Reefs Run Red
  |  First Published: June 2011

The Easter holiday period saw dozens of boats on the Noosa River with a large proportion of those heading outside to hunt on the inshore reefs. Sunshine Reef and North Reef were the most popular destinations and in general they delivered very well.

Conditions offshore were glorious during most of the Easter holiday period, and of course very conducive to fishing expeditions. Those that crossed the bar were for the most part met with low swells and from time to time glassed out areas in Laguna Bay and beyond. Sunshine Reef was the most popular destination with 30-40 boats spread out across this vast area of broken reef and rubble.

Bottom bashing was very productive with countless squire coming over the gunnel along with grassy sweetlip, tusk fish, plenty of undersized red emperor and an assortment of other reef dwellers. Some anglers were particularly chuffed to have caught quality coral trout with specimens of 5kg common. The majority of these beautiful fish came from marks wide of Sunshine Reef with the odd one or two from North Reef. One local angler managed two trout on successive days over 5kg while field testing his recently purchased boat, which apparently has performed faultlessly and exceeded all expectations.

Some of the trout caught off Noosa in recent months were happy to swallow humble pilchards, and others ignoring all dead baits and only showing an interest in live offerings. Many anglers have been unceremoniously drilled into the reef structure, and the culprit on most occasions would be the thumping big trout. This more often than not results in bust offs, which doesn’t seem to concern the trout as much as the aforementioned angler who was playing with his new pride and joy reported the second of his big trout still had a hook and leader attached that his mate had lost the day before.

Trout come in many colour patterns varying from almost white through to almost black. While they have been caught at over 20kg, most of the trout we see off Noosa are in the 2kg class with the odd fish pushing 5kg or even 6kg. The only universal characteristic is that they all taste great and of course they are a prized catch on any boat. Heavy line is a must to land big trout and locked up drags are the only way to go.

Bob Jeynes from Davo’s Bait and Tackle seems to have the trout off Noosa well and truly wired and he rarely arrives back at the ramp without one or two in the esky. A recent trip to a secret mark wide of Sunshine Reef delivered seven trout along with an impressive assortment of other reef fish. Drop in to Davo’s and talk to the staff about their tackle and techniques. It will be worth the effort.

Mackerel are still worth chasing with scattered schools of spotties harassing bait on the surface and loner Spaniards taking trolled lures or floating pillies or gar. It is almost mandatory to have a floater out the back when bottom bashing and this often delivers cruising mackerel, occasional cobia and even snapper that have followed the berley trail up through the water column. A humble pilchard is worth a try, gar are very effective and a livie suspended under a balloon will rarely go unnoticed.

On a recent trip off Noosa I had a call from a mate who was overlooking Laguna Bay from an excellent vantage point. He had spotted schools of surface feeding fish that I could not see from water level, and so he was directing me to them. At each school we threw slugs and every cast was followed by two or three spotted mackerel. Every third cast resulted in a hit and every fifth cast saw a good hook up. Needless to say this was great fun and the young lads on board had a ball. All I need is a full time spotter up on the hill…

In the Noosa River there have been some excellent catches of flathead, despite the coloured water which of course is a result of continuing nagging spells of rain. Some quality fish have come from the lower reaches, both on plastics and drifted baits. Mangrove jacks are still taking lures and baits, particularly in the lower reaches around structure such as bridge pylons and along rock walls.

Trevally are currently very responsive to lures and poppers in the Woods Bay region, particularly at dawn, and this activity will increase as we head into the cooler months. Phippsy has been nailing his usual trevally in various locations on his charter service, and he also reports heaps of school jew in the river from 25-65cm. He has never seen as many caught as in recent months with 21 fish over four charters. So, the river looks to be worth a fish in the coming months.

The annual Noosa Riverfest is on again this year with activities commencing on 3 June and winding up on 5 June. The kids fishing comp will be run over the 4-5 June with live weigh in only, at the Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club from 8am – 4pm on Saturday and 8am – 2pm on Sunday. Entry is only $10 per child and all entrants go into the draw for a fully decked out fishing kayak worth close to $2000. There are also cash prizes for best fish in seven different categories. There is also a mystery weight prize that will be given to the winners school.

The fishing clinics are for kids aged 5-12yo on Saturday and Sunday at 9am, 10am and 11am. Participants must register at the Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club for the nominal cost of $5, which includes a sausage, drink and show bag!

See you there!

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