With yet another week of spectacular winter weather now behind us and several more days of light winds and sunny skies to come, you have to admit that we are very lucky to live here on the Fraser Coast.
This weekend looks like being another glass out, with 5 knot winds and clear skies the call at this time. More of the same will follow for the start of next week before a southerly buster will come screaming up the coastline on Wednesday.
Whilst the weather was great this past week, the tides and moon were less than ideal for a range of species and fisheries, but the week ahead will see building tides preceding the new moon next Thursday. So, make the most of the great weather and good tides, as the new moon period looks like a blowout.
The Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Competition is still in full swing at present, with the final weigh-in this Saturday. Even though the weather has been glorious, word is that the fishing was a bit tough during the first few days. With a 15kg red emperor weighed in on day one the bar was set quite high from the get-go, but with some 700 entrants this year whoever has their name on the board against this fish won’t be resting easy just yet.
Numerous 10kg+ reds have been brought to the weigh master since, but none quite big enough to pip day one’s effort as yet. Plenty of quality snapper have also graced the scales, but word is that the pearlies haven’t been real big in recent days. Numbers are down for tailor and mulloway jew, no doubt courtesy of the calm weather.
Conclusion of the Rainbow comp on Saturday will see boat ramps return to normal thereafter, but one would assume the fish to be somewhat shell-shocked from all the boat traffic this past week. All the same, with such great weather and building tides the fish should be on the chew and a great mix of reefies is on offer down that way.
Heading north from Urangan and crossing the Breaksea Spit will be an option for local offshore boaties again this week and from latest reports the fishing has been on the improve out that way. Less attention from sharks is the major contributing factor to improved catches just recently, but they are still out there and giving some crews an absolute caning.
Just a tip that other experienced offshore fishos might relate to is that if you hook into a small/medium sized fish and can skull drag it up without letting the fish get any head-down attitude, then more often than not you will win the battle with the sharks. Hook a bigger fish that turns and pulls line or attempts to do so and the shark will home in and attack. We often associate this observation with the sharks being fussy and only favouring the bigger (often red coloured) fish.
However, this is possibly due to the fact that the smaller fish being skull dragged to the surface looks very unnatural to the following shark whilst the bigger model is making more natural, albeit panicked, lunges sideways or towards the bottom that triggers the shark’s attack instinct. This very observation is likely being experienced by the increasing number of deep water reef fishos that utilize electric reels that can winch fish up and beat the sharks whilst their mates with conventional tackle are creamed time and time again. Food for thought perhaps.
Anyway, sharks aside, catches over the spit this week included reds to 15kg, red throat, parrot, coronation trout, maori cod, green jobfish, pearl perch, snapper, rosy jobfish and of course hussar. A few big amberjacks are lurking along the shelf ledges and the higher ridges in as little as 50 metres for those looking for an arm-stretching on the jigging gear.
The Gutters still has its perennial shark issues if you find the quality fish over country frequented by other boaties. Being mobile and driving away from them puts a modest feed of reefies in the box but nothing like it might be without the noahs. Trout numbers are at an all time low out there nowadays courtesy of angler pressure and sharks, but you can still scrounge up a couple if you get lucky.
Sweetlip are the most common catch at the Gutters these days and can be relied on for an easy feed. Fish the night periods and you will get better quality with snapper, scarlets, reef jacks and the odd red joining the sweeties, parrot and hussar in the esky. Trevally can be a nuisance on some of the bigger more prominent reef ledges, with the odd cobia turning up as well.
Back down at the 25 Fathom Hole the usual run of snapper is m.i.a. so far, but so are the big yakka schools that hover over these grounds at this time of year. The odd knobbie to 80cm or so has been landed recently from the Fathom Hole but no numbers as yet.
Could it be that the HMAS Tobruk is drawing a lot of baitfish and their predators away from their traditional stomping grounds at the Fathom Hole some 2 miles to the south? Quite likely perhaps. We can only hope that the spin-off effect of increased propagation of fish courtesy of their protection within the Tobruk’s no-go zone will spill out into other areas and not the reverse.
Word is that it has been a fairly quiet week over in Platypus Bay. Put it down to the crappy tides if you wish, but sometimes the weather is just too good and over a prolonged period it can have an effect on the fishing. Bring on the building tides this week and we should see some improvement in the fishing. Snapper and trevally will be the main targets on artificials up that way.
Bait fishos will be hunting snapper, scarlets, grunter and other small reefies and will do best at night. A light berley trail and baits sourced from the area will do best on the knobbies. It will be a shame that the new moon will be blown out as the darks are great for night sessions on the snapper up that way this time of the year.
Be extra vigilant when travelling at night as the humpbacks are starting to wander into the bay and a few have made their way into Platypus Bay. Numbers are still low but stacks more are on their way.
We are gifted with a rare opportunity right now to view our inshore waters in crystal clear clarity courtesy of the light winds, lack of rain and small tides. Newbies to the area, and locals alike, can all gain a much greater understanding of our inshore reefs, shoals and flats right now with 30 feet of visibility in some areas.
Simply driving along the ledges alone offers a view of likely fish-holding structure that even the latest in technology cannot replicate. Avoid areas of high current and select times and areas that offer glassed out conditions and the view will amaze you. Don’t miss this opportunity. Fuel up and go for a drive. Troll a lure if you wish, but make the most of it and enjoy the view.
Having said this, it obviously can have a negative effect on the fishing when the waters are so clear. Seek out deeper waters or high current areas and use your stealthiest approach and terminal tackle. Obviously night sessions, dawn and dusk are more productive at present. The new moon tides and the big blow coming are about to put some "colour" back in the water and the fishing should improve thereafter.
In the meantime, look for snapper at the Burrum 8 Mile or 12 Mile on sunset, sunrise or during the evening. The odd big knobbie has turned up recently, though smaller squire are more likely. Fresh or live bait is a must and even better if sourced from the country you are fishing. Add a bit of berley during the slack of the tide even if it is just pieces of baitfish thrown over the side (little bits frequently is the go, don’t over-feed them).
The Roy Rufus arti has been quiet and fairly lacking in baitfish. Let’s see if this changes this week. Mickies is holding stacks of pike, though further over at Moon Ledge and there is precious little bait at present. The Outer Banks could be worth a look for snapper and golden trevally as the tides build further.
Trolling deep diving lures is a great way of scoring a snapper, cod or trout whilst you search an area looking for baitfish and likely fish-holding structure. Classic Dr Evils will hit bottom in 35 feet of water if trolled with the tide and are the local favourite for snapper. You might struggle to keep them away from the cod though.
Winter whiting fishos have shifted their focus in favour of the grounds south of Urangan Harbour this week. The channel inside the go-slow zone has been popular and has produced the odd bag limit for those that put in the time and effort. Quality has varied down that way and weed is a bit of an issue but bearable. Reports from up towards the Burrum suggested there were schools gathered off Toogoom for a while but they got a bit patchy.
Mary/Susan Rivers & the Great Sandy Straits
There are plenty of blue salmon in the lower Susan and Mary rivers. A few small GTs can also be found in the same deeper holes as the blues with the odd small school of threadies. Going on recent observations it would seem that the plentiful schools of threadies that were so much fun on the soft vibes have failed to make it past the strainers.
Live baiting for jewies from River Heads is ever-popular and good metre plus models continue to turn up from time to time. Any squid daring to venture near the heads these days certainly has a limited life span. Pencil squid are quite common both at the heads and down the straits if you have a look for them at night. They are even turning up inside some of the bigger creek systems down that way.
Flatties are becoming more common in the lower reaches too, but are an even easier catch for those venturing out into the straits. The gin clear water right now makes for some sensational flathead fishing up in the shallows and watching a big old flattie battle it out is a pleasure to witness. Please remember to let the big girls go as there are stacks of 50-65cm fish on offer for those looking for a feed.
When stalking the mangrove fringes down the straits keep your eye out for big threadies cruising the shallows. There is little to compare to the thrill of watching a cunning 4 footer eat your lure in a couple of feet of gin clear water. Depending upon your chosen hunting grounds, it may be threadies, big queenies, goldies, triple tail or even a barra that you stumble upon up on the flats.
Have a light rod at the ready with a squid jig tied on too, as some big tiger squid have been sneaking about up on the flats. We are having a really bad season tiger squid wise here locally, but word from down south is that the Tin Can Bay area has good numbers. We could put this down to the poor wet season hereabouts compared to down at Tin Can but angler pressure here also has a lot to do with it.
Bream fishos are in their element right now. Big numbers of sizeable bream are on offer around the rocky outcrops down the straits and in the mouth of the Mary. Bait fishos will do best with a constant berley trail and lightly weighted baits. Night sessions are great but you can get plenty in the daytime if you berley.
The Burrum System
Big whiting in the Burrum and Gregory rivers this week have given the 40cm mark a nudge. Night sessions suit some of the keener die hards but day trips working the channels between the sandflats has been working. Live yabbies can only be beaten by live bloodworms in these parts when it comes to the bigger whiting.
Flatties are a good target in the clear water right now and can be found from the heads all the way to Howard. The mid reaches are the go though, where you will also find a lot of fun fish such as queenies, little GTs and the odd ladyfish. Newbies to the area might consider getting to know the Burrum system while it is so clear as it offers such great opportunities to identify fish-holding structure and travelling routes for the warmer months.
Fraser Island Beaches
Latest reports from the crew at Happy Valley on Fraser suggest the tailor are still on the chew. Good quality tailor have been reasonably common around Yidney Rocks, the Maheno and Happy Valley. Whilst some great catches of sizeable whiting were reported back around the full moon, they have been a bit scarce this week.
Big tarwhine have been caught around some of the exposed coffee rock and as always have favoured pippies as bait. Dart numbers are still low and worms and pippies are hard to track down.
Urangan Pier, Local Beaches and Creeks
There have been stacks of bream out at the Urangan Pier this week and they have been hungry. Bait fishos are doing well, both day and night, with fewer issues with the pickers at night. Catching herring at the pier and cutting them up or butterflying them has been producing, but you can also score a feed on mullet gut or strips of fillet.
Cranka Crab sales have skyrocketed this past week or so, all destined to do battle with the pier bream population. Drifting these life-like looking crab imitations down beside or between the pylons with a "do nothing" style of retrieve has been deadly on the breambos. A lot of the bream have been around the 30-35cm mark with fish in the low 40s reasonably common. They weigh a kilo at about 42cm (depending upon their condition of course) and are a scrappy adversary around the pylons at this size.
Good luck out there y’all.