Glamour Weather Mid-Week Yet Again
The cold snap this week was quite unwelcome but the light winds over the past couple of days have been a bonus for those not having to work. Tomorrow looks like a ripper day on the water, with very light winds.
A south-southeaster of around 15 knots (and perhaps up to 20 knots at times) can be expected for much of the weekend and early next week. A couple of glamour days are forecast for mid-week, much to the frustration of a large portion of our work force no doubt.
Although there is a half moon Sunday, there will still be a reasonable amount of run in the tide, courtesy of the more median tidal variations this time of year.
Action Continues on Urangan Pier
The arrival of various pelagic species in Urangan Channel in recent weeks has Pier regulars walking the planks looking for some high-speed action. The arrival of numbers of small school mackerel has kept those that enjoy a bit of spinning quite active, but a variety of other visiting pelagics will also hunt down a Flasha spoon or Halco Twisty cranked through the water column at speed.
Many of the schoolies are well-undersized and must be returned to the water unharmed. Using an undersized fish as a live bait for a bigger predator is not permitted, though many would have witnessed this very scenario plenty of times when spanish mackerel and GTs are the targets. Using a schoolie as a live bait is a tried and well-proven technique, though it should only be done with legal sized models.
Marauding schools of bonito are a chance at times, and these little guys make great live baits for spaniards, without needing to be of any minimum size. The run of spanish mackerel in the Urangan Channel area might be fairly brief, being fish that are hot on the heels of the run of small school mackerel that moved into the bay recently.
Passing schools of mack or longtail tuna are possible some days, sometimes coming close enough to take a live bait or metal lure, whilst other times staying frustratingly just out of reach.
Nocturnal pier fishos have been having a ball with the winter run of bream, scoring some very nice fish up to and exceeding a kilo in weight. Good numbers are possible, and many take home quite a substantial feed of bream. The same fish can be caught during daylight hours as well when numerous lure presentations such as Cranka Crabs, small plastics and small vibes will all take their share for those that can’t get excited about bait fishing for them.
Evening sessions live baiting for mulloway jew has seen a couple of decent fish up around a metre being caught. Timing your efforts around the turn of tide certainly swings the odds in your favour, but you can still tempt the jewies during the run if you learn where they hang out and get a bait in their face.
Flathead can be sight-fished in the first channel and out the end by peering into the water and spotting the flatties lying in ambush then dropping a live pike or herring nearby. Take care not to gaff larger fish over 75cm, or any fish for that matter of you intend to release them unharmed.
Run of Juvenile Mackerel - Fun or Frustrating
As mentioned last week, hordes of small school mackerel have migrated into Hervey Bay waters. From the Burrum to River Heads and from Kingfisher to Rooneys, these toothy little critters have been making their presence felt. There have been enough legal sized models in the mix to warrant targeting them for a feed for those that enjoy mackerel to eat, though for the rest of us, these things can be a real nuisance.
Many fishos vying for snapper on plastics this week have been snipped off quite often by schoolies and in some cases have had to move elsewhere due to the relentless attention from the macks. Losing the odd soft plastic is certainly annoying, but not too bad on the wallet, though you had better keep an eye on the sounder if you are deploying more expensive lures such as slow-fall jigs and the like.
For those that enjoy chasing schoolies for a feed then you have some great times ahead. These fish are super-easy to catch, falling for many varying techniques that puts them within easy reach of the family fisho out to entertain the kids.
Bait fishing for schoolies can be as simple as letting a gang-rigged pillie out the back of the boat, a whole squid or squid strip rigged on a double gang, or a live bait set in the bottom half of the water column. Plenty of other species such as snapper, cod and trevally are often hooked on mackerel rigs, though it is even more often the reverse of this situation, with schoolies stealing baits meant for other species.
Mono leaders will catch many more mackerel that wire leaders will. Yes, you will chance being bitten off, but it is certainly better to suffer the odd bite-off than not to get any bites. The purpose behind using the ganged hooks is to alleviate the need for wire.
If you would rather chase the mackerel with lures, then you have many options once again. Get the kids into spinning with metal spoons on high speed spinning reels and appropriate rods. Flasha spoons have no peer locally when it comes to spinning for mackerel, however, Halco Twisties and other slug-styled lures will also work so long as you can apply enough speed to enhance their action.
Given that a mackerel will take a swipe at virtually any soft plastic or vibe whilst you’re trying to target snapper and the like, you can always try to actively target the macks on these lures. Damage and losses will be high though.
Trollers score really well on mackerel this time of year by trolling diving hardbodies in the local shipping channels, or around reef systems, drop-offs and beacons. Halco Laser Pro 120’s are a go-to trolling lure for mackerel in these parts, but many other lures of similar size are capable of catching them, so long as the lure can be dragged at a speed of 6 knots or so.
Latest reports suggest schoolies are turning up all over the bay, but a few places you can try include The Fairway, Burrum 8 Mile, the Roy Rufus Arti, Mickies, The Outer Banks, Kingfisher Bay and River Heads – just to name a few. The mackerel will be very mobile and will be seeking out schools of herring and other baitfish, so suss out a likely area and concentrate your efforts where you find plenty of baitfish.
Decent Reefies From Wider Grounds When Weather Permits
Some decent coral trout were caught out at the Gutters last weekend, amongst a mix of other reef species. Daytime fishos largely missed out on snapper, though some scored a few squire by drifting away from the reef edges. Grass sweetlip, spangled emperor, moses perch, cod and scarlets made up much of the rest of a mixed bag.
Sharks continue to be a serious issue out at the Gutters (and over towards Rooneys) where many quality fish are wasted trip after trip. Moving away and trying other spots is all you can do, though this gets a bit old by nightfall for those planning to stay the night. Bigger snapper are often taken by the sharks after dark, though sometimes this is only for a certain period of time as the sharks often wander off elsewhere under the cover of darkness (unless you are feeding them of course).
Night sessions can see the best action of all for bait fishos. Snapper are an obvious target on both floatlining and bottom-set rigs. Scarlet sea perch and red emperor are also much more active after dark and can be targeted at anchor in the right spots. Big reef jacks get in on the action around the gnarliest reef county, and big cobia often pay a visit. All the Lutjanids are active at night, as are members of the sweetlip family. Expect plenty of attention from throwbacks such as blackall and spangled emperor at night, amongst the grass sweeties, stripies, hussar and moses perch.
Snapper Time in Platypus Bay
July typically heralds the start of the best of our snapper season for Platypus Bay waters (and for Hervey Bay waters in general for that matter). Due to the incredibly depleted snapper stocks in Qld it has become necessary to apply a closed period for snapper (and pearl perch) for a month, commencing on 15th July, so keep this in mind in a couple of weeks’ time.
In the meantime, if you get a chance to get up into Platypus Bay there are snapper on offer. Best fishing is certainly after dark for snapper in that part of the world, as the bigger snapper move in to feast on the abundance of small baitfish around several reef, rubble and weedy-bottomed sites scattered throughout the bay.
Anchoring and establishing a consistent berley trail is a well-proven method of drawing and holding passing schools of fish. Using baits procured from the area you are fishing is paramount to success. Yakkas are considered the gun bait by many, though large herring, pike, bonito and other baitfish caught from the local waters are often equally as effective. Berley with small pieces of the same thing you are using as bait.
Bait fishos can still score snapper around these reefs and weed patches at dawn, though their efforts will be largely wasted during daylight hours. Up closer to Rooneys, a few fish might be found during the day, but the lack of run in Platypus Bay typically sees the fish scatter and wander off away from the reefs.
This is where the more mobile lure fisho can score really well, with a good sounder and a willingness to seek out bait schools and active snapper. A huge range of soft plastics and slow-fall jigs will tempt the bigger snapper and squire alike, and it is certainly well worth trolling a deep diving hardbody like a Dr Evil whilst searching an area for fish.
You will find a lot more than just snapper up in Platypus Bay this time of year. You might find a few tuna busting up on the surface but the longtails are likely feeding deeper in the water column by now, as they target the schools of “bigger” baitfish such as herring and yakka. A huge range of trevally species will be encountered, from small annoying little tackers to thumping big trevors from the golden and diamond clans.
Depending upon the sort of country you choose to fish you might find little more than snapper and trevally, or a bigger mix of reefies such as scarlets, cod, trout, sweetlip, blackall, big grunter and even venus tuskfish.
Interestingly, word from local gun Charter Operator, Bobby Jeynes, from “Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters” is that hordes of juvenile sharks have moved in onto the close reef systems off the Wathumba Creek area. Literally hundreds of black tipped and bull shark “pups” are destroying any chance you have of fishing the area with bait or lure. These little sharks, around a metre in length, are obviously the offspring of the many mature breeders that inhabit our waters nowadays, and by the sound of things up that way, the sharks’ future is quite secure.
Luckily for Bobby’s clients, the man has countless options within and beyond Hervey Bay waters where he can consistently put them onto the fish of their dreams, and he has been scoring particularly well recently. So, as much as we might try and give you a few tips in our weekly reports, for some on-water first hand tuition from one of the best in the game, look up Bobby care of his website www.fishingchartersherveybay.com.au or via his Facebook or Instagram pages.
Bream Going Nuts Inshore
The cold weather has turned on the local bream population big time, so if you are into bream fishing you have no better time than now to get out and have a crack. Spawning aggregations of bream can be found in many locations, including the mouths of our rivers, around the bay islands and up on the nearby flats.
Kingfisher Bay Resort’s jetty is also a big bream hotspot for those venturing over that way, and if you take a mix of tackle you can tangle with a few flatties, mackerel and mulloway jew. The rocky outcrops down the straits also draw their fair share of bream this time of year, particularly those that are swept by lots of current.
The Gatakers Bay / Pt Vernon area offers sensational bream fishing for the next couple of months. Boaties wishing to target them with baits should anchor up and start a nice steady berley trail. It will take 20 minutes or so for the bream to start turning up. Happy Moments will also turn up and mill around high in the water column behind your berley pot, so you need to learn how to contend with these unwanted visitors.
Basically, you will be throwing back unweighted, or very lightly-weighted strip baits that will make their way to the bream hanging back beneath the Happies. Strip baits are favoured as they are tough (skin on) and will withstand the pickers. If a Happy sucks onto your bait then tease it off him and let it sink further. A bream will soon take off with it and you are on. You might find the scrappier big bream a bit of a challenge to keep out of the reef, but that is all part of the fun.
Cricket scores of bream are possible using this very simple technique, so do not be greedy. The size of the fish can vary a little on the differing tides, but bigger kilo-plus fish are frequent catches in this area. The very same technique can be used in other places such as River Heads, South Head or Burrum Heads, and without attending Happy Moments these other areas offer you the opportunity to use a variety of other baits.
Good luck out there y’all.