Awesome Autumn Warmth About To Change
The spectacular run of warmer than average autumn weather is just about to come to an end. The first major cold snap of the season is about to unfold tomorrow, as a stiff southwester greets us pre-dawn and heralds the start of a few days of offshore breezes.
The weekend is looking decidedly cooler and is unlikely to offer too much joy for anyone looking to head out wide. The more sheltered inshore waters will be the go for the whole week it seems as even when the wind turns back onshore it will likely be a bit too stiff for venturing wide. That might all change by the following weekend however, so fingers crossed the light winds return as the forecasts suggest.
COVID-19 Restrictions Eased This Weekend
The Qld government has decided to ease mobility restrictions from this weekend, enabling us to venture up to 50km from our place of residence. Recreational boating activities are again allowed as well which is great news.
Till now we have been able to go fishing, but only with the express purpose of gathering food for the family. Sportsfishos will be glad to hear that fishing for fun alone is again permissible.
Boaties are still only allowed to have people from their immediate household onboard, plus potentially one other person. Multi-POB crews of random mates from varying occupancies are still not permitted.
Lake Lenthalls will re-open this Saturday morning. It will only be open for the purpose of fishing day trips as the camping grounds remain closed.
A quick call to the ranger revealed that the water in the lake is quite clear right now and the fish haven’t seen a lure for a month so chances are the bass and barra will be worth a crack before winter. May has been a red-letter month on Lenthalls in years past for barra so keep the lake in mind for your freshwater fix as all the other barra dams are too far from home under the current restrictions.
Good Fish On Offer Out Wide When The Weather Settles Again
It might be a bit of a tease talking about fishing out wide right now, given the latest weather forecast, but seeing as we haven’t provided a report for a month it would seem prudent to offer an update on the local wide scene.
Good sessions offshore over the Wide Bay Bar over the past month produced mixed bags of pearlies, snapper, sweeties, parrot, cod and moses perch. Many of the isolated grounds down that way see very few boats and accordingly do not suffer from the shark attrition that we cop in our local waters.
Good times ahead for the offshore scene down that way as we head into winter. Always good to have an area we can access in a westerly wind too. Stay tuned for updates as winter rolls on. Of course, for now, that part of the coastline is quite a bit outside our ‘50km from home’ limit so out of bounds for us here in the bay.
The grounds up towards the Breaksea Lightship fished well recently with good mixed bags that coloured up nicely with hauls of red emperor and scarlets. Sharks were problematic in some locales but being willing to move and scope out fresh country brought great results for some crews.
We haven’t heard much otherwise from over the Breaksea Spit of late, but that will all change as the good weather returns. The coming months will see great reef fishing on offer from the shelf and the shoals with a huge variety of fish from both temperate and tropical climes.
The Gutters area has been visited by a few crews during the great weather lately. Some did well, returning home with quality trout, cod, scarlets, sweetlip and other reefies; whilst others struggled to beat the sharks and came home with their tail between their legs.
Mackerel (both school and spanish) and cobia are making their presence felt in some areas but at least the trevally aren’t an issue for the time being. That will all change as the waters cool heading into winter and the trevally (and snapper) follow the bait schools into the area.
Tuna Everywhere In The Bay And Straits
Surface-feeding schools of mack and longtail tuna can be seen throughout much of Hervey Bay at present. You don’t have to travel far to come into contact either as there have been numerous schools feeding throughout the local shipping channels and down the straits.
In fact, some of the bigger longtails can be found in local waters right now, with huge black barrels working individually or in small pods in the channels between Moon Point and Kingfisher Bay. Inshore tuna schools can be notoriously flighty, so stealthy approaches and long casts are often called for to get the bite.
Sharks are an ongoing issue that we seemingly have to live with daily. They can be incredibly frustrating, and potentially dangerous, so do your best to avoid them and take extra care when handling fish boat-side.
Be Shark Savvy Inshore
When you are only allowed to go fishing to catch fish to eat, then you very quickly appreciate how bad the sharks are these days. Hooking good fish after good fish only to be taxed time and time again gets very old very quickly. Moving around helps, but with fewer boats that normal on the water lately, the sharks have been inclined to follow you from spot to spot if you don’t put on some miles in between.
Get lucky, and avoid the noahs for a period and you can put on a good feed inshore quite quickly. Hardly the same quality as out wider, but a satisfying feed of grass sweetlip, cod, blackall (for some) and squire is quite possible. The poor old trout have copped a hammering inshore recently, with more undersized than quality specimens coming over the gunwhales lately.
Sticking to the shallow reefs and shoals can be a way of avoiding the sharks. The reefs fringing the bay islands, the reefs surrounding Pt Vernon / Gatakers Bay and the reefs off the town beaches can all produce a good feed if you target them at the right time. Bigger tides and periods of low light are key elements, as is a little stealth and a steady flow of berley. Expect trout, cod, sweetlip, squire, blueys and grunter depending upon location and technique.
Early Season Snapper
The impending cold snap will have local anglers thinking about snapper and gearing up for the coming winter months. May would traditionally see a few knobbies turn up at Moon Ledge, the Roy Rufus Arti and The Outer Banks. Holdings of baitfish will be a determining factor as to when and for how long the roaming snapper might stay in the area.
A general absence of baitfish on many of the deeper inshore reefs at present is likely due to the abnormally warm weather and water temperature. This will change soon, and as the waters cool and the baitfish arrive, the snapper schools will be in hot pursuit.
Till then, you might wish to try trolling for roaming snapper. This well-proven technique has been popular for a few years now and actually offers you a better than average chance at landing the bigger knobbies as you often hook them well away from known structure and do not have the sharks on your tail.
If trolling isn’t an option, then the age-old floatlining technique will work just fine. Plonking heavy sinkers to the bottom attached to paternoster rigs or spinning baits is just not on when it comes to fooling cunning old knobbies in bay waters.
Presentation can be everything when it comes to bait fishing and using larger baits that will withstand the attention of pickers long enough to draw in a wary fish will aid in your success. Best baits are those baits that you procure from the grounds you are fishing – pike, herring, yakkas, squid, winter whiting etc. Live baits add a further element of success in many areas and are well worth the effort for the bigger snapper.
Lure fishos deploying soft plastics and jigs have out-fished bait fishos plenty of times over the years when it comes to snapper. Perhaps the developments in fishing techniques, electronics and spot-locking devices have contributed to their decline in recent years, though the mongrel sharks are more to blame on this count, even when it comes to fish that have been released.
What a miserable failure this season’s prawning has been in local waters. That minor flooding event a few months ago was obviously not sufficient to make up for the preceding drought. Chances are that what prawn is in the area could get up and run during or following the first major westerly of the season this weekend.
For those not sick of wasting their time searching, this weekend may well be worth a look. The big gutters in the River Heads area look a little too clear, but upstream is a different story. Some of the island creeks have good colour, but it is down the straits where the prawn is most concentrated.
Head far enough south (by boat, not car) and find yourself in the vicinity of Maroon, Poona or further south and you will be amongst the prawn. It is a long haul though, so hopefully the local scene is just dormant and the prawns make a run soon.
Obviously, Woodgate will be on many prawners’ minds during the southwester this weekend. The water was clean and green up there last week with no sign of mud boils or even patches of dirty water suggesting no prawns stirring up the bottom. Mack tuna were abundant however, and were even seen dead, washed up along the beach in numbers. Time will tell if any prawn pops up at Woodgate, but only those that go will know for sure.
The one crustacean that is in good numbers off the Burrum coast is sand crabs. Locals from the area have been scoring very well just offshore and this run should continue for some time. Large heavy pots are the only way to go with the sandies in this area so your pots aren’t dragged away by the tide and so that numerous crabs can fit in the pot at once as they can be very prolific.
Those not wishing to venture so far could well consider placing the same pots in the channels off Booral, Urangan, or down the straits over the bigger tides. If you are unfamiliar with this fishery, don’t just drop your pots and hope for the best. Check them frequently for the first few hours to see which way the crabs are walking and then leave them soak overnight. Get it right and your bag limit of 20 sandies is fairly easily achieved.
Good luck out there y’all.