Better Weather This Weekend
Wild winds last weekend and 15-20 knots of southeaster since then have offered fishos little chance to fish beyond the sheltered waters of our estuaries and impoundments. Thankfully, the wind has eased today, and we can expect lighter winds from the east from now on, leading us into the weekend.
The wind will tend more northeasterly from some time Saturday and then tend a little more northerly throughout the day Sunday. The wind should be fairly light for the best part of the weekend, ramping up late Sunday.
We can expect stiffer northerly winds, scattered showers and a storm or two as the working week unfolds. Mid-week in particular looks rather wild, with strong winds from the north and stormy weather as the latest trough moves through from the west.
Friday’s new moon means there will be plenty of tidal flow, with particularly low lows in the wee hours of the morning. Whilst the winds will be fairly light, be prepared for a little jiggle during periods of maximum ebb tidal flow as the pressure waves build against the tide in high-flow areas.
Mac tuna mayhem with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing.
Current Closures Worth Noting
The second annual Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure commenced Tuesday 2nd November and concludes at midnight this Saturday 6th November. The taking of any fish listed within the “Coral Reef Fin Fish Plan” (CRFFP) is prohibited from waters north of Latitude 24⁰50’ during this closure period.
Basically, this means you cannot take any trout, any emperor, most cod species, most sweetlips, any tusk fishes, any parrot fishes, most jobfishes or even hussar, from waters north of a line drawn horizontally from approximately a little south of Bargara to a little north of Station Hill during this closure period. This includes the waters north of the same latitude east of Fraser Island as well (being a little to the north of Ngkala Rocks).
You can target and keep other species that are not managed within the CRFFP, such as snapper, pearl perch, grassy sweetlip, mangrove jack, grunter and all pelagic species. So, if planning a reef trip out wide this weekend, perhaps you might want to cross the Wide Bay Bar down south or leave your trip until Sunday if heading for the northern bay or Breaksea.
Qld’s annual East Coast Barramundi Closure is also in place right now. As from the 1st November, you cannot take or even target barramundi in any waters other than stocked impoundments within the Qld Stocked Impoundments Scheme. This closure is in place until midnight 31st January 2022.
Not that too many fishos would want to keep an impoundment barra due to their inferior eating qualities, but you are permitted to have one barramundi only in your possession from a stocked impoundment during the closure period. Any barra kept must be over the legal minimum of 58cm, but the maximum 120cm limit does not apply.
Click here for further details.
November New Moon – Hervey Bay Marlin Prime Time
The weather is coming good just in time for what is historically our very best marlin moon phase. The November new moon typically sees a peak in marlin numbers and activity in the northern bay and offshore. Light easterlies tending northeasterly should enable most vessels to access the grounds within Platypus Bay north to Rooneys Point and beyond.
The drop off along the edge of the flats out from Fraser’s west coast between Wathumba Creek and Rooneys Point will see a lot of boat traffic these days, as those pursuing marlin up in the shallows hunt this line looking for free-swimming fish or fish actively herding bait up into the shallows.
Keeping these little speedsters in the water not only increases their chance of survival after releasing them, but also enhances all of the amazing colours and markings on them.
This stretch of water can get quite congested, with several boats dragging lures up and back looking for fish, whilst out wider, greater numbers of marlin are not only likely, but often enough, patches of fish can be found without other boats in the area. Trolling for marlin can be very much a matter of covering as much ground as possible until fish are found, then concentrating your efforts in the hot spots.
Obviously, looking for bird activity above surface commotions and steering your boat towards such action can see you trip over some billies. More often than not, this surface activity will be schools of tuna herding baitfish to the surface, but these same bait balls and predatory activity draw the attention of the little blacks that will skirt the area looking for tucker. You should do the same, and once convinced that there is no marlin in attendance, then head on to the next surface bust up or sign of pelagic activity.
It is not just surface activity that you should be looking for either. Large schools of baitfish, such as yakka, bonito and the like will also attract marlin, and these bait sources are more the size that appeals to billfish. Indeed, the baitfish being balled-up on the surface by the tuna is typically tiny, and not of interest to the marlin – they are more-so interested in feasting on the smaller predators attacking the bait balls. Use your sounder to identify sub-surface bait schools of yakkas etc and work a pattern of figure-eights around them if you suspect there are marlin shadowing them.
Double hook-ups can be common at times, particularly when fishing over the bar.
Be particularly vigilant for signs of garfish or flying fish fleeing unseen predators as you troll our waters. Both species are favourite food sources for hungry little blacks. Hopefully, you will find an area worth concentrating your efforts during the turn of tide. Both high and low tides can see enhanced feeding activity from marlin in the bay and you really want to be on the fish during these periods.
Whilst travelling north to the marlin grounds, you should also be on a constant look out for free-swimming marlin or perhaps just their bills protruding from the water’s surface. In good seasons, plenty of small blacks are found way down south in Platypus Bay, even as far south as Coongul Point. Be on the lookout anywhere from Arch Cliffs north and be ready to react should you sight a fish or two.
The bay’s marlin are certainly not restricted to the Platypus Bay – Rooneys stretch of water. They can be found out in the central bay, out around the Gutters and north of there as well. Other hotspots can be found in the waters north of Rooneys up along the inside of the bar or along the sand banks creating upwellings such as Fergusons Spit close to Rooneys or Long Shoal further north.
When all the stars align and the weather settles down, it can make for some spectacular days on the water.
Offshore Marlin Scene Looking Great
Those with larger vessels, and those with heavy game fishing tackle, will likely be monitoring the weather and sea surface temperature charts right now in readiness for an assault on the marlin-rich waters offshore from Breaksea Spit and Fraser Island in coming days. That spur of warm water spearing down out wide of the spit looks the goods, and the warmer waters should be alive with baitfish, marlin and other pelagic predators.
Newcomers to this offshore marlin scene could try a well-proven strategy at this time, of basically crossing the bar at dawn and fishing light tackle just wide of the 13 Mile whilst heading in a southerly direction towards the cape. All the time looking for that fish-rich warmer water and signs of little blacks and baitfish. Serious numbers of fish can be encountered in these waters and the action can be rather hectic.
There's nothing quite like the sound of a screaming Tiagra drag.
At some stage, typically after midday, those with heavy tackle will head wider and troll the waters from the start of the shelf heading deeper looking for larger marlin. Big blues, stripes and hopefully a few big blacks should be found out wide, and in the right water, the numbers can be super-impressive. As mentioned recently, marlin grand slams are quite possible and typically achieved by a number of vessels each season.
The weather has kept the marlin fleet inshore or tied up this week, but that is all about to change. We expect to have plenty of reports filtering back in from what should be a very exciting few days out wide this week.
Something to keep in mind also is the Hervey Bay Game Fishing Club’s annual competition, that is scheduled to run over four days from Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th this month. This is the major event on the local game fishing calendar and is well-patronised by the local and visiting game fishing fleet. Good luck to all who compete, may the weather be good and the fishing red hot. For more details, look the club up on their website or via Facebook.
Drop in and see Dane if you want to have a crack at chasing blues and blacks on heavy tackle, he can help you with all the right gear.
If marlin don’t interest you and you still enjoy a little light tackle sportsfishing, then the bay’s tuna population will be worth pursuing this weekend. There are stacks of mack tuna in the central bay and up in Platypus Bay, with a few pods also racing around down in the shipping channels of the Great sandy Straits. Pack a selection of small metal slugs and spin them at speed past or through the tuna schools busting up on the surface and your drag will soon be screaming.
Longtail tuna numbers are also increasing, with a few schools turning up in Platypus Bay. The better weather should enable access to fish found wider of the island, although there has also been a few in close out of the wind. There are also schools of mackerel working the baitfish schools around the reefs of Platypus Bay for those looking for something healthy to smoke.
Tuna time with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Scan the reefs up that way, and in the lower bay and you might spot schools of trevally lurking above or circling the reefs. Drop jigs, plastics, soft vibes or live baits to these fish and it won’t be long before you are hooked up and groaning. You are still a chance at a late season cobia in the northern bay, slim as that chance may be. It would be fair to say that this hasn’t been one of our better cobia seasons, but we could say that about plenty of other species as well.
The inshore reef fishing is worth a crack for anyone chasing a tasty meal of fresh seafood. Squire are possible from local artificial reefs, along with an easy feed of grassy sweetlip. That might be a loose use of the word “easy” there though, as the local shark population can make extracting these fish a challenge in many locations.
Coral trout are worth pursuing on our shallow reefs right now. Trolling early in the morning can be quite productive, swimming diving lures that reach the right depth just above the bottom. We have some well-proven models in stock that have been slaying shallow water trout for years, along with plenty of other likely candidates for those that don’t mind a bit of experimenting.
A solid chunk of Hervey Bay golden trevally. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Fishos should make the most of this shallow water fishery, as it will only last whilst we have northerly winds dominating our weather and keeping our inshore shallows a little murky. Once the southeast trades dominate later in summer, these waters will clear enough for others to knock them off and their numbers will decline dramatically.
Grassy sweetlip will also be worth chasing along the fringes of our shallow reef systems. Until our waters get too hot in the shallows, quite good numbers of these scrappy little fish will feast on all manner of baits both day and night. A little berley can soon concentrate them in a given spot and see you return home with a good feed. Blackall, the odd estuary cod and even the occasional squire could also be caught from the same waters this time of year.
Word from Urangan Pier regulars lately has been that it is very quiet out there. The only serious fish attracting any attention is the first of the season’s big giant trevally. A few GTs have turned up and are trashing anyone hooking them that doesn’t have the right gear or a lot of luck on their side.
Even the GT fishing can be a tough task without much other pelagic activity along the pier. The return of a run of mackerel at some stage will liven things up and will see more and bigger GTs in hot pursuit of the mackerel. The annual pencil squid season will kick off in a few weeks or so, at which time we will likely see a run of queenfish, the odd goldie and perhaps a few mackerel.
In the meantime, you can try for a flathead on a live bait over the neap tides, or try for a modest feed of whiting after dark over the springs. Once you see lights suspended under the end section of the pier after dark, you will know that the pencil squid have arrived (or perhaps a few hopefuls are out there a little prematurely).
Apparently, our town beaches have been very quiet as far as whiting are concerned. This is a little strange. We should be enjoying a continuation of the annual whiting run right into November. A few insomniacs have been picking up a modest feed after dark along the Torquay-Urangan stretch of beach. The north wind has been stirring up the waters out from Eli Creek and attracting small numbers of whiting on the right tides as well.
Other than the local beaches, the place to head would be the mudflats down towards Booral. This is hardly the most comfortable of places to fish, but can produce quality whiting, flathead and the odd grunter when the winds aren’t pumping onshore.
Double hook-ups with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.
Impoundment Barra Still Super Active
We mentioned the chances of metre plus barra from Lenthalls last week, and right on que a local lad from Maryborough picks up a ripper at 113cm. Barra of that size are a very real possibility in Lenthalls and this little lake has possibly never been easier to fish.
The water level is dropping, quite fast, and the fish are being forced out from the refuge once offered by lily pads and other structures now high and dry. Plenty of fish in the 80s and 90s are being caught on a regular basis on all manner of lures.
You don’t need to be an overly accomplished fisho to score a Lenthalls barra either, as the small size of the lake makes the fish quite easy to track down. These barra are hungry and super aggressive. Unfortunately, you can only fish the lake between the hours of 6am and 8pm, and only from a vessel with a 4-stroke or low-emission outboard (E-Tec etc) of 60HP or less. However, if your vessel meets the criteria, or you are a canoe/kayak fisho, then this little gem of a lake can be dynamite. Take care on the dodgy dirt access road and don’t be tempted to break the 6-knot speed limit on the water or you could be in strife.
113cm of Lake Lenthalls barra, an absolute beast for this dam. Pic: Andy Chew
Rob with another nice Lake Lenthalls barra.
Lake Awoonga has been fairly challenging in recent weeks apparently, with the super clear waters in some places making the barra a little lure-shy. This situation will soon change for the better without a doubt, and the lake will return to its former glory. It was made famous years ago at its peak for the sheer number of barra you could score in a single session, and with possibly Qld’s biggest impoundment barra population, quite sizable fish and stacks over a metre on offer, this lake will once again be the place to be. Watch this space for updates as the season unfolds.
Whilst Awoonga has been tough, Monduran has never been more productive. Metre beater barra are encountered daily, and it is quite possible to score a few over the metre in a single session. The average Mondy barra is now a 90cm fish and they have been active all over the lake.
The largely timber-free expanses of the main basin, Bird Bay, A Bay and the south arm of B Bay have all fired in recent weeks. The main basin has been the focus point for trollers when the north wind prevails and swags of fish have been caught from there one after the other. Apparently, the scene not far from the ramp last Saturday resembled Hervey Bay winter whiting fishing as boats gathered within casting distance of each other, all catching fish at one time or other.
Catching 20 barra per boat was rather an easy achievement for some. All good quality fish, caught on all manner of lures, both trolling and casting. The main points of the basin, and again down in Bird were rather heavily congested at times, with boats spot-locked or anchored knocking off plenty of barra as they passed by.
If you find catching barra in open water a little boring, then Mondy offers ample opportunity to pit your skills and tackle against beefy fish in some seriously heavy timber. Lightly-timbered areas offer vastly more stress-free fishing than the heavy stuff and give you a more than even chance of landing those metre plus fish. The sheer hand to hand combat scenario of trying to extract big fish from drowned forests is not for everyone, but is surely impoundment barra fishing’s greatest challenge.
The cooler weather this week diminished the crazy bite from several weeks prior, but failed to shut the barra down altogether. Plenty of fish continued to bite well, and crews got to fish different parts of the lake due to the southeasterly and easterly wind directions. This trend is likely to continue, and once again, crowds of barra fishos of all skill levels will descend on the lake this weekend.