November’s a tricky, frustrating month on both the beaches of Fraser Island and inshore Hervey Bay. On the ocean beach, the scourge of brown weed that moved in just in time for the school holidays and continued well into October may still be making its presence known.
We’ve been relatively free of the brown weed for around eight years. Prior to this there were about five years of infestation during the latter months of the year. Fishing from the beach has been difficult to say the least. There were some indications that the weed was about to clear with clean stretches of beach lasting for a day or two. During these rare times small catches of tailor were made. The overall quality of these fish was excellent.
If the weed conditions permit this month, there should still be plenty of late season tailor as well as whiting and the ever-reliable dart. Prior to the weed infestation, there were excellent catches of whiting right along the beach, very encouraging after some lean years.
On Fraser’s western beach, we often see weed washing ashore and clogging up inshore waters. This is a different type of weed compared to that on the eastern beach. This infestation happens more regularly at this time of the year and is thought to be the result of winter weed growths being dislodged by seasonal strong northerlies. With fishing close to impossible on the ocean beach, many anglers were heading for the western beach during school holidays.
With just one route available, the single lane Woralie track, traffic congestion made the trip difficult. Reports from the western beaches have not been exciting. The best reports are of good bream around the coffee rocks taken on unweighted hardiheads or half pilchards. Plenty of whiting were available along the beaches, but the majority were undersized. I don’t usually become excited about making the trip across the island at this time of the year.
Opportunities to make the boat trip to the outer northern parts of Hervey Bay don’t come along often in this period of seasonal northerlies. Those who’ve taken advantage of flat conditions in recent months have returned with the usual assortment of scarlets, grass sweetlip, hussar, trout and cod. Best results have been coming in from the Southern and Northern gutters.
Those who have made the run out through Breaksea Spit to the shoals have remarked on the abundance of red-throat emperor and easily legal red emperor. Close to home, the Eight Mile off Arch Cliff is fishing fairly well for golden trevally and scarlets. Fortunately, there don’t seem to be as many sharks spoiling the fun as there have been throughout winter. Scarlets (nannygai) are often prolific, but one might take a dozen fish before one of legal length turns up.
As expected, whiting dominate the scene for light gear anglers. We can just about forget the diver whiting of the winter months. After a disappointing season, we can now turn our attention to the so-called ‘summer whiting’ – sand and golden lined whiting. At the Urangan Pier and along the city beaches, a mixture of both species have been available. The early morning flooding tide has produced the most catches. The better class of fish always comes from the inner gutter of the pier with yabbies and worms doing the damage.
At Shelly Beach, the catch is likely to include quite a few that don’t make the grade. Sand whiting can be identified by the prominent black spot at the base of each pectoral fin. As well as having more golden fins, the golden lined whiting has no pectoral fin spot and the tail lobes tend to be more rounded than that of the sand whiting. Both species, as well as the northern whiting, need to make it to 23cm in length.
My favourite way to target sand whiting is to go ashore on one of many sandy banks on about half tide out, then walk around fishing the various drains and spits until half tide in. These shallows are ideal for targeting whiting with small poppers and other artificials. Live yabbies also work well and these can be easily pumped on many of the good banks. This is not only a good way to score fish, but it’s good for the body.
For the last couple of months, flathead have been the target of choice for anglers fishing the shallows in Hervey Bay and in neighbouring creeks and rivers. Most are using artificials of almost infinite variety. For myself, the go to offering when working the shallows is the ZMan 5” jerkshad in electric chicken. I’ve just been introduced to some of ZMan’s exciting new colour variations and look forward to testing them out. The mouths of island creeks have been turning on excellent fish. Away from creek mouths, anywhere that coffee rocks or sandstone meet sand will usually host flathead.
It’s almost time to think about Hervey Bay’s shallow reefs, but we need to keep in mind that water temperatures might still be fairly low. Next month we’ll see more of our reef species coming into the shallows. Of course painted sweetlip, bream and squire are likely catches. As we approach summer, grass sweetlip, black-spot tuskfish, Moses perch and stripies should move in as well. In the meantime, the best option is to fish deeper inshore reefs such as the Channel Hole, Boges Hole and the main channel just outside the Urangan Boat Harbour.
A great fish taken on an 85g Raider during a rare break in the weed at Poyungan Rocks in early October.Reads: 1977