The start of the school holidays looks sensational weather-wise, with light winds forecast for the next few days. Given that many local tourist accommodation facilities are booked out for the school holidays it looks like being a very busy period on the water.
Today’s full moon means plenty of tidal movement for a couple of days to come, though as is always the case in winter, the evening tides are the big ones, so morning sessions will be fairly easygoing current-wise.
The big news this week is the sinking of the HMAS Tobruk which is scheduled for 10am tomorrow. This long-awaited event will bring much media interest and scores of boats and crews will be making the journey to the waters in the vicinity of the 25 Fathom Hole to witness the sinking. For details of this event check out the Facebook page Ex-HMAS Tobruk - from Wreck to Reef and make sure you check out the appropriate “Notice to Mariners” for details of the exclusion zone and associated information. VHF channel 68 will be the one to tune to for updates and a 5 minute pre-sinking warning call.
Of course this shipwreck will be designated a green zone, for divers only, so don’t go getting excited about its fishing potential. It certainly will be interesting to see pictures in the future of the fish drawn to the wreck, as the mind boggles at the potential list of species that will haunt this mega structure in the future. Will this wreck have an impact on the fish life in the area? Certainly. What impact will that be? Only time will tell.
The Bay & Offshore
Rough conditions over the bar have limited opportunities over the past week, with large swell and periods of strong winds making things difficult for even the charter boats. All that will change for a couple of days however, as the swell and wind forecast for the weekend is much improved. Going on recent captures from the Breaksea area you can expect a huge range of reefies from both shelf waters and the shallower shoal country. Pearlies, jobbies and amberjack have been the main contenders along the shelf line, with snapper being surprisingly less common than expected. Working the shallower country will see you tangle with the likes of red emperor, green jobfish, red throats, parrot, hussar, moses and wrasse, along with some big cobia and amberjack for a bit of an arm-stretching. The dreaded sharks just won’t give up out there though, so be prepared to leave fish to find others if being harassed by noahs. Again, keep a constant vigil for migrating humpacks if anywhere near the bar or outside at present.
The Gutters will be popular this weekend, and the post-full-moon tides should see some snapper activity for those getting out there early enough or staying on into the evening. Coral trout will be a popular target during the turn of tide with either live baits and heavy tackle or tea-bagged plastics. Grass sweetlip have been the most common species featuring in catches from that area of late, though reds, jacks, scarlets, parrot, moses and hussar are all possible depending upon your choice of location, technique, bait and timing. Spanish mackerel, cobia and yellowfin tuna can all be found out around the Gutters, so trollers and those keen on stick-baiting are well catered for as well.
Rooneys and the northern sector of Platypus Bay will be popular too, but moreso for those in smaller vessels chasing snapper. Finally, snapper are becoming a more common capture in that area and that trend should continue as winter rolls on and the bait schools keep moving in. Reef fishos can also expect to find grunter, sweeties and scarlets up that way, whilst the sportsfishos will be busy chasing the odd school of tuna or working plastics and micro jigs for golden trevally and a mix of other trevors.
We can only hope that some more snapper have moved in to our inshore grounds with the full moon tides, as they have been far from common this season so far. The great weather over coming days will see a lot of boat traffic locally, so set the alarm for stupid o’clock or stay on for the evening sessions for the best chance at a knobbie. Bait fishos will be well-served working a steady berley trail over the slacker tide periods and ensuring that quality bait is presented in a manner as to not spin in the current and spook the better quality fish. Live baits of yakka, pike, herring and whiting are all worth the effort when it comes to bigger snapper, with the added bonus of trout, cod and cobia a strong chance when fishing over reef areas.
Winter whiting are still coming from the grounds off Toogoom, Dundowran and Eli, though it sounds as though they can be patchy from one day to the next. Timing can be somewhat critical for quicker catches and being willing to not settle for average catches and seeking out better quality continues to be the go. Recent reports suggest whiting have moved onto the grounds west of Woody Island, so the “fleet” will now start to spread out a little.
Some truly sensational bream fishing is on offer for those keen to anchor up and berley over our shallow reefs. The rocky reefs from Eli Creek around to The Gables are very productive this time of year, as are the reefs off Round Island, Woody Island and the Picnics.
Golden trevally and cobia are possible from places such as the Roy Rufus arti and the Outer Banks for those after a bit of inshore sportfishing, whilst a few nice broad-barred mackerel can be found up on the flats around the bay islands and down towards Kingfisher Bay.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
We keep mentioning the bream down at River Heads and surrounds each week of late and they just keep on coming, so if bream are your thing then you are spoilt for choices right now. Flathead numbers are increasing throughout the lower reaches of the rivers and down the Straits as well, and with whiting up on the flats over these bigger tides, it sounds like a feed of bread and butter fish won’t be too difficult at all.
A few tailor have been harassing the hardiheads and herring down around Ungowa or late, so look out for them turning up at River Heads and Kingfisher any time from now on. If you find yourself in any of these areas it would be well worth a shot at the local jew populations as the full moon tides would have them on the chew as well.
Blue salmon and a few threadies can be found within the creek systems of the Straits, though you might find the threadies a bit frustrating during daylight hours with the water so clear in most creeks.
Burrum River System
Those trolling the waters in the vicinity of Burrum Heads to the Gregory have being doing very well on the flatties this week, with small hard-bodies doing the damage whilst trolling with the tide. Tailor have proved to be a nuisance for those chasing flatties, so if you find tailor appealing then try a troll or a spin session anywhere from Buxton to the heads. A few bream have been on the chew around the boat ramps, where a squid jig should be kept handy at all times just in case.
Rough beach conditions due to big swells on Fraser’s eastern beach have limited beach fishing opportunities over the past week. The only reports we have heard of have been of a few nice whiting from the Happy Valley area and some small chopper tailor down towards Eurong.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
The Urangan Pier continues to produce plenty of bream, a few nice flatties and the odd bigger pelagic. There are plenty of herring and pike out there for the little ones to have fun with, and whiting are a fair chance from the beach section of the pier during the evening high tides. It will of course be very popular over the school holidays, with the kids running amuck out there and having a ball. It is sad to have to say this, but watch your gear whilst fishing out there (and elsewhere) as theft is tragically common during school holidays nowadays.
If the pier doesn’t appeal, then you can try the beaches for whiting, though green toads have been a nuisance of late, so be prepared to move elsewhere or out of town to beaches such as those off Eli Creek, Dundowran and the Booral Flats. Shore-based fishos can expect some great bream from the rocks around Pt Vernon, the Harbour rock walls and River Heads, or perhaps a flattie or five from the local creeks.
Good luck out there y’all.