Still On The Chew
  |  First Published: March 2011

What a resilient bunch we Queenslanders are? And the same should be said for the fish and all wildlife. It is amazing how they can survive such disaster and live to fight another day.

Fishers sure are a top breed. If nothing else we are persistent and that is what makes average anglers great anglers because it is that try and try again attitude that will eventually make everything click and change you for life.

By all counts, every angler around Queensland would have reason to hang up the gear for a while and focus on another hobby after the recent spat of terrible weather we have endured, but no, we are all out there now expecting to catch a monster that needs a big feed and is just a second away from striping line from our reels!

Catching the big one is only a matter of time. There is certainly a lot of opportunity to do just that at the moment across the Sunshine Coast. Pelagics are the name of the game this season with stacks of mackerel, kingfish, tuna varieties, wahoo, sailfish and small marlin all a worthy target.

The deeper waters over the 100m mark, like the Tiger Kelly and other notable pinnacles and ship wrecks, are the places to catch the hard fighting kingfish. Whether it is on knife or octopus jigs they are generally hanging around all day waiting to ambush food and are available to be caught. Live bait such as yakkas and slimies are by far the quickest way to get smashed but quality dead baits and fish strips can also do a top job. The wonderful thing about targeting kingfish is the ever present by-catch that can range from pearl perch to a cobia or a snapper to a cod.

Cobia or black kingfish are another top target and the larger percentages of these tasty numbers are being caught using floating baits. These are simply a live or dead bait just thrown out without weight or under a balloon from the back of the boat while you are under anchor. Present your bait fresh and as natural as possible for best results. The great thing about a floating bait is that you will get to hear the drag scream on the initial run, a sound that keeps us sleepless on nights before any fishing trip.

When fishing for cobia it is not unusual to hook up on a mackerel, mahi mahi or even a wahoo. I have mentioned other varieties and most of these are what make the Sunshine Coast a great location to visit and fish.

The tuna are also a favourite target for all breeds of anglers. It is a very simple selection of rigs either a small chrome slug around 20g, a fly or pilchard on a set of gangs cast in amongst the feeding frenzy of fish and bang you are hanging on for dear life while the long tail strips line on the first of many strong runs.

Pelagics make up a lot of the action, however, there are many reef species such as snapper, pearl perch, sweetlip, red throat emperor, cod, hussar, red emperor, morwong, Moses perch and many more that can be targeted at any given time. Spots like the Caloundra 5, 7 and 12 Mile reefs, Murphys and the Gneerings shoals are all close in and reachable by vessels from 4m+ equipped with the right gear. Most of these reef systems are within 9km off Mooloolaba with the Inner Gneerings only 3km.

The Sunshine Coast has a strong contingent of kayak fishers and a very popular game fishing club to suite all the needs of anglers. The Barwon Banks is currently the better spot to catch reefies and one hour either side of the tide is returning some great fish. The three sisters, which sits around the middle of the Barwon Banks in around 27-40m of water, is a popular spot that holds plenty of bait, and therefore a lot of quality fish. Move around and look at the many pinnacles, drop-offs and contours down below and before long the ice in your esky will be used for its purpose.

Mooloolaba is the safest harbour around with no trouble day or night and no question of safety. The Sunshine Coast has great facilities such as boat ramps, pontoons and fish cleaning tables with running water for visitors and fishers to prepare their catches. We also enjoy hundreds of different spots under bridges, around pontoons, within mangroves, on rock walls and within the beautiful Noosa and Maroochy rivers and Pumicestone Passage areas. The fishing opportunity is unlimited and approachable in many conditions.

The estuaries are plentiful and flathead have remained the most consistent catch of late. Bream and whiting have found the going tough with muddy conditions over the past couple of months but they are still around. Trevally and queenfish, and even mackerel, have crept up the Pumicestone Passage right in the system around the Caloundra Powerboat Club and within the canals at Kawana and Pelican Waters.

Bull sharks and shovel nose rays are around in big numbers and that is because of the current conditions after much rain and run off. Military Jetty has happy moments, trevally and bream around it but fish the turn of the tide for the best results. Our beaches have taken a pounding but amid the foam and rubbish there are plenty of smaller dart, whiting and bream around the deeper holes and off the rocks around Shellys and Kings beaches.

I invite you to take some time and plan a trip up to the Sunshine Coast for a fish and don’t forget to bring the family because there are stacks to do and enjoy. I am happy to pass on the generic GPS marks to all the reefs if you need them to get you started.

Once the water clarity has returned anything and everything will be happening on the fishing front. The dirty water line outside provides a haven and a perfect ambush site for big pelagics so run some lures around it over the coming weeks and hang on. Overall remember to have fun!

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