Offshore fishing at Wide Caloundra in March is traditionally controlled by the weather. While the fish are there in abundance, needing a day or two to get to them is a big problem.
The January flood event wasn’t helpful for water quality either; but this can be used to your advantage like through February. While flood waters carry man-made debris they also stir up the environment and change the dynamics by displacing fish, bait and food. Like sharks and pelagics stalking baitfish migration, fish will accumulate where there is a flow of food. In short, think like a fish! Where in Wide Caloundra will Moreton Bay outflow produce a flow of food?
The shallow reefs west of Wide Caloundra have been the place to be for great catches. This has the added benefit of being closer to home in case of any weather issues, but you can poke your nose out wider should the conditions favour.
Mixed reef species, in particular cod, Moses perch, grassy sweetlip and snapper have been taken on these closer grounds. Experience shows that large snapper are often taken in March around the bait schools that loiter around these shallow reefs and the Wild Banks artificials.
Spotties and Spaniards will also be nearby on a particular day along with the dirtiest fighting freight train of them all, cobia. If they are not trying to break you off around the props they are jumping and breaking the surface 20m out. I have a lot of respect for them as they value their freedom and life so much that they will try anything to escape and never give up until they are boated.
Another location worth a try is Hutchies. The peaks and valleys and fantastic structures are holding great fish and have done so for many months. The tidal flow on the moons can be very strong and uncomfortable on an outgoing tide with any easterly wind or wave action. However, it provides an ambush zone for fish and cover from predators and is well worth a try in March. Species you are most likely to encounter are hussar, which form big schools over the pinnacles, and a variety of sweetlip species, parrot, tuskies and the odd big knobbie cruising the ledges and valleys.
Paternosters work well in this area (1/4lb lead) along with float lines (3-6 ball in 30m area depending upon water flow). Sound around to find the fish; usually they are sitting up on a pinnacle or on either side depending upon current direction. Set up your drift to run back over them. Generally the drifts can be long as the ground is dotted with ridges, ledges and valleys so you are sure to run over another patch of fish. Be mindful of the bottom structure and don’t be afraid to take in a bit if line to be just off the bottom to avoid losing lead.
Watch your sounder for depths and up coming structure and wind up and let down accordingly to avoid snag ups. Measured braid is an advantage. This wont affect your catch rate and will avoid losing too many sinkers. Floating a pilly is also well worth a try for snapper and other demersals.
There will be good days sprinkled in with the tough ones, and the wider grounds along the 100m line will be holding mahi mahi, wahoo and billfish. Trolling is an option, as well as floating out livies, with a range of differing weights to explore the different depths for fish.
Reasonable bottom fishing for wrasse, pearlies, juvenile snapper and trag can be had if the current is not roaring too hard from the north. Jerk shad plastics in the white lumo variety up to 6” with a 2oz jighead (lighter if current permits) have been accounting for quality pearlies to 3kg without the nibblers. It is definitely the way to go for quality pearl and 2-3kg juvenile snapper that frequent the drop-off running north to south.
As with any of the more open areas of Wide Caloundra, take the time to scout around and work along the deep contours rather than roaring from one mark to another. One of the most satisfying things, apart from a great day’s fishing and a boat full of happy faces, is finding a new mark. With GPS, new ground really isn’t new, but to put a name to a new mark for you that holds and produces fish is a buzz. Building options for the inevitable slow day should not be under-rated. It’s like boat, reel and safety gear maintenance. Making sure you have the tools of the trade that wont let you down when needed to fire. The new marks and new ground and previous homework by exploring can save a slow day or turn it all around. I find it as enjoyable as hooking up!
If you would like to fish Wide Caloundra or other offshore or Moreton Bay destinations with Incredible Charters please call Brendon Watson on 1300 655 818 or 0431 332 468 or email --e-mail address hidden-- .Reads: 741