Autumn’s Last Hoorah
Moderate southeasterlies have hampered our fishing efforts over the past week. The only real exceptions being yesterday and today, which have been glorious. It has been cool, but certainly not cold, and it appears that we have dodged any major pre-winter chills this autumn.
Looking ahead, it looks as if we are in for yet another southerly/southeasterly blow over the weekend. It will once again ease for the lucky few that don’t have to work mid-week. The cooler winds blowing from the south will continue to spur on our winter species, whilst our tropical species make the most of the last of the warmer conditions.
Last night’s super blood moon was an interesting phenomenon that many wandered outside to enjoy. Word is, that a few species responded with vigour under the glow of the moon – namely snapper, jewfish, bream and freshwater barra. The moon will now wane and our tidal variation diminish as we approach the next set of neaps late next week.
Those who braved the weather scored a great feed of sand crabs out in the bay. As reported recently, there has been stacks of sandies off Woodgate, the Burrum, Toogoom and even Gatakers Bay. Soaking pots overnight has secured bag limits frequently, but on some occasions only a few hours soaking has scored a great feed.
There are sand crabs galore up the island as well, so those heading up towards Wathumba can drop pots in the southern sector of Platypus Bay and expect to return to full pots on their return journey home. Otherwise, you could drop pots near the deep weedy-bottomed country off Wathumba or Station Hill and you could also find sandies.
If you find a good concentration of crabs in a given area in Platypus Bay and concentrate your pots in a reasonably small area, then it can be worth a quick sound around over that ground before retrieving them. Active crabs and small demersals tearing at your pot baits are essentially creating a subtle berley trail that can occasionally draw the attention of roaming fish such as squire/snapper. If you spot any appropriate arches, then drop a suitable plastic as you drift over the area before lifting the pots. You never know your luck in this scenario.
The May full moon is synonymous with great crabbing for muddies in this part of the world. Don’t believe the old wives’ tale from down south that you will only catch muddies during a month with an “R” in it. Sure enough, they can be a bit hard to stir up during the worst of winter’s chill, but right now they will be on the march and should pot readily.
Crabbing effort from the masses generally tapers off well before now each year, whilst an intrepid few sneak out and score full rusty bucks in our local creeks and rivers. The lack of any decent wet season rains again this year has not helped out estuary crustacean scene, but plenty of crabbers have scored well when they put the thought and effort into placing pots in the right areas.
Andrew Chorley from Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing hit the water for the blood moon and picked up this quality snapper on an electric chicken Zman soft plastic.
Plenty of keen local crews hit the water last night to enjoy the fantastic conditions under the glow of the super blood moon. Some scored great knobby snapper for their efforts and a feed of smaller squire. The May full moon typically heralds the start of the influx of school snapper into our southern bay waters, so we can start to pursue them with a little more confidence from now through winter.
Places such as Moon Ledge, the Outer Banks, Arch Cliffs 6 Mile, Roy Rufus arti, Simpson arti and Burrum 8 and 12 Mile reefs can all see their share of snapper and squire over this latest full moon period. Night sessions are without doubt the most productive for bait fishos, whilst those favouring plastics and jigs can score better during daylight hours.
You can certainly try soft plastics at night time and expect to succeed, so long as you keep your jighead weights light enough to work mid-water. Whilst smaller 3-4 inch plastics are often favoured for daytime sessions, after dark the pike start to roam all over some areas and will keep grabbing the smaller plastics meant for snapper. Increasing the size of your night time offerings to 5-7 inch plastics can overcome the pike issue and offers a larger profile against the night sky for the snapper to home in on.
Trollers too can ply their craft after dark. The super-effective deep divers such as Dr Evils and Nomad DTX Minnows will work just as well (if not better) during the evening. The tendency for snapper to rise to feed on baitfish during the night can also see other 4-5 metre divers come into play in some areas. Large snapper also make their way into shallower waters during the evening, so don’t be too surprised to connect to a decent knobby on your favourite trout trolling lolly after dark or pre-dawn.
Once the weather allows, those heading out wider can add snapper to their usual list of reef fish targets. The Gutters and Rooneys reefs will aggregate schools of snapper where the yakkas are schooling up during the day. Squire can be fairly easy targets day and night over the sand off the fringes of the reefs, whilst the bigger knobbies will be much more a dawn, dusk or evening proposition.
The 25 Fathom Hole is renowned for producing quality knobbies each winter, but not until the hordes of yakkas move in. We believe that the warmer water conditions so far this year are yet to invite the yakkas inshore, so perhaps it will be a while yet before the Fathom Hole fires.
In the meantime, it is an easy quick stopover on the way to the Gutters for anyone keen to have a look. Forget baits during the daytime, as the baby squire will devour all and sundry. Plastics or jigs are the go, worked through the bottom few metres of water as you drift across or past the hole.
A couple of nice snapper caught on charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Schoolies and Trevally Moving Inshore
School mackerel have been reported around a few of the beacons in our local shipping channels of late. They can also be found harassing the herring schools in the southern bay, or around the yakkas and herring in southern Platypus Bay. Trollers can pick a few up trolling appropriate high-speed divers, whilst those preferring to spin will be hard-pressed to find a better lure than the Flasha spoons.
Various trevally species are moving inshore. The influx of yakkas over winter will soon see hordes of trevally so thick in areas such as the southern gutters and parts of Platypus Bay that they are hard to avoid. For now, it has been the goldies that have been regular captures inshore, whilst brassies have moved in up the island. Big diamonds offer sportsfishos something to look forward to over winter, being certainly the most photogenic of the trevally clan.
When the weather allows you out onto the wider bay grounds soon, you will likely encounter cobia on a regular basis. They have already moved in on the gutters and off Rooneys and are becoming increasingly common throughout Platypus Bay. We will see plenty closer inshore over winter too, but for now it seems that the bigger numbers are up the bay.
Kane with a solid cobia caught on a recent charter with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.
Estuary Species on the Move Too
Schools of tailor moved into the Burrum River a week or so ago. Locals have since scored some good quality tailor fishing live and dead baits in the lower reaches of the river. Trolling small lures would be a great way to track down the tailor if you are not familiar with their movements.
The Burrum has also given up some quality summer whiting of late, along with good hauls of large bream and the odd flattie. The jacks and barra will be a lot harder to catch now, but are still a chance until the real winter chill sets in. Blue salmon, mini-GTs and queenies will soon be features of a fun-filled session on the Burrum, but for now it is just the big high-flying tarpon and the bread and butter species that are on the chew.
Mulloway jew have been attracting a lot of attention from local fishos lately. They have been copping a flogging at River Heads and at Kingfisher Jetty, though you can also find jewies away from the crowds around deep rock bars and ledges in our rivers and down the straits.
Blue salmon are now quite common and offer a great fun alternative on windy days for the family fisho looking to get the kids onto a few relatively easy-to-catch fish of decent size. Look for them in deeper holes and use vibes or plastics to get their attention, or troll the deeper sections of river if you prefer. The blue salmon flats fishery is even more fun again and offers you great sight-fishing when the conditions are right.
Our winter whiting season is slow to get going. This is likely due to the fact that we are yet to experience any significant cold snap. Our waters are struggling to stay above 20°C at present, but will soon plunge further with the onset of winter.
Latest reports from the grounds out from Gatakers Bay suggest that the fish are still yet to school in any number, but at least the size is good. Catches of 20 or so whiting are the norm at present, but sure enough we will soon be talking about bag limits and the crowds that the whiting schools attract.
A nice grassy (above) and queenfish (below) from recent charters with the crew at Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Jewies are a popular target this time of year, both on live baits and lures. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Bream and Jewies at Urangan Pier
Better numbers of bream have turned up under the Urangan Pier in the lead up to the full moon as expected. The size of the fish so far this year has been disappointing however. Plenty of average-sized bream are on offer, but the bigger kilo-plus models the bream fans seek so eagerly are scarce as yet.
Daytime bream fishing has been fairly tough, particularly with so many smaller fish picking baits to pieces. Night time forays are much more successful, particularly under the comforting glow of the full moon.
A few jewies have been pulled up over the rails out towards the end of the pier in recent weeks. Again, night time is the go, dropping live baits between the pylons on tackle capable of subduing the jewies before they can trash you. Artificial offerings such as soft vibes and large prawn imitation plastics can pick up the odd jewie as well, offering the added advantage of enabling a greater degree of mobility when in search mode.
Something for the Fly Fishos
Hervey Bay has long been famous as a world-renowned flyfishing destination. The list of potential target species is as long as your arm and includes numerous flats dwellers both big and small, open water speedsters and awesome estuary brawlers. We will make an effort to include a few hints and tips for fly fishos on a fairly regular basis in our future fishing reports, starting with the following for this week.
As the westerly winds of winter kick in, our inshore waters will clear up dramatically, offering sensational skinny water options for fly fishos. Whether you own an 8 or 9 weight outfit, or perhaps a 6 weight, there are ample options locally this winter.
The areas that draw the attention of potential fly fishos are the vast flats and maze of islands and channels of the Great Sandy Straits, along the western beaches and flats of Fraser Island, and/or around the bay islands. The western shoreline of the bay, including the waters fringing the Hervey Bay township and the beach from the Burrum to Woodgate also offer alternative options out of a westerly wind.
A variety of flies tied by staff member Josh that will appeal to a variety of flats, estuary and bluewater species. Above: Clouser minnows, shrimps, mixture of different crab patterns, silicone flies and surf candies.
So, let’s start with your 8/9 weight outfit. Match your combo with a suitable floating or floating intermediate fly line and a tippet (leader) of around 16lb. Depending upon your favoured target species and/or target area, you should carry a range of flies that include clousers, shrimps, surf candies and silicone flies tied on hooks from size 2-2/0.
You can then hit the flats targeting golden trevally, queenfish, little GTs and big eye trevally in some areas, whilst in others, you will find blue salmon, grunter, flathead and even threadies and barra. Tuna will be occasional visitors to the local shipping channels and the straits and are usually targeted on 9/10 weights in open water.
Techniques to attract these species will vary dramatically from species to species and even then, their mood on the day will dictate which technique will draw the strike. Long draws can be just the ticket at times, whilst moderate-fast stripping will be required for many fast-movers.
If you prefer the super light approach and have a 6 weight outfit, then this would be typically matched with a floating line and say 10lb tippet. A selection of appropriate flies would include clousers, gotchas, disco shrimps, whiting mesmerisers or worm flies on hooks from size 8-2.
Your targets up on the flats with the 6 weight will be whiting, bream, flathead and grunter. Be prepared for the occasional speedster getting in on the act when fishing light in these parts, as queenies, trevally and sambos will often intercept the smaller flies.
Again, techniques will vary, with various stripping speeds and long draws appealing to different species. Bream will typically favour slower presentations, whilst whiting prefer fast food.
Right now, the shallows down the straits are still a little coloured. There is no dirty water as such, just reduced visibility compared to the clearer waters we can look forward to in winter. These conditions are ideal for so many species. They can hunt and feed in relative comfort with reduced risk of attack from above. The waters are still clear enough to enable sight fishing to many targets on clear sunny days, though cloudy days will be a struggle.
Golden trevally love clouser minnows, this one was taken on a tan and white.
You can find blue salmon up on the flats down the straits, as well as along the fringes of parts of Woody Island. These speedy critters are all muscle and go like the clappers in the shallows, reaching sizeable proportions in our waters. Look out for loose schools of grunter or solo fish mooching about on the same flats, along with barra and threadies if venturing down the straits.
The bay islands will offer a crack at queenies and trevally, along with broad-barred mackerel and bream. Blackall also frequent these shallow rocky verges and are suckers for a well-presented shrimp pattern. Golden trevally, queenies, bream, whiting and flatties are the targets along stretches of Fraser’s western shores at present.
Any keen fly fishos that have been into our store will have noticed that we stock a huge array of appropriate flyfishing tackle that will cover all local options. Big brand names such as Sage, Scott, Primal, Waterworks Lamson, Rio, Airflo, TFO, Simms and Reddington are well represented, amongst others. Those keen to tie their own flies will be suitably impressed with our huge selection of fly-tying materials and tooling.
If you need any advice, or just want to keep up with the latest in flyfishing technology and techniques, then time spent with our instore flyfishing guru, Josh, will be time well spent.