Looking back over the past week there was little joy on the boating front as stiff southerlies restricted boaties to our protected inshore waters. This weekend doesn’t look real flash either, with Sunday the best chance for boaties as the winds drop below 15kn for perhaps a day or two.
Generally speaking, the weather next week looks less than ideal, with 15-20kn southerly / south-easterly winds predicted. It looks like our protected inshore waters will again be the go - a good reason to feel lucky for living or visiting the Fraser coast with such an abundance of sheltered inshore options.
The new moon will cross our sky next Wednesday which means we will see building tides till then. The night high tides associated with the winter new moon will be quite large, peaking at over 4m from lows below 0.5m. This means heaps of current and rougher conditions when the wind is against the tide, so time your forays with this in mind if crossing or fishing exposed waters.
Offshore fishing north of Fraser has been basically a non-event this past week. Down south, over the Wide Bay Bar, the fishing has been sensational when the weather allows. Red emperor, bags of big pearl perch, a few snapper and amberjack have been possible out wide.
In closer the snapper are starting to move in, taking up residence over reefs already holding grass sweetlip, cod and moses perch. There was also big numbers of spanish mackerel down that way recently.
Again, the wider reefs in the bay have been given a much needed spell due to the weather. We can only hope that the weather has dropped our water temperature further and encouraged more baitfish to move in to bay waters. Prior to this latest blow, our water was hovering around 20C, and baitfish numbers were at an all time low.
The new moon in July would historically herald an influx of spawning snapper to Platypus Bay waters. Let’s see what this year brings. If you get the opportunity to head up that way this week, then concentrate your efforts where you find the bigger schools of baitfish as bait is quite scarce in some areas. Night sessions will favour the bait fishos, whilst those dropping lightly-weighted plastics should do well on snapper if you can find them without too many trevally (or sharks) in attendance.
A few fishos got out inshore this past week, but only in the more sheltered waters. Snapper are still fairly hard to track down, but they certainly bite well inshore when it is rougher. The new moon period should see a few proper knobbies turn up to join the squire that have been more common so far this season. Again, find the bait to find the snapper. It has been disappointing to note the lack of herring and yakkas inshore of late, so we hope that changes with this moon.
If you did trip over schools of herring, then chances are you also found a few school or broad-barred mackerel. Schoolies have been a fairly common catch around the whiting grounds off Gatakers Bay of late, as well as around select beacons within the shipping channels.
Winter whiting fishos have been restricted to the Gatakers Bay area once again, though most are scoring a good feed if not a bag limit. Some say the size is good, whilst others say they are a bit small, but like most things in fishing, opinions vary and are often quite subjective.
Tiger squid have been fairly scarce till recently. Better numbers are now appearing in the clear structure-filled shallows of the lower bay and down the straits. Numbers are nothing like they might be, but you are now a better chance of scoring a few than you were in recent weeks.
For tiger squid you simply need to gear up with a light outfit that can deliver a size 2.5 or 3.0 squid jig and set your drag quite light. Some of these squid will exceed the 1.5kg mark and can easily tear off a jig if you put too much hurt on. Cheap jigs will catch a few when they are ravenous, but if you are in any way serious you should tie on the better quality Japanese jigs to tempt the fussier squid.
Sizes and colours can be experimented with to see what they want on the day, with cloud cover, time of day, food sources and type of structure being factors to consider when deciding which jig to deploy. If you can’t afford to drop a bundle on jigs, then the trusty old pinks, oranges and whites will usually suffice.
Mary/Susan Rivers & the Great Sandy Straits
Mulloway jew have been a reasonably easy target for those using vibes and softies around the River Heads area. Quite a few fish over a metre have been landed in recent times by bait fishos and lure anglers alike.
Our jewfish population is generally quite a healthy one nowadays, courtesy of the reduced bag limit (2 only, in possession) and the raised minimum size of 75cm (from a paltry 45cm) several years ago. Catching a couple of jewies over a tide turn is a lot of fun and offers a huge feed if you are so inclined. Surely it makes sense to move on after a couple though, as they suffer badly from barotrauma in the deeper water and then have to contend with bull sharks in a weakened state.
The big tides this weekend will drain the vast flats in the lower reaches of the Susan and Mary rivers and also down the straits. This will offer those chasing flathead ample opportunity to score a few around creek mouths, drains and feeder channels.
Bream should be looking to spawn now, so look for them around the rocky shorelines of River Heads, South Head and any rocky areas from the bay islands south into the straits. School and broad-barred mackerel are a chance from the heads and the beacons to the east thereof. We are yet to hear of any tailor, but would expect them to make an appearance some time soon.
Some very nice catches of summer whiting were scored by those that made the effort to procure fresh bait and rugged up against the cold over the full moon a week or so ago. The vast flats along the inside of Fraser, the flats off Woody Island and similar country down the straits can all produce good hauls of "summeries" at night this time of year. Bag limits are certainly achievable if the strainers haven’t worked your chosen area, though you need to be targeting your whiting over the bigger tides.
You should also find a few whiting in the lower Mary over the new moon period, day or night. Pumping yabbies at low tide and positioning the boat nearby to the yabby banks during the flood tide should score a feed. Burtenshaw Bank and the bank that forms China Bight both offer excellent yabbies and would be good places to start your whiting hunt. The flats around the islands in the Susan and the flats outside Bengstons Creek are also worth a look.
Blue salmon and small GTs are quite common in the rivers and also down the straits. The blues get quite large around these parts and really turn it on once hooked. Vibes and softies will score best usually, but you can also troll them up if you wish. Live herring would be the choice bait for bait fishos, though blues are rarely fussy and will take a range of baits, both live and dead.
Urangan Pier, Local Beaches and Creeks
There has been plenty of excitement out along the Urangan Pier over the past week. Mack tuna have been on the rampage early in the morning, tearing into the abundant herring schools. Multiple hook-ups on Flasha spoons and live herring have been common.
A few cobia around the 12kg mark have come a bit too close to the pier for their own good recently. Just this week, the all-time pier record for cobia was smashed with a 26kg fish landed by one of the local regulars.
Sight-fishing for flathead in the first channel or along the slope out the end is quite productive this time of year. The neap tides are best, but you can get them as the tides build as well. Look for the flatties on the left side of the pier during the early run-in tide. Drop a live pike (or herring if you can’t catch a pike) nearby and you can often enough actually watch the flattie move over and scoff your bait. You will soon learn not to strike too early as you really need to let them swallow the bait.
Bream have still been scarce compared to what we would expect. They should turn up in better numbers over the coming new moon. Night sessions will alleviate the issue with pickers that you have to contend with during the daytime. If fishing in daylight, then use bigger baits, in particular whole butterflied herring, and let the pickers gnaw away at the trailing bits while waiting for a big bream to smash the head and make off with the bait.
Squire are often caught by those fishing the pier, but rarely of any significant size. A 50cm squire from the pier is a beauty, with barely legal models more likely. Undersized squire (snapper) are often caught, and unfortunately occasionally kept by some individuals. Fisheries are usually informed via mobile phone by nearby witnesses when this occurs.
If you want to better your chances at scoring a better squire/snapper from the pier then you might need to brave the strong southerlies when they hit, as snapper are renowned for moving inshore to feed in rough conditions. Setting up a berley bag and float-lining baits back in the current would be worth a try, but don’t bother during the middle of the day.
Make sure you have squid jigs with you if heading out to the pier. Size 3.0 jigs (or larger) let you contend with the height and current issues. Look for the squid around the pylons or the gravelly areas within the first channel. When buying squid jigs, look for sturdy hooks that you can rely on to lift a heavy squid 10 metres up onto the pier.
Given the surprisingly good catches of whiting from our town beaches over the full moon period, we might expect a repeat of this activity over the bigger new moon tides. Target the whiting along the Torquay – Urangan strip with yabbies, worms or GULP 2" Neris Sandworms during the flood tide. If the dreaded green toads turn up then you will have to try elsewhere.
Wandering the banks of our local creeks should see you encounter a few flathead, queenfish and mini GTs. There is also the possibility of blue salmon and of course the inevitable estuary cod. Small plastics, stickbaits and poppers will all produce at times, as will small spoons and slugs spun at speed. Keep an eye out for tailor too in coming weeks, particularly in Beelbi Creek and around Pt Vernon.
Good luck out there y’all.