Mackerel the Perfect Early Gift
  |  First Published: December 2011

The end of another year and time to reflect on exactly where the time has gone! This year has seen some of the most productive fishing enjoyed on the Sunshine Coast for a while both in the estuaries and on the reefs.

Fishing has also enjoyed the introduction of many new products that will forge the direction in which the fishing industry heads, setting new standards for all aspects of fishing for the rest of our lives. It is an exciting time to be an angler and even more exciting to be alive.

The early summer months generally mean pelagic time with mackerel topping the list. Spotties and the occasional Spaniard begin smashing lures and baits from Sunshine Reef right through to Moreton Bay with the local reefs such as Currimundi, Murphy’s, Gneering Shoals and Caloundra 5 mile all worthy of your attention.

Sunshine Reef will also come into its own in the coming weeks with plenty of areas holding ravished pelagic fish just waiting for you to discover. A variety of methods can be used to catch mackerel but overall it’s a matter of having your bait or lures down at the depth the fish are. Now I know that sounds just too simple, but that’s the biggest mistake most anglers make. Trolling lures for hours is a waste of your time if the fish are sitting in schools close to the bottom and your lures are running at two metres. A downrigger or attaching sinkers will make the difference on this important point.

Cobia and yellowtail kingfish will be holding around the beacons and channel markers or any FAD’s you may come across. There are also plenty of mahi mahi around at the moment and as we move further into the summer months the big bulls will come on in full force.

The tuna schools have been huge so far with bust ups right across the front of Point Cartwright and beyond. Small 20-30g slugs will always work better than the bigger weights. It can be difficult to get the smaller slugs the distance required to nail some tuna however downsizing your main line will make a difference. I personally use no more than 20lb main line but have 40lb tough leader on. The tough leader is more abrasive resistant and works very well. Nine times out of ten you will hook a tuna in the corner of the mouth cleanly. The biggest danger is when the line gets tangled around them or their tail slashes down on it, but 40lb is an overkill for any 6-7kg fish.

December can also mean a lot of northerly winds, which results in difficult times for reef fishos. That being said, emperor, sweetlip and tuskfish are generally in big numbers around the Barwon Banks at this time of the year and can also be caught within the close shallow reefs.

Drifting a simple paternoster rig is my favourite way to pick up tuskfish. These fish just love rocky hard bottom areas that are full of snags and holes that will snag your rig. It’s simply a matter of altering the drop size to your sinker keeping it further away from the hooks so you only loose a sinker in a worst case scenario. Tuskfish and emperors are incredibly fast and furious fighters and they are highly rated as a table fish.


The estuaries are settling now and the good news is that the trevally are right in the middle of everything. The pontoons and jetties are the best spots to target with soft plastics or small hard-bodied lures. Surface poppers get results when the water is really still as the sun comes up and then you should to move around the weed beds at Caloundra Power Boat Club to tackle some whiting and the occasional flathead.

Freshly caught yabbies and blood worms are some of the best baits to catch whiting and working the areas around the channel drop offs within the Pumicestone Passage will provide best results. Military Jetty and the Boardwalk in Caloundra will be packed over the holidays so choose your fishing times well. Normally early mornings and late afternoons will give you the best opportunities to catch everything from whiting to big flathead. The shallow waters within Happy Valley can produce quality whiting, dart and trevally on the low tide but during the high tide you need to remember where all the rock formations are otherwise you will spend your fishing trip replacing lost gear.

So this is the month target the pelagics in close but remember to get your bait or lures down to the depth they are feeding. Tackle the reefs on the late evening or early morning periods for best results and you will be rewarded with quality reef species. If you are working around the estuaries remember to keep it safe and watch for swimmers. Choose your fishing time carefully so that you get the best returns.

This Christmas holiday period will bring thousands of visitors to the Sunshine Coast so remember to be patient at the boat ramps and offer some help where needed. For our visitors never be afraid to ask a local for some assistance and get into your local tackle store to get the latest reports on what’s happening fishing wise.

Lastly have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.

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