Snap up a spring feed
  |  First Published: October 2013

If you blinked over the past three months you must of missed winter, it just didn’t eventuate. Nevertheless, short periods of typical winter weather allowed some great fishing through those months.

The winter was so short that even the whales gave it up. I noticed them heading south in early August in big numbers and groups close into land. I think that says a lot, as the water didn’t cool off significantly, or as expected, so the pods didn’t need to swim north after all!

Whales have had a tendency to head for boats on their way through and it was a daily occurrence to have a couple approach the boat and look us over. Apparently the best way to get rid of them is to get your camera out, as many frustrated clients found out! If that didn’t work, a short move away to new ground.

It’s been a strange winter for sure. We have been catching splendid perch, sunrise perch and larger northern style hussar on pearlie and snapper grounds all through winter. Big Moses perch and Maori cod stayed on through winter and probably the only typical summer species that did move out of the reefy ground was the humble fusilier.

The snapper have continued to chew on through winter and into these early spring days in good numbers and sizes. The better models are coming at dawn and dusk as expected, however good bites have been occurring throughout most days. The mornings have taken over from the afternoons as the better bite times.

Once again, soft plastics in the form of pearl white 7.5” jerk shad on a 1.5-2oz jighead are accounting for the bigger 4-6kg snapper and quality pearlies, with the odd trag being lured into the action. A recent trip also saw 7.5” pilchard coloured jerk shads account for a 12kg cobia in the shallows around the Wild Banks, which was good to see. Differing varieties of plastics are working on different species.

Cobia catch rates have been down, compared to last year, throughout Wide Caloundra. Often caught as by-catch while bottom bashing, we haven’t bagged too many this year in that way. Similarly the bigger cod haven’t been as prevalent on the shallower grounds as in recent years.

Livies are plentiful at the usual haunts and on the glassed-out days there are still large schools of pilchards scattered throughout the area breaking up the surface.

We had a pre-season warm up troll around a school at Hutchies one afternoon but no action as yet; apart from a couple of free pillies jagged by the lures and a small bonito. But it’s early days…

The trade off, and the highlight of the year, has been the snapper. We have been finding them along the 60m line early morning and late afternoon and during the day out along the 80m line and 100m drop-off. Working along a ledge or feature is the best method with frequent moves ensuring sustainability of your marks and preserves them for future trips. ‘Hoovering’ a mark or feature of fish is in no ones interests and we make a point of bagging a few fish pre drift and moving on. It’s also a good shark avoidance strategy as well. As a general rule, the fish will be holding along the line further along and the trick is finding the depth and feature and keep turning over ground.

Good catches of pearl perch have also been taken along those same features but the occasional runs out to the deeper grounds of 130-140m have disappointed a little with pearlie quality down. Again, snapper have made the journey out there very worthwhile with some good quality 3-4kg specimens coming over the side, which are great for the table. There also been the odd 6-7kg model being bagged once pretty much every trip. Again these marks we fish in the deeper water are small and restrict drifts to preserve them for tomorrow and, let’s face it, a couple of drifts at 140m hauling up good fish using manual reels is pretty much enough for most people!

Moving forward

The election has been run and won and with a Coalition government being elected I am hopeful that Tony Abbott’s undertaking to undo the Green lunacy that prevailed for so many years as regards to Marine Parks and general industry degredation comes to fruition. The continual assaults upon the fishing industry, recreational and professional, should come to an end.

Like many others I watched on in disbelief as a former federal government was driven by similar flawed ‘scientific data’ that drove the former QLD State government to a snapper closure and restrictions upon traditional family pursuits. And for what? A massive failure of millions of dollars is now gathering dust; a 6-week closure that has occurred naturally and will continue to occur in the years to come thanks to prevailing weather systems. Regulate a closure (not even aimed at any species breeding cycle) that nature manages itself? Still shaking my head over that one!

We would hope logic and common sense in regulation and fishing policy, and a tendency to err on the side of the fishers and the multi-million dollar industry we support, stands again as a joint primary consideration with sustainability. The balance should be restored where genuine environmental concerns are considered equally with the wishes and needs of all anglers and our massive industry and not an afterthought.

It’s not just wetting a line that was being destroyed but many thousands of people livelihoods who make wetting a line possible in the first place. From tackle shops to mechanics I could list a full page of people and small and large business that can now hopefully sleep easier with a fairer hand on the helm of the fishing industry and its future viability and sustainability.

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