be caught from waters so brown and muddy you could just about plough it. These fish are often chasing jelly prawn and can be somewhat frustrating to tempt, but luckily for us right now, they are currently feeding on herring, larger prawn and other baitfish. You can have a crack at them with vibes, softies or fast-twitched hardbodies.

Trollers have a better-than-even chance of snaring some threadies in the lower reaches of the Mary system at present. Indeed, the large gutters in the vicinity of the heads are worth a crack too, as are the channels and creeks down the straits.

Some new colours in the Molix RT Shad 3.5" & 4.5" just landed. These will be deadly on a host of estuary species.

Lures such as Reidys B52s, Bombers, Redics, X-Raps, Lucky Crafts, Double Clutches and the like all match the profile of a garfish or mullet. More often than not this profile is the winner, but shorter, stouter lures such as Jaz’s, Tilsans, Shad Raps and similar vibrate faster and imitate a herring or poddy very well. Choose your lures with a given depth in mind, but you won’t need deep divers in the areas mentioned above.

Grunter are super active nowadays as well, and can be found around our inshore reefs, shallow reefs, the lower reaches of our rivers and down the straits. Target them with baits of prawn, small squid or yabbies, or better still, seek them out with small softies or vibes.

Do enough miles and throw enough lures and you will likely encounter the odd remnant blue salmon, river GTs or queenies and a few flatties. The flatties will be seeking deeper waters as it gets hotter, but they are still possible in many of the local creeks.

Jewies too will head deeper as it warms, yet they are still a worthy target with vibes, prawn imitations or live baits right now. Night sessions on the jewies will pay off, for both lure fishos and those favouring bait. Those nuisance tailor that are chopping up lures in the creeks inside Fraser should soon move on.

How vibrant are the colours on this juvenile QLD grouper! A quick photo was taken and straight back in the water

Urangan Pier –
Fired on all Cylinders Last Week, then Stalled

If you were out on the Urangan Pier a week ago then you would have witnessed some pretty good fishing. There were schoolies galore joined by good-sized broadies and schools of spotties as well. Apparently, there was even a sizeable cobia caught.

And then along came a stiff northerly blow. Since then, we are told that the mackerel have disappeared (for now) and it is sharks and rays that are bending rods and pulling line. Settled weather and post new moon tides should see a return of predatory fish, and with such mobility demonstrated by the pelagics in the area of late, it could be more mackerel, queenies, GTs or tuna that we are reporting on next.

In the meantime, the exciting news for many will be that the pencil squid have turned up. Night sessions with the aide of a suspended light, a submerged squid light, or just strobes or light sticks attached to lines will soon see you and the kids hauling pencillies over the rails.

Apparently, the first run of squid were quite decent size too, but they were there one night and gone the next. Smaller squid would be more typical this early in the season, but bigger is definitely better. These squid should be a regular feature from pier waters after dark for the summer ahead. They can also be caught at dawn and a little thereafter for those that favour a morning session (just sink your jigs to the bottom).

Remember, there is a bag limit of 50 on “pencil squid”, which are actually arrow squid. This is an in-possession limit (like all limits) and means that if you have any at home, then you can only top-up to 50, not get another 50.

When the shop lights go out the jigs and bottom meats come out to play! Just some of our range from Nomad, Volante, Vexed and Cast.

Latest New from Fraser’s Surf Beach

We have finally had some reports from Fraser Island’s surf beach, and the news is great. The tailor are still there and biting ravenously. Some crews scored big numbers quickly, but found only choppers up to 50cm. Others scored bigger fish one after the other with tailor less than 50cm being rare. Bag limits have been easily achieved by many.

The afternoon and evening high tides have been most productive over the past week. The tailor have been mauling the usual baits of pilchard and garfish, and have been eager to hunt down any spoons, slugs or stickbaits swum past the schools.

Clive with a nice tailor from the eastern beaches of Fraser Island.

There has been jewfish caught as well, but we are unaware as to whether there have been any significant numbers. Giant trevally, spanish mackerel and sharks are all a chance this time of year. Slide-baiters and drone fishers stand the best chance of tangling with such beasts from the surf zone, but you never know your luck on Fraser.

We are told that some of the inland tracks are pretty chopped up due to the recent dry conditions. A bit of rain next week will fix that. Beach travel is fine at the moment. Pippies and worms are apparently quite hard to come by (but we only have reports from the central sector).

Some good size GT and manageable sharks were caught as well. 

Too Much Wind, then Not Enough Wind at Mondy

Stiff northerly winds fire up the barra at Mondy, but when the lake is full, it can be a somewhat daunting experience for many to navigate these waters and follow the wind to the best fishing. Those that have fished the likes of Awoonga and Faust in windy conditions likely wonder what all the fuss is about, given Mondy’s comparatively protected waters.

Word is that the lake was tough for many until the nights warmed again after the cool spell last week. Most of the consistent action was again in Bird Bay and the main basin. Apparently, the guides have resorted to fishing these waters this week which says a lot.

A few days ago, the wind dropped out altogether, then the issue was trying to get fish to respond to lures. Barra were easily found, but with no wind, hence no current, and no reason to be anywhere, the barra suffered a dose of lethargy. At least the waters have warmed significantly, so a more consistent bite might be expected when the breeze returns.

If heading to Mondy this week, then arm yourself with plenty of paddle-tailed plastics (rigged weedless ideally), swimbaits and suspending hardbodies. Take topwater lures too, as the barra can be particularly responsive to noisy surface lures under a moonless sky at night. If the rains come next week and the lake receives enough to lift the water level once again, then frogs will come into their own once again.

Trollers can view the future at Mondy with a little more interest. The warmer conditions of late have helped to lift the core temperature of the lake a little, so trolling will be more productive. There is still a big difference between the core waters and the surface for now though, so choose to swim lures 3-5 metres deep during daylight and target the surface layer at night.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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