February is one of the best offshore fishing months in the calendar, if only the weather leaves us alone! Given what we had in late 2010 and through January, I am not too hopeful of great fishing conditions. However, there’s no harm living in hope…
Everything coloured, athletic and exciting is available in February at Wide Caloundra and the shallows nearby. This is the month to leave the ramp at 3am and get to the shallows in the dark. Trolling CD 18s or rigged tailor baits in the first glow of dawn produces Spaniards that will make your eyes pop. Get out there at 6am and you have missed the bite.
To see a 15kg Spaniard launch itself out of the water in the gloom of a pink pre-dawn to smash a lure is something never to be forgotten. Try it once and you will be hooked – literally!
Later in the day slow trolling livies on down riggers, or anchored with a berley trail will find Spaniards as well as wahoo, mac tuna and yellowtail kings as a bit of variety. All these species, except wahoo, are very common on the close reefs in water less than 40m from Noosa South to Palm Beach Reef, with Hutchies the pick of the trolling reefs.
I would leave the traditional bottom bashing haunts, 55-105m, alone in the last two weeks of February. Instead I’d be fishing the shallows west, northwest and south of Wide Caloundra hard during the snapper, pearlie and trag closure. Target species would be Maori cod, hussar, tuskies and the plethora of multi-coloured mixed reefies that descend on us late every summer. I remember one salient February morning last year where my first couple of drifts produced red throat emperor, spangled emperor, tuskies, fusilier, tomato cod, pearlies, Moses perch, orange spotted cod, hussar, iodine bream, a small red bass, beautiful coral cod (same as a coral trout in colouring but with a different tail), yellow tail king, green jobfish and a very unhappy brown morwong. Wow! I’d died and gone to heaven at having such a range of great eating and spectacular looking fish in SE Qld. And I ran out of columns in my Fisheries log book to record the species I had taken!
As a rec angler with a couple less fishos on the back deck, I would prefer to anchor and put out a little berley. The same fish are there but the size can be unbelievable when the bigger fish rise to floaters.
There are usually good pearlies and tuskies on the wider parts of Wide Caloundra in February, but often there is a fair swell from a cyclone somewhere to the north of us which can limit access to these wider grounds. Running over the Wild Banks can be a no-no at this time of the year for the same reason. They are not called the Wild Banks because someone liked the name, let me tell you!
Lastly, I will make a heartfelt plea to all you offshore fishos to get involved in this Rocky Reef Review process. We know how much our rigs cost to own, service and run as well as all of the specialised equipment and fishing gear they hold. We also know the frustrations of weather holding us back more times than any of us would care to enumerate. And how special it is to run wide into our big blue paddock which has no fences or guide posts. It really is the last frontier for us. Please make sure our voices are heard in this process.
This XOS gold spot wrasse is so old his gold spot had faded.
The down side of February offshore is wind, rain and swell. But the up side is that the fish still bite their heads off!
February is all about the weather. Pratty about to crank up another tasty reefy on a perfect day last year.
A solid gold spot cod off the shallows in the pink early morning.Reads: 1592