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Weekly Fishing Report - 8th July 2021

A nice grunter caught on a jig whilst fishing with Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing.

Great Weather Weekdays - But This Weekend Not So Flash

The second week of the school holidays was vastly better weather-wise than the first. Looking ahead, apart from the chance of a shower or two tomorrow, we should see plenty of sunshine and fairly light winds throughout the coming working week.

Unfortunately, the forecast for this weekend is not nearly so rosy. A stiff northerly will precede a trough approaching from the west tomorrow and blow up to 20 knots. As the trough passes by, the wind will turn southwest and continue to blow 20 knots Saturday, before easing throughout the morning Sunday. Save your efforts for Sunday unless planning to fish sheltered inshore waters, the rivers or the straits.

Saturday’s new moon sees another peak in the tides and offers a great bite from many species for the couple of days thereafter. Take advantage of the extra tidal flow and the dark moon phase if you get the chance. Read on for a few tips on fishing post-new moon and a quick wrap up of the local fishing scene for the week just passed.

Last Chance at Snapper Before the Closure

Snapper fans will very likely be annoyed by this weekend’s weather forecast. The impending snapper and pearl perch closure means you only have until Wednesday to get your snapper fix. Come Thursday the 15th, snapper and pearlies will be off limits until after the 15th August.

Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing has been dodging the rain squalls but still finding some nice squire.

The couple of days just after the new moon on Saturday offer terrific snapper tides. If your vessel and crew can handle the light westerly wind forecast for the early part of next week, then a trip up around Wathumba or Rooneys should pay dividends. This dark moon typically sees snapper gather in number up that way, offering ample fun and a great feed for those sinking lures during the daylight and those soaking baits after dark.

If closer inshore suits, then look for snapper in the southern part of Platypus Bay off Arch Cliffs, or further south around the Outer Banks, the Simpson artificial reef or over to the west at the Burrum 8 or 12 Mile. Given the apparent reprieve from sharks recently, Moon Ledge and the Roy Rufus arti are also worth a shot.

Those that ventured out looking for snapper over the recent neap tides struggled. Yes, a few fish were caught here and there, but generally-speaking, the lack of bait in many inshore areas meant there was a lack of fish to target. Don’t be too disheartened, as the increased tidal flow during the last of the “makes” to the new moon should result in another influx of baitfish inshore.

There is no denying that the greater biomass of baitfish is tending to hold outside the banks again this winter. So, if it is numbers you are looking for, then heading north of the banks will be the go. The western bay is due for another run of snapper too, so Burrum Heads locals are likely to be out making the most of the calmer evenings next week.

Another nice squire caught with Hervey Bay Fly & Sportfishing.

The better numbers of “good eating size” snapper in the bay this season is encouraging. Good squire can be caught at any of the abovementioned snapper hotspots, but they are often even more abundant in less pressured areas. Squire will forage and hunt over many different types of “bottom”, including weed, rubble and sand. Hop small plastics or soft vibes over any likely terrain and they will soon let you know they are there.

A quick reminder for those keeping snapper to eat. The bag limit is four fish only (in possession), of which only one can be of 70cm or more. A boat limit also applies nowadays, which means that regardless of how many people are on board (if two or more), you are only allowed twice the individual bag limit. This also means that only two fish of 70cm or more can be kept within that boat limit.

If you are part of a larger crew and are keen for all to get their limit of snapper, then you will have to book with a local charter operator. Individual bag limits apply for the punters on charter boats.

Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters with a nice box of squire

Winter Species Dominating Catches in the Bay

We’ve recently mentioned the likely array of winter species you can expect when fishing out in the bay. Whilst the bite was a little lack lustre this week, the same winter species have featured in the few catches mentioned. Big cobia are still causing havoc for those using light gear up in Platypus Bay and out wider. We are yet to hear of any turning up inside the banks as yet, and the way the bait is lingering out in the bay, their arrival close inshore this year is looking somewhat less likely than in the years when we enjoy a reasonable wet season.

School mackerel have been smashing lures, live baits and pillies in parts of Platypus Bay. Look for schools of small yakkas and herring around known reefs, or try trolling likely areas until you track them down. Spaniards have mostly vacated the southern half of the bay, but stragglers are still a chance further north.

Trevally have inundated many reefs within Platypus Bay, and are also now in big numbers off Rooneys and at the Gutters. Jiggers can have a ball with members of the trevally clan from now ‘til spring, even having the luxury of picking and choosing their quarry if the skipper knows his/her sounder and local grounds well enough. Expect a great bite from the trevors over the bigger new moon tides.

Girl power! Golden trevally are a great target for sports fishos and put up a great fight on light gear. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

Reef fishos can expect to still catch coral trout and cod on tea-bagged plastics or jigs. You will need to persist a bit longer to get a bite from them this time of year though, and will likely do better on the last tide of the day in lieu of the first. Their winter lethargy makes them an easier target for live baiters locally, and even when tricking them with livies you might need to be a little more patient and pay extra attention to detail.

Those venturing up north or out wider when the weather permits should score well on snapper, scarlets, sweeties and tuskies. Tuned in skippers will know how to find reds this time of year, and if the sharks back off, or your spots are unknown to the masses, then the darks should be kind to you.

Rugging up and putting in big late nights over gnarly reefs in the northern bay can see you mixing it with big cranky mango jacks this time of year. “Mango jacks” you might ask? Well, okay, perhaps that is only a nickname shared amongst a few select locals years ago that focussed on the big red terrors of the night, but it sounded cool at the time, as there were just as many mango trees 30-40 miles out to sea as there were mangrove trees.

All the text books suggest that jacks love the heat and are a tough critter to tempt when our waters cool. That theory holds well inshore in our estuaries, but once these bruisers mature and head out to the reefs, they will bite well even on the coldest of nights. Live baits and well-presented whole baitfish or squid have been the undoing of stacks or jacks over the years. Many thrashings have been dished out too, which is all part of pursuing these majestic creatures and what keeps you coming back for more.

Some more school holiday fun chasing trevally with Fraser Guided Fishing.

A Feast of Sand Crabs and Whiting on Offer

Heading west of Gatakers Bay this week certainly produced the goods for a few intrepid locals. Quality winter whiting were found out that way, resulting in bag limits for some. Repeated efforts in the same areas continued to produce too, which is somewhat contrary to reports from others elsewhere.

Dropping in a few crab pots baited with the frames from the filleting session the day before soon added a bonus feed of succulent sand crabs to the seafood platter. The crabs are still out there off the west coast of the bay in numbers and potting well, so get out and get your share if you get the chance.

Very few other reports of winter whiting have been mentioned this week. They should be in full swing right now, so when the weather improves, you should be able to score a feed without too much fuss. Locals have snuck a few limits of ‘ting in from the grounds west of Woody recently without drawing the attention of the crowds. Try down that way if you like, or otherwise down the straits or over along the inside of Fraser on the better days.

You can still find the odd school of mac tuna and longtail tuna throughout the bay this time of year. Pic: Fraser Guided Fishing

Prime Time for Local Bream Fans

Bream are schooling up around our rocky foreshores and the mouths of our rivers in readiness for this year’s spawning events. You can take advantage of this gathering by targeting them over the bigger tides in many ways. Bait fishos can anchor and berley up, bringing hordes of bream to the back of the boat, all eager for any easy meal as triggered by the berley trail.

Night sessions can see the best quality in the rivers and down the straits, but pike and other vermin such as happy moments can be a real pest over our reefs after dark.

Those that would rather target their bream with lures, catch them and let them go, are in for treat in coming weeks. Spawning bream can be super-aggressive and are suckers for many artificial presentations. You can troll for them (though very few do) and will score bycatch of flathead, salmon, trevally and the like. Slow-trolling tiny diving lures over rocky terrain or through the creek mouth channels is surprisingly productive and can be great fun for the kids.

A great selection of topwater lures that will appeal to not only bream but a host of estuary species including whiting, flathead, queenfish, trevally and tailor.

Of course, soft plastics will score big numbers of bream with ease over the flats, the rocks or even around man-made structures. Cranka crabs are well known as deadly bream-takers and are a favourite of the local pier rats. Crab imitations can tempt some of the bigger, more wary blue noses of the bream clan over our rocky and sandy environs, so are an invaluable addition to a bream fan’s kit.

Without doubt, the most fun you could have with bream would have to be with surface lures. They can be fussy, yet easily tempted with the superior lures we have access to today. Mix it up with lures that will mimic the likes of yabbies, prawns or small baitfish and teach yourself the appropriate retrieves by watching the reaction (or lack thereof) of the bream.

Bream love the Daiwa Slippery Dog! It's the perfect size, comes rigged with a decent treble and set of assist stinger hooks and has a great action. Shane with a solid winter model.

Many topwater lures will tempt our local bream. Jackson Pygmy Pencils and Pygmy Poppers work a treat, as do MMD’s prawn imitations such as their Splash Prawns. Twitching and pausing stickbaits from Bassday (Sugapens), Daiwa (Slippery Dogs) and Jackson (Ebi Panics) will all get a reaction, and can score you a few quality whiting too if you pick up the pace of the retrieve.

New to some fishos, but well-proven locally, are the unique bent minnows. Bream will smash these crazy lures just below the surface, as will a host of other species. OSP, Crossfire and Berkley all offer bent minnows nowadays, so you are spoiled for choice and get to select a size and colour to suit the waters you intend to fish.

Flathead are also suckers for bent minnows, this one fell to an Aussie Made "Crossfire" bent minnow.

Bigger Bream Biting at the Pier

Regular local bream fishos out on Urangan Pier have reported a better class of fish over the past week. Big blue-nosed bream exceeding 40cm are belting baits between the pylons. Many fish of this size are lost, so make sure you don’t under-estimate these critters and halt their sideways movements once hooked. The bigger tides over coming days will exaggerate their feeding activity when the water movement is slower, so time your assaults to coincide with tide changes.

Pier bream fishos know that the best place to catch the bream is beneath their feet, under the pier. Send the same bream bait out, weighted just enough to hold near the bottom, but not anchor, and feed a bit of slack line to any serious enquiries and you might just find yourself connected to a decent squire. Undersized squire certainly out-number the rarer legal models, so do not be tempted to keep these fish unless legal. There are reports every winter of baby squire being kept by people that know better and simply flout the rules anyway.

The recent neaps saw a few large flathead hauled over the rails after they scoffed baits of live pike. They can be a bit trickier to spot and tempt over the bigger tides, but will still be there if not already caught. Be careful to release the bigger breeders without harm, even if it means breaking them off and sacrificing a hook. Far better that an oversized fish swims away and a hook rusts out, than it be gaffed and lifted 10 metres up onto the deck.

Jewfish captures have been fairly consistent from the deeper waters out towards the end of the pier. Jewies won’t be caught every night, but when the tides, bait movement and the right angler coincide, a serious tussle often ensues. Live baits of pike or pencil squid would be hard to beat, but a soft vibe or prawn imitation will still tempt jewies over the turn of tide after dark.

Squid jigs are a must in a pier fishos kit, be it for catching tigers spotted on the way out the end, or for sessions chasing pencillies and tigers under lights at night. Word is there has been a few out there of late, and the dark nights favour the squidder, so expect a few more ink stains on the boards the next time you head out for a wander.

Whopper Whiting Feeding in Fraser’s Surf Gutters

Word from one of our regular customers who is camped over on Fraser is that the big whiting have been on fire. We would not dare give away the exact location of this feeding spree, but suffice to say that if you find the right gutter, the quality of the ‘ting is outstanding. Whiting under 30cm are considered small amongst the run of fish at the moment, with many measuring in the mid thirties and a few bettering the 40cm mark.

Tarwhine are also on the chew too apparently, favouring the rock-strewn gutters in particular. Recent weather and resultant surf has scoured out gutters and exposed the rocks beneath, drawing the tarwhine to those areas. Don’t be fooled into thinking the tarwhine have a similar diet to bream though, even though they look so similar. If you want to catch beach-run tarwhine, then eugaries (pippies) and worms are the go-to baits (particularly the eugaries).

It's time to break out the waders and green ginger wine.

Tailor-wise, our reports this week have been all bad news. Some local guys working on the island have tried several times for no result this week. Dart too have been scarcer than they might be. All this suggests is that the gutters are not drawing the baitfish at present, and the areas’ tailor are lurking out wider, waiting for the right conditions to prevail before recommencing their nightly raids on the gutters.

It is fair to say that the best of the island’s tailor run is still some time off. In the meantime though, make sure you pack the lighter rods and get amongst those big whiting, some tarwhine and the bream and flatties that are likely to be over there somewhere too.

Good luck out there y’all.

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