Sizzling Start To Summer
Searing heat, rising humidity and spells of northerly winds. Welcome to summer - Hervey Bay style. The heat certainly got turned up a notch these past few days, but for those of us living and playing here along the coastal strip at least we are getting some relief courtesy of afternoon sea breezes.
Looking at the week just gone, stiff northerlies prevailed most days keeping boaties off the bay for all but a rare day or two. Thankfully we live in an area surrounded by sheltered estuaries and lakes that offer ample opportunities for those with smaller vessels. Looking ahead, we are in for another weekend of stiff northerlies, abating briefly for the start of the working week, then re-intensifying again mid week.
Neap tides right now will build gradually towards next Thursday’s full moon. Once again, it will be the local rivers and creeks, the stocked impoundments and the Great Sandy Straits that will be the main target areas till the weather improves.
Big Blue Marlin And Magnificent Mahi Mahi Offshore
Only the bigger offshore-capable vessels have been able to tough it out offshore this past week due to the weather, but word is that those that made the effort were well rewarded. The sensational run of big blue marlin that livened things up after the recent new moon has continued, with good numbers of blues being encountered from about the 2 Mile crossing south outside Fraser Island.
The blues have moved back out into more "typical" waters just over the drop off of the shelf and are being found around bait schools in depths of 200m+. Bycatch of sizeable mahi mahi has kept the gamefishing crews active between strikes from the billies, with some very impressive fish around the 20kg mark quite common.
For many sportsfishos, the acrobatic and vibrantly-coloured mahi mahi are a major target species in their own right. This is prime time to get offshore (when the weather allows) and get into some of these crazy high-speed lure munchers. They are suckers for a range of skirts or baits trolled marlin-style and will also take diving minnows in the same fashion.
Being an oceanic wanderer, the mahi mahi is renowned for being attracted to flotsam, so keep an eye peeled for any floating debris that may draw their attention whilst you seek out the bait schools in the warmer fast-flowing current along the shelf line. Don’t be surprised to have schools of inquisitive mahi mahi rock up boat-side whilst drifting either, as to them your boat may just be another piece of flotsam worth investigating. Have a suitable spin rod at the ready with a large plastic attached to throw at any such visitors.
Rivers & Creeks Hot To Trot
The building heat these past weeks has certainly stirred our summer estuary dwellers into action, and the even hotter conditions in coming days should see them really on the fang. Mangrove jacks and threadfin salmon will be the major targets for many, but there are good grunter, fingermark, whiting and stacks of cod on the cards as well.
The Mary River is out-fishing the bigger creek systems down the straits at present as far as salmon are concerned. Find the schools of bigger salmon sitting deep in the holes and deeper channels during the ebb tide and hop vibes through them for some of the most fun you can have on the river.
Big scores of sambos are possible, with fish over a metre more common than those under that mark quite often. Catching big fish one after the other in this heat can be quite exhausting for us anglers, so spare a thought for the poor old sambos as well. Keep a feed by all means, but try to resist lifting fish destined for release from the water if at all possible. Threadies suffer badly from barotrauma and the bigger models (120cm+) often struggle to survive if held out of the water.
Having said this please be mindful of the presence of bull sharks in our river systems, not to mention the odd salty croc. Plenty of stories abound of near misses boat-side from fast-moving bullies intent on stealing your fish, so use lip grips where possible and keep an eye out at all times when handling and releasing your fish. Those of you with side scanning sounders might find it quite spooky when images of big bullies appear on the screen, almost always pointing straight at your boat.
Some quality grunter have been taking plastics, vibes and a variety of baits in both the Mary and Susan rivers. Gravel banks and holes with a rough bottom will hold them at times, though they will move up along the mangrove line or into the feeder creeks with the top of the tide. Keep your baits and lures right on the bottom and use smaller morsels that they can inhale through their relatively small mouths.
If you haven’t tried a meal of fresh grunter, then you will be impressed. The minimum size limit is way smaller than what would constitute a reasonable meal however, as the fillet recovery is very poor from grunter below about 50cm. There is often plenty of fish in mixed schools so think about letting the smaller legal models go when you are getting a few bigger fish.
This is seriously good jack fishing weather. The only thing that would make it any better is the odd storm and even higher humidity. The jacks have been on the chew big time, day and night, throughout the Burrum system, down the straits and even in the Mary and Susan rivers (which produced only rare specimens in the past).
Perhaps it is the drought or some other phenomenon, but whatever the case these rivers now offer a viable and fairly un-tapped jack fishery that can produce numbers of sizeable jacks during conditions such as what we have now. Plenty of fishos have the runs on the board with numerous jacks caught from other local estuaries, but few can lay claim to a Mary or Susan river specimen. Well, that is until now. If you want to tick one of these fish off your list then act now before the rains come.
Topwater Whiting Fishery Going Off
Whiting fishos will be looking forward to the bigger tides with the full moon next week, and going on recent reports from those walking the flats locally there should be some great catches on offer. Bait fishos will do just fine with their live yabbies, frozen beach worms or even better – live bloodworms, however, it is those that have cottoned-on to the much-lauded topwater techniques that will be having the most fun.
If the thought of catching a string of wrist-slappers on ultra light finesse tackle in skinny water where you literally see them swipe your lure appeals to you then perhaps you should be flicking a few micro stickies or poppers out on the flats this week.
GT’s, Queenies, Schoolies & Flatties At The Pier
A few more GT’s have made their presence felt out the end of the Urangan Pier this week. These brutes demand the toughest of tackle and swags of luck when they are hooked beside pylons that are only a few metres apart. Live baits of legal-sized mackerel are popular baits and a "bait" of even up to 3 kilos might seem overkill till you see a big black GT scoff it whole before your very eyes. "Throwdowns" are also popular, being basically dead herring with a hook in them snuck in amongst a constant stream of decoy herring fed to the GT’s below.
A few large queenfish have been making marauding forays into the baitfish gathered in the shallows of the first channel and over the sandbank. School mackerel have also been there some days, taking metal spoons or live baits.
Reasonable numbers of flathead have been hooked recently from the pier shallows and along the slope out the end. The neap tides are favourable for those chasing flatties, but the strong winds are not. Live baits are almost mandatory to get the bigger flatties unless you can trick them with a vibe or heavily-weighted plastic from above.
Barra Habits Changing At Monduran
Lacking the same cooling sea breezes we enjoy here on the coast, Lake Monduran has been hot. Air temps reaching near 40 degrees this week have made for tough fishing at times for those targeting the traditional lake-edge bite early and late in the day. The barra are typically far more active after dark this time of year and perhaps that factor is reflected in the reduced catch rate from daytime fishos.
Interestingly, word is that a group just scored some 26 fish, the majority of which were over 90cm, from simply trolling lures around in the deeper sections of Bird Bay over a few days. This was achieved when few others scored at all, apart from those that fished the tree tops in the deeper waters away from the banks.
Sounds like a return to the summertime open water fishery of years gone by, when numbers of the bigger barra made their way out of the back bays and into open water following the creeks and gullies as they went.
It will be a bit of a curveball for many of today’s barra fishos to contemplate but the movements of these more mature fish is still driven by an urge to spawn so they will be making their way downstream this time of year. Travelling the path of least resistance makes logical sense, even to us, so think "barra highways" and seek out gullies and creek beds that are dotted with the bigger old gum trees and target these areas when it is as hot as it is now.
It has been remarkable to note the general lack of trollers on our barra lakes in recent times. Years ago there were trollers everywhere, spurned by many for no good reason, that caught huge fish quite simply from a seated position, often with a beer in one hand. Perhaps those that enjoy the art of trolling might give Mondy’s barra a crack yet again, and given the incredible technology of modern-day side-scanning sounders there are bound to be some very interesting captures and score cards in the near future.
Good luck out there y’all.