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Weekly Fishing Report - 4th April 2019

Well, you don’t need us to tell you that it has been a bit windy along our part of the Qld coast over the past week. The cool change that came through last weekend has resulted in milder and quite pleasant air temperatures, but the moderate southeaster has certainly restricted fishing and boating activities.

The forecast for the week ahead looks quite promising, with very light winds early in the week that may stiffen or prevail depending upon the latitude of a high pressure system as it passes from the Bight to the Pacific. This weekend looks quite good as well, with generally less than 15 knots of southeaster for Hervey Bay waters.

Tomorrow night’s new moon will see the peak of the spring tides for another quarter but will generate a good "bite" from our piscatorial friends according to the lunar tables.

The Bay

There have been very few boats venturing far beyond our sheltered inshore waters this past week due to the weather. The protection afforded by Fraser Island to the prevailing southeaster has offered the super keen the option of heading up the island chasing pelagics and they have certainly been rewarded for their efforts, but the conditions have been less than pleasant.

This weekend will be a different story, as the lighter winds will enable most capable vessels and crews another crack at the prolific pelagic fishery on offer in Platypus Bay right now. Longtail tuna have certainly been the standout, with substantial schools of these speedsters widespread throughout Platypus Bay and the central bay regions. Reports from a week ago suggested that spotted mackerel were also abundant in these same waters, as are large schools of the humble mac tuna.

Yellowfin tuna have also featured on the catch card for plenty of sportsfishos heading north of Fraser and out towards the Gutters in recent weeks, and we have also heard of a few vagrant stripies over Rooneys way recently.

Unless for some reason you have a desire to mess with small mac tuna then stickbaits have been the most productive artificials being thrown at the various tuna species of late. Shark attrition can be pretty horrendous at times though, so it might just soften the blow on your wallet if you arm yourself with an array of metal slugs and Zman 5" Streakz that can also produce quite well when the tuna (and spotties) are targeting smaller bait sources.

Reports prior to this latest blow suggest the Hervey Bay pelagic scene is going off all round, with spanish mackerel, school mackerel, cobia, queenfish, GT’s, golden trevally and various other trevally species on offer from various locations from just north of the banks to beyond Fraser and the Gutters. Simply deploy the appropriate lure and technique to target the species you locate and if you can get your quarry to the boat without being taxed then it is cheesy grins all round.

Reef fishos heading out under the dark skies of the new moon should fare well on the likes of cod, scarlets, grunter, squire, blackall and sweetlip over the better reef country up the island. The "day bite" should be strong courtesy of the recent cool change and the dark moon tides and will see coral trout and tuskfish added to the list of possible reefies on the chew.

Inshore

It didn’t take much of a cool change to draw a few fishos attention to the chance of catching squire and snapper. Whilst it is certainly early days yet, your chances of scoring at least a couple of decent squire has just improved markedly this past week. 

In years gone by, it was a "race" to catch the first big snapper from inshore hotspots such as the Roy Rufus arti, with fish over the 70cm mark quite likely from the March full moon onwards. Tragically the good old arti just ain’t what it used to be, and worse still, your chances of actually landing a decent knobbie with so many oversized whalers in attendance makes the "race" less desirable. All the same, put in a dawn, dusk or evening session over any decent deep bait-holding grounds inshore and you are in with a chance.

Whilst the hunt for an early season snapper kicks into gear, the readily available sweetlip, blackall and cod will continue to feature in eskies and photos from our inshore waters. Coral trout are still in their prime for those tea-bagging plastics, vibes or micro jigs over the deeper coral-encrusted country over the turn of tide. Of course live baits will also trigger a response from the coral trout (and many, many cod) for those favouring the heavier bait-fishing tackle.

Sharks continue to wreak havoc both inshore and out wider, with the worst of a bad bunch turning up where-ever the boating traffic is at its greatest. Big over-sized bullsharks are the worst culprits for following boats and are not to be underestimated when it comes to handling fish boat-side. Whether you are chasing tuna, trevally or reef fish you need to take extra care when landing your fish and be willing to move on and leave the noahs in your wake when they do track you down.

Those staying inshore could consider dropping in a few crab pots targeting sandies in the upper straits or the lower bay. Off Coongul, off the Burrum and out from Gatakers Bay and Urangan are all potentially worth a look for sandies over the bigger tides. Just make sure your pots are weighted well enough and you use enough rope for the deeper waters of the bay.

Mary/Susan Rivers & The Great Sandy Straits

The much sought after banana prawn have been very much M.I.A. down in the Mary/Susan River system to date. A few tinnies could be seen madly tearing around the lower-mid reaches seeking out muddy banks and drains looking for the prawn. Some nice sized prawns were found, but the numbers were very low compared to the effort.

A gambler might put a few bucks down on a prawn run this weekend or the week thereafter however, as the tannin-stained creeks and drains that swelled slightly from last weekend’s rains flush out into the main stream. The river scene will be a gamble for sure, but head far enough down the Straits and it is a much surer thing, with reports filtering back from those down the central parts of the Great Sandy Strait finding decent patches of prawn in the creek systems down that way.

The recent rains brought about just enough of a minor "run-off" to give local creeks such as Bengstons and the Bunya a nice tannin colour and spur the baitfish into feeding mode. This in turn has triggered a good bite from the barra in the Susan and Mary Rivers and their smaller tributaries. Snag-bashing with hardbodies has been producing, as have the vibes for the more open waters.

Threadfin salmon are feeding in the mid-lower reaches of the rivers throughout the lower stages of the tide, and some nice grunter can be found around the gravelly areas or in the deeper holes in the same waters.

Down the Straits, take the cast nets and seek out the prawns in the creeks. Fraser’s western creeks are running quite tannin (almost fresh in some cases), but the adjacent waters outside these systems can be productive for a range of species during these times. Threadies, barra, grunter, mangrove jacks, flathead and even whiting are all on offer for those working the creek systems and their feeder channels.

The recent rains brought about some movement from our seemingly heavily-pressured mud crab population, though at this stage it seems the smaller creek systems of the straits, here locally, and along Fraser’s western side are likely to be more productive than the rivers.

Local Creeks & Beaches

Prawns washed from the upper reaches of our local creeks may take up residence in the lower (yet still muddy-banked) reaches of these creeks or may move out onto the adjacent flats and channels. The only way to know for sure is to get out there with a cast net and seek them out.

This recent flush, although only minor will trigger increased activity from local predators such as barra, jacks, grunter, flathead, queenies and trevally. Try the creeks and the nearby beaches for any of these species and don’t forget the topwater gear for imitating fleeing prawns for the added fun factor.

Good luck out there y’all.

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