Blowing A Gale Outside? Options To Find Fish When It’s Windy

At this time of year there is nothing Scott Bradley wants to do more than blast up Fraser Island and spend the day trolling for tuna, mackerel, marlin and what ever else he can find working the bait in Platypus Bay.  The problem is the October/November period is traditionally when Hervey Bay gets hammered by serious northerly winds. And when its not hammering the bay from the north its blowing 30 knots from the south east! In this timely article he offers some alternative fishing options.

Finding Shelter

We are very fortunate on the Fraser Coast with no shortage of sheltered waters enabling anglers to find somewhere out of the wind to wet a line on any given day. Having Fraser Island on our front doorstep provides miles of protected coastline fed by the numerous rivers and creeks that make up the Great Sandy Straits. You could spend a lifetime exploring all that the sandy straits have to offer and only scratch the surface and with sheltered waters only a short distance from the mainland its possible to fish in all but the worst weather. Understanding the geography of the area by researching maps or google earth is the best way of determining where to fish when the wind is up in a given direction.
Dave Taylor caught this cod on a small patch of reef close to Fraser Island.

Dave Taylor caught this cod on a small patch of reef close to Fraser Island.

Dreaded Northerlies

  Anything from the North and North West over 10 knots makes the white caps stand up and turns the bay into a washing machine of dirty water. It also pushes weed in to the bay and on our beaches making fishing a nightmare.An Easterly is an ideal wind to blast up to Platypus Bay and fish from Arch Cliffs to Rooneys Point casting and trolling for pelagics, bottom bouncing the shallow reefs around Wathumba or fishing the flats. South Easterlies are by far our most common winds and give access to the beach from Urangan to Point Vernon, Gatakers Bay and Fraser Island. It’s only when they get over 25 knots that they shut down access to Rooneys Pt and can cause a decent swell that pumps up the Sandy Straits. Westerly winds are usually confined to the winter months and play havoc to snapper fisherman fishing the 25 fathom, Southern Gutters and the Coral Patch off Rooneys because there is nowhere to hide.
This bream was  caught fishing off the rocks at Gatakers Bay to get out of the wind

This bream was caught fishing off the rocks at Gatakers Bay to get out of the wind

The Artificial Reef

Big Woody Island provides some relief in a westerly and the artificial reef is a popular spot until the wind gets up over 15 knots. The thing to remember in a westerly is the further you travel away from the mainland the worse it gets so its a good idea to stay close.When all else fails we still have the Mary and Susan rivers, the Burrum/Isis Rivers and countless creeks from River Heads all the way to Tin Can Bay that not only provide shelter in any wind but give access to such a wide variety of species. Everything from flathead, bream and whiting to barra, jacks, grunter and threadfin salmon call the Sandy Straits home not to mention a healthy population of sand and mud crabs. Throw some crab pots, a cast net and a yabbie pump, some plastics/hardbodies and you can troll and cast lures and fish baits and catch crabs in everthing but a cyclone.
A decent shovelnosed shark caught when we were hiding from the wind.

A decent shovelnosed shark caught when we were hiding from the wind.

Land Based Options

  For the land based angler the Urangan Pier, The Urangan Harbour rock wall, shelley beach, Point Vernon, Gatakers Bay, Eli Creek, River Heads even Moon Pt and Kingfisher Bay Resort by barge all give access to areas that are sheltered by the prevailing winds. If you can find a place where the wind is behind you you can cast a mile with the lightest lures and baits and the wind can help with the fishing especially on the flats where fish spook easily in calmer conditions. Some of my best flats popper sessions have been with 25 knots at my back making long casts across weed beds and sandy ground for whiting.

Finding Deeper Holes

Walking up creeks at low tide fishing the deeper holes when its too windy to fish anywhere else has not only got me out of the house and helped scratch the fishing itch but also ended up providing fresh flathead fillets for dinner. If you own a boat in Hervey Bay you have to be prepared to fish in at least 15 knots of wind or you simply won’t get out on the water that often. Most anglers are happy to punch through a bit of chop to get to a spot thats relatively comfortable to fish, obviously the bigger the boat the better the trip but even in a 4 meter tinnie there are options. Ive lost count of the times the run from the Boat Harbour to Moon Pt has been average in a 25 knot south easter but once you hit Fraser Island you can go all the way to Wathumba and it’s like a mill pond.
Whiting are all over poppers in dirty water and a great option when the wind is blowing.

Whiting are all over poppers in dirty water and a great option when the wind is blowing.

Push Your Boundaries

  Once you are familiar with your surroundings and know what you and your boat can handle it’s possible to push the boundaries that the weather presents, get out on the water more often and hopefully catch more fish. With gps’s, google earth or simply a map it doesn’t take long to work out a game plan for windy days from any direction. Keep your options open and fish to the conditions, if casting lures is a problem in the wind try trolling them instead. If the only place landbased out of the wind is Gatakers Bay , berley up off the rocks and float fish baits for bream. If your keen enough there are always options on the Fraser Coast. At the end of the day we can’t rely on the fact that the weather will be fine on our days off to get out fishing and especially at this time of the year as anglers we need to be flexible. Hopefully its a good season and the Northerlies don’t disrupt the fishing too much. There have been years where it’s been impossible to get up tp Platypus Bay till after Christmas for most weekend fisho’s and it’s those years that drove me to find fishable ground regardless of weather.

It might not be exactly where or how I wanted to fish but it sure beats sitting at home watching the telly!

The author's son Liam with a cod trolled up close to Big Woody Island.

The author’s son Liam with a cod trolled up close to Big Woody Island.

Scott Bradley

About Scott Bradley

Scott Bradley was born in Hastings Victoria and grew up fishing for King George whiting, snapper, sharks, Australian salmon and flathead. At 15 years of age his family moved to what he calls ‘God’s own country’ for the fishing and lifestyle that Queensland’s Hervey Bay is famous for. At 19 he bought his first boat and started to properly explore the fish-rich waters adjacent to world-renowned Fraser Island. “I carved my teeth chasing pelagics and to this day find it hard to go past a boiling bait school without firing a slug or popper into the action,” said Scott. “Longtails and spotted mackerel were all I chased until age 20 when I caught my first marlin trolling in 10 meters of water, 500 meters off Fraser Island and I was hooked.” From then on Scott has spent years chasing marlin inside Fraser Island. On the good days he says 5 to 10 shots at marlin are not uncommon. Now 37-years-old, Scott maintains that game fishing is his passion. “But I'd also fish in a bucket of water,” he said. “September to March is when I chase Marlin leaving the rest of the year to stalk the flats for flathead and bream. I also hit the reefs for snapper, reds, cod and coralies plus also throw the net for a feed of prawns or shoot up a creek if the wind is up.”

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