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Weekly Fishing Report - 9th March 2023

Staff member Logan with a nice Teemburra barra from a recent trip up north

We Will Be Dodging Showers and Storms this Week

The heat and humidity has been ramping up over the past couple of days – a sure sign that there is rain on the way. A slow-moving trough drawing energy and moisture from the monsoon to our north is going to impact our area over the next few days – starting sometime today apparently. Not great news for boaties and fishos, but if you monitor the latest forecasts and watch the radar closely, you can seize on opportunities to wet a line in between rain events.

Winds-wise, it will vary significantly day to day. There will be periods of very light winds, yet those considering long range forays may wish to consider the risk of storms. The current forecasts suggest that tomorrow’s 15-20 knot southeaster will ease during the morning Saturday and tend more easterly. Light northerlies are the call for Sunday, with showers and storms dominating the landscape over the entire weekend.

The working week looks like starting off wet and improving from Tuesday onwards. Faily light winds from a southeasterly direction will create many opportunities for those not constrained by work-day commitments.

The moon continues to wane as we approach the last quarter phase next Wednesday. Diminishing tidal flow until then is hardly the most productive in terms of fish activity, yet the effect of the rains and storm activity can create its own opportunities.

 

Crustacean Activity Enhanced by Rain

The mud crabbing has been quite productive for local crabbers in recent weeks. The creeks of the Great Sandy Straits and Fraser Island’s western creeks have been giving up the best crab. Significant local falls of rain will only serve to enhance the mobility of the muddies in these creeks.

There is some chance that heavy rains could fall west of the Bruce Highway as the trough impacts our area, and should this eventuate in the Mary River catchment, then resulting excess freshwater flowing downriver will see any crab in the river exit the backwaters and head for deeper water.

Crabbing in the Burrum has been frustrating for many. Pot and crab theft was rife when the crab was on the move a little while ago, and currently, most crabbers have withdrawn their pots from the water. Whilst the Burrum system has had one freshwater overflow after another in recent months, another significant flow at this time should produce another boom in crab movement.

The same goes for our “local creeks”. Should we get localised freshwater flows, then slip your pots in downstream and reap the rewards. The rain hasn’t hit the ground yet though of course, so this is just something to consider for those learning the ropes on the crabbing front.

If you're exploring our rivers and creeks this time of year, you'd be mad not to have a cast net onboard 

Prawners will be watching this weather event keenly, looking to capitalise on any potential banana prawn movement it creates. The prawns went to ground over the full moon in many systems and likely threw their shells to grow some more. Their re-emergence will be obvious once again as their presence is easily noted this time of year.

Scan the deeper holes in the creeks looking for shows on your sounder, or otherwise, watch your wake for signs of prawn jumping as you travel through the system. Predatory activity will also be a dead giveaway. Whilst you will still have to work for a feed, there is certainly enough small-medium bananas on offer to justify the effort.

“Lousy” Fishing and Crabbing Explained

We have mentioned the poor return for effort on the sand crabbing front out in the bay in recent times. A potential reason for this could be explained by the notable explosion in sea lice numbers in parts of Hervey Bay. These horrible little creatures occasionally infest our waters and drastically effect the fishing and crabbing where they exist.

A sure sign that the lice are present is when your crab pot baits are demolished, yet there are no fish or crabs in the pot. The lice will eat your dead fish/offal offerings in no time flat when they are thick, and leave nothing but the bones. If any crabs were unlucky enough to wander into the same pot, then they too would be consumed from the inside-out, leaving nothing more than their shell.

Evidence of lice infestation off Rooneys Point has been observed recently, which might go some way to explaining the lack of bites some fishos reported from that area. This phenomenon might be the cause of the lack of bites others reported from other northern reef sites in recent weeks as well. Comments from fishos claiming their sounder was full of “life” but they couldn’t buy a bite doesn’t fully equate to lice issues, as if the lice were indeed the reason, then their baits would be disintegrated by the lice.

If you have been there and witnessed the lice infestation first hand, then you will know all about the hideous scene that unfolds when you retrieve an untouched whole baitfish (such a yakka or pike) and the carcass deflates in front of your eyes as oodles of lice spew out of its orifices.

Unlucky baitfish such as yakkas, and many other fish of various sizes, have to endure the attentions of certain lice species that clasp their tongues or other parts of their mouths and sit there feasting with no chance of the host evicting them. You will see this one day if you haven’t already, when your yakkas etc come over the side on bait jigs and the lice let go and crawl out upon the demise of the host fish. Horrible critters!

Here’s hoping that any lice infestations are limited, and that the sand crabbing improves. The next couple of months can see great crabbing in the central and lower bay, so stay tuned for updates. Fishing-wise, reports just this week suggest the reef fish have been biting off Rooneys and out at the Gutters, so perhaps the incidences of lice up that way are only isolated.

Some fish are lucky, others not so much!

Longtail Tuna Numbers Increasing

There is increasing numbers of longtail tuna joining their mack tuna cousins in the northern, central, and eastern bay this week. Local sportsfishos enjoyed fun sessions pulling longtails from amongst the macks off Rooneys and further south. Most of the fish reported have been fairly small. They still offer a bit of sport and certainly make retrieving them before the sharks home in that bit easier than their larger brethren.

Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters getting into the longtail action

The autumn months will see our longtail tuna population grow dramatically. Their numbers will explode whenever a proper east coast low traverses our coastline and blows long and hard enough to force the baitfish and tuna into the relatively protected waters of Hervey Bay. Expect bigger numbers and eventually much bigger fish in weeks and months to come.

Inclement weather, with cloudy skies and rain are not conducive to prime tuna fishing. Have a crack this weekend amongst the weather if you like, but your efforts will be rewarded much better if you defer such trips until the skies clear and the sun re-appears. The reasoning for this is quite simple – tuna push their quarry to the surface against the disorientating glare of the sun to maximise their return for effort.

Hayden with a nice longtail tuna

Tuna still need to feed daily though, cloudy or not, so very often they will be feeding sub-surface. Their target focus can change when the silhouettes of surface-hugging baitfish such as garfish and flying fish are not obvious. Chase tuna on a cloudy day, and you might want to bust out the stickbaits and larger jerkshad profiles, or maybe even consider a high-speed troll through likely areas. The lack of surface commotion on such days can make the tuna hard to track down of course, so keep that it mind.

Tuna will take a wide range of lure offerings, including metal slugs, soft plastics and stickbaits.

If you happen to head a little north of Fraser this time of year, then you might just trip over schools of yellowfin tuna. The Porpoise Shoal area, and even over to the west towards the Gutters can see yellowfin schools tracking the influx of bay-bound baitfish. Stickbaiting for ‘fin is a ton of fun when they are busting up on top, but you can troll high-speed divers or skirts otherwise and track them down that way if you prefer.

Spanish mackerel have been quite abundant throughout the northern, central and eastern bay. There has also been a few schools of smaller fish and the odd monster reported from southern bay waters. The spaniards are off limits at the moment though of course, so ensure you release any accidental captures unharmed until their season opens again on the 22nd March.

Inshore Pelagics Scattered

You can get your sportsfishing fix inshore at present, but you will need to focus your efforts on areas containing aggregations of baitfish. There are vast tracts of water, including much of the bay islands’ perimeters that are devoid of virtually any form of “life”. Therefore, no predators in pursuit.

To help focus your efforts, look at the ledges and fringes of the flats along the inside of Fraser Island, anywhere from Moon Point south. There is better gatherings of baitfish and their pursuers in that area at present. In fact, Kingfisher Bay is drawing lots of baitfish again, so there is likely to be a few exciting opportunities in that area in the very near future.

Queenfish are probably the most sought-after pelagic species in those inshore waters right now, and some quite large specimens can be found. You might need to monitor the sounder more than the water’s surface to pinpoint their presence, but once found, shouldn’t find them too hard to tempt.

Imitating garfish with stickbaits, cranking jerkshad-styled plastics or fast-hopping other plastic profiles through likely waters will soon have your quarry leaping skywards. Be ever-mindful of the local sharks, particularly in the deeper waters off the ledges. Mooch up onto the nearby flats with a rising tide and you can add the skinny water visuals and associated fun and games to an otherwise enjoyable day out chasing inshore pelagics.

Big Scotty K with a goldy from a recent trip out on the bay.

Small golden trevally also frequent these flats and ledges, and occasionally a larger version turns up. Their numbers are only a shadow of what they used to be unfortunately, but they still add a little excitement to the scene if you are lucky.

Big GTs and much smaller models also haunt similar ledges and gutters that drain flats into deeper waters in high-current areas. Indeed, XOS GTs are known to attack reasonably large queenfish mid-fight at times. Their presence is likely around the River Heads area, as well as in the deeper waters off Ungowa at present. Masses of herring in those waters being the drawcards for these voracious predators.

If you are looking for a feed of school mackerel, then you might try the Fairway beacon, the Outer Banks area, or the Arch Cliffs 6 Mile. We haven’t heard whether or not they are present off the Burrum Coast right now, but are assured there are still schools of queenies working the inshore shallows along that stretch.

Beating the Sharks is Challenging

Whether you are chasing pelagics or a feed of reef fish, just trying to get your fish to the boat ahead of the dreaded sharks is very challenging. Many reef fishos that would normally ply the deeper inshore waters have given up and shifted their focus to the shallow reefs.

There are fish such as coral trout, cod, blackall, scarlets, squire and plenty of grass sweetlip in the deeper waters, but you will need to be incredibly lucky to land them most days. It is heartbreaking to battle a quality fish clear of its lair, only to have it snatched midwater. This massive waste of our precious reef fish stocks is out of hand, and yet there is seemingly nothing we or our governors can do about it. Well, we all know there actually is - but it won’t happen!

Sometimes you get lucky with the sharks. A nice coral trout caught with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters

So, please be shark savvy if heading out looking for reefies and keep mobile if necessary. Consider evening or pre-dawn sessions in shallower waters and perhaps you can score a feed like many before you. Recent word of shark issues in our shallows is certainly concerning, yet nowhere near the disaster occurring daily in deeper waters.

Crews crossed the bar north of Fraser recently and scored a great feed of mixed reef fish without much attention from sharks at all. This can be attributed somewhat to the lack of boats in the area in the summertime. Surprisingly slow-moving currents in waters eastwards of the mid-stretch of the Breaksea Spit saw good hauls of red throat, tuskfish, coronation trout and maori cod come aboard. Food for thought for those with larger vessels sick of the shark issues in our northern bay waters.

Estuaries Hot to Trot

Our warm estuarine waters are home to all the prime predators right now, and the scene is set for some exciting moments in coming weeks. Assuming this latest weather event isn’t disastrous, then you can be mixing it up with the likes of mangrove jacks, barra, threadies, grunter and their neighbours day and night.

Fraser’s western creeks are full of big fat jacks right now, and hordes of little ones as well. They will be reacting positively to this week’s burst of heat and will feed ravenously under cloudy skies and in stormy weather in days to come. Make the effort, don plenty of Bushmans, and get your jack fixes before any late wet season rains bugger up this prime fishery.

You can toss a few plastics around for grunter in some of these creeks and enjoy a bit of sport or a good feed from them as well. A few of the creeks get visits from threadfin salmon and even a few barra. No matter which creek you choose to fish, you are bound to tangle with a few pesky little (and some not so little) estuary cod.

The Mary system is likely to give up a few barra and threadies for those that can track them down. Blue salmon are surprisingly common also, even in this heat. Grunter are making their way back upstream in the rivers and creeks, and are worth pursuing with bait or lures. Look for them over any gravelly areas, in the deeper holes on the bends, or along banks where prawns are flicking.

Kyle with a nice barra

Most of the action in the Burrum has been in focussed in the mid-lower reaches. Barra catches at Burrum Heads have tapered off, but there are still quality fish in the area. A renewed flush of the river from any impending rains will likely enhance their numbers once again.

The mid reaches are home to plenty of mangrove jacks, some barra and increasing numbers of grunter. Working snags, rock bars and junctions of sandbanks and deeper waters will soon see you connecting to one of these candidates. The jacks will be particularly active right now, as will the barra. The stormy weather to come will make them hyperactive and they will bite with unbridled aggression.

Shop regular Matty journeyed up the Bruce Highway and was rewarded with this stud 83cm fingermark on one of the new Nomad Squidtrex vibes.

The Great Sandy Straits offers a plethora of options in its maze of creeks and channels. Salmon, barra, jacks, grunter, queenies, GTs and blues are all possible. Good catches of quality sand whiting were also reported by crews that hunted them over the full moon tides. Make sure you’ve got a cast net onboard if heading down that way, as if you don’t, you will kick yourself if the prawns show up.

Bait fishos are having trouble with small bull sharks are their cousins in not only the creeks, but all of our local rivers as well. Some choose to target them and have a bit of fun, but most just find them annoying. Larger bulls are smashing your hard-earned fish in the rivers too, so keep that in mind and take care when handling fish for release.

Mondy Comp Results Reflect the State of Play

27 teams turned up at Lake Monduran last weekend to fish the 3-day Humminbird Classic. Team Schwerin Concreting took out the honours with a bag of 5 barra ranging between 99 and 110cm. The fishing was obviously very tough, with a total of only 17 large fish caught amongst a swag of little ones.

Reflective of the current state of play at Mondy, small fish in the 60cm size bracket were common captures, and the bigger females were playing hard to get. The rains this week are likely to see 50-75mm of rain fall over the lake, so this should be a good thing.

Above images courtesy of Monduran Anglers & Stocking Association

The barra are going nuts over weedless frogs in the shallows, and responding well to shallow-diving suspending hardbodies amongst the lilies as well. The only problem is the size class. Sure, you can score silly numbers of little fish, but does this really equate in the tally when bragging to your mates? Expect more of the same at Mondy, with hopefully a boost to the bite from the bigger girls in the very near future.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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