Hot Spot Species
  |  First Published: February 2012

ANSA Clubs run their sportfishing competitions throughout February as the fishing is always hot for demersal and pelagic species. Even though the weather can be uncertain, if there aren’t huge southerlies accompanied by big swells, then it can be very pleasant with little northerly influence and calm conditions.

Spend a fair bit of time fishing the shallows before heading out wide. Spotties and large Spanish mackerel can be found out from Caloundra Head. Slow trolling livies, especially on a downrigger, will get you among the Spaniards. For the Spotties I like to chase surface schools and throw slugs at feeding fish. Some of my more sedentary mates will simply float pillies out behind their drifting boat. Mackerel can be found from Old Woman Island south through the Shipping Channel off Bribie Island.

Water temperatures control what is on offer at this time of the year. With water temps consistently over 25ºC, the Northern species have really turned up in spades. Tropical species including the ubiquitous hussar, along with Moses perch, fusilier, Venus tusk fish, cod species (e.g. gold spot, Maori, tomato), sweetlip (yellow, red throat emperor, grassy) and red emperor are all on the chew.

We are also having a brilliant year for catching brightly coloured and unusual fish. Red bass, harlequin fish and plenty of different kinds of wrasse are coming aboard as well as sunrise perch from the deeper water. It pays to have a fish ID chart on board as you will probably catch something unusual and unrecognisable at this time of the year. This will ensure you are not discarding a great eating fish or keeping something you shouldn’t.

Flesh baits on the bottom and float-lining pillies are the two most effective techniques. Plastics will also get smashed; I prefer a tail with a bit of pink or red in it rather than the white tails that are so deadly over 60m. Use only enough weight in your jighead to get the tail swimming towards the bottom. You will catch most of the good fish on the drop so spend some time experimenting with which weight jighead is best for the conditions of the day.

Large snapper have been caught feeding in the shallows around the bait schools while targeting cobia. Cobia have slowed down a lot after a brilliant spring, especially on the new Artificial reefs.

Pearlies have been very poor in the southern end of Wide Caloundra. You will need to head north to get a feed of this season.

Yellowtail kingfish have now turned up in good numbers and sizes but, like the mackerel, they can be a bit hit-and-miss. Livies and Japanese jigs are hooking up easily but wind quickly as there is usually a large shark close by. There are plenty of heads being landed and expensive jigs being lost to the grey suit brigade at the moment.

I have been able to obtain a 32’ Cougar Cat so Incredible Charters is open for business as usual. The 30’ blue aluminium centre cabin Incredible is now ferrying workers between Gladstone and the LNG plant on Curtis Island. I am sentimentally missing the boat I had custom built but the big Cougar Cat ticks all the boxes and is going well.

The State Election is looming. Hopefully we will have a new government that is more in touch with fishers, fisheries management and the infrastructural needs of recreational anglers as well as the industry. Our current fisheries consultation processes and stakeholder representation date back to the Burns Inquiry and need a good shake-up to produce stronger outcomes for fish and anglers.

Currently there is a push by some recreational whiting, bream and flathead representatives to have all inshore netting banned. As usual with these one dimensional ambit claims, the flow on effect to other fisheries is ignored. I am sure all of us who regularly fish offshore at Wide Caloundra do NOT want to see a large number of disgruntled former net fishers displaced into the L1 fishery to target snapper, pearlies, trag, kingfish, amberjack, cobia, etc.

The Investment Warning on the Rocky Reef Fishery for commercial fishers has been lifted by Fisheries Minister Craig Wallace. Despite a reduction in the snapper bag limit and a slot size for recreational anglers, there is no restriction on the commercial take of Rocky Reef species; a political decision Sunfish’s Pollock said he could “live with.” But it is just another anti-commercial idea that will certainly impact heavily on our offshore fisheries. Just as the much vaunted Moreton Bay Marine Park Yellow Zones displaced commercial effort from out of sight in Hays Inlet, west of Cooks Rocks and on Moreton Island to in sight of houses and in the faces of rec fishers between the Redcliffe Airport and Scarborough Reef.

The MBMP Yellow Zones were a poor solution for everyone. The current campaign against displaced inshore net fishing, without dealing with displaced effort to another location or fishery will produce equally bad results for offshore fishers. There needs to be some goodwill negotiations held with the commercial sector to get a decent result for all parties otherwise this is simply a problem for another fishery, most likely the offshore Rocky Reef fishery, in the making.

Please give Keith of Incredible Charters a call on 3203 8188 or email --e-mail address hidden-- to check out the best spots to fish offshore at Wide Caloundra or to book a charter.

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