Get Set For A Spectacular Weekend
Cold and brisk southerly winds put paid to many fishing activities for much of the past week, but the forecast for the coming weekend should more than make up for it.
Very light winds are forecast that will see plenty of boaties pointing their bows towards the horizon. If mum likes a day out fishing, then she is really going to enjoy the weather on Sunday. If not, then there might be a few frustrated fishos out there - but hey its all about mum this Sunday.
Tonight’s full moon brings quite large night tides peaking over the 4m mark with a stack of tidal flow that will shift a lot of water. Baitfish, crustaceans and the rest of the food chain will revel in the enhanced feeding opportunities.
Make the most of the weekend if you can though, as early next week looks a bit dismal with another burst of stiff southerly winds. It should only be a short-lived blow though, with light breezes likely by week’s end.
COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, limiting us to travel within 50km of our residences and only one other person allowed on a boat that is not from the same household. We can certainly thank our lucky stars that we live in such a fantastic location as Hervey Bay as the restrictions still offer us a huge array of fishing options without bending the rules.
The forecast of such light winds has plenty of larger vessel crews gearing up for trips offshore and to the wider bay waters. There will be a bit of residual swell over the bar this weekend, but nothing that would worry a capable crew. Do take extra care on the bar crossings however, as that extra metre of sea can make things a little more dramatic on the bar with the enhanced full moon tidal flow.
We have nothing to report from the wider grounds this week due to the winds, however, we expect some great catches from those that can avoid the noahs and contend with the tidal flow. Coral reef fish, rocky reef fish and pelagics will all be turned on by the moon, so expect mixed bags and hopefully plenty of pinks, oranges and red hues in the esky for the return journey.
Those choosing to fish the Gutters, Rooneys reefs or waters further north will need to time their efforts to make the most of the changes of tide. Accurate anchoring, whilst allowing sufficient scope to get baits to the target area during the stronger tidal stream is a true skill that only few can attest to achieving consistently. “Spot locking” electric motors on smaller vessels take this issue out for many nowadays, yet there may be times when the tide might be too much for the motor.
Night sessions out wide under the big moon should see a good bite from scarlets, snapper and reef jacks. Getting baits to the bottom is not necessary for critters such as these that will readily (and often preferably) rise to midwater baits. Red emperor will also be on the prowl, but your baits will need to be on or near the bottom to tempt them.
Taking the time and making the effort to procure a tank full of live baits will truly enhance your fishing. Livies are often key to turning on fish that might otherwise ignore dead offerings. Having said that, the deceased version of these same livies are also far superior to frozen baits and so long as they are rigged to “swim” in the tide can be deadly effective.
Herring and pike are readily available from many inshore bait reefs at present, with a few yakkas out wider for those that can track them down. Just remember the new bag limits that apply to baitfish or other critters used for bait. For example, you are only allowed 50 pike nowadays, 20 yakkas, 20 pinkies (yellow lipped butterfly bream), 20 tiger squid, 50 pencil squid and so on.
Abundant Tuna Scattered Throughout The Bay
Those favouring a bit of light tackle sportsfishing are spoilt for choice right now. The bay is alive with huge numbers of tuna. Both mack and longtail tuna are prolific and can be found anywhere from right in close out to the wide grounds. They are particularly abundant out from Gatakers Bay and along the Burrum Coast to beyond Woodgate.
The eastern bay is also well populated with surface-busting tuna schools but the schools up the island tend to attract more sharks than their western bay cousins (probably due to the additional boat traffic in that area).
Spanish and school mackerel have been a pain in the proverbial for reef and jig fishos out around the Gutters and off Rooneys in recent weeks. Expect this situation to continue for a little while yet, till our waters cool and they are replaced with huge numbers of trevally.
Those wanting to entertain the kids should keep an eye out for the surface commotion giving away the whereabouts of schools of bonito. These juicy little tuna-wannabees are sensational baits for reef fish, spanish and GTs as well, so perhaps a quick session spinning micro metals or larger bait jigs might be warranted when you trip over some.
We haven’t heard much about queenfish of late, but they will be out there somewhere. The big tides will see a few tearing into the baitfish around the bay islands and up on the flats, but don’t be surprised to see them turn up down the straits or up the island.
Golden trevally will revel in the increased tidal flow and will be seen rising to near the surface over some of the inshore reefs at times. Look for them where baitfish are at their thickest, with the Outer Banks and the ledges and reefs east and north of there are worth a look.
The dreaded bull sharks and their big angry cousins will be a serious issue over the big tides. Keep this in mind and take actions to avoid them as best you can. The ongoing wastage of our precious seafood / marine creatures is devastating, so lets all do our bit to minimise the carnage.
Recent Cold Snap Stirs Up The Winter Species
That brisk cold snap last weekend dropped our inshore water temperature a couple of degrees over a couple of days. This alone has been a trigger to kickstart our inshore snapper fishery as proven by those that snuck out and braved the breeze over the past few days and nights.
Expect more squire than snapper at this stage, and don’t expect any serious numbers as the annual winter migration from offshore is only in its infancy. However, the full moon and its enhanced tidal movement, coupled with the cooler water will see better catches this week. Learn how to anchor and fish the current if you want to get serious about snapper fishing with bait, or take up the simple art of soft plastic fishing and fool them with artificials on the drift.
Inshore grounds worth a try include the Outer Banks, Simpson arti, Burrum 8 and 12 Mile, Moon Ledge and the Roy Rufus arti. Hopefully the sharks are occupied by someone nearby when you hook a decent snapper though or chances are you will end up being taxed.
The grass sweeties will really turn it on over the full moon period, particularly around the fringes of shallower reefs and rubbly/weedy areas. A few cod and trout will be caught from a range of inshore reefs, though efforts chasing them will be best concentrated around the turns of tide.
Blackall have also been quite prolific of late and attain sizeable status in local waters. Rarely do they get to the size of the bigger critters out wide, but blackall exceeding 5 kilos inshore are not all that rare. They might well be despised by most reef fishos and are such a disappointing sight when you think you have just pulled up a snapper or such, but you’ve got to give them credit in the fighting department.
Change Of Guard In The Estuaries
Although they have been quite good targets in recent weeks, our much sought-after king salmon, jacks and barra have just become a bit harder to tempt due to the cooling water. Yes, you can still successfully target all three but the jacks will become very tough for lure fishos and the barra will start to follow more than strike as winter approaches.
The kingies are still quite active though and are readily spotted rolling and slurping on jelly prawns and small prawn in the gutters and drains in our rivers and creeks. They can also be sought out in deeper river waters by scanning the likely bends and holes and dropping soft vibes to the fish marked on the sounder.
Trolling for threadies is also quite productive this time of year and can be done in shallow or deeper water. Lighter drag settings are preferred for threadies due to their soft mouths and quick turns of speed. “Bycatch” when trolling is likely to include a range of estuary predators including jewfish, barra, blue salmon, trevally, flathead and cod.
Some of this so-called bycatch will soon become the prime target species as we move into winter. Already there has been a noticeable increase in jewfish catches from local waters and flathead are quite prolific in many drains and smaller creek mouths. Blue salmon appeal to some (but certainly not all of us) and will become quite common in coming months.
Winter Whiting Season Is Upon Us
Each year around Anzac Day / May Day our winter whiting fans start gearing up and heading out in search of their favourite little morsels. This year, like most, the initial search has been off Gatakers Bay. Small numbers of winteries have been found, and whilst the numbers are low, the size is quite good.
The full moon should see more whiting arrive in the area and the coming months will see their numbers swell and ebb as they transition from one feeding ground to another. For the time being at least, it will be Gatakers Bay that will see the flotillas of winter whiting lovers gathered. In time, Toogoom, Woodgate, The NU2, Torquay and the grounds west of Woody Island will see their share of whiting.
One thing that will be noticeable this year is that the whiting fleet will be much diminished due to the closure of our borders to southerners during the Corona Virus crisis. Any questions regarding the plunder and over-fishing effecting the quality of whiting on offer are likely to be answered this season.
Sand Crabs Thick, Prawns Not-So
As mentioned in last week’s report, our prawn run locally has been virtually non-existent. Yes, there are stacks of prawns down the straits south of the Sheridan Flats, but up our way things have been grim. Perhaps the full moon will see some prawn make a run for it but it is becoming harder to maintain the positivity.
There are prawning options within our major rivers over the winter months for those that are keen enough to make the effort, but prawning in the dead of winter is a chilly and less appealing affair.
At least the sand crabs are making up for the lack of prawn. These big full moon tides will see another good run inshore, within the channels that gouge their way though the flats off Booral, Urangan and down the straits. The good weather will again see a number of keen crabbers vying for their limits of sandies off the Burrum coastline where they have been prolific of late.
Urangan Pier Quiet
It hardly seems worth mentioning the fishing from the Urangan Pier of late going on feedback from pier regulars. Herring numbers are quite low apparently and this has affected the fishing.
There have been a few broad-barred mackerel out the end at times, but they have been difficult to tempt. This may well be that a broadie will favour a feed of hardiheads or gar over herring most days, so keep that in mind when next you try to target one.
Apart from the odd broadie, it has been just the fleeting visits by passing schools of tuna that have lifted the excitement levels out the end. The odd tiger squid or two has dared to venture a bit too close for their own good at times and the odd flatty is a chance during the smaller tides.
In some years past the bream have turned up anytime after Easter, but given the extraordinarily warm start to autumn this year, their run looks like being somewhat delayed. Stay tuned for updates from the pier and local beaches in coming weeks.
Good luck out there y’all.