Connection with the deep

Written by Andrew Chorley

Nothing calls more to avid fisherman than the ocean. Spending more of my days at sea than on land you could say I have a deeper connection than most to the ocean. Having that relationship and respect with the ocean and its inhabitants is something special, and that I am grateful of.

There isn’t much I haven’t seen on the bay over the years from Killer Whales, 4m great white sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, the incredibly rare leather back turtle, not to mention endless encounters with humpbacks.

I’ve seen more than I can remember!

Being lucky enough to work in this environment and call it my job is also something special. Sharing these experiences with guests is a joy and seeing their reaction is priceless.

It certainly reminds me that the place we call home is so special.

Over the years I have seen a dramatic change in the ocean. It’s sick and certainly needs our help.

Every species is on the decline due to human destruction. It’s no different to what we see happening on land.

Over fishing is a big problem, with things like big overseas super trawlers decimating huge bio masses of fish species globally, and micro plastics are killing everything from the smallest bait fish through to marine mammals and sea birds.

Climate change is also slowly changing the ocean currents.

All these factors are taking it’s toll on the ocean and we need to be more conscious on what products we buy, power we use and particularly plastics we dispose of.

I use the saying “we are in the good old days” because that’s what it is, and will be to the generations to come.

There is some hope for our oceans as the next generation are certainly more aware of their environmental and carbon footprint.

We are lucky in Australia that we have a vast coast line with a low population and some reasonable fisheries management in place, with more fisho’s practicing catch and release. Although things are declining I am confident some balance will be found before all is lost.

Now to the fishing in our local area. It’s now winter and we are seeing our winter species move about.

Recent cold snaps have helped for sure trigging spawning and winter migrations for many species let’s look around the region.

Bigger tides suit angers targeting big whiting in the Burrum River. Live yabbies and worms are great baits with best results at night. Grunter, bream and flathead have also been reported in the river with some good fishing between the ramps for bream on small live baits. On the 8 mile snapper to 60cm have been taken on live yakkas with pilchards drifted in a berley trail also working.

Platypus Bay
Golden trevally, snapper and grunter have been taken deep in the water column in Platypus Bay.
It’s been a slow start to the snapper season, but things should improve soon. Tuna can still be found on the surface taking slugs, plastics and stick baits.

or bait fisherman a few scarlets and grass sweetlip can be found on the reefs of Arch Cliffs along with school mackerel.

Wide Grounds
We have had some good conditions of late which has allowed anglers to get out wide. Coral trout, sweetlip, trevally and cod seem to be the most common catches at present. Snapper have showed up with smaller models to 60cm being the most common catch.

The southern gutters and 25 fathom hole have been the popular spots out wide.

Local Reefs
On the local reefs small snapper to 45cm have been coming off the Artifcial reef, channel hole, outer banks and Nu2 area.

Fishing with light soft plastics or lightly rigged baits on light tackle has been effective.

Grass sweetlip, blackall, parrot and golden trevally have also been about in those areas. For anglers looking for diver whiting Dundowran, Point Vernon and inside big woody have been consistent. For anglers looking to escape the crowds, try your luck down the strait with Turkey Straits, Boonaroo and Poona offering some good options for targeting diver whiting.

Sandy Strait
In the Mary and Susan Rivers, bream have been taken on the rock bars with the bigger tides over the full and new moons making them active. Soft plastics, hard body lures and fresh cut baits have been effective.

Flathead and whiting have been taken in the Susan River with the odd salmon also about. Down the strait, the flats have produced sand whiting, flathead, grunter and bream with a few tailor around the ledges of Ungowa and Fig Tree.

Some good reef fishing can be had during winter in the straits with species like sweetlip, cod, big Jew and blackall about on the ledges.

Urangan Pier and land-based options
The Urangan Pier has seen good catches of bream, whiting and flathead in the first channel.

Tailor, queenfish, jew, golden trevally and grunter have been reported out the end of the pier. For land based anglers, the rocks around the aquarium should produce a few bream on the big night tides.

The rock wall of the harbour, Point Vernon and River Heads are great areas this time of year to target bream. Lightly rigged half pilchards are ideal baits, but remember to keep your bait still as possible when fishing around the rocky areas preventing your offering from getting hung up on rocks. The flats are also worth a look over the coming days, walking the flats out from Eli Creek, Dundowran and around the pier with small surface poppers can be a fun way to catch a few.