Mild Start to Winter
Windy weekends and mid-week glass outs have been frustrating the local working fishos for a couple of weeks on end. It is a case of déjà vu yet again this weekend, though the winds will only be moderate, so sheltered inshore and estuary options could still appeal to some.
It is looking like tomorrow’s cool southwesterly will tend more south to southeast throughout the weekend, and ease to around 15 knots. The 15-20 knot southwester forecast for Saturday morning suggests a sleep-in is in order. Once again, the wind eases dramatically early in the working week. The winds will vary mid-week preceding a potential rain event towards week’s end.
A waning moon as we approach next Thursday’s new moon, will see favourable moon phases in the mornings for at least part of the coming week – somewhat frustrating when confronted with the early morning chill this time of year. Here’s hoping for better weather around the new moon which will offer great tides for many of our winter species.
NOTE: A closed season applies to Australian Bass in all Qld tidal waters from 1st June until 31st August. You can still fish for bass in stocked impoundments.
The local mud crab population was active over the recent super moon as anticipated. Those experienced crabbers that put the pots in scored well. The muddies aren’t done just yet either, so try your favourite creek for what might be the best of the last of the mud crabbing season over the next couple of weeks.
The sand crab bonanza continues in the western and southern bay. Bag limits of succulent sandies are common for many keen crabbers braving the weather and soaking pots out off the bay’s west coast from Woodgate to Pt Vernon.
There have been a few crabs moving through just off our town beaches, as well as reasonable numbers turning up throughout Urangan Channel and south towards the Booral Flats. We’ve had no word from those crabbing up in Platypus Bay this week, but would suspect that they will continue to do well up there, if the last few weeks are anything to go by.
As mentioned, fishos out chasing winter whiting have the option to soak a few pots whilst fishing, particularly off Gatakers Bay and Toogoom. If a good enough patch of whiting is found to enable anchoring, then you could even sink a collapsible two-ring dilly below the boat whilst you fish for whiting out the back.
Winter whiting, sand crabs and beer, how good is winter in Hervey Bay.
Great news for winter whiting fans this week, as their beloved winteries have finally started to show up in decent numbers. The waters out from Gatakers Bay have been the first to produce in the local area as predicted.
Bag limits have been achieved by a few fishos willing to put in the hours. No-one has bragged about hauling them in flat out as yet, but at least there are good numbers on offer, and apparently the size is quite good. A few whiting have also been found down the straits, but in small numbers only, according to those sharing their reports so far.
The cooler weather this week will appeal to the whiting and their pursuers. The wind might be a little unsettling anywhere other than in close for the next few days, so it won’t be hard to tell where the action is – just look for the cluster/s of boats.
As a reminder, if fishing in close to Gatakers Bay (and select other locations locally), be aware of the yellow zone. You are restricted to one hook only within a yellow zone, so rigs with more than one hook are a no-no. Interestingly, a bait jig with multiple hooks is deemed to be “one hook”, until you add bait to any of those hooks. If the whiting are really on the chew, then those u-beaut little 3 hook bait jigs we sell for winteries will catch them without the need for any bait.
Plenty of winter whiting fishos love to debate the best baits for their whiting, often claiming that they would only each one bait or another on the day. Popular baits include yabbies, worms, prawns, tiny squid strips and GULP Sandworms.
Given the ease in which you can score a great feed of whiting on the frozen or artificial baits with the aid of the abovementioned bait jigs, few would bother with yabbies nowadays. Our local yabby population gets hammered every winter, so thankfully many have converted to the alternatives and eased the pressure on our yabby banks. For those family fishos keen to entertain the little kids and score an easy feed, you would be hard-pressed to find better than the combination of 3 hook bait jigs (where legal) and a packet of squid and GULP sandworms.
Use your lightest rod and reel combos, or the kids favourite little outfits and drift likely grounds in 3-6 metres of water. The whiting scoff the bait with vigour most days and will be easily hooked. They can tend to swallow a conventional whiting hook quite often, which can be frustrating, but they rarely swallow the bait jig hooks.
There will be a bit of bycatch in some areas, particularly juvenile demersal species such as tuskfish, sweetlip and tiny squire, together with small flatties, rock whiting, grinners, lancers (paddies), whiptails and many others. Rarely would any of this bycatch be legal, so please ensure you return them all unharmed to grow and maybe catch another day.
It can be really educational and interesting for the little kids to see such a variety of little fish, and they might even get to pull in a squid or several if you remember to pack a few squid jigs (just in case). Similarly, school mackerel will often turn up to feast on the abundance of whiting, so carrying a few suitable spoons or trolling lures could sweeten the experience for the kids.
A nice bay snapper from a charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Snapper Schools Have Arrived
The recent super moon and its associated big tides heralded the arrival of school snapper throughout Hervey Bay. Quality knobbies are now worthy targets off Rooneys and within parts of Platypus Bay and the central bay. Small numbers have also made their way into the southern bay and are taking up station on the usual grounds.
Inshore reefs such as the Burrum 8 and 12 Mile, Roy Rufus arti, Moon Ledge, Outer Banks, Simpson arti and Arch Cliffs 6 Mile are all worth a try for snapper from now on through winter. The bigger tides will typically see the better bite in these areas, and in some areas, you will need to focus your efforts around periods of low light or during the evening.
Squire in the barely-legal to 60cm range can turn up in fairly shallow waters inshore throughout winter. Areas such as the fringes of the Gatakers Bay and Pt Vernon reefs, the Urangan Channel and the fringes of the bay islands can all produce quality squire at the right time of day (dawn, dusk and evening). For bait fishos, floatlining in a berley trail works a treat in these areas when the tide is not pumping.
Other areas you can try for snapper/squire this winter include the Fairway, NU2 shipwreck, Mickies, Sammies, Bogimba Channel, Boges Hole, the Channel Hole and the reefs off Kingfisher Bay. As with all likely snapper hangouts, the prevalence of a bait source is paramount to holding any number of fish in these areas at any given time.
Those new to the bay can learn a lot by targeting potential snapper grounds with deep diving lures such as Dr Evils, Poltergeists, RMGs or Nomad DTX Minnows (ensuring you choose the appropriate lure for the depths in the area). You will catch plenty of estuary cod, with the bonus of the odd coral trout and perhaps a mix of trevally, queenfish and mackerel on occasion. You will learn a lot about the local terrain, catch a feed, find new spots and hopefully avoid the mongrel sharks loitering around our popular reefs.
Up off Wathumba and Station Hill and out wider in Platypus Bay, you will find the best of the snapper moving onto known grounds just before dusk and again around dawn. Night sessions can be productive in these areas for bait fishos floating locally-sourced lightly-weighted baits down a berley trail.
During the daylight hours, look for snapper roaming the paddock and use a mix of soft plastics, slow pitch jigs and deep diving trolling lures to tempt them to bite. Focus your attention on any schools of yakkas and herring where snapper are shadowing the bait schools looking to knock off the weak and wounded.
Brassy and golden trevally, amongst others, can be regular bycatch when chasing snapper up that way. Often the arches you hope are snapper on your sounder turn out to be trevors, so either enjoy the fun, or steer away and continue the hunt. Keep an eye out for cobia of all sizes too. Plenty of quite large models have already turned up in the bay and are causing havoc for bait and lure fishos alike.
Above and below: Dinner is sorted with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Winter Species Now the Targets in our Estuaries
We’ve heard precious little from estuary fishos over the past week. Having said that, recent weeks have seen plenty of jewfish caught from the usual haunts, increasing numbers of blue salmon, the odd threadie and a few decent grunter in the Mary system. Queenies, the odd flathead, blues, grunter, jewies and swags of bream have also been found down the straits.
A run of tailor in the Burrum just before the recent full moon saw a few locals filling their smokers with fresh tailor fillets. Look for schools of baitfish in the lower reaches of the river and the tailor won’t be far away. Try trolling and keep an eye out for terns dipping on small baitfish harassed by the tailor in the river if you wish. Otherwise secure some fresh or live fish baits and berley a likely hole, ledge or channel and wait for them to come to you on the tide.
We are yet to hear of the arrival of the queenies and small giant trevally in the Burrum system as yet. Some years, the lack of baitfish in this system sees diminished numbers of predators, and given the lack of rains this past wet season, this winter might be one of those.
Mid-winter until early spring is prime time for mini GTs and queenies in the Burrum, so no need to be concerned as yet. Once they do arrive, this fun fishery offers great sport and entertainment for the kids and the average sportsfisho. A typical Burrum winter session on the sports fish can see you connecting to blue salmon, threadies, flatties, giant herring and tarpon, along with the odd lethargic barra or two if you can tempt them.
A couple of speedsters from recent charters with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters. A nice kingfish (above) and a spanish mackerel (below).
Latest Report from Fraser’s Surf Beach
Thanks to one of our regular customers that works over on Fraser Island, we can offer a bit of insight into the island fishery over the coming winter. The latest news is that the big swell from last week has abated, but the beach is only now just returning to “normal”. It is great to hear that the island’s surf is weed-free at present.
There have been no pippies due to the large swell, but they will soon return. There are good gutters formed along numerous parts of the beach, and some of these have been scoured out even deeper, courtesy of the swell last week.
Fishing wise, as anticipated for this time of year, it is the quality of the sand whiting on offer that has the island locals excited. Large whiting to 40cm have been relatively common in the shallow gutters and melon holes. Low tide is often prime time for the whiting along the beach, with their favoured food items forced down the beach with the receding waters.
There have also been quite a few schools of quality dart scattered along the beach. The bigger dart often favour the deeper, current-swept gutters (rips), and whilst they make regular forays into the near-shore waters, they are great targets out wider in the deeper sections of the gutters. The big dart are great sport, and like tailor, can be regularly spotted surfing the green waves out behind the inshore break.
Tailor-wise, the Happy Valley area has given up a modest feed of chopper tailor recently. The annual tailor run is still a couple of months away, but Fraser Island being the unique location that it is, you can typically find tailor somewhere well before the season starts.
The best of the tailor fishing this time of year is typically after dark. Focussing your efforts to coincide with moon rise, fall and moon above over the bigger tides can increase your chances of success. If these moon phases occur at dawn or dusk, then all the better. Look for deeper high tide gutters, or larger low tide gutters, and pay particular attention to areas that are holding baitfish such as around rocky outcrops.
Fisho’s Tackle World Again Offering In-House Reel Servicing
After a somewhat frustrating hiatus, we have been lucky here at Fisho’s to gain the services of a very experienced and quality-focussed reel repairer by the name of Mark. We can now again offer complete in-house reel repairs, upgrades and servicing.
We are confident that Mark will provide the utmost in quality workmanship, utilising the latest and greatest in lubrication materials and techniques. Mark is well-versed in all manner of fishing reels, including all the high-end models from all the big brands, and can attend to all spin, overhead, baitcast and surf casting reels.
Nowadays, many customers are looking to upgrade their favourite reels by way of Carbontex Drag Washers and/or Gomexus handles or handle knobs. Mark can assist in fitting these products in the appropriate manner, using the suitable lubricants for the job.
So, if your fishing reels need servicing, or you are keen for an upgrade, then bring your reels into Fisho’s and Mark will attend to whatever you need in a timely fashion.