Good Moon Rising
Windy could best describe the current conditions here on the Fraser Coast, and looking ahead there will be more of the same next week. An unseasonal southwesterly breeze this weekend is possibly the best we can expect for anyone venturing beyond the estuaries or dams locally, with Sunday looking quite reasonable at this stage.
The building tides leading into next Tuesday’s full moon will stir most fish species into action, yet the current won’t be too hard to handle, as the associated bigger tides are not overly huge this time of year.
Offshore Marlin Fishery Going Off!
Since the last new moon there has been a significant bite offshore of Fraser Island for heavy tackle game fishers chasing the big blue marlin along the shelf line. Anywhere south of the 4 Mile crossing has been productive of late, with most crews scoring multiple strikes for a day’s outing. When you can claim that boats are averaging 5 strikes a day on big blues then you know you are talking about a world-class fishery.
The strong northwesterly forecast for offshore waters tomorrow will certainly make things a bit messy out there but there is stuff all swell so conditions will be fishable for the bigger boats once the latest blow passes. Lighter winds mid week (offshore at least) and building tides should see more great captures from the expanded fleet of experienced travelling game fishers now working our home waters.
By the way, just in case you haven’t noticed – that somewhat annoying northerly sea breeze that keeps us cool in the afternoon is generally only an inshore phenomenon this time of year. With exceptions, if you look at the weather charts for offshore there can be significantly lighter winds than those experienced inshore. Quite the opposite to winter. Experienced offshore boaties will know that often the wind drops out as you round the tip of Fraser, with the only problem being the few thousand waves you have to smash through to get there. Check out mid next week for example.
Anyway, assuming you can get offshore then the marlin fishery is first class and will be for some time yet. Apart from the big blues, the heavy tackle crews are scoring numbers of large mahi mahi to 20kg in waters beyond 50 fathoms. Back in closer to the Breaksea Spit it has been the 13 Mile area that has been central to the lighter tackle game fishers chasing small blacks and sailfish.
Pelagics Galore in Northern Platypus Bay
Baby black marlin have been a little more consistent this past week, when the weather allows anyone to get out that is, with most bites reported from the Rooneys / Station Hill area. Numbers are still low by bay standards, with only 1-2 fish raised by most crews.
There have been big schools of spotted mackerel reported north and north east of the Gutters recently, so perhaps there will be a resurgence of marlin in local waters as they follow the mackerel schools to the south. In any case, the pending arrival of the spotties will add another option for fishos heading out into the wide bay waters in the near future.
In the meantime, there have been acres of mack tuna ripping into tiny baitfish in northern Platypus Bay. Hookups are common and many, so long as you have a good selection of small metal slugs. The same 20-40 gram slugs that score on the tuna will also dominate on the spotties when they arrive, so stock up on your favourites in readiness for the next break in the weather.
There has also been some rather large cobia caught recently from Platypus Bay, along with the usual reports of longtails, goldies, queenfish and mackerel.
Sheltered Waters Best For Inshore Reef Fishos
The tides over coming days should produce a great inshore bite from our local and transient reef fish populations. Grass sweetlip numbers are building and whilst a lot of the better fish come from deeper waters, you can score a great feed from the fringes of our shallow reefs this time of year. By this we mean around the edges of the reefs such as Gatakers Bay, Woody Island and from within Urangan Channel.
Sweeties are really easy to catch. A simple running sinker rig baited with some quality squid, banana prawn, hardihead or strip bait will usually be all that is required. Keep the lead light enough to barely hit bottom and not anchor your bait and be prepared to get stuck into them as they are fairly scrappy around the reef edges.
Other reefies you might score inshore include the odd squire, perhaps even a decent knobbie snapper, blackall, estuary cod, coral trout, tuskfish and blackall.
Black-spot tuskfish (known locally as blueys) get a bit of a hammering by fishos from now through summer. Nowadays they cop an absolute hiding from spearos in the winter as well. So, keeping in mind the potential plight of the poor old blueys out there, some might need to give some thought to the terrible toll the mongrel sharks will have on these majestic reefies and perhaps target them in shallower waters where the sharks are not such a huge issue. Trying to extract a fish that pulls as hard as a large bluey from deeper waters in these parts is almost pointless in summer and a waste of a precious resource.
It’s Jack Time!
Barra are now off limits as you all know, so it is time to turn your baitcasters towards the mighty mangrove jack and monster threadfin salmon found within our estuaries.
There is unlikely to be a better time to chase mangrove jacks that right now. They love the heat and have been increasing in activity as summer approaches. Big jacks in particular will be super active in coming weeks, making the most of what might well be their last season in the estuaries before they head offshore to terrorise the local reef inhabitants.
An extreme drought such as the one we are experiencing actually augers well for those chasing jacks. Clean waters, with the salt pushing well upstream means these red devils are easier to find. In essence, they will avoid the gin clear waters of the lower reaches in favour of the more appropriate waters well upstream.
The Burrum, Cherwell, Isis and Gregory rivers all hold great numbers of jacks and now is the time to pursue them. Hone your casting skills and get your lures into deep cover as they favour the shade provided by structure. Check out the relative size of their eyes and you can see why this nocturnal predator doesn’t like the sun. Dawn, dusk and evening sessions walking stickbaits or blooping little poppers can offer some of the most heart-stopping strikes imaginable – and then there is the fight thereafter – struth!
Of course, there is substantial numbers of jacks within the many creeks along the inside of Fraser Island, and also within creeks along the mainland south of the German system. Locals in the small hamlets scattered along the Sandy Straits are spoilt for jack fishing opportunities virtually right on their doorsteps.
Even our little local creeks here in Hervey Bay offer some fairly serious jacks. It pays to be fully mobile and willing to venture beyond the last chap, but our creeks can blow you away when the conditions are just right. If you don’t own a boat and want to get into some jacks, then be prepared to get your boots muddy and start exploring our creek networks. Don’t bother in the middle of the day unless there is a storm brewing and please avoid trespassing.
Mary Hot And Susan Cold
There have been mackerel reported from the River Heads area lately, but only when the wind hasn’t been howling from the northeast. Jew and grunter are a chance for boaties in the area, with a few flatties still on offer for those flicking lures around the drains and gutters.
Upriver in the Mary there has been a reasonable run of threadies for those fishing the deeper waters with vibes or live baits. Keeping the odd "kingie" for a feed is fine of course, but those enjoying the sport they offer instead should also be mindful of their susceptibility to bad handling.
Being a species that suffers badly from barotrauma, they should be released in the water if possible, as lifting the bigger specimens for a photo after a lengthy battle can see them float away upon release. Having the camera ready prior to hoisting them for a happy snap will go a long way to seeing them swim off strongly.
The Susan River seems to be fairly devoid of salmon at present. The substantially cooler waters of this system (some 2 degrees cooler than the Mary) might be a contributing factor, but it is more likely something more sinister. There is a stack of bait in the system, so when the next run of threadies makes their way into the river they will have plenty to gorge themselves on.
Grunter are a good target species for those heading up the Mary or down the straits. Small plastics or vibes will pick them off the bottom for the lure fishos, whilst bait fishos will find them keen to scoff a yabby, prawn, herring or squid.
There hasn’t been a lot of talk about whiting of late which is a surprise after the great run of summeries locally in early spring. There should be a good feed on offer from the big flats and channels out from River Heads and further down the straits for those seeking them out over the full moon. Floating weed can be a nuisance at present in some parts, so avoid these areas if the weed appears.
Golden Barra Up For Grabs
The Golden Barra competition is in full swing on Lake Monduran, offering fishos the chance at prizes worth up to $150K for catching the special golden-coloured tagged barra, or other major prizes for catching other specially-tagged barra.
Remembering that impoundment barra love consistency in the wind direction, this weekend might be a tough one, even though the full moon is looming. There will be crowds on the water again no doubt, so you might want to check out some out of the way spots that haven’t been getting any attention lately.
Those that remember the heady "good old days" on Mondy will recall the insane barra fishing that resulted from the water levels dropping and pushing fish out of the backwaters of B Bay and the upper reaches. Well, in case you haven’t been there lately, it is dropping - and fast. Already, vast flats are starting to re-emerge above water and if you suss out the map of the lake you will soon see the areas likely to drain in the not-too-distant-future.
November has produced some of the most ridiculous barra fishing this lake has to offer in years gone by, so it will be little surprise to hear of big numbers smashing lures and breaking hearts this month. Who will be the first to score a genuine metre+ barra from the "new" Mondy? Will it be you?
Good luck out there y’all.