Fast and Furious
  |  First Published: April 2011

The fishing around the Sunshine Coast has been fast and furious with large schools of tuna tearing up the place.

A large mixture of mac tuna and yellowfin tuna schools as well as mahi mahi and mackerel have made the summer season one to remember.

Of course there are many other pelagics that have added to the great catches including wahoo, kingfish and the pinnacle of the fishing circuit: sailfish and marlin. The bigger Spanish mackerel are now in play and are well worth the effort it takes to bag them.

The reef species are number one on the agenda at the moment and soon we can relax into another season of quality snapper and pearl perch. Cod, hussar, red throat emperor, parrot and sweetlip have also been around in good numbers from the Inner Gneerings through to Wide Caloundra.

Out on the Barwon Banks things have been a little tough, mostly just getting a day that is good enough to head out. Those who have made the trip recently have been rewarded with an average size catch.

Fishing the deeper waters seems to be more productive at the moment, or the tactic of fishing the shallower water between 27-50m in the evenings. Floaters are starting to account for the bigger fish as they work their way up the berley trail in search of a better feed.

Wide Caloundra has recorded some excellent pearl perch catches and smaller snapper and a few hungry cobia swallowing anything meant for another species. We have noticed an increase in shark numbers, particularly in the deeper areas.

Remember if you are able to partly identify what you have on the end of the line then take care not to blow its swim bladder, particularly if you intend to returning it to the water. The risk of getting sharked is better than killing the fish because of barotraumas in this instance.

Fishing the closer reefs this month will be the go so plan your trips around sunset. Fish the prime times from 5pm-7pm for the best results. Of course the moon and tide play a part but you will find that the fish come on strong just on dawn and dusk.

I am often asked whether to berley on the bottom or throw it out over the back, but it really depends on what the current is doing and what species you are targeting. Normally we would do both, but don’t put out big loads of berley on the bottom.

The art of drawing fish up to the boat via the trail is one worth perfecting and just the right amount and steady stream of berley is the better path to success.

Big snapper are generally taken on a bait that has been weighted just right to hold in the trail. A berley bomb is an ideal way to introduce bait from mid water right onto the reef. There are discussions on what size is best to send down but the rule of thumb is to use just enough to keep it interesting. A few good size pieces mixed in with the smaller chopped up bits are ideal.

If the current is strong then set you berley further down otherwise it could be hundreds of metres away from your target spot by the time it hits the bottom. This all comes down to anchoring correctly so that your berley will hit the target.

The lead weighted berley pots are a good way to introduce berley as you can set your required depth just by the length of rope. Using space coloured rope that identifies every 10m intervals is a good idea, or mark your rope with tape so that you know how far you have put the pot down.

Any unused bait such as squid, pilchards or tuna should be minced or cut up and re-frozen as berley for your next trip. You can certainly play with the mixtures by adding chook pellets, tuna oil, whale oil or aniseed cocktails but we have found that the simpler and fresher it is, the better it works.

One of the most important tips that I can give you is not to let your bait get dried out by the sun and all mushy. A simple wet towel placed over the top of the bait board will keep your bait in a far better condition than letting it stew in the heat.

Only break up bait as it is needed otherwise it starts to rot in less than an hour sometimes, and always keep your bait on ice and treat it like you would your catch.

The Pumicestone Passage has sure taken some beatings this year with the floods and continued rain but it has slowly recovered and is producing consistent catches of bream, flathead and whiting.

Chopper tailor are mixed amongst the dirty waters after the rains and bigger predators like mulloway are not far behind. Try fishing will soft plastics for mulloway in particular the DOA 3” Prawns or the Tropic Angler versions. The lures can be worked hard or you can let them sit on the bottom and wait to be picked up by a passing predator. Live mullet or whiting are fantastic, but you will need to be prepared to put in the time and fish well into the evening for best results.

The bigger winter bream will be a welcome edition to the estuaries in the next couple of months. Normally by now we are just starting to get a few poking their heads up. The best areas to fish are around the deeper clean water channels such as the Cod Hole over close to Bribie Island.

Structure is an equally rewarding choice so test out areas like the pontoons, the Boardwalk and the rocky landscape around Happy Valley. McKenzies Bridge up close to Harvey or Toyworld in Minyama is one hot spot for good size bream along with Moses perch and tailor.

You will often see schools of tailor and small trevally smashing bait schools around the pylons and this is the place you want to be with a small plastic, bait or hardbodied lure. The deep channel that runs under the bridges is a terrific spot for mulloway but it is really only accessible by land at low tide. For the boaties there is a ramp just adjacent to the first road bridge on the eastern side of the canals.

It should be a great couple of months ahead with our traditional winter species coming on stronger and stronger as the weather cools. Outside it’s time to target the big snapper and monster pearl perch that we can catch around here so get ready and have fun.

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