Predators Pinch Prize
  |  First Published: June 2011

Wide Caloundra has a real mixture of reef fish and predators, including sharks, at the moment. This area is generally shark free, except when snapper are around in good numbers, but this year sharks are a real problem chewing amberjack, snapper and other prized reef fish on their way to the boat.

Amberjack, due to their fighting ability and size have been the main victims. While we are getting some ambos to the boat, there have been days when we have simply had to give up on them as we are turning them into shark fodder.

The sharks are a big disappointment as it is a great thrill to put anglers onto these hard fighting amberjack. Moving to another area helps in the short term but the grey suit brigade are right through Wide Caloundra at the moment. Hopefully the sharks are a temporary aberration and will move on shortly.

On a brighter note we have had another ‘hot water’ autumn with spectacular coral reef fish, such as Moses perch, Venus tuskfish and hussar in abundance. Moses perch in particular are about in sizes from 40-50cm. A dozen or so of this great chewing species are coming aboard most days. With a bit of luck these mixed reefies will hang on with the very good numbers increases throughout June. The humble paternoster adorned with plastics and sweetened with bait is doing most of the damage.

Snapper that usually dwell off the bottom are mixing it up with the other species for a change. On one drop our gun punter Marcel brought up a nice double header of 3kg snapper with a cracking tusky on the other hook. Beside him his mate brought up a sweet double of a 38cm pearl perch with a 30cm hussar on the bottom hook. So much for targeting a species!

A few oddities have come to the side of the Incredible as well. A black spot wrasse out of 60m was very unusual; as they generally sit in 80m+ and are more common on the 95m ledge. Last trip we came across a patch of small reef eels (similar to moray eels) which were beating everything with fins to the baits. Needless to say these critters were released very carefully to writhe away for another day.

Whales are doing their annual cruise north and are a spectacular bonus for fishos.

Sounder and GPS

Last week I spoke about using a 40m window rather than running your sounder on AUTO. I use the SHIFT function on my Furuno sounder to achieve this. As the bottom is relatively flat at Wide Caloundra you will not have to SHIFT too often.

Always pass over your GPS mark first to make sure fish are there then return to the mark along the line that you will be drifting. Obviously you will not know which way your first drift of the day will be so just have a drift and look at your track (which you have set on the fastest draw speed, hopefully one second intervals.) Your drift direction will change during the day because of changes to wind, current and tide, or even eddies depending on which side of a ridge you are on.

Return to the mark along the drift line and motor very slowly! Put the vessel into reverse and stop it just short of your mark. This will give you time to drop your sea anchor and lines before you are over the mark. If you watch your sounder carefully with the gain up you will actually see your lines go into the mass of the fish. And be prepared to hang on!

Don’t be in a hurry coming up to your marks. You are better off having one good drop on fish than 10 bad ones out on the sand.

I am doing a charter with a team from AUSFISH in May. Most own their own boat but would like to sharpen up on electronic techniques as well as have a run down on Wide Caloundra. We will be doing a lot of work on how to drive the sounder/GPS/boat combo for maximum benefit as well as fishing hard.

If you would rather fish than steer, please give Keith at Incredible Charters a call on 3203 8188 or email: --e-mail address hidden-- so he can do the hard work while you wind ’em in.

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