It looks like the wind is going to swing all points of the compass over the next couple of days before settling back into a more consistent southerly early next week. We will get a few decent days in inshore, but it looks like the wide grounds are going to be out of reach for most of us this week due to the winds. Friday’s quarter moon means neap tides at present, so there won’t be much current to contend with for a few days till we get closer to next Friday’s new moon.
The Bay & Offshore
It will be too rough for most to contemplate offshore trips this week, which is a shame as many areas are just starting to really fire up reef-fish wise, and the sharks are backing off on the closer grounds. The day of the sinking of the HMAS Tobruk saw a stack of crews venture out to the 25 Fathom Hole and the Gutters, with some very nice snapper scored on plastics that morning, and an expansive list of reefies coming from the Southern Gutters. Those areas will likely get a spell for a week looking at the weather, so once things improve it will be well worth a look out that way.
Over Rooneys way it has been all about the snapper, which are starting to show up in reasonable numbers. Daytime catches are mostly limited to those twitching plastics and jigs around bait schools, though evening sessions will be fruitful for bait fishos so long as your target area is well-patronised by yakkas and the like. Night sessions, with a light but consistent berley trail should see plenty of snapper grace the deck in coming weeks, particularly over the new and full moon periods. The humpbacks are yet to make their way into the bay proper, so night-travel in that part of the world is far safer now than it will be in a month’s time.
Snapper are again the main target for many heading up into Platypus Bay, though it looks like it won’t be till mid-week and beyond for better conditions for that area. You can expect to find scarlets, sweeties and grunter on and around the reefs up that way, along with a few remnant schools of longtail tuna and plenty of trevally.
If you like the sound of a squealing drag and groaning rod/angler, then look for cobia around our reefs at present, as there are some truly enormous models possible from Hervey Bay waters this time of year. Spend enough time out there and you are pert near guaranteed to tangle with 30kg models, with 50kg animals a true possibility. If you want one to eat (and they are surprisingly good eating), you will be far better off with smaller fish around the 10kg mark for easier handling and to lessen the risk of ciguatera that can be a risk with the over-sized models.
Inshore will be the go for reef fishos at present, and with the sharks finally giving us and the poor fish some reprieve, you should be able to put together a pretty nice feed. Of course, snapper will be the main target, but you can still score a mixed bag including trout, cod, sweeties, blackall and some very nice scarlets. More sheltered reefs throughout the local shipping channels, including the Roy Rufus arti and the ledges along Fraser’s western shore will be popular, as will “wider” local reefs such as the Burrum 8 Mile, Outer Banks and Simpson arti when conditions allow.
Those chasing a feed or a bit of fun with the light gear will be well-served gearing up for bream over our shallow reefs at present. We are experiencing a tremendous run of bream right now, with fish over the kilo mark quite common. Anchor up and berley over reef or sandy patches adjacent to the reefs around the bay islands or along the fringing reefs from Pialba to Gatakers Bay, and waft down lightly weighted cut baits for best results. For a whole lot more fun you can try mini surface lures, plastics and minnows, and can expect some serious numbers of fish from these reefs and up on the flats as well.
Winter whiting fishos can spread the effort now, with winteries commonplace out off Toogoom and Dundowran, as well as the grounds south of Round Island to the bottom of Woody Island. The weather should dictate which direction you head if chasing winteries, with the grounds west of Woody getting a bit uncomfortable at times in stronger southerlies. Whichever way you head, take plenty of hooks or rigs, as small mackerel, toads and pike have been a real nuisance in some areas.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
Bream are prolific in the River Heads area still, and are proving to be very aggressive and responsive to most techniques. There have been a few small school mackerel turning up at the heads, but if you are looking for a feed you might be disappointed as the majority have been undersized so far. Jewies are still a chance in that area, particularly at night, and some nice flatties and grunter have also been reported from the rocks out there lately.
If you are heading down the Straits, then you will encounter increasing numbers of flatties around creek mouths and near rock bars, with plenty of bream up on the flats as well. Some nice sand whiting were active in the Turkey Strait over the recent full moon, but they may be a little lethargic during the current neap tides.
Broad-barred mackerel, tuna, queenies and mini GTs are all possible from the reefs and ledges along Fraser’s western shores. Chopper tailor have also been schooling up from about Kingfisher south, but the general size leaves a lot to be desired. It is quite possible to find schools of jewies long Fraser’s ledges and they can be often tempted with a soft vibe, plastic or live bait.
Head into the creeks down the straits and you will find flatties, blue salmon and a few decent threadies. Small plastics are the go often enough in these creeks at this time, but be prepared for a little frustration if chasing threadies on lures during the middle of the day. Dawn sessions will serve you better for the threadies, as they are often hard to tempt in the clear water this time of year. Live-baiters will likely score a little better on the salmon, with the very real chance of a barra if in the right area.
Our local tiger squid population is somewhat poor this year, yet we are getting reports of better numbers from the bottom end of the straits right down Tin Can Bay way. If heading out anywhere in the straits at this time of year you should make sure you have a supply of squid jigs on board, as they can turn up even right up some of the creeks.
Burrum River System
Flatties continue to be the most consistent fish in the Burrum Heads area of late, with trollers scoring a good bag of fish often enough. The kids are having fun with pike around the ramps, and of course these pike make for just about the best flathead live bait going.
Further upriver there have been whispers of a few schools of tailor, along with the odd blue salmon and queenfish. Schools of queenies and mini GTs can be a real hoot for the kids if you can find them on your sounder in the holes adjacent to big sandbank drop-offs and corners of the river where the currents tend to eddy. Hopping small blades and plastics or working mini surface lures over the area will see them hooked up and having a ball. If you encounter the somewhat highly visible tarpon upriver, then just be sure to take extra care when handling them as they are adept at throwing hooks – at you.
It has been another mostly rough week along Fraser’s eastern beach, with big swells and strong winds making for tough going much of the time. Having said that, the latest reports from the crew at Fraser Island Retreat at Happy Valley have been of a few chopper tailor around Dundaburra, dart just about everywhere along the whole 75 mile beach and a scattering of whiting. It may be interesting to see if the northeaster this Friday/Saturday stirs up any better tailor.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
The Urangan Pier continues to fish well for bream, so head out there with the kids and take a supply of bait jigs to keep them busy gathering herring and pike for either cut or live baits. If you haven’t tangled with pier bream as yet, you may well be surprised at their tenacity and their liking of breaking you off around the pylons. Keep this in mind if using the deadly little Cranka Crabs that have again proved very successful and lock the light gear up as much as you dare.
Live-baiting for flatties will be the go in the first channel, where pike reign supreme as the number one bait. Back out the end there are likely to be a number of tailor getting about, but watch their size as many are quite small. The same applies when targeting school mackerel at the moment, with more under than over the size limit. As always, don’t go out there without a squid jig, because the day you do will be the day you spot some lurking around the pylons on the way out.
Our local beaches may be a little quiet whiting-wise for a few days, though we could expect some whiting action during the evening following the northeasters if it blows hard enough to stir up the shallows. Otherwise, it will be all about the bream around the groynes, jetties and harbour walls or the flatties in the lower reaches of the local creeks.
Good luck out there y’all.