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Weekly Fishing Report - 6th May 2021

Gary with a solid longtail tuna caught on a recent charter with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Glamourous Weather for Mother’s Day

The weather is improving dramatically in coming days, peaking Mother’s Day with a potential glass-out on offer for any mums lucky enough to spend the day on the water. Expect a bit of westerly wind tomorrow that could spike that evening before easing back to a light northerly during the day Saturday.

Look out for possible early morning fogs over the weekend – this scenario can upset the apple cart for early starts and be potentially dangerous if thick enough. The northwester Saturday morning has a lot of locals spooked for potential Gutters/Breaksea options, but looking further afield, heading either north to 1770 or south to the Wide Bay bar could pay dividends.

Light winds are forecast for much of next week, with the offshore scene improving even further early in the week. The tides are building right now as we approach the next new moon on Wednesday. The new moon tides are not particularly large this time of year, offering ideal conditions both offshore and inshore.

In Pursuit of Pelagics

Hervey Bay is still alive with tuna, with pods of longtails and macks scattered throughout Platypus Bay, the central and western bay. Bigger longtails are fast becoming more common encounters, with 20kg+ fish on offer both out in the bay and also down the Great Sandy Straits.

These bigger longtails are typically found in smaller pods of often only a few fish or even solo. Luckily, this often means that there are no sharks in attendance if these larger models are feeding well away from the masses of smaller tuna. Jerkshads will score these big black barrels, but nothing beats a surface explosion on a stickbait when it comes to tangling with XOS tuna.

128cm of Hervey Bay longtail tuna caught on a charter with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing.

Trevally are moving inshore following the bait schools and can be found loitering around numerous bait-rich reefs in the bay. Large golden trevally are a local favourite for sportsfishos, being readily available and quite clean fighters. The dreaded noahs knock a lot of goldies off when they are hooked around well-known reef systems however, so leave them be if the sharks turn up.

Queenfish continue to enthral plenty of sportsfishos with their aerial antics. Big queenies can be found out in the bay around bait schools, or inshore where the currents converge along ledges and the bay islands. Often quite small queenies are common around the bay islands leading into winter, with their numbers typically dictated by availability of baitfish and/or netting activity.

Big queenies will be an ongoing feature of flats fishing down the straits as our waters cool. They can be sight-fished as they cruise the shallow sandflats and current lines bouncing off the many islands in the delta. The new moon tides next week offer great flats fishing options for not only queenies, but a vast array of flats predators such as grunter, threadies, blue salmon, trevally and flathead.

Hmm looks like a new lure from Nashys Custom Lures, the queenies obviously like it. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

A stickbait crunching queenfish from a recent charter with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters.

School mackerel are still annoying reef fishos inshore and can be a target in their own right for anyone keen on a little trolling, live baiting or spoon-spinning action. Latest reports suggest there are a few mackerel scattered along the western coast of the bay, often turning up at the Burrum 8 Mile and the Fairway. Look for schoolies around the reefs in the southern parts of Platypus Bay such as the Outer Banks and Arch Cliffs 6 Mile, but ensure you concentrate your efforts around the areas containing the larger volumes of baitfish.

A few spanish mackerel are turning up around the bay and inshore, but not in any great numbers. Cobia will become more and more common as our waters cool and will soon become common captures out at the Gutters and off Rooneys. Big cobes will turn up where-ever the bait and juvenile demersal species are abundant.

Giant herring are an excellent sports fish and will take a range of lures. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

Golden trevally and glassy conditions, you beauty! Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

How cool, a big longtail tuna caught on the flats off Fraser Island. Pic: Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Great Offshore Fishing on Offer

Skippers of larger vessels have been keenly monitoring the weather sites in anticipation of a trip or two offshore over the coming week. Many will head up the Bruce Highway to their favourite launching location with a view to venturing out onto the Great Barrier Reef. The weather looks even better to our north for the coming weekend, so we are sure many will enjoy the spoils of what should be a great trip.

Applying techniques learned in the heavily-pressured waters of Hervey Bay on the vast reef systems and array of abundant reef species of the GBR typically sees bag limits achieved in quick time for those willing to do the miles and spread their effort over the reefs and in varying depths.

A bag of coral trout is a very simple affair, rarely even needing bait these days as they are such suckers for tea-bagged plastics and jigs.

There's been plenty of nannygai around of late. Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

The super-tasty red throat emperor are the other mainstay of the shallow reef fisho up that way, falling for similar techniques or a variety of float-lined baits. Chasing the much-prized red emperor in deeper waters is a great option, typically demanding large baits to withstand the attention of the pickers as you drift likely scattered ground.

Fish such as grass sweetlip, blackall and estuary cod – all common esky additions in our local waters – are more often given their freedom on the GBR in preference to more desirable and better-eating species. Snapper, and even pearl perch and various jobfish can be found out on the deeper grounds east of the islands of the Bunker/Capricorn group as well, so the option to head a little north when the weather and moon align is certainly a sound one.

Another option is to head south and cross the Wide Bay bar. The offshore grounds are scattered far and wide down there which seems to minimise the impact of sharks to a degree. You don’t have to head far out either, as many of the “close” reefs will fish well for snapper, pearlies, grassies, cod, moses perch and mackerel. The wider grounds will typically favour those hunting the mighty red emperor, with a mix of parrot, snapper, pearlies, hussar and other reefies likely, depending upon the chosen area and baits.

For those that decide to venture north over the Breaksea Spit, the latest word has been that the East Australian Current has diminished - generally-speaking. The offshore currents still vary dramatically however, so suss it out when you get there and work the country that offers the better conditions for bottom bashing.

The shoal country in 30-60 metres will see plenty of mixed reef species on offer. Venus tuskfish will be common, along with a few gold-spot wrasse, particularly for those drifting beyond the hard reefs, rocks and ridgelines. Red throat, maori cod, coronation trout and perhaps a few red emperor are likely candidates over the reef patches, with the likelihood of green jobfish hovering above in some areas.

Whilst a few snapper might make their way onto the shoal country, they are more likely found in the deeper waters of the continental shelf at present (along the 100m line), along with pearl perch and rosy jobfish. Sharks have already proven to be a major hassle over vast stretches of the shoals and along the shelf line, but they are not everywhere, so do yourself a favour and carry plenty of fuel so you can do the miles to escape their attention.

Deep-droppers, sporting the latest and greatest in electric reel technology and bent-butt rods will be plying the deeper waters over the lip of the shelf over the coming week. Being capable of fishing depths up to 700m enables well-tuned crews to drop onto schools of various deep water ooglies, all of which are great on the plate. Few will drop into the deeper water however, favouring depths from 150-300m for greater effectiveness.

That's dinner sorted! A nice coral trout caught with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

Snapper A Worthy Target Inshore

As the dark of the moon approaches, nomadic species such as snapper will move inshore chasing food in preparation for their spawning period mid-winter. A few locals have scored a feed of quality squire and the odd knobby snapper inshore recently. The usual hangouts are worth a look, including the Burrum 8 Mile, Outer Banks, Moon Ledge, Roy Rufus arti and plenty of ledges and rubble grounds in between.

For any number of snapper to linger in an area, there needs to be a substantial and prevailing food source. Accordingly, you may find a swag of snapper on a given ground during a period in which small herring or pike have inundated the patch, only to find no fish at all should that bait source move on. Therefore, always look for a decent source of tucker when looking for snapper.

Anchoring up and float-lining well-presented baits such as live or whole pike, herring, yakkas, whiting or squid has always been the undoing of snapper. Add a berley trail and minimally-weighted baits to the mix in areas of diminished current (eg; Platypus Bay) and a snapper bonanza could be expected over the right tides. “Could be” is the operative phrase here though unfortunately, as nowadays the shark attrition is particularly bad and rarely could you achieve the above scenario in peace without being taxed relentlessly.

So, nowadays, the thinking angler is much more likely to leave these techniques for other waters and target snapper with more mobile and target-specific techniques. Simply drifting likely grounds hopping soft plastics is the most popular of these techniques and is deadly effective. Slow-pitch jigs add another option for fast-moving waters and bottom dwelling snapper, whilst the Kohga jigs offer yet another alternative.

We have spruiked the advantages of trolling deep diving lures for snapper plenty of times in recent years, and as our shark population impacts more and more heavily on our fisheries with each passing year, this technique is growing in popularity. The big advantage of trolling being the ability to connect with quality snapper (and other fish such as trout, cod, trevally and mackerel) well away from known reefs and their attending sharks.

For those yet to discover the joys of snapper trolling, the go-to lures for our area have been Dr Evils, with Nomad’s DTX Minnows now proving equally as effective. Some have toyed with deep diving models from the RMG Scorpion range and others, but the best results are likely from the aforementioned.

Other than snapper inshore at present, you might expect to hook coral trout and cod over the turn of tide on live baits or tea-bagged plastics. Dirty old blackall will be increasingly common in the local shipping channels as winter approaches, whilst the grass sweetlip will soon taper off in number. Quality scarlet sea perch are possible right down into the straits, but are certainly far more common out in the bay.

Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Cooler Weather Triggering Winter Species Activity

Cooler weather brought on by spells of southerly and westerly winds have triggered movements from some of our winter species. To date, there has been very little talk of any real numbers of winter whiting, but a few scattered schools have been found in the vicinity of Gatakers Bay. We would anticipate a few hopefuls heading out this week looking for winteries in the area from Toogoom to Pt Vernon and will soon hear about their results for future reports.

Bream numbers are about to explode in the lower bay, straits and the lower reaches of our rivers. The bream are moving downstream in our estuaries and are already offering A-grade bream fishing for those intercepting them on their run. Berley trails and lightly-weighted baits are slaying them for the bait brigade, whilst those favouring finesse techniques are having a ball with tiny sub-surface and topwater offerings.

We’ve mentioned the arrival of small numbers of blue salmon in the rivers, as well as in the creeks and up on the flats within the straits. Their numbers will swell further as winter approaches, which is great news for the family fishos out there that would like to entertain the kids with hard-pulling acrobats in an estuarine environment.

Mulloway jew are now a major target species and will respond to a variety of techniques. They are deemed to be a very wary and challenging adversary in other ports further south, but in these parts, they are hardly difficult to catch. Target them with live baits or lures and you will soon see why. Simple attention to detail and a stealthy approach will soon see you connected to a decent jewie if you persist in the right waters.

They may not achieve massive proportions in these parts, with a 25kg jew being an absolute horse, but plenty of fish in the 10kg range can be encountered. Many will meet their demise at River Heads in coming weeks, whilst other areas down the straits and in the Mary and Burrum river systems will see numbers linger in prime sites at some stage.

The impending cooler weather has also triggered a feeding response from some of our warm-water-lovers. Mangrove jacks in particular have really fired up over the past week. Catches of quality jacks from the Burrum system and down the straits this week have been indicative of that desperate last bite response that some species trigger when they know their metabolisms will soon slow. The warm spell coming this week looks very conducive to prime jack fishing, particularly when coupled with the new moon tides.

Grunter have also been on the chew big time, with quality fish turning up all over the place in our estuaries and close inshore waters. From big fish scrounging around the Fairway and Gatakers Bay areas, to mixed schools of grunter patrolling the creeks, flats and channels down the straits, it seems as though now would be a great time to go target this species. Choose baits if you wish, but they are absolute suckers for small soft vibes and small soft plastics. They have even been smashing small hardbodies cast or trolled within the creeks of the straits.

Walking the Planks Pursuing Piscatorial Prizes

The Urangan Pier has rarely featured in our reports in recent months due to a general lack of action. There have been a few moments of excitement over the past week though, with a large spanish mackerel caught along with a ripper longtail tuna. Whilst others may well have caught a few other pelagics, these are the more noteworthy specimens, other than a few school mackerel that we’ve heard of.

Bream fans will soon be donning the warm clothes and lining the rails of the pier at night in pursuit of the large bream that will invade the waters beneath. So far, there have been a few decent bream caught, but the first of the serious run of fish might be expected around the next full moon in a couple of weeks.

Luke's 120cm longtail tuna caught off the Urangan Pier on a live herring.

In the meantime, there has been an occasional flathead on offer for those quick enough to spot them before anyone else. A keen eye and a set of good polarised sunnies will soon see you spotting the flatties lying in ambush-mode adjacent to the pylons in the first channel or along the slope out the end. Drop a live herring (or better still, a pike) and you can watch as the flattie cruises over and scoffs your offering.

Word is there has been the odd jewfish hauled over the rails after dark out the end of the pier recently. Live baits around the turn of tide can be their undoing, though they will also fall for a well-presented soft vibe or prawn imitation plastic jigged through the water column in the darkness.

The local beaches have been fairly quiet by most accounts, but rest assured that there is a modest feed of reasonable whiting on offer for those willing to put in the effort after dark on the bigger tides. Some of the flats on the fringes of town offer a crack at a few whiting, with a handful of flatties turning up in our local creeks.
Good luck out there y’all.

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