Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 28th June, 2024 (2024)

Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 28th June, 2024 (1)
Deej proudly displaying a fine shelf pearlie whilst giving the shop a plug in the process. Fun photo mate. Good one.

A couple of days of miserable, unseasonal rainfall has done little to dampen the spirits of holidaying fishos this week. Whilst there is still the chance of another shower or two today, this latest rain event is largely clearing our coastline and making way for glorious conditions once again this weekend.

This afternoon’s 15 knot south-easter will ease right out overnight, leaving a residual onshore breeze of maybe 10 knots to greet those heading out at dawn tomorrow. It should ease further and tend more easterly throughout the day Saturday, then drop out altogether Sunday morning. A northerly sea breeze is likely Sunday afternoon, at no more than 10 knots, that will provide a gentle following sea for boats returning to port from our northern waters.

Expect a light westerly Monday that is a precursor to a southerly change Tuesday. That change could be shower-bearing and blow initially at around 15 knots, before strengthening into mid-week at 20 knots or more. The latest forecast this morning suggests a stiffening south-easter will follow the southerly change and blow out the remainder of the working week. This forecast is in total contrast to what was displayed on weather sites only last night. Is it correct? Only time will tell, so check the latest and hopefully it turns out better than the latest forecast suggests.

The moon continues to wane, as we pass through the last quarter phase this Saturday. Technically neap tides, there is still a decent amount of current flow this time around, particularly as the waters flow to and from the morning lows. As the tides start to make after this weekend, they should trigger an increasingly aggressive response from our predatory fish species, that is more exaggerated as the week wears on.

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Ash caught this school red last week in fantastic conditions.

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Coronation trout abound east of Breaksea Spit in lieu of coral trout. Here is Ash with a good specimen.

Chris tempted this fat pearlie with a slow-pitch jig. Offshore jigging is in its prime this time of year.

Even though there has been a bit of precipitation in recent days, the winds have remained light. Offshore forays were possible over the past week, and will be again this week. Sunday will be the best day for those in smaller offshore boats that plan to cross Breaksea Spit. Alternatively, heading south and crossing the Wide Bay bar opens up the opportunity to fish Monday as well.

The recent full moon tides poured a lot of water over and around Breaksea Spit and a decent south-bound current formed east of Fraser. The waters off Waddy Point were clocked at up to 2.5 knots a week ago, whilst the waters up off the 13 Mile and further north were washed with minimal current. Needless to say, the better fishing was experienced by those that headed north.

Whilst there are still plenty of sharks out there east of Breaksea Spit, just hoping that you come along and dredge up an easy feed for them, they have been avoidable. Varying your efforts, and trying differing depths has paid dividends. The 100m line is still the sharkiest by far, which is sad, given the masses of life that aggregate along that edge of the shelf.

Red emperor catches continue to impress many fishos heading wide. Not only across the bar, but also way up north beyond the bay too. Otherwise, the usual mixed bag of exceptional-eating reef fish has been welcomed aboard in decent numbers. RTEs, tusk fish, coronation trout, maori cods, snapper and pearl perch dominated catches east of the bar. Whilst nannygai, trout, grassies, spangos and more tuskies battled the hussar and other smaller lutjanids for baits fished on the bottom north of the bay.

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Daytime reef jacks are not common captures, but Clayton Beer managed this one last week.

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Kim Block struggling to hold up a couple of quality reef fish from out wide.

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A double of pearlies for ash from the shelf north east of Fraser.

Deep droppers revelled in the kind conditions offshore again last week, hauling up the usual deep-water fish from depths around 200-250m. Once again, it was big pearlies, plenty of snapper/squire, bar cod, flamies and other members of the jobfish clans that made the long run to the shelf worthwhile. When you can do so in such gentle seas and minimal current, it almost spoils you for other times, so make the most of this winter and keep those electric reels whirring away.

If you are tempted to go jigging over the shelf, then be prepared for a serious workout. There are plenty of amberjack lurking in that same 200-250m (and 100m) country that are happy to pounce on a jig; slow-pitch or fast. Average fish around the 15-kilo mark are a fair handful any day, though serious AJs that dwarf those fish can happen along at any time. They certainly take some stopping, so dedicated deep-water jigging tackle is a must. The chance of kingies is higher in winter too, particularly from more southern waters.

Of course, many jiggers are keener to hook and land reef fish for the table, so slow-pitch jigs are favoured in the hope of connecting to pearlies, snapper and various jobfishes. There is no avoiding the bar cod, or any other ooglie for that matter, so your day jigging could hold quite a few surprises. It will be exhausting, no matter what you catch, but is a great fun way to fish such country for the active fisho.

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Dane & Hayden jigged these AJs from 235m last week. Hard work boys.

Dane with snapper and pearl perch caught from the 100m line down towards Waddy. At least some of the ledge is shark-free.

Hayden Meech jigged up this solid flamie, leaving his fellow crew members rather green-eyed.

Anyone who regularly reads these reports will have noticed my not-so-subtle concerns regarding shark depredation at the Gutters and off Rooneys. That part of the bay has been written off by all and sundry that used to fish it successfully and regularly in the past. The sharks became too relentless and decimated the reef fish populations, leaving those waters but a fragment of their former selves.

Yet, each winter, there returns that glimmer of hope in the eye of those that still venture up that way; that the colder water will turn the sharks off, whilst the annual migration of baitfish, snapper, cobia and trevally join what’s left of the resident reef fish population. Each year that glimmer faded, yet this year it has a little extra spark.

Recent reports suggest that it has actually been possible to scrounge up a feed from that part of the world, amazingly, without the all-out heart-breaking annihilation from large sharks. Nothing exciting, like those years so long gone, where bag limits of trout were a given and you could be fussy about what you retained, but encouraging all the same. Not everyone is avoiding the dreaded noahs, but at least some are.

A couple of random reds have been caught recently, which is rarer than ever from those once-hallowed red-producing grounds. Trout numbers are still lower than they should be, and the average size is way down too, but a couple can be managed from ‘virgin’ ground if you can find it. Otherwise, it is the usual mix of grassy sweetlip, scarlets (nannygai), moses perch, cod and tuskies that form a mixed bag from those waters at present.

A 20lb red emperor caught on a recent Hot Reels fishing charter.

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There are monster cobia in the northern bay, as these Hot Reels Fishing Charter clients found out recently.

Jigging guru from Fraser Guided Fishing, Tri Ton, put this client onto a beaut coral trout recently.

Add snapper and squire if you venture up there early enough for the dawn bite, or stay late; or overnight it, and fish the even-better dusk bite into the evening. Look for snapper along the prominent ledges if you wish, but skirt the fringes and keep your offerings up off the bottom for better results. Live baits were so valuable once upon a time that you wouldn’t dare waste fuel and time heading to the Gutters without a tank full of them. Nowadays though, many fishos favour jigs and prawn-imitation softies for their trout, and a range of softies for their snapper. Easy fishing, with no need for anchoring.

Millions of baitfish continue to flood into Hervey Bay waters. Yakkas move in along sections of the gutters and are the major drawcard for the snapper. Trevally also arrive at this time, as do increasing numbers of cobia. As you can imagine, bycatch whilst snapper fishing up that way can be significant (and somewhat annoying). Take the kids jigging up there through the remainder of winter and you can wear them out on the trevally. They could tally quite a number of species from a single day’s effort too, which they will enjoy.

Spanish mackerel are still wowing their fans as they bolt with live baits, trolled lures, and sometimes smaller reefies being wound up from the depths. The new bag limit has certainly protected them, yet you might do that little extra to ensure the survival of releasees. Letting them go by removing the hooks without removing the spaniard from the water is a good idea – if safe to do so! Be very alert and watch out for bull sharks roaring up from beneath.

The same goes for large cobia. Release them in the water if you can do so safely. Many folks are yet to catch a big cobe, whilst many others have caught several. In fact, it is fair to say that some of us have had our fill of such brutes over the years and would be happy to avoid them altogether on future outings. Cobia reach immense proportions in our waters, and dozens of fish of around 30kg are caught each year. True monsters dwarf even these leviathans and are amazing to behold.

Cobia will eat just about anything. They are suckers for berley (which few would bother with in these sharky times); they love live baits, they love sand crabs, and they are happy to scoff a range of lures. Some of the more enormous cobes reported over the years actually ate decent reef fish such as nannygai, reef jacks and large squire!

Big they may be, and tough they certainly are; however, you don’t need to fight them hard to land them. In fact, the next time you hook a big cobia, try the gentle approach on a smooth drag, with smooth rod work, and you should find that it succumbs to constant mild pressure surprisingly quickly. Take the fight to them, all locked up and hauling on your rod like a mad man and they will fight back, big time. Try it. It works (which is why so many are caught on quite humble tackle whilst targeting snapper).

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Timmy Mohr with a lap full of spanish mackerel. Big fish for a young fella. Ripper mate.

Knife-style fast-moving jigs caught amberjack just as effectively as slow-pitch models, with extra workout pre-hookup.

Logan with a high-fin amberjack jigged from 235m on a Mustad Wingman jig a week ago.

The current neap tide phase won’t excite too many experienced snapper fishos, yet plenty of folks will be out and about eagerly pursuing them again this week all the same. That spell of onshore breeze and cloud cover last week was just the ticket to trigger a good snapper bite over the full moon. Consistent south-westers chilled our waters nicely for weeks prior, yet did little to get the snapper chewing. That all changed last week, and some solid knobbies were caught from various spots around the bay.

The influx of baitfish has drawn snapper close inshore, yet also attracted them to many sites within the central bay and Platypus Bay. The approaching darks, either side of the new moon in a week’s time will be prime for snapper fans. In the meantime, dawn and dusk sessions will improve your chances, as will fishing into the evening. The annual month-long snapper (and pearl perch) closure is looming for the 15th July, so the next full moon period will be out of bounds. Make the most of the next set of darks if you are keen on your snapper.

The pressure has been on over the usual inshore hotspots. There is constant traffic at the Simpson arti, Moon ledge, the Roy Rufus arti, and the Burrum 8 Mile. Snapper have been caught by some, whilst others have gone home empty-handed. Now that the baitfish have amassed in numbers, the Platypus Bay reefs, the grounds south-west of Rooneys, as well as the 25 Fathom Hole and surrounds will all host snapper with some consistency.

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Dane caught this squirey snapper working a Molix RT Fork Flex softie through the water column.

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There's that RT Fork Flex again. This time it's Jacko and a good knobbie.

Christie with her new PB snapper from the bay. On, you guessed it, that RT Fork Flex again.

Many other spots close inshore also draw a few snapper, and more often, squire. Often overlooked waters such as the Fairway, the Urangan Channel, Boges Hole and the Channel Hole, join various deeper inshore ledges and isolated rubble patches as potential hotspots for passing schools of squire/snapper. Even the deeper edges of our shallow fringing reefs can produce good squire to a few kilos. Catching such fish in barely a few metres of water demands a little stealth and typically in low-light conditions, yet decent catches are possible. Berley can certainly help bait fishos fishing the shallows, that are willing to anchor and float-line pre-dawn or in the evening.

Squire also make their way down into the Great Sandy Straits this time of year. Many undersized models out-number the better-quality fish, but enough keepers exist to keep a few locals interested. The ledges that track wide of Fraser in the Kingfisher Bay vicinity host a few squire, as do the waters around the Picnics. Fish to 60cm have been known to enter the Mary at River Heads in drier years, though that may not be the case this year. Squire are possible off Ungowa and from other rocky reef country further south again, yet snapper fishing tactics need to be deployed to catch them (be that artificial or float-lining).

Bycatch from potential snapper sessions inshore of late has taken the form of solid grunter, decent sweeties, the odd codger, mackerel and trevally. The school mackerel didn’t linger around some reefs over the full moon, which was a bonus for those jigging plastics etc. Similarly, so, the schools of golden trevally that were so readily targeted over prominent artificial reefs recently took a wander. Both will be back, to either excite or disappoint the fishos that trip over them on their next forays to those areas.

Interestingly, the degree of shark depredation inshore this winter has been dramatically lower than previous winters. Local fishos that were frustrated to the point of giving up in recent years have been sneaking back out and actually landing a decent feed of reef fish. Even the Roy Rufus has given up fish without relentless sharks in pursuit, which is very encouraging. How long will it last? Unknown, but given that we tend to have the least issues with sharks through August and September, there is something to look forward to perhaps.

Hopefully a lot of the larger noahs racked off with the masses of tuna that departed the bay recently. The autumn tuna season was a blinder and many commented that the masses of tuna kept the sharks fed. Perhaps that is true, whilst it is certainly a more comforting theory than the one suggesting there aren’t enough other resident fish left to attract and retain the sharks.

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Mohammed hitched a ride with Scotty from Fishos and caught this beaut snapper on a softie.

Sunset squire for Andrew. Time your efforts for prime time and you will catch more.

Holidaymakers keen for a fish when the wind blows too hard can always head for one of our local estuaries. The Burrum River system offers many opportunities to tangle with anything from bream to barra. Sure, the barra might be a bit hard to tempt for some, but the bream will be ravenous. They are still being caught well upstream, as well as in the lower reaches, so not all fish have moved down to spawn as yet.

Flathead are also a viable target in the Burrum system. Look for them around rock bars, gullies and shallow channels behind the islands. They can be sight-fished on the flats in some stretches of the lower reaches, or you can just kick back at a likely ambush point with a live bait or other tempting morsel soaking and wait for them to come to you.

Blue salmon, jewfish and grunter are all possible from the Burrum system. Your best chance of a jewie might come from the likes of Buxton Hole or other very deep rock-strewn holes. The blues will wander with the tides, making their way well upstream. They favour the Isis in particular, but can be found throughout all four rivers in winter. The next set of darks will be best for grunter hunters, and also those keen on a feed of larger sand whiting, or tailor.

The Mary’s blue salmon population explodes this time of year too, as does much of the straits’. Particularly large blues wander the open waters of the straits and the lower reaches of the Mary. Be ready for a battle when you hook one of those bigger 90cm+ blues. You might find enough threadies in the Mary or Susan to warrant the effort. They are still suckers for soft vibes in winter, even if they are lot less enthusiastic about it. Big barra cruising any of our rivers might be tempted during the brief spell of northerly weather this week, but only the super keen barra fans will know it.

The River Heads area offers those too anxious to wander far an opportunity to tangle with some pretty impressive fish. Estuary cod will soon let you know they are there if you drop a live bait anywhere nearby, whilst jewfish are also a very good target species. Slack tide is the time to be targeting both species in many locations near the heads, whilst a couple of prominent rocky ledges offer accurate jiggers a crack at them whilst the tide is all-but racing. Add the chance of a few flatties, and some pretty impressive bream fishing, and those launching from River Heads won’t need to burn much fuel at all.

The expansive network of creeks and channels that make up the Great Sandy Straits offers even more opportunity for estuary fishos. There are bream galore - some up on the flats, some milling around rock bars - all in spawn-mode. Flatties are becoming more prolific with each passing week and can be found in many creeks, as well as along the mangrove-lined verges leading into or out of those creeks.

Blue salmon and grunter up on the flats or in the creeks offer other elements to a day down the straits. As does time spent seeking jewies along the deeper ledges. Queenfish and even a few trevally wander between the flats and feeder channels with the tides, chasing baitfish such as garfish, herring and hardy heads as they go. Time spent chasing queenies etc in clear water is most enjoyable, and not a time to have left your squid jigs behind either.

A leisurely wintertime troll is worth considering if that is your thing. Deep divers such as RMG Poltergeists or Scorpions (designed and made by the very same Robbie Gaden that created the Classic Dr Evils by the way), or other equally-effective deep divers such as Atomic Shiners and other slower-waddling offerings won’t be trolled far without at least some attention from estuary cod. Jewies are suckers for a lure trolled past their hangouts too, as are winter barra hanging deep amongst the snags. Give it a try if you are new to the area in particular, as trolling is a great way to discover new terrain whilst catching a feed or a photo-worthy trophy.

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Jacob Beu with his hands full of tiger squid. Take the kids squidding and they will thoroughly enjoy the hijinks.

Justin Green was justifiably proud of this fine flathead. Good one mate.

Now that our winter whiting season has finally kicked into gear, there should be plenty of whiting fans out there with an abundance of whiting frames. There is potentially no better bait for sand crabs, so you might consider running a few pots out in the bay post-whiting session. Our sand crab run has been a ripper this winter, and continues unabated. Some of you might even find a bag limit of sand crabs easier to procure than a limit of whiting.

There are a lot of pots out in the bay by the way, so consider this an extraordinary hazard at present. Picking up a pot float and its rope in your prop is not something you want to experience, so keep a good eye out. Popular crabbing grounds stretch from Coongul to Wathumba (wide via the 6 Mile), and over in the western bay from off Toogoom to beyond the green zone off Woodgate. Others might run their gear up through the central bay too, but it’s the eastern and western fringes that have been sand crab and crab pot central of late.

The latest reports of whiting have been scattered. Seems you can wander off in any direction and reasonably expect a feed with enough effort. Having said that, the waters off the Burrum and Toogoom, and the waters west of Woody Island are worth a look. As are the waters east of River Heads, or further down the straits towards Maroom.

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Cool young fisho Finn Welch's favourite fish category is now filled by both flathead and 'rock cod'.

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Finn Welch's dad, Scott, with a nice snapper from the bay. See Finn, dad catches good fish too.

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Mason walked a local creek and caught this fine flatty.

Wintertime jacks are hard to catch but not impossible. Max snared this one from a local creek.

Urangan Pier has been popular amongst holidaying fishos. It is mostly about the bream out there at the moment, and big bream at that. Fish exceeding 40cm are relatively attainable, or at least they are for those paying extra attention to detail and perfecting their bait presentations. Herring remain the primo bait, either stripped, or butterflied ala snapper-style.

The herring haven’t been all that easy to catch in recent days apparently. Schools were drifting into the first channel with the tide and leaving a baitfish void out at the deep end. Prime time for flathead you might say. A neap tide winter time special for pier goers if you aren’t already aware. Live herring, or even better, live pike, will account for quite a few flathead from the pier in the very near future.

You can take a wander around the shores of our local creeks and expect to catch a flathead or two as well. Those flicking small soft plastics will definitely have the edge on all others, but bait fishos are still in the game. Large banana prawns are a great dead bait option, and small pillies are pretty good too. Neither will beat a live bait though, so if you can cast a net, then it’s worth the extra effort.

Blue salmon have been recent visitors to our local creeks, and queenies are always a chance over the flats out the front. Resident estuary cod and mangrove jacks might mouth a suitable bait or lure if you get it tight to their lair, but you cannot expect the vigour of the warmer months from these critters. Enough bream remain within the creeks to warrant a session over the higher stages of the tide; a little berley going a low way towards constant success.

Otherwise, it’s the rocks of the Pt Vernon – Pialba foreshores for the more adventurous. Your next fish from those waters might be a small coral trout, a big blue salmon, a flatty or a heap of bream. Make sure you have squid jigs with you if heading for the rocks or the creeks, and spend some time actively targeting them in the clear water if you are up to the task. In fact, go nowhere around here this time of year without squid jigs. All you need to do is find them before anyone else does and its fresh calamari for dinner.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

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Squire along the shelf were happy to pounce on jigs Logan dropped to them last week.

Clayton hauled this bar cod from the depths on deep drop tackle. Check out those conditions offshore.

This flamie came from 230m on the deep drop gear.

A double header of flamies from over the shelf last week.

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