Summer is on fire
  |  First Published: February 2015

Summer is really on fire across the Sunshine Coast with schools of munching mackerel and hard-fighting tuna smashing bait from Caloundra to Noosa.


The schools are running in close so you have the luxury of fishing the Inner Gneerings, Murphys and the Caloundra 5, 7 and 12 Mile reefs rather than running wide to the Barwon Banks.

For those that like to fish out further, Caloundra Wide is running hot with pelagics and the big speedsters of the ocean, the wahoo, are out there waiting. Mahimahi are hanging around the FADs and the channel markers further north around Coolum. The Barwon Banks is also a great spot and areas like the Three Sisters offer mackerel and many reef species across its vast network.

The run up to the high tide and the first hour of the ebb are the best times to target the mackerel. During January, hardbodied lures were not as successful as slow trolled livies or large pilchards. A few ganged 6/0 Tru Turns or Mustads with a weight will always do the trick. The best colours for the hardbodies have been Qantas (red head with white body) and the gold colours.

Spotty mackerel are in abundance with an average size around 70cm, but there are plenty of bigger ones fighting to take the bait. Mixed amongst them are tuna and Spanish, so there is not much chance of missing them at the moment. Remember that the key to successful casting to the breaking schools is to match the hatch. They are feeding on smaller bait schools so a 20g slug is ample to hook the spotties.

A common question that I get is about whether or not wire affects the catch rate. The short answer is no, particularly during a feeding frenzy but you must keep a strong connection on the fish so they don’t flip off. Another issue is that your rig may have a few swivels along the length of the leader. You may find that you are being busted off even with wire and that is generally due to fish biting the swivels or sinkers where there is no wire. The best advise is to have plenty of spare rigs ready made in a plastic bag so that you can keep at them.

I have not lost a rig in 5 years but this season alone from December 2014 I have lost 4 chrome slugs and two mackerel rigs. That’s fishing…

There are still a wide variety of reef species out there and to get the best results head out in the wee hours of the morning or later in the evenings over a tide change. Snapper and pearl perch are being caught out at the Caloundra 12 Mile and at the Kosi.

The are also good numbers of iodine bream and tuskfish out in the southern end of the Barwon Banks and areas of the Gneerings, close in to Mooloolaba, have plenty of mixed reefies.


The Pumicetone Passage is a little slow but there are bream, whiting, flathead, trevally and queenfish being taken outside of the normal busy holiday hours. The Boardwalk in Caloundra is always full of anglers including families with smaller kids because it is such a nice spot to fish.

Kings Beach and around to Moffat are OK for bream but again you will need to beat the big number of swimmers to get into the action.

I noticed that around the pontoons at the boat ramp in Mooloolaba there are plenty of little spotty mackerel mixing it up with the bream. I noticed a good school of them when launching the boat at the Mooloolaba Coast Guard ramps recently. They are only around 1kg but will be great fun on light gear for the kids.

The pontoon at La Balsa Park is the same with plenty of anglers dropping a line through the day and night. There is always plenty of fish frames around to draw the fish in. Let’s face it, a free feed is always a good thing!

The rock walls that run right out to the Mooloolaba Bar entrance have deep water and have been known to hold exciting predators like mulloway, tuna and mackerel, so give this area a try while you can. If things are a little quiet, you can keep fishing and the kids can just walk 30m to the calm beach water area and swim like mad.

There are extra fisheries officers around checking catches and picking up some frames for research. Please be polite to them and cooperate as they have a job to do and help us in the long run. The bags limits allow us all to take home plenty of fish, so don’t break the rules and everything will go smoothly. If you meet up with a fisheries officer you could offer them your frames, a little bit helps a lot.

So this month offshore will see the bigger female Spanish mackerel around and more tuna schools starting to move in. The spotty mackerel will still be on the reefs and reef species will be on the chew but plan that early morning or late evening trip to stay out of the heat.

Take plenty of water and food with you and if you start to feel a little sick or light-headed, sit down and drink some water and cool yourself down. Heat stroke can come on quickly and take you out fast.

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