Reef Up the New Year
  |  First Published: February 2011

We have enjoyed some fairly average weather but that has not stopped the fish from biting. There are plenty of reef species such as sweetlip, red throat emperor, tuskfish, squire, pearl perch and iodine bream. Most of the closer in reef systems such as the Gneerings and Murphys have proven to be very good after all the rain.

The mackerel, both spotties and Spanish, have now come on and trolling between Old Womans Island and Point Cartwright or from the Gneerings Shoal through to Currimiundi Reef should see you with a feed. The mackerel will take floating live baits or one of the preferred methods is using your downrigger to place the lures or baits right at the depth they are holding at. Lures such as Halco XD divers in gold or Qantas colours, mackerel maulers and Rapalas have all taken fish so far.

Currimundi Reef is one of the better spots to try floating a live bait. You can normally get a few yakkas from around the beacons off the northern tip of Bribie Island or around Currimundi and Brays Rock. The Caloundra Five and Seven Mile reefs are always a spot for those that love to chase mackerel and off course the spoil grounds out from the Caloundra Bar are just as popular.

Out wider around the Barwon Banks there have been strong catches of tuna and larger predators like wahoo, mahi mahi and cobia. The mahi mahi are a great fighting size this season with some bulls weighing in well over the 10kg mark on a consistent basis. Fish up around the 20kg mark are rare but if you hook one you will know all about it.

The cobia are attacking baits set for reefies but the best method is to always have a floater out around the back of the boat while drifting or on the anchor. The mac tuna are attacking the bait schools around the front of Mooloolaba and they are in good numbers.

I get a lot of emails asking what I use to catch the tuna and here it is: I use an ATC 3-6kg rod or 5-9kg spin stick 7’, teamed with a Shimano Symetre 4000 spooled with 6kg braid and the other with a 6000 Stradic spooled with 10kg braid and running a 15-20kg mono trace.

I use basically the same set-ups on snapper and all reefies because lighter is better and you do catch more fish than those fishing with the heavy 50lb+ braid. The pelagics are always the better targets in summer, including the tuna, so rig up and have a crack at them.

The estuaries have suffered from rain and run-off making fishing tough but not impossible. Flathead have been the mainstay around all the estuaries and of course the ever reliable whiting have not let anglers down. Now they are not necessarily easy to find but once you are on to a school you will get a feed.

The pick of the baits have been yabbies and soldier crabs which can be gathered at night scampering across the sand. The yabbies can be collected in a number of locations along the Pumicestone Passage but down at Bells Creek boat ramp is the pick of them. Worms and small peeled prawns can be as effective provided you keep them fresh and don’t leave them in the sun to rot.

Trevally and the odd queenfish have been caught around Pelican Waters and Military jetty areas and they have popped up within the Caloundra Bar system on occasions. If you are getting bites in the passage then it may be tailor, but probably smaller mackerel that are running in under the cover of the muddy water to feed on the schools of herring and hardiheads.

Bull sharks are also about but it is normally in the night that they are working hard on a feed particularly after things slow down and the night is still. Mulloway have been caught recently in the upper reaches of the Pumicestone Passage right through to the mouth of Coochin Creek as they too take advantage of the muddy water.

The canals around Pelican Waters and up around Kawana Island are the spots to nail some big mangrove jack. Live poddy mullet and some smaller hardbodied lures are accounting for them particularly around the rocky areas on the bridges.

Currimundi Lake has been quiet with mangrove jack but a few whiting are still being taken around the mouth and just opposite the picnic area. The area around McKenzies bridge has given up some fish particularly Moses perch to 1kg and some smaller chopper tailor. Casting a Cultiva surface lure may result in some great action and I have recently enjoyed a fight with a small soapy jew that attacked it.

Surface popping in the morning for whiting has also proven successful but you will need to be casting right on daybreak because once the sun is up it is all over.

The beaches are busy with holiday makers but the opportunities to have a fish are always there. The Wurtulla strip has a few recognisable holes around that have bream and whiting in them. An occasional bar tailed flathead can be caught but there is a great opportunity to catch some smaller mackerel in the small gutters that are around. Off the rocks at Kings Beach it is worth a cast with some smaller slugs around 20-30g for mackerel.

The main beach is the spot for whiting after hours or around 4am in the morning. Shelly Beach is okay at low tide on the rocks but watch the sets and remember safety first. Overall this summer has lived up to expectations with plenty of species around to target and a lot of pelagics to enjoy a brute struggle with. Have Fun!

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