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Weekly Fishing Report - 29th December 2022

South East Trade Wind Dominates

We trust you all had a great Xmas and are enjoying the holidays if you are so lucky. It is a shame that the sensational pre-Xmas weather couldn’t continue and the southeaster had to kick in – but it is summertime after all and lengthy periods of southeast trade winds are often the norm for our part of the world.

Looking ahead, we can expect more of the current 15-25 knot southeaster to see out the remainder of 2022. It might even get a little damp tomorrow, with showers forecast for much of the day. Come New Years Day on Sunday, the wind will ease a little, yet will still be moderate at around 15 knots from the same direction.

Leonie was all smiles with this red emperor

A repeat of a similar breeze Monday is forecast, before the wind drops out altogether for a couple of glassed-out days Tuesday and Wednesday. The temperature will rise without the breeze, and the chance of afternoon thunderstorms mid-week is very real. The trade wind is likely to return late next week, so make the most of the better weather when you can.

The moon is waxing and getting bigger and brighter, and rising later each day. We are approaching the first quarter moon phase on Friday, so neap tides and minimal tidal flow can be expected for the next few days. The bite has already tapered off from our shallow reefs and beaches, but the neaps will make deeper water reef fishing and estuary fishing easier.

Ray and Zac with a good score of crays from a recent trip

Test Out the Big Gear on the Pier’s GTs

The crazy run of mackerel and other pelagics out along the Urangan Pier has come to a halt – for now. Up until just a couple of days ago, there were spotties, schoolies and swags of large broadies keeping the kids entertained day in day out. Large queenies and the odd stray golden trevally also made an appearance, and GTs were creating havoc daily. There were even a few large flatties there for those sitting their live baits on the bottom near the pylons.

Fast forward a couple of days and it appears that the schools of mackerel have moved on (or otherwise been caught). The GTs are still there and some large queenies are making the odd raid on the local baitfish population. Flatties will still be a chance this week – if you can beat everyone else to them.

So, for now, for pier fishos, it looks as though you might want to take the heavier tackle out for the long walk and try your hand at catching the GTs lurking beneath. Unless some mackerel return for live baits, then it will be a matter of sending unweighted live herring out on heavy (yet small) hooks such as Mustad Hoodlums or Instinct Live Bait Hooks, or perhaps trying the “throw down” method if the GTs wise up to the hooks in the livies.

Otherwise, make the extra effort to catch pike for live baits and target the passing queenies or any flatties lurking in the first channel or along the slope out towards the end. Of course, we could see more mackerel turn up once again, so ensure you have a few Flasha spoons on hand, or sets of free-swinging VMC gangs just in case.

The poor run of pencil squid due to dirtier waters this summer is disappointing, but you can still try for a few either after dark or early in the morning. Nocturnal sessions are better if you have either a lantern or other form of artificial light to suspend above the water, or better still, a “squid light” to submerge and attract the squid to you. Sinking your jigs to the bottom on either running sinker rigs or paternoster rigs is best for the dawn or dusk periods.

Lucas with a solid broad-barred mackerel off the Urangan Pier

Better Beach Fishing at Night Over the Neaps

We hear that many great grunter were landed over the dark of the moon last week. Those big tides were ideal for the ghosts of the flats to cruise about under cover of darkness and some of those soaking baits of prawns, yabbies, pillies or squid were rewarded. The neaps aren’t nearly as productive for grunter, but they are still possible if you seek them out in areas with deeper water.

Casting baits or soft plastics from the rocks that stretch from Pialba to Gatakers Bay saw many fishos connect to quality grunter last week as well. This can be repeated again this week, but the fish won’t be nearly as mobile, so only those that work the ledges or holes where they “hole up” are likely to score.

Coral trout pounced on similar softies as well as vibes, glide baits and stick baits worked from the rocks, and are still a worthy target from the deeper drop-offs exposed at low tide. If schools of small herring or hardiheads are passing by, then queenies, smallish GTs and mackerel are all possible from similar spots, though they may be there one day and gone the next.

For those looking to entertain the littlies along our beaches, there will still be plenty of small whiting, bream, flatties and occasional schools of dart along our town beaches. There may not be too many legal fish amongst them over the neaps, but if you try after dark or right on dawn then your chances will be improved.

A nice grunter caught using an old school slug on a charter with Fraser Guided Fishing

The Torquay stretch is favoured by many for its whiting and bream. The same fish can be found along Urangan and Pialba beaches which are even better flatties, and for those seeking grunter after dark.

A night session soaking larger baits could see the bigger kids getting a rush from passing noahs. There has been swags of small sharks roaming our waters, which have been quite the pest along Pialba and around Pt Vernon. Cute little hammerheads are possibly the most exciting, but bullies, black-tips and shovellies are all quite common.

Jump in the car and head out of town and your beach fishing options are better over the neaps. You can try the creek mouths to the west for flatties, queenies, grunter and whiting, and expect similar action after dark from noahs. Otherwise, the Booral Flats will be worth a look when the onshore wind eases. These mudflats to the south of town are home to many estuary species such as whiting, flathead, grunter, bream and salmon.

Luke Harvey with a chunky coral trout

Mother Nature Protecting Our Reef Fish

That great spell of pre-Xmas weather saw many crews heading far and wide in search of reef fish. Those that headed north and crossed the Breaksea Spit found the current to be roaring, but most managed a decent feed. Just a few fish featuring in brag shots since have been pearl perch, coronation trout, red emperor, blue maori cod, spangos and green jobbies. Plenty of hussar and large venus tuskies added some extra tasty colour to the eskies.

Down over the Wide Bay Bar it was another mixed bag of reefies for many, with the likes of grassies, scarlets, reds, snapper, pearlies and tuskies dominating catches depending upon how deep and how wide one fished. There are some big AJs down that way (and up off Breaksea too for that matter) for anyone keen on live baiting or jigging out towards or along the shelf. These things are tough enough in winter, so they will guarantee the sweat flows freely in summer, with the stronger current adding to the pain.

Kyle with an above average size Rooney's black marlin

There is a good run of black marlin off Double Island Point and some ripper mahi mahi out wide as well. Longtail tuna schools are common offshore from the bar and up along Fraser. There will likely be hordes of spotties out off the bar for those that sneak out in the near future.

Unfortunately, those low-pressure systems forming well out into the pacific are sending plenty of swell our way, so even when the wind eases briefly next week, it will likely only be the larger vessels and experienced skippers crossing our bars.

A little pocket rocket longtail tuna

Back in the bay area, and there was some decent reefies on offer for those that headed for the Gutters last week. Avoiding the sharks was possible for some, but not all. Luckily there has been little traffic up that way recently due to weather constraints, so a few sections of reef gave up quality fish for the mobile fisho. As usual, coral trout were the main target and they responded to jigs, tea-bagged softies and live baits around the turn of tide.

The tide ran hard last week and made it tough for many, but those with the right tactics scored a feed of grassy sweetlip and a mix of other reefies. Cobia are taking live baits, jigs and softies and are a lot of fun for those not fussy about their “reef fishing”.

Young Ollie with a beautifully coloured mahi mahi

Spanish mackerel and large schoolies can be a real nuisance or a worthy target out there this time of year - depending on your view on mackerel. Trolling the edges of the gutters at dawn is a well-proven and easy way to pin a spaniard if you wish. Sinking the likes of 50 gram Flashas or large jigs later in the day will soon see you hooked to them or schoolies if you do so around any baitfish schools.

You won’t be allowed to catch spanish mackerel in our area from 1st to 21st February 2023 by the way, so if you are a spaniard fan, then get amongst them beforehand. Oh, and as a reminder – taking of spanish mackerel is banned from the waters of Platypus Bay (east of a line from Rooneys Point to Coongul Point on Fraser Island) year-round. This ban is in place to protect you from the Ciguatera toxin that is highly prevalent in that area and known to be carried by spaniards. In these parts, we deem any spaniard over about 8 kilo risky and keeping the bigger fish just plain crazy.

How cool are the colours of this jobfish speared off Fraser

Inshore Reefies Worth Pursuing

Family fishos seeking an easy feed and a bit of fun for the kids can head out and chase grassy sweetlip on our deeper inshore reefs this week. Either heading out super early before the wind gets up and fishing protected waters, or waiting until the wind eases, will soon see you tangling with sweeties if you drop squid baits to the bottom.

You can try the deep side of the fringing reefs around the bay islands, or off Pt Vernon at dawn or dusk if you like, but such sites aren’t likely to be as productive with the sun high in the sky over the neaps. All the same, the shallower waters are easier for the kids, less sharky and offer great “bycatch” of trout (on prawn or fish baits or lures), cod, tuskies and grunter.

James with a nice inshore trout

The deeper reefs in our shipping channels, plus some of the ledges along the western side of Fraser south of Moon Point, and the local artificial reefs are all home to good numbers of grassy sweetlip. Unfortunately, extracting them from these waters can be frustrating with so many sharks around, so don’t be complacent and sit at anchor feeding the noahs. Try drifting with decent sinkers to hold bottom if you must, or bounce from spot to spot.

If you can secure some live baits, then cod and coral trout are great targets inshore. Tea-bagging softies or jigs will also score well with these predators and will soon see you hooked up to any scarlets in the area.

Tauri with a coral trout that scoffed a soft plastic

Heading out to the more exposed inshore grounds such as the Burrum 8 Mile, Fairway, Outer Banks and Simpson arti once the weather improves should see you tangling with some quality grunter. You might also find mackerel, golden trevally, squire, cod, blackall and tuskies over the same country.

Venturing down around Kingfisher Bay or the Picnics can see you hooking the likes of trout and cod, sweeties, blackall and scarlets on different ledges, reefs and rubble patches in that area. Mackerel and queenies, along with GTs of various sizes are also possible down that way. The great run of pelagics at Kingfisher Bay Resort’s jetty has slowed – for now – but they may see a return of similar action once the tides make for a bit next week.

A coral trout double header for Jackson, nice flap cap mate!

You could hand the kids a rod each (8kg or better) and go for a slow troll along our deeper inshore ledges with the likes of Dr Evils or RMG Poltergeists or similar deep divers. Such a troll over the neap tides could see them grunting and groaning under the strain of a good trout or cod as they battle to keep it from its lair. They might only catch mackerel or trevally instead, but few would complain about the bycatch.

Tie on a lure that only dives to 2-3 metres and try the fringes of the shallow reefs around the bay islands or Pt Vernon if you can get the kids out of bed for a dawn session. Trout are the main target of course, but bycatch such as cod, stripies and some very nice grunter are possible. Troll the shipping channel, Urangan Channel, the Fairway area or even through the channels of the northern straits and you might see them connected to mackerel, queenies or trevally on lures capable of a bit more speed such as Halco Laser Pros, Rapala X-Raps and the like.

Jackson with a nice feed of grunter

Spotties and Mack Tuna Abundant up the Bay

A simple and exciting day out with the kids can be a run up the inside of Fraser Island to Platypus Bay chasing pelagics. Take a good selection of small metal slugs, spin gear capable of a degree of speed and some energetic youngsters and you will soon be scanning the horizon for swooping birds and the splashes and white water of surface feeding tuna and spotties.

Remember to be shark savvy and keep on the move if the big whalers find you and your fish. Avoid staying with schools of undersized spotties too if you can, as they don’t release well at all and you will only be wasting fish. There should be plenty of schools about, so keep travelling and try the smaller commotions if the sharks are really bad around the bigger melees.

Jackson getting into the spotties. The Daiwa insulated fish bags are a great option for day trips.

You can also try for school mackerel over any of the reefs of Platypus Bay and the central bay. Scan around and fish the reefs holding baitfish and drop spoons, twisties or other metal slugs to the bottom. Crank them back at speed and if there are schoolies about, the lure won’t make it back to the boat. There has been a lot of small spaniards in the bay this week too apparently, so take care to release the undersized models appropriately and be wary about keeping the bigger models (or release them all if fishing in Platypus Bay as required by law).

Queenies and GTs are a lot of fun for the kids and are worth pursuing along the inside of Fraser Island at present. You might find them harassing schools of hardiheads along the beaches or around creek mouths, or gorging on schools of small herring along the ledges. Bust out the topwater lures for maximum fun, or simply throw small plastics at them to keep it super simple.

Of course, there is still a number of baby black marlin in the bay, so opting for a trolling session around the turn of tide is a great idea. Get the kids onto a billy and they will be hooked for life. Until the wind eases, most of the effort to chase marlin will be in quite close to Fraser in waters protected from the prevailing southeaster. These fish may well be spooky by the time the wind eases, so consider forays wider of the island around schools of baitfish, bonito or spotties.

Will looking pretty chuffed with a nice spanish mackerel

Crustaceans and Fish on the Move in our Creeks

The neap tides will ease the flow and see a degree of cleaner water in the lower reaches of our rivers. The upper reaches are still basically pure fresh, so stick to the first few miles from the mouths. The Great Sandy Straits and its plethora of creeks, channels, ledges and island verges offer vastly more and potentially better options than our major rivers at this time.

If you must fish the rivers, then it will be threadfin salmon that you seek in the lower reaches of the Mary system or mangrove jacks in the Burrum system. Grunter are a very worthy target, but you will need to look beyond the confines of the rivers. Seek them out along the mangrove-lined fringes of the flats down the straits at high tide, or out in the channels when the tide is out.

Once the wind eases, a session chasing grunter (particularly after dark) should see some rippers landed out off the Burrum coast. Try the drop-off outside the river channel, the grounds off Woodgate or out wider at the 6 Mile or 8 Mile. Evening sessions are vastly better over the neaps, and some would say the same thing for the springs as well. Finding them with lures is easy enough. GULP Shrimp or Turbo Shrimp will do the job superbly, and vibes will do the job too so long as there are no mackerel about.

Brothers Balin (above) and Jett (below) with a nice grassie and spangled emperor.

The creeks along the inside of Fraser have started to clean up from heavy rains a few weeks ago. Grunter and jacks have been taking a range of lures and baits, as have flathead near the creek mouths. Queenies and small GTs, along with a few schools of small golden trevally, have been on the prowl over the flats outside some of these creek mouths, occasionally venturing upstream into the creeks with the flood tide.

A trip further down the straits could see you tripping over similar fish in the island creeks, with the addition of threadfin and blue salmon. Reef fish such as sweeties, trout, tuskies and scarlets are also possible from a number of reefs and rocky ledges down that way. Jewies and jacks also make such deep ledges and reefs home this time of year.

The spring tides last week got the muddies on the move in many of our local creeks. The lower reaches of the rivers are also producing a few. Apparently, pot theft and crab theft is more prevalent than ever, which is a shame. Keep an eye on your pots and dob the scumbags in if you cannot sort them out yourself. Photos and films on your phone will go a long way to ensuring these you-know-whats get what they deserve.

There is enough banana prawn emerging in our smaller creek systems to warrant a session with a cast net. It might take an hour or two or casting if you don’t trip over the motherlode, but local prawners are scoring a couple of kilos of medium-sized prawn for their efforts.

Adam with a nice trout on a Nomad Vertrex vibe

Stay Safe and Make 2023 Great

And finally, we probably should touch on an ongoing matter for the safety of our locals, new Hervey Bayites, vistors and holidaymakers. There have been another four cases of Irukandji syndrome this week, with three young girls and a boy needing urgent medical attention after coming into contact with jellyfish in Wathumba Creek on Fraser Island (in Platypus Bay).

They may only be small, but the Irukandji is deadly

Swimming, snorkelling and other water activities in that area are obviously risky right now. Perhaps you might want to google the Irukandji syndrome and ensure you have appropriate first aid measures on board if boating, fishing, swimming or snorkelling anywhere in the bay. We assumed Irukandji were blown down our way in strong northerly winds in the past, so incidences such as these at times of prevailing southeasters are certainly concerning.

We are lucky to have the RACQ Life Flight chopper to help out with emergencies on the island

We trust you will all enjoy a safe end to 2022 and have a Happy New Year. May 2023 bring you and your families’ future fishing fantasies to life, and y’all enjoy the best of what makes fishing on the Fraser Coast so great.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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