Aim high this winter
  |  First Published: July 2014

We have enjoyed a great season across the Sunshine Coast; winter has provided numerous opportunities to catch some quality fish and none are regarded higher than a large snapper.

The good news continues across all of the known reef systems with a wide range of species being taken both in close and wide. Areas like Brays Rock, Currimundi Reef, the Caloundra 7 and 12 Mile, The Gneerings, Murphys and Sunshine are all close to shore and are protected when the cool westerly winds are blowing hard. Planning a trip in close is much easier than deciding on a long run out to areas like Wide Caloundra or the Barwon Banks and when one is not firing it is not much effort to move to the next.

When the westerlies are blowing, the seas will be flat so that is the best time to look at heading out to the reefs this month. It is also one of the best times to be targeting the known wrecks to catch a cobia. Big kingfish are smashing baits around the deeper pinnacles on the Barwon Banks along with thumper amberjack. These predators can be caught in the middle of the day but really fire on the tidal changes. The key is there has to be movement in the tide to entice them and a live yakka or slimie mackerel will just about ensure a hook up each time.

Pearl perch are another popular target during July and they move in really close off Mooloolaba and are easily taken on a paternoster rig with pilchard and squid baits. If you prefer using soft plastics the best colours are anything with purple through it or plain white. Red throat emperor and grassy sweetlip are in abundance this month along with Moses perch, so there are plenty of different species on offer across the Sunshine Coast.

Winter has really set in by the start of July and the big sea bream that have come in with the schools of mullet hang around the Pumicestone Passage just waiting for a feed. Fresh herring, which can be caught in a cast net around the many pontoons and pylons around the traps, make great whole bait for big bream. Other options include yabbies, mullet or fish strips, prawns and soft plastics or hardbodied lures. The making tide is the best bet to target them and the deeper the hole or drop off the better.

Mixed amongst them you can get a nice feed of whiting or an occasional flathead. Work the weeded areas around Bells Creek and the Powerboat Club to score some nice winter whiting. Best baits are small yabbies, peeled prawns and in the early mornings small surface poppers work a treat.

The river mouths and bars are the place to target mulloway throughout the day and into the wee hours of the morning. They can be caught within the river systems using large prawns or a stack of juicy worms. My preferred bait is live mullet or big strips on a small ganged rig. The key to success is to keep the noise down and don’t touch the line until they are running as they spook easily.

Tailor are the other species I love to chase this month and they can be caught within the estuaries or along the many beautiful beaches. My favourite spot is Noosa North Shore or anywhere along that stretch. Overnight trips fishing the gutters on the high tide and the holes during the ebb offer up everything from permit to whiting and tailor to mulloway.

Fishing along the Wurtulla Strip can also be productive and some of the best tailor I have caught have been taken there on the low tide. A ganged rig with whole pilchards or the use of a paternoster rig with circle hooks and strip baits will serve you well. The rocks and foreshore areas can be used to target tarwhine, bream and whiting, so plan your trips carefully and work the change of the tides for best results.

King and Moffat beaches are also spots where whiting and bream are regularly caught so once the surfers and swimmers have packed it up then you should be ready to go.

The rocks by Kings Beach are also worth a try but only on the lower tide as they are covered during the high. Fishing from here can cost you a lot of gear because of the rocky bottom so the smallest amount of weight is highly recommended. Normally I would fish with just a split shot sinker and allow the bait to float naturally around until a fish strikes.

Winter is really set in and with it all the big bream, drummer, tailor and snapper have followed as if right on cue. This month will see plenty of action and perhaps a few records fall around the place. Remember that fresh live bait like herring, mullet and prawns will greatly increase your chances of quality fish. Have Fun!

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