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Weekly Fishing Report - 2nd July 2020

Glassed-Out Seas – Until the Weekend

“Spectacular” barely describes how good the weather is right now. If you are lucky enough to have time off or don’t need to work, then no doubt you are revelling in the light winds and glassed-out seas. There will be more of the same tomorrow, Friday, but then things turn a little sour.

The weekend will kick off with a southwesterly change pushing through that will see the wind up a little on Saturday. Sunday will be quite good, then we can expect a spate of moderate southerly / southeasterly winds for most of the coming week.

Not only is the weather fantastic right now, but Sunday’s full moon means the tides are building at present, offering great tides for a range of reef, pelagic and estuarine species. Night sessions under the glow of the moon will be super productive for some fishos as they work the evening tides for our nocturnal winter regulars.

Boaties Should Beware the Humpback Whale Migration

Hervey Bay’s famous whale watching fleet will be looking forward to the start of the annual whale season towards the end of this month. In the meantime, it is timely to warn newbies to Hervey Bay waters of the potential hazards the whales can mean for boaties.

Locals and regular visitors will be well aware of the presence of whales in our waters from now till the end of October. Many will have tales to tell of near misses and close encounters, but all and sundry will happily recount their whale sightings with a degree of awe and respect for these truly majestic creatures.

 

Whilst it is illegal to purposefully approach the whales, they will very often come to you and check you out if you are drifting or anchored nearby. There has been the odd occasion where a boaties’ anchor rope has come into contact with a whale (typically at night) and quite rarely a whale has become entangled. Whilst this is an unlikely scenario, you should always be prepared for such an event if overnighting this time of year.

Boat strikes whilst underway are quite rare also, but there have been enough instances over the years to suggest that the skipper (and crew) should have a heightened level of awareness and keep an extra eye out when travelling, particularly at speed. Maintaining a straight line and not wandering all over the paddock is said to help the whales determine the path of a boat and do their best to avoid collisions.

Platypus Bay is where the majority of the humpbacks spend a lot of their time, resting and frolicking in the relatively calm waters with little in the way of current. Having said this, the whales can turn up anywhere from just outside the harbour, to the deeper channels down the straits and throughout the whole of the bay and beyond. Offshore boaties should be extra vigilant as the larger swells can often obscure them from view, and they have been known to share the deeper bar crossings at times.

There is probably only a handful of whales in Hervey Bay at present, but there will be big numbers travelling close to the coastline offshore. Take that bit of extra care whilst they share our waters and enjoy the majesty and sheer delight that encounters with our humpbacks offer. It is truly one of Hervey Bay’s most awe-inspiring experiences.

Fun for the Kids on Urangan Pier

For those parents out there looking to entertain keen little fishos over the school holiday break, you might find the Urangan Pier has plenty to offer. Whether you let them run loose, or join them for a session or two, there is bound to be some form of action that will heighten their excitement levels.

For those with appropriate tackle, there is a lot of fun on offer early in the morning in the form of schools of marauding bonito that are quite willing to smash a metal spoon, jig or plastic. These little “bonnies” would rarely be considered a food fish, but certainly make for great strip baits for bream or live baits for spanish mackerel or sharks.

School mackerel have also been quite prolific out the end recently, falling to the same metal spoons or live baits of herring and the like. There are seemingly more undersized schoolies than legal models of late though, so take care to release the juveniles unharmed.

Sight-fishing for flathead can be a very rewarding experience and will teach the kids a lot about the species and how it hunts in an ambush fashion. Be prepared to catch and use live baits such as pike and herring to catch the flatties though as they typically won’t be tempted by much else. Whilst on the subject of sight-fishing, this can only really be achieved with the aide of a pair of polarised sunglasses to overcome the glare from the water to enable you to see the fish etc beneath.

With the full moon rising this Sunday evening, the next few days and nights will be great for those chasing bream out on the pier. Whilst the convenience of frozen bait cannot be ignored, there is a lot to be gained by catching your own bait from the pier prior to, or during, a bream session. Get some small bait jigs and appropriate sinkers to match and get in the habit of catching herring for bait. After all, this is the primary food source at the pier and what the bream (and most other species) are used to feeding on.

Night sessions will be highly productive over the full moon period and offer better fishing for larger bream without the hassle of the daytime pickers. This is when smaller strip baits and even frozen baits such as mullet fillets, mullet gut or hardiheads can be productive. During the daylight, whole butterflied herring baits, small live herring or larger strip baits are often necessary to withstand the onslaught of the pickers.

The evenings around the full moon should also see the odd jewfish caught from the deeper waters out towards the end of the pier. Live baits, soft vibes or large plastics are the go-to options for those chasing jew. Time your efforts to coincide with the turn of tide.

Mackerel and Other Pelagics Offer Fun Times for the Kids

Those boaties looking to entertain the kids have ample options these school holidays. There are oodles of school mackerel in our bay waters at present and they are super easy to catch. You might choose to troll appropriate hard-bodied lures through the shipping channels or around the beacons and reef systems, or you can select a likely area holding baitfish and target them with gang-rigged pillies, whole squid or live baits.

For the energetic kids out there, spinning schoolies up on metal spoons is perhaps the most fun way of getting connected. Simply drift over a likely area, dropping your Flasha spoon to the bottom, then retrieve it flat-out back to the surface. Set your reel’s drag appropriately, as the hit is quite vicious when retrieving at such speed. Try to avoid using wire traces, as it definitely makes the fish wary of your lure or bait.

The mackerel schools have been very mobile lately, turning up all over the place. A few areas worth trying locally without driving far include the Burrum 8 Mile, the Fairway Buoy, the Outer Banks, Sammies, Maringa Bombie, Mickies, Kingfisher Bay and the channel out from River Heads. Trolling the Urangan Channel from the harbour towards the Fairway can also be quite productive.

Other than mackerel, there will be random schools of bonito busting up throughout the bay. There little guys can be seen from a distance and vary from tuna in the size and number of splashes. Lots of little splashes in a tightly-packed area often give away the bonito schools. You can use the same spoons as you would use for mackerel, though smaller 15-30 gram sizes are more productive, as are a lot of other tiny metal slugs if your reels are high speed.

There are also a few schools of mack tuna scattered throughout the bay at present and these guys will be happy to scoff a small metal slug cranked past at speed. There are also numerous species of trevally on offer in winter that are readily taken on a range of jigged metals, plastics, vibes, micro jigs and a variety of baits.

Golden trevally, small GTs and big eye trevally can be found inshore at places such as the Roy Rufus arti, the Outer Banks or the Simpson arti, though more species and greater numbers can be found around the bait schools and reef systems up in Platypus Bay. You might also wish to try the current lines around the bay islands for a mix of trevally, queenfish, mackerel, juvenile yellowtail king, tailor and dart.

Those venturing over to Kingfisher Bay are likely to find a few school mackerel, perhaps the odd passing golden trevally or queenfish and plenty of bream and flathead. Tiger squid are a chance around the jetty and along the foreshore, and jewfish can be targeted at night on live baits around the turn of tide.

Full Moon Snapper

This next couple of days and nights offer some of your best chances at Hervey Bay snapper. The impending closure from the 15th July will put a dampener of snapper fishing for the month thereafter.

Try the 25 Fathom Hole, Burrum 8 Mile, Arch Cliffs 6 Mile or the many reef systems and weed patches throughout Platypus Bay. There have been a few caught around Red Ned southwest of Rooneys and some time spent off Rooneys is bound to locate the odd school. Look for schools of baitfish up that way and either target the snapper by drifting past with plastics and micro jigs, or anchor, berley and float-line live and dead baits procured from the area.

Closer to home, you might find a few knobbies hanging around the Roy Rufus arti, Moon Ledge or the Outer Banks and are a good chance of squire from the same grounds, plus any bait-holding reefy /rubbly country anywhere from Kingfisher Bay to Coongul and even in Urangan Channel or out at the Fairway after dark.

Those venturing out to the Gutters will find snapper if they time their efforts around dawn, dusk or into the evening. Daytime out there is better spent targeting trout and cod on live baits or tea-bagged plastics, or chasing squire, sweeties, parrot etc on baits.

Big cobia are bound to find the odd bait or lure out the Gutters way (and over towards Rooneys and further south for that matter). The tides building to the full moon will see red emperor and scarlet sea perch on the chew for those that can track some down out wide, and the smaller scarlets in Platypus Bay should also fire up during the evenings up that way.

Many Crews Head Offshore

Whilst we have little to report from offshore or any of the wider grounds over the past week due to the weather, there is a literal fleet of vessels heading for offshore waters at present to take advantage of the great weather and tides. We expect to hear of many successful forays into the great blue beyond and will share some of the captures in next week’s report.

For those not familiar with our wider grounds and what you might expect to catch, here is a very brief rundown. Those deploying deep-dropping tackle to the depths beyond the shelf will be chasing pearl perch, snapper, various jobfishes and bar cod. The shelf line itself, in 100m of water, will be home to schools of snapper, pearlies, a few jobfish species and some dirty big amberjack. Sharks are often a problem along the shelf line.

The Sandy Cape Shoals also suffers from shark issues regularly, but is a vast area where you can put some miles between you and the noahs and find some outstanding reef fish. Red emperor, scarlets, red throat, green jobfish, parrot and a huge range of other reefies are possible.

The African Gutters country will be running hard and make life a little challenging at times, but great trout, cod, red emperor and big scarlets frequent this part of the world. Same thing for the grounds out towards Lady Elliot and west of the Lightship, with even more variety on offer.

Down south, crossing the Wide Bay Bar and heading east or north east will see you encounter a mix of reefies including snapper, pearlies, scarlets, moses perch and the mighty red emperor. Good luck beating Ed Falconer’s magnificent 22kg red that made the ABC News down that way recently. Fraser Island’s offshore waters have long been known as the big red emperor hotspot, but fish of that size are quite remarkable.

More Fun for the Kids in our Rivers and Down the Straits

If you are not comfortable in exposed waters next week when the breeze picks up a little, there are ample opportunities to entertain the kids in sheltered waters. You can choose to launch at River Heads and stay fairly local chasing bream along South Head or around River Heads itself. There will be plenty of flatties in the area as well, and they will also be further upstream around the drains and little creek mouths.

Jewfish are a chance around River Heads and also from the many ledges along the inside of Fraser or from some of the deeper holes or around the rock bars up the Mary. Blue salmon are prolific right now and can be found in the deeper holes and along snaggy banks in the Mary, the Susan, or in many of the larger creeks down the straits. Mackerel are also lurking around River Heads and they can be spun up on spoons from the rocks and the ramps out the front.

If you prefer to target the Burrum River system, then there will be some big whiting and grunter on offer over the full moon. Tailor have been scarce to date but should be a worthy target over the next few days. There are a few squid hanging around the ramps and the local Burrum Heads foreshores, so set the kids up with a squid jig each and let them loose.

Venture further upriver in a boat and you will find a few flathead, stacks of bream, the odd jewie in the deeper holes and random schools of blue salmon. Queenfish and small GTs are possible if you head far enough upstream.

Crabbers should do okay over the full moon if they can find active crabs away from other pots. If you find the muddies a bit hard to track down, then there have been plenty of sand crabs out wide of the Burrum Coast recently, and back down this way in the channels feeding the vast sand/mud flats of the straits.

Winter Whiting Always Fun for the Little Kids

The local winter whiting population is increasing week by week and they offer a very simple way of getting the kids into catching a few keepers. Boaties can find winteries in numerous locations locally. You can try the grounds off Toogoom or O’Reagans Creek, but there has been a lot of effort up that way of late.

The grounds south of the harbour and west of Woody Island are possibly a better bet, but in either case be prepared to move about till you find the better schools. You might also try the waters around the Bait Grounds and the NU2 north of the harbour, and also the fringes of the Urangan Channel off Torquay. There are numerous other productive grounds down the straits too, so you won’t have any trouble getting away from the crowds if you try.

Keep it simple when chasing winteries. There is absolutely no need to go pumping yabbies just to catch winter whiting. You can score well with a mix of GULP sandworms (a very convenient artificial bait) and tiny strips of white squid. Be prepared for some attrition from the pesky green toadfish and watch little fingers around these critters.

Good luck out there y’all.

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