The weather has been a bit unkind at times over the past week or so, limiting opportunities for boaties. Quite cruelly for those of us that have to work, the mid-week weather has been frustratingly good for a brief period. The week ahead looks somewhat similar in a way, with a moderate northerly preceding a southerly change mid-weekend bringing just a little too much wind to get out wide for any but the bigger boats. Look ahead to mid-week and there you will see the glamour days. Next Monday’s new moon means we are in for some serious run in the tide over the coming days, so at least that will bring increased activity from the fish.
The hardworking crew on Time & Tide Charters have been running back to back trips again this past week or two with quite mixed results depending on wind, tide and sharks. They have had some good sessions in the deeper waters to 300m scoring flametail and ruby snapper, bar cod and comet cod when conditions have allowed them to engage the electric reels and bent-butt rods. The current in closer over the shoals and surrounds has been surprisingly strong for this time of year, and consistently so of late. Eddies and areas of slower currents form in these waters that enable the crew to fish the bottom on the drift for a huge variety of reefies. Bag limits of large venus tuskfish have been quite achievable, adding to a mixed bag including redthroat, the odd red emperor, goldspot wrasse, maori cod, swags of big hussar, cobia, moses and pearl perch. Snapper have remained scarce out wide this year compared to the past, though a few good knobbies usually turn up in the berley trail once settled in for the overnight hang. The sharks have been fairly relentless at times, keeping all crews on the move.
Apart from a few tuna, pelagic activity has been negligible in the vicinity of the Sandy Cape Shoals, put down to a general lack of baitfish up top. We would traditionally expect to hear of a few sailfish turning up in the eddying waters off the 13 Mile crossing this time of year. Some years they can turn up in spectacular numbers, forming into "wolf packs" mowing down your spread and creating shear chaos for all onboard. Other years they can be scarce. Time and a decent spell of weather will soon see how this year will shape up. Of course, our black marlin run is just around the corner, so plenty of local gun crews will be monitoring the surface temperature charts and captures from further north to gauge the appropriate timing for their efforts in local offshore waters. Stay tuned for more on that.
School mackerel are now well entrenched throughout much of the lower and western bay. Trolling diving hardbodies such as Laser Pros will soon see you find a school, and once found you can deploy the local favourite technique of high-speed spinning with Flasha Spoons if you are feeling energetic. Bag limits are fairly quickly achieved for those who like them for the smoker, though take care to avoid the larger spanish mackerel as they are too high a risk of ciguatera to take home.
Whilst we haven’t had the greatest of snapper seasons, they are still a great target at present and probably the best they will be till next winter. If you are lucky enough to get out during the better weather, then concentrate your efforts during the evening in areas holding plenty of bait for best results. The upcoming new moon period should see an increase in activity from the snapper inshore and even more-so up the island within Platypus Bay.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
Squid have still been active around River Heads of late, so if heading down that way take the jigs just in case. Jewfish activity is peaking around the change of tide both day and night for those tea-bagging plastics of hopping vibes around the deeper holes, drop-offs and swirling back eddies the heads is so endowed with. Those spinning spoons from the rocks at the heads have tangled with a few decent school mackerel of late, though there have been a few undersized models so check their sizes if keeping a feed.
You can still score swags of bream from the rocky areas around the heads, along with plenty of flathead along the gravelly fringes and mouths of the drains. The same applies for much of the straits too, as bream and flathead are quite prolific right now. Summer whiting will be another sought after species for those keen to soak live yabbies day or night up on the flats during the rising tide and within the gutters as the tide ebbs.
Of course, that spring warmth in the air will spur a lot of anglers to turn their attention to barra and threadfin salmon. Sure enough both species will be popular targets locally and will become more viable as our waters warm with the onset of warmer weather. Similarly, the awesome jack fishery contained within Fraser’s western creek systems will be worth some effort in the near future. Until things heat up some more, you will be well served spending at least part of your day enjoying our bountiful and simple flathead fishery and target your jew, blue salmon, threadfin, grunter and barra when the tides and conditions align.
Burrum River System
School mackerel are still the main target for boaties fishing out the front of the Burrum and within the river mouth. Flatties are peaking in activity and easily trolled up or convinced to scoff a hopped plastic or blade around gutter mouths, rock bar fringes and along the muddier banks. Further upriver it is still the schools of queenies that are providing the most consistent action in the deeper holes. Whilst the queenies will often take a range of lures, you might consider sticking to plastics when you find big numbers as they have a real tendency to scoff the lure and fouled trebles in their gills often sees them coming off worse for wear.
Barra and jacks will start to become more active in the Burrum and its three tributaries (Cherwell, Isis and Gregory Rivers). The Gregory certainly gave up the biggest fish last year and the biggest numbers. Considerable commercial effort put a dent in the whole system’s barra population unfortunately otherwise we would have been in for an incredible barra season this year. Jacks on the other hand are not prone to commercial effort and their numbers are typically very healthy throughout the system. Both species are a viable target from now on for both bait and lure fishos, so choose the warmer periods and get out there and have a crack.
Fraser Island’s Eastern Beach
Reports from Fraser’s eastern beach this week suggest they have had a fairly quiet time over there. A few tailor have turned up as expected, but no-one has bragged about any great catches. There are still plenty of good gutters along much of the beach, though most anglers chasing tailor have been concentrating on the productive gutters from Dundaburra to The Cathedrals. It is not uncommon for the beach to be hot and cold, and it will only take a change in conditions and a movement of baitfish to kick-start another great bite. Perhaps the couple of days of northerlies late this week leading towards the new moon could be just the trigger. At least the beach remains weed-free.
There have been a few catches of nice whiting, dart and the occasional flathead from the low tide gutters and melon holes scattered along the beach. Pippies are apparently fairly hard to come by still, though the worming is okay for those who can pull them. We’ve geared up a few more crews heading over there again this week, and the keener guys chasing jewies often bag a few bonito as bait for their night sessions. We haven’t heard of any jew this week specifically, but again, let’s see what the new moon brings.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
It looks like we might just get the perfect recipe for some good whiting fishing along our town beaches over the coming few days. A couple of days of moderate northerly weather should see our shallow beach waters stirred up a little, dislodging food and offering a bit of cover for the feeding whiting. Venture down along the strip from Shelley Beach to the Urangan Pier and fish the mid-late flood tide and early ebb for best results. Yabbies, worms and small peeled prawns can all work as bait, as will the GULP 2 inch sandworms mentioned in a recent report. Whilst night sessions have been most productive of late due to the super clear water, we should see the morning sessions come good now as our waters get a bit more colour. The only spanner in the works of late has been the presence of the dreaded green toads. If they find you, it is often pointless persisting in that area. Simply move elsewhere.
Whiting will be a popular target from the Urangan Pier this weekend, with no need to venture far out at all, as the best whiting fishing is usually found along the first part of the pier. There is far more happening out there than just the whiting though, with a good run of school mackerel again turning up, along with hordes of bonito. Spanish mackerel have also joined the fray, including some quite large fish around 20kg. Local boaties wouldn’t dare keep a spanish over 10kg in these parts due to the risk of ciguatera, yet pier fishos seem happy to keep them. Be warned that the risk of poisoning is quite high, so think twice about accepting someone’s offer of a large spanish or part thereof. Good hauls of bream are possible if you fish later in the evening, and flatties can be sight-fished from the first channel and shallower section out the end with the aid of polarised sunnies.
Good luck out there y’all.