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Weekly Fishing Report - 9th May 2019

What a spectacular week of weather we have just enjoyed here on the Fraser Coast. Light winds have featured all week since a cold southwest change moved through last weekend. Those lucky enough to avoid working mid week really lucked out weather-wise, but that is all about to come to an end Friday night as another big southerly change comes through.

Unfortunately this weekend looks like being a bit of a right off for all but our most protected waters. A strong southwesterly change, followed by a few days of strong south-southeasterly winds will dominate till mid week when we can expect a few decent showers and a moderating onshore flow that will see winds drop below 20 knots.

Given the forecast, we can look at the week that was with fond memories and perhaps consider a few sneaky options out of the wind for the die-hards that simply must fish this week. Luckily we are entering another period of neap tides courtesy of a quarter moon this Sunday that will at least make the sheltered estuary options a bit easier to fish.

Offshore

Mixed reports came in from those that made their way offshore over the past week. Great conditions and a diminished East Australian Current made for great deep-dropping in shelf waters beyond the 100m line. Depths to 300m fished well for a variety of jobfish, pearlies and cod, with rumours of trevalla also coming from some of the deeper ground.

The Breaksea Spit country inside the shelf fished well if you could avoid the sharks, with a big variety of fish on offer that featured red-throat, snapper, pearlies, maori cod and parrot amongst other reefies. The sharks out there are often much smaller models than the beasts we have to contend with here within the bay, so some epic battles ensue just trying to get the heads back to see what might have been.

The Bay

The Northern and Southern Gutters were popular destinations for a few crews that found the seas a little rougher out there than they looked on the charts. Even 10 knots of breeze in those parts when the wind is opposed to the tide can be a bit on the jiggly side, and if you look at the seas around you, you will notice that the white caps are just that bit bigger and more common along the line of the gutters themselves courtesy of the tendency for the current to increase as it pours in, along, and out of the gutters.

Regardless, some crews did quite well on a mixed bag of reefies, though nothing to write home about. Parrot, sweeties, the odd scarlet, trout and squire were the mainstays, and scoring any decent fish was reliant upon finding a spot without attending noahs. There are still a few spanish mackerel, some very big schoolies and school cobia out along the more prominent ledges of both gutters that will frustrate the reef fishos and tea-baggers looking for bottom dwellers and yet excite other fishos that love the adrenalin rush of these speedsters in open water.

There is certainly no shortage of tuna in Hervey Bay waters at present, and both Mack and longtail can be found throughout the whole bay. The central bay is alive with large schools of mack tuna, sometimes quite sizeable models at that, but also a lot of longtails as well. Watching the porpoising tuna from a distance as they clear the water’s surface can help to identify the species for those inclined to seek out the longtails and avoid the macks.

Platypus Bay waters produced some very nice longtails, though shark attrition has been shocking in the deeper waters, particularly around the larger schools of fish. Below these tuna schools have been a mix of mackerel species including spanish, school and broad-barred, and occasionally queenfish and various trevally.

The reef systems up that way are seeing increasing numbers of trevally congregate where bait is gathered, and a real variety can be encountered in one session. The most sought after trevors are the big goldens and the photogenic diamonds, with some huge diamonds well over a metre becoming more common captures in recent times. It can be hard to avoid the other trevs, but for the sports-minded fisho they are all fun and the variety adds some spice to the day.

The recent southwesterly breezes triggered a visit to the western bay waters for quite a few crews and if it was pelagics they were after, then they were not disappointed. Mack tuna schools have been prolific, with many schools coming right in close to the beach off Woodgate. Big numbers of small macks also tore into the baitfish up on the sandflats at the mouth of Theodolite Creek over the top of the tide offering swags of fun for kids chasing them around in their tinnies.

Back closer to the bay and the inshore waters between the Fairway and Point Vernon have been worth a scout for small pods of longtails, mack tuna, some nice queenies and even a few big golden trevally. These waters are rather shallow, averaging 5-8 metres and do not suffer from shark issues – for now.

We haven’t heard much back from those chasing snapper out in the wider bay waters, but a cunning fisho would be crazy to tell the world about such encounters so early in the season anyway. Squire to a few kilos are certainly becoming a more common catch for both bait and lure fishos both inshore and out in central bay waters. This fishery will get stronger as winter approaches and proper knobbie snapper will start to feature regularly in catches from here on in – sharks permitting of course.

Inshore

Given the weather forecast, the protected waters off Gatakers Bay / Point Vernon will be popular for anyone who insists on going reef fishing this weekend. Even in these sheltered waters, 20-30 knots of wind is annoying at least and potentially dangerous if you venture too wide in a small boat. Larger boats will be even more frustrated by the constant yawing of the vessel in the wind and snagged lines and slipping anchors will do little for the reef itself.

All the above aside, if you venture out that way and the wind backs off then there have been some nice catches of winter whiting starting to become more consistent off Point Vernon. The size of the whiting is okay if you find the right patch, but smaller fish can be a hassle in some areas. Windy conditions make drifting too difficult, so anchoring and deploying a bottom-set berley bomb will bring the whiting to you.

Move around enough, or berley, over the close reef in the same area and you could find a coral trout or two, along with a mix of blackall, grass sweetlip, sand bass and a few stray mackerel. This is one area where handlines can really excel over rod and reel given the shallow nature of the reef, the snaggy terrain and the target species’ tendency to crash-dive for the reef upon hookup.

Elsewhere inshore this past week saw a plethora of boats trying for reefies and snapper, with many being sharked over and over again whilst others snuck a few fish over the side in clear view of the poor buggers feeding the sharks. Good squire, cod, sweetlip, blackall, the odd trout or scarlet and a few golden trevally were found on local ledges and artificial reefs. These grounds will likely get a spell for much of this week due to the impending weather.

Burrum River System

Woodgate didn’t fire prawn-wise during the light westerlies like it would have in past years. The prawning grounds certainly looked the goods though with stacks of tiny baitfish and occasional mud boils getting the cast nets airborne a few times just to prove that sounders don’t lie. It seems our driest summer on record could leave a legacy of the least prawns ever as well.

Whilst the prawns may not have shown up off Woodgate, a few nice sized winter whiting certainly did. Only a couple of boats tuned into these whiting and found anchoring produced a nice feed of quite sizeable winteries amongst a constant string of less desirable tiddlers.

Reports from recreational crabbers in the area have revealed that some lowlifes are out there stealing crabs and even lowering themselves a step further to cutting holes in peoples’ pots. This is not limited to the pots in the river chasing muddies, but also those set out the front targeting sand crabs. If anyone sees people tampering with pots that are not their own they should notify fisheries and record boat regos if possible.

The high banks and meandering nature of the Burrum and its feeder rivers offer good protection from strong winds, but people looking to fish these waters should look to launch from the ramps upstream to avoid the more open waters near Burrum Heads. The small neap tides could see a bite from barra, jacks, cod and bream, with small trevally and queenfish becoming more common captures as the waters cool.

Mary/Susan Rivers & the Great Sandy Straits

The more exposed waters in the lower reaches of the Mary and indeed near the River Heads boat ramp itself will require extra caution from inexperienced skippers and even the old salts will look to avoid times when the strong winds are from the southwest in this area. If the winds reach the predicted 30 knots then the whole area is probably better avoided, particularly for the smaller tinny brigade.

However, once upstream and into more sheltered waters you are a good chance of finding schools of threadfin salmon, a few blue salmon and even a late season barra or two. Bream are starting to move downstream in readiness for their winter spawning run and can be a lot of fun for those with light lines fishing around the many rock bars in the lower reaches of both rivers.

Prawns continue to disappoint, but a modest feed can be scored up in the feeder creeks if you persist throwing at drains and mud banks out of the wind. Muddies have been a better option of late, but their numbers have dwindled a bit this week, and will be a better option closer to the next full moon.

Urangan Pier, Local Creeks & Beaches

Small tides do very little for the fishing along our town beaches, but the strong winds on their way just might see a few whiting and flathead move in around the Shelly Beach area or up along the gutters towards Pialba. When the wind blows offshore the Booral Flats are worth a try, but wait for the winds to settle even for this area.

The arrival en-masse of the dreaded green toads along our beaches and even more-so out at the Urangan Pier a week ago suggests there are winter whiting schools not too far away. Winteries are not a shore-based option however, so don’t go kidding yourself that just because you caught small whiting from the shore in the cooler months that they are winteries. They are almost certainly a regulated species of “summer” whiting with a minimum size limit of 23cm.

Apart from the mass of toads, there has been a passing parade of pelagics in small numbers off the pier recently. School mackerel, broad-barred, the odd spanish, golden trevally and queenfish have all made an appearance at times, along with a few passing schools of longtails to get the pier fishos excited.

Bream numbers are low but steadily increasing out at the pier and the next set of full moon tides should see more bream turn up and hold for some time to come. Bait fishos do well on the bream with locally caught herring, and lure fishos can try Cranka Crabs and a plethora of plastics amongst the pylons. Pike can be a nuisance for the plastic fishos, however, they make for outstanding live baits for flatties, goldies, queenies and others.

Good luck out there y’all.

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