Cold wet and wild, the weather bureau predicted a wetter than average winter. Surprising enough, they have delivered. Bundaberg has certainly felt a bit of winter this year, and August will pretty much continue the same.
In Bundaberg this month, westerly winds usually rule the weather patterns. It’s anyone’s guess as to what might happen this year. If we get those lovely cool westerlies, smaller boat owners will have a chance to sneak in close for a fish on the smaller reefs and rubble patches around Bundaberg.
Most reports for the Burnett have been good. Grunter and bream are being caught in most of the usual haunts. Over August, the bream will really fire up and the dedicated anglers will have their cold nights on the river getting into those big schools. The winter whiting are around and will only get more abundant. These ghosts of the flats lack a bit in size, but are very tasty and are usually in enough numbers to grab a decent feed.
The river water is usually clear now, but with the unseasonal rain there may be some colour in the upper reaches. This dirtier water can fish very well, as predators like to use the dirtier water to hide and hunt out of, so keep an eye out and watch your fish finder. The mouth of the river is where I tend to fish, and it can be very hot or cold. If the schools of bait are moving around the river mouth, you can get into the big queenfish, big trevally and tuna that are hunting baitfish. If baitfish aren’t around, you will need to scale down and look for those schools of bream that hang along the north wall. Also keep an eye out for tailor.
August can throw up all sorts of weather, from light westerlies and calm warm days to howling freezer south winds that chill you to the bone. Pick your weather for an offshore trip. Close rubble patches produce some nice reef fish with sweetlip, stripies and snapper. You don’t usually get into the larger fish that you would offshore, but if you’re used to filleting bream for a feed, a nice legal sweetlip is just awesome.
Depending on size, the snapper or juvenile snapper come in close. They hunt and don’t necessarily sit on the best looking grounds, as big schools are found on very little structure. Snapper will come up high in the water column, so keep an eye on your sounder and where the fish are sitting. Drop nicely presented bait to that depth and hang on. I have written about the advantages of having and using a good fish finder around our inshore rubble patches before, and I can’t express how important they are to have when looking for fish.
Remember, when you are fishing areas with relatively snag free bottoms, you can fish with lighter leaders and lighter sinkers. These will get you more bites. For bottom fishing, I use a 7ft, 5-7kg spin outfit with 4000 size reel. Load it with 20lb braid with 40lb leader, and this outfit has caught plenty of decent fish, including a nice snapper last month on a lightly weighed IQF (Individually Quickly Frozen) pilchard about 12 miles out of the coast. The lighter you can fish with line and sinkers, the better the fish you will catch. Yes, you will get busted up on the odd occasion, but you will hook more fish on light gear.
This snapper was caught on an IQF pilchard lightly weighed.Reads: 400