Options on offer throughout
  |  First Published: March 2013

A cracker of a summer has led to fantastic catches right across the Sunshine Coast. It didn’t matter if you were into big pelagics, dancing mahi mahi or speedsters like tuna, wahoo and mackerel, as they were all on offer. The inner and outer reefs have produced loads of options and will continue to do so right throughout March.

Inner Reefs (Caloundra to Mooloolaba)
The Inner and Outer Gneerings, Murphy’s, Caloundra 7 and 12 mile reefs

The Gneerings group comes into play this month with a transition phase just beginning between summer and winter varieties. Pearl perch and trevally will feature more so towards the middle to end of the month around these areas. Tuna schools love to feed around these parts and the good news is that the reef starts only 3km offshore so if the weather turns it is a short run to the sheltered Mooloolaba harbour. So a good mixture of reef and pelagic species can be found here.

Murphy’s has deeper water running to depths from 20-40m. These parts offer large pinnacles for bait to hide that bring in the bigger mackerel and reefies. Early morning and late evening fishing the tidal turns can produce the best catches.

The Caloundra reefs are known for their snapper and they will slowly start to come on towards the end of the month and are best fished into the evenings. Of course there are some cracker spots to target mackerel and cobia around these areas.

Paternoster rigs are one of the better rigs to use on the bottom dwellers or if you are anchored then try floating some pilchards or fresh squid down the berley trail.

The Outer Reefs
Wide Caloundra, Southern Barwon Banks, Top of the Hards

The Barwon Banks has produced plenty of reef varieties and a trip out around the Three Sisters situated around the middle of the southern edge will put you close to any number of species. The Steps, so named because as you head east the water drops down 10m each step of the way, pelagics, tuna and reef species all hang around the hundreds of spots on offer out here and so does many bait schools.

Further north you will hit the bottom of the Hards. This is a spot that has many rocky areas and is alive with tuskfish, mangrove jack but be warned, you will lose a lot of equipment if you don’t keep your hook or bait of the bottom. Depths vary but normally depths from 40-80m are commonplace. Some challenging areas in 90m plus waters offer big opportunities so look around while you are out there and chart some new ground.

These deeper areas also hold any number of larger fish including marlin, mackerel and speedsters like the wahoo and bigger tuna. All of these predatory fish hunt in packs and chase the bait schools with a passion that would make a school kid sit up and take notice.

Trolling with surface and diving lures is one of the many options used to catch fish out here or if things seem a little quiet change to live bait. Yakkas, squid and slimey mackerel are the pick of them and they all produce fish when everything else seems to fail.

The estuaries

Caloundra to Mooloolaba there will be heaps of whiting chasing yabbies and blood worms this month, and there is more good news because the bream and trevally are never far away.

Around the Caloundra area target the Pumicestone Passage in areas like the Boardwalk or one of the many pontoons scattered within the region.

The canals at Kawana Island and Mooloolaba are not just top spots to target fish but also to get a feed of crabs. Mullet has always been a winner in my pots but lately I have found that bigger herring offer more scent and attract more quality crabs into the pot. Herring are one of many baitfish that can be caught in cast nets along with hardiheads and mullet which are all top baits.

McKenzie’s Bridge on the outskirts of Mooloolaba can offer some awesome surface action in the afternoon session. Chopper tailor hang around the bridge structures and chase anything that moves. Poppers and small divers like Damikies will serve you well. Soft plastics, particularly in light brown, camo and pink colours seem to work best and small sharp rips followed by a small pause is one of the better actions.

The Maroochy River will be worth targeting since the floods in January. The fish that used to be at the Barra Park will be swimming around areas like the cod hole and Bli Bli Bridge. All areas of Twin Waters will be sensational for the last of the mangrove jack run.

It does not matter if you prefer lure fishing for these great fighters or using bait; they will hit you hard and give you a dirty fight. For my money I would be working along the rock wall at the cane fields right through to the main bridge in search of some monster fish. Use a mixture of surface plastics and deep diving lures to get a feed. There are plenty of land-based areas that you can cast from and in most areas there are no advantages in having a boat because the same waters can be fished. Spots like Chambers Island and the stretch along La Balsa Park are terrific family areas and offer and number of bread and butter varieties.

So whether you are land- or estuary-based or your passions lie offshore, there are plenty of opportunities around the Sunshine Coast. Work the later evening tides for the bigger fish around the rock walls and bridge areas and throughout the day cast into the deeper waters for ambush predators like flathead and mulloway. Live prawns or smaller whitebait set up on a long shank hook will make a decent feed for a hungry fish, so be prepared to experiment and try new things. Have Fun!

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