Rough up the reefies
  |  First Published: May 2013

The cooler months on the Sunshine Coast traditionally mean quality snapper fishing from the shallows out to the deeper reef areas. By all counts, the number of fish around at the moment are a good sign for a terrific winter ahead but unlike most anglers my target will be pearl perch.

Now pearl perch may not have those big thumping head shakes, or the couple of good runs that a snapper can give you but I just love their table quality. Everywhere pearl perch are caught they are known as the ‘chicken of the sea’ for obvious reasons!

Pearl perch can be caught in as close as the Gneerings Shoal, which is only 3km out from the Mooloolaba Harbour right out as far as the top of the Hards on the Barwon Banks, some 50km+ out. Bigger fish around 5kg are normally found in deeper waters of 60m+. And where there are pearl perch you can also enjoy catching the occasional amberjack.

Working the inner reefs like Murphy’s and the Caloundra 7 and 12 Mile or any known structure like Brays Rock, Currimundi Reef or around the blinker are worth casting a line to get a feed of reefies. Wide Caloundra or the middle of the Barwon Banks are also cracker spots to these winter species. Work the tidal changes and if they coincide with the rise and fall of the sun then even better times will be had.

The good news about fishing the cooler nights or days is that you don’t normally need to spend too long out there to get a feed. Often enough around this time of the year your travel time can be double that which it takes to get a reasonable feed but when you are on to fish you really don’t care.

Cobia and amberjack are another couple of fighting species that can be taken around this time of year. I mentioned earlier that amberjack frequent areas with pearl perch and I have said it a thousand times – if you have never caught either an amberjack or a cobia it is time you put them on your list of target species. Both species just love live bait shoved in front of them and put on a great turn of speed and strength throughout the hook up. So work around all of the known reefs offshore in the coming weeks and you may hook on to something that may be bigger than you think.

The estuaries see the bigger bream start to arrive and feed this month and the winter whiting would have taken over from their summer varieties. Bigger bream varieties just love attacking schools of hardiheads and herring, so if you have a cast net get yourself some live baits prior to heading out for a fish.

Hardiheads are best used totally fresh. To prepare them run your thumb up along their scale line and remove the hard scales. You will find that you will get a big thump on the line and then all you need to do is wait until the bream returns to take its last bite before striking. On the first big thump the bream knocks the bait out and then returns to devour its prey.

Hardiheads are sometimes better to fish with than herring because they are tough bait. Herring can be picked apart very easily, which is why it is so important to have fresh bait.

Along with the bread and butter varieties, there will also be tailor inside and on the beaches and, of course, the mulloway will be the big fish for the season.

Fishing late into the evening and even some very early mornings is what is required to get amongst the quality mulloway. Working the beach gutters and holes or the deeper channel areas in the estuaries are the best place to target them and live mullet are one of the gun baits to use to catch them. Areas like the Maroochy and Noosa rivers and the Pumicestone Passage are perfect to target mulloway. The good news is that there are as many places to fish from the bank as there are from a boat. So the estuaries are jammed packed with opportunities this month and I look forward to seeing some of the good catches taken.

Kayak fishing will certainly come into its own this month because they can reach the shallow areas of the Passage to target the bigger whiting. Stealth will be the key to targeting the larger schools that hang out around areas opposite the Power Boat Club and out from Gemini Towers in Golden Beach. Poppers in the early mornings and evenings along with small Sebile Ghost Walkers throughout the day will serve you well. Soft plastics like imitation worms or small paddle-tails are my pick for flathead and bream or, if you like them, try using blades.

Overall, winter is a terrific time across the Sunshine Coast, offering plenty of offshore action and any number of varieties within the estuaries to target. If you have the chance then get out and try to catch a mulloway or a good feed of bream, whiting or mud crabs. If nothing else you should be able to enjoy a crisp clear night to watch the stars.

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