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Weekly Fishing Report - 5th November 2020

Just a usual Saturday night for staff member Logan, chasing big girls. 95cm of Lake Monduran chrome, caught on a Molix Shad 140.

Winds Tending East, then Southeast for the Weekend

A couple of weeks of northerly winds and storm weather has been absolutely sensational for those of us that love our impoundment and/or river fishing. Those that favour fishing on the bay for pelagics and/or reefies will welcome the return of a more easterly - southeasterly air stream some time tomorrow.

Saturday is the pick for the weekend, with fairly light easterlies, before the southeaster picks up a bit Sunday and blows up to 20 knots till mid next week. Light winds during the latter part of next week are likely to turn back to the north in time for the weekend yet again.

The passing of last Sunday’s full moon sees us edging closer to neap tides, with very little tidal flow by the weekend.

The Bay’s Baby Blacks Have Arrived

Whilst the weather has been far from ideal in recent weeks, there has been the odd day or two that offered game or sports fishers a crack at black marlin and other pelagics in the northern bay. Focussing their efforts around Rooneys Point and a bit further south towards Wathumba Creek has seen a few crews raise marlin quite regularly.

Reports suggest some crews are raising around three fish per day on average, but not all are getting them to bite or keeping the pins in once hooked. These feisty little blacks are masters at throwing hooks, so keeping tackle in prime condition, with particular attention to smooth drags and sharp hooks is a must.

Everyone wants to catch a billy up in the shallow verges of the flats along the inside of Fraser, but often finding fish in these waters can be vastly more challenging than out a bit wider. In essence, the marlin will follow their favoured food sources and if they venture up onto the flats they will likely be on the hunt for garfish. Keep this in mind and have a gar rigged and ready to cast should your target fish decide to ignore your artificial offerings.

Matt Shaw from the Gold Coast with a juvenile black

It is a fairly simple affair out wider, where trolling a spread of small skirts and/or garfish behind a teaser should see you draw the marlins’ attention should you be able to track them down. Following the subtle channels and depth changes that meander through the northern sector of Platypus Bay, or tracking over reefs and drop-offs north or west of Rooneys should see you in the right zone/s.

Neap tides rarely favour the local game fisher, but set some dates around the coming new moon Sunday-week and your chances will be vastly improved. History has shown that billfish are particularly active on the darks and the bigger tidal flow certainly enhances baitfish and predator movement.

Pelagic Activity Increasing

Longtail and mack tuna schools have been gathering in larger numbers in recent weeks. Platypus Bay is and probably always will be the favourite stomping grounds for those with small boats chasing Hervey Bay pelagics. The protection afforded by Fraser Island from winds tending from the east has a lot to do with this, but the other factor is that the relative lack of current in that area also draws juvenile baitfish in their millions and this is the food source that draws the pelagics.

Recent reports suggest a lot of smaller baitfish have turned up and the tuna are quite focussed on this tiny bait. For that reason, it is time to stock up on small metal slugs and smaller jerkshad-styled plastics in readiness for your next quest for tuna.

Fraser Guided Fishing producing the goods.

The very same metal slugs that will tempt the tuna will often be the very lure needed for the spotted mackerel that are due to arrive in the bay this month. We’ve had no reports of spotties of late, but that is of no surprise with the northerly winds dominating recently.

The spotties tend to “feed into the wind” and northerlies keep them from venturing down into the bay. Longer spells of easterly or southeasterly weather this time of year will see their numbers swell as they migrate south.

Stay tuned for the latest reports as the spotties arrive, but in the meantime, if venturing northwards, perhaps you should ensure you have a couple of spin outfits at the ready in case you trip over the first schools of the season.

Golden trevally, a Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing specialty. 

Queenfish are quite regular captures from Platypus Bay waters and occasionally from along the beaches and drop-offs along the inside of Fraser. Stickbaits, poppers or jerkshads will raise their attention when they are feeding near the surface or in the shallows, otherwise the usual array of plastics, vibes and metal jigs that work so well on the local trevally will also pull queenies when they are feeding deeper.

Speaking of trevally, they are still a very viable target for those hunting around the baitfish-laden reefs in the eastern bay or out along the ledges of the Gutters. Golden trevally are one of the most common of the larger trevors on offer and these guys can be found anywhere from the many reefs and open-water bait schools to the shallow flats along the inside of Fraser.

School mackerel, and an increasing number of spanish mackerel, can be found around a variety of reef systems in the bay. Finding a reef with a good supply of herring or yakkas is paramount to finding the mackerel. Bait schools moving through the southern bay are also likely to draw in the schoolies and spaniards, even though these bait schools will often be found in open waters.

By the way, keeping spanish mackerel from within Platypus Bay waters is prohibited due to the incredibly high chance of ciguatera poisoning from this species from those waters. In fact, keeping any large spanish from Hervey Bay waters is deemed quite risky.

One for the smoker box, mackerel are a welcome catch this time of year. Pic: HBFS

Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing hiding out of the wind. Little trevally provide plenty of sport on light tackle. 

Inshore Reef Fishing

The winds have offered little opportunity for reef fishos to get out lately. The upside to this little negative is that the local reefies have had a brief reprieve from effort, so should be increasing in number. Once the weather settles, you can expect to find a few squire and possibly even a decent knobbie or two from the deeper local reefs, but our snapper season is virtually done and dusted except for a few stragglers.

Not having to write about shark attrition over the past couple of months has been pleasing. This is all about to change however, as the warming waters and the influx of masses of spotted mackerel and tuna to bay waters will see the return of the dreaded whalers. Keep this in mind in coming weeks as our shark problem has effectively gotten worse year-by-year since the bigger models have been protected.

Cod at this size are great on the plate, it's always good to let the big ones go. Pic: HBFS

Hopefully we can enjoy a bit more reef fishing inshore without too many sharks, and until they turn up the deeper reefs are certainly worth a crack. Grass sweetlip numbers will continue to increase as we approach summer, both around the shallow fringing reefs and the deeper systems within the shipping channels.

Warmer waters also see increased activity from our coral trout and estuary cod, with the turn of tide period typically being the best time to target these guys. Tuskfish, blackall and scarlets are all possible inshore this time of year, depending upon your chosen location, timing and choice of baits.

Local Estuary Scene Improving

With the annual seasonal barramundi closure now in force, many of us barra tragics have to turn our attention to other estuary predators. The last couple of months certainly saw very low numbers of barra in local waters compared to recent years and the threadfin salmon numbers weren’t much better.

The threadies have been hit pretty hard this season already but they are starting to move and are turning up in places they were not found recently. Their numbers should increase as the summer approaches. The Mary, the Susan and to a lesser extent, the Burrum system, all offer a crack at threadies this time of year. Sounding them up in deeper waters in the vicinity of rocks or snags and hopping soft vibes past them is a well-proven technique that is possibly the best option till the rains come.

Trolling for threadies is also very effective for those that enjoy that sort of thing. Deeper divers dragged through the deeper sections can work when the tide is ebbing, but once the tide floods, the threadies will start to move and shallower divers trolled along the banks are vastly more successful. Small paddle-tailed softies or prawn imitations work well around snags and drains at times, whilst a fast-twitched hardbody can be deadly over a rock bar or above sunken timber.

Grunter have been quite active over the past couple of weeks from many local estuaries. We’ve had reports of good-sized fish from the Burrum, Mary and Susan, from the creeks down the Straits and even from Beelbi Creek at Toogoom. Numerous smaller baits will score you a feed of grunter, as will small soft vibes or plastics for those favouring artificials.

Smaller, undersized or barely-legal grunter can be a pest at times, particularly for the bait fishos during the daytime. Night sessions will often produce much better fish, particularly in the Burrum system. Reports of whiting have tapered off recently, possibly due to the weather. They won’t be really active till the tides build again anyway, so late next week will be the go for anyone chasing ‘ting.

Great Start to Jack Season

A fish that is not actively commercially targeted and that seemingly thrives in periods of drought is the mighty mangrove jack. The maroon marauders have been on fire lately (just like Wayne Bennet’s boys) and have been thrashing many a hopeful game enough to send baits or lures into their lairs.

The Burrum system has large numbers of jacks on offer, from all four rivers within that system, and from many and varied forms of structure within those rivers. Look for shaded hangouts, be it large logs, clumps of mangroves, overhangs, rocks or man-made structures and get your baits or lures right in tight if fishing during the daytime. It is a different story at night though, as when the jacks come out to hunt, they will often roam wide of their lairs and are suckers for all manner of lures, including topwater offerings.

The same can be said for the many creek systems along the inside of Fraser Island, the many creeks along the mainland side of the Straits south of the Germans and even for our local creeks. You will have to put up with a lot more sandflies and mozzies in these creeks than the Burrum but the jack fishing can be red hot.

We all know that jacks love the heat, but they aren’t big fans of direct sunlight due to their big eyes. Sessions spent targeting jacks with approaching storms as was the case in recent weeks can see them come on the chew as soon as the storm clouds block out the sun.

All Impoundments Fishing Well for Barra

We barra tragics simply cannot go three months without catching old pink eyes, but luckily for us we have some excellent impoundments full of big barra within cooee of the bay. Lake Lenthalls has continued to give up quality barra in recent weeks for those twitching suspending hardbodies, or slow-rolling paddle-tailed plastics past the lily pads and sunken timber. Bass are also on offer out there for those more partial to lighter tackle and a scrap with a bass.

Lake Monduran has been incredibly popular, particularly around the full moons this spring. This popularity is apparently having an impact on your ability to score any serious numbers of fish, as leaving a spot to rest the fish for your later return will more often than not see someone else slip into the very same spot. Or at least that is the story for the many well-known and popular haunts within the easily-accessible reaches of the lake.

Staff member Dane got stuck into a few Lake Mondy barra during a night session.

Nick from Buccaneers Hervey Bay had a great session on Lake Monduran.

Having said this, it sounds as though many crews are scoring half a dozen barra a day for their efforts when the weather is kind. The past two weeks of northerlies has seen hundreds of barra caught from all over the lake. Evening sessions have proven to be most successful, with the period from 6pm to 9pm being prime time this past week.

Big numbers of barra are on offer in the main basin and in Bird Bay. These fish are heavily-pressured and can be hard to tempt at times, but waiting till the boat traffic wains can see them come on the chew. There have even been schools of barra lurking just off the boat ramps during the northerlies, offering land-based fishos a crack at a Mondy barra during the evening.

The South Arm of “B” Bay has been firing as well, and offers vast banks, lots of gullies and points to target in northerly winds. Easterlies are also productive within this arm and will produce fish within the North Arm as well. Heading further up the back opens up so many more options yet again (without the crowds), and fish have been coming from all major inlets all the way to the Kolan proper.

A couple more metre+ barra have been landed recently, but it is the population of 90cm+ fish that has been dishing out the adrenalin rushes we are all looking for. These larger barra love suspending hardbodies, but are also absolute suckers for a range of paddle-tailed plastics slow-rolled along the banks and points.

For those who prefer their bass than barra, there are numbers of large bass on offer in Mondy and they too have been on the chew. Trolling small deep-diving hardbodies that dredge down to 4m or so has been the undoing of some big fat 50cm+ bass this week. Targeting gullies and the edges of tree lines has seen the trollers coming up trumps. No doubt, a fisho handy with a hard vibe would score well on Mondy bass if he/she could avoid the catties.

You can't half tell what the author's favourite soft plastic is at the moment. Some of the attrition after a few red hot sessions on the barra. The Berkley Hollowbelly is a gun on impoundment barra.

Rig the Hollow Belly on an Owner Beast Hook and you've got a deadly presentation that can be thrown deep into tiger country and not fowl up. Just remember to beef up your leader, lock up that drag and hold on!

Yep, on the Hollow Belly again!

Another lure we've been pretty excited about, the Rapala Shad Rap. Beef up the split rings and chuck a set of Shinto heavy duty trebles on and you're in business.

Word is that Lake Callide out at Biloela has started to fish well and should continue to do so during the summer months. Be prepared to fish early mornings and into the evening on Callide and stock up on large plastics or soft swimbaits in particular. Callide is hardly an appealing lake scenery-wise, particularly now that the water level is so low, but if you really want to catch a metre+ swampie than this is your best lake to target unless you plan to drive to Mackay.

Awoonga is fishing well too, though at times it can be a very fickle fishery during the daytime. Night sessions on Awoonga can be dynamite as large schools of barra move in to gorge on bait schools around wind-blown weedy points or shallow bays. Large paddle-tailed plastics, suspending hardbodies, soft swimbaits and topwater offerings such as stickbaits and poppers all have their moments on Awoonga.

Now is the time to make the most of our fantastic barra impoundments. The weather boffins are still claiming we are in for a big early wet season, so best we make hay (aka catch barra) while the sun shines eh.

Good luck out there y’all.

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