Looking back on the past week’s fishing will bring much more positive thoughts than looking at the weather for the week ahead. It looks like we are in for a week or more of strong southeasters brought about by a combination of highs in the bight and the monsoon trough to the north putting the squeeze on our stretch of coastline.
The VMR Hervey Bay Family Fishing Competition is underway, running from the 8th till the 11th inclusive. Tragically the current weather pattern is going to restrict competitors to sheltered waters close inshore and land-based activities.
Let’s have a look at the catches reported over the past week, and see if we can help with any ideas for the fishing tragics and/or VMR competition entrants who are still keen to fish in the wind.
The Bay & Offshore
Hervey Bay was absolutely alive with pelagic activity during those glamour days last weekend, with numerous reports coming in of spectacular surface action from in close to well offshore. Mack and longtail tuna were abundant throughout Platypus Bay, starting at Coongul Point right through to Rooneys and beyond. Some large schools of good-sized spotty mackerel made a late appearance as well, which was a bonus for those looking to take home a feed. There’s a good chance the spotties could hang around due to the southerly winds, so look for them again when this blow passes.
School mackerel have been showing up on many of our inshore reefs, along with a few schools of large golden trevally and queenfish. Spanish mackerel have been keeping stick-baiters keen around Rooneys and over the Breaksea Spit. Big nasty GTs smashed poppers and stickbaits over the shallow offshore reefs north of Sandy Cape over the bigger tides, with a variety of reef fish and mixed trevally hitting tea-bagged plastics offshore as well.
The Southern and Northern Gutters were popular last weekend due to the light winds, with many getting reasonable catches of reefies, while others struggled with the current and sharks. Extra over-sized whalers and their cousins continue to be a serious problem both inshore and out wider. Please be shark-savvy and move on when they find you and remember that they will follow your boat. It is very distressing to hear stories of multiple quality reef fish being lost to sharks.
It is simply going to be too windy this weekend for any boating activities beyond the shelter of the mainland. Gatakers Bay will be the most popular launching point, giving access to the local reefs off Pt Vernon. If you can handle the wind and secure your boat so that it doesn’t swing madly, you could encounter some great quality grunter, along with a few grass sweetlip and the odd trout. Torquay, Scarness and Pialba reefs are all shallow reefs reasonably sheltered from the southerlies where you could find sweetlip, blackall, cod and trout quite close to shore.
Great Sandy Straits
Even the Straits will be challenging in the current conditions, with the ramps within the mainland creeks south of Maryborough providing best access for those die-hards looking for an estuary fix. Barra, jacks, threadies, grunter, flathead and whiting are all possible, but there is a lot of dirty water mixing in from the Mary and local creeks, so leaving your Straits trip until the weather settles could be a more appropriate option.
If you can access the local creeks then expect to find some great prawns in the deeper holes, muddy banks and larger drains. Once the winds settle, look for schooling prawns outside local creeks and in their lower reaches.
Muddies have been active since the recent heavy rains, so if you can get the pots in safely then they will be worth a try. There are quite a few land-based spots you can sneak a pot in, but be aware of the ever-present thieving lowlifes who think they have a right to steal your crabs and pots.
Mary & Susan River System
The River Heads boat ramp is going to be dearly missed this weekend, as access via the single land model out the front will be nigh on impossible in so much wind. If you can get floating, then try South Head, the Horseshoe Banks or the Susan River for threadies and barra.
Again prawns and crabs are options if you can get to them. You will have to seek out spots out of the wind to be able to throw a cast net, so look for north-facing drains coming off muddy banks in the lower Susan or in the Beaver Rock area.
Burrum River System
Some great yarns got around last week of the massive quantity of prawn that washed out of the Burrum river system. Even the stretch of beach between the ramps at Burrum Heads was briefly awash with seething schools of banana prawn, with stories of up to 3kg per cast achieved at its peak. If only they would stay put!
There is of course a good fresh in all four rivers of this system, but at least the upstream ramp facilities offer an opportunity to launch a boat and head downstream. If you know the area well, then look for barra and flathead around the river mouths and up on the sand banks around the islands in the mid/lower reaches.
Local Beaches, Creeks and Urangan Pier
Given the current weather forecast, our local beaches might be quite popular for competition anglers looking for whiting, bream and flathead. Look for the flatties around structure jutting out into the current (like jetties, groynes and the harbour) where baitfish and prawns will be corralled making for easy meals for these sneaky ambush predators. If you don’t mind getting a bit muddy then Eli and Pulgul creek mouths are also good spots to try.
Queenfish, flathead and barra were the fish most commonly mentioned in reports from Beelbi Creek prior to the recent fresh, which suggests they will still be in the area. Some exceptional quality whiting have come from this little creek and graced the scales at local fishing comps in the past, so the lower reaches and the flats out the front could be worth a try for a winning ‘ting.
There’s a good chance of a big bream being taken from the Urangan Harbour rockwalls for those with fresh baits and enough patience to sift through the smaller models. A little berley will go a long way inside the harbour walls, and make sure you rig with as little weight as possible. The outside walls will be rough, bordering on dangerous in places.
The Urangan Pier has been hot and cold of late, with latest reports being of a few school mackerel taking Flashas and livies. The first channel has seen some of the better mackerel action, but of course herring are more restricted to the deeper waters at the end. Pike have turned up in small numbers that will continue to grow as our waters cool.
So, not such a great week ahead weather-wise unfortunately. Best of luck to all entrants in the VMR Hervey Bay comp. Make the most of your somewhat limited fishing opportunities, stay safe, and most importantly have fun with your kids. Even if you cannot get out to your favourite big fish haunt, then at least there will be plenty of random draw prizes and fun for the whole family at the competition weigh-in site.
Good luck out there y’all.