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1770 fishing in spring is magic
  |  First Published: September 2016



Safety and reef anchorages are important. There’s not a great deal of fishing to write about this month, but I know the questions people ask when they visit the caravan park are some answered in this report.

It’s Flathead time at 1770. Local estuaries are producing quality flathead, with several local anglers reporting specimens in excess of 70cm. These fish are excellent fun on light spin gear. Use small to medium hardbody minnows or plastic grubs for the best results.

Remember to cover lots of ground while chasing flathead. They’re ambush predators, lying in wait around drains and rocky outcrops for bait to come to them. The more area you cover, the better your odds of a hook-up. With the onset of spring, it won’t be long before the jacks start making their presence known. It’s a good time to check your gear. Get your reels serviced and prepare for the season ahead!

Fishing beaches throughout the area has been producing the goods. Large swallowtail dart up to 60cm, tarwhine, bream, and schools of tailor are coming through. Even the odd mulloway is mixed among them. Tuna schools have made an early appearance. Nice fish are taken from passing schools off the southern headlands. Expect pelagic numbers to steadily increase as winter ends, and spring patterns fall into place. Offshore has produced big Spanish mackerel, from deeper reefs, and black kingfish in excess of 20kg.

– Josh Lunn, Agnes 1770 Bait and Tackle

It’s warming up and 1770 is showing its true colours as a magic fishing destination, where most anglers still bring home a feed. Catch and release is the bible when you have a good feed of fish on board.

Late July and August had anglers calling, “Bring on the snapper!” Unless you’re a dedicated Fitzroy or Boult reef coral trout enthusiast, a big part of the winter catch was snapper from the gravel grounds and Banana Gutter area. Southeast of 1770, snapper, pearlies and big tuskfish have been taken from the deep grounds between the Bunker group of islands, reefs and the continental shelf.

I had a few trips to the 100m line east of the islands and caught large snapper, pearl perch and tuskfish. The sharks caned us on the first drops and cleanly took the best part of two estimated 4-5kg fish, right behind the gills. How are they so precise when they grab a fish, when we wind up so fast? We moved to another show and caught smaller fish, but we all know where there’s good fish, there are gentlemen in grey suits – fact of life.

Remember if you’re fishing this area, your boat, motor, batteries, VHF and safety gear need to be well maintained. Help is a long way away. It’s 46 nautical miles to the shelf, from 1770. Plenty of good grounds are close out of 1770 if you don’t want to travel far, such as South Bustard, the Wides, Banana Gutter, and 8 fathom patch. Call Tony at Agnes 1770 Bait and Tackle for some GPS marks.

When leaving Round Hill Creek, call VMR Round Hill on VHF channel 81 or 82, and our happy volunteers will help you as best they can. Channel 82 is best for Fitzroy area to the north and 81 for Lady Musgrave and south of 1770.

Carry way more fuel than you need, a good rule being to arrive back in port with at least a third of your total fuel capacity still on board. If the weather turns bad, you’ll get home safely. Rough weather consumes a lot more fuel than normal running.

Our beautiful 1770 fishing areas, and the Bunker group of islands and reefs, have a couple safe anchorages when you’re out wide and the weather goes to crap. Both Fitzroy Reef and Lady Musgrave Island have night lit, well marked entrances to safe rough weather anchorages. Both lagoons have large coral bommies, so enter in daylight, if you don’t have a GPS track and waypoint entered for anchoring inside the lagoons. Tide flow affects the lagoon interior, so allow a safe 360-degree swing.

I love September, the pelagics are smashing the bait schools, the humpbacks are on the whale highway, heading home to Antarctica, and algae create oily patches on the surface. That spells red fish. What more could you want? Some say the oily algae patches from September to December offshore are coral spawn. It’s a harmless surface floating algae bloom that occurs from spring to summer and is muddy in appearance. I relate its timing to great red fish catches.

Smallmouth nannygai and red emperor are on the chew during the next few months, more than any other time of the year. Maybe that’s why our finfish closures occur now until December. Head back into the lagoon in time for drinks and ‘the one that got away’ stories. Enjoy the magic of a glowing sky from Fitzroy lagoon, the lights of Bundaberg, Gladstone and even Rockhampton sparkling in the distance.

See you at 1770.

1

Chris Carnell showing off his awesome snapper, caught from the shelf off 1770.

2

Glen Jenkins scored this lovely 1770 flathead.

3

Trent Jenkins with a massive trout from 1770.

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