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Weekly Fishing Report - 31st December 2020

A nice juvenile black caught on a charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing. The colours on these fish are unreal when left in the water to be photographed. 


A Damp Start to the New Year


We trust all you fishos out there had a great Xmas and are making the most of the festive season. The weather has been a little frustrating at times over the past fortnight, though we had a few good days mixed amongst the bad.

Cool southeasterly winds are dominating the weather pattern at present, and will continue to do so for the next couple of days. Come Sunday, we will see the breeze drop back to less than 15 knots and then lighten even further as it swings into the east and north east. We can expect showers pretty much daily for the week ahead, with the chance of more substantial rain again this time next week.

Last night’s full moon sees the tidal flow peak today before it starts to wane. Full moon tides are not all that big this time of year, but they still get the baitfish, crustaceans and their predators moving, so make the most of the bigger tides in sheltered waters if you get the chance.


Urangan Pier Popular with Holidaymakers


Family fishos and serious landbased fishos alike have been making regular forays onto the Urangan Pier chasing mackerel, giant trevally, flathead, garfish and squid. Other pelagics such as tuna, golden trevally and queenfish are also possibilities this time of year, but they are not nearly as reliable.

Fans of garfish, both young and old, have been lining the first channel of the pier, fishing tiny hooks baited with small pieces of prawn or yabby under a float. A light berley trail will help gather the gar in your vicinity, just don’t over-feed them. The first of the ebb tide is typically most productive for gar. You can also score a good bag of gar from the rock groynes at Shelley Beach over the top of the tide and the early ebb.


The iconic Urangan Pier, a popular drawcard for tourists and locals alike.

Giant trevally continue to be the major drawcard for the more serious pier-goer with tackle capable of subduing these rampaging beasts. Live baiting with legal sized mackerel or moses perch is popular, though some seem intent on bending the rules in the pursuit of GTs quite regularly.

With GTs up to 40kg lurking beneath the pier, and even average sized fish being more than capable of busting off the average fisho, these cunning brutes can get a little gun-shy after so many hook-ups and losses. The thinking angler, faced with crowds of folk deploying similar baits/techniques might just score well if he/she comes up with a unique way of tricking the GTs.

The deep end of the pier has been quite crowded at night when the weather is reasonable. Most are out there chasing pencil squid, though quite a few spend the evening soaking baits for sharks. The pencillies can be a little harder to tempt leading into the full moon, but give it a few days and the darker early evening before moonrise will see their numbers return.

Increasing effort from more and more people chasing squid can have an impact on the success of the group as a whole. Numerous artificial light sources hung from the pier simultaneously can effectively spread the squid out and diminish the shadowing effect of the lights. After all, it is the fringe of the light, in the shadows where most squid will attack your little jigs. There are other places shore-based that you can score a bag of squid, you just need to think access to deeper clean water over the top of the tide.

The local beaches have been fairly quiet. Yes, there are garfish from the groynes on the bigger tides as mentioned above, and yes, you can also score a few whiting and the odd flathead from the same area. However, the general run of whiting along our town beaches is very small this time of year, unless you choose to fish after dark to improve your chances of a few better specimens. All the same, the little kids still have a ball catching tiddlers and things can get quite exciting when the larger hard-pulling schools of dart wander past.


Recent Rains Livened Up Our Crustaceans


It seems that a little more rain than we first thought fell in the catchment of our local river systems. Hardly the flooding that we need, but a small fresh that was enough to stain the waters in the upper reaches and get the fish and crustaceans on the move. With more rain forecast for next week and enough showers about to hopefully keep the ground sodden, we just might see some run off early in the new year.

In the meantime, the rains have got the mud crabs on the march and according to some successful crabbers, they are quite full at present. This full moon period, on top of recent showers should see plenty of crabs potted throughout our rivers and creeks. There hasn’t been enough rain to push the crab out of the main streams as yet, so stick to the creeks and check and shift your pots regularly if you are not scoring.


One the pot raiders missed!

Leaving pots to soak overnight is standard practice, though the scourge of the crabber – the thieving mongrels who so regularly raid pots and/or steal them altogether have been active yet again. If you see anyone lifting pots that don’t belong to them, then let Qld Fisheries know after you record their boat rego and description. Photos on your mobile can be sent to the patrol officers who can then hunt down the culprits.

Whispers abound of small patches of quality banana prawn in our rivers. The Burrum system is possibly the best bet, with all four rivers likely to have a small run of prawn somewhere in the mid-upper reaches. Drain-bashing for prawn in the Mary and Susan could also produce a feed, or at least enough for a good bait session.


Those in the know are starting to find some nice prawn.


River Predators on the Move


Fish-wise, the small inflow of freshwater in our rivers has helped to improve the fishing quite a bit. Threadies are becoming more regular captures from the Mary system, whilst grunter are moving downstream, feasting as they go. The barra are still off limits for another month and are likely in full spawn-mode, so please leave them alone.

Bait fishos chasing threadfin salmon are best served securing a mix of live baits. Prawns are an obvious winner, but can get knocked off by all and sundry other species at times, so mix it up and try the well-proven herring, mullet, gar and boney bream. The salmon will travel substantial distances in a tide, so positioning your baits along a bank outside a creek or large drain, or perhaps nearby to a rock bar or gravel bank will soon see some action.

Lure fishos need to be very mobile and active to chase threadies over the bigger tides. Now that the fish have started to work the drains and bait-rich shallow mud banks, there is ample opportunity to sight fish large salmon in skinny water as they feast on jelly prawn and juvenile baitfish forced out of the drains during the ebb tide.

Fishing for threadies in and around the drains can be great fun, but can also be equally frustrating. Go armed with a mix of offerings, from small prawn imitations and small vibes, to small shallow-diving hardbodies or small paddle-tailed plastics. Can you see the trend here? Go small.

Light tackle and lighter leaders can also help to score fussy fish, though you had better lighten the drag if fishing light leaders as the bigger threadies will rub you off in the blink of an eye. They are fairly clean fighters, known more for their blistering speed and sudden directional changes than for fighting dirty. Like many of us, you will have days where you will curse the crabbers, as their pot ropes are often caught up during the fight, or their pots are in your favourite drain.

As the grunter move downstream, they will be easy targets for bait fishos deploying baits of yabby, prawn, small herring, gar/mullet fillets or small squid. Bigger fish can be found if you are lucky, with fish exceeding 70cm possible from our waters. The many creeks down the straits, and the flats and feeder channels outside these creek systems will also be home to grunter that will also happily take a range of small plastics and vibes.

There are still a few quite large blue salmon getting about in the lower reaches of the Mary and down the straits. These guys are normally a winter-spring prospect, but a few stragglers hang around each year. Blues getting up around the 5-6kg mark (80-90cm) are a good chance up on the flats or around the heads at present. Trollers can score well on blues at times and are certainly a chance at threadies this time of year.

Quite a few estuary fishos have commented on the number of small sharks in our rivers and creeks since the recent rains. Small bull sharks and other whalers have been a real nuisance down the straits in particular. It looks like the next generation of the biggest problem our fisheries face is doing just fine. Normally you only have to worry about a large bull shark taking your prized threadie or barra in the river, but just lately it has been the juvenile versions taking live baits. Perhaps those that enjoy chasing bullies for sport could have some fun in our creeks and rivers.

The Burrum system is all about mangrove jacks for many of us. The recent release of water from Lenthalls Dam has seen an influx of dirty brown water in the upper reaches that has helped to aggregate the jacks in the mid reaches. Look for bait-rich waters around the islands in the Burrum itself, or work similar waters in the Cherwell, Isis or Gregory. The Gregory typically offers the most substantial rocky country and also produces the best prawning, so forays into that river is popular for those launching from Burrum Heads.

Other species you might encounter in the Burrum system include threadfin salmon, mulloway, flathead, grunter, cod, bream and whiting. There will be schools of surface-feeding tarpon in the mid reaches in the deeper holes and queenfish are a chance if you can find large schools of herring closer to the heads.

There's been plenty of grass sweetlip on the inshore reefs; Claire looks chuffed with her efforts on board a charter with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.

Sharks are Menacing Inshore Reef Fishos


We are in the midst of our usual summer run of grass sweetlip around our inshore reef systems. These scrappy little guys are a godsend for the average family fisho intent on gaining an easy meal of fresh fish for the family. Catching sweeties is quite easy and simply involves good tough baits fished on the bottom around the fringes of our inshore reefs. Or at least they are easy to catch until the sharks move in and steal every fish you hook. Move on when they do, as no-one wants to hear about mass slaughter of any fish where the sharks won the day.

Focussing your efforts along the fringes of the shallow reefs such as around Pt Vernon and the bay islands can see you avoid the worst of the shark issue. Whilst big bull sharks sometimes venture into the shallows, they rarely linger like they do on our deeper reefs. Gatakers Bay would offer one of few places someone with a small vessel could safely fish out of the southeasterly wind and expect a good feed of sweetlip over the bigger tides right now.


Hot Reels "Lipper" Charters

These same shallow reefs offer a mix of other reefies including blackall, coral trout, cod and blueys. Grunter can turn up in some areas too, and they are typically of very good size when found on the reefs. Night sessions obviously offer the added bonus of squid gathering around your lights and bring out the better class of reef fish (trout and blueys excepted of course).

Coral trout and cod are active around our deeper inshore reefs this time of year. They will take a live bait or tea-bagged plastic as always, and the trout are also suckers for slow pitch jigs when the current gets a trickle up. You may find a few golden trevally out around the Outer Banks and off Moon Point, with school mackerel hanging around the baitfish schools in the shipping channels.


Although not a prized table fish; the blackall provides plenty of fun on light spin tackle and soft plastics.


A nice plate size coral trout caught on an ishore charter with Bob from Hot Reels.

Big queenfish are a lot of fun for those working the current lines around the bay islands and along the ledges and adjacent flats on the western side of Fraser Island. Queenies can be found right down into the straits, just look for plenty of baitfish in the form of hardiheads, gar and/or herring.

Queenfish are a great sportfishing target and will readily take soft plastics, jigs and poppers/stickbaits.

Cloudy Skies Rarely Ideal for Surface-Feeding Pelagics

Once the overcast conditions ease and the sun comes out between showers, we should see our local pelagic scene ramp up a notch. Our spotted mackerel season is in full swing, though local commercial fishers are claiming it is the worst season for a long time. Perhaps the reduced numbers has been courtesy of the dominance of the northerly wind until recently, which likely held masses of spotties outside the bay and saw them migrate further down the coast.


Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing putting clients onto some nice golden trevally as usual.


A nice chrome coloured queenie. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

Now that the monsoon trough is established up north, we will see less northerlies and more easterly and southeasterly winds. This should see more and more spotties drawn further down into the bay and within easy reach of the average family fisho. The latest reports to filter back in just today, suggest that there are ample spotties to be found out towards the Arch Cliffs 6 Mile, so these fish are likely to head closer to Fraser whilst this wind prevails.


Mac tuna have been fairly prolific and will scoff a soft plastic, metal slug or stickbait. Pic: HBFS

Tuna numbers have been quite healthy of late, though mack tuna certainly outnumber the longtail by a large percentage. Again, cloudy skies are rarely ideal, so once the sun comes out and the winds ease it should be action aplenty for those sportsfishos heading up the island or out into the central bay next week.

Of course, something a lot more prestigious than any old tuna is Hervey Bay’s famous little black marlin. The little blacks were quite consistent when the weather allowed access to the Rooneys Point area in recent weeks. There will be a few around for a few weeks yet, so gear up and head up that way and with any luck you will trip over young stickface harassing the bait schools out off the island.

Happy New Year y’all.

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