The year is just about done, and what a year it has been! Bizarre weather patterns, amazing fishing and developments galore at state government level.
Surely the standout this year for Noosa and environs has been the astounding numbers of big barramundi hooked, and some even landed. Thankfully, many of those were released. It would seem that some of the many thousands of escapees from lakes Monduran and Awoonga have headed south, and indeed a small proportion seem to think that Noosa might not be a real bad place to live. They are right!
We are eminently hopeful that these visiting fish will stay, spawn and create a thriving barramundi population for ever more. Should this occur the dynamics of angling in the Noosa River, along the coastal fringes and in the myriad feeder creeks will be changed forever. Fingers crossed.
The year has also been a standout for mangrove jack. Everyone knew of course that there is a good population of jacks in this system, but switched-on fishers, such as Bob Jeynes at Davo’s Compleat Angler, have shown us that the resident population of these red bruisers are massive. His techniques, tricks, knowledge and willingness to share has resulted in many happy anglers landing many mangrove jack. Thankfully, the vast majority of these fish were also released to ensure longevity of the species.
Flathead are a year round proposition with the beginning of summer definitely the peak period. At this time of year flatties will congregate to spawn. Each group will consist of a few large females and dozens of smaller, willing and keen males. Sounds a bit like the pub on a Friday night, doesn’t it?
If you are a troller and you manage to nail a fish, it can really pay to work the area hard with plastics in case you have happened across one of these lustful groups of fish in spawning mode. By all means take a couple of fish for a feed, but please leave it at that. You don’t need a huge pile of flathead in the freezer.
Trevally have been very prominent on catch lists this year as well. All manner of trevs caught in every way possible. The Woods Bay area seems to be the best location to target them, but they can turn up almost anywhere. Plastics are very effective on the resident trevally, although trolled minnows take plenty as well.
Big queenfish along the coast have been another pleasant surprise and a big distraction for some anglers. Fish over 13kg are rare this far south, but very welcome.
Offshore there seems to have been a continual supply of tuna right through winter. No one knew if these fish were late for departure or if they arrived early. Perhaps they are just resident now and we can chase tuna year round.
Historically speaking Christmas is when the first of the pelagics arrive. Spotted mackerel seem to be the bolters, and the coast seems to fill up from the south, which I have always found fascinating. It seems that tonnes and tonnes of these fun sportsfish swim straight past Noosa and set up camp around Brisbane and Bribie Island. As these areas get a bit busy the fish seem to stop a little further north until Noosa collects its fair share.
Throwing slugs for spotties feeding on the surface is the most entertaining way to target them. They are easy fish to catch, all you need to do is find them. Some years it’s only a matter of drifting with unweighted pilchards on gangs and double and triple hook-ups are commonplace.
Trollers catch plenty of spotted and school mackerel too, with smallish bibbed minnows the go. As the summer proceeds larger tuna and Spanish mackerel will show up. Again slugs are a great way to target big barrel-chested longtails, and the Spaniards can be successfully hunted with floating baits while at anchor bottom-bashing.
Slabs of tailor, pilchards, gar and live offerings such as yakkas will all attract the attention of pelagics.
On the bottom there will be a few snapper on all close reefs. Coral trout are the star of the show and, for the most part, Sunshine Reef is the place for them. Grassy sweetlip are pretty common as well, and the delicious pearl perch can often be taken in numbers if you luck upon a hungry school.
On the legislative side of the table, the relatively new state government, pushed along by Campbell Newman, has made many changes that will have some effect on the state as a fishery. Massive cuts have been made to the Boating and Fisheries Patrol, surely decreasing its effectiveness. The longstanding Fishcare program has been cut altogether which is a great shame as it provided volunteers to educate the public, assist with competitions and kids fishing clinics. What a shame.
Merry Christmas, stay safe on the water during the silly season. The waterways around Noosa and the entire south east corner of the state are very busy places during the holidays, so please take great care and don’t end up on the news.Reads: 1237