Great Summer Weather For Full Moon
We were blessed with sensational weather for the first week of 2020 and the good times roll on with another glorious weekend on the horizon. We might see a moderate breeze and a few showers early next week but till then it is light easterlies or northeasterlies and sunny skies all round.
Saturday night’s full moon will bring on the biggest tides we’ve seen for a while. Not huge, but 4m+ highs following lows of 0.5m will see plenty of tidal flow and will increase the mobility of a range of species. Tourists beware; our big ebb tides can catch the odd boatie out so take extra care up on the flats to avoid vessel strandings and a long (and embarrassing) wait.
Quality Reefies & Pelagics Out Wide If You Can Avoid The Sharks
Months of sustained northerly weather gave our wide grounds a substantial reprieve and a few crews that have ventured north have reaped the benefits during the past week or so. The sharks are definitely an issue over any commonly known ground, so being mobile and moving from spot to spot and looking for "new" country is paramount to scoring a feed.
There has only been limited reports from offshore over the Breaksea Spit due to the weather outside being a little tougher than the bay, however the crews that made the effort on the better days found some decent reds, green jobfish and plenty of quality venus tuskfish amongst a mixed bag of reefies.
The EAC is fair racing out there this time of year, so light tackle sportsfishing for the likes of yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi along the shelf line can be productive. The shallower shoal country can also produce spanish mackerel and large GT’s for those tossing stickies and poppers over the current-riddled high reefs east of the bar.
The wide grounds back inside have provided a modest feed of mixed reefies including coral trout. Live baits or tea-bagged plastics or jigs account for pretty much all the trout nowadays, whilst the likes of grass sweetlip, squire, scarlets, cod, parrot and others are happy to take a range of live or dead baits. The Gutters country got a reasonable spell and is producing a feed, but again, the sharks are shocking over any grounds frequently visited by boats.
There has been a fair smattering of pelagics out around the Gutters of late too, so those inclined to enjoy a tussle with large golden trevally, school mackerel and cobia will be in their element out that way. Small yellowfin tuna have also been reported from the same area and further east towards Rooneys.
Spotties & Tuna Scattered Throughout The Bay
There are still masses of spotted mackerel and tuna in the bay, but the only problem is they can be amazingly elusive some days. Stories abound of crews heading up the island or up the centre of the bay one day scoring bags of both species from surface-busting schools as far as the eye can see, only to venture out another day and struggle to find a school.
Perhaps the diminished biomass of baitfish in bay waters due to the drought means the spotties and tuna are gorging on the hapless baitfish once located, balled up and pushed to the surface only to devour the lot and then head off in search of other baitfish. These periods when they are searching and travelling would account for the lack of surface action between feeding sessions.
Sunny skies and light winds forecast for the coming full moon auger well for those looking for some surface pelagic action. Head north from Urangan or Gatakers Bay and once you locate the birds and the fish you can have some fun spinning small metal slugs through and around the bait balls. The sharks will be a nuisance more often than not, so keep this in mind and don’t waste the resource unnecessarily.
Various trevally species can also be encountered beneath the bigger schools of tuna and mackerel and are suckers for jigs worked up from the bottom or plastics twitched beneath the schools above.
Inshore Pelagic Fun Over The Full Moon
Queenfish and small GT’s have been about in reasonable numbers inshore of late offering those with small boats a fun option over the bigger tides. Target the current lines and drop offs along the inside of Fraser south of Moon or any shallow reef system holding quantities of baitfish. Soft plastics will account for these speedsters all day long but you can have even more fun with stickies and poppers at the right times.
The big bruising GT’s are back in the bay and causing plenty of havoc. Blooping big poppers or dancing stickies over the shallow reefs and current lines around the bay islands is a proven technique this time of year but they can get a little boat shy when the crowds home in.
You will find the same big black demons lurking around the shipwrecks or the Roy Rufus Arti and other prominent structures in strong current. Getting them to rise to a surface lure can be challenging in these deeper waters and is best tried at dawn or dusk. Popping sessions after dark can be very enlightening for those that think lures are for daytime only.
Tasty Treats From The Shallow Reefs
The big tides will see substantial current inshore that those unfamiliar with our waters may struggle to contend with. If that is you then give some thought to targeting the shallow inshore fringing reefs around Pt Vernon, Pialba and the bay islands.
Grass sweetlip numbers have swelled in the shallows recently and good catches are coming for those using baits of prawn, squid or fish flesh along the deep edge of the reefs. Coral trout and cod will be in feeding mode over the bigger tides and will take a liking to whole fish baits, large prawns or better still – livies. Trolling for trout and cod will be a great option for the early risers with diving lures that reach the 2-5 metre mark likely to score.
Right on cue a heap of quality grunter have moved into our inshore shallows and are taking a range of baits and soft plastics just off Pt Vernon and Pialba. These grunter also move in very close after dark and are a real chance for those fishing from nearby shorelines. It would come as no surprise to hear of grunter turning up along the piers after dark in coming weeks.
The deeper reefs out in the shipping channels have produced a few decent squire and even the odd snapper of late, however, the sharks have been atrocious and more fishos are losing out to sharks than are winning. Trout and cod are a good target over the turn of tide and plenty of grass sweetlip can be found around the fringes of these reefs.
Anyone fishing after dark would be crazy not to have a selection of micro squid jigs onboard. Pencil squid are prolific inshore at present and will be drawn to your boat’s lights. Yes, they will be a bit cagey under the brightness of the full moon but can still be caught when the tide slackens. Remember, the new Qld possession limit is 50 for these tasty little morsels.
Lower Reaches Of Rivers & Straits Set To Fire
The full moon tides will see plenty of threadfin salmon working the many drains and muddy banks during the ebb tide in the lower reaches of the Mary/Susan and within the creeks down the straits. Flicking small plastics or minnow-style hardbodies into and out of the drains can be a ton of fun but can also be incredibly frustrating if the big old jelly-prawn-fixated sambos persistently ignore everything you throw at them. Keep throwing, keep changing lures and keep moving from drain to drain and you will succeed eventually.
Grunter have been about in decent numbers in the same areas of late, favouring gravelly bottom in deeper waters unless the tide is high. They will take a range of small plastics or vibes and often smash a hardbody aimed at other species. Bait fishos will score well on the grunter when schools pass by and may also encounter the odd flathead, salmon or cod.
Don’t be surprised to find big GT’s moving in and out of the Mary over the big tides. They are an option for those fishing from the River Heads peninsula itself but are an easier option for those in boats. Big poppers are a go-to for many GT hunters but don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a large soft vibe or soft swimbait for these bruisers particularly when herring and flicker mullet are their quarry.
Crabbers will be out in force over the full moon period. Targeting the creeks along the western shores of Fraser or down the straits would seem appropriate given that Fraser Island and River Heads were the only areas to get any decent storms this season so far. Sand crabs will be on the move out in the channels off the flats and if previous sets of big tides are anything to go by then a good feed is in the offering.
GT’s, Queenies & Pencil Squid At The Pier
The big bad GT’s are cause for excitement for many hopefuls out the deep end of the Urangan Pier. These thugs demand heavy tackle, quick reflexes, mobility and a ton of luck and are one of the true prizes for pier fishos. Careful placement of a pier gaff is prudent when landing these brutes as they are certainly not a food fish and are likely to be a strong candidate for Ciguatera. Not that this will be a problem for most as a far higher percentage of GT’s are lost around the pylons than will ever be landed.
Swags of holidaymakers and locals alike have been wandering out the end of the pier after dark chasing pencil squid. Most have been scoring a good feed too, so long as they have good quality micro squid jigs and some form of artificial light. The bright nights over the full moon are likely to see a few tough sessions at the wrong times but for the insomniacs out there there is always the option to be there pre-dawn for a quick session on moon down or just after dawn for those that sink their jigs to the bottom.
The pencillies always seem to draw in the queenfish year after year and this year is no different. They can be taken during the daylight on live herring but a live squid will be the go after dark.
Great Catches From Lenthalls
Lake Lenthalls has been absolutely firing of late, with great catches of both bass and barra coming from all parts of the lake. Many a bass fisho has been blown away by barra on the light gear and light leaders, though often the hooks straighten before the lure is lost.
Trollers are scoring well on the bass in open waters and at times land a decent barra when they can let them run. Barra fishos are doing particularly well around the lily beds with shallow diving hardbodies or paddle-tailed plastics, though topwater presentations offer another level of fun for those on the water early or late.
Given that the lake waters have dropped so much this season there is now ample opportunity for shore-based fishos to access the back reaches of the lake via Wongi Waterholes where good barra are particularly fond of poppers and stickbaits.
Word from other lakes up the Bruce suggest Mondy is proving a bit tough at times though there are great numbers of barra on offer and the lake just gave up what is possibly the first post-spill barra over the metre mark. Further north, Awoonga is absolutely firing with big numbers falling to those putting in the evening sessions on the windy points.
Out west at Biloela, Lake Callide is going off and producing numbers of much bigger barra than all the other "local" lakes. If a metre barra from an impoundment has eluded you so far then make the effort and get to Callide while the going is good. Be prepared to fish at night more-so that during the day with dawn and dusk sessions proving most productive when the heat is on. You don’t even need a boat at Callide, with excellent lakeside access and no weed around its edges.
Good luck out there y’all!