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Weekly Fishing Report - 27th August 2020

Tickled pink - a nice bay snapper caught on a charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Welcome Return of Onshore Breezes

Only days to go and we can say goodbye to another winter, and hopefully to the worst of the cold westerly winds. This week’s latest cold snap should be our last and we can all look forward to warmer times and sensational springtime fishing.

The forecast for the week ahead is quite good, with most days likely to see light onshore breezes. Unfortunately, there will be a bit of a blow Saturday, but that will only be short-lived and we should see a return to sub-15 knot breezes for much of the following week.

We can look forward to great tides this week as they build towards Wednesday’s full moon. This should see a positive response from many of our local fish species, be they pelagics, reefies or estuary dwellers.

Trevally Galore in the Northern Bay

The westerlies were just a bit too strong for most boats to venture too wide from local ramps this week, but the charter boats got out when they could and scored modest catches of pelagics. The reef fishing was fairly tough by most accounts, but scores of trevally and large cobia kept the crews fairly busy.

Many reef systems in the northern bay are jam-packed with schools of various trevally species, offering a ton of fun and endless sport for anyone keen on dropping softies or jigs in their midst. The Gutters, the reefs off Rooneys and many systems within Platypus Bay are home to countless trevors right now, obviously favouring reefs well-laden with baitfish.

The species list is long and varied, including the glamour trevs from the diamond, giant and golden clans, with numbers of long-nosed, bludger, brassy and turrum getting in on the act. Sounder screens choked with seething masses of trevally often pre-empt some arm-stretching sessions that could see multiple species landed in succession as you drift over the reefs.

Huge cobia are frequent captures from the same areas, drawn to the given reef systems for the same reason, ie; to feed on the gathered baitfish and juvenile demersals. Cobes tipping the scales beyond the 30kg mark are certainly not rare this time of year and fish of this class can turn up just about anywhere. They will scoff a huge range of lures, but are particularly partial to live baits of virtually any form.

Getting a crack at any bigger snapper out wide has been a struggle this past week, but the charter boats found a few amongst good numbers of fun-sized squire. The week ahead should see a much better return for effort for those chasing snapper as the winds turn back onshore and the tides build to the full moon.

Tri man from Fraser Guided Fishing has been putting clients onto some big cobia of late

A solid goldie caught on a recent charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Mixed Results from Our Inshore Reefs

You can score some quality fish from our inshore reefs at the moment, but you will need to choose your target area carefully. Look for grounds that are holding good quantities of baitfish if you want any reel chance at the bigger snapper and be prepared to fish dawn, dusk or into the evening for best results.

It sounds as though the Burrum 8 Mile has produced a few snapper over the past week or so. The abovementioned periods of low light or evenings are the go out there, as the snapper schools will often move off during the daytime and return at sunset. We’ve also had reports of quality grunter coming from the same reef, taking a mix of baits off the bottom after dark.

The Roy Rufus artificial reef has been very much hit and miss. There is precious little in the way of baitfish in that area at the moment, so fish numbers are certainly far less than we would anticipate at this time of year. The herring and pike are just not holding in that channel and the yakkas haven’t even made an appearance this winter.

All the same, there have been a few decent knobbies in the area, along with a few squire. Tragically, there is still the odd big noah hanging about that just loves to home in on the bigger knobbies. The good old arti is hardly offering the sort of quality fishing it was famous for in years gone by, but it is still a handy local spot to try out of the wind when other options are blown out.

Here’s hoping that we see an improvement in snapper numbers at the arti soon, before the season starts to wind down. In the meantime, hop small plastics past some of the shipwrecks and you will be bound to hook up on the schools of trevally milling around these structures. Turrum and goldies in the 3-8 kilo class are common and offer a bit of a distraction on the light gear whilst looking for snapper.

Over the coming full moon, you might also try the Outer Banks or Moon Ledge for snapper. Again, you are going to need to sound around looking for active fish and/or schools of baitfish that will draw the predators to the area. Trolling deep divers such as Dr Evils has become quite popular and scores the odd snapper, cod or trout whilst you are sounding around in search mode.

Heading out to the 25 Fathom Hole over the full moon should produce some better-quality snapper. The same goes for the reef systems within Platypus Bay and off Rooneys. There hasn’t been too much pressure on these areas for quite a few weeks due to westerly winds and the snapper closure and this time of year traditionally sees these areas fish very well for knobbies.

Interestingly, school mackerel haven’t proved to be much of a problem around our inshore reefs this week. Bite-offs have been few and far between suggesting there aren’t too many in the area. Even regularly successful trollers from Burrum Heads have commented on the lack of mackerel at the moment. This situation is sure to change though, as the annual run of schoolies is well underway to our north.

Trout are always a welcome catch and are great fun on jigs. Fraser Guided Fishing producing the goods again.

Grunter are another welcome catch and are fantastic on the plate. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

HBFS picking up a mixed bag on the reef

Sensational Flats Action Down the Straits

Picking days of light breezes amongst a string of westerlies saw the odd lucky fisho score big-time from the flats down the Great sandy Straits. Flood tides over warming mudflats during the daytime saw large schools or blue salmon, grunter and whiting pushing up into the skinny waters to feed.

The whiting fishos scored a good feed whilst anchored along the fringe of the mangrove line or adjacent to feeder channels and shallow gutters. Yabbies and bloodworms brought the whiting undone in most cases, though those tending to toss micro poppers and stickbaits probably had even more fun up in the shallowest of water.

Find the right flat, with a few garfish and small herring in the vicinity and you just might find the motherlode of blue salmon. Blues certainly won’t win any beauty contests or impress anyone on the plate, but they sure make up for these issues when it comes to their prowess in the fighting department. They eat just about anything, tear around at break-neck speed, somersault like a trapeze artist and are prone to random direction changes like their more glamourous king threadfin cousins.

The shear size of some of the blues hunting in packs across our flats is quite impressive right now. If you are lucky, you might find fish averaging 4-5 kilos with bigger 10 kilo-plus models scorching through the shallows and stripping line from your reel like a queenie on ‘roids. Staying connected to these really big blues is a challenge, as they tend to rasp through leaders with ease and lure (and fish) losses can be common.

Mooching up onto the same flats have been schools of grunter in serious numbers that, whilst spooky in the clear waters during the early flood, come on the chew over the top of the tide, scoffing an array of small plastics on the light gear. Sight-fishing to tightly-packed schools of nervous grunter milling around in a circular fashion as they gather in readiness to scatter up onto the flat can really get the adrenalin pumping. Success typically comes once the tide rises and the schools have dispersed and started to feed in the slightly discoloured waters.

One can only imagine how excited a fly fisher might get at the sight of literally hundreds of blue salmon and grunter tearing around on the flats as described above. If you are keen to give it a go, then get down there a.s.a.p. and start searching likely flats for these fish as such activity in our shallows rarely goes un-noticed for long and these fish will likely be rounded up en-masse.

It is not just the flats offering good sport down the straits at the moment, with a few of the less-pressured creek systems also producing good grunter, blue salmon, threadies, whiting, bream and the odd flathead. Threadies and barra have been frequent images on the screens of a few high-tech sounders recently, but getting them to bite has been a bit of a challenge during the latest cold snap.

The remarkably low numbers of flathead about this season continues to be a major concern, with some old timers saying that they have never seen an end to winter with so few flatties about. Angler pressure? Or perhaps the result of a sustained period of drought? Whatever the case, let’s hope their numbers rebound as the annual spawn progresses. Please do our future flathead stocks a favour if you get onto a few and let the breeders go.

Juvenile GT's can provide plenty of fun on light tackle. Pic: HBFS

This longtail tuna went 1.2m and was sight cast on the flats using ultra light spin tackle. It only took 3hr to land! Photo courtesy of Peter Fry from Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing
Sand Whiting a Special for the Full Moon

Sand whiting numbers are on the increase throughout the straits, up along the western shores of Fraser and along our local beaches. Recent weeks have seen great catches over the big tides and next week’s full moon should see a peak in activity.

Boaties can sneak up onto a flat, up a small creek or sit and wait in a large drain for the schools of whiting to swim past with the flood tide. Sessions under the cover of darkness, illuminated by the glow of the full moon, should see the best catches of the biggest whiting. The quality on offer will see local whiting specialists driving away from legal fish in search of elbow-slappers.

Even the lower reaches of the Susan and Mary rivers, the Burrum river system and local creeks will see a run of whiting over coming weeks that is likely to kick off in some areas with the build up to the moon.

You will find that reddy-brown water-borne algae quite frustrating in some waters locally, particularly in the vicinity of Moon Point and River Heads. However, whilst cursing the annoying bits of weed stuck to your line, just remember that it is this very weed in the water that is likely saving these whiting from being scooped up en-masse.

The Urangan Pier will be a popular platform for whiting fishos over the next week. The first 100 metres of the pier is the go, enabling access to the shallow waters just off the beach. Otherwise, shore-based hopefuls can try the Torquay and Urangan beaches and should score quite well over the flood tide. Good whiting can also be caught during the first part of the ebb tide in this area.

There have been good catches of whiting near the rock groynes this week over the neap tides, suggesting that they should be going gang-busters once the tides get a bit bigger. Morning session should be good by early next week, but till then the night tides are likely to produce the better whiting.

Weed Arrives Then Disappears – Great News from Fraser!

We reported on an inundation of weed along Fraser Island’s surf beach last week that was quite unwelcome news and greatly concerning. Well, this week we can report that the weed has again drifted away from the beach, as of Tuesday apparently, leaving the island basically weed-free and very much fishable again.

Even prior to the brief influx of weed, the tailor fishing had started to kick up a gear and plenty of crews scored well on average-sized tailor along the middle sections of beach. When the weed drifted in, some of the same crews made their way to the other side of the island and scored great catches of thumper whiting and a few flatties from the western creeks and adjacent stretches of beach.

Since the weed has vacated the beach, the best of the tailor fishing has been from Dundaburra north. There are excellent gutters formed along much of the beach, including some deep gutters near the Maheno shipwreck. This area sounds like it will be worth a crack for those chasing jewies over the coming full moon.

The beach is firm and driving conditions are very good, suggesting the best gutters are low tide gutters along much of the beach. Dart have been scarce according to our latest reports, though there are bound to be dart along the beach somewhere. Sand whiting have slowed down too apparently, and we have no word on bream or tarwhine, though they were in good numbers around the rocky outcrops in recent weeks.

Pippies are abundant along much of the beach and the pro wormers are scoring well, so there is plenty of fresh bait on offer for those chasing whiting, dart, bream, tarwhine and flatties. All in all, it sounds like Fraser Island’s surf beaches are looking primo and this is great news for the peak tailor season over the next month or two.

A good feed of tailor off the Eastern beaches of Fraser

A 4.2m tiger shark caught and released off Sandy Cape, Fraser Island.

The crew also landed a 3.2m hammerhead shark. 

Good luck out there y’all.

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