Summer spectacle
  |  First Published: November 2012

It’s summer, and what an adventure this time of year is on the Sunshine Coast. The fishing is memorable with schools of mackerel, tuna and other large pelagic species chasing the large bait balls from Caloundra to Noosa.

The reef species increase to include a huge number of big fighting fish and bring the closer in reefs in to play early and on the making tides at dusk.

Your tackle needs to include a range of chrome casting slugs from 20-50g for the feeding tuna and mackerel, along with plenty of soft plastics set up on a 1/2-1oz jighead with a minimum 40lb trace. Some anglers prefer to use a short 10cm wire trace to the jighead but if you hit and set the hook early you will avoid the majority of bust-offs.

I love watching the tuna leap out of the water and plunge into the bait, and just when you think you have seen everything out comes a huge mackerel or wahoo and takes one of the bigger fish like a rag doll. And what is even better is nailing one on a perfect cast right ahead of the travelling school and listening to the reel scream from pain. Summer is such fun!

Work the deeper water areas once the heat of the day hits hard and target deep water pelagics and reef species. Travelling out to areas like the Barwon Banks, Wide Caloundra, Hutchinson Shoal and Deep Tempest will serve you well. On the ebb tide work the known wrecks and marker buoys for mahi mahi, cobia and other pelagics but the key here is live or very fresh bait.

The summer months offer up plenty of live slimies and yakkas, along with big squid on the full of the moon. Areas like Old Womens Island and the Gneerings Shoal are terrific to target squid and generally the depth of water can dictate the best method of targeting them. I prefer to have a whole pilchard on a squid needle to catch the bigger species, but remember to use berley and plenty of light around the boat to attract them.

Shallow systems need to be carefully targeted on the changing tides and in particular on the evening tides. The bigger fish will only move in under the cover of darkness; you will need to be set up and have commenced your berley trail a good 40 minutes before the key bite period.

Another practised method in summer is to troll for the tuna, mahi mahi and other pelagics. My favourite big fish lures are the Mackerel Maulers along with a few well chosen bubblers and skirts. I have only ever used the qantas and gold colours because they have always produced the better fish numbers. I have caught everything from small mahi mahi to monster wahoo on them.

I will always put out a skirt or bubbler when we are only able to travel around 20km/h in the boat. You just never know when you may go straight through a bait school or pass by travelling tuna.

The offshore action is hot and so are the many estuaries systems from Noosa to Bribie Island.

The crabs will start to really come on in the hot months, as well as the trevally and big female flathead.

Summer whiting and bream are always a top target for the early holiday-makers and locals alike. Work the areas around the pontoons and bridges with your blades and soft plastics for bream. Deeper channels are worth a fish in the evenings and using herring or live poddy mullets will increase your chances no end. Whiting just lap up yabbies or blood worms so spend time with the kids gathering some bait.

Again the tide changes are top times to target the fish particularly if they are around early morning or late afternoon.

Pike can be caught on most occasions throughout the day and they are plenty of fun for the kids and great bait for offshore.

The rock walls around Mooloolaba Harbour are ideal spots to fish in the evening and a picnic blanket with some fresh salad and chook will make the whole family enjoy the experience. The news just gets better because the local fish shop is within 100m of the area and stocks every bit of fresh seafood you could imagine. So if you don’t catch a fish you can still enjoy fish and chips while doing what you love.

La Balsa Park is just across the river and also rates highly as one of the best spots for all the locals and visitors. The harbour has many big boats, such as trawlers and long liners, that make great fish holding spots not to mention the many bridges and pontoons around the canals.

The Maroochy and Noosa systems are also worth your efforts so check out all the locations at your local fishing store.

Make the Sunshine Coast your Christmas holiday destination this year. Take the time to look around and talk to those that fish here day in and day out. You will find them around the Boardwalk in Caloundra, on the river mouth at Maroochydore, on the rock wall in Mooloolaba or somewhere on the Noosa River, and they would all love to say G’day.

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