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Weekly Fishing Report - 7th April 2022

Young Timmy, the King of Queens

Windy Weekend – Better Mid-Week

Several days of great weather and calm seas saw our boat ramps overflowing and hundreds of hopefuls out on the briny. Many scored a good feed over the new moon period, and not just reef fish and mackerel either; with the crabs potting well and a few prawns on the move.

It’s a bit of a shame about the weather this weekend. That little cyclone way out to the east off New Cal is cranking a steady south east trade wind of around 20-25 knots for our waters from now through the weekend. It looks as through we will get a few decent showers too, so even mowing the lawn might be out.

The weather is likely to improve as the working week unfolds. Expect the southeaster to ease to around 15 knots Monday, then ease further Tuesday, before tending easterly and dropping right out for Wednesday. By week’s end, the winds should still be light, tending more north easterly and blowing a few scattered showers onshore.

There is minimal run in the tide in coming days, courtesy of the neaps generated by the half moon of the first quarter phase. Indeed, the run is so slight – with tidal variation of around half a metre to a little over a metre – that we would expect a fairly lack lustre bite from a range of species. The old adage of “no run, no fun” can be used as an excuse this weekend, so don’t be too disappointed with the bad weather.

Reefies Bit Well Over the Darks

Last week’s new moon tides stirred the local reef fish into action, both inshore and out wide. Those that chose to do battle with the noahs at the Gutters plucked a feed of reefies from a few spots, but had to keep on the move to avoid the tax man.

Quality coral trout were hauled aboard unceremoniously in a skull-dragging fashion all too familiar to locals these days. Larger trout fell to live baits as well as lures, with tea-bagged plastics doing the damage on the smaller fish. A few estuary cod did their best “trout impersonation”, but are soon identified early in the fight by experienced reef fishos.


A solid coral trout caught on a recent charter with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Grass sweetlip added a bit of volume to eskies, whilst the run of large venus tusk fish delighted plenty of bait fishos. The odd red emperor made it all the way to the boat, but that is a real challenge in those waters these days. A few scarlets, the odd squire and a few of the smaller reefies such as hussar, moses perch and stripies added a little colour to the esky, however, many struggled to land the trophies.

Those pesky spanish mackerel are still causing havoc on some of the bigger more prominent ledges out at the Gutters. Large school mackerel are also destroying lure collections and otherwise annoying reef fishos on many sites as well.

The scarlets lurking around the reefs and gravelly patches of Platypus Bay and off Rooneys bit well at times over the darks. Not large fish, but tasty buggers in that barely legal to a few kilo size range. A smattering of other bottom dwellers were snuck aboard, including the odd trout, cod and a few sweetlip and tuskfish. Large grunter were a bonus on some sites up the island, so long as the sharks weren’t in attendance.

There is a swag more bait up the island and out in the bay than there is inshore at present. All the same, the inshore reefs have been fishing well for the usual suspects. Coral trout and cod chewed on livies or lures over the slack water periods and sweeties kept plenty entertained during the run.

There were stacks of boats plying the waters off Gatakers Bay and Pt Vernon, not only over the weekend, but early in the week. The big tides saw a decent bite from the local trout population and a few loose schools of grunter and sweetlip. So many boats working these grounds is having an impact on local fish stocks, but these reefs have continued to fish well all summer into autumn due to the dirtier water and lack of spearfishing effort.

Don’t expect much action from our shallow reefs over the neaps. Having said that though, many will want to go for a fish, and Gatakers Bay offers one of few sites you can do so safely out of the southeasterly wind. Early starts, and plenty of berley could turn on a few resident reefies or transient estuarine visitors.

The shallow fringing reefs of the bay islands and the ledges along the inside of Fraser Island have been giving up a similar feed of reefies as Gatakers Bay, just without the crowds. Again, the dirtier water this summer kept a few fish up shallow and many continue to reap the benefits.

Pelagic Action Continues to Ramp Up

Hervey Bay’s tuna population continues to grow as autumn unfolds. East coast lows and big swells battering the exposed coastline elsewhere sees bigger numbers of tuna enter the bay to gorge on the baitfish seeking shelter in our waters.

There are big longtails galore nowadays, and more schools of tuna than you could poke a stick at. Choosing which tuna to hunt is your choice, though of course, most fishos will seek out the longtails for many reasons. The wind will be a little too unkind this weekend, but if you get the chance during the week, then head up the island and you will soon trip over the tuna.


Adrian with a nice longtail caught on the old faithful Zman 5" Streakz in bubblegum

There has been plenty of pods working the shallow flats and beach perimeters along the shores of Platypus Bay recently. Cruising these beach flats out of the wind is one of the more pleasant boating/fishing activities on offer in the bay and can keep the better half and kids entertained between bites as well.

Pack a few stick baits and jerkshad plastics for this shallow water fishery, as even though the tuna may well smash the hardyheads that school up in these shallow margins, they will also be on the hunt for garfish and your imitations should resemble these critters to attract the bigger fast-moving tuna. Obviously, cheap metal slugs are par for the course for hurling at tuna schools out in open waters, particularly given the ridiculous shark depredation these days.


Caleb with a nice longtail too

Quite a few queenfish turned up beneath tuna schools last week, as well as up on some of our local flats. Once the tides build again, say by mid-week, they will be worth pursuing up on the flats, along some inshore ledges and perhaps even around the current lines of the bay islands.

Mackerel fishos have had plenty to cheer about lately, with a good feed of schoolies on offer from some reef sites and gravelly grounds in the western bay as well as up the island. Fairway fishos have encountered schoolies, and occasionally spaniards recently, though varying tides see them come and go quite regularly.

We haven’t heard too much of our local giant trevally population of late, primarily due to the influx of floodwaters. However, a few bruisers have been rounding up baitfish and falling to live baits inshore this week – albeit accidentally in most cases we might surmise.

Again, the neaps won’t excite our GTs, but the next full moon will, so keep them in mind and look for them along the inshore ledges, artificial reefs and around the bay islands over the bigger tides. Energetic fishos will favour big poppers and stickbaits as always, and being so mobile definitely have an advantage when it comes to tracking down GTs. If no-one else has been pestering a local population, then they will soon react to the first-comers.

It would be fair to say, that in these parts, more big GTs are hooked and landed on heavy reef fishing tackle whilst live baiting, than on conventional GT gear and large lures. Indeed, many more are hooked when they intercept a small reefie or mackerel being fought to the surface, though of course, few are landed, particularly around our shipwrecks.


A nice spanish mackerel caught with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

Estuaries Slow to Recover in Some Areas

The fishing down the straits is a lot slower than one might expect after such fantastic rainfall and flooding this summer. Perhaps it is the over-abundance of small prawn and jelly prawn that has the bigger predators so well fed. Yes, you will find threadies, barra and others feasting on these little prawns in some systems, but the lack of predatory action in some creeks is notable – for now.

Things will change, and the autumn bite from our warm-water loving estuary predators will ramp up somewhat prior to the waters cooling with the onset of winter. You might need to venture well into some estuaries, to find the action from the prawn-chasing species. It will be obvious when the tide is low. Showering jelly prawn or skipping larger prawn are a dead giveaway of the predators beneath.

We’ve heard very little from the Mary River system, apart from a few bream around the rocks and a few threadies pestering the jelly prawn in the lower reaches. These fish have been more prevalent on the flats out the front in recent weeks, but many fell victim to the gill nets. Once the weather settles, and the tides start to make, try the creeks of the straits, or the drains and creeks in the lower section of the river.

Barra will be worth pursuing this week when the weather settles. Try deeper holes in the creeks. The best of the grunter are out in the open waters of the straits and the lower bay. The making tides will see some movement back into the creeks for fish lurking in the vicinity.

Jack-lovers will need to extract the digit and get their late season fixes in coming weeks. Once our waters cool, the jacks will become vastly less enthusiastic. For now, however, you might find quality fish on some inshore reefs or rocky ledges down the straits. A few Burrum jacks have been active this week, some in the lower reaches, and others around the shallow rock bars a bit further upstream.

Crustaceans Aplenty

The mud crabs have been super active lately, with many crabbers enjoying the spoils of the new moon tides and displaced crabs from wet season flooding. Bag limits have been achievable in some cases, of nice full crab, worthy of your best recipes.

The Burrum crabs have started to march recently too, so crabbers can expect a return from any of our local estuary systems from the straits to the rivers. Expect the crabbing action to slow a little in some estuaries over the neaps. As the full moon approaches in a week’s time however, they will be in full swing once again. Fresh mud crab just in time for Easter.


Simon scored a nice feed of muddies

Sand crabbers inshore have picked up a modest feed of large sandies this week. The bigger numbers out in the bay are a better bet when the weather improves though, and once again, the full moon tides will see a better return for effort.

There is plenty of conjecture about the local banana prawn scene of late. It seems the majority of folks are keener to wait for the grapevine to tell them of the big prawn runs than they are to get out and do the scouting. A few locals have had a crack though, and most have found hordes of smaller prawn in the big shallow gutters, while very few found the better prawn elsewhere.

The neaps will do little to spur any movement from the prawn for a few days, but the approach of the full moon will see them shifting with the tides once again. Don’t waste your time casting nets over small prawn constantly, as the larger mature prawn won’t co-exist with the small stuff. Yes, you will pick up the odd better prawn, but you should move on and keep looking for signs of the bigger prawn.

Remember, prawn will bury for periods and only “run” at appropriate times. Typically, this will be the last of the ebb tide when they are forced off the flats or out of drains, but even more-so the first of the flood when they re-emerge to scoot back up into the shallow margins. When they aren’t running, larger prawn can often emerge for a brief period over the high tide only, when few if any prawners would be looking for them.

It is worth mentioning that the recent flooding not only propagated vast quantities of prawns that we will all get to enjoy in coming weeks, but it also spawned many juvenile fish that we should be doing our best to avoid with our cast nets. Baby threadies are particularly plentiful in some muddy areas, and whilst this is a fantastic sign for the future of that fishery, all netters should do their utmost to avoid them or remove them from their nets unharmed.

Beach Fisho’s Quandary – To Fish Light or Heavy

Again, you should all know by now that our local beaches are less productive during neap tides than the springs. The recent new moon saw the beach stretch from Scarness to Pialba come alive with a range of smaller estuary species such as whiting, bream and a few flatties. No big numbers in either case, but a bit of fun and a modest feed for some.

At the same time, a couple of random GTs were noted harassing baitfish in the shallows which might have been a hoot had someone been there with a rod in hand. A little concerning is the number of sharks patrolling our beaches since the floods. We’ve seen a video of a fair lump of a hammerhead almost beach itself whilst ripping into a stingray on a stretch of our town beach just recently.


Hammerhead sharks can be quite the sight when hunting rays in the shallows

There has been plenty of smaller shark action for beach fishos too. Whilst most dedicated shark fishos would target the bigger beasts from the pier or some beaches after dark, the smaller models are apparently quite a pest during daylight hours. Boaties fishing off Pt Vernon are also having issues with numbers of small sharks.

The Booral Flats offer shore-based fishos a crack at a threadfin salmon or a grunter, but best you wait for the return of bigger tides and lighter winds before trying that caper. Whiting fishos could score a feed out that way, and those keen to entertain the kids could do so with the bream and flatties down there as well.

Be careful when wading in the shallow muddy waters of such flats this time of year. Little bull sharks are one issue, but so are mud crabs and sting rays. Without wanting to seem alarmist, there has been reported sightings of crocs down the straits recently, and these leviathans are supposedly most mobile post wet season, so heed the signs and take no chances. Crocs are few and far between in these parts, but they are here.

Just briefly, whilst on the subject of beach fishing, reports from fishos over on Fraser’s eastern beach suggest there has been a few jewies on the chew after dark in the bigger gutters. There has otherwise been a feed of whiting and dart on offer along some stretches.

There is still a number of high tide gutters formed from recent heavy seas. These gutters make beach travel vastly more challenging. Apparently, there was a couple of rollovers in recent weeks from 4WDers swerving around debris and driving amongst the dunes. We cannot tell you how the worming or pippie collecting is at present. Hopefully, we might get more reports in time for Easter.

Impoundments Will Be Popular at Easter

Recent rises in water level at Lake Monduran saw the barra bite slow, though it never stopped altogether. Cooler southeasters made for tougher fishing for a couple of weeks, yet thereafter, it was a lack of wind to blame for the lack of bites.

There is still a few barra being caught each and every day from Mondy, just not in the bigger numbers – so far. The Easter full moon period will likely see stacks of boats hit the lake in pursuit of its big barra, and if the weather plays the game (ie; sunny days and consistent wind direction), then many fishos will be in for a treat.


Lake Monduran will be a popular choice for families over the Easter holiday period. Pic: Lake Monduran Guidelines Fishing Charters

Mondy can produce a great barra bite this time of year. All manner of approaches could produce, so go armed with a good selection of hard bodies (both suspending and floating), some swimbaits, paddle-tailed plastics, frogs and topwater lures. Be prepared to fish weedless a lot. The flooded terrestrial weeds are vast and the aquatic weed banks have flourished.

Our little Lake Lenthalls has also started to produce barra on a regular basis again. The water is still filthy dirty, but the water quality (oxygen level) has improved since the flooding and the barra are active again. Yes, Lenthalls lost tons of its bigger fish in the flooding events, but there are still good fish up around the 90cm mark on offer.

Lenthalls bass have been active in the upper limits of the lake as well. Reports of numbers in the Wongi Waterholes stretch suggest that is a great starting point for bass fishos.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

 
This is a project that staff member Josh Power has been working on in his spare time. Josh has worked in the fishing tackle for over 18 years now and in that time has heard some great stories and met some incredible people along the way. Josh started this podcast so that he could share these stories with the fly fishing community and hopefully create some new friendships along the way. The aim is to interview people from within Australia and around the world, that are interesting and inspirational, industry leaders, anglers that have helped pave the way for future generations and in-turn hopefully preserve a piece of fly fishing history.

Matt Tripet and The Fly Program have been kicking some serious goals in the community raising awareness for Men's mental health. If you'd like to find out more information or to make a donation you can visit: https://flyprogram.org.au/

This episode is brought to you by: Fisho's Tackle World Hervey Bay , MAKO Eyewear ,  Manic Tackle Project & Garmin Australia

You can also listen on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, Listnr & Player FM.
 
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