Sunshine opens opportunities
  |  First Published: March 2012

Extreme weather has been the order of 2012 and it has kept a lot of fishers on dry land, so it is pleasing to see that the opportunities to get amongst the fish have finally opened up along the Sunshine Coast.

A slower than normal start to the mackerel was over shadowed by the number of tuna varieties around the area. Yellowfin tuna around the 6-7kg mark, longtails and large mac tuna have been worthy targets from Caloundra to Noosa and will continue to hang around with the bait schools.

The Gneerings shoal just 3km outside of Mooloolaba harbour is one of the best spots to work along when targeting mackerel and the tuna patches. The Gneerings runs right through to the blinker situated 9km east from Mooloolaba harbour and offers plenty of diverse fishing.

During March it can be very rewarding to work the high tide on the moon phase and fish right beyond the change by at least 2 hours. It is not uncommon for the fish to stop biting right on the change and kick on around an hour later so be patient and keep the berley going.

Bait schools are always the talking point with anglers and one important accessory to always have on board is a pair of binoculars. The human eye can see a fair distance but can miss smaller targets like birds working close to or right on the surface. Binoculars will give you that magnified picture and keep you close to the areas that the larger pelagics will be working.

The bait schools generally hang around shelter, and where there is any form of shelter there is normally structure. Structure is another key to choosing the area in which you want to target certain species. There is not a need to continuously troll around an area trying to catch pelagics when you can anchor up and send out live or dead baits under weight or floats.

In general we will sit a live bait out under the support of a party balloon with the bait down around 2-3m from the surface. The balloon is fairly gentle on the bait allowing it to still swim around as naturally as possible with the aim of bringing in bigger, hungry fish. Once one bait is on set up then position another around mid water with a small running sinker which will just hold it up in the current but, most importantly, don’t let it get to the bottom. By adjusting the weight that is added or subtracted from the rig you will be able to position the bait in the closest position to the fish below. This is similar to how a downrigger works but this method will allow anyone to be able to execute the idea.

When you are at anchor, also have rigs on the bottom because somewhere down there some special reef species will be attracted by the berley. For bottom fishing, the rigs can be a mixture of paternoster or simple snelled ones.

Covering all these different depths will ensure that you get the predators in the area and all of those that are attracted by the efforts of your berley.

If you are planning a trip to one of the many reef systems around the Sunshine Coast then plan your trip to include time to gather live bait and around an extra 30 minutes to get the berley trail into play. If the high tide is around 5pm then set off at 3.30-4pm to allow plenty of time.

One of the biggest factors that is often not taken into consideration when planning a trip is the actual time it takes to get the boat in the water, secure a parking spot and putt out at 6 knots through the harbour. This can take over half an hour on most occasions and that is provided you can get onto the boat ramp to launch straight away. So the key is to plan carefully and remember every factor you can to make your trip a success.

Reef species this month will include tuskfish, Moses perch and the hard fighting morwong, along with a stack of other species. March is a month where long trips are not necessary for quality reefies, just clever planning and smarter execution of your skills and knowledge.

During March better quality Spanish mackerel start to turn up along our stretch of the coast and other monster pelagics follow suit. Amberjack are never far behind the bait schools and if you have ever hooked up to a steam train then there is a fair chance that you have snagged one. They fight so hard and generally have 2-4 strong runs in them, dependant on size, and just when you think you have it, say goodnight! A lot of care needs to be taken at that crucial point. Keep calm and back your drag off a little in case it has that last run left in it.

There will be plenty of action ahead in the coming weeks, so pick the right time and tide and your success will be plentiful.


The Gneerings shoal is one of the best spots to work along when targeting Spanishmackerel.


March is a month where long trips are not necessary for quality reefies, just clever planning and smarter execution of your skills and knowledge.

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