Pearler of a winter bite
  |  First Published: June 2013

We have eased into a beautiful winter fishing period on the Sunshine Coast this season. The lead up was full of calm days with little wind that allowed for good offshore trips and for smaller craft to get out amongst the fish.

Offshore didn’t disappoint with the inner reef systems giving up some quality snapper and pearl perch. These are traditionally the favourite target species for this time of year, along with sweetlip and red throat emperor which can be found easily around the known areas. The standard rigs used include snell, paternoster and floating baits; all of which will be successful provided you have good quality bait.

Wider areas like the Barwon Banks, The Hards and Wide Caloundra are all holding good numbers of reefies and some thumper amberjack and kingfish. Deeper water pinnacles in these areas hold big pearl perch and snapper over 7kg and these can be taken even in the middle of the day if you use your equipment well. Again, fish the late afternoon and early morning tide changes for best results in close, and then move out wider as the day progresses.

The old practice used to be to find a good piece of ground where you believed fish would congregate later in the evening and put down the pick and berley like mad. I never agreed with the idea of bringing the fish to you, particularly when we have fish finders that can show you exactly where they are on the reefs now. The common thought is to check out the bait schools because if there is bait, there will be bigger fish feeding on them, and so on up the line.

Once you understand your sounder or fish finder you will be able to boldly predict what species is holding on a pinnacle or a drop-off. All of this comes from experience and a lot of luck. The questions I ask if a big red ball of bait comes on the screen is, ‘what type of bait is mixed in there and what fish are feeding amongst them?’ By doing this you will learn what species you will encounter in certain areas at different times of year and how the fish school. Of course this takes practice and winter is a great time of year to put in a little extra effort for the bigger fish rewards.

The coffee rock, around the northern tip of Bribie Island holds some cobia but plenty of mulloway. Live mullet or yakkas are a couple of bait options but don’t forget large green prawns from the local supermarket.

Mulloway can also be taken in the Pumicestone Passage, Maroochy River and off the beach during this time of year.

Tailor is another species worth targeting and while smaller specimens are within the estuaries there are some quality 3kg plus fish available around the beach areas.

If you choose to chase tailor in the estuaries, small surface poppers cast amongst the bait busting waters work a treat or simply target areas that hold bait on an everyday basis. Even the use of small chrome slugs 15-20g can attract these great fighters. Again the lighter the line the better the opportunity to catch fish and the use of fluorocarbon leader is an absolute must as this will improve your hook up rate.

This time of year is also great to snag some tasty crabs around the mangroves in all the estuarine systems. But be warned, keep an eye on your pots because light fingered bludgers love doing it the easy way.

Bream are all around areas like Currimundi Reef, Brays Rock and the Passage. Winter brings larger size bream into the estuaries and the most effective baits for them are prawns, hardiheads or herring; all of which can be caught live within the Passage.

Areas like the Boardwalk in Caloundra and the breaking waters around Happy Valley, particularly on the low tide, produce the best bream results. This way you can target the deeper channel and the surf break for dart and trevally.

Jumping across to Bribie Island will open opportunities to target whiting in the break and along the drop-offs. This is without doubt one of the best spots to target them. Best baits include blood worms, peeled prawns and freshly pumped yabbies.

The pontoons hold a good number of bream but they are mostly undersized, however they are still great action for the kids.

Gar are another target around the La Balsa Park area in Mooloolaba and you can often see plenty of boats and land-based anglers fishing for them. This is around the spot where all the trawlers and long liners moor, which is another great spot to chase trevally and big bream at night.

A feed of prawns is also worth a look around here on the full moon high tide as they seem to congregate in the area around the many floodlit areas.

The rock wall around Mooloolaba Harbour is another spot to fish for big mulloway, bream and flathead. Pick your spot early because there are times where everyone just seems to be fishing.

Winter brings with it the long cool nights and that is the time when the big predatory species are hunting on the beaches and the estuaries so you need to put in the hours to find and catch them. Use live or big fresh baits where you can and work the tides and moon phases to give you the best opportunities to catch them.

Stick to the inner reef areas in the early mornings and on dusk then look at moving out wider during the day periods to deeper water.

Overall, June is a cracker month to be fishing on the Sunshine Coast so be sure to be amongst it. Have Fun!

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