Looking back at my Wide Caloundra report for November 2010, it was full of doom and gloom over the snapper RIS process, which included high fees to fish and a six week closure.
Thankfully there has been a relatively benign pause in these proceedings until the next round of snapper management begins in 2014. Recreational fishers have a reduced bag limit of four snapper as well as the highly unpopular slot limit of only one snapper over 70cm. That being said, anglers should be happy they can fish for free 365 days a year for rocky reef species.
November weather can be all over the shop. Last year Incredible Charters only managed three trips late in the month due to the strong winds, heavy rains and flooding we experienced. 2011 is supposed to be another wet year so again we may have to dodge some weather to get out there. That said, the summer species turn up in droves and Wide Caloundra starts to light up again.
Cobia have been everywhere this year from the shipping channel markers out to the 85m line. Anglers have hooked a number on the bottom while reef fishing for pearlies and have also targeted them with livies around the drop offs on Hutchies. While cobia are opportunistic feeders and will scoff dead baits readily, take a bit of time on the way out to collect live baits. These will make for more consistent results.
Pearlies will increase in size and numbers, replacing the trag jew as the popular species, which have been right through the area from the bottom of the Barwons south to Hutchies. Trag are still being caught, however there has been a notable variation in size of the fish depending on their location. The southern end of Wide Caloundra in 72m has consistently churned out small trag, where the bigger ones are only a few miles north.
There have been some rough jokes about catching Pine River fish on an offshore charter. Given the number of blue spot flathead being caught along with the odd tarwhine, the jokes have some credibility to them.
Parrot, Moses perch and hussar catches will increase in numbers as November progresses. While the humble paternoster is accounting for plenty of fish, the secret weapon for the bigger fish are 7’ white plastics.
Shads are great. The new Z-man range in the pale colours are also tempting Pearlies up to 60cm. Usually these plastics are fished on a TT 1 1/2oz jig head, which is casted and allowed to waft to the bottom. By-catch on the plastics have included cobia, cod and a 7kg snapper, so they are really worthwhile experimenting with.
This November I would like to find a decent line of reef, throw the sea anchor out and hope to drift south with the northerly breeze and the current. I’d have a livie out for a cobia, toss my 7’ plastic out on spin gear and leave the bail arm open to allow the jig to waft down, and also plumb the depths with my paternoster to bring up a feed of very tasty pearlies, parrotfish, Moses perch and hussar. Sounds like heaven to me!
With the warmer weather upon us it’s timely to review how we handle our fish to retain them for a feed. Fish left on the deck, in uncooled underfloor tanks or gasping their life away on a couple of half frozen water bottles is a disrespect to the wonderful fish you have just captured and a poor meal for your family.
Poor initial handling of your catch can never be undone, so do it right from the start. You will discover the delights of a better quality feed as well.
Firstly, throat the fish for retention. I bleed everything I catch.
Drop the fish immediately into an esky containing a very cold salt water slurry - 50% ice, 50% salt water is ideal - to bleed out.
When you have time later in the day transfer the fish to a fish tub with drainage holes drilled in the bottom.
Gill and gut your catch if you are going to cook them whole. Don’t bother gilling and gutting if you are going to fillet them. Place the fish vertically on a bed of ice then pack ice around them to keep them cold.
When you get home you will find your catch really cold, firm fleshed, bright eyed and in perfect condition. The fillets off pearlies handled this way are as white as photocopy paper and are perfect eating. Yum!
Because of the warmer weather, I often offer clients the chance to stop in at Bulwer for a quick swim on the way back in. After a big day in the sun, it’s a great way to refresh yourself mentally and add another enjoyable part to a great day out on the water.
To have a great day fishing on the INCREDIBLE with Incredible Charters, please call Keith on (07) 3203 8188 or email: --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 1359