Bonza fish amid bustling Noosa
  |  First Published: December 2011

The Noosa River is a very busy place during January. Tourists from across the globe invade the Sunshine Coast during the silly season and many bring boats and other assorted watercraft with them.

Consequently the lower reaches of the river are choked with all manner of floating contraptions and great care must be exercised when navigating along the beautiful Noosa River.

Early (or late starts) are a must to get into the fishing in Noosa during these peak times. Parking is a major hassle and one that will never be fixed. Unless you are in the water very early you might have to park miles from the ramp. Vastly increased boat traffic can make fishing difficult which is another very good reason to get up at stupid o’clock and fish the dawn run.

In the river, which has been fishing very well as we head into summer, the lower reaches are well worth a shot during the run out tide. Live baits deployed near structure or simply near a shallow sand bank in deeper water will attract trevally, tailor, flathead, mangrove jacks, jewfish, barramundi and sharks.

Collecting livies is all part of the fun and if you are unsure on how and where drop in to Davo’s Compleat Angler which is only one block back from the main boat ramp on Gympie Terrace. The guys in there will be able to set you up with all the bait collection gear and explain where to use it.

Live baits (or even very fresh dead baits) are hard to beat. I will be in the shop every Thursday from now on so drop in and say hello. All the staff are keen anglers and more than happy to answer questions and give advice. Local knowledge is always a winner.

Tossing lures around at night is also very effective and great fun. Again the run-out tide is the best bet, particularly if the turn is at dusk. I have enjoyed some excellent sessions of late with Big Pete and CT Bob from Davo’s with numerous trevally, flathead, tailor, tarpon and a few big toothy jacks keeping us entertained for hours.

Stand out lures have been Slim Jims and the superb Atomic Minnow 55. Both are sinking lures that wander down through the water column with a most seductive sway.

A basic slow and steady retrieve is all that is required to connect to most predatory species. For a small surface walk-the-dog type of lure you cannot beat the Atomic K9 Walker. Trevally, jacks, bream and even whiting seem to love them and the surface strikes certainly get the adrenalin pumping.

Further upstream is trolling territory. The warmer weather has really brought the big jacks out in force and trolling lures around structure, particularly around the bottom of the tide, is a sure fire way to connect to some of these big hard pulling brutes

I recommend 20lb braid as a minimum with a quality 40lb leader and a reasonably stiff action rod. Put your rod in a strong rod holder, or if you prefer to hold your rod and impart a bit of extra action to the lure hang on tight. That first hit from a jack, particularly if they belt the lure on the turn with the intention of taking it back to their hideout can be astonishingly powerful. Most anglers release jacks in this system as they want this great fishery to continue.

The lengthy run in between lakes Cooroibah and Cootharabah is 6-7km worth of bankside snags, big fallen trees and rock bars. Take your time to have a good look around, keep your eye on your sounder for submerged structure and concentrate your efforts in those areas. A live mullet or herring drifted into a big submerged snag on a steamy evening won’t last long so be prepared.

Offshore we should have plenty of pelagic action happening by January. Wandering schools of spotted mackerel, surface busting schools of northern bluefin tuna, occasional pods of school mackerel and mac tuna as well as bonito and of course packs of marauding Spanish mackerel should deliver some great fishing for several months.

Trolling large minnow style lures is a great way to locate mackerel. A medium weight spin stick rigged with a slug is mandatory at this time of year as you can come across schools of any pelagic species smashing bait on the surface at almost any time and just about anywhere

Bottom bashers often deploy a floating bait such as a gang rigged pilchard or gar and these too will be scoffed by passing mackerel and occasionally tuna as well.

Bonito and mackerel tuna aren’t particularly good tucker but one specimen can add some variety to your bait stocks. Snapper and sweetlip love a fresh slab of mac tuna! So, the next time you head out to Sunshine Reef, North Reef or further afield try a troll run or two on the way out and the way back and make sure you have a slug rod at the ready.
Once you approach a school of surface feeding pelagics they soon disappear so you need to be ready at all times. Chasing boiling schools of tuna or mackerel can be exceedingly frustrating so you may need to approach with the wind after cutting the motor.

Another tactic is to charge into the fray as quickly as possible and get a few quick casts in before the fish sound, only to reappear a few hundred metres away.

Once there are plenty of fish to target, simply drifting in Laguna Bay with ganged pilchards will deliver the goods, particularly on spotties. Having a slug rod or two at the ready is mandatory and double and triple hook-ups are common!

Elsewhere in this edition of QFM there is a comprehensive report on the Sunshine Coast reefs including GPS marks to get you started. Have a good look through that article and get out there and have a go. Happy New Year!

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