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Weekly Fishing Report - 27th January 2021

Melissa with a nice blackall that she caught whilst fishing the inshore reefs.

Southeaster Picking Up for the Weekend Again

Last week’s weather turned out to be a little better than originally forecast. Let’s all hope for a repeat of that scenario this week, as at the moment, the week ahead looks a little on the breezy side.

We trust everyone had a ripper Australia Day. By the number of boats on the water and the fish photos streaming back in, it would seem that fishing and boating are quintessentially a great Aussie way to celebrate our national day.

After a couple of glamour days earlier this week, the southeaster has returned and will blow around 15-20 knots right through the coming weekend. Lighter winds are possible inshore early for those keen on a local trip at dawn. There is a chance of scattered showers too, but nothing exciting.

The wind will ease Monday and it looks as though those that don’t need to work weekdays are in for a good time. Expect generally light winds until late in the week. We might be in for stronger wind and rain next weekend, so make the most of the week ahead if you get the chance.
The moon is waning and the tides are making as we approach next Tuesday’s new moon. There will be plenty of run in the tide closer to the new moon, with highs peaking around 4.15m from lows of around 0.50m.

It is worth noting that big high tides after a recent flood event can dislodge debris from its resting point on beaches and foreshores. For this reason, take a little extra care next week when boating in the bay, the straits or our rivers as a few hazards are likely to re-float until washed ashore again.

Inshore Grounds Fishing Well Despite Dirty Water

Whilst there is still streams of dirty water inshore, it is well-mixed with the salty stuff now and the fish have settled in to feast on the plentiful forage and prey. You may find that certain reefs or channels fish better at one stage of the tide or other, depending upon the ebb and flow of the ex-Mary River flood waters. Head north of the banks though and this issue is negated.

Our shallow reefs will be worth a try over the coming week. Many of these systems offer great protection from the prevailing southeaster, and offer the added bonus of vastly less issues with sharks. Depending upon where you try, you are likely to encounter plenty of grass sweetlip, a few blackall, trout and cod. Early starts will be the go, particularly given this weekend’s weather forecast.

Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing with one of his clients and a nice diamond trevally.

The deeper inshore reefs are also fishing well at the moment, but extracting a feed from beneath all the monster sharks is rather frustrating. Given that there won’t be as many boats plying our waters this weekend due to the weather, this likely means that those darn noahs will home in on any boats in their area. You will need to be highly mobile (or super lucky), but if you can avoid the sharks then there is a good feed to be gathered.

Trout and cod are taking live baits or tea-bagged softies, vibes and jigs over the turn of tide. There has been a few decent squire taking baits and plastics since the flooding, and these fish, like many others, will feast in post-flood conditions for quite some time. Let’s all hope that the flooding this summer will see a reinvigorated snapper season this winter – we could certainly do with an improvement on that front.

Scarlets can be found inshore in the deeper waters too, though rarely in any great numbers this side of the banks. By the way, scarlets (saddle-tailed sea perch) suffer very badly from barotrauma, so please move on and fish elsewhere if you are catching undersized models one after the other. This is commonplace at some sites within Platypus Bay and the southern and western central bay north of the banks.

Jeff got into some nice grass sweetlip on Australia Day.

The Hervey Bay inshore reef fishos’ saviour, the humble old grassy sweetlip, is super active at present and in quite good numbers inshore. You can pick up a feed along the fringes of the shallow reefs, but the better sized fish are typically feeding around the deeper reefs, rubble and weed patches in the shipping channels. They are super-easy to catch, are not overly fussy and respond to a range of baits. They are not the most avid lure-munchers, but will take the occasional softie, vibe or jig.

A great inshore target once the tides build further will be grunter. They have taken up temporary residence on a number of inshore reefs and rubble patches and are eager feeders in low light conditions. You can pick up a few during the middle of the day, particularly on soft vibes. Look for quality grunter mooching about along the fringes of our shallow reefs closer to the new moon as well.

Pursuing Pelagics Proves Productive

During the recent spells of ripper weather, a few crews ventured north up the bay looking for pelagics. Whilst some struggled to find tuna, particularly over in Platypus Bay, there was school after school of mack tuna for several miles out in the central bay. These tuna schools are seemingly stretched out and feeding in a north-south line, in lieu of their more common east-west arrangement.

The tuna can be found in a given area one day, but might be several miles to the east the next. Given their north-south orientation, it might explain some crews’ ability to miss them on their journey north. Why are the schools orientated this way at present? Perhaps it has something to do with the gathering of baitfish feeding on planktonic life forms post-flood? Whatever the case, something to consider when next you venture up the bay.

Fresh mackerel for tea for Adrian and his family

Spotted mackerel have been smashing small baitfish up off Rooneys and further north. The spotties aren’t overly large, but legal at least. If you do get onto a patch, and the sharks aren’t an issue (which is somewhat rare these days), then catch your quota and move on to something else. Spotties do not release well if handled and suffer badly from damage to their jaws on hook-up. They are not a great catch and release candidate.

A pleasant surprise for a few crews of late has been the micro-marlin schooling in the northern bay. These tiny little baitfish terrorists have been creating havoc on the surface not dissimilar to a small school of spotties. The cute little tackers put up a spectacular fight on the light tackle and are often subdued fairly quickly. Be on the lookout for more of these baby blacks if heading out this week. The new moon should see a peak in marlin activity.

There has been little word of school mackerel of late, though those that have mentioned schoolies have been fishing north of the dirty water line outside the banks. Along with spaniards, the schoolies will often shadow larger baitfish such as yakkas and herring. Look for bait gatherings, or otherwise track down the aggregations of pencil squid and there is a good chance you will find some mackerel.

Quality Reef Fish on the Chew Out Wide

Many of the crews that made the dash for the northern reefs faired quite well this week. The limited opportunities this summer due to weather constraints has enabled some reef systems to replenish somewhat and the lack of boat traffic has resulted in less shark attrition of the bigger trophy fish. If the current weather pattern prevails, then fewer days on offer might mean better fishing for those lucky enough to get out on the glamour days.

Large red emperor were a highlight for some crews, accompanied by quite a few quality coral trout. Big scarlets also featured in catches for those that could find them. Other box-fillers such as grass sweetlip, tuskies, estuary cod, maori cod, moses perch and hussar were all on the chew this week. As were the hard-pulling disappointments such as big blackall, spangled emperor and trevally.

Brett's back at it again, putting another quality red on the deck.

There seemed to be a lot of estuary cod caught out wide this week. This may just be a location/terrain thing, but once upon a time, when cod started coming over the side as often as trout it suggested the grounds’ trout population had declined. The trout is a super-inquisitive creature that reacts quicker than other species to something invading its space. This is even more-so when that ‘something’ looks tasty. Hence, the trout are the main taker of tea-bagged softies and jigs at places such as the Gutters (if the trevally aren’t too thick of course).

Jamie with a quality coral trout

Phil with a solid trout too

Ben and Jamie with a double hookup from a successful drift 

Greg managed some nice fish from a recent trip including this trout

Whilst the Gutters produced a few good hauls for those that were able to avoid the sharks, those crews that did the extra miles and headed up towards the lightship faired even better again. These days, the further you can get from port and find country that rarely if ever sees boats, then the better chance you have of fishing shark-free.

The current offshore was roaring apparently, though deep droppers deploying heavy weights out wide with the light breeze still managed a great feed. Pearl perch and bar cod featured amongst other deep water ooglies that included at least one hapuka.

The brief weather window on the new moon next week should see a great bite from a range of species excited by the bigger current. Unfortunately, this moon is typically also the worst for shark activity, so keep that in mind.

Chris with his first hapuka from a recent deep drop mission.

Barra Season Opens 1st February

Great news for all of our saltwater barra tragics out there – the Qld East Coast Barramundi Season opens at midnight Monday night 31st January. Come Tuesday the 1st February, there will be eager hopefuls galore plying our local waters looking to get their first barra of the season.

The fact that this date falls right on the new moon this year will have a major bearing on where the first of the season’s barra will be caught. The fact that our rivers just flooded recently too is another major factor. Fish will be schooled up on certain sites and could be easily plundered by the unscrupulous.

You are allowed to take barra to eat and we would never deny anyone their right to do so. However, the taking of large breeders, sometimes en-masse, is largely unacceptable these days. When considering your stance on this subject, just consider that our stocks are at an all-time low and the larger fish are more important than ever.

Luckily, this summer our barra had their first real chance to breed in many years courtesy of the recent flooding event and previous minor stream rises. Thankfully, these events occurred during the annual barra closure, so hopefully the fish propagated successfully and we can look forward to the benefit in years to come.

Given that Lake Lenthalls spilled during the ‘rain bomb’ a few weeks ago, the mature barra the hard workers from the local fish stocking association so lovingly stocked and watched grow out in the lake have now escaped downriver. This can be a bonanza for barra fishos on the Burrum river system and surrounds, and can potentially restock our stressed rivers and provide a fantastic breeding stock biomass for future wet seasons.

Well, it could at least – all except for one tragic factor. The gill netters will be preparing for their assault on our barra stocks and will be out in force as soon as the season opens. The fact that these fish are recent escapees from a freshwater impoundment and that they will smell and taste of crappy freshwater will be of little consequence. Getting in and getting the fish before the next bloke does will be the deciding factor that might otherwise see the fish enjoy their freedom a little longer, and might even see the product demand a better price at market.

Anyway, enough about the negative side of our barra fishery. Get out there and have a crack at your first salty of the season. There should be some big fish caught this week and we will expand on barra fishing a little more in coming reports.

Down the hatch -  there's a reason we fish 70-80lb leader for barra, check out the chafe marks.

Straits Better Option Than Rivers at Present

The new moon tides will filth-up the rivers yet again, so best to head for the Great Sandy Straits, or the flats and waters outside our rivers systems for the time being. Crabbers will find a feed of muddies in these same areas, or otherwise along the western shores of Fraser where the localised run-off was insignificant compared to the mainland.

Look for threadies feasting on jelly prawn around drain and creek mouths or along muddy verges within the larger creeks. There will be threadies out in the main channels at present as well. If you find them too hard to tempt whilst the tide is ebbing and they are fixated on jelly prawn, then try the flood tide in the creeks as the jelly prawn escapes into the shallows and their attention is drawn to the larger prawn and baitfish.

Grunter will be worth pursuing down the straits in the main channels, along the deep drop-offs along the inside of Fraser and up on the flats. Baits work well in post-flood conditions, but GULP shrimp and vibes also work a treat in the right waters.

Cod, mulloway jew and mangrove jacks can be found along the deeper drop-offs outside the creeks over on Fraser. Live baits will be the undoing of many, but trollers and those hopping prawn imitations or soft vibes deep along the rocky verges can score some great fish.

It would be a very good idea to take a cast net with you if you are heading for the straits this week. Not only does it enable you to score live bait, but you just never know when you might trip over a great haul of succulent banana prawns. The new moon is a key time on the calendar for prawners, although this one might be a little too early after the recent flooding for many areas. All the same, don’t be caught out without a net when the prawn shows up.

Kyle has been putting his new Garmin sounder to use and is finding some nice barra at Mondy.

Lake Monduran Barra Harder to Tempt

We suggested last week that the conditions were less than favourable for tempting Mondy barra to bite. Unfortunately, the bite was very tough indeed, particularly during the weekend. Whilst barra were caught, it was a fickle bite at best, with most of the action centred around key moon-related bite periods or dawn and dusk. Word is that quite a few crews dough-nutted, so if you are one of that clan, then don’t beat yourself up too much.

This tough bite was such a dramatic turnaround from the week before when the fish bit very well. The barra will fire up again, when conditions are right. That doesn’t look like being the case for this weekend once again, with the cooler southeaster and passing showers hardly inspiring. The new moon period will make up for the weather to some extent, but it still might be a little tough.

The big spill out at Lenthalls basically negates this fishery for the time being. There will still be swags of smaller barra in the lake, and hopefully a few larger models too, but the fishing is notoriously tough out there whenever there is a major rise in water level. It is a darn shame that this small lake spills so readily. It seems as though whenever the barra get to a large size, over the top they go.

The bass fishery suffers far less from such events at Lenthalls. We would expect tough fishing for bass for some time as well, though will keep in touch with the ranger and local fishos for updates in the future.

Good luck out there y’all.


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