Looking at the weather from Saturday onwards should lift fishos spirits, with fairly light winds forecast for both the bay and offshore waters. Light southerlies and easterlies should dominate for a few days which will be a welcome change from those lazy westerlies of late. Building tides from the weekend onwards will see increased activity from most species, so if you’ve got a couple of days off then all boxes are ticked.
The Bay & Offshore
Trailer boats have been restricted to the closer "wide" grounds such as the Gutters and Rooneys recently, but the ensuing conditions will enable such vessels to venture offshore beyond the Breaksea Spit and Fraser Island’s offshore waters. Average conditions rarely slow the big boats though, and reports from gun local charter boat "Getaway" (Time & Tide Charters) have been of incredible reef fishing. Great pearlies and rosy jobfish have been coming from shelf waters on a variety of baits, jigs and plastics, whilst back in on the Sandy Cape Shoals it has been a great mixed bag of red emperor, green jobfish, big parrot and other reefies. Some sensational reef jacks have been the target on their overnight hangs, with some very attentive float-lining techniques scoring some absolute horses.
The current offshore should be quite mild due to the recent westerlies, and the swell caused by the current southeaster starts to abate by the weekend. If heading out that way, take plenty of bait and use larger baits over the shoal country to contend with the hordes of hussar and pickers, and use smaller baits on the shelf line. Take a suitable spin outfit for working stickbaits and large slugs and keep your eyes peeled for yellowfin tuna and dollies along the shelf and spanish and GTs over the shoals.
The fish bit their heads off out at the Gutters last weekend, but then the sharks bit the rest of them. The dreaded westerly did little to slow the bite during the low light periods, but the mid-day bite was a bit slow. Trout, scarlets, squire and sweetlip dominated reef-fish-wise, whilst spanish and cobia were common in some locations. A few good quality snapper turned up during the evening, but the sharks took a terrible toll. Better weather this weekend will mean more boats out that way which might spread the sharks’ attention and let some lucky crews land a few of the bigger reefies.
The Rooneys area will be worth a look for a snapper for those overnighting up that way. Squire, scarlets and sweetlip will also be active day and night, with some great reef jacks possible from the right country. Those keen to search for snapper during daylight hours with plastics will be best served targeting the wider grounds at present, as reports from the Platypus Bay reefs are of only small numbers of fish, with sharks in attendance.
Without the restrictive westerlies, Platypus Bay will again be worth a look for sportfishos chasing pelagics. There are plenty of tuna up that way again, and whilst most schools are of the fussy old mack tuna variety, there are enough small schools of longtails up there to keep you keen. Take the full armoury of metal slugs, plastics and stickbaits so that you can match the hatch, and keep mobile to avoid the noahs. Sound over the reefs up that way in search for schools of big golden trevally and drop micro jigs, plastics and vibes to them for a bit of pelagic variety.
Without the westerlies this weekend, early starts will be the go for those trying for snapper inshore. Keep your leader light and use 1/4 – 1/2 oz jighead-rigged plastics and work the grounds adjacent to and up-current of the reef structures for best results. During the day, look even further away from the reefs for fish foraging out in the paddock away from the boat traffic. Lots of fishos lean towards jerkshad, grub-tailed and paddle-tailed plastics for inshore snapper (for good reason) but don’t overlook prawn-style profiles worked close to the bottom or squid profiles mid-water. There is a fair chance of tangling with golden trevally over reef areas such as the Roy Rufus or Simpson artificial reefs and the Outer Banks.
Bait fishos can expect some great action this week inshore, with plenty of estuary cod and the occasional coral trout taking live baits over the turn of tide, as well as sweetlip, squire, blackall and the odd scarlet taking a variety of baits. Fingers crossed that the flaming sharks rack off soon, as so far it seems like any larger snapper that can pull any serious string is being run down by a noah. Keep this in mind and move on if they track you down.
Mackerel numbers continue to increase in some areas, with good schoolies and broadies turning up out wide of River Heads and down the Straits. There is a good chance of tangling with schools of queenies around the bay islands if your timing is right and tailor are starting to move up through the channels around Kingfisher and The Picnics. Mack tuna schools have been busting up all over the place throughout the local shipping channels, as well as further down the Straits.
Great Sandy Straits & Mary/Susan Rivers
Boaties beware that the new pontoon at the heads can be crazy at times, with seemingly mindless fishers refusing to accept that the platform was put there as a boating facility, not a fishing platform. Already one person has gone for an impromptu swim off there, and if people are not careful a repeat of such an event could turn very nasty. Swimming in strong currents infested with large bullsharks should be avoided at all cost. Of course there are fishers that will do the right thing and give way appropriately, but as always it only takes one idiot to ruin it for all. Oh, and by the way, where is our gravel beside the boat ramp? It was removed when the new ramp was built, and replaced with rocks. Who can we call upon to fix this situation?
The poor old jewies didn’t know what hit them this year at the heads. Historically it took a deft hand with an appropriate lure, at the right time, with tackle capable of dragging a jew up and over the drop-off, just to stand a chance from the stones. Nowadays it is a very different story. It’s not just jewies out at the heads though, with some very nice bream being landed from the rocks. Spinning with Flasha spoons and Twisty slugs from the rocks out the front will give you a chance at some tailor, and with mackerel reported not far from there by boaties they will be a chance as well.
Flathead can be found around drains and rock bars during the ebb tide in the lower reaches of the Mary and Susan as well as throughout the Straits. They will increase in number throughout winter, but a quite viable target right now.
Our annual winter bream run is well under way, with big bream frequenting catches from South Head and the rock bars in the rivers’ lower reaches. Some big bream have made their way over to Kingfisher jetty as well, where you can also find a flattie, a jew and a few squid.
Burrum River System
Burrum Heads has been very quiet this week. Tailor upstream are the main saviour at present, though a few bream are possible for those berleying along the rocky shores on the northern side of the river. The water is very clear at the heads right now, which suggests heading upstream will be the go if fishing during daylight hours. Don’t be caught out without a squid jig out that way this time of year, and be prepared for the inky delights to turn up quite some distance upriver when the water is clear.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
Bream continue to be the main target for the light line brigade out at the Urangan Pier, though having said that don’t go too light as it takes a bit of haul to swing (or lift) a kilo plus bream 10 metres into the air and onto the pier. Keep your eyes peeled for flatties in the first channel as you head out, and if spotted then catch a herring or pike and present that to him live. Keep your eyes equally keen for any squid that might be lurking by the pylons or over the gravelly areas.
The town beaches should be fairly quiet for a few days till the tides are big enough to interest some whiting. Until then, try the flats off Eli Creek or Booral for whiting, or around the groynes and edges of the rocks for a chance at a flattie.
Berleying from the rocks at Pt Vernon and Gatakers Bay will draw in numbers of bream to within reach of an unweighted bait from the shore, just plan your trip and choose your location so that you have the breeze (if any) at your back. If you need weight for casting purposes, then use a small float and minimal weight, as casting conventional sinker-weighted rigs off those rocks will lead to little more than snags and frustration.
Good luck out there y’all.