Canal critters at Christmas
  |  First Published: December 2014

Things will be getting quite busy during the holiday season, especially on the water! With all kinds of watercraft expected on our local estuaries of the Sunshine Coast, the fish can become a little wary.

However, our great waterways hold a wide range of more ‘protected’ areas to fish for keen lure anglers, including a wide expanse of canals. The waterfront homes in these areas hold a huge amount of jetties, large yachts, boats and pontoons. These areas provide exceptional cover for various species, and as a result making them exceptional places to fish!

In the summer months, bream, trevally, mangrove jack and various other species hold in the canals. The baitfish also seem to take advantage of the cover as well, however most of the time it’s not long before the predatory fish find them. I fish the Noosa and Mooloolaba canals and quite often have some fun sessions. One thing I enjoy most about fishing these areas is that it’s very visual fishing. Being able to see the fish congregating under whatever canal structure it may be, and being very stealthy, you land the perfect cast near them just to see them climb over your lure! Very exciting stuff! Having an electric motor in these situations is vital, as it allows you to motor up to the fish silently in order to land that good cast.

Bream or mangrove jack are the two main target species in the canals. Trevally will cruise through every now and then and bust up on the bait that’s attempting to take cover as well.


If specifically targeting bream, going for the finesse approach is key as they are quite a smart and timid species. It’s not all the time the bream will be flighty, as sometimes they will attack lures with a lot of aggression! When choosing the right outfit to use, it’s all about sensitivity. Making sure the outfit will allow you to feel even the slightest of touches. A good quality, light 6’10’’ rod of about 2-4lb, matched up with a 2000 size reel with 4-6lb braid will handle most situations. Also having a leader generally 1-2 rod lengths of about 4lb fluorocarbon is ideal for chasing bream in most cases.

Sometimes with this light gear, the larger specimens may get the upper hand, or you may even come across a jack that’ll bust you off in no time. That’s what makes this style of fishing so exciting!

The lures that I’ve had the most success with are the Berkley Gulp 2” Crabbies and Shrimp in the peppered prawn colour. Rigging these on a very light 1/40oz jighead will make these presentations look even more lifelike in the water.

When casting at the structure, targeting the shady areas is vital, making sure you pin the casts deep into the backs of the jetties and other floating obstacles. This is where a lot of the larger, smarter fish will hold. If fishing early morning or later afternoon, cast surface lures around. Lures such as Berkley Scum Dogs and Prawn Dogs are great imitations when fishing these areas. When retrieving, allow the lure to pause for a short time, most of the time this is when the bream will strike. Having a setup already rigged up with a surface lure is a good idea in case any trevally show up. Casting a surface lure in the midst of a trevally bust-up is almost a guaranteed hook-up! In the summer months, the Sunshine Coast canals can also hold good numbers of decent mangrove jack.

Mangrove Jack

Mangrove jack are the ultimate ambush predator. A lot of anglers will put in many hours for these fish as they put up an awesome fight and show their spectacular bright red colours in photos.

Jacks hold very tight in dense structure. This is to give them the advantage of being fully hidden when baitfish or prawns swim past without a clue of the jack’s presence. Having the right gear that will have enough grunt to work these tough fish out of structure is vital, so rods of about 10-15lb and reels of 2500 size will do the job. Lines and leaders ranging from 15-20lb will also do the trick in order to get an upper hand on these fish when battling them.

Mangrove jack will take a variety of hardbodies and soft plastics. Suspending hardbodies of around 50-90mm in size in colours with a reddish or golden tinge is ideal. Twitching these lures alongside jetties, boats and pontoons is a good approach. Plastics in the form of swimbaits with large paddle-tails are also a good option to use when fishing for them.

It’s important to land your casts accurately amongst the dense structure, making sure your lure is in the strike-zone!

Give it a go

The Sunshine Coast canals provide some excellent summer fishing. With bream, mangrove jack, trevally and various other species on offer. If you’re in the Noosa area, drop into Hooked On Angling and Outdoors in Tewantin, as the friendly team will provide you with some great advice on how to target these canal dwelling species.

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