You don’t need us to tell you that the past week has seen some wild weather here on the Fraser Coast. We have endured an unprecedented heat wave that has seen disastrous bush fires impacting on our neighbours to the north and whipped up unfishable conditions on the bay courtesy of the strong northerlies. It looks like the weather is going to give us a couple of great days Friday and Saturday before turning foul again Sunday with yet another strong northerly. By mid-week you can expect the return of a moderate southeaster. Neap tides will be the norm for the next few days courtesy of Friday’s quarter moon.
We have had no reports from over the bar this past week due to the prevailing weather conditions making it far too rough offshore. Given the incredible heat and northerlies, you can well imagine that the good old East Australian Current is fairly hooking out there right now. Game fishers will be keen to get back out there chasing blue and black marlin along with the seemingly large numbers of yellowfin tuna, wahoo and mahi mahi. The currents will be too strong for reef fishos to access any of the deeper reefs and shelf waters offshore, unless you can find some sort of eddy on a day with a southerly wind to slow your drift. That does not look likely this week.
A few crews ventured to the Gutters last Saturday for very little return. There were likely to be exceptions, but all we heard were tales of woe claiming the sharks were back in force and taking all quality fish. No doubt some will try again over the next couple of days, and whilst some may do okay, most will be flogging a dead horse trying to extract a feed past those ravenous whalers. Those with plenty of local experience will be aware of the subdued bite out that way this time of year due to the northerlies anyway.
Spotted mackerel were found throughout much of Platypus Bay in great numbers prior to this latest northerly blow. Some commercial fishos even braved the northerlies and scored big numbers during the week. Plenty will be keen to head up that way now that the winds have lightened and turned to the east. Take a good range of metal slugs in the 20-40 gram range, with a mix of coloured and chromed models in case the spotties are being a bit fussy on the day. Remember that they don’t handle well at all, so try to avoid grabbing them if destined for release and use a de-hooking tool or pliers instead if possible. Increasing shark activity suggests extra care should be taken when fish are brought alongside.
Mack tuna have also been abundant throughout Platypus Bay and the central bay for those looking for sport instead of a feed. Take a mix of stickbaits, plastics and metals in case you find some decent longtails up that way as well. There have been no reports of black marlin within the bay this week, though we remain eternally optimistic that another patch of fish will arrive some time soon. Strong northerlies this spring have done little for our inshore marlin fishery.
Our inshore waters have been getting a respite from angler effort this spring due to the weather, so when the opportunity arises it hasn’t been too hard to scratch up a feed. That is, if you can avoid the sharks which have been woeful in many of the more popular areas. Sweetlip, tuskfish, cod and trout are the most sought after species at this time of year and can all be found from the shallow reefs, the inshore ledges and local artificial reefs.
Queenfish have been quite common captures throughout many areas inshore of late, from the beaches and creek mouths west of town, to the shipping channel reefs and arti’s. Plastics and vibes are generally most productive for the deeper reefs, whilst the ever popular option of chasing them on poppers and stickbaits around the bay islands can offer some great surface action.
Big GT’s have become increasingly common in recent weeks too, and will soon hunt down a big blooping popper or dancing stickbait over similar country as that favoured by the queenies. Stories have filtered back of sessions where GT’s would slash at a popper and miss, only to have a metre or so of queenie steal the lure before he gets another crack. Whilst there is no doubt that the spring tides are better than the current neaps for GTs (and queenies), you can still hunt them if you look for strong tidal flows that will expose baitfish near deeper waters.
Flats fishos have been scoring a few queenies, golden trevally, smallish GT’s and blackall during the higher stages of the bigger tides, with the flats south of Moon Point and those down towards Bogimbah offering good sport on the right day. Forget cloudy days as you won’t be able to sight your targets from far enough away, and employ a stealthy approach for any chance at these spooky critters. A great day can be spent chasing the ghosts of the flats and a few mangrove jacks and grunter in the nearby creeks all in the one session. Don’t forget the Bushmans though or you won’t last a minute up those creeks.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, the mighty mangrove jack is THE fish to target in the Burrum system right now. Small tides in coming days with lows in the middle of the day will offer ample opportunity for the lure fishos out there to give them a solid crack. Jacks revel in these horrible muggy days and have been very aggressive of late. Hone your casting skills and work on your accuracy for the best chance at the jacks and get your lures right in tight under shady overhangs, mangroves and man-made structures. If the heat of day is too much for you, then try the early mornings or evenings and bring the small poppers and stickbaits into play. Bait fishos will find jacks keen to smash small livies, strips of fresh mullet and even pilchards.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
Threadfin salmon will continue to be the main target for fishos hitting the Mary and Susan Rivers. These small tides will offer a crack at them in the deeper holes on soft vibes, though you can still expect a few salmon to be working the drains around low tide. You must choose drains that are flowing at the time and draining a shallow area that forces the baitfish and prawns out into the open. Drains that leave a big body of water in their back reaches will not be productive.
A few grunter are an option for those venturing down the Straits. You can choose to fish the creeks or the channels that lead into these creeks depending upon the state of tide. Yabbies, small herring, prawns and small squid will work for the bait fishos, whilst those chasing them on artificial would be well served gearing up with GULP shrimp and other prawn imitations or small blades and vibes.
There is a chance of a feed of prawns for those willing to get the boat a bit muddy, and head into the back reaches of the creeks feeding into the Susan and Mary during the last of the ebb tide. Whilst there have been a few decent bananas moving along more open banks, it is hardly exciting prawning for seasoned local prawners, with perhaps a couple of kilos of small prawn the likely result for a fair degree of effort. Mud crabs have been a bit scarce by most accounts, but then you never hear from those that are catching the most anyway.
Urangan Pier and the Town Beaches
It is not hard to know when the pencil squid are on out at the Urangan Pier. For us it is the spike in sales of micro squid jigs and lumo lights, but for anyone driving past the pier on a decent evening you will be able to spot the lights hung below the pier to attract the squid. In the old days it was gas lanterns that were suspended above the water, but now it is a combination of LED light bars and trolley-borne car batteries for the locals. Big numbers of squid are possible at times, but make sure you choose nights that are not too windy. You can score a few squid right on dawn as well, if you add some weight to your rig and sink it to the bottom.
There hasn’t been a lot to mention from our town beaches, apart from a few big queenies busting into baitfish around Torquay at times and a few flatties from around the jetties, groynes and rocky fringes when the weather has settled. The recent full moon saw a few whiting caught from the Urangan Pier and Shelley Beach but night-time was the go for a decent feed courtesy of the extreme heat during the day.
Something worth mentioning in the hope of turning a negative into a positive is the fun that can be had by the kids by targeting those noxious pests that have made their way into virtually every freshwater lake and creek in our area – the dreaded Tilapia. These horrible pests have become so prolific in some lakes that they can be easily sight-fished. It has been concerning to hear of examples of folks living on certain lakes actually feeding the pests.
A simple, light rod and reel with small hooks and some garden worms is all that is need to catch Tilapia. You would be doing our environment a favour to head out for a session and try to put a dent in their growing populations. These trickly little mouth-brooders are incredibly hardy and it is illegal to even leave them lying near the water. If you give it a crack, then take an appropriate bucket and bags and despatch them humanely, then dispose of them in the rubbish. You could always get the kids to google the subject and there will be ample information on catching Tilapia online. Drop in-store or call us and we will let you know which lakes are easily accessible in your local area.
Good luck out there y’all.