Light Winds This Weekend
With a rather breezy week in the rear-view mirror, we can now look forward to a great weekend of light winds and calm seas. Barely a zephyr, mostly below 10 knots, is likely for Saturday and much of Sunday. Expect a bit of northerly wind late Sunday and through the night as a trough passes through, followed by a brisk southeasterly change sometime Monday its wake.
The southeaster will dominate the working week, with winds of 25 knots easing closer to 15 knots as the week wears on. Potentially, we could see another spell of light winds by next weekend, (though forecasting accurately this far out is generally quite risky the way the weather boffins keep changing their modelling).
There is a slight chance of storms Sunday and Monday as the trough passes by, so keep this in mind if venturing out into exposed waters. Tomorrow’s last quarter moon phase means neap tides for a few days and a waning moon for the week ahead.
Longtail Tuna Numbers Increasing
Although the neap tides may be less than ideal, the light winds this weekend will offer sportsfishos a crack at the open waters of Hervey Bay chasing pelagics. Latest reports suggest there is still the odd little black marlin to be found in the northern bay, though the bulk of their numbers have swum south with the EAC and are now closer to the border waters.
An apparent increase in longtail tuna numbers has been reported from those heading up the island this week. Surface-feeding schools of longtails have been interspersed with their more common mack tuna cousins, and the longtail numbers should surge with any major southeasterly blows we experience this time of year.
Longtail tuna, one of the Fraser Coast's iconic sports fish. Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing getting clients in on the action.
Spotted mackerel have mostly moved on, but as happens every year, we get a few stragglers throughout the last of summer, so keep an eye out for spotties when on the hunt for tuna. Arming yourself with an array of small metal slugs, heavily-weighted jerkshad-styled softies and various sized sinking stickbaits will mean you are ready for whatever species is causing the surface commotion out on the bay.
Just which lure to tie on will be established once you get close enough to determine the bait source that is being hammered. Having a metal slug at the ready for the spotties or a jerkshad for the tuna is a good starting point. Switching to stickbaits will be the go if you see flying fish scattering on your approach or garfish in the area.
Whilst the bigger numbers of tuna are still out in the central bay, more fish are now turning up in Platypus Bay within the reach of smaller vessels. Queenfish are also quite abundant around the bait schools in the eastern bay and these acrobats of the sea are often encountered quite close to the beach harassing the hardiheads and gar.
Mac tuna and the bubblegum Zman Streakz go hand in hand! Pic: HBFS
Avoid the Taxman to Score a Feed of Reefies
Those chasing a feed of reefies were restricted last week by the weather and mostly fished the sheltered inshore spots. The opportunity to head wider this weekend will be relished by many and the northern bay waters are likely to see a return of boat traffic. In hot pursuit of the boats will be scores of large sharks intent on stealing your prizes, so do your best to avoid them if you want to return home with a feed and not just sore backs and less tackle.
Coral trout are pursued relentlessly by both fishos and the noahs these days and the decline in the quality of fish on offer from even our wider grounds is very concerning. Having said this, the trout should be on the chew and will soon scoff a well-presented live bait, tea-bagged plastic or slow pitch jig. Bycatch of estuary cod and scarlets via the same techniques is likely in some areas.
Sweetlip will dominate catches for many of the bait fishing brigade, though squire, scarlets, moses, tuskies, spangled emperor, mackerel and cobia are all possible from the northern grounds such as the Gutters and Rooneys reefs. Over towards Wathumba, there will be a few scarlets on offer for those hanging into the night, but expect a better bite from them once the tides build.
Back inshore, the sharks are so relentless on so many of our favourite hotspots that many have simply given up trying to beat them. If there is a stack of traffic on the weekend you just might sneak a good feed of sweeties, the odd trout, cod, blackall, squire or scarlet over the side whilst other crews occupy the noahs nearby.
The deeper reefs are typically more productive over the neaps, but a dawn session up along the shallow fringing reefs could be worth a try. Sharks are not nearly as big an issue in the shallows, but as a few crews have found out recently, the big bulls can even crash the party in barely a few metres of water.
A nice double header of solid golden trevally that managed to avoid the sharks, Pic: HBFS
Inshore Pelagics On the Chew
Once again, the neaps are less than ideal, but the word is there is a few mackerel to be found off Pt Vernon and throughout the local shipping channels. The mackerel are responding to varying techniques, from simple baits of pilchard or whole squid, to high-speed spinning with spoons or trolling hardbodies. Live baiting with herring is also popular and effective, particularly in the vicinity of beacons or reefs holding schools of herring.
There are also quite large queenfish hunting similar waters as the mackerel, as well as up on the flats where they are chasing gar and hardiheads. Some of the ledges along the inside of Fraser are also home to schools of queenies, though watch out for the big bull sharks and leave them alone if the sharks are there.
Our summer run of big giant trevally is in full swing and these bruisers are turning up all over the place inshore. The shipwrecks on the arti, the deeper ledges along Fraser’s western shore and the odd beacon in the shipping channel will hold a few over the neaps. Once the tides build again closer to the new moon, you can again chase them up on the flats and around the current lines of the bay islands.
Big GTs make their way down through the straits in summer and can also be found in the Mary River. The strong currents swirling around the many submerged rock formations in the vicinity of River Heads is where you can find a few GTs at times, but they can also venture well upstream at times. Occasionally a vibe meant for a threadie finds a GT instead and the dogged fight that ensues on threadie tackle can be exhausting.
A solid GT caught on a 60g Palms Slow Blatt Cast Wide jig. Captain Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing helping put a smile on anglers dials.
Summer Species Down the Great Sandy Straits
Whilst GTs, queenies and mackerel can be worthy of pursuit down the straits this time of year for some, it is the big estuary predators that many more will be chasing. Head into many of the creeks, either along the mainland or along Fraser and you will be in with a chance at some great jack fishing. The heat this weekend preceding a cooler change should see the jacks really fire up.
Small high tides will restrict the jacks’ access to the mangrove forest in many creeks, keeping them within range of lure fishos and bait fishos alike. The middle of the day low tides will suit the ledges and deeper snags, whilst the late afternoon highs will see plenty of action from jacks chasing mullet up the creek. Add a storm or two and darkening skies and we could see some great jack captures this weekend.
The larger creek systems will be home to a few threadies, barra and some good quality grunter. The neap tides can see the fish a little lethargic in some systems, so beat a path back out into the main channel or look for deeper waters if necessary. Throw in a few flatties, the odd out-of-season blue salmon, cheeky little pikey bream and those pesky cod and you could be kept quite busy down the straits.
Bait fishos have been commenting on the apparent proliferation of small sharks stealing their baits (and fish) from a few areas down the straits recently. Some believe these smaller sharks are forced out of their usual haunts by bigger sharks that predate on them, which is quite possible, but also possible is that it is just the next generations of our biggest problem looking for dirtier waters in which to feed.
Paul with a nice golden trevally caught on a recent charter with Fraser Guided Fishing.
Barra Back on the Hit List
We offered a broad view of our local barra fishery last week to coincide with the opening of barra season on the 1st February. Since that date, there have been some great captures from our waters and new PB’s achieved already by some. Our rivers, the straits and local creek systems have all been barra hotspots already this season, and undoubtedly there will be numbers of barra caught in coming weeks.
The whereabouts of some of the more accessible barra is seemingly common knowledge for many nowadays, but in the interest’s of conserving our stocks, we will not be mentioning these locations in our reports. Big female barra in spawning mode are far too important to the future of our fishery to disclose this information, and the willingness of some (thankfully in the minority) to kill these big breeders is great cause for concern.
Of course, keeping a barra or two for a feed is absolutely fine and you should never give up your right to keep fish for the table. We would encourage you to release the larger breeders and limit your kill to the smaller models. We can certainly understand a barra virgin’s excitement at catching a large fish and their natural desire to share their capture with their family and friends – both gastronomically and for sheer bragging rights. This is not the issue. The issue is more-so the unbridled killing spree of large breeders that a limited few are hell-bent on repeating regularly.
Dead shots of large barra are more likely to cause angst than praise in these enlightened days, where all of us fishos have access to technology, technique and equipment like never before. By the way, a great way to attract differing opinions is to suggest that one species of fish is better eating than another. However, few could argue that the eating quality of barra is far less superior than pretty much every other estuary species (excepting catties of course).
Now, stepping back off the high horse – some sensational barra are out there and they are on the chew. Choose to fish the Burrum system, the Mary system, a local creek or down the Great Sandy Straits and chances are you will find barra active and willing to smash a lure or live bait.
Be it trolling likely stretches of bank, twitching hardbodies in the sticks or working vibes or softies over a rock bar, there is a lure for every situation. Dawn and dusk sessions, or even better, into the evening will open up topwater opportunities, and there is little better than a barra boofing a popper or sticky worked across the surface. Side-scanners give the game away completely, and whilst they are an essential tool for many nowadays, finding barra is one thing and getting them to bite can be another.
One final note on the rules regarding barra. The minimum size is 58cm and the maximum is 120cm. The bag limit is 5 per person in possession, or 10 per boat if 2 or more people on board. Very generous bag and size limits indeed. The other important rule that apparently not everyone is aware of is that spearing barramundi is prohibited between the hours of 6pm and 6am in Qld waters.
Staff member Logan with a nice salty. His new Garmin sounder has been a game changer for locating fish and returns some incredibly crisp images. After a quick happy snap it was sent on it's way.
Crabs Active, Prawns Not So
Crabbers scored quite well over the full moon a week ago, and a few have continued to walk into pots since. Now that the school holidays are behind us, things are back to “normal” and there is substantially less pots out there set for muddies. We still need some serious rain for a crab bonanza, but many are happy with their return for effort.
Not all the crabs have been full, with some appearing full in the shell, yet being quite hollow in the claws. Check the crabs as you catch them and throw back the empty models so as not to waste the resource.
We wish we could say the same thing for the banana prawns. In the absence of any decent rains, we are facing the dubious situation of yet another lean prawning season. Until the rains come, (and they keep saying that this summer will be a wet one), you will need to sneak into the upper reaches of the creeks or find large drains spewing dirty water to find any number of prawns. A modest feed is on offer, but you will have to work for them for now.