HERVEY BAY’S shallow reefs are starting to slow down after five months of excellent fishing, but they should still have plenty to offer over the next month. The average size of coral bream from the shallows has certainly decreased, with many borderline fish now being caught. The better quality fish have moved into deeper water, with catches of big coralies coming out of the channel just outside the Urangan harbour, the Channel Hole, Rufus Artificial Reef and Boge’s Hole.
If you want to fish the shallow reefs, I recommend that you do so at night, as this is when blackall really become active. A typical evening at this time of the year, with a high tide at around 8.00pm on one of the shallow reefs, has been going something like this:
5.30 to 6.00pmDrop anchor in around two metres of water on the reef between the red lateral and north cardinal marks. Tide flooding. Baits – half-pilchards, cuttlefish heads, yabbies – being driven mad by pickers. Probably happy moments. (Watch out for those spines!)
6.00 to 6.30pmStarting to catch the odd coral bream but many are under the legal 30cm limit. Just on dusk… these fish should now be on the burst but it’s getting late in the season.
6.30 to 7.00pmThis place is dead! Not even a happy… hang on a minute – what’s this? A just legal silver bream.
7.00 to 7.30pmGetting dark. The blackall should be starting to fire up… there’s a bite, but not soft enough for a blackall. Yes – a stripey perch, not a bad one either at 30cm. (It’s quite usual for the resident members of the sea perch family, stripeys and moses perch, to have a burst just after dusk.)
7.30 to 8.00pmTide slowing down. Now using only large yabbies as the rubbish fish seem to have departed. A bite… yes, the unmistakable bite of a blackall – soft and deliberate. Wait until he really moves off with it before getting too excited… yes, not a bad fish. Probably around 2kg.
8.00 to 8.30pmWater is still. Not a bad time to try right under the boat – blackall often attracted to unintentional berleying with yabby claws etc… quite a few fish here but no record breakers.
8.30 to 9.30pmTide ebbing. Blackall now coming into the boat quite regularly – best around 4kg – and a couple of reasonable coral bream. Also two or three sand bass (reef barramundi), another stripey and a very angry reef shark.
9.30 to 10.00pmAction has really slowed down. Time to call it quits.
Although not yet in their spawning areas, the bream are busy building up condition ready to do their thing, and it’s encouraging to see how many big bream have already been taken. Some of the better catches have been made off the walls of the Urangan harbour on both bait and soft plastics. The pylons and pontoons have become a favourite venue for anglers using plastics, but with the demand on berths here it isn’t always easy to access some of the better country.
This month should see the start of the movement into the favoured spawning locations, which include Point Vernon, the northern end of Woody Island, Little Woody Island, the Picnics and River Heads. With full moon coming up in the middle of the month, it’s probably a little early for reliable fishing in this area.
If all goes according to plan, diver whiting will be plentiful this month. So far there have been a few patches of fish, with some good catches being made. With the early evening tides reaching greater heights, night fishing for sand whiting should be well worthwhile. Some of the better catches are being made over the top of the tide close to the mangroves near the mouths of Urang and Poyungan creeks, and on the flats west of the southern Picnic island.
Reports of tuna catches are still coming in, but probably not in the numbers that they were earlier in the year. The fish that I have seen have all been macs but I understand there have been a few longtails about as well. School mackerel are still being taken, mostly in the shipping channel as far as the Fairway Buoy. There have also been a few taken over the Artificial Reef. As far as pelagics are concerned I am not brave enough to predict anything too positive for this month.
Reports of excellent whiting continue to come in from Fraser Island’s ocean beach. However, as I write, weed continues to make a nuisance of itself, coming and going out of the gutters with changing weather conditions. It’s possible to find sections of the beach that are relatively free, but this can mean travelling quite a distance. Let’s hope the situation improves quickly.
Whiting are being taken from gutters south of Dilli Village through to at least as far north as Indian Head. The best strategy is to locate a gutter free of weed and fish the last couple of hours of the ebb and the first hour of the flood. Both worms and pipis are producing fish.
Dart have been reasonably plentiful lately, but they don’t like the weed. The most reliable time to catch dart is early morning on a flood tide. There have been quite a few bream and tarwhine around the coffee rocks at Poyungan, Yidney and Ngkala.
On the western side of Fraser Island, north of Moon Point, inshore waters and beaches are sparkling clean. Whiting are plentiful along most sections of the beach, but quality leaves something to be desired. Bream and flathead have been taken at the creek mouths and along the edges of coffee rock exposures.
Driving conditions along inland tracks have improved to some extent, thanks to the recent rains, but most tracks remain rough. On the beach, washouts continue to be hazardous to inexperienced drivers. Island creeks run all year round, not just after rain, and cut steep washouts into the beach. Washouts can also be formed by water running out of a high water lagoon.
Remember that May is the peak of the dingo breeding season – a time when they become particularly active and have the potential to be more aggressive. Check out the information given to you when you purchase your permit, and be particularly vigilant with young children. Hope to see many of you on the island this month!
1) Top quality bream are appearing in good numbers throughout Hervey Bay. These were caught by Don Adams.Reads: 850