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Splendid species spoil anglers
  |  First Published: July 2012



Lake Honduran and Isis are producing some great bass and barra fishing to the coastal estuaries. The Baffle, Kolan and Burnett rivers are supplying bread and butter species and sport fish, like barra, salmon and jacks, to locals and tourists.

Where the sugar cane meets the beach is the northern most part of Hervey Bay and the most southern part of the Great Barrier Reef. This area has coffee rock and soft coral reefs that adorn the shore and the shallow waters of the bay. As you move north around the bunker group of islands you’ll find beautiful soft corals and hard corals displayed in crystal clear water lagoons such as Lady Musgrave and Fitzroy islands.

These reef areas are home to the big reef dwellers such as red emperor, coral trout, sweetlip and the bigger pelagic species such as mackerel and tuna. As you go east of Bundaberg, about 40nm, you hit the northern most tip of Australia’s biggest sand island, Fraser Island. It surrounds the eastern most part of Hervey Bay and has impressive sports fishing and some of the world’s best flyfishing for bone fish, golden trevally and tuna species. It is one of the only protected waterways that you can catch sailfish and marlin.

As you move to the north of Fraser a large sand spit runs out for 20nm to the north and as you cross the sometimes treacherous bar you enter an area that is fed by the southern currents of the Coral Sea. This area starts in 8m of water extending out in a mostly sandy bottom to 40m and is a stopover point for black marlin on the migration south from the warmer waters of the north and they often school up with residential and migrating sailfish. Most pelagic fish haunt this area chasing schools of bait around the shallow waters of the spit. This is also home to migrating whales that create a tranquil backdrop to an extreme fishing Mecca.

The waters drop out to 100m as the Continental Shelf drops away to large canyons and is fed by the nutrient-rich East Australian Current. This is home to some deep water species such as bar cod, blue-eye trevalla, swordfish and of course large migrating black, blue and striped marlin.

The southern edge of the Barrier Reef meets with some of the cooler waters of the south offering a multitude of reef and southern species for anglers’ bottom fishing these waters. The sandy cape shoals and the south east bommies are two areas where shallow reef comes very close to the surface and is home to large reef and pelagic species and these areas offer some of the best GT fishing in the world. With cascading fusiliers’ hitting the surface large schools of GT haunt these shallow reefs and fall victim to poppers and stickbaits, or you may fall victim to them…

I have caught everything from a coral trout to yellowfin tuna, cobia, Spanish mackerel and wahoo on poppers on these shallow reefs.

I live in one of the greatest fishing areas in the world! The species I have been fortunate to catch this month alone include sailfish, mackerel, wahoo, fingermark, jack, barramundi, GT, flathead, bream, Moses perch, snapper and red emperor! What a month!

Fishing the reef this month I went out with my mate and his son Graeme and Luke Harriman and, of course, my son and best mate Tommy Wood. We had one of the best days you could have. We started reef fishing in 54m of water and caught snapper, red emperor, and large-mouth nannygai – a great start to the day!

We then headed out wide to experiment with some deep water jigging. We dropped our first jigs but nothing much happened. Then, on the surface about 500m away we could see a huge commotion on the water as some large fish were frothing the water. We spotted a billfish of some sort when it hit the surface. We picked up our gear and decided to troll. As I was looking for the second rod to put out, the first rod cracked out of the rigger. I thought it was a wahoo at first but when I pulled the rod out of its holder and loaded up I saw the dorsal fin of a sailfish.

After an epic battle the fish was finally caught. It was the end to a perfect day.

Monduran

Lake Monduran has been fishing great with some barra around the 60-82cm range. The fish have been caught in certain shallow points with deep water close by and also in the backs of bays as it has gotten cooler.

It’s incredible how many barra are feeding in these areas. I watched on the side scan as groups of four, six and ten fish moved through. On this day I caught seventeen in the morning until about 8am and then fished hookless for another two hours and hooked up another six fish. This type of fishing is incredible but unsustainable as more people moved in to fish this area.

The area is now tapering off as the water temperature has plummeted to 18ºC. This is encouraging for the future as barra are going to be pushing a metre very shortly. The gun lures are still small suspending hardbodies, like Rapala Shad Raps 100m, X-Raps and the smaller X-Raps. The Jackall Squirrels are great too, in fact try anything that is around that 50-70mm in length and I like slow sinking seems to do the trick. Other lures I’ve tried with success where the Tilson Barra, small B52, small Halco Lures and Tropic Angler lures. I tried some top water early in the morning but with no success.

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