Estuary angler’s winter glee
  |  First Published: April 2013

Estuary anglers will be rubbing their hands together in glee as April sets in across the Sunshine Coast, as this is the start to winter angling opportunities.

Bream have been plentiful along with the ever-reliable whiting. If you are into popper fishing for whiting then start around the Twin Water flats and slowly move down river with the tidal flow. The Pumicestone Passage also supports a strong population of elbow slappers and is worth a look, particularly around tidal changes. The areas between Golden Beach and Bribie Island are ideal to target and it consists of plenty of drop-offs, deep water pockets and shallow edges that just scream fish habitat.

Most boaties can work right across the flats that run from the Caloundra Power Boat Club through to the Caloundra Bar. Even on a normal low tide there is enough water to pepper the area for flathead and whiting. Quality hard-bodied lures are my choice but occasionally I can be tempted to put on a softy to tempt fussy fish. Imitation prawns and worms are always close to the top of the list and pumpkinseed colours are my all-time favourite. Blades are useful around the bridge pylons and many pontoons in the areas and they get their fair share of fish. Bells Creek and areas a little further south are the pick for the better schools of whiting and if you are able to get fresh prawns or smaller yabbies they will get you on your way to filling the esky.

Bream can be found in numbers around the canal network in Pelican Waters. Recently there have been numbers of smaller trevally keeping anglers entertained but their numbers will start to drop off as this month progresses.

Military Jetty is still a top early morning and late evening spot with any number of species on offer. There are still plenty of herring and other live bait around so make use of your cast net and match the bait that the fish eat on a daily basis for your best shot at a feed.

Offshore action around the inner reef areas is going to rock this month. All sorts of reef species will be on offer and this month is the lead into the snapper winter run; something that I am excited about.

Murphys and the Gneerings will be the best on the early morning and evening tidal changes and pilchards or squid baits will serve you well. Berley will be an important part of the process and normally any leftover bait makes the best berley for your next trip. Live bait like yakkas, slimies or whiptails are worth having on board, and catch the big fish on many occasions.

I get plenty of emails and calls asking what gear I use when fishing for snapper on the inner reefs, and my answer is always the same; I spent time fishing with heavy gear but quickly realised that the lighter the better and once you think you are light, halve it again. So if you are fishing 50lb braid as your mainline in 40m+ reef areas, drop it to 30lb and then try 20lb and at the same time up your leader strength.

I use a maximum of 40lb fluorocarbon leaders for snapper up to 50m in depth. My hook up rate is excellent and the only difference is that you have to use your angling skills to get bigger fish into the boat. Really the only difference is the time it takes to get them into the boat as opposed to skull dragging them.

To sum up, 20lb braid mainline and 40lb fluorocarbon leader on a 4000 spin reel and a 5-8kg spin stick is ideal for snapper fishing. I often use 20lb leader just to ensure the fish will hit my line before anyone else in the boat and, believe me, that is what happens! When anglers get really honest with themselves, they realise that the majority of fish they catch are between 3-5kg offshore, so lumpy 10-15kg sticks with 50lb main line and 60-80lb leaders are just an overkill and will cost you hook ups.

The type of species you are targeting has a huge say in what you need to use along with the environment you are fishing in, but in general drop down your line size and try lighter fishing; you will enjoy it and appreciate the fish you land.

When I venture out over 50-60m then the bigger stuff obviously comes into play. Most reels I use are 2500-4000 unless I am live baiting then the baitrunners 4500-6500 will be used.

The deeper reefs out around the Barwon Banks, Wide Caloundra and Noosa will have fantastic runs of pearl perch this month so if you get the right weather then head out to these areas and give them a go. Of course pearlies won’t be all you will get, but on any given day pearl perch will make any angler happy particularly when they start getting up around the 4-5kg mark.

There are normally a few pelagics available during April but they will taper off quickly as the temperature cools. Sunshine Reefs is one of my favourite pre winter spots. The top thing about this area is that it is so big, it is a really slow day if you cannot pick up a feed around here.

Old Womens Island to the north of Mooloolaba and Brays Rock and Currimundi Reef to the south will also be great areas to target. They are very close to their prospective harbours so it can be a matter of a couple of hours to get out catch your feed and have the boat on the trailer, and be on your way home.

April is full of opportunities across the Sunshine Coast for anglers who love to fish from the shore or those that love to take the boat out. Not too many will miss out and let’s face it, that is why the Sunshine Coast is such a great area to live and fish.

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