Persistence, persistence, persistence
  |  First Published: July 2011

It is an exciting time on the Sunshine Coast for anglers with plenty of winter species making their reels scream on a regular basis. The strong southerlies have slowed down the number of opportunities but overall it is happening.

If the westerly winds are blowing you can always fish in close around areas like Old Womens Island, Brays Rock, Currimundi, Halls and Sunshine reefs. These options still allow you to target plenty of reef species along with pelagics. The real issue is to not give up because one area can’t be fished. You need to look around and understand your options or more importantly what fish will be where and at what time.

I went on a trip recently and we planned to head out to Wide Caloundra to chase big pearl perch and some cobia, and then later settle on the reefs to bag snapper. When we left Mooloolaba and turned to starboard there were 2-3m swells and very soupy conditions, which made it nearly impossible to negotiate and down right dangerous.

We changed our plan and headed out to Old Womens Island and found birds working schools of tuna. After about 20 minutes of tossing slugs and watching spotty mackerel and small tuna breaking the surface we again reset the plan to move along the current line and head up to Coolum to see if the bigger longtail tuna were working close in.

We didn’t find any birds were, so the plan had to be adjusted again and we decided to head over to a couple of close in marks to see what activity was around and then head out to deeper water. The high tide was around 11.15am so the best shot was long gone at this stage.

There was no show on the close reefs. By now most anglers would have packed up and headed home having travelled about 35km and not got a fish on board but not us. We then headed out to a FAD to see if any mahi mahi were hanging around and sure enough first cast – bang!

The mahi mahi didn’t last long on the tooth so we changed to baits and then to lures and made a decision to move out to a reef within 5km to try for some cobia and reef species.

At this stage we had covered over 40km and caught three just legal mahi mahi, but we had no intention of giving up.

After arriving at the reef we set up with paternoster rigs and sent the line down to the bottom with instant response. The trip was now a success and for the next hour we caught cobia, trag jew, big trevally, Moses perch, pearl perch, sweetlip and stacks more, headed home arriving just before dusk. The lesson here is be adaptable and be prepared to fail because it will lead to your ultimate continued success.

All of the reefs are worth targeting for snapper, pearl perch and other species at the moment with parrot and trevally making up the numbers. Fishing in the early part of the mornings is the best way to avoid the windy afternoon conditions and using live baits will really make a difference to the quality of your catches.

If the winds stay down then take your chance on the outer reefs around dusk and fish for a couple of hours and head back to harbour. If the fish don’t bite in that period then it is likely that you will have to move to deeper water or change positions.

Plan to spend more time looking for bait schools or stacks of smaller fish on your sounder, as this is the most likely place that the bigger fish will frequent after dark. Berley in this instance is also paramount. Don’t be worried about keeping the smaller fish around and loosing baits all night. Once the sun begins to set smaller fish know their place and it’s generally well out of the way of bigger hungry mouths.

The estuaries have big bream that are taking live herring and hardiheads and whiting that prefer smaller yabbies or blood worms. Tailor are slowly coming in around the beaches from Caloundra to Tewantin but North Shore is the place to hit for good numbers of them.

Fishing from the Boardwalk in the early mornings can still land you some flathead and mulloway. Live mullet makes terrific bait for mulloway and you will need to be fishing the river mouths or deeper channels to get amongst them.

Kings and Moffat beach both have snapper and sweetlip around on the change of the tide and you will notice the mullet are well and truly busting up the water inside the Pumicestone Passage.

This month is the time to settle into routine to catch those big knobbie snapper and for those of you who are prepared to put in the time the rewards will be great. Again, spend time getting the right baits such as yakkas or slimies and if you have the time on the moon changes target squid around the inner reefs.

My mates hate the fact that any fresh squid is kept for bait and not the table and I suppose most would agree. The difference here is snapper and other big reef species also love fresh squid and I believe that is more important. Call it strange or what ever you like this is exactly what you will need if you want to step up and enjoy catching monster fish.

Other reef species such as pearl perch, parrot, iodine bream and Moses perch will be in abundance so there is a strong chance of a feed for all. In the estuaries try targeting mulloway by using either live baits or big soft plastics.

Imitation prawns like DOA 4” are ideal for big flathead and mulloway. It’s always good to try something new and because fishing is all about catching unless you try you won’t improve.

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