Quality catches from the shallow reefs
  |  First Published: February 2004

MOST anglers visiting Hervey Bay during the holidays were pleased with their catches. One of the big surprises was the quantity and quality of bream, whiting and flathead taken from the southern wall of the Urangan boat harbour.

The walls of the recently completed silt storage ponds which link up with the southern wall are also starting to prove themselves as effective fish-attracting structures. Unlike the easy walking of the main southern wall, these newer ones are real mountain-goaters and need to be treated carefully. Eddies forming on the corners of the new walls are proving to be the hotspots with bream, flathead, javelin and moses perch.

While on the subject, a new wall is being built inside the boat harbour to help protect the marina from uncomfortable seas, particularly in northerly weather. Already this wall has completely changed the tidal movements, particularly at the northern end of the harbour. The once-productive boardwalk will become nothing more than a quiet backwater but the new structure is likely to open up some more interesting country.

Boat anglers have been rewarded with good catches of reef species both in the shallows and on the deep ledges. The usually productive channel outside the Urangan harbour has been disappointing so far this season, with hordes of happy moments demolishing baits and soft plastics as soon as they hit the water. The shallow reefs fringing Gatakers Bay and Point Vernon as well as those around the islands have been good for coral bream, blackall, blue parrot and a few trout, mostly during early mornings and late afternoons.

The Artificial Reef has been swarming with squire, almost all of which are under the 35cm legal limit. Specialist blue parrot anglers baiting with blue-claw and paddler crabs are experiencing some major bust-ups with just a few of the smaller fish making it to the boat. Anglers baiting with live herrings, yakkas or rainbows are scoring trout, cod and mackerel. Most of the deep ledges have been fishing reasonably well for blackall, cod and coral bream. The reef fishing can only get better over the next few months.

Hervey Bay is now experiencing its first spotty mackerel season free of commercial ring netting and most anglers are coming in with their limits of top quality fish. For most of the season there has been no need to travel any further north than Arch Cliff. As I write this, reports are coming in that significant numbers of spotties are moving south into the inner bay.


On Fraser Island’s ocean beach the fishing has not been too exciting. The ever-reliable dart have been by far the most numerous catch with just a few whiting, bream and flathead. My latest reports indicate that there are still a few schools of tailor, mostly choppers, moving up and down the beach. During the Christmas holidays beach traffic was heavy and this didn’t do much for fishing the gutters. The better catches have been made by anglers fishing very early in the morning, at dusk and at night.

If all goes according to plan, the next few months should see sand whiting dominate beach catches.

1) A juvenile blackall. The black spots are absent on larger specimens.

2) Netted sweetlip (gold-spot blubberlips) is a common catch from Fraser’s headlands and coffee rocks.

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