Neap Tides and Easterlies
Easterly winds swinging to the northeast with a few random showers is the general consensus for much of the coming week. Not bad by our local spring standards, so plenty of opportunities for boaties to get out on the water.
Neap tides around Monday’s quarter moon mean there will be very little run in the tide and this will in turn dampen the effects of any wind on our waterways.
Annual Barra Closure In Force From Tomorrow
Effective from midday tomorrow 1st November till midday February 1st 2020, barramundi will be a no take species from all marine waters of Qld’s east coast. You are not permitted to target barramundi in any fashion during this closed period. The closure is designed to enable the barra to spawn without interruption from anglers or netters and without this very important closure we would have very minimal barra stocks state-wide.
The closure does not affect Qld’s stocked impoundments however, where you can legally target barra throughout the closure. You can legally keep one barra from a stocked impoundment during this period (as if you would want to) and any fish taken must exceed the minimum legal length but there is no maximum for impoundment fish.
New Moon Fired Up The Marlin Out Wide
Last week’s new moon triggered a spike in activity from our offshore billfish, with blue marlin found along the continental shelf east of Fraser Island in good numbers. Experienced crews scored well, averaging 3-5 bites a day, with one boat registering 9 bites. The fish were of average size for blues in these parts, with most falling in the estimated 300-500lb range.
Starting your search east of the 4 Mile crossing north of Fraser and heading south just wide of the shelf should put you in the right area for the heavy tackle blue marlin fishery, though of course you should always be keeping up to date with the latest SST charts and seeking out the pockets of warm water. Most local crews will tow lures in lieu of baits, with skirted pushers in the 10-14in range producing the goods.
The light tackle guys are heading a bit further north and concentrating their efforts off the 13 Mile crossing over the Breaksea Spit. Small blacks and sailfish are both in reasonable numbers up that way and are responding to a spread of smaller 5-6in pushers, swimming and skipping gar.
Back inside the bay it has been the waters surrounding Rooneys Point that have been central to most marlin sightings and although only small numbers have been captured to date there have been enough fish in the area to keep the local inshore crews on their toes.
A spell of easterly weather and hopefully a bit more southeasterly in the near future should bring more marlin in to Hervey Bay waters as they follow the bait schools and the lesser predators such as bonito, mackerel and tuna.
Pelagic Action Increasing In Platypus Bay
The spring run of tuna has kicked off in the northern bay, with increasing numbers of mack tuna and a few scattered schools of longtail harassing the schools of smaller baitfish throughout Platypus Bay and out wider in the central bay. Those looking to tangle with tuna this time of year may need to arm themselves with an array of different sized metal slugs as the tuna could be feeding on tiny baitfish barely an inch long or on bait twice the size or greater.
Metal slugs in the 20-40 gram range typically do the job, but those with lighter tackle often score well on slugs as small as 10-15 grams. Just a word of warning for those contemplating the lighter tackle option – you will need to consider the shark issue as the season progresses and the dreaded whalers move in on the tuna.
There is a place for light tackle, but that is not necessarily Hervey Bay nowadays. A more sensible, less expensive and much more environmentally conscious approach would be to gear up with outfits of at least 10kg and to fish your gear to the limit at times when sharks make their presence felt.
In coming weeks we will see the start of our annual run of spotted mackerel. Unlike the schoolies that make their way down the west coast of the bay, the spotties will enter the bay from the north and, being inclined to feed into the wind, will make their way south along the eastern bay. How far south they swim and when will be determined by the dominant winds of the period. Northeasters prevail for much of this time of year, though unpredictability in weather is an increasing issue so what happened in the past and what happens in the future may vary.
For now, those venturing up around Rooneys or further north will likely encounter the first of the spotty schools. As for those chasing tuna, 20-40 gram slugs are the go for the spotties, so if heading up that way make sure you have plenty in your arsenal.
Not to be ignored are the sportfishing opportunities for those seeking out queenfish, school and spanish mackerel and trevally up the island. The queenies and schoolies are often found harassing bait schools in open water with goldies following beneath in hot pursuit. Those running the shallows along the beach should always be on the alert for queenies and of course baby black marlin in the more northern waters.
Deeper Inshore Reefs Best Bet Over The Neaps
Whilst the shallow reef fishery for coral trout was worth the effort over the new moon, the deeper reefs will be the go during the periods of neap tides. Less run makes these waters easier to fish, though doesn’t necessarily excite the fish as much as the stronger tidal flows do. All the same, if you are after a feed of reefies from local waters then this weekend should be productive.
Squire, coral trout, cod, blackall and the first of this season’s grass sweetlip should all be on the chew at some point, with the cod and trout favouring the periods of minimal flow around the tide turns. Bait fishos will struggle to find live baits around our inshore reefs this time of year, though those that do will find the trout and cod more than willing to accept their offerings. Dead baits of squid, banana prawns and hardiheads will all be effective on the other species and the cod too, with herring an equally desirable bait for all bar the blackall.
Speaking of herring, we should mention that after a visit from a local fisheries officer recently, we were left gobsmacked at the statement that the new regulation declaring no bag limit on herring only applies to "southern herring".
To we locals and to pier fishos in particular, that fish is what we know as a "porthole" herring. So, in essence, we are supposedly now allowed any number of "portholes" but the other (more desirable) herring such as "greenbacks" and "surface" herring are restricted to a maximum bag limit of 20 – in possession (courtesy of Qld Fisheries new legislation that effectively places a 20 bag limit on any species not otherwise listed or limited). Please be aware of this dangerous new rule and consider the consequences of being caught with what would have traditionally been a common and incredibly abundant bait species for local fishos – ie; the greenback herring.
Another "herring" of much greater appeal to sportsfishos is the much sought-after giant herring (or ladyfish). These enigmatic fish with their acrobatic jumps and incredible turns of speed are turning up quite often around some of our shallow reefs of late. Bigger models averaging a metre in length are sensational sport, so we are guessing local lad, Charlie (pictured hereabouts) must’ve had his hands full with one of a few that he landed that exceeded 1.3m.
No More Barra But Salmon And Jacks Aplenty
The barra closure will see many estuary fishos turning their attention to the other big river predators, namely threadfin salmon and mangrove jacks. Flathead are still in good numbers in shallow waters within local creeks and rivers and our grunter population has been active of late as well.
The Mary, Susan and their tributaries will be popular for those chasing salmon this week. Vibes will account for the biggest numbers, even though the odd bait fisho might claim otherwise. Target the deeper holes in the mid reaches during the ebb tide with vibes or live baits and then shift your focus to the muddy banks, smaller creeks and rock bars as the tide floods and tie on a hardbody or softie in lieu of the vibe.
The creeks down the straits will also be home to a few sambos, but these systems tend to fish better over the bigger tides. Having said that, if you can find a creek with a bit of colour therein and stacks of baitfish then the salmon won’t be far away. Grunter will be a great option down the straits and will be found in the deeper holes during the day or up in the shallows during the low light periods.
Jacks will be active throughout many of the creeks along Fraser’s western shore. Afternoon sessions with peak heat and a making tide are likely to be most productive for the next few days. That said, a night session will be even better of you can handle the bugs.
The Burrum system should be popular this week. Many are saying that the queenies and mini GTs have been somewhat absent of late which is very odd for this time of year. Their numbers build over winter and they usually don’t leave the river till it gets quite hot. Perhaps they met their demise or perhaps they are seeking out other stretches of water where baitfish are more abundant.
The Burrum jack population is very healthy and this week should see prime conditions for those looking to tangle with the red devil. Lure fishos are spoilt for choice nowadays, though keep your offerings small. Pick up the pace a little when retrieving a lure be it a hardbody or plastic, and if rigging weedless then be prepared to sink your lure right into their lair or you will be ignored.
Look for waters shaded from the sun in any form, like rock bars, logs and man-made structure (even moored yachts). Do not mess around with light tackle if you want the better jacks for a piccy or a feed as this system produces oodles of bigger 50cm+ models and enough reaching the magic 60cm mark to keep even the most experienced jack anglers a little nervous.
Urangan Pier Hot And Cold
There has been a few barra taken out at the pier of late, but they are now off the target list for another season. During the closure we would hope that any responsible fisho would leave them to spawn and do their thing for the future and that the rumours we hear every closed season are just that.
Big tarpon are providing a bit of fun for pier regulars, taking a liking to live baits, particularly at dawn, dusk and at night. There has also been a few queenies reported out the end and the odd stray goldie has come a little too close for its own good.
With a few mackerel reportedly taking spoons off River Heads this week we might expect a few to venture into Urangan Channel and find their way to the pier. If this doesn’t eventuate, then shore-based fishos looking for a bit of high speed spinning fun could try the rocks at River Heads instead.
Mondy Tough But Lenthalls Firing
Lake Monduran proved a bit tough for most barra anglers over the new moon. Plenty of smaller fish were caught in far-flung (read unpressured waters) but the sights and sounds of the bigger models smashing the surface after dark whilst ignoring every lure known to man was somewhat frustrating for those in the prime spots.
Lake Lenthalls on the other hand produced good numbers of barra to mid-80’s and plenty of fat bass. Only those with 4-stroke outboards up to 60hp can access this little gem of a lake unfortunately and with speed and timing restrictions it makes for the perfect waterway for kayakers and those with watercraft less suited to open waters.
Good luck out there y’all.