If last winter is anything to gauge by, July should finally see conditions improve for beach angling with westerly breezes dominating and a clear surf that is free of sediments and algae.
Beach fishing is certainly a lot more pleasant with the breeze at the back assisting casting and keeping the surf at a manageable level. Staying warm is always the key, but by mid morning with the sun up, there is no better place than the beach to enjoy South East Queensland’s winter months.
Teewah Beach like all of the other beaches of South East Queensland has certainly seen some sand disappear over the last few months which has exposed rocks not sighted since the late 1970s. Things have improved rapidly of late however with the majority of those rocks now covered with sand and beach driving no longer a hazard. Some of the higher tides and, particularly when there is a larger than normal swell running, can see waves hitting the dunes and trees that have fallen on to the beach an awkward obstacle, but a couple of hours either side of high is generally no problem.
The glorious July conditions that we should expect to see are always better enjoyed of course with a few fish in the bucket. Reasonable catches of decently sized whiting and flathead along with just legal bream have been hitting the beach of late with the occasional small tailor being reported.
Exceptional gutters and holes that have formed as a result of recent erosion events are all along the beach and this should remain the case for several months yet.
Historically July has always been an excellent month to find these species but unfortunately, this isn’t the case any longer with catches of any species becoming very difficult to attain in recent times. The occasional fish is still possible for those willing to spend the time with a line in the water with flathead the most likely species to be found. Intense netting for mullet is never conducive to healthy recreational catches and June and July are the months when mullet are taken in the hundreds of tonnes.
Tailor have become an almost impossible species to find in July and it seems that there isn’t a month that does readily produce tailor here any longer. This has been the case for the last 3 years and the signs for this year are not providing any optimism that this year is to be any different. While there is still the potential to find tailor with a fair amount of effort, don’t be surprised if they are small in size and number.
In other news, Dave Madden’s camel safaris have returned to Teewah Beach after a 2 year period of not being permitted by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council. Most would agree that this is a very welcome move by the state government to allow this world renowned tourist attraction to once again put Teewah Beach back on the map. We can certainly use all the help we can get in this regard.
Commercial catches of tailor in the Fraser Island and Cooloola region indicates that this difficulty of finding tailor isn’t exclusive to recreational anglers either. The slow deterioration of yields since 1988 reflects the diminishing recreational catches of tailor that long term anglers have noted and especially since the year 2000.
It is clear that we have a problem, but a problem that is refuted by Fishery Queensland managers who state that tailor populations are recovering with more large fish now prevalent in the system. I am unsure of how this conclusion was arrived at but it seems that if there are more large fish out there, then they most certainly aren’t to be found in the Fraser Island or Cooloola region which was once famous for its tailor fishing with tailor over 4kg regularly taken. Fish over 2kg are now an exceptional catch.
Apparent is the change in attitude of anglers who predominantly target tailor who not long ago were heading to this region to do so. Instead of the migration of anglers from NSW and southern Queensland to Fraser Island and Cooloola, the trend is now for anglers from Queensland to head to NSW where the chances of finding tailor appear to be higher. Failing tailor being available, then Australian salmon which have increased substantially in number across all of southern Australia following netting bans, are a more than adequate replacement from a sporting perspective, if not from an edibility viewpoint.
The recent initiative by the Queensland Government to assess ways in which recreational fishing tourism to Queensland can be enhanced is of obvious relevance here. While all states of Australia have successfully taken measures to increase fish stocks through actual reductions in commercial fishing pressure and net free regions, Queensland has failed to adopt a plan that actually reduces inshore fishing pressure, or to even consider net free regions.
This despite the success of net free regions all around the world that have increased overfished species’ populations and rejuvenated recreational and commercial fisheries in the process. Until net free regions become a reality in Queensland, this trend of Queensland fishers heading interstate for their holidays is set to become a growth industry for the other states.
Also disappointing this year has been a distinct lack of pelagic activity in Laguna Bay and along the entire inshore region to Sandy Cape. Mac and longtail tuna along with school, spotted and Spanish mackerel had compensated land based sports anglers to some degree for the loss of tailor in recent years. However this past season’s near total absence which follows last year’s non-arrival of these pelagics is of concern. This is surprising given the flooding events that have occurred over the last few years and I am at a loss to explain why there has been such a sudden and profound disappearance of these species.
It could be argued that the flood events are the reason for the absence due to dirty water not being conducive to their coming inshore. While it is correct that these species don’t like dirty water, there have been any number of occasions when conditions, which have prompted inshore feeding frenzies of these species in the past, have been available, but with absolutely no sign of the pelagics or feeding terns to indicate their presence. We can only hope that this is a cyclic thing related to baitfish movements and this summer will see a return of these much sought-after species.Reads: 807