Snapper haven hunt
  |  First Published: August 2012

It has been a long time coming but finally we are enjoying a bumper snapper season.

The Sunshine Coast, like other destinations, has had many seasons without consistent catches of quality snapper. For years we have all endured drought on land and drought on the sea followed by substantial rain that has turned our country upside down. This bountiful gift from Mother Nature has brought the fish on the bite right across the eastern seaboard putting ‘smiles on dials’.

August is traditionally a spectacular month for big pearl perch and even bigger snapper along with a multitude of other reefs and pelagic species.

The deeper waters out around the Barwon Banks have produced big amberjack, which have been taken close to the wire weed where the pearl perch gather. It is not unusual to be slammed by an amberjack as you are retrieving your catch of pearl perch only to have to extend your fight for an extra 15 minutes plus test all manner of equipment. Average size fish at the moment are stretching 12kg with bigger fish topping the scales at over 25kg. Life changes after a fight with one of these brutes, new passions are born and you begin to share an appreciation for a creature that never says never.

The steps around the southern end of the banks is an area so named because every 50m or so the depth steps down another 20m until you reach around 120m. Typically it is filled with reef structures and small pinnacles that hold many different species of reef fish. This is around 35km east out from Mooloolaba Harbour (about an hour in the boat in normal conditions will see you near the mark).

Further south is Wide Caloundra which is the ideal position to be chasing big pearl perch throughout August. Cobia are another target that hang around this area and fish of 15kg+ are a common sight as we move closer to spring.

The reefs around Caloundra and Mooloolaba are also worthy target areas throughout winter so don’t think you need to head out a long way to get among the quality fish. The old saying that many anglers drive over tons of fish on the way to their favourite spots is very true in this case.

The beach areas are fantastic and also offer plenty of variety during winter with tailor and mulloway our favourite targets. This month bigger mulloway will be hitting the beaches and a well-placed king prawn or hook full of worms will account for plenty of them.

Live herring have been popular this year for the smaller ‘soapy jew’ up to 5kg inside the Pumicestone Passage and Maroochy River systems and they are always available to be netted around the pontoons and jetties. Bream and whiting can be caught across the beaches with the better fish always being taken after dark. I like a making tide for bream and whiting but it is easier to fish the last of the low tide because you can get right to the holes and gutters out wider.

The rocks around Kings and Moffat beaches are other spots that are best fished on the low tide simply because they are covered outside of this time and are dangerous to navigate without full view.

The mouth of the Caloundra Bar will be worth your efforts because the mulloway will be patrolling with gusto in the hunt for live mullet and herring.

The tidal flow in the Pumicestone Passage at times runs close to a land speed record but there is a small window of opportunity to fish without fear of snagging while the tide turns. Winter whiting can be targeted along the Esplanade strip at Golden Beach right down to the weed beds just south of Bells Creek. Smaller yabbies, along with prawns, will again be the best way to bag a few.

The Boardwalk is full throughout the day with drummer anglers but they are not as thick as they have been in previous seasons. There were times where it looked as black as an oil slick because of the massive numbers of them in a small concentrated area, and like the snapper and pearl perch a bumper season is just around the corner.

The cod hole in Maroochydore and the deeper areas around the Bli Bli Bridge are also top spots to target this month. All of the species mentioned can be taken around these areas.

For August, concentrate you efforts on the reefs and enjoy the recent good run of snapper and pearl perch. Paternoster or snell rigs are my favourites along with fresh squid, pilchards or yakkas for bait. If you want to nail cobia then big livies are the only way to go and normally the bait will be exactly where the fish are, such is the way it all works.

In the estuaries and on the beaches the targets will be mulloway and tailor so gear up for a tough fight and reap the rewards. Remember to have fun!

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