Late summer and autumn always has the potential to be a difficult period to fish exposed stretches of coastline with some years having seemingly endless southeasterly trade winds and low pressure systems that spoil angling opportunities along the open beach.
It's anyone's guess as to what will be delivered on the weather front over the next few months, but there is the potential that prospects of finding a feed might be a bit better compared to previous years.
The Christmas holiday period and the meagre catches that were being universally reported probably aren't a great indication of inshore fish populations here.
Fish were caught despite less than ideal beach fishing conditions for much of the period. Most catches were lacking in numbers with dart, bream, tarwhine along with the occasional jew being the most often taken. Traffic flow along the beach is also an impediment to successful beach angling and there is always plenty of that during holiday periods.
The mackerel and tuna schools that would normally be smashing baitfish by now are absent. By summer they are usually present throughout Laguna Bay and north to Rainbow Bay. I suspect that high densities of Australian anchovy elsewhere has drawn these pelagics and probably the southern migrating tailor away from this region for the moment. That being said I would have every confidence that there will be an anchovy presence in Laguna Bay before long and the pelagics will arrive accordingly.
Good rainfall that causes the Noosa River to flood to some degree would usually be a certain trigger for pelagic activity on the reefs to the north of the mouth as the dirty flood waters clear in Laguna Bay. Anchovy schools that spawn inshore in these conditions are gradually herded into the corners of the bays and up against the shoreline providing beach anglers with the opportunity of mixing it with a variety of predatory species.
Spotted and school mackerel are often taken from the beach in these circumstances as is the occasional Spanish with mac and longtail tuna frequently encountered. Tailor and trevally also regularly chase bait schools close to shore. The use of small metal lures of between 20-45g is the most assured method of gaining strikes from each of the feeding pelagics.
Dart, bream, tarwhine, flathead and jew are species that also benefit from the anchovy presence. Dart feed voraciously on the anchovy in shallow water and can easily be targeted with small metal lures that match the baitfish size. They are also quite content taking pipi and worm baits as are the bream and tarwhine that take advantage of the scraps from the pelagic's feeding. Flesh baits such as tailor, bonito, mac tuna, tarwhine, bream, mullet or dart can also be effective on tailor, Spanish mackerel and jew, but the use of wire for the Spaniards is essential.
The reason that prospects appear to be better than previous years for beach anglers is that the anticipated algal blooms have only made fleeting appearances and the surf water colour and clarity has in the main been pretty good. I have been really surprised that blooms that have occurred have only lasted a couple of days before disappearing, when in the past they would last until nearly winter.
Fish are far more likely to enter a surf zone devoid of algae than if it were brown with the stuff and oxygen depleted. This is terrific news for the fish that inhabit the surf zone and also anglers and tourists in general. However, the algae situation could yet deteriorate and all we can do is hope that it doesn't.
Another positive to present itself in recent weeks is the number of pipis on the beach. At times in recent years there have been so few pipis available that there is real concern for their population. Although not in enormous numbers, some of the patches on the beach of late have been fairly sizeable which does provide some confidence that all is not lost. Reduced bag limits are essential however if we are to continue seeing these vital shellfish on our beaches in the years to come.
Many of the people staying in Teewah over the holidays have commented to me on the quality of the new 'Great Sandy Bar' which is next to the former 'High Tide Hotel' at Lake Cooroibah on the road to the beach from the ferry. We've all been waiting a long time for an establishment on the North Shore that caters to the needs of locals and tourists alike and it appears the wait is over. If the reports so far are anything to go by, then a visit would be well worth the effort. I can attest to the fact that the beer is cold and the meals are excellent and respectably priced.Reads: 893