WITH THE weather warming up anglers will be looking forward to the return of summer species. However, water temperatures should still be on the low side and we shouldn’t expect too much too early. Before looking at the month's prospects let's briefly review the winter that we’ve just left behind.
Hervey Bay's winter whiting season wasn’t a great one, particularly in the opinion of those who like to fish the usually reliable and protected areas on the western side of Woody Island and in the Mangrove Island gutters. Plenty of fish made it down into this part of the bay but most were small. Also, giant green toads were out in force – much to the delight of local tackle shops.
In the more open sections of the bay, off Gatakers Bay and Toogum, catches were larger and the class of fish was outstanding. Divers around 30cm were common. This area, which normally fishes at its best early in the season, produced excellent catches as late as mid-August.
This winter brought another great bream season. Catches at the mouth of the Mary River were a little down on previous years, but around the islands these fish were prolific. The best catches were made close to the full moons of July and August.
Snapper specialists have reported reasonable catches from the Artificial Reef, Moon Ledge, the Six Mile off Arch Cliffs and from the One Mile and Washing Machines off Wathumba Creek. This month should see the snapper slow down at the Artificial Reef but further north off Wathumba they should still be available.
Low water temperatures have kept most reef dwellers out of the shallows and we can expect this to continue. Few anglers persevere with the shallow reef at this time, as all you can expect are a few blackall and mostly undersize squire. The best option this month is to work the deeper holes and ledges. For most of these there is considerable tidal run so fishing an hour or so either side of slack water is the way to go. Boge's Hole, the Channel Hole, Micky's, Bogimbah Ledge and Moon Ledge were all productive during winter and this should continue through October. With small squire, lancers and rainbows being a common problem on some of these ledges, using whole diver whiting heads as bait is very effective on the better class of coral bream and cod.
Sand whiting catches have been improving and we should now be seeing excellent catches right along our city beaches and Fraser Island's west coast. I have been very impressed with the class of fish taken by some of the regular earlybirds at Shelly Beach, between Torquay and Urangan. Sand whiting are likely here all day and at any tide, but the very best catches are made on an early morning flood tide, preferably with a high around 9am. At the pier, catches of whiting have been down on what might have been expected. This month should see plenty of good fish gathering around the pylons of this structure.
A number of visiting anglers have been fascinated, even frustrated by the large school of diamond-scale mullet in the inner gutter at the pier. These giants (up to 6kg) have been temped by all sorts of baits and flies but, to my knowledge, to no avail. At the far end of the pier, mackerel, queenfish and trevally have been taken by some of the regular specialists, and in late August longtail tuna were taken by anglers floating live baits out under balloons.
After a fairly slow start, Fraser Island's tailor season found its top gear in early August. There have been good tailor right along the beach but the section from Eli Creek to Indian Head has been most reliable. With bag limits on tailor now in force, many anglers have been turning some of their attention towards other dwellers of the surf. Dart have been in oversupply and the quality has been excellent. Whiting have slowed down somewhat but there are still enough around to score a good feed. Tarwhine, school jew and bream have also been about, particularly around the coffee rocks.
With the Indian Head to Waddy Point closure finishing at the end of September, there will be plenty of tailor fishing activity on these headlands. The northern faces of both headlands become particularly popular in strong southerly or southeasterly conditions when beach fishing becomes difficult. Indian Head in particular can become crowded at this time of the year as anglers home in on the hottest tailor spot on the Australian coast. This is not a good place for the inexperienced; it's best to develop tailor fishing skills on the open beach before heading for the rocks. The beaches will continue to produce plenty of tailor right through until the end of November and these fish should be widespread from south of Dilli Village through to Sandy Cape.
The floating brown weed that has plagued the island for more than a year hasn't completely disappeared, unfortunately, but at least it’s not affecting the entire beach at the same time. With a little driving it’s possible to find clear gutters. The weed can disappear as quickly as it comes and doesn't stay on a particular stretch of beach for too long, which indicates that the band of weed may be becoming narrower and thinning out.
The western beaches of the island always fish well for sand whiting at this time of the year, and this is a good option if strong onshore winds make fishing the eastern beaches unbearable. There are two options for reaching the whiting beaches of the island's west coast. The first is to turn off the ocean beach at Happy Valley and follow the signs to the barge landing at Moon Point. The second is to turn onto the Woralie track north of the Maheno wreck and follow the signs through to the mouth of Woralie Creek. This route also takes you past the turn-off to Lake Allom. The short detour to this lake is well worthwhile, for sightseeing purposes only.
Both cross-island tracks can be soft and rough in places and aren’t recommended for low-clearance all-wheel-drive vehicles (in fact, for all the island tracks an off-road 4WD is recommended). On either track the journey time is around one hour.
At Moon Point the best whiting fishing is around the sandy point north of the barge landing and the ebb tide is usually most productive. At Woralie Creek, good whiting can be caught right at the track entrance or a little further south where the creek runs across the beach.
Catch you again in November.
1) Even the author catches a personal best occasionally! This 5kg tailor was taken at the Cathedrals on Fraser Island.Reads: 734