Returning to normal
  |  First Published: April 2013

Inner Hervey Bay and Sandy Straits have received heaps of fresh water from the Mary River and local streams. With the water clearing up, particularly in the Northern Bay, fishing should start getting back to something close to normal.

On Fraser Island’s ocean beach, outpourings of freshwater have some influence on fishing opportunities but the huge seas combined with king tides in January and February, have carved into the beach and dunes even more than in the previous summers. Even coffee rocks are eroded releasing their tea tree coloured peat stain into the ocean. Putting all these effects together we have had, as a result, some fairly murky looking inshore waters. However, the ocean is starting to take on a better colour.

If the weather in the weeks leading up to April is relatively subdued, then we can be optimistic. In clear water conditions, dart should be plentiful along the edges of the deeper gutters particularly where there is some white water to hide under.

There have been few reports of whiting, probably because there have been very few anglers out there. However there were plenty right along the beach before the weather set in. In normal seasons (if such exists anymore), we expect to see whiting catches improve after the inshore waters start to cool down in March, and continue through to the end of the tailor season in November. In April last year, anglers working the shallow low water gutters and along the coffee rock edges, had no trouble scoring a feed of good fish.

During April last year, there was a somewhat unexpected run of excellent bream in some of the coffee rock gutters at Poyungan and Yidney. Hopefully they will be there again. Although many were taken on worms and pipis, the best catches were made using white pilchards, small blues and WA pilchard halves. Bream should also be in good supply around Indian Head and Waddy Point.

Tarwhine can also be expected to be about in good numbers during April. They let us down quite badly in April last year, but there is every reason to expect them to be back this year. Although tarwhine will take pilchards, their preference is for pipis or worms.

April is not the time to get too excited about tailor. Having said that, small chopper tailor are possibilities at just about any time of the year. Spinning over the coffee rocks or around the headlands with small metals can produce a few fish. Bear in mind, however, that many might not make the 35cm limit.

As keen anglers, the majority of us are in it for the whole package. For me, part of this is capturing a species that is new to my list, or of some particular interest. Before releasing, I like to take a good photograph, noting the location of the catch and prevailing conditions. So far, two of the most memorable taken on Fraser’s ocean beach, have been bone fish and juvenile potato cod, both of which I mentioned in last month’s QFM.

My latest special capture was made at Poyungan Rocks while targeting tarwhine. Thanks to Grant’s Guide to Fishes, I was able to identify it as a five-banded Sergeant-Major. For further information, I went to Fish Base, the world wide data base, and was able to find, among lots of other information, that it grows to 20cm and is common throughout tropical and sub-tropical reef systems across the Indio Pacific region. I can thoroughly recommend Fish Base to any who share my passion of delving into the characteristics, relationships and distribution of fishes. The website is www.fishbase.org

It even allows you to upload photographs of identified fish. If you look up potato cod, you will find a photograph of one that I uploaded recently.

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