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Weekly Fishing Report - 2nd March 2023

A solid coral trout caught on a recent charter with
Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Your Weather for the Full Moon Period

Superb conditions today will stretch into tomorrow morning for anyone lucky enough to hit the water. A subtle south-easterly change will then spring up late Friday and increase in strength overnight.

Saturday will be blowy. 15-25 knots of south-easterly wind is the call. You might get away with an early session in sheltered waters, but most will wait for the better weather Sunday. We should see around 15 knots of southeaster Sunday, so whilst not perfect, it is very fishable from the right craft with the right crew.

The working week should kick off with a light easterly breeze that tends north-easterly throughout the day Monday. A swing to the north is then expected that suggests a warm few days during the week, with northerly and even north-westerly winds of up to 20 knots forecast at times.

The tides are great! A waxing moon and building tides on the approach to Tuesday’s full moon generate a lot of activity from a swag of predatory fish, as well as seeing enhanced movement from their fodder species. It is a shame the weather isn’t a lot better, but the diverse range of fishing options our region offers will still leave you with choices galore.

Staff member Bane enjoying some bass fishing at Lake Borumba

Second Spanish Mackerel Closure is in Effect

We hear that a few spanish mackerel fans got out amongst them between the two new closures last week. Large spaniards, some exceeding 1.5m in length, were subdued at various sites around the bay.

The spaniards are once again off the hit list for another three-week period now though, as the second of our new closures took effect as of 1st March. You won’t be able to target or keep spanish mackerel again in our waters (or indeed anywhere south of Stanage Bay) until after the 21st March.

Avoiding spaniards can be tough this time of year. Just ask anyone fishing off Rooneys or at the Gutters with expensive jigs and lures meant for reef fish! They will be well-scattered and, in some cases, schooling up, so if encountered, do your best to release them unharmed with minimal handling.

Tuna Numbers Gradually Increasing

The bay’s mack tuna are getting bigger and bigger as they fatten up on the tiny baitfish they hunt so relentlessly. Larger mack tuna are a real handful and a ton of fun for the kids. Simple fishing, by way of high speed spinning with small metal slugs cast at the seething masses of tuna foaming up the water’s surface suits the kids hands down.

They get the buzz from the crashing strikes and get to witness the ferocity of our oceans first hand. Scenes of greyhounding tuna racing each other for a lure sees the youngsters’ excitement levels peaking, before a dogged fight and the art of angling unfolds prior to capture.

A bit of fun, spinning up some mac tuna with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

There are increasing numbers of longtail tuna in the bay at present as well, and very often these larger black barrels are shadowing the feeding mack tuna schools. The same slugs will account for both species, yet there will be other longtails elsewhere actively hunting larger prey too, so you would be well-served arming yourself with an array of jerkshads and stickbaits to match the hatch.

There will be issues with sharks. It is almost inevitable. Seeking out smaller pods of tuna can be the key to having some fun without the carnage when the sharks are drawn to the bigger bust-ups. Be mindful of the shark issue at all times, and ensure the kids are well-attuned to appropriate handling and release techniques.

When you tire of chasing tuna and are looking for an alternative sportsfishing fix, then you might consider seeking out the schools of large golden trevally that haunt the baitfish schools around the reefs of Platypus Bay. Jigging with slow-pitch jigs is very popular and effective, as is working well-weighted softies erratically through the water column.

Some will opt to have a troll instead, dragging super deep divers such as Dr Evils or Nomad DTX Minnows around the reefs and bait schools. Goldies are suckers for such presentations when in the mood, and the bycatch can be both varied and tasty. As you all know, coral trout, cod, mackerel and snapper are all suckers for deep-trolled hardbodies.

The Nomad DTX Minnow comes in a great range of colours and

appeals to a plethora of species

Latest reports from mackerel fans out chasing schoolies suggest there are a few schools out off the Burrum coast, around the Fairway, the Outer Banks area and throughout the inshore shipping channels. Again, trolling can be a very effective way of tracking them down – only this time with lures capable of more speed that don’t necessarily dive as deep. There are many proven models adorning the lure walls of our store, and plenty in the tubs beneath that hurt the wallet less when stolen by the toothy brigade.

If poking about in the western bay and keen on a little skinny water action, there are schools of queenfish harassing the mobile baitfish schools as they traverse the mainland beaches. At times they are so close to shore that they are a viable target for the shore based fisho, but boaties will have the most fun as they track them across the nearby shallow flats.

Creek mouths and any subtle gutters are obvious starting points for the unfamiliar. Signs of the presence of queenies can be quite obvious, as their swirls and cartwheeling antics across the surface can be seen from afar. Stick-baiting and working poppers offers the most fun, but you can also target them with plastics, vibes and metals if you prefer. The new Ultra-Gar from Pro Lure just screams queenfish (and longtail tuna) and with its perfect skittering motion on a quick retrieve, is sure to generate plenty of explosive strikes.

Inshore Sport or a Feed Out of the Breeze

The wind this week might make some of the above options a little too risky or uncomfortable some days, so consider your alternative inshore options for either a sportsfishing fix or perhaps a feed of tasty reef fish. You can achieve both outcomes in an outing if you plan it right.

As the tides build, taking advantage of the turn of tide for reef fishing forays will be necessary. That is, as far as the deeper reefs are concerned at least. Coral trout are active this time of year, and if you can find a trout haunt before others and avoid the dreaded noahs, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble tempting them to take a swipe at a lure or live bait.

Estuary cod are just as active, and quite prolific. We encourage everyone to let the bigger cod go, as they are very important in the scheme of things – reef wise. Without the bigger cod performing their house-keeping duties and keeping the holes and refuges beneath the reefs from silting up with the shifting sands, then the other fish such as trout and tuskies etc would have nowhere to retreat to after dark when they retire.

Target grassy sweetlip when there is a little more run in the tide and you should enjoy success working the fringes of our inshore reefs. They can still be targeted during the full flow of the tide, though you will need a lot of line out if anchored and your ability to beat the sharks will be drastically diminished.

Any of the deeper reefs within our shipping channels are home to numbers of sweeties at present, as are some stretches of Fraser’s western ledges. They are also a worthy target for the shallow reef fisho, so long as you don’t enjoy a sleep in. Pre-dawn sessions over shallow reef or along the fringes thereof will soon see a haul of sweeties come thick and fast. Sleep in and try later, and you will have to sift through the juveniles whilst the better fish retreat to deeper waters nearby.

Shark predation is becoming a real concern.

Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

It is very disappointing to hear so many stories of major shark depredation from our shallow reef fisheries this summer. Our deeper waters have been devastated by sharks in recent years and many fishos were forced to fish shallower just to avoid them and score a feed. Even these waters are no longer a safe haven, and the sheer aggression of the larger sharks in such shallow water is scary to behold.

The full moon tides are prime for anyone looking to get stretched on an inshore giant trevally or two. The bay islands are the obvious starting point for many, even though their points and current lines can get a little congested. Chances are the weather will limit numbers this weekend, so some may have the fish all to themselves.

Alternatively, you can seek out a GT along the ledges of Fraser. There are sites between Moon Point and Bogimbah that produce large fish at times, as well as schools of queenies. Otherwise, a trip a little further south could see you connecting to a GT off Kingfisher Bay or at Ungowa. Those that opt to pop the River Heads area may also enjoy success if they time it right.

Estuary Fishos Head for the Great Sandy Straits

The full moon tides will favour straits fishos working the flats, channels and many creeks of the delta. Timing will be everything and targeting specific species whilst accepting any bycatch is preferable. You can seek out the larger predators, or simply soak a bait for “whatever”, and your chances are better this week, courtesy of the moon.

Barra and threadfin salmon are worth the hunt for those with fancy side scanners or a knowledge of our waters. The flats and mangrove lines will host fish for periods over the high tides whilst the last of the ebb and first of the flood will make them even easier targets for those working the creeks.

There are quality grunter poking about down that way too, making feeding forays up onto the flats both outside the creeks and within as the tide rises, and retreating to deeper waters for the bottom of the tide. Small softies hopped along the bottom as you drift will soon tempt any grunter in the area. Soaking baits of prawn, yabby, herring or even strip baits or small squid also works for the patient bait fishos out there.

You might encounter a bit of bycatch in the form of flathead, blue salmon and estuary cod which can be a bonus if they are sizeable. You might also have to contend with annoying bycatch such as green toads and baby mackerel, tailor or sharks. In fact, many bait fishos are voicing their concerns about the over-abundance of small sharks in our creeks and rivers of late.

It isn’t just small sharks that are of concern either, as some fishos have found out in the Mary system recently. Large bull sharks are predating on hooked salmon and barra, often of quite large size, which is devastating. This shark depredation in the river has always been an issue – it is just getting worse!

Spend the right period of the tide flicking lures or soaking baits near current-breaking structure in the mainland creeks or Fraser’s western creeks and you are in the running for a tussle with the red dogs of the mangroves – the mighty mangrove jack. The north wind and warmer conditions will fire them up even more next week, and they should be quite active as their favourite baitfish and prawns shift throughout the creeks over the bigger tides.

Burrum System is Still Barra Central

Barra is the word at Burrum Heads still as many hopefuls flock to the quiet little village to tangle with the fish schooled in the area. The big tides this week will see certain flats fisheries come alive, as enhanced feeding opportunities draw sizeable barra to the skinny water.

The snags, rocks, mud clumps and man-made structures of the rivers will also draw barra seeking reprieve from the current. Working such structures during the full tidal flow can be challenging for most of us, so time your efforts for the tide turns to better your chances of success. Low tide is the obvious choice for certain areas or river, but be warned, as traveling these rivers at low tide is treacherous (with many sections completely impassable).

A night session under the glow of a rising full moon can be dynamite. It might even teach you a few things about the movement of fish in the riverine environment. The audible boofs of feeding barra, moving intently with the tide as they hunt prawn and baitfish on the surface not only gives away their location, but offers you intensely exciting topwater fishing options.

You can be targeting barra on topwater after dark and be crunched by a massive jack, or visa-versa. Arm yourself with a good selection of topwater offerings so you can match the garfish, mullet or prawns drifting by at the time. Beef up the hardware too if it needs it, as there are many big fish in these rivers at present.

Daytime sessions chasing jacks can be a bit of fun in the lower-mid reaches. Getting “locked in” to a stretch of the Burrum, Cherwell or Isis and targeting them over the low tide can be a hoot. The rock bars of the Gregory hold some of the best numbers too, so you have options galore.

Soaking baits of yabby over the many flats of the lower reaches during the early stages of the flood tide can produce a nice feed of large whiting for those adept in this form of fishing. Burrum whiting are rarely as prolific as the whiting we catch down here in spring, but they make up for the lack of numbers with sheer size. 40cm whiting are not common, but feature fairly regularly in nocturnal catches all the same.

Grunter have been mooching their way back upriver of late too, so a moon-lit night chasing these ghosts of the flats could be productive. The many channels dissecting the sand flats from the heads to the Isis mouth, and beyond, are worth a try.

Familiarise yourself with the lay of the land during daylight and come back on sunset. Park your boat so that you can cast lightly-weighted yabbies across current and allow them to drift into the passages through the banks. You might even be surprised how many barra you hear whilst soaking your yabbies, so be prepared.

Prawn numbers and size is on the improve in the Burrum system. It is still early days yet, but a few locals are scoring a decent feed with enough effort. You would be mad to wander our rivers or creeks at present without a cast net on board - just in case.

Crabbing-wise, it is the creeks and feeder channels of the Great Sandy Straits that is the best of the bunch in these parts at present. The rivers are giving up a few muddies, but nothing like the numbers down the straits.

GTs only Shining Light at the Pier

We haven’t mentioned the Urangan Pier for several weeks. Mainly because there has been so little to report. That hasn’t changed a great deal, but we thought an update was warranted.

Apparently, the herring are hard to procure out at the deeper end. Pier regulars are at times having to carry herring out from the first channel, which would be rather testing without a trolley. The lack of bait, and dirtier waters over recent weeks has resulted in a lack of action.

The waters have cleared again significantly now, yet the only real target fish are the big old GTs out at the deep end. Night sessions soaking large baits have produced sharks and rays etc, but generally just vermin or a bit of sport for the young and energetic. We will keep you posted if the pier fishing improves.

Latest from the Impoundment Barra Scene

Our impoundment barra scene hasn’t rated much of a mention in recent times either. Again, due to a lack of return for effort. As far as we know, Lake Lenthalls has been largely unproductive. This lake rarely recovers quickly from dirty water, but word from the ranger is that it is starting to clear up now – gradually.

There was at least one barra of about 90cm caught out there about a month ago, so that it some solace for those believing all the bigger fish escaped in last year’s floods. There has been very little effort to be honest, so without any fishos out there trying to catch fish, the results are as expected – nil. Stay tuned for updated on Lenthalls, as this little lake can really hit its straps in April-May if we don’t get major late wet season rains.

Lake Awoonga failed to impress during a recent ABT event held at the lake. Very few barra were caught for the significant effort put in over several days, reflecting what has been a very tough scene at that lake this summer. Whispers abound of the odd fisho scoring numbers at random, but as far as consistency goes, it has been a fail. This is such a shame, as there are huge numbers of sizeable barra in the lake.

Alex Glassington with a 103cm Lake Callide barra

Lake Callide has been a bit better, though can still be fickle like any southern Qld barra impoundment. There have been numbers of smaller fish actively swiping at lures both day and night for trollers or those casting at fish scanned on live sonar in the deeper waters. Bigger fish are having a go at times too, but not in the same numbers as their smaller cousins.

The lake’s fringes are now largely weed-shrouded these days, limiting what was a very unique shore-based barra fishing opportunity. There are still a few rocky points for a flick from shore, but nothing like the open slather of the past. These same weedy edges are however, a drawcard to feeding barra when they tend towards the edge.

Ryan with another nice Lake Callide barra, measuring in at 105cm

Callide still offers a crack at some of Qld’s biggest barra, with fish over 130cm swimming in its waters. They seem to evade capture well, so there is a challenge right there for avid impoundment barra fans.

Otherwise, Callide continues to produce swags of yellowbelly for anyone keen on a little vibing or trolling. The red claw have been potting well too, with stories of big numbers doing the rounds. In fact, it seems as though all the southern impoundments infested with red claw are firing. So much so, that folks not otherwise slightly interested are making way to those lakes for the unbridled feast.


Do you know the biosecurity rules for redclaw in your area?

Click here to find out more.

 

And now for the big one – Lake Monduran. It went from boom to bust over the past two months. Overcrowded carparks were basically vacant though the latter stage of January as word of the tough fishing spread. The diehards kept going, and kept catching fish when others didn’t, but even for them, the numbers of larger fish declined substantially.

The little male barra are happy to bite and can be caught in silly numbers. The larger females are much harder to tempt, though you can manage a couple here and there if you get “lucky”. If you think about the time of year, the fact the lake is full, and what barra do at such times, then the reason for the slack bite from the bigger girls should be quite obvious.

This scenario will change at some stage in the future, for better or worse. They will either get their way if the big rains come, or return to their baitfish-gorging ways until next spawning season. This weekend offers typically one of the prime times for barra fishos to hit Mondy before the waters start to cool.

There is the Humminbird Lake Monduran Barra Classic on though, run over the 3rd, 4th and 5th March, so there will be an extra 25 boats vying for prime positions across the lake. Many have pre-fished all week, so it will be interesting to see how they go.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

 

The Australian Fly Fishing Podcast

Episode 11 - Mark "Bargy" Bargenquast from

Fish's Fly & Sportfishing in Weipa

Listen now:

https://australianflyfishingpodcast.podbean.com/e/episode-11-mark-bargy-bargenquast-from-fish-s-fly-sportfishing/

Staff member Josh recently recorded a podcast with Mark "Bargy" Bargenquest a former local fishing guide, who now calls Weipa home. Check out the show brief below.

Growing up in Hervey Bay, I had the pleasure of meeting Bargy close to 20 years ago now and have been lucky to call him a friend over these years. Initially it was Bargy's stories of giant threadfin salmon and barramundi captures in the Mary River that had me enthralled but as the years rolled on it was his passion for fly fishing and some of the incredible species he targeted that really peaked my interest.

Bargy came from humble beginnings, growing up on the Fraser Coast spending a lot of time hunting and fishing with his grandparents on the river. Bargy's involvement with the ANSA club throughout the 80's gave him a solid understanding of fishing techniques and how certain species hunted and where they could be found. 

It wasn't until the early 2000's that Bargy decided to start guiding on the Fraser Coast and hit the ground running. From big golden trevally and queenfish on the flats, cruising threadfin salmon in the drains and longtail tuna and juvenile black marlin in Platypus Bay and beyond, Bargy had it dialled! 

His involvement with John Haenke's "Fishing Downunder" DVD series really opened the eyes of many a fisho and showcased some incredible fisheries both locally and further afield. He was also a part of "Black Torpedoes" a local production by Taz Jefferies which showcased some of the incredible flats fishing and the diverse range of species available in our region at the time. 

On a fishing trip to Hervey Bay, Peter Morse introduced Bargy to Alan "Fish" Philliskirk, a saltwater fly fishing pioneer in Australia and the then owner of Fish's Fly & Sportfishing in Weipa. Needless to say, the two hit it off. Winter was typically Bargy's quiet season in the bay so he started heading up to Weipa to help guide during the peak of their season. Eventually the call was made to pack up the family and head for Cape York, where Alan "Fish" Philliskirk would eventually hand the reins over to Bargy, around 2020.

We delve into the outstanding fishery that is Weipa and the vast beaches, flats and creeks that surround it and the plethora of species on offer.

The crew at Fish's Fly & Sportfishing offer a complete package from airport collection, to a top notch fly fishing lodge and even a private chef to cook for the guests. They can even arrange multi-day fishing/camping trips to remote beaches for the die-hard fly fisher interested in chasing big Anak permit.

Bargy, "Fish" Philliskirk, Jacko Bargenquast (Bargy's son), Kurt Rowlands and Drew Bolton really have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to fishing in Weipa and all live within the community. I can highly recommend booking a trip with Bargy and the team from Fish's Fly & Sportfishing.

You can follow them on Instagram at @fishsflyandsportfishing , visit their website www.weipaflyfish.com.au or alternatively send Bargy an email to make an enquiry at bargy6@bigpond.com

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