We’ve just enjoyed another week of fantastic weather here on the Fraser Coast, with more glamorous days than roughies the norm for the past couple of weeks. The forecast for the week ahead looks quite mixed, with a couple of good days preceding an out-of-season northerly late Saturday that will stay with us for a couple of days. That northerly will likely be just the ticket to add a little colour to our incredibly clear inshore waters and enhance the activity from our estuary species. Neap tides for the next few days will mean little run in the tide, so deeper reefs will be the go both inshore and out wider.
Humpback whales have turned up in quite big numbers in the bay in the past week or so, providing not only the awesome spectacle we locals (and tourists) enjoy so much, but also a real hazard to boating traffic at the same time. Indeed, there were actually whales frolicking within 100m of the Urangan Harbour mouth last weekend, which was a delight for many but also quite concerning for boaties. Take care and enjoy the whale experience and remember to follow the rules when boating in the vicinity of these majestic creatures.
Time & Tide Charters have been hard at work offshore again this week and have reported a continuation of the unseasonably strong currents north east of Fraser of 2-3 knots which has kept them in the shallower country from 30-70 metres. They continue to be surprised by the absent snapper schools which should be gathered in big numbers on their familiar grounds this time of year. Other reefies have made up for it though, with parrot and lippers featuring heavily in their catches, along with a stack of cobia. It is great to hear that the sharks have backed off a bit over the bar, but as always, be shark savvy out there and move on when they move in. Other reports from outside include good coronation trout, maori cod and lippers from the shoal country and plenty of hussar along the 50 metre lines.
The Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Competition is done and dusted for another year, and what a fantastic event they had this year. Awesome weather enabled boat crews to venture far and wide and swags of great fish were brought to the weigh-master daily. Red emperor are always the most sought after prize and good numbers of reds to 13kg made the scales during the event. Add a swag of good parrot, snapper, pearlies, sweeties and other reefies to the mix and the weigh-ins were quite the spectator sport. The beach crews weren’t left out either with good tailor, some horse bream, nice whiting, flatties and dart weighed, not to mention jewies to 13kg. By all reports the event was very well run and a credit to all involved.
The great weather saw numerous boats hit the Gutters again, with mixed reports consisting of a mix of reefies from coral trout and snapper to sweeties, parrot and hussar. Cobia in all sizes from barely legal to true monsters can be found harassing the bait schools silly enough to hang around the reef ledges. Trevally have turned up en-masse out there now, making for tough work for anyone trying to get plastics through them to the trout sitting below. Of course, many love the sport of brawling with trevors, and they have had a ball on numerous species including (but certainly not limited to) goldies, diamonds, GTs, bludgers, brassies and the most common of all (and best eating apparently), the long-nosed trevally.
It is trevally time over off Wathumba and throughout much of Platypus Bay as well, though the general size of some of the trevors leaves a lot to be desired. Big goldies and diamonds are the trophies up that way around reefs and schools of yakkas, but you should look around with your sounder prior to deploying your micro-jigs and plastics for best results. Cobia and longtail tuna have turned up around these same bait schools at times, so be prepared for an arm stretching on the light gear.
Snapper are now entrenched throughout parts of the bay, though numbers are still yet to impress the long-term locals that are used to much better numbers than are being experienced this winter. Blame the temperature if you like, as our waters have remained quite high for this time of year. The neap tides this week will do little to encourage a bite from the knobbies during daylight hours, so best to concentrate your efforts around low light and into the evening as has been so necessary so far this winter. The 25 Fathom Hole and surrounding patches have been the standouts for those seeking knobbies on artificials this year, but much can be expected of the grounds from Wathumba to Rooneys now that the whale season is in full swing.
Some good snapper were reported inshore over the period of the full moon just passed, though again it has been those venturing out for late afternoon and evening sessions that have scored the best. It certainly pays to track down a decent bait source when looking for snapper which can be reflected upon by plenty of crews that have missed out in recent times by simply fishing favourite haunts and listed GPS co-ordinates regardless of a lack of baitfish activity in their chosen areas. Berley could well be the key to triggering a bite and holding squire and snapper during the coming period of neap tides for bait fishos, as will primo baits rigged streamlined to entice the somewhat finicky inshore fish.
You are still in with a good chance of scoring a trout and a few cod if live-baiting the reefs during the tide turns, with good quality sweetlip still turning up around the fringes of the reefs and over fern and weed country in the channels between the bay islands. Blackall have been offering great sport for those fishing soft baits of banana prawns, squid and fish fillets, with the bigger specimens most active after dark. For those keen to try their hand at a blackall, they tend to take a bait rather gently at times, often quite content to pick at it a couple of times then sit their eating it without any further movement on your line. In these cases, strike with your rod to set the hook even if you think they moved on as they are often just "sitting on it". You can then decide if you wish to test their dubious eating quality reputation or release them unharmed.
There are still plenty of bream to be found around the rocky fringes of the bay islands and the Gatakers Bay to Pialba reefs. A berley trail is paramount for bait fishos chasing bream, with cut baits often proving best when the pickers attend the party. Minimal weight, patience and allowing the fish to move off with your bait will enhance your success even further, and when the Happy Moments move in, just tease the baits away from them and let some line slip as the big bream will snatch it from the happies when they get the chance.
The creeks, gutters and flats along Fraser’s western shore from Coongul south fished very well for summer whiting, flathead and bream during the recent full moon tides. Don’t expect the same activity from the whiting until the tides build again closer to the new moon. The flatties are still a viable target though, so take the light flick rods and toss some small plastics, blades and hardbodies in their vicinity as you sight-fish them in our crystal clear shallows.
This has certainly not been a good year for tiger squid by local standards. Angler effort, water temperature or a lack of breeding opportunity could all be factors, but no matter how good or bad a season is, you would be mad to venture out around our inshore waters without an armoury of appropriate squid jigs this time of year. You can still expect to find a few squid if you seek them out, but you have to either be first-in-best-dressed nowadays or venture beyond the realm of other anglers to find any numbers of squid.
The better reports from winter whiting fishos have come from down the Straits recently, with enough fish turning up on the grounds west of Woody Island to make putting up with the odd toadfish worthwhile. You can check out a few tips on catching winteries in previous versions of this weekly fishing report on our website if you wish, though one thing has become a constant, and that is that GULP sandworms kick butt when it comes to a simple and effective bait for winteries.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
The neap tides will offer a great opportunity for those fishing the lower reaches of the Mary and Susan to tangle with a few flatties. Concentrate your efforts around drains, creek mouths, gravel and rock bars during the latter stage of the ebb tide and early flood for best results. Trollers can expect to pick up a few too if they spend some time dredging the bottom with small hardbodies in the big gutters in the River Heads area (ie; Prawn, Shell or Burtenshaw gutters and China Bight), along with the lower reaches of the Susan and Bengstons. Don’t be at all surprised to have your line take off with a blue salmon attached when trolling in these areas this time of year.
Look for grunter a bit further upriver on either small GULP prawns / mantis shrimp or Zman grubs rigged heavily enough to stay in contact with the bottom in waters from 2-8 metres deep. Similar story for the big creeks and drop offs into the many channels down the straits. Of course baits of yabbies, prawns and small squid will also entice a grunter, but you don’t have to put up with the pickers when using plastics. Threadies can be tough to catch courtesy of the clear, cold water at this time, but they can be actively sight-fished down the straits if you find them, and the northerly this weekend might just stir them up a little.
Flatties shouldn’t be too hard to find down the straits, even if a little easier during bigger tides. Similarly there have been good catches of bream and whiting down their too, and their activity will again increase when the tides build again. Small schools of tailor can be found from about Kingfisher to Fig Tree if you concentrate your efforts around the vast schools of hardies and herring parked along the ledges such as Ungowa and up on the flats down that way. Mini GTs and the odd school of small queenies can add to the entertainment value in similar areas, and as always keep your eyes peeled for any tiger squid sneaking about in the shallows.
Burrum River System
The full moon saw school mackerel turn up in the mouth of the Burrum from the boat ramps out the channel to the marker leads. Trolling them up on Laser Pro 120s and similar lures is easy enough, as is spinning them up on Flasha spoons and Halco Twisties for the more active anglers. Bag limits have been achievable though there are reportedly a lot of sub-legal mackerel mixed in with better quality fish so take care to release the mini models unharmed.
Flatties have been the other mainstay of anglers either trolling, flicking lures or live-baiting the lower reaches, and can indeed be found the full length of the Burrum and the Gregory along the edges of muddy banks and adjacent to any rock bars where baitfish are aggregated. The mid reaches are the go for those chasing queenies for a bit of fun, with a real mix of fish from micro models through the more abundant 50-60cm sizes to a few metre plus rockets turning up in many of the deeper holes and runs in the vicinity of river bends and rock bars.
Fraser Island’s Eastern Beaches
The Fraser Island Retreat crew at Happy Valley have reported superb beach conditions along much of Fraser’s eastern beach at present. Phenomenal gutters are formed in many areas offering ample locations to seek out the tailor that have been biting well for a week or so. The incredibly clear water at present has meant that late afternoon sessions have produced the best tailor bite, with plenty of fish in the 38-45cm size range coming from north of Eurong to The Cathedrals.
There have been a few good jew landed at Happy Valley again this week, with the odd fish even falling victim during daylight hours. There are still plenty of dart to be found along much of the beach, with the odd small school of quality whiting turning up in the melon holes.
The annual fin-fish closure for waters from 400m south of Indian Head to 400m north of Waddy Point is now in force, with a total ban on all forms of fishing within that range and to within 400m to seaward for the period from midday 1st August to midday 30th September. For more details visit: https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
The Urangan Pier has seen a mix of species grace the boards this week from whiting during the bigger evening tides of the full moon to flatties taking live baits during the early flood of the neaps. Bream have been a fairly constant option for much of the higher tide phase and evening sessions, and a few mackerel also turned up this week along with a few rogue schools of bonito. Tiger squid are always to be looked out for when walking the pier as they can be spotted lurking alongside the pylons or over the gravelly parts of the first channel, so don’t forget the squid jigs.
Flicking lures or baits from the lower reaches of our local creeks and adjacent areas could see you get a few flatties at present, or you could venture out along the rocks of Pt Vernon for a crack at the bream and trevally. There has been a fair bit of bait getting worked over by birds off there the last day or two which could well be schools of tailor or mackerel.
Good luck out there y'all.