The new year brings hot humid days and plenty of thunderstorms – more than usual this summer, according to the weather boffins. Historical data tells us that we should see around 12 rainy days this month and an average maximum temperature of 29ºC.
Clearly this means it is time to chase mangrove jacks in the river with the possibility of a big threadfin or even a barra, and pelagics offshore as the mackerel and tuna arrive en masse.
The immensely snaggy run between lakes Cooroibah and Cootharaba is as good a place as any in the system to have a bash at the jacks. This type of fishing isn’t terribly complicated, but some casting accuracy will greatly enhance your chances of tangling with some of these fiercely competitive jacks.
I like to drift along with the current and lob bibbed minnows at the structure, employing a stop start retrieve. Most hits are close to structure, and as such a tight drag is necessary to keep the fish out of the snags as they often hit on the turn. Half a metre of lit up mangrove jack can take some stopping, that’s for sure.
Once I reach the end of my casting run I will often troll back to the beginning keeping the lure close to structure or deep and bouncing along the bottom rubble. This often brings jacks undone and if you hunt around a bit you will find rocky formations in this part of the Noosa River.
Lure choice is down to personal preference, but I have seen deep Bombers and Barra Pros in red/gold work well. If your lure is in the water, close to structure and looking like an easy feed, colour is probably irrelevant. Profile, depth and action are more important aspects of the lure and these need to match a baitfish profile – for example a Bomber could be called a mullet or whiting profile whilst the deeper bodied Barra Pro might be more akin to a herring. Lures for casting must be capable of attaining depth quickly with a tight, purposeful action.
Live baiting is another great way to target jacks. Collecting the bait is also part of the fun and any shallow sandy area should produce a few mullet, herring and legal whiting. Pin one of these with a strong size 2 or 1 hook and using the smallest amount of lead possible (or none at all) drift the offering into a likely looking rock bar or snag and hang on tight.
Other fish caught in this way are the occasional flathead, bream and pretty regularly estuary cod and trevally.
Flathead will be right up there on catch lists in January and of course there are always bream and whiting present in the system, particularly in the lower reaches after rain. For info on the latest catches swing by a tackle shop and ask a few questions. Don’t forget to spend a few dollars whilst you are there.
Offshore there are plenty of options when the weather allows. Snapper, pearl perch, parrots and sweetlip are the major bottom bashing targets along the Sunshine Coast. Coral trout are a major bonus and they appear from time to time in January in the Sunshine Reef region.
Further offshore anglers can expect cobia, amberjack along with job fish and quality snapper whilst those trolling or looking for pelagics will encounter mackerel, tuna and the extraordinarily beautiful mahi mahi.
The mahi mahi are very strong fighters and will respond to baits and lures. They will chase down trolled lures or trolled baits and smash them with great gusto. Almost as exciting is watching a big mahi mahi cruise up your berley trail and launch itself upon the first bait lobbed in its general direction. It is about this time when all hell breaks loose and a big bull can perform like few other fish with strong throbbing runs and frantic aerial leaps.
Mahi Mahi also have the unusual trait of congregating under bizarre floating objects such as fish boxes, sheets of cardboard and even floating driftwood and bits of old rope. I suppose the message is have a few casts at anything that you see adrift out on the water.
These fish can grow to 2m and 40kg and they are excellent tucker, particularly if well treated after capture. Bleeding and icing down is mandatory and will preserve their excellent table qualities.
In the fresh, Lake Macdonald has delivered a few bass on lures – most of which have been rather small. Catfish, golden and silver perch have been taking shrimp and worm baits fished on or close to the bottom.
Borumba Dam has been a better option with quality bass and saratoga responding well to lures in the upper reaches of the dam.
Congratulations to Vanessa Haines who has taken out Champion Angler in her first year of membership with the Lake Macdonald Freshwater Fishing Association Inc. Some of us have been trying for years! We have just released another 30,000 bass fingerlings into the lake and will continue to stock at this rate so the fishing will soon be excellent once again!Reads: 1554