Rain Clears – Summer Wet Season Begins
Anyway, after yet another wet week, it is great to see an improved forecast for the next few days. The sun will come out today, apparently, and the weekend is looking good. Saturday is looking best, with sunny skies and light winds from the southeast early, tending even lighter easterly during the day. Sunday morning will be quite good again, though the southeaster will increase throughout the day. Expect 10 knots early and up to 20 knots by nightfall. Still a reasonable forecast for inshore waters.
Expect 20 knots of southeaster Monday before the wind eases and swings anticlockwise through the compass to light northerlies mid-week with the approach of the next trough. A few showers are again likely throughout the working week, but nothing too dramatic until at least late in the week.
Saturday’s new moon triggers king tides, with highs peaking over 4m from lows a smidge over 0.3m. The tidal run will be significant and certainly something for those unfamiliar with our waters to keep in mind when traversing the flats or indeed the shipping channels during periods of wind against tide.
Young Kade was absolutely stoked with his 114cm barra that he trolled up at Lake Callide. That's a bloody impressive effort for a 6 year old, great job young fella!
Dirty Inshore Waters Enhance the Fishing
It might not look as inviting as the crystal-clear inshore waters in drier times, but the tannin-coloured waters in the Great Sandy Straits and the lower bay are definitely a bonus for the fish and we fishos. Many species of fish and crustaceans rely on such conditions to enable spawning and we will reap the benefits, not only in improved future fish stocks, but in enhanced feeding opportunities for existing mature fish.
Barra are hopefully doing their thing to replenish our much-depleted local stocks, and with the barra closure currently in place, they can do so without running the gauntlet of the gillnets. It is becoming all-too obvious just how naïve we are in assuming that all fishos will avoid targeting barra during the closure, but at least the experienced and forward-thinking fishos that care about future stocks are avoiding them and focusing on the many other species on offer.
The big new moon tides are going to see massive outflows of dirty brackish or indeed fresh waters from many creeks and our rivers this week. The lower reaches will be the zone to focus on if fishing the rivers and creeks, with threadfin salmon the most obvious target. Even better, depending upon the amount of rain in any given catchment could be the waters immediately outside these systems, especially the flats, drains and channels of the straits.
Threadfin salmon will be a great target over the coming months.
Mangrove jack have been biting fiercely this week as the tides have built. The rain, the sandflies and mozzies have made for fairly annoying conditions for chasing them, but as many an old hand at jack fishing will tell you, the worse the bugs, the better the fishing.
Fraser Island’s western creeks are running fresh in some cases and tannin-stained but salty in others. Suss them out for jacks and you could be in for some great sessions. The muggy nights all this week saw them on the chew in the creeks big-time and the new moon tides this weekend offer another terrific opportunity to chase them in more open waters.
Whilst you might find a few grunter riding the last of the incoming tide back into some of our creeks systems, the best of our grunter are now out in the straits, the shipping channels and the bay. Dawn, dusk or evening sessions grubbing vibes, jigs or plastics or otherwise baits of prawn, squid or herring right on the bottom over rubbly reefs in the western bay will see some great catches of grunter this week. Likewise, the same baits or lures will entice the big grunter displaced from the creeks down the straits. Look for them in the channels, along the deeper ledges or up on the flats (when the tide is high).
There will be whiting and bream foraging in the coloured waters up on the flats in places down the straits, and locally, for those that are keen on the little stuff. Topwater offerings, such as tiny stickbaits and poppers are a terrific option for chasing these critters up in skinny water after the rains. They will be feasting on tiny prawns and yabbies and will be super-aggressive towards the right topwater lures danced across the surface.
Crustaceans on the Move After the Rains
A major benefit of all the recent rains is that our much-loved crustaceans will thrive. Crabbers are already out in force chasing muddies and the crabs have been super-active. There are stories of ridiculous numbers of crabs being potted over along the island, but that all are being returned to the water as they are soft and empty. It sounds as though extra care should be taken to check the fullness of any muddies caught at present to ensure you are not wasting this precious resource.
The flats and channels outside the creeks have been the most productive for crabbers since the rains have peaked. The muddies, displaced by the freshwater have been running in the adjacent waters and are readily making their way into pots. Let’s hope that the crabs fill out soon and all you crab-lovers get a good feed in time for Xmas.
Given that our area has failed to produce a decent run of prawns for a couple of years due to the drought, we are all looking forward to a great prawn season this year. The fact that our local creeks and rivers are running fresh is great, but even better news is the minor flooding of the Burnett River to our north, which pretty-much assures us of a good run around Easter next year.
There will be no need to wait that long though of course, as you will be able to reap the benefit of the recent rains around Xmas. As soon as the waters settle, the prawning will take off in the creeks and the rivers, but even now, some experienced prawners will be able to track down a good feed of mature prawn.
If you are not so lucky, then by the time the next new moon comes around, a lot of the juvenile prawn that was spawned early in the recent rain events will be of decent size. The storm rains of October spawned an earlier jelly prawn hatch in some creeks and areas than in others, so these very systems will be the first to produce the early season prawn.
Don’t stuff around this season if you need a prawning cast net. The massive influx of southerners to Qld that will want their piece of the prawning action will see higher demand for nets than we have likely ever seen. On top of that, our recent seasons were a failure locally, so we have more folk here that are “netless” than ever. Yes, we have plenty of stock right now, and droves on the way, but suppliers will run out and some will miss out.
After all this rain we should be in for a bumper prawn season.
Not All Things Resulting from Flooding Are Positive
An unfortunate consequence of the big rains and local run-off is the influx of those dirty rotten tilapia into our brackish inshore waters. Word is that schools of these noxious pests have been netted along our local foreshores by pros recently. Tragically, these vermin are everywhere in our local freshwaters, from ponds to creeks and even above weirs.
The tilapia use the outflows from their “home” waters to escape and invade other prime real estate, being a creature capable of withstanding brackish waters. They feast on prawn and other critters in their travels and being mouth-brooders, are capable of carrying their offspring with them on their journey. Once this invasive pest invades a waterway, they are almost impossible to remove.
If you happen to catch any tilapia, then you are not permitted to release the fish. You MUST kill the fish (humanely) and dispose of it away from the water in a plastic bag. The tilapia cannot be killed and thrown back into the water as the offspring within its mouth could escape and survive. You cannot leave them laying on the ground as a bird might pick it up and drop it into the water, allowing the same result with any offspring in its mouth. These rules might seem extreme, but the tilapia disaster is so out of control that these measures are demanded.
Years ago we considered initiating a local tilapia-culling event that would have involved the local school kids, but were told by Qld Fisheries that we could not promote such an event as it was illegal to target tilapia. The apparent “logic” behind this somewhat perplexing response was that if they made the practice illegal then certain unscrupulous folk that were fans of the fish would introduce them into waters to harvest them in the future.
A quick check of good old Google today suggests that it is in fact legal to target tilapia, so long as you dispose of them correctly. Attempting to clarify the issue via the DAF website left your scribe frustrated and confused, resulting in the usual response to navigating government websites – exiting and steering clear. If you have any insight, or thoughts on the tilapia issue then feel free to swing us an email c/- email@example.com.
The other rather concerning issue that we will suffer from in a huge way as a result of these fantastic rains and local run-off is that our massive bull shark population will breed big time this summer and drop their progeny some time next autumn. If the bull shark population is so huge right now, the mind boggles at what the future holds with so many mature breeders doing their thing after a decent wet. Remember now, that we have been in a serious drought for the past three years and their breeding activity was diminished compared to what it will be this season. Struth!
Tilapia are a great fly fishing target as you can often sight fish them, just make sure you dispose of them properly.
Reef Fishos Struggling to Beat the Sharks Inshore
It is very sad, but so many locals have given up trying to beat the local shark population inshore, which is a crying shame. We haven’t mentioned the shark issue in recent reports as it so darn depressing, but it is time that we make mention of the issue again, so as to at least inform the newbies to our area of what they are in for.
It is tragic to here so many stories so regularly of the attrition of our reef fish from sharks, and even more-so when the fisho telling the story relates big numbers of fish wasted on a spot when they failed to understand the situation and move on. If you are new to the bay, then please be shark savvy and steer clear of spots where the sharks are stealing fish. Tragically, this is such a majority of our deeper inshore reef systems, and also a large proportion of the well-known grounds out wider in the bay.
The shallow reefs do not suffer nearly as badly, but as many could relate so far this spring, you are not even safe from sharks in the shallows. When a shark does find you, then you need to move on. Not a few hundred metres, but some considerable distance. If there are ample other boats in a given area, then you might get lucky and score a few fish whilst the other hapless fishos get sharked, but eventually it will be your turn.
A greedy little cod that scoffed a jig on a recent trip with Fraser Guided Fishing.
Being highly mobile is key to avoiding sharks, and technology these days allows us to be more mobile than ever. Spot-locking electric motors are tremendous, alleviating the need for anchoring. Those tending towards lures rarely anchor anyway, catching their fish whilst drifting, so many utilising modern techniques and equipment have the edge on those relying on the old school when it comes to avoiding sharks.
Trolling deep divers for reef fish, and pelagics, is now more popular than ever in Hervey Bay. This is partly due to the tremendous success enjoyed from a couple of lures in recent years, but even more-so due to the increased chances of catching a feed of decent reef fish etc without attracting the sharks that are drawn to stationary or drifting boats.
So, after all that scary stuff about the noahs, what can you expect to catch inshore if you head out chasing reefies? The same candidates as usual basically. Coral trout and cod over the turn of tide on live baits or lures. Grass sweetlip around the fringes of the deeper reef systems in our shipping channels. Blackall if you could be bothered with them, primarily from the deeper reefs, but also up along the fringes of the shallows and the flats.
Squire are still a chance inshore, but are even more likely from the central and northern bay. Scarlet sea perch can be found along some ledges and inshore reef systems if you can find them. They won’t be real big, but are super tasty. Move on if you are catching undersized models though, as they basically won’t survive release from deeper waters. You could pick up better-quality scarlets out in the central bay on isolated lumps, so always investigate those little blips on the sounder when travelling.
As mentioned earlier, there will be some great grunter on offer in the western bay. They will also be on the chew over the darks up in the northern sector of Platypus Bay. Coral trout will be the main target out at the Gutters, though reds are a chance, and grass sweetlip, squire, tuskies and cod will add some variety to the box if you can avoid the noahs.
It comes as no surprise that those searching for tuna have struggled over the past week. As suggested, they simply don’t pop on top when clouds block out the sun. Their usual tactic of forcing baitfish to the surface and disorientating them in the glare of the sun is a complete failure during extended rainy or overcast conditions.
In addition, the heavy rain, although soon filtered by the mass of saltwater over which it falls, will have an immediate impact on tiny baitfish that the tuna favour, so these baitfish are unlikely to be found in the surface layer during the actual rain events. By the way, these tiny baitfish are often referred to as “rain fish”, due to that fact that they look like rain on the surface when they are feeding, not because they enjoy the actual rain.
There will be plenty of mack tuna in the bay and a smattering of longtails too. They should surface again soon, now that the sun is back out. Look for trevally, mackerel and queenfish around the reefs up the island if the tuna don’t show during your trip. Don’t give up just because you didn’t see fish on the surface on your way up in the morning, as the new moon’s run out tide in the afternoon can be a major bite trigger after such heavy rains and with so much displaced baitfish in the bay.
A couple of schoolies to keep the young lads happy. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sprtfishing.
Another week has gone by and it is fair to say that the spotted mackerel are now overdue. This week’s southeasterly winds should surely bring the spotty schools into the bay, it is just a matter of where they might first show up. Keep your eyes peeled if heading for Rooneys or the Gutters, or indeed anywhere throughout the northern or central bay. Little terns dipping over large masses of white water without the tell-tale signs of tuna clearing the water is what you are looking for. Pack plenty of small metal slugs and be ready when the spotties arrive.
Closer inshore, the pelagic action around the bay islands and some of Fraser’s western ledges has ramped up with the influx of baitfish washed out from our estuaries. Hordes of freshly-spawned juvenile baitfish are milling about in vast schools in some areas too, so be prepared to tie on fairly minute offerings if you want to match the hatch in those locales. Otherwise, stickies, poppers, plastics, metals and vibes are all worth a try on the local queenfish and trevally populations.
Speaking of trevally, the big old GTs will be on the rampage inshore at present. They revel in the current conditions, using the stained waters to their advantage, smashing hapless baitfish, small reefies and other pelagics with gusto. Sweep big stickies or bloop big poppers along current lines, reef ledges and even around beacons and you could soon be connected to these big brutes.
A bit of queenfish action during a charter with Fraser Guided Fishing.
There is likely to be more folks frequenting the Urangan Pier after dark than during daylight hours these days, courtesy of the pencil squid run. Lights are being suspended above the water in an attempt to attract the squid to a chosen spot, yet with so many lights being deployed, it can get a little “entertaining”.
Water quality will have an impact on the movements of the squid. The big new moon ebb tides will likely see a push of dirty water along much of the pier. The flood tide will be the go, as it so often is. Many new to this game start out with el-cheapo squid jigs, but soon return to buy the better-quality models after being out-fished hand over fist by their neighbours with better jigs.
It is not just pier fishos into the pencillies either, as boaties are out chasing them day and night. Again, as a reminder, the bag limit is 50 for these squid, in possession, which includes what is in your fridge/freezer.
Good luck out there y’all.