Fighting Fun Full On
  |  First Published: February 2012

After enduring a very slow start to the summer pelagic run, things have moved into full swing starting with all of the hard fighting pelagics we enjoy on the Sunshine Coast.

The word this season so far has been mahi mahi, with some early specimens coming in over 20kg. This is a fantastic sign for the remaining months of fishing. Caloundra 12 mile and around the 8 mile offshore grounds have seen plenty of mahi mahi with amazing tuna mixed in amongst of the schools, which are constantly attacking the bait balls.

Early January saw the yellowfin tuna come on in great numbers smashing the large schools of smaller mac tuna who were belting the white bait. This type of feeding system always means that the pelagics won’t be far behind, as where there are bait, there are fish!

All you have to do to be successful during the summer months on the Sunshine Coast is find the bait. In the early part of the morning the bait schools will normally be sitting closer to the bottom and once either the tide changes or the sun gets higher in the sky the bait will rise up to around mid water, which in turn brings the kingfish, amberjack, mackerel and tuna into play.

Downriggers are a terrific method of getting your bait or lures down to the exact depth that the fish are munching on the bait schools or if you don’t have them then try using weights. Even everyday sinkers can make a difference and get you closer to the strike zone by attaching them to the main line or long leader. A very slow to troll will then ensure that you stay down and right amongst them.

Don’t troll at anything over 7 knots, unless you are chasing the speedsters of the ocean, as it is normal to sit at around 1-4 knots. It is also a good idea to present lures at different depths so that you can cover more of the area between the bait schools and the surface. In a smaller boat it can be done by putting one deep diver (5-10m) out on the side or flank and then a shallow diver (3-5m) just behind the wash, a towed bait (1-3m) under the surface and perhaps a popper or skirt on the top water area. That additional splash mixed in with the wash of the motor really attracts mackerel, but don’t put it too far back. I would aim to place it about half the distance of the choppy wash, which would mean about 15m max back from the engine. Of course you can mix it up with livies and dead baits or have it as all lures, the only thing that will change will be your troll speed. Once you know what is working then it’s all systems ahead and a esky full of tasty pelagics!

There are still plenty of options on the reef scene with tuskfish being taken on paternoster rigs around the rocky outcrops on the reefs. Fish around the 2-3kg mark are common place at the moment and this will continue until well into April.

Iodine bream are in significant numbers and they can certainly make it hard for other species to get to the bait with their speed and aggression. Only five years ago there were very few of these fish around but now they have spread extremely fast and are taking over areas that they were never known to frequent. Normally you would find them in numbers around the Barwon Banks in certain areas, but now they are everywhere including Murphys and the Gneerings Shoal. I know that our fisheries scientists need to look at this right now because they are a very aggressive species and that can have negative consequences on other not so aggressive species as we have seen many times before. For now though, they are classified as a species of emperor and have a bag limit of 5 per person, so fill your quota. Some of these iodine bream are ok to eat but it is when you get that strong iodine smell in some that they are not too palatable.

There are still good numbers of snapper and jack offshore with big monster amberjack always on the prowl around areas where you can get a feed of reefies. The pearl perch are one of the amberjack’s favourite chewing species so be ready to be hit on the wind up.

The estuaries are just full of whiting and smaller bream at the moment and it is difficult not to get a feed. Chopper tailor are all through the system smashing bait schools and making great targets for lure casting fanatics.

Trevally are around the bridges and many pontoons and can be taken on live herring, pike or lures. The flathead run has slowed but fish between 40-60cm can be caught in the early hours of the morning on live baits in the channel areas.

Once the crowd of daytime holiday makers get out then it is time to pack up until that evening. The Pumicestone Passage boardwalk is still one of the most popular areas to fish and with the deepest part of the channel right at your toes it is no wonder that big fish are taken from here. Share your time around the different beach areas as places like Moffat, Kings and Shelly all hold quality fish throughout the day and night.

Work around the area of La Balsa Park in Mooloolaba for bream, pike, trevally and other species with the kids. The rock wall at the entrance of the Mooloolaba Harbour is ideal to cast a line and when things get slow there is always stacks of boats coming in and out that they can watch.

Summer is all about fishing in close, saving on petrol and bagging some great species to make it a terrific day out. It also means plenty of summer sun so please remember to take all the necessary precautions and slap on some sunscreen, a hat and drink plenty of water throughout your trip. Watch for the birds as they are a sure sign that the mackerel and other pelagics are feeding and ready to hit your bait. Have Fun!

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