Last week’s weather wasn’t quite as great as first forecast, but it was certainly still fishable in all but our exposed offshore waters. But hey, forget about last week and take a gander at the forecast for the week ahead. It is simply glorious!
At this stage it looks like Saturday might be a little damp, with a southwesterly change coming through overnight that will dry things out and make for a chilly and windy start to Sunday. From there-on the week ahead looks sensational. Light winds, with early southwesters turning to the east or northeast throughout the day and mostly under 10 knots.
The barometer will be quite low this week courtesy of a series of troughs marching across our coastline but let’s not tell the fish that this is a negative and just go fishing anyway. Sunday’s new moon means we will have plenty of run in the tide, but without being overly massive. Boaties will be heading far and wide this week so we expect plenty of exciting fishing reports to filter back in over time.
Sandy Cape’s weather forecast looks great from Monday through till Friday. The offshore grounds have had a spell recently, so the fishing should be great and hopefully the sharks are scattered. Given that the East Australian Current has dropped back in intensity the current out wide should have diminished making for easy reef fishing in most areas.
The ebb tide out of the bay over the shoal country and north to the lightship will see greater current suggesting this will be the place to be if you are looking for pelagic action (and also reefies at the right time). The variety of reef and pelagic fish on offer out over the bar is expansive and a great mixed bag is on the cards for anyone who can avoid the sharks.
Expect pearlies, snapper, jobfish and amberjack along the 100m line of the continental shelf and add a mix of other "jobfish" such as gold-bands, rubies, iron jaw and flame snapper along with comet and bar cod if deep dropping beyond this depth. If you are new to deep dropping then don’t fall for the trap of over-baiting with large baits as smaller tough baits will be readily inhaled by these denizens of the deep and the pickers are not really an issue.
Back in over the shoal country and you will have to re-think your bait sizes for the trophy fish as hussar and other annoying pickers can destroy smaller baits in no time. Species you can encounter in depths up to 100m include snapper, green jobfish, red emperor, red throat, spangled emperor, blue and brown maori cod, coronation trout, venus tuskfish and hussar, just to name a few.
Those heading south for a trip out over the Wide Bay Bar should be in for a great time also, with recent reports suggesting some great red emperor are on offer, along with bags of big pearlies, some nice snapper, scarlets, sweetlip, cobia, cod and spanish mackerel.
The Gutters reefs will be popular for those able to get out during the working week. Trout, reds, scarlets, snapper, sweetlip, tuskfish, moses perch, blackall and hussar will all be candidates for fresh or live baits and hopefully you can avoid the sharks long enough to put a feed in the esky. As we’ve stated plenty of times, the sharks are a serious problem anywhere near these commonly known grounds, so steering clear to smaller more isolated patches away from the crowds is recommended.
Over Rooneys way you will be more likely to encounter smaller numbers of trout, scarlets, sweeties, grunter and tuskies, but you may run into small numbers of snapper and squire as they migrate into the bay. Various trevally species, tuna, mackerel and cobia are likely off Rooneys and also the Gutters, so if pelagics are your thing then pack the trolling gear, the jigs, spoons, plastics and stickbaits along with the medium tackle and go wear yourself out.
Back in Platypus Bay the mack and longtail tuna have been prolific. Stickbaits are proving to be the most popular artificial for the longtails, partly due to their greater size and ability to cast a mile, but also due to the sheer exhilaration of watching these muscle-bound barrels crash-tackle your lure mid retrieve. Zman Jerkshads are a cheaper option and an absolute must-have for mixing it up with the tuna on top and the queenies, trevally and mackerel lurking below.
Snapper will now become a serious target species throughout much of the bay. The Platypus Bay reefs will usually fire more-so later in the winter, though you are in with a chance from now on. Bigger tides like the ones right now are preferred up that way when chasing snapper. Rooneys reefs and the 25 Fathom Hole are an even better proposition when chasing snapper, though you will need to spend some time looking for the bait schools and active snapper if using artificials such as plastics and jigs.
Bait fishos will target their snapper differently, being more inclined to anchor and berley for best results. Frozen baits of whole squid and pilchards will account for plenty of fish over time, but you cannot go past the yakkas, herring and pike that you can jig up from the very grounds you are targeting. Night sessions will typically be most productive, but beware the nuisance southwester pre-dawn this time of year.
There is something special about May and the hunt for inshore snapper. The tides are spot on for the long weekend and the historically productive grounds will be popular both day and night. Areas such as the Burrum 8 Mile and 12 Mile rarely produce snapper for those fishing "bankers’ hours", but other grounds such as the Roy Rufus Arti and Moon Ledge can see good knobbies turn it on during the middle of the day.
For your best chance though, you are certainly best off targeting any of these areas in the late afternoon and early evening at this time of year. Dawn sessions can be okay, but the brisk southwester can really turn them off inshore. The turn of tide period is often prime-time for feeding snapper, but they can be caught right through the strongest part of the run.
Bait fishos need to present their baits in a fashion so as not to spin in the current. Basically, paternoster rigs are out for inshore fishing, being more effective in deep offshore waters. A simple running sinker rig, with a large whole squid, whole or live herring, yakka, winter whiting or pike will get the attention of the better class of fish. If you only want squire, then smaller baits will do, but even a barely legal squire will demolish large baits.
There are plenty of other grounds locally that will produce the odd snapper and certainly good numbers of squire from now into winter. Reefs and surrounding rubble country within our local shipping channels are numerous but not always obvious. Good squire in particular will turn up well away from any form of reef, so long as there is a food source living within or above the bottom including baitfish, prawn, crabs and molluscs.
Snapper might be the primary target for now, but you can still manage a good haul of sweetlip, blackall, scarlets, cod and trout if you target them appropriately. We’ve said plenty about sharks for a good while now, but again we remind you that they are atrocious inshore and will decimate our fish population if we are silly enough to sit there feeding them. If they track you down, then you must move. It is that simple.
The sharks won’t hassle you much up over the shallow reefs though, and this week’s big tides will see plenty of action in the shallows. Trout, cod, sweeties, squire, blackall and tuskfish are all possible from the fringing reefs around the bay islands and Gatakers Bay / Point Vernon. You can also find the same species in the Urangan Channel and along the ledges down the Straits on the inside of Fraser.
Winter whiting fishos will welcome the cool change coming this Sunday. Great conditions mid next week will see flotillas of eager anglers chasing winteries off Gatakers Bay, O’Regans, Toogoom or perhaps Woodgate. The bigger tides will help what has been a slow fishery to this point.
There have been a few tuna schools busting into small herring throughout our local shipping channels at least as far south as the Picnics. These tuna can be super flighty and quite frustrating, so chase them all over the paddock if you insist, or better still simply have a suitable outfit rigged and ready in case they pop up nearby while you chase other species.
You will find a few loose schools of queenfish around the bay islands and the current lines forming off these islands. They are becoming even more common down the Straits and occasionally up on the flats where you could also encounter diamond and golden trevally.
Burrum River System
Some nice barra and jacks were caught from the Burrum system last week, but if you want the best from this great local fishery then you had better get in before it gets much cooler. May is still a great month for both species just don’t go chasing them on a cold snap. At the moment, our local river temps are around the 23-24C mark and the fish are active day and night.
There were some great whiting caught from this system over the Easter Classic weekend, so they should be a great target over the big new moon tides. The sand banks and channels in the mid reaches would seem the logical place to start looking for the better quality whiting.
Mud crabs have been super active of late. Plenty of crabbers have enjoyed a good feed, but there have been reports of quite empty crabs over the past week from some waters. Learn to know your crabs and how to tell if they are "full" and you won’t be wasting this precious resource bringing home empty shells.
There have been whispers of some good prawns in the rivers up that way, but your timing needs to be spot on. Low tide seems to bring out the juveniles at present, which are obvious along the banks in the upper reaches.
Speaking of prawns though, there will likely be a convoy of hopefuls heading for the grounds off Woodgate Beach this Sunday morning. The first proper southwester of the season is the drawcard, on top of the new moon no less, so hopes are high. After such a dry season and minimal prawn activity to date, it may or may not eventuate at Woodgate, but better to have gone up and tried than to have stayed at home wondering.
No doubt the grapevine will be alive with stories if the scouting prawners score on the day. The funny (frustrating) thing about Woodgate prawn is that they will show in huge numbers when they are ready and may disappear altogether thereafter. They may show Sunday, maybe all week while the winds are from the southwest or maybe for only a random day or a few hours over the same period. Time will tell so stay tuned.
Mary/Susan Rivers & the Great Sandy Straits
Prawns have still been scarce down in the Mary system, but venture upstream in the major feeder creeks and you will score a feed if you don’t mind getting a bit muddy. Here’s hoping that the impending westerly stirs them up and they make a run for it.
Crabs have been active throughout the lower-mid reaches of the rivers and down the straits. Again, check for full bodied crabs and throw back the light models.
The small tides saw plenty of active threadfin salmon in the Mary, Susan and their feeder streams including Bengstons Creek. Vibes scored big time for those seeking them out in the deeper channels and holes during the early-mid run out tide. The same fish were tough to catch over the bottom of the tide, even when clearly visible on the sounder screen. No doubt due to having gorged themselves on the small herring, yorkies and jelly prawn washed out of the mangroves with the receding tides. The bigger tides this weekend will see the drains again worth targeting for threadies actively mustering jelly prawn during the latter ebb tide.
Blue salmon are becoming more common bycatch, and whilst they would have to be surely one of the ugliest fish in the river they sure are good sport when they get a bit of size about them. Jewies too have starting turning up in catches up river, but be aware of the 75cm minimum size if you plan on keeping one or two.
A few barra, fingermark and even the odd mangrove jack have come over the gunwales over the past week but get in soon if you want a crack at these species. Otherwise, the bream numbers will slowly increase, as will flathead and the already good numbers of whiting in the lower reaches should bite well over the big tides.
Urangan Pier, Local Creeks & Beaches
Our local beaches have been fairly quiet in town of late, but the offshore breezes set for next week should make the Booral Flats a good option for those seeking whiting and flathead.
A few longtails and at least one spanish mackerel were caught out at the Urangan Pier this week, but generally it has been a bit slow. Latest reports suggest the bream are yet to turn up in any numbers but that will change as our waters cool further.
Good luck out there y’all.