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Weekly Fishing Report - 25th February 2021

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Light Winds Continue

Well, so much for our interpretation of last weekend’s weather. That unpredictable low drifted away leaving calm seas and hot weather in its wake (in lieu of the blow that might have eventuated). The winds have been fairly light ever since, and it looks like we are in for several more days of even lighter onshore winds.

We can look forward to light easterlies of around 10kn right through the weekend into next week. Come Wednesday, a stiff southeasterly change is scheduled to pass through that will see stronger winds from that direction for the remainder of the week.

The making tides this week stirred up plenty of fish within our estuaries and the bay. Saturday night’s full moon will see the big tides peak on Sunday before they wane and the bite tapers off for some species. Make the most of this weekend’s awesome conditions, but be prepared for the odd shower or storm should they brew up.

As a side note: No doubt the weather gurus will be watching the development of a low in the monsoon trough up north over the coming week. If you’ve lived in these parts long enough then you might be familiar with what sometimes happens after a prolonged spell of hot weather and light easterlies this time of year. Potentially, a cooler southeaster will arrive a week before a big willy willy forms up north. The cooler southeasterly weather typically cools our waters too much for a cyclone to stay alive this far south, but we get a drenching if the system gets close enough. No suggestion that it might happen, but an interesting event to monitor if you are so inclined. Fingers crossed for some serious rain in the near future – we need it bad.

A quick apology to those folks who felt let down by a lack of a fishing report last week. We simply didn’t have the resources and had so little to write about at the time. We could have waffled on about the tuna and mackerel carving up the bay, or the sweeties, cod and trout on the reefs, or the sharks that are intent on eating everything that swims – but we would have just been repeating ourselves. Anyhow, here’s the latest from around the Fraser Coast:

Kurt from Fraser Coast Fly & Sportfishing guided Alex (pictured) onto this nice Lenthalls Dam barra on fly. Alex was using one of the Primal fly rods; if you would like to check one out or have a cast drop in store, we carry them in weights 6-12.

Plenty of Tuna Action on the Bay

Tuna can be found throughout Platypus Bay and the central bay in big numbers right now. Acres of mack tuna and big numbers of longtails are on offer for sportsfishos, busting up on the surface all over the bay. With so much surface activity and literally thousands of fish to target, it might pay to be a little selective and seek out the bigger longtails in lieu of the smaller models and the macks.

This week the mass numbers of tuna in close to Fraser in Platypus Bay have drawn the attention of plenty of boats, but the sharks are also in attendance and rarely miss out on an easy meal. Out wider in the central bay, the tuna schools have been smaller, and often the fish larger, without as many attending sharks. Whilst the weather is so good, it might pay to steer out into the open bay if your boat and crew can manage a little Hervey Bay chop.

Hard fighting species like tuna are a real handful on light tackle at the best of times, but going light is foolhardy and wasteful these days with so many sharks in the area. Use the heaviest tackle you can to still deliver the size lure you need, and do your best to land the fish as quickly as possible.

Speaking of lure size, the challenge at the moment is that many of the tuna schools are feasting on tiny baitfish only an inch or two in length. This means tiny metal slugs or small soft plastics are the go for the spin guys, whilst the fly guys should have plenty of tiny offerings in their arsenal to match the hatch.

Fly fishos and spinners alike might find a few small pods of longtail up on the flats along the inside of Fraser Island at present. These fish can be very spooky and hard to approach, but the exciting visuals of watching a big tuna scoff your offering in glistening clear shallows can make the effort worthwhile. The added bonus of fishing the flats being the general lack of sharks up in the shallows.

Fraser Guided Fishing has been finding some solid longtail tuna of late.

Another quality Larry longtail for Fraser Guided Fishing.

Longtail tuna on the flats are always a welcome catch for fly fishos, great work Paul. Caught on a recent charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Paul with another longatil on fly, drop in and check out our great range of fly rods, reels, lines and flies if you want to have a go for yourself!

Longtail tuna, the flavour of the week. Pic: HBFS

Mackerel Galore Inshore

Those that enjoy a tussle with the speedsters, but would rather take home a feed are well catered for right now. There are plenty of mackerel in the bay, with all four species on offer if you are lucky and mobile. Yes, the spotties have thinned out, but there is still a chance of tripping over schools of surface-feeding spotties out on the bay amongst the tuna schools if you are lucky.
Spaniards are turning up over some reef systems in the bay, and quite large models can be encountered whether you venture east, west, north or just hang around the local inshore reefs in the south. The spaniards will also follow and harass schools of larger baitfish as they traverse the bay, and are very prone to predating on smaller mackerel and juvenile reef species.

School mackerel can be found around many inshore reef systems in the lower bay and throughout our local shipping channels. They are particularly annoying around any area holding pencil squid this time of year and can cost you a packet in jigs on any given day.

Trollers will score well on schoolies when trolling the shipping channels or bait rich open waters away from the reefs. The bonus being that they won’t get sharked nearly as often as the crews targeting them on the reefs. There is a big range of lures that can be trolled for mackerel, but a few local favourites score regularly. Differing sizes and profiles need to be considered, so choose your lures to match the bait source and use larger models for the spaniards, smaller ones for the schoolies and broadies, and tiny ones for the spotties.

Broad-barred mackerel (greys) are also turning up around many of our close inshore reefs. These fish are typically a bit larger than the average schoolie, yet they often favour smaller baitfish and therefore smaller lures. They can be frequent visitors to the shallow fringing reefs in town or around the bay islands, and also feed up on the vast mudflats down the straits.

How's that for a queenfish! Paul was out on a charter with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing and scored this XOS queeny. Great work team.
Sharks are becoming a bigger problem every season, you'll see plenty around the schools of pelagics this time of year. Pic: HBFS

Reef Fish on the Chew

Getting a bite from a reef fish has been a fairly simple affair this week if you know where to find them. Of course, landing them with so many sharks around has been another matter. Nightmare stories of relentless shark attacks both inshore and out wide abound, and the attrition to our limited reef fish resources continues. Newcomers to the bay be warned – the sharks cannot be beaten, so steer clear when they find you. It is devastating to hear people tell stories of losing fish after fish to sharks when they should have moved elsewhere.

The same reef fish that we’ve been reporting on for weeks are the same ones on offer right now. Grass sweetlip lead the pack in numbers, whilst trout and cod, squire and the odd scarlet sea perch are the other mainstays. Of course, blackall are a constant on some reefs, particularly at night, though very few find them appealing.

For the newbies out there, the humble blackall (aka painted sweetlip, slatey bream) is a much-maligned fish in Qld waters due to its reputation as a poor eating fish. Some Hervey Bay locals target them and eat them, as they are not prone to the same tainted flesh hereabouts that they appear to suffer elsewhere when feeding over/on certain weed/coral. They fight hard and grow to about 7 kilos in our waters, and they love to feed on squid and prawns. Night is best if you really want to target them, as they move out away from the reefs and graze, but you can still catch them in the daytime in close to the reef.

By the way, an even harder fighting fish that looks like a blackall on steroids is the blubber-lipped bream. These bruisers attain similar size and also favour the evenings, though they can often be found within our river and creek systems up to about 5kg. Connect to one of these fish in a river and you will think you have a stonker jack and be bitterly disappointed when it emerges from the depths. You would not contemplate eating a blubber-lip, even if you had an iron gut.

Coral trout have been on the chew both inshore and out wide. Live baiters have done well over both fresh ground and country that has been flogged with tea-bagged plastics. The minimal tidal flow during the recent neaps demanded a little cunning from the angler, as many a trout could scoff a livie and sit idle without moving off, making for interesting fishing. Missed fish and poorly hooked fish are common on live baits in minimal flow, but the fish bite more aggressively once the tides build so that won’t be a problem in days to come.

It's always good to see kids getting into fishing, cod are fairly prolific and are a great way to get them into soft plastic fishing or trolling. Pic: HBFS

King Tide Action Down the Straits

Our rivers will run hard over the coming days, leading many fishos to fish the lower reaches or the vast expanses of the Great Sandy Straits. Flats fishos, both fly and “normal” will find plenty of target species up in the skinny waters over the top of tide. Golden trevally, queenfish and mackerel on the local flats will give way to the likes of grunter, barra, threadies, flathead and queenies further down the straits.

A stealthy approach, a lightly-weighted lure that lands without too much noise/splash of a pattern that resembles a prawn or small baitfish, and a good set of polaroids on a bright sunny day is all you require. Bring this recipe together and you can have a ball with any of the above species and plenty more on a weekend such as this one coming.

Those chasing kingies (threadfin salmon) will be focussed on the drains in the lower reaches of the Mary/Susan Rivers during the last of the ebb tide. Sight fishing to feeding kings is frustrating as we’ve stated plenty of times before, but is still a real adrenalin rush when you get the bite. Small lures are the go for those up to the challenge, otherwise simply deploy live baits nearby and wait.

There will be creeks down the straits holding modest numbers of kingies, flatties, grunter, jacks and hopefully a few barra. Fish the ebb tide and early flood to get the fish when they are feasting on baitfish and small prawn forced out of the mangroves and off the flats by the tide.
Muddies are active and should pot well over the full moon. Still nothing to report on prawn-wise, except for the small number of prawns holding station in the upper reaches of the feeder creeks. Here’s hoping for some flooding rains soon or we are facing another dud prawn season.

When the northerly winds kick in, Lenthalls Dam is a great backup option and a great bass and barra fishery. Pic: HBFS

Cranky Jacks in the Burrum

The heat this week during a spell of making tides made for the perfect jack fishing scenario. The days were so hot, that even the jacks sought the cooler low-light periods to feed, offering respite to anglers who timed it right. Night sessions are always best for jacks anyway, offering easier fishing for bait fishos and a topwater challenge for those favouring artificials. Expect the great jack bite to continue, but you might want to look for shallow water ambush spots over the bigger tides.

Barra have been scattered throughout all four rivers of the Burrum system. Burrum Heads locals have been knocking off quite a few sizeable specimens from the local ramps, pontoon and beaches, not to mention the fish being caught from boats on the other side of the river. Unfortunately, local and visiting commercial fishers have put a serious dent in their numbers and are still active.

A couple of Burrum Heads locals have been scoring really well on sizeable bream in the river. Anchoring, berleying and fishing lightly-weighted baits has brought them bags of quality bream all exceeding the 30cm mark. We all know that bream are a winter species in these parts, forgetting that they are still here in the warmer months.

There has been a few mud crabs on the march in the Burrum system, offering a great feed for those putting the pots in the right spots. These same crabs are ever-frustrating to bait fishos targeting jacks on mullet baits, proving relentless at times, marching off slowly with baits and often hanging on all the way to the boat.

Urangan Pier Has Been Quiet

We haven’t mentioned the Urangan Pier in our report for several weeks. There has been good reason. Very little activity has been reported from local regulars, so we haven’t wasted your time. The pier is still fairly quiet, though word this week is that a few decent broadies have showed up. Spinning Flasha spoons will soon bring them undone if you are feeling energetic, as will a live bait on a set of gangs for the less active angler.

Pelagic activity along the pier can be very hot and cold this time of year. Summer’s GT population have been out the end destroying tackle and breaking hearts for months, but we haven’t heard anything about them for a few weeks, so perhaps even they have moved on.

When the bait is thick, there is always a chance of passing spaniards, schoolies, tuna, goldies and queenies hanging around for a feast. Over the past few weeks there has been a few schoolies, queenies and the odd goldie or spaniard caught – but none consistently.

Shark fishing at night is very popular out on the pier in summer, and some absolute monsters occasionally take baits aimed at more modest sized specimens. The best of the season’s pencil squid have moved on, but there is still the chance of a few if you persist over the right tides pre-dawn.

We have also had very little to report on from local beaches. There are a couple of intrepid locals that could catch quality whiting in a bathtub, but their secrets are safe with us. There have been complaints recently from beach-goers of individuals breaking the local by-laws and using cast nets along our town beaches. We trust that they will soon be informed of the error of their ways, or will get a surprise visit from the authorities if they keep it up.

Good luck out there y’all.


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