Bright fishing for Sunshine
  |  First Published: April 2011

Spanish mackerel and coral trout have been the stand out captures off the Sunshine Coast for the past month or so.

The Spaniards have ranged from juveniles around 6kg right up to thumping monsters of 25kg plus, and everything in between. Most of the trout have been around the 2kg mark with a few pushing 6kg!

The Spanish mackerel season has been outstanding with most boats fishing offshore floating a pilchard, gar or yakka on gangs and securing a fish or two. Trollers have also secured some excellent fish with rigged gar and pilchards scoring some excellent fish and chrome hardbody minnow lures also tempting a few fish.

Bottom bashing has been equally as productive with plenty of grassy sweetlip, out of season snapper, tuskfish, Maori cod, trout and a few cobia coming on board.

Grassies seem to be the most common catch and once you locate a few active fish it is generally quite easy to secure a great feed or two for the family. Pearl perch have been a bit scarce throughout the warmer months, most making singular appearances only.

Sunshine Reef and the Barwon Banks have delivered some quality coral trout, which surely must be the best eating fish on the planet. A live offering is a great bet for trout, although plenty have been caught on fresh flesh and of course the humble pilchard.

Hang on tight as they head for cover as soon as they take the bait. If you are dozing off, staring at the horizon and not on the game you will be dusted up. The bigger fish in particular leave no room for error, faulty gear, sloppy knots or a loose drag.

At the end of February the immense Sunshine Reef system was the place to be for trout. It seemed though, particularly during the very hot weather we experienced around Noosa, that you needed to be on your mark at first light or before.

Once the sun came up the action dissipated rapidly. This means crossing the bar in the dark, which is not recommended for any boaties that aren’t very confident in their abilities and fully up to speed on the nuances of the Noosa River bar. A seriously bright spotlight is a must.

Cobia were taking floating baits set for mackerel, pilchards on the bottom waiting for a big grassy sweetlip and unattended soft plastics. Local Lance McFayden threw out a 6” Gulp Jerk Shad in barbecue chicken, put the rod in a rod holder and proceeded to fish the bottom structure for reef fish. During the session the plastic took off and Lance eventually landed a cobia of 8kg for his trouble.

Just about all bases are covered when you are fishing the bottom, have a floater or two well away from the action and a plastic bouncing up and down aided by the movement of the boat.

Boats capable of the lengthy run to the Barwon Banks have found amberjack, Maori cod, red throat emperor, jobfish and mahi mahi on the chew. Trout have also been caught out wide along with Spanish mackerel and the odd stray spotty.

Compared to last summer the spotted mackerel have been largely absent. At this time in 2010 offshore anglers were cleaning up on the spotties, so we were hoping for another bumper season this year, but it is yet to eventuate.

Hopefully they will turn up soon en masse, however it may be that we will have to wait until the end of this year or even early 2012 to find more than just one or two specimens.

In the river flathead have been widespread and pretty easy to catch. Soft plastics bounced around weed beds will bring flatties undone and trollers catch plenty with hardbody minnows following the contour lines. Bait anglers certainly don’t miss out either and drifting a live poddy mullet or herring is a great way to secure a feed of tasty flathead fillets.

Whiting and bream have also been on catch lists with some serious mangrove jack action available as well. Weyba Creek has been a great area to chase jacks, and mud crabs as well. Casting lures close to structure will bring jacks undone as will drifting live or fresh baits into snags.

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