Seas Settling, But Best Weather Mid-Week
Well, that east coast low really turned it on offshore last week. Gale force winds, huge seas and a bit of side-ways rainfall battered our exposed coastline. The weather didn’t settle as fast as predicted, so our call last week for a good day Sunday was a complete failure.
We had a bit of rain in the bay, but well less than 50mm across the area. The upper Mary River catchment in the Sunshine Coast hinterland recorded a solid 100mm or more, and sent another deluge of excess freshwater down the Mary. A minor flood warning was initiated, but has since been downgraded to “below minor”. There is still excess freshwater run-off flushing the Mary.
The weather outlook is vastly better this week. Unfortunately for many, the weekend forecast ain’t that flash though, with around 15-20 knots of wind either side of southeasterly each day.
Sign guy for PM!
The working week offers vastly better conditions. We should experience quite light winds from Monday right through the week. The wind direction could be truly “variable” courtesy of a weak high-pressure system just to our south. Expect light breezes from all points of the compass this week (potentially).
Tomorrow’s new moon brings about another peak in the tide cycle. The bigger tides are night tides in winter, so keep this in mind when considering the timing of your next forays.
Toogoom Boat Ramp Closure
No doubt the local Toogoom residents are already aware of works on their boat ramp, but we though we might let you all know as well. The boat ramp on Beelbi Creek in Toogoom township next to Goody’s Pub is currently closed.
The ramp is being upgraded and should be complete in about three weeks’ time (maybe less). The two-lane ramp is being extended, angled, and the gradient improved.
There still won’t be any pontoon or breakwater. So, you will still have to contend with the current, and time your launch and retrieve to avoid the worst conditions if going solo or uncomfortable using such a ramp.
In the meantime, there is still the mud “ramp” option upstream next to the Burrum Heads Road bridge where it crosses Beelbi Creek. This ramp is certainly not suitable for larger vessels. Kayaks or smaller tinnies launched behind a 4WD are okay if you don’t mind a bit of mud.
The Beelbi Creek boat ramp, located next to Goody's on the Beach at Toogoom will be closed for the next few weeks.
Shifting Sands and a Flatter Beach on Fraser
Fraser Island’s surf beach copped an absolute battering as that east coast low passed by offshore last week. Seas to 5 metres on swells peaking at similar heights surged up the beach and shifted a lot of sand.
The big seas flattened out the beach in many areas, filling in previously well-formed gutters. Many of the rock formations, such as Yidney and Poyungan, have been fully exposed once again. The good news is that, at this stage, there is still no sign of any weed on the beach or in the second gutters.
There are still a few good gutters along the central stretch, though not as many as there were. Excellent-quality dart have been a feature in some gutters for locals since the big blow. This is a vast contrast to stories from returning fishos from the week before lamenting the lack of quality dart.
Doesn't get much more Aussie than budgie smugglers and Alvey reels!
The run of jewfish just keeps getting better and better. No doubt the big wet season floods can be thanked for the surge in jewie numbers. The average keeper jewfish are in the 80-85cm size range, and are often school fish.
Mixed with them are even bigger numbers of smaller undersized jewies. These fish, sometimes just shy of the 75cm minimum size limit, are often scoffing worm baits meant for much smaller species on super light line.
This can be a lot of fun, and certainly looks extra exciting, with noodle rods bent like they never have before - but there is a downside. Unfortunately, the worn-out jewies, exhausted from extra long battles on light tackle, are a struggle to release in good condition.
All too often, repeated attempts to right an exhausted jewie and swim it in the water to recover, fails to achieve the desired result and the fish wash back up onshore. The dingoes probably think this is great, but of course, we cannot feed them and no-one wants to waste a quality jewie anyway.
There is no simple solution to this issue. The best you can do is to retire the lighter rods and get the heavier tackle out when you know there are jewies in a gutter. Get the smaller ones in faster and they will release in better condition. If they turn out to all be small, them perhaps it is time to move on.
Something else worth mentioning regarding jewfish in the surf is correct species identification. Some fishos can get confused and consider fish caught in the surf as “silver jew”. Basically, they are not. They are mulloway (that we refer to as “jewies” in our reports). Silver jew are a very different, smaller species, that are residents of our rivers and are not a fish found in the surf zone.
Could silver jew turn up on Fraser after flooding? Possibly - but highly unlikely. Silver jewfish have a much higher profile at the shoulder when compared to a mulloway jew. Basically, if you catch a “jew” on the beach, then only keep it if it is over 75cm and no more than 2 in possession (bag limit).
Google both species online and you can see the differences. Otherwise, perhaps you might download the Qld Fisheries app and the differences will be quite clear.
If the above picture doesn't help to clarify it, you can download the Queensland Fisheries app (below) for free. A great tool to keep up to date with fisheries regulations.
Okay, so, with those issues out of the way, there is still plenty to look forward to if heading over to Fraser Island surf fishing this week. The light gear will sort out a feed of quality whiting in the low tide gutters over the new moon on baits of beach worm or pippy. And given their tendency to be at your feet in the shallowest of water, there is little chance of connecting to any jewies.
Flick similar baits out around the exposed rocks and nearby gutters and you could soon be connected to some decent tarwhine. Large sea-run bream can also get in on the same act, and will also take other baits such as pillies, flesh baits and smaller baitfish such as whitebait. It is these areas that you might find the jewfish bycatch.
Tailor were quite scarce before the blow (at least in the central sector). Schools of fish were sighted in the second gutter by some, but were too far out of reach for those individuals. We have not heard of any tailor since the blow, and have not spoken to anyone fishing north of the headlands in recent weeks.
Speaking of the headlands, the annual fishing closure is about to commence, that essentially denies any fishing from or around the island’s big headlands. From 1st August to 30th September each year, the waters from 400m south of Indian Head to 400m north of Waddy Point and 400m to seaward, are off limits to all forms of fishing.
This annual closure was put in place many years ago to protect the tailor on their annual spawning run. If the swell has eased enough and you want to get out on those rocks for a spin, then do so before midnight 31st July.
Check out the map above for the Fraser Island tailor closure area.
Beaches and Piers Quiet but Likely to Improve
Urangan Pier regulars tell us that it has been very quiet out there since the blow. There is plenty of baitfish, but a general lack of predators chasing them – for now. This scene is likely to change in the near future.
There is dirty water spewing out of the Mary River once again and its influence will soon be felt at the pier (if not already). The river flooding is only minimal this time, but the stained waters will carry baitfish and predators. Estuary species such as mulloway and grunter are a distinct possibility, particularly at night over bigger tides such as the new moon.
Bream are still the mainstay for lighter tackle enthusiasts at the pier. Their numbers and bite wanes over the neaps, but they can still be caught, and are a better proposition over the bigger tides. So too the sand whiting, which whilst still not likely in big numbers until later next month, might just turn up over the new moon tides at the beach end of the pier after dark.
The early bird gets the worm...........or bream in this case! Frazer Leal took this great photo of one of the resident Ospreys at the Urangan Pier with a decent size yellowfin bream.
Flathead have been quite common captures out along the pier in recent weeks. They do not like strong winds, so would have retreated to deeper waters last week. They also aren’t as easy to catch from the pier during the bigger tides, but come the neaps later next week, they should be a worthy target.
Along our town beaches, there has been the odd flathead around the rock groynes and the Torquay Rocks. Numbers of small whiting have been abundant, but few making the 23cm minimum size are being found in daylight.
According to visitors staying at local caravan parks, there has been people actually keeping undersized whiting of late. They must be awfully desperate for a feed and willing to risk massive fines. Apparently, suggestions that their actions are illegal are met with less than appreciative responses from some, so maybe karma will intervene.
Whiting fans can look forward to good catches from our town beaches soon, but for now, your best bet is likely the beaches out towards Toogoom and Dundowran. Mobility is key along that strip, and being willing to wander and prospect the subtle gutters or the waters influenced by the nearby creeks can be paramount to success.
At the other end of town, the Booral Flats are being inundated once again with dirty waters ex-Mary River. There can be salmon in these waters at these times, along with whiting and flathead. Mud crabs can also be a bonus or an issue, depending upon whether you find them with your baited pots or your toes.
Estuaries Ever-Changing this Year
Just when the Mary was starting to clean up and look appealing to lure fishos, along comes another flood. At least this one is only minor, but its timing is all wrong. We are now going to go into the eagerly anticipated early spring prime time with a dirty river. Ah well, what do you do?
Make the most of alternatives and opportunities, that’s what. A flush of freshwater shifts the mud crabs and prawns, so crustacean lovers can feast once again with a little effort. The influence of the freshwater flow is very much just the Mary, with obvious overflow into the Susan and the Great Sandy Straits. Other local creek catchments didn’t receive enough rain for significant run-off.
Flats in the vicinity of the Mary outflow are now inundated with dirty waters, but these waters are not as far-reaching as in the bigger floods. Head down the straits a few miles and you will find vastly better water quality. The same goes for the waters east of the bay islands and the deeper channels over along the inside of Fraser.
There has been a general lack of fish in a surprising number of mainland creeks of the straits. Better fishing has been enjoyed over along Fraser. Flathead in particular, are noticeably absent through parts of the western strait, but are in healthy numbers in the east.
We would expect flathead to be a popular target over the coming week. The weekend will be a bit blowy for access to better waters whilst the tide is best, but you will have to make do. The flatties are widespread now and super active, so a few flicks with a softie in a given location will soon see a reaction or suggest a move is warranted.
Scotty from Kekoa with a nice dusky flathead caught with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing
Bream will again be worth targeting up on the flats along the western side of Fraser, around the bay islands or over rocky terrain down the straits. They are being rounded up in some areas and soon disappear en-masse, so don’t waste time somewhere they were last full moon if you don’t get a sniff early.
Local sand whiting fans can pump some yabbies or gather worm baits and prepare for the evening bite on the flats over coming nights. The tides won’t be as ideal by the time the weather comes good again early next week, but they could well be worth the effort anyway – if only due to localised run-off and dirty water on the flats.
Normally by this time of year, our waters are gin clear and the whiting are targeted after dark on the bigger tides as they are too spooky during the daylight. This year however, our waters are coloured, or even stained in many locations, so savvy locals have been sneaking a feed in on the flats along the mangrove-lined fringes. Throw in a couple of passing grunter and a good session on the light gear is assured.
Queenfish have turned up in numbers in local waters recently. Some large, some not so, but schooling all the same. Unfortunately, many have taken a wrong turn and ended up chilling on the highway.
Sportsfishos can look for these thrilling acrobats over the flats and along the ledges fringing the western side of Fraser as well as along the current lines spinning off the verges of the bay islands. The bigger tides are the go, so get amongst them soon.
Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing
Blue salmon schools have been terrorising the baitfish flushed from the Mary River. Look for the terns swooping and hovering above the dirty waters out in the channels off the flats. They seem to be favouring the channels and flats to the creeks as far as the straits goes for the time being, but are so mobile they can turn up almost anywhere.
The dirty water from the Mary is likely to continue to deter the winter whiting from their traditional feeding grounds out between Urangan and the bottom of Woody Island. From what we understand, bag limits of decent winteries have been possible from the grounds off Toogoom most recently.
The bigger tides right now are highly conducive to chasing winter whiting, so have a few drifts through likely areas off Gatakers Bay, O’Reagans Creek or Toogoom and see what you find. Alternatively, when the weather is good enough, try the waters north of Woody Island near the bait Grounds or the NU2, as these waters have produced good numbers at this time in years gone by.
The original brag mat
Reef Fishing Options Mid-Week
With the weekend weather a bit too breezy for long-range reef fishing forays, you might consider the following for your mid-week adventures if you are so lucky. Local trips to our inshore reefs could turn up a feed of reefies, but it will be hard to avoid the snapper in some spots.
The cold waters, down below 17°C inshore, mean our coral trout and estuary cod will be a bit lethargic, particularly early in the day. Well-positioned live baits, sitting just out from their lairs over the slack tide could soon be molested, but you might need to be patient.
Blackall and scarlets are more active this time of year, albeit more-so in the evening. Night sessions might produce the odd grass sweetlip of good size but don’t expect any serious numbers. Snapper will be active, hopefully spawning, and must be left alone to do their thing.
A mixed bag for clients on a recent charter with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters
It would seem reasonable that our fisheries officers might look upon someone reef fishing certain grounds at night this time of year with some suspicion. After all, snapper would be the likely target without the current closure being in place. Apparently, the boys in blue have been hyperactive recently, checking catches at the ramps and on the water day and night, which is great to see.
You could have a crack at a jewie on live baits day or night on some of our more prominent inshore artificial reefs or local ledges. They respond well to an appropriate vibe or plastic hopped past their noses too. Monitor your sounder closely as you pass any likely structure as the jewies are quite large and hard to miss if you know your stuff. You will need to be accurate with your presentations as they are lazy buggers and tend to hang tight to structure.
Look for grunter and scarlets, or other bottom-dwelling reefies up the island. The snapper might take some avoiding at present, so handle with care and move on if they dominate the scene.
Snapbaits are now available in store and have been proving popular with a swag of reefies
Trevally numbers explode on some reef systems out from Wathumba Creek and elsewhere throughout Platypus Bay this time of year. It’s a real mixed bag of trevors up that way, some small, some rippers. The coolest would have to be the big diamond trevally, but they all fight hard, love lures and can have the kids hooting and hollering for hours.
The trevors of the bay are only rivalled by the numbers at the Gutters in these parts. Seething masses of trevally of various types and sizes mill about on the prominent ledges of the Gutters. The abundance of yakkas, herring and other baitfish in the bay is a massive drawcard for this biomass of fish as well as the local and transient reefies.
A solid golden trevally caught on a Palms Slow Blatt Wide with Fraser Guided Fishing.
This biomass of tucker hasn’t gone un-noticed by the sharks unfortunately. We might have actually written two reports without mentioning them which is a first for years surely, but here we go again. The noahs are destroying the fishing along much of the Gutters once again.
Take advantage of the better weather to roam further afield and find less-pressured reefs when you can. Wet season flooding washed out food such as mature prawn and squid, along with enhanced crab progeny and other forage items in general, which has combined with the winter influx of hordes of baitfish to culminate in a much more appealing Hervey Bay for roaming reef fishes.
Look at the numbers of red emperor and quality scarlets caught in recent times that far outshine results from recent years of drought. These fish can be found out in the paddock, on lightly-vegetated, rarely-fished country and can produce some mid-blowing sessions if you are lucky enough to trip over them.
The Snapbait does it again, a nice double header!
There are huge cobia doing the rounds in the bay. There were heaps of various sizes at the Gutters recently, and likely still a few there, but being prone to following the bait schools, they are just as likely to turn up in Platypus Bay or even just outside the banks these days. Again, watch your sounder and they are easily spotted, or otherwise just berley up and they will come to you.
We would expect the offshore fishing to be terrific for anyone who gets the opportunity to head out this week. That massive ground swell from the passing low will have stirred things up a bit and moved the fish around. We should be able to offer a little feedback next report from those that slip out mid-week.
Oh, and if you do head offshore, or even just out in the bay, beware the humpbacks.