A Regal Spell Of Weather For Queen’s Birthday Weekend
After a week or fairly restrictive weather, boaties will be eager to get out this long weekend and enjoy the forecast spell of lighter winds. The mornings will be most enjoyable, with an afternoon sea breeze likely some days.
The tiny neap tides around Sunday’s quarter moon will certainly have an impact on the activity of various fish species. Some will revel in the slight current whilst others will become quite lethargic and lacklustre.
Have A Sticky Beak For A Baby Black
Whilst very few crews had the chance to venture out for much of the past week, a rare reasonable day or two saw a few keener skippers head up the island in search of black marlin. A few little blacks were raised up towards Rooneys though no numbers were reported. Boaties out sight-seeing and enjoying the protection offered by skirting Fraser’s western beach have sighted a few free-swimming marlin these past couple of days.
A reported lack of baitfish along Platypus Bay’s beach suggests that whilst the little blacks may venture into the shallows for a sticky beak, they are more likely to seek out and harass schools of baitfish where-ever they can be found. For this reason, trolling the beach drop off may prove fruitful for some over the turn of tide, but some serious time should be spent hunting around bait schools and along contours or bait corridors out a little wider.
This early in the season it is hard to know how good our marlin run might be, but reports from ports to our north suggest we could be in for a good one. So, for those of you keen to tangle with your first billy but without the gear to do so; we suggest you drop in to our store and grab some of our pre-rigged and swim-ready lures and teasers in readiness for your maiden crack at these majestic little speedsters.
If you do decide to head up the island sportsfishing this weekend, go armed for all-comers as there has been a few tuna busting up on the surface up that way of late and plenty of trevally and a few mackerel have been lurking around the reefs and bait schools.
A selection of stickbaits, plastics and metals will see you well-prepared for what-ever hard-pulling pelagic you come across. Indeed, plenty of baby blacks have fallen victim to a “tuna lure” crossing their path in past years so always have a suitable outfit at the ready just in case.
School Holiday School Mackerel
Our great inshore run of school mackerel continues, with the fish now a little more widespread. The stretch of coastline from The Burrum to Pt Vernon has seen the majority of the action to date, however, the Urangan Channel and the shipping channels further towards Fraser have also drawn their fair share of schoolies.
Those looking to anchor and fish dead or live baits should seek out likely spots holding herring and yakkas. A few spots worth a try include The Fairway, the shipwreck off the NU2, the Outer Banks, Moon Ledge, Mickies and the shipwrecks of the Roy Rufus arti. Of course, spinning spoons at high speed in the vicinity of these same locations will stir up the mackerel just as well, if not even better.
Trolling diving lures capable of handling a bit speed (say 6-8 knots) will see you cover plenty of ground and can track down the mackerel schools fairly quickly. Don’t limit your efforts to the afore-mentioned spots though, as you could find mackerel have moved into other areas such as the waters off Coongul or the grounds south of Woody Island to Kingfisher Bay or even further down the straits. `Those heading eastwards from River Heads should not be surprised to find mackerel in that area either.
Head Up The Creeks Over The Neaps
A great run of summer whiting is being enjoyed by many, but the neap tides are hardly the time to be chasing those little delicacies. Leave them for the next moon and sneak into the creeks looking for a few larger predators. Before you do though, you had better make sure you have a good supply of Bushmans as the sandflies and mozzies will be there waiting for you.
Mangrove jacks are becoming increasingly active as our waters warm, and are a great target within the many creeks dotted along the inside of Fraser. Bait fishos will find jack fishing easy enough; so long as you have fresh mullet or small live baits you are in with a chance.
Lure fishos seeking out jacks have a plethora of sensational lure options nowadays limited only by your imagination. Until you work out where and when the monster jacks feed, stick to smaller 3-4 inch lures for the average school fish in the 40-50cm range. Prawn imitations are hard to beat when the sun is high, but you can try anything from topwater early and late, to small plastics and the awesome array of small hardbodies in store nowadays.
Don’t be surprised to trip over a barra or two whilst sneaking about in Fraser’s western creeks. Same goes for grunter, threadies and blue salmon. It goes without saying that you are going to get some estuary cod bycatch and small jewies are also highly likely in deeper waters.
Now is a great time to be chasing grunter down the straits or in our local rivers and creeks. They will take a range of baits, but the mainstays are live yabbies, herring, prawns or small squid. Plastics rigged on enough weight to hug the bottom are deadly on grunter and incredibly easy to use. Simply drift through the deeper holes or along the deep side of the drop offs and ledges and keep your lures near to the bottom. Many a threadfin, blue salmon, barra, diamond trevally or flathead will scoff a plastic being tea-bagged for grunter so be ready for all-comers.
The creeks and rivers will be the place to seek out the schools of big threadies and barra this time of year. Sounding them out and hopping soft vibes over or through them is a deadly technique for much of the run out tide. Trolling can work at any time but is particularly effective at finding fish that are scattered. During the ebb tide stick to deeper lures in deeper waters and look for them along the banks with shallow divers when the tide floods.
Burrum Jacks Ready To Rumble
The neaps will see plenty of locals on the water up in the Burrum system. Many will be chasing jacks and barra and rightly so. All four rivers up that way are home to healthy populations of mangrove jacks and they have already started to fire up. The beauty of the Burrum system is that it can be fished all day (and all night if you wish) with an incredible variety of structure that in some cases can hold schools of hungry jacks.
The semi-resident nature of jacks leads them to being a very dominant species in “their” piece of river estate and they can be very aggressive and territorial by nature. They will attack quite large lures due to this characteristic but it is still the smaller 3-4 inch models that get the most response.
Seek out shade. If not shade from trees, mangroves, logs or undercut banks, then perhaps from large rock bars or man-made structure. Jack’s eyes were designed for hunting at night so they are not at all comfy when exposed to bright sunlight. Ever wonder why they come on the chew so fierce when the sun is blocked from an approaching thunderstorm? Is it the change in barometer or is it simply the fact that their eyes can now tolerate the lower light levels?
Barra will now be a major target throughout the Burrum system till the season ends. Daytime sessions should be centred around structure, whilst those that know the rivers at night will know just how much the barra roam and how they will move back and forth with the tide. Rock bars, timber snags and steep ledges will all hold barra at some stage of the tide. Part of the key to catching them is working out when to be where. Think about the movements of the local baitfish and at what stage of the tide they will be passing a given location and be there then.
A stack of fun can still be had with the schools of queenies and little GTs in the Burrum River in particular. Small soft plastics are the easiest and least damaging option lure-wise and can account for multiple captures in a session. Schools of surface-feeding tarpon can be a bit of a distraction at times and are always loads of fun for the kids.
Urangan Pier Crowded But Fishing Well
Some great hauls of whiting came from the beach end of the pier over the new moon tides. They have backed off now of course, but they will come on again closer to the next full moon. In the meantime, the neaps are a great time to seek out flatties in the first channel or out the end. Live baits are usually their undoing.
The kids have had a ball out along the deeper section of the pier all holidays chasing all manner of pelagics. There has been spanish, schoolies, bonito, tuna and goldies in recent times all smashing spoons or live baits of one form or another. At present, it seems as though things have gone a little quiet but word is there are still a few mackerel out the end.
Bass And Barra Firing In The Dams
Lake Lenthalls has been the place to be if you want some light tackle freshwater action. The bass have been on the chew big time and are taking a range of lures. Small vibes are still very popular and are accounting for schooling fish out in the open along the drop offs. Trolling diving hardbodies works a treat, as does trolling hard vibes if you have a lure retrieving pole for when you snag up.
Lenthall’s barra population is fat and healthy. They haven’t been pestered too much so far this season either so they are certainly not lure-shy. Barra well over the 80cm mark are on offer for those keen to try these placid waters in lieu of the bigger lakes further north.
Lake Monduran is just getting better, week by week. Great numbers of barra are starting to school off points and at the entrances to small bays and gullies. Morning sessions amongst the timber have been particularly productive. Twitching and rolling hardbodies has been getting the most bites and plenty of fish in the 80’s and a few in the 90’s are keeping fishos on their toes or otherwise lightening their tackle trays.
Bigger numbers of 55-70cm fish have been super active most days of late and they are a lot of fun, even at these sizes. Those hanging in there for the evening session are following the barra into the backs of the bays where they are feeding on the gar and bonies drawn by the floating vegetation blown in by the wind. Night-time brings out the surface lures for some, with small poppers and medium-sized walkers doing the damage on the bigger fish.
This long weekend looks like another great one for the impoundment fishos. Easterlies have dominated the past few days and will give way to northeasters and higher air temperatures offering nigh-on perfect barra hunting conditions.
Good luck out there y’all.