Pick Your Days for Best
There has been barely a puff of breeze for the past few days, and clear skies to boot. Fantastic conditions for boaties lucky enough to get out mid-week. The immediate future doesn’t look nearly as flash, but pick the right days and you can still enjoy a day or three on the water.
The weather bureau’s predictions for the coming week changed dramatically today (compared to what they suggested in recent days). The latest forecast suggests we can enjoy the warmth for another couple of days, courtesy of an approaching trough from the west.
A light northerly sea breeze this afternoon will precede a good 15 knot north-northwester on Friday (with up to 20 knots in offshore waters). Saturday looks great, with less than 10 knots of westerly, before the change passes through and leaves us with offshore winds and another cold snap in its wake.
Sunday is likely to kick off with 15 knots of south-southwesterly (and even more offshore briefly). Similar conditions Monday will improve thereafter, though possibly only briefly, as the wind tends onshore once again and strengthens. Given the dramatic variation of the latest forecasts from the bureau, we strongly suggest you keep an eye on the latest forecasts, as they may improve once again (hopefully).
Tomorrow’s first quarter moon phase heralds the start of the making tides thereafter. The current neap tides still see a fair degree of tidal flow over one of the two tides of the day this time of year. Look at the timing of the highs and lows and plan your assaults accordingly, particularly if fishing our inshore waters, flats or estuaries.
Fishing Closures to Keep in Mind
As mentioned last week, fishing from Fraser Island’s headlands and their immediate surrounds is now prohibited for the next two months. In essence, from 1st August to 30th September each year, the waters from 400m south of Indian Head to 400m north of Waddy Point and 400m to seaward, are off limits to all forms of fishin g.
This closure is in place to enable the tailor to spawn in those waters in peace. Strangely enough, there seems to be very few tailor in Fraser’s surf gutters at present, so let’s hope they turn up soon and do their thing.
Keen local rock fishos often make the pilgrimage to Fraser at the start of October to be first in best dressed to fish those waters when the season opens. It can be an absolute blast some years, with hordes of tailor (and other species) amassed within casting distance of the stones. The weather and migration of the fish will determine just how this year’s opening shapes up.
Until then, the headlands are for sight-seeing only, and what a spectacle that view can be. Not only do you get the chance to spot the gathering schools of fish and the packs of sharks (that remind us why few surfers venture nearby), but you can also watch the passing whales from an elevated vantage point.
Another closure worth mentioning is the annual closure to all line fishing in some of the freshwater reaches of the Mary River. From the 1st August to the 31st October each year, stretches of the Mary’s freshwater reaches and several of its tributaries are closed to fishing. This is to enable the vulnerable Mary River Cod to breed in place.
Please respect this closure and get your freshwater fix elsewhere until November. We have attached a copy of a brochure at the end of this report, that details what creeks and stretches of river are affected.
Fraser Island Surf Scene Quiet Since Latest Blow
The passage of an east coast low offshore of Fraser Island a couple of weeks ago pounded the surf beach. A lot of gutters were filled in and the beach has “flattened out” quite dramatically. Some of the major rock formations were exposed somewhat, but not nearly to the extent they were during the big blows back at the end of the wet season.
A flat beach is not nearly as appealing to surf fishos as one with well-formed gutters. Constantly shifting sands will see further changes during spells of onshore weather and stronger currents. For now though, some traveling can be required to find the better gutters and the fish that make them their temporary residence.
Word this week is that tailor are very scarce. They haven’t been overly abundant in the central stretch for a few weeks. Not since the hordes of baitfish gathering in the shore dump brought them in during a spell of westerlies a couple of months ago. We assume they will arrive in abundance very soon, and that hint of warmer weather and a northerly breeze this week just might be the trigger.
Until the tailor re-emerge, there are other surf species worth pursuing. Jewies (mulloway) have been quite abundant this season. Admittedly, there has been a lot of smaller undersized fish (soapies), but legal fish have been quite common captures from the deeper gutters and rocky areas.
How good is that, a massive smile and trout for dinner! Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters
Taking the lighter rods can save the day for a tailor fisho, and can arguably offer more fun and a better feed when the other species are on the chew. Of late, it has been a mix of bream, tarwhine and the odd flathead around the rocky outcrops, with the chance of jewies and trevally suggesting you shouldn’t pack the heavier gear away altogether.
There has been some quality flathead turning up in the right gutters of late, and we would expect that the melon holes and shallow low tide gutters will give up a feed of sand whiting once again closer to the full moon. Until then, there has also been random schools of quite large dart making appearances in the deeper gutters, but they are there one day and gone the next apparently.
We have not heard anything from fishos plying the waters to the north of the headlands. If anyone is returning from the island and wishes to share their experiences from the beach from Ngkala to Sandy Cape, then we would love to hear from you.
Hot Reels does it again!
Varying Water Quality at the Pier
The fishing out along the Urangan Pier has been fairly challenging of late. The bream fishos are still catching a feed, both day and night, but not in any huge numbers.
The odd flathead is mooching about in the first channel, and is also possible out towards the end. A live pike is certainly the best tempter for these pier flatties, but a live herring will do if you can’t catch a pike.
Apart from that, it has been just the odd jewfish, and a run of mostly undersized mackerel that have bent any rods. At some stage this month, there will likely be a run of longtail tuna from the deeper waters out the end. They typically turn up on the same tides each year, but this year, there has been late rains and dirty water from the Mary, so we will have to wait and see.
Speaking of water quality, the waters are quite clear right now, courtesy of the neap tides. The “dirty” water from the Mary that pushes up along the coastline over the flats is well-mixed this time and is staining the waters, but they are still relatively clear. Water quality will likely change with the bigger full moon tides in a week’s time.
Another delicious trout for the table. Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters
With clearer waters comes the chance of a run of pencil squid. Yes, it is out of season for these critters, but so too are the recent rains. Pier waters were graced with a brief run or two of pencillies in recent times, so make sure you have a selection of jigs handy if you head out after dark. No promises they will show, but better to be prepared than left wanting.
No word from local beaches worth noting this week. Bream are still a chance around the groynes, harbour and rocky areas, particularly at night. Whiting could be worth pursuing by this time next week, depending on the weather.
Beelbi Creek often produces a few flatties for the wandering landlubber this time of year. Queenfish have been known to haunt this little creek in numbers late winter also, so a pleasant stroll might see you quite entertained if these species follow past trends this year.
Try the stretches of beach out around O’Reagans Creek or Toogoom for whiting once the tides get bigger. The same option also applies for the Booral Flats, with the chances of connecting to other species such as flathead and salmon being quite good if you time your assault correctly.
Winter Whiting Drawing a Crowd
The glamour weather has brought the winter whiting fleet out in force. They haven’t had to travel far for a feed though, with most favouring the close grounds off Gatakers Bay, Toogoom and Burrum Heads.
Some days there is talk of easy bag limits of quality winteries, then on others it is all about crowds, smaller fish and how much effort was required to get a feed. Reading between the lines there it might be a little obvious, but finding “fresh” fish without the attending crowds can be much more efficient and see a better return for effort.
Catching winter whiting is a fairly simple affair. Light tackle and baits of small squid strips, worms or prawn pieces is all it takes. Many will insist on catching yabbies, which is fine, but they are not required for winteries, so you can save the effort (and our yabby stocks) if you wish.
To make the process of catching a feed of winteries even easier, is utilising a great advantage by way of certain bait jigs. We have mentioned in the past, that a bait jig, spiced with a piece of the above baits, or indeed the ever-popular and convenient GULP sandworm, can out-fish all alternatives hands-down.
It just so happens that we sell the right bait jigs for the job, and firmly believe that we are doing you a favour in doing so. You will find them in tubs, cheap as chips, marked “Winter Whiting Slayers” in store. Please be aware of multi-hook regulations in our local yellow zones and ask our staff for clarification if you are unsure.
By the way, the whiting fishos have been getting hounded by small school mackerel out off Toogoom lately. Most are undersized fish and need to be returned immediately unharmed. The dreaded green toads haven’t been an issue in that area, but the same cannot be said for the other grounds out from the harbour.
Christian with a red emperor from a recent trip out wide.
Snapper Hard to Avoid
The seasonal snapper closure is still in place. The ban on targeting and keeping snapper and pearl perch will be lifted as of midnight 15th August. Until then, keep throwing them back and avoid targeting them, as we desperately need these fish to spawn if you want any form of snapper fishery in the future.
It is great to hear of improved snapper catches this winter, and even more-so of the improved numbers of squire in the bay. We can thank the great wet season for the return of better numbers of fish, and we trust the one-month closure is having a positive impact as well. Now, if only the shark numbers weren’t so out of control …..
Scooting over oily calm seas on a trip out wide to the northern bay has been a joy for many this week. The Gutters has given up a feed of mixed reef fish and some impressive pelagics. Yes, the sharks are still a nightmare on some grounds, but thankfully, they are not as active as they are in warmer conditions.
Christian staying warm in his new Fisho's beanie, with a nice trout.
Live baiting for coral trout is pulling a few extra fish when the jigs, softies and vibes aren’t producing. Timing trout sessions for the afternoon tide change this time of year is well-justified and saves a lot of energy.
Fish the hard ledges and coral-encrusted bombies of the Gutters and you will find the trevally hard to avoid at present. If trevor is your mate, then you are in for a treat. You can even give the kids a jig or heavily-weighted softie and see how many species they can catch in one day. Good sounders help to identify the trevally and enable you to target various species (or avoid them altogether).
Yakkas are now abundant and well-dispersed throughout the bay and beyond. Obviously, they are a primary bait source for so many predators and some time should be spent gathering them for bait. Just remember, that, like all other “unregulated” species, yakkas have a bag limit of 20. You can always catch more after you use your limit without too much trouble this time of year.
Reefies that love to munch on live yakkas include trout, red emperor, cod of all types, big sweeties and spangos, reef jacks and scarlets. Several of these species will also scoff a butterflied dead yakka too, as they will many other similar baits. Once the snapper season re-opens, yakka catching forays will be part of the process for keen bait fishos, as the snapper will favour them over all other baits in many areas.
Obviously pelagics love yakkas and other baitfish too, and the huge cobia lurking around the reefs of the northern bay are no exception. It is great to see that many of the big cobes are released to cruise our waters for another year, as they are a great delight to many novices and reef regulars alike.
Something a bit different from the deep, a longfin bigeye.
Scoring a Feed Inshore is Tougher Without Snapper
Those heading for the northern sector of Platypus Bay can find a feed of scarlets and large grunter if they fish the right reefs after dark. A few scarlets can be caught during daylight hours too, as can the odd grunter, but the bigger models really fire up in the dark of night.
Be very wary of whales when traveling in the bay at night over the next few months. It is something that we locals have come to terms with and you sort of get used to it, but you know full well that luck plays a large part in safe passage some nights.
Trevally are abundant over many reefs in Platypus Bay. Goldies can be found up that way, but they are also quite common captures inshore as well nowadays. Schools of goldies often take up temporary residence around prominent inshore reef structures in deeper waters such as artificial reefs and shipwrecks. They also haunt the bait schools on the ledges over along the inside of Fraser Island.
Most of us would not consider a golden trevally as edible, and the same goes for queenfish and most of the trevally clan. That said, many folks are keen to sample such fish for themselves and will soon decide which way they lean. To short-cut their experimenting, the long-nosed trevally, that are quite common in Platypus Bay and out wider, are deemed quite reasonable fodder.
With only small numbers of grassy sweetlip inshore this time of year and coral trout and cod a bit more lethargic than in the warmer waters, it can be a challenge to score a feed. Settle for blackall and you will feast regularly, but otherwise you will have to seek out the scarlets or just be a little more patient when trying to tempt the cod and trout.
Another radioactive goldfish lookalike, a flametail.
Flathead Fishing Fun on the Flats
Flats fishos have had a bit to cheer about lately. There have been a few small queenies milling around in the skinny water some days, and there was even a chance at some permit until they disappeared quite abruptly.
Those opting to fish the flats down the straits are likely to encounter better-quality queenfish and an abundance of blue salmon. Flathead are possible around many creek mouths – but certainly not all of them.
Fraser Island’s western creeks still offer some of the best flathead fishing at present. The neap tides will favour those willing to sneak up into the creeks, whilst the spring tides late next week will favour the flats and drain fishos peppering the plethora of ambush points during the ebb tide.
A juvenile yellowtail kingfish to mix things up.
Hunting jewfish is entertaining this time of year. The bully mullet (sea mullet) run when the westerly winds blow during these times and the bigger jewfish will move into position to ambush them. Your chances of tangling with a proper big jewfish, (not the regular sub-metre models that are relatively common), is quite enhanced during the mullet run – even more-so if you head down towards Inskip Point.
Local whiting fishos will be looking at the tides for the coming full moon. Evening sessions produce great quality sand whiting (summer whiting) from many local flats and the mouths of smaller creek systems. A late afternoon session at low tide pumping yabbies or gathering worms is typically followed by a couple of hours of giggling and bent noodles and a bag limit of quality whiting in the esky for the run home.
Bream fans still have time to pounce on the spawning run of larger fish gracing our waters. Choose to fish the flats over the high tide or bounce from rock bar to rocky outcrop, and flick tiny lures of many types in stealth-mode, or simply anchor up and berley, and you can have a ball.
Once the northerly winds kick in with the onset of spring, these bream will start to make their way back into our estuaries. They can be intercepted on this journey for those who wish to continue the chase, or even targeted year-round by moving upstream in our creeks, but they are most readily available now, and in big numbers.
On-Water Unleaded Fuel Not Available in Tin Can Bay
It has come to our attention that unleaded fuel is currently not available in Tin Can Bay for those in vessels wishing to fuel up on-water. The locally-run unleaded bowser at the marina in Snapper Creek is currently out of action.
The same fuel station has diesel for on-water refuelling, but no unleaded. Obviously, there are ample off-water refuelling options for all fuel types for those trailering a boat to Tin Can Bay.