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Weekly Fishing Report - 28th October 2021

Staff member Josh with a 98cm Lake Monduran barra caught on a Molix Shad 140.

Cool Change Coming Next Week

After a couple of weeks of typical stormy spring weather and persistent northerlies, many might enjoy the cool change that is scheduled to arrive this Sunday. The north wind will persist until then, strengthening to 20 knots tomorrow and Saturday before the trough passes and the wind swings southeast with the change.

Unfortunately, this wind change will be a fairly stiff one, puffing up to 25 knots Sunday before easing slightly for Monday. It should then back off to around 15 knots and tend slightly more easterly for the majority of the working week. We can expect a few showers with this onshore breeze, though nothing to get excited about. Storms are a slight chance as the trough passes over the weekend, but they should be fairly isolated and less exciting than those in recent weeks.

A half moon tomorrow kicks off the last quarter phase, meaning neap tides that will build as the week unfolds. Estuary fishos might enjoy the lack of current and warmer conditions preceding the change Sunday, whilst those looking to get out onto the bay will benefit from increasing tidal flow by the time the weather comes good.

Looking Great for Those Pursuing Marlin Next Week

This season’s inshore black marlin season has been slow to get going, partially due to diminished opportunity and effort due to the stormy weather and stiff northerly winds in recent weeks. The capture of a couple of small blacks off Rooneys in recent days is certainly encouraging, and augers will for those keen to give them a crack during the spell of better weather on its way next week.

The approach of next Friday’s new moon substantially improves your chances as well, so things are looking great for those with smaller vessels looking to tangle with a Hervey Bay black. Simply gear up with a decent set of teasers, a good selection of small pushers and have a spin outfit or two at the ready to pitch baits or lures to free-swimming fish. Slip a few large yakkas into your live bait tank as well, and toss them in the direction of any roaming little black and your drag will soon be screaming.

A quick word of warning for budding inshore marlin hopefuls. Beware of the sharks. The past couple of years has tragically seen far too many of these majestic little creatures destroyed by sharks attacking them mid-fight. Indeed, a few regulars will try to manoeuvre the fish up into the shallows during the fight to avoid contact with noahs (though this is easier said than done, that is for sure).

Owen with a nice juvenile black caught in the shallows.

 Also, be very wary when handling the fish boat-side for the same reason, and also please limit the time a fish is held out of the water for happy snaps. Far too many fish die and sink to the bottom due to poor, or over-zealous handling, which is easily avoided by simply being prepared and having a camera/phone at the ready. Catching a marlin in the shallows and jumping in with it without removing it from the water for a happy snap is as cool as it gets with the bay’s baby blacks. Catching one out wider, then hoisting it into the boat to drive to the beach and pose in the water with it is very uncool.

For those with offshore-capable vessels, next week looks even more exciting. Again, weather constraints have restricted offshore activity recently. Back closer to the full moon, a Gold Coast boat had a ball out off the northern tip of Fraser, boating 5 from 6 little blacks on light tackle not far off Breaksea Spit, before heading out to the shelf and going 7 from 8 on heavy tackle. Pretty impressive numbers, particularly for the full moon, so imagine the potential over the coming new moon.

Word is that there has been acres and acres of small skipjack tuna and stacks of birds working the bait schools along the shelf line off the northern tip of Fraser. Check BOM’s seas surface temperature charts and you will soon see the significant spur of hot current pushing its way down past Breaksea Spit to the waters offshore of Fraser.

The leading front of this finger of current will concentrate the greatest biomass of baitfish and pursuing predators. Depending upon the timing of your assault, this might see you working the grounds off the 13 Mile early, the 4 Mile thereafter or even south of the cape some days/weeks later.

Large blue marlin are the most common of the larger billfish encountered out wide off Fraser/Breaksea, with big striped marlin also quite common. The big blacks also frequent these waters, but can be the trickier of the three to find some seasons. Billfish grand slams, consisting of captures of blue, black and striped marlin are recorded each year from these waters, sometimes by a few boats.

It is not just the billfish that will be feasting in the bait-rich warm currents offshore this time of year, with big mahi mahi quite common bycatch on the heavy tackle gear out wide. Yellowfin tuna are also a possibility, turning up in varying numbers each year. The fact the wind will swing onshore next week should help to further enhance the predatory activity in the aforementioned hot currents, as the wind pushes and holds the current and its fish closer to the coast.

So, get your offshore rig ready, gear up, watch the weather and current and pounce on the next available opportunity to head wide chasing billies. A typical day offshore of Breaksea or Fraser will see you crossing the bar at first light, then deploying the light gear close to the bar or island until about mid-morning, before heading for the shelf and getting the heavy tackle out for the afternoon session.

Just as a footnote: Did anyone target the sailfish north of Rooneys or towards the top of the Breaksea Spit this season? September used to be sailfish prime time for many years, with great numbers of these hot-running billfish gathering and feeding in wolf packs in those waters for several weeks. It seems as though they are overlooked in favour of black marlin nowadays, though are surely an even cooler fish in so many ways. If you had a crack and found a few this season, by all means let us know, and send us some pics if you wish.

Young Joseph (above) and Timmy (below) cuddled up on the jetski for a run up the island in search of some mac tuna. The boys had a great session with plenty of fish landed and many intimate memories made.

Hervey Bay Pelagic Action

Whilst marlin certainly draw the attention of many of our avid sportsfishos this time of year in the bay, there are still other pelagic species worth pursuing. Much of the central bay and Platypus Bay are alive with schools of mack tuna at present. These little tunas have also made their way down into the Great Sandy Straits, offering a little high-speed variety for those travelling the main shipping channel down that way.

Mack tuna can be fussy at times, but many have found that they are more than willing to scoff small metal slugs spun quickly past or through the surface-feeding schools. Attending sharks can be a real hassle, though a few crews have found schools of tuna with no sharks around at all, allowing them to tally up quite a score of tuna, all caught and released.

A double hook-up on mac tuna whilst on a recent charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

There have been a few pods of longtail tuna up the island of late, but they have been quite scarce compared to the mack tuna. Big cobia are still a possibility around reef systems and bait schools in the bay. They will soon disappear for another year.

School mackerel have been a bit hit and miss from our close inshore waters of late apparently, though there has been plenty of schoolies up the island for those that make their way up there when the weather allows. Next week should see just such an opportunity as the winds swing into the southeast, then east as they ease. Otherwise, the local shipping channels, beacons and inshore shipwrecks will be worth a look for those chasing a feed of mackerel.

Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing

Barra Season Closes Sunday Night

As of 12.01am next Monday 1st November, our Qld east coast barramundi fishery will be closed. Barra cannot be taken or even targeted during this annual closure. The closure concludes at 11.59pm Monday 31st January 2022.

The only exception to this rule is for Qld’s stocked impoundments. This means that you cannot target barra in the saltwater or freshwater creeks, or in lakes, ponds or other waterways, other than in the stocked impoundments.

The reason for this closure is to enable the barra to breed unhindered during their prime breeding time. Unfortunately, far too many people will target (and in some cases even take) barra during this closure period. Don’t let it be you. Let our barra breed in peace and target them once again next February.

Following these rules has never been more important for our Fraser Coast barra fishery than this year. Our stocks are at an all time low due to over-exploitation during several years of poor (non-existent) wet seasons and minimal recruitment. We can only hope that we get the rains needed to enable these prized fish to breed this season, and that these rains occur during the period of protection to enable maximum propagation from such depleted stocks.

Latest Reports from Our Estuaries

Few could argue that the Mary and Susan Rivers are in a dire state fish-wise. There are so precious few fish in these two major rivers and the situation is very alarming. Barra captures, or even sightings on scanners, has been pathetic. The normally prolific threadfin salmon fishery is in a ridiculously poor state as well, with remarkably low numbers of threadies moving through the rivers at a time that would typically see big numbers of fish on the move.

We all know the reasons for this situation. We have watched the numbers of these two key species decline rapidly in recent years, and at a time when recruitment has been a non-affair due to a lack of wet season rains. It seems there is stuff all we can do to rectify the reason for the decline of these fisheries, but at least we can limit our impact. As much as it will pain us to do so, perhaps those of us that normally spend time haunting these rivers chasing the threadies (and barra in season) should look elsewhere.

The Great Sandy Straits offers alternatives to the river fishery. Although there is real reason to be alarmed at the low numbers of barra and threadies down that way as well, at least there has been a few fish reported in recent times. Practicing catch and release will certainly help ease the pressure on our threadfin stocks. Please remember that threadies do not handle well, particularly when caught from deeper waters, so try to minimise post-release mortality by releasing them in the water when you can.

Fortunately, mangrove jacks are not a commercially-targeted species, and for this reason, plus their sheer tenacity and dirty fighting tactics, means this species thrives in our heavily pressured waters even to this day. Some great jacks have been caught from within the many creeks in the straits recently. The stormy, hot weather has been a real catalyst to enhance their activity and anyone who knows how to track down a jack should have plenty of stories of bust-ups and close calls from recent weeks.

Grunter, whiting and flathead have been caught from within the creeks of the straits, as well as out on some of the flats and in the feeder channels. Whilst the best of our annual blue salmon season is in the rear-view mirror, we can still expect to pick up a few blues this time of year.

A few decent jewfish have been haunting the River Heads area in recent weeks. Working soft vibes over or alongside the bottom structure that breaks the current, or targeting them when the tide is slack with a range of sinking lure options can trick the odd jewie. Live baiters are scoring a few fish too, with the best of the fish mostly caught at night.

As far as the Burrum system goes, reports have been rather varied. Some are struggling to catch any jacks, which is hard to comprehend, given the weather of late. Perhaps those struggling to find the jacks might need to reassess the river and try different waters. The lack of baitfish in many stretches of river would certainly explain a lack of predators in a given stretch. As much as jacks love heavy cover, shade and structure breaking strong currents, they will only reside in an area in any serious numbers where a food source is abundant.
The jack bite might slow a bit next week due to the cooler change, but they could still be tempted, particularly given the warmer nights said to prevail. The dark nights of the new moon are a special for nocturnal jack hunters, so something to look forward to there.

There has been a few barra caught from the lower reaches of the Burrum near the heads in recent weeks. Unfortunately, not too many of these fish got to fight another day apparently. There has been some great grunter on offer out the front of the river for those that can get out when the weather allows. A few decent grunter have made their way into the river proper, but they are an after-dark proposition up on the flats for the most part. The same can be said about a run or two of quality whiting from the lower reaches of the river.

128cm of Lake Monduran 'mundi.....Jake Bates caught this beast on a Jackall Super Squirrel 115.

Impoundments More Popular Than Ever

Big barra have been drawing crowds to our stocked impoundments in recent weeks. The crowds are only likely to get worse as the east coast barra fishery closes Sunday night, and possibly go next level when Annastacia opens our borders to southerners in December. The quality of the fishing has made up for the frustrations with the traffic and crowds, particularly on Lake Monduran.

Locally, Lake Lenthalls will never see the crowds of the bigger lakes. The dirt access road is in poor state (as usual) and that alone is a significant deterrent to many. The access constraints, limiting you to fishing from 6am to 8pm, horsepower restrictions (no more than 60HP 4 -stroke only), and speed restrictions (under 6 knots) further restrict the pool of likely fishos willing to head to Lenthalls.

Tim with his first ever barra, a healthy 80cm Lenthalls fish.

Young gun Kurt from Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing recently took Stuart for a barra on fly session at Lenthalls and came up wit the goods.

The fishing at Lenthalls has been quite good recently. Barra threatening the magic metre mark have been caught lately, and we are sure that metre-plus fish will be semi-regular captures once visiting fishos start targeting bigger fish with bigger lures. In the meantime, topwater offerings such as stickbaits and frogs have been scoring plenty of nice fish in the 80s and 90s, with a mix of sizes falling to sub-surface presentations such as paddle-tailed plastics and shallow-diving hardbodies.

Lenthalls’ bass population has been quite active of late as well. Crews targeting bass on small blades and hard vibes have been scoring great numbers of fish of various sizes.

Good luck out there y’all.

Troll, troll, troll your boat, gently down the dam........Staff member Logan thought sucking on a cold beer and dragging a Molix Shad 140 behind the boat was a good way to cruise back to the ramp and pinned this 97cm barra.

Staff member Josh used a Zerek Live Mullet to pin this beautiful chrome fish.

Dane had his work cut out for him hooking, landing and photgraphing this 98cm barra whilst fishing solo. The Molix RT Shad was the undoing of this fish.

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