Winter run kicks off
  |  First Published: April 2012

Summer turned out to be a fizzer across the Sunshine Coast with poor weather being the major contributor.

The good news is that we are now kicking off our winter run and our reef species will start to feature for many months to come. Early months are generally terrific for targeting sweetlip, emperor, Moses perch and tuskfish within the Inner Reef areas. Out wider big bludger trevally will start to congregate around the wrecks and rocky patches with hussar and snapper beginning to show their heads.

Fishing the dusk and dawn tide changes during this time of the year is the most productive. But for those who love to get out during the day, fish the deeper water for reefies and target the bait schools and tuna varieties throughout the day.

The FADs and buoys are a good place to target mahi mahi and hopefully some bigger Spanish mackerel will start to show up on a consistent basis for us all. There are times in April when cobia also begin to play but in general the bite period is over very quickly, sometimes inside of 15 minutes, so you need to switch on and get the fish going quickly.

Live yakkas or slimies are my top bait choice or big plastics and even sometimes a jig will make them strike.

The estuaries around Caloundra have been suffering from lots of fresh water runs but have recovered enough to see some magnificent whiting taken. The southern end of Bells Creek and around Coochin Creek have proved to be the better areas to target the bigger whiting with bloodworms and yabbies the preferred baits.

Smaller bream are all around the local pontoons and jetties and smaller blades or plastics are great fun to try when targeting them. Live prawns are without doubt the number one gun bait for these fish and it seems the local flathead population can’t stay away from them either.

There are still baitfish like herring and hardiheads hanging around the pontoons and a fresh hardihead makes good bait for the bigger bream. They come around and strike the bait with their hard head stunning or killing it and then come back to eat it whole. So try not to strike the first time around. Sit patiently and wait for the fish to come back to pick up its prey.

Whiting are also around the shallow backs at Happy Valley and there are smaller dart and flathead congregating around the rocky outcrops in the same area.

Tarwhine and mangrove jack can be taken along the beach stretch but again there are loads of rocks hidden beneath so use the lightest weight you can to get down to the fish to avoid snags.

I walk up and down with my bait in the current and lift it as it comes near the rocks. Sadly most of the hits come just as it nears the outcrop and before you can get a grip the fish has busted you off. That’s fishing!

Mud crabs are also on the move with some good size bucks being taken within the Mooloolah River area right through to the back reaches of the Pumicestone Passage. It is a good idea to remain close to your pots so you can keep and eye on them. You must also follow the regulations for fishing for crabs and ensure you understand and comply with the Queensland bag and size limits on all species. (See fact box for details)

There have been a few successful days to target the area around McKenzies bridge for chopper tailor, mangrove jack and soapy jew. It is a great area to be in a small dingy or to walk around targeting the different areas. The diversity is incredible and at the launch of every cast you can feel the fish watching and waiting. Bridge pylons, deep channel water and sand drop-offs along with mangroves and rocky outcrops are all there to get you going.

McKenzies bridge is just between Minyama and Mooloolaba directly past the Harvey Norman superstore in Minyama. It is better to actually cross the bridge if you are heading north from Caloundra and turn around and come back across where you will find the entrance to the boat ramp so that you can park. Low tide is a good time to target because you can walk out right to the edge of the deeper channel and fish it though the night.

The beach areas have come under a lot of pressure because of the rough weather but as things start to return to normal you will be able to work the Wurtulla Strip from beach access points along the coast line. While there are very few true gutters there remains some good looking holes that would hold bream and whiting to try during the appropriate tides. Fish flesh, worms and prawns are good baits and a paternoster rig with at least two hooks will normally steer you in the right direction.

The coming month will set us up for our normally strong winter species run, with snapper taking the headlines. Hopefully as things cool a little the pearl perch will start to pop their heads up a little and make fantastic memories for us all. Have Fun!


Regulations for Crabs

In Queensland blue swimmer crabs have a minimum length of 11.5cm with no bag limit. Mud crabs have a minimum size limit of 15cm and a maximum take limit of 10 crabs that must be male.

Sizes are measured by taking the measurement at the widest point of the topside of the crab or the carapace. For further information go to www.dpi.qld.gov.au.

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