An exciting winter ahead
  |  First Published: May 2015

Finally, after a long summer we are starting to enjoy a run of winter species. Snapper are always 1 of the most sought after species across the Sunshine Coast and once they come on, the fun really begins. Leading up to the depths of winter, some snapper can still be caught in the deeper water haunts, but as the cooler weather lowers the water temperature, bigger fish are found across the closer reef systems.

The weather has not been friendly lately and it has made it difficult to enjoy a good run of fishing for reef species. Anglers who have pushed to get offshore have found the fishing a little slower than they would like, but that will definitely change.

One of the key factors to catching a lot of quality snapper is the type of bait you are using. I am sure you have heard it many times, but when it comes to bait, fresh is always best. Of course the humble pilchard will always catch a fish or 2 and the packet squid from the local bait and tackle shop may win a few bragging rights, but it is worth understanding that taking the time to get fresh bait will increase your chances greatly. Squid can be caught in all areas at certain times of the year.

This will normally correspond with a change of seasons or fish species, so the first thing to do is get to know what is going on in your area. You will need to know when bait is likely to be around and how best to target it. Do you know when the prawns run in the local estuary? The best way to find out is to talk to tackle shop owners or friends that fish often and know what is going on.

Live yakkas or slimy mackerel are also the best baits for bigger snapper. No doubt you have heard the saying, the bigger the bait, the bigger the fish. This is true in some cases, but particularly so with snapper.

Some of the best times to fish for winter species are when the tide change corresponds with either sunrise or sunset. This is a period that really sets fish off and has them in a fierce biting mode. If you are going to target the winter species around the Sunshine Coast, then plan your trip and allow plenty of extra time to get a berley trail up and running.

Pearl perch, morwong, snapper and a stack of other species will be on the chew over the coming months. Fortunately, there are also plenty of pelagic species that you can target, including kingfish on the wrecks and known pinnacles around the area. So whether you are happy to get a feed of reef species or target arm-pulling pelagics, there are plenty of options across the Sunshine Coast through the winter period.

The estuaries have quality bream around in big numbers at the moment. The best place to find them is within the canal systems from Pelican Waters right through to Noosa. Kawana Waters is another great spot to target bream or mullet, and once you find where they are you will be in for an entertaining day. Lots of people who live on the canals feed the bream and other fish species every day. During the feeding there can be hundreds of fish trying to get a meal, so imagine what happens if you pop a soft plastic or pull a hardbody through them!

Chopper tailor are normally caught around the jetties or pontoons as they target the herring or mullet that hang in the areas. Military Jetty and around under the Pelican Waters Bridge are good spots to try around the tide changes and most effective at night-time. The boardwalk in Caloundra is always a terrific spot to fish from, but the tidal flow is very strong, so it has a limited prime time for fishing in between the tides. There are a lot of shallow sandy banks within the Pumicestone Passage that hold flathead and winter whiting, so look around the waterways at both low and high tide before planning your next trip. Always examine the jetties and bridge pylons and find out what bait is present. These schools are food for a number of species, so think about getting a cast net and catching some live bait. Yabbies and prawns are also available at the moment in the estuaries, and live prawns make amazing bream baits.

The beaches have dart, flathead, bream and whiting around the holes and within the gutters. Worms or peeled prawns are excellent bait and very versatile, covering a number of species. As the cooler months of winter kick in, tailor and mulloway will start to cruise the gutters, so winter has its advantages.

It will be an interesting month across the estuaries, rivers system and offshore reefs. Remember, the key to targeting quality fish is to first get fresh or live bait to take with you. Spend time trying to get live bait every trip and it won’t be long before you master it and improve your results.

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