Another Hot Week On The Way
Light to moderate easterlies for much of the past week looks set to continue for the week ahead. We might get a few more welcome showers some days and a few days with afternoon northerly sea breezes, but all in all it looks like another good week ahead.
There won’t be much run in the tide, courtesy of the quarter moon on Sunday, and this particular set of neaps will see very minimal tidal variation indeed. So, take this into consideration when determining your next fishing venture.
Pelagics Pounding The Bait Balls
Surface activity out on the bay has been rather sporadic this past week. Cloudy days have done little to enhance the surface fishery but the pelagics are out there and have been balling up the baitfish when conditions are right.
Crews that found bait balls up the island enjoyed champagne fishing for all manner of pelagics, with quite a mix on offer in some cases. There are still a few schools of spotted mackerel roaming the bay, plus plenty of mack tuna and a few longtails, but often feeding beneath these guys are schools of golden trevally, brassies and a few cobia.
If heading up into Platypus Bay or the central bay chasing pelagics it will pay to have a few rods rigged and ready for action. Small metal slugs on high speed gear is a given for the tuna and spotties, but a couple of other outfits swinging soft plastic jerkshads, sinking stickbaits and/or micro jigs will round out a very effective arsenal that should cover all depths and species on offer.
The sharks will be an issue more often than not, particularly when fishing the larger bait aggregations with their attending predators. There have been a few scary stories shared of late of guys having fish swiped from their clutches and near misses from bullies whilst simply washing their hands. Take extra care when around these bait balls in particular as the sharks feeding in the melee are usually fired up and willing to take a swipe at anything.
Hot Water Inshore Stirs Up Summer Species
As reported recently, the big GT’s are making their presence felt inshore. They are guilty of stealing reefies or mackerel from those fishing in the vicinity of local shipwrecks and deeper reef ledges, so try an extra-large live bait in these areas if you reckon you’ve got the gear to stop them.
A far more exciting option is to chase the GT’s up on the shallow reef flats and verges of the bay islands on stickbaits and big blooping poppers, though this activity is most productive during the bigger tides.
Queenies have also been fairly abundant inshore of late. The size varies dramatically, but there are quite a few larger models exceeding the metre mark inshore right now that will put on an epic aerial display and will fight doggedly right till the end. In fact, big queenfish are often prone to literally fighting to death on light tackle, so try to avoid holding them out of the water for prolonged periods thereafter if possible.
Reef fishos have found the shallows quite productive over the bigger tide phases, offering a reprieve from the terrible shark attrition in our deeper inshore waters. Coral trout, grass sweetlip, blackall, cod and grunter have all featured in catches depending upon location and technique.
As stated, the deeper reefs are suffering from the ongoing shark issue, so be prepared to move and move often when they locate you. Quick sessions on small isolated patches of reef are more likely to provide a meal than sitting on the larger more commonly known grounds these days. The main targets this time of year are trout, cod and sweeties, with the latter the most common for those fishing dead baits, whilst live baits and lures will account for the majority of trout and cod.
Barra Season Opens 1st February
Qld’s east coast barramundi fishery will be opened again this weekend, as the annual closure concludes at midnight of the 31st January 2020. It has been a long three month wait and we can only hope that the lack of harvesting of barra over the closure will see our local stocks gather and spawn when we get some decent rains.
Many crews will be out hunting barra over the coming weeks and although plenty will travel to fish-rich waters further north, our local barra populations will likely offer up some rather large specimens that might just be the envy of our northern cousins. We cannot compete with the outstanding barra fisheries of the far north based on numbers but we can certainly compete on size.
All of our rivers and creeks offer a crack at barra from the mighty Mary or the adjoining Susan to the four rivers of the Burrum system and every little creek from Toogoom to Tin Can Bay. The vast flats and channels of the Great Sandy Straits offer another whole fishery again and can see catches of enormous barra in water so skinny it defies belief.
Ponded waters in our region are also home to healthy populations of quite large barra. These fish are landlocked till the next flood event and whilst they were caught quite commonly after dark during the closure they will be targeted more vigorously when the season opens. These are potentially big breeders that are essentially freshwater fish of poor eating quality and should be deemed catch and release candidates only.
Estuaries Alive With Predators
This prolonged period of drought has had a major effect on our estuary systems, with little propagation of baitfish or prawn. Larger predatory species like barra, salmon, grunter and jacks have had to seek out sustenance from what food is available and have therefore been quite mobile. A mix of species is spread throughout much of our river systems with best concentrations being found where water quality and food sources are healthiest.
The lower reaches of the Mary and Susan and their feeder streams have been most productive of late, offering up a mix of threadies, grunter, small GTs and flathead for those working banks and drains holding jelly prawn or small prawns. Over at Fraser, the many creeks along the western shores of the island have been home to good numbers of jacks and a few decent grunter.
The larger creeks down the straits are producing a few threadies and grunter and will give up a few barra in coming weeks. Jewies and have been fairly rare, but are more likely from the open waters of the straits where significant numbers of live-bait-stealing estuary cod abound.
Burrum Heads will be a popular haunt for those chasing barra, and going on the reports from during the closure there should be a few decent models getting about up there. Further upstream there have been schools of barra gathered on the odd snag or rock bar of late and the occasional big threadie can be seen busting into the bait and small prawns along the muddy banks.
The Burrum system’s jack population is thriving and is well spread throughout all four rivers. Night sessions continue to produce the biggest and baddest of this brood, particularly lately with such warm and humid nights. A lot of these jacks are proving unstoppable for some, even on fairly sturdy bait fishing tackle.
Nocturnal Action At Urangan Pier
Trying to extract big GT’s from beneath the deep end of the pier is keeping plenty of hopefuls amused some days, but it is the night sessions that are providing the most entertainment. Most folk are simply heading out there to get their limit of pencil squid and some are achieving it quite often.
Big baits are enticing rather big toothy critters with fins most nights and they are proving to be quite a handful when they get to scary size. Lots of line capacity on sizeable tackle is called for even when targeting the smaller models as they are just as likely to be eaten as landed.
Good luck out there y’all.