Expect the best
  |  First Published: February 2008

February is an excellent month to wet a line in the beautiful Noosa area. Most of the holidaymakers will be back at home so the river will be a much less crowded place! The boat ramps will have settled back into the quiet routine they usually see and parking will be a breeze once again!

The summer species will be going hard by this time of year. Offshore there will be mackerel and tuna, and hopefully the big late run of snapper will be continuing. At year’s end there were plenty of big snapper on most offshore reef systems, with Chardons the stand out location. Mike Fisher, who has been skippering charter boats in this locale for many a year, reported the best snapper run in years at Chardons. Mike had not seen snapper fishing this good for a decade!

Snapper are available off Noosa year round. They spawn in the cooler months on close inshore reefs and the little tackers make their way into the estuary systems and the relative safety of the mangroves. As they slowly mature they will gradually make their way offshore and often congregate in schools of similar sized fish. It is widely believed that the bigger fish are wanderers and somewhat solo and that they are wherever the tucker is!

Generally they are caught at 2-4kg or so with standout specimens pushing 10kg. They have been caught at 20kg and at that size they would be a good catch and release candidate. The best eating fish are the smaller ones however they eat well right up to the jumbo models.

The most successful snapper anglers are very keen on berley and floatlining. In some situations a good berley trail, delivered judiciously as opposed to dumping large quantities of chopped fish at irregular intervals, will bring the fish close to the surface and very close to the boat. At these time half and unweighted pilchard drifting down the trail will be a deadly weapon and one that is very hard to beat. Hooks need to be strong, however there is no need for super heavy leader or wire.

Hot reefs worth trying are North Reef where you would be very likely to tangle with Moses perch, parrot fish and possibly big estuary cod (particularly at night); Chardons, which is a good bet for a stray red emperor, is another reef worth fishing for snapper; Sunshine Reef will deliver some magnificent coral trout during February along with parrots, sweetlip, snapper and pelagics such as Spaniards and tuna. If you are lucky enough to enjoy some quality snapper fishing off Noosa this summer, take a few for a feed by take note that the days of rape and pillage are long gone

The Noosa River system will settle nicely after the thrashing it will have copped during the holiday season. As previously mentioned using ramps and finding a suitable and nearby parking space will be a breeze!

Mangrove jacks will be the star of the show this month and excellent catches late in 2007 is a good indicator of a bumper jack month.

Many anglers favour lure casting and trolling, particularly late in the day when the sun is low and the fish become more active. During the day they will rest in shady oyster encrusted enclaves and head out to hunt when the light level is dropping. Casting to the mangroves and other bankside structure will bring ferocious hits from these toothy devils, as will trolling close to the bankside vegetation or over other structure such as rock bars.

The lower reaches of the Noosa River have been delivering very good numbers of quality mangrove jacks and the vast Weyba Creek system is a good starting point. Creek banks with rocks evident are good casting and trolling targets. Drifting a live bait into the same structures is also a great way to tangle with jacks.

Be prepared for crashing hits constantly. Work lures slowly and deliberately and you will be rewarded. Barra Pros, Tilsan Barras, Mad Mullets and gold Bombers are great lures for this type of work. A good mono leader of 30lb breaking strain or so will generally suffice. I use Platypus Super Braid for the main line due to its superior casting qualities and ease of knot tying not to mention that it is Aussie made.

The snaggy run in between Lakes Cooroibah and Cootharaba is always worth a prospect during summer. This is a long stretch of water with few run off creeks but plenty of bankside cover. Rock bars are intermittent along this stretch and it can pay to troll these with lures than will run just over the top of the structure, against the current. Then drift back casting at the snags as you go. Bouncing soft plastics over the rock bars is also well worth a try and the next jack or cod to attach a wounded plastic wont be the last, that’s for sure.

A slightly more relaxing method of catching a jack or two is to anchor up and lob out a live whiting, mullet or herring. Ensure that the bait is in or very close to structure of some sort or it could be a long wait in between bites.

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