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Weekly Fishing Report - 5th March 2020

Wet Weather On The Way

The spell of pleasant weather these past few days has been most enjoyable and productive for many a local fisho. The forecast suggests next to no wind from now till Saturday afternoon, so make the most of it if you get the chance.

A southeasterly change is due late Saturday that is likely to kick off a few days of showers and storms that may culminate in another spell of reasonable rain for our region. It looks like being fairly wet and windy Sunday till Wednesday, with lighter winds likely thereafter.

Tides are building right now towards the full moon next Tuesday. Great tides for those heading out before the blow looking for a feed of reef fish. There will be some serious tidal flow as the full moon approaches, with highs peaking around 4.27m from lows as low as 0.36m.

More Wet Will Fire Up The Crabs

Crabbers chasing muddies have been doing well throughout much of our area. There is a lot of effort focussed on the bigger river systems and the easily accessible creeks, though there is a literal maze of pristine waterways down the straits that see substantially less crabbing effort. Yes, you will have to do the miles, but the rewards are often worth the extra effort. And you never know, you might just trip over some great "new" fishing country in your travels.

As if the likelihood of heavy rains this week isn’t enough to get the crabbers excited, the full moon period will see an increase in crab activity as fresh crabs re-emerge from their burrows eager to feed and fill out their new shells. "Empty" crabs can be an issue, and a waste of crab for the uninitiated, so check any crabs that look shiny and new to see if they have filled out before taking them home.

Those favouring a feed of sand crabs will do well out wider in the bay over the coming days. The bigger full moon tides will again see them on the move, but the weather is not looking too flash for venturing beyond sheltered waters till after the moon passes.

A Feed Of Prawns Is Getting Easier Week By Week

Those making the effort have been scoring a modest feed of succulent new season prawn from the lower reaches of the Mary and Susan Rivers. At present it is a case of throwing into drains and along nearby muddy verges as the prawns have not been "running", but a feed is there for those keen on shallow-water prawning.

Sneaking down the straits has been an even better bet, with good hauls of small-medium sized prawn possible from many creeks systems down that way. Rainfall across our district was fairly widespread recently, so prawn is showing up in creeks fringing Fraser’s western shores south of Kingfisher Bay, all the way south through the straits. Mainland creek systems in the central straits and further south are giving up even better numbers, though the size varies in some places resulting in a lot time wasted grading out the little ones.

All keen prawners know the benefit of a top pocket cast net when it comes to gathering prawn in "deeper" waters. At times like these however, a lot of the prawn is holding in quite shallow water making it very challenging to get them to swim into the top pocket. Bottom pockets will catch some, but the prawns are quite adept at avoiding these pockets as they shuffle along the bottom.

This is where a drawstring cast net comes into its own. In the shallowest margins and in little feeder drains this style of net excels over all others. Quite simply, after the net is thrown and allowed to settle, the prawns will attempt to flee and will be trapped in the bagging sides of the net as it is retrieved.

Few can escape this style of net and all can be simply dumped into a fish tub or similar in one motion by drawing the top of the net upwards. It also makes removal of bycatch very easy (if not meshed in the process). Interestingly, you don’t necessarily need the biggest of nets when using a drawstring in drains etc, with 8-9 foot nets most popular.

So, if your budget allows, it might pay to carry a couple of different styles of cast net for your prawning endeavours. Once the prawn run kicks off in earnest, where huge numbers of mature prawn emerge in deeper waters, it will be the top pocket nets that most will favour and rightly so. A "top pocket only" net with a chain bottom is hard to beat for simplicity, throwing capability and reduction in bycatch, though lead-weighted "top and bottom pockets" are quite okay. Use the biggest net you can afford/throw when it comes to top pockets.

Barra & Threadies Feasting In The Shallows

Barra, threadfin salmon, grunter and mangrove jack have all been active down the straits lately, with salmon and barra also quite a common catch in our rivers. You can also find jewies, flathead, cod and fingermark on the chew, but it is the mighty barra and threadies that have most fishos chafing at the bit at present.

Targeting threadies and barra as they feast on prawns and mullet in the shallows is visually very exciting as you can see them boofing and tearing into their prey in water sometimes so shallow they are forced to swim on their sides. Look for the swirls or their fins clearing the water as they round up their prey in the mouths of small drains, creeks and along the muddy fringes during the bottom half of the ebb tide and early flood.

The big full moon tides will see vast flats totally exposed and big drains, gutters and small creeks well drained offering excellent opportunities to chase threadies in particular. In some cases, they may be fixated on tiny jelly prawns, but in others it will be flicker mullet or large prawns that they are chasing. Take a variety of lures and be ready for all possible scenarios.

Good catches of grunter have been reported from a number of creek systems down the straits and also from along the ledges fringing Fraser’s western shores. The waters down the straits cleaned up surprisingly quickly after the recent rains, though the coming big tides will certainly stir things up a bit.

If it is mangrove jacks that you are after, you can venture into Fraser’s western creeks anywhere from Coongul south and you will stand a very good chance of finding them. The ledges out the front of these creeks also hold some pretty impressive jacks this time of year, as do some of the reefs down the straits. Select mainland creeks also hold good populations of jack, with some of these systems accessible via the road to Tin Can Bay, that offer land-based, boating or kayaking opportunities.

Coral Trout Prime Time

Whilst coral trout can be caught year-round from our waters, this is what would be considered their prime time. From now till the onset of winter you can find super active trout in all waters from our shallow reefs, our inshore reefs and ledges to the wider grounds in the northern bay.

It is fair to say that their numbers are only a shadow of what they used to be locally, possibly due to increased effort, the discovery of a particular lure and the attrition from relentless sharks. However, trout are fast-growing (relative to others such as snapper, sweetlip, emperor etc) and are very hardy creatures that recover well from human contact.

Live baiting outshines lure fishing techniques as time goes on and more fish "learn" to avoid the lures in well known locations, however, there is no doubting the simplicity, convenience and increased fun factor that tea-bagging plastics or micro jigging brings to the fishery. Regardless of the technique/s you decide to utilise you should not have too much trouble scoring a feed of trout this time of year (if the sharks leave you alone).

Expect a lot of estuary cod bycatch inshore in particular, but also out wider with any trout-oriented techniques. Cod are even more prolific than trout locally and offer a great feed for the family. They may not look as flash but are right up there with the average reefie on the plate. Please let the bigger models go though, as they keep our reefs healthy by digging holes under the reefs and cleaning up the sick and injured.

Urangan Pier Quiet At Times

We haven’t mentioned the Urangan Pier in our reports for a while now, mostly due to a lack of any information from pier regulars and stories of dirty water and a general lack of fish. This situation hasn’t changed much recently, though the waters of Urangan Channel are starting to clean up nicely.

Possibly the bigger issue out there at present is the lack of herring. Usually the waters beneath the pier teem with seemingly millions of herring that are the obvious drawcard for many species of predator; be they pelagic, demersal of estuary. Nocturnal activity out along the pier lately has seen the demise of plenty of spawning barra for some, whilst others while away the night hours with baits out for sharks.

The pier can recover quickly with the return of the baitfish and pursuing pelagics etc, and it will only be a matter of time before we start hearing of mackerel, goldies, queenies or possibly GTs from the deep end, so stay tuned for updates as time goes on.

Good luck out there y’all.

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