New Year new opportunities
  |  First Published: December 2013

A new year on the Sunshine Coast brings great opportunities to catch a wide variety of fish. This year I intend to revisit the days where I enjoyed a minimum 100 or so days out fishing and set up another run of diary entries to assist anglers with information on exactly where to catch a feed. The weather has been the big stopper of late and hopefully the winds will slow down and allow us all to enjoy offshore action.

With school holidays in full swing there will be plenty of competition for the best spots so an alternative plan may sometimes come in handy. When there are a lot of boats working the same area please be sure to show common courtesy and have patience so that everyone can enjoy their day.

Mackerel are around in good numbers in close around the Gneering Shoals and out wider on the known reefs. The Barwon Banks has plenty of options, including reef species like snapper and pearl perch and if they go quiet then chasing tuna or fishing the bait balls will keep you busy.

Mahi mahi are hanging around the markers and buoys and can be taken throughout the day provided you approach the areas with a little stealth. There is no need to head out wide as the closer areas like Brays Rock, Currimundi Reef and the Caloundra 5 and 7 Mile reefs all hold fish. Visiting in the early hours of the morning or at dusk will assist in catching some memorable fish.

The best way to target the fish this month is to head out through the Mooloolaba Bar area; it is the safest way to access the ocean and there are excellent facilities around, including fish cleaning tables with running water, pontoons, double and triple ramp areas and toilet facilities at most major ramps. Parking can be a real issue during the holidays and you need to be careful if you are going to take up two standard parks with the car and trailer because you may get a ticket. You will need to be early and well prepared to get a park, so again, plan carefully.

From Mooloolaba you can target the Gneerings and Murphys Reef areas or head north to Sunshine Reef or Coolum. Heading north is a good option if you are up early because the tuna are always up and running before they are down around our area. Alternatively, you can target coral trout or other reef species until the birds start to identify where the schools are hitting.

The other option is the Caloundra Bar but if you have not done it before then there are only two options: go with a local or get the local coastguard to escort you out if they can. The Caloundra Bar changes within a week and can be dangerously shallow, making it important to use the tracking ability on your sounder so that you can come in over the same path. The waves draw very fast and can turn you over or go through you if you don’t time the crossing well.

Caloundra is a good spot to fish because there are major reef systems in really close like Brays Rock, Currimundi Reef, Caloundra 5 and 7 Mile reefs and the 12 Mile, which holds nearly every species you would want to catch on a good day.

There are also a number of channel beacons that attract the smaller baitfish and will hold cobia, mahi mahi and mackerel. Along the eastern front of Bribie Island there is a run of coffee rock that is worth a look around for reef species. The spoil grounds are situated east of Caloundra and that is the spot where plenty of boats target the Spaniards throughout the holiday season.

The estuaries are always quiet throughout the day for obvious reasons. I know if I was a fish I would be hiding from all the noise of powerboats and jet skis until they all went away. Look at a fishing trip in the early morning hours or around sunset when things are quieter. Of course, fishing the changing tides is important but it is all the better if they correspond with the times shown.

There is a good deal of fresh live bait in the Pumicestone Passage with herring, yabbies, soldier grabs, mullet and prawns hanging around the shallow mangrove areas and they make sensational baits for bream, trevally, queenies and flathead.

Fishing with the kids is always easy around the Boardwalk area with seating and washing facilities making it just the spot for everyone. The area around Happy Valley shares a dual purpose so once the fish stop biting you can dive in for a cool swim and tackle the fishing later.

Overall it will be a great summer on the Sunshine Coast in between the winds, northerlies and storms. One thing is for sure the fish will be out there waiting to take the best bait available so make yours standout. Remember to be patient and time your fishing trip well and if it is a cracker day, then thousands of others will have the same idea. Have Fun!

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