Early burl for a pearl
  |  First Published: September 2015

The Sunshine Coast is the spot to fish with a large range of winter species being taken across the many reef systems we have at our doorstep. Winter brings snapper, and there’s not one angler who doesn’t have a crack at them when they get the chance.

Along with the highly sought-after snapper is that chicken of the sea, the pearl perch. Pearl perch are certainly around in numbers but there are a lot of smaller ones grabbing baits before the good size specimens get a chance, and if you’re fishing in 60-90m of water that can become a real annoyance.

With both these prize species in abundance at the moment, it’s well worth a trip out to the known spots. The best baits are large king prawns, fresh squid or the humble pilchard for both species. Fresh bait always out-fishes old, stinky bait so make an effort to get some livies or fresh squid.

Other species that are on the chew include morwong, red-throat emperor, iodine bream, tuskfish and, on the pelagic side, kingfish, mulloway, amberjack and some thumper sharks.

If you are heading out to the reefs, get that berley trail going as soon as you’re anchored up. You don’t have to start with lots and lots of berley, just a steady stream of one to two pieces of old bait at a time, or if you use chook pellets then a small handful every couple of minutes is fine. Berley is the key to nailing some quality fish you do it correctly. Always think about saving your leftover bait and, if the wife can tolerate it, mince it up and bag it for next time.

Fishing in close around the Gneerings Shoal and the Outer Gneerings is best very early in the morning or in the evenings. If you can get a corresponding tide then all the better, as this will enhance the fishing. If you are like me and like to fish the deeper areas, tides are helpful but not essential. Pelagics usually smash baits or livies all day long.

I recommend an evening trip to Sunshine Reef, Caloundra 12 Mile or out to Murphies for a quick feed. You can still pick up the reef species previously mentioned in any of those areas. Remember that 90% of anglers use line that is way too heavy for local area fishing. I understand that you don’t want to miss that fish of a lifetime, but you will honestly catch more fish with lighter line. Around those reef systems I would use 30lb braid as a maximum and if necessary I would go up to a 40lb fluorocarbon leader. Generally I am fishing up to 40m of water with 20lb braid and 40lb leader and I use a medium style flexible rod so that I can feel all the bites. On a normal trip in these depths I out-fish he other guys by 3:1, so give lighter line a go and use your angling skills!


The estuaries have seen a few of the bigger winter bream enter the Pumicestone Passage and throughout the Maroochy River system. The Cod Hole and the Bli Bli bridge have whiting, bream and a few smaller ‘soapy jew’ (small mulloway). Chambers Island is the spot for a few flathead and whiting on the tide changes. The canals around Kawana have an abundance of smaller bream, which are great sport on the lighter gear, and the odd trevally will hit those lures. Small wrigglers or hardbodied lures will do the trick.

The Pumicestone Passage has bream around the Boardwalk and flathead within the area of Happy Valley. Big bream have been caught in the Blue Hole in the late evening if you want to risk the cooler nights. Yabbies, prawns and fish flesh are the best baits.

You can catch herring with a cast net around the pontoons and jetties, and a few smaller mullet are hanging around and make great bait for tailor and mulloway. The Pelican Water bridge is a good spot to target the bigger mulloway deep into the night, and live poddies are cracker baits if you have them, or the bigger herring. In the early mornings or late afternoons tailor can be targeted when they smash around in the bait schools. A small 10g slug or plastic will account for these.

So the estuaries are worth a look over the coming weeks as the bream work around the areas and feed amongst the many schools of bait. Work in around the Pelican Waters Canal system and cast under the pontoons for best results. Working a light lure down the rock edges is another top way to entice the bream.

Winter is also a great time to bring on the tailor and mulloway around our many beaches on the Sunshine Coast. From Noosa North Shore all the way down to Bribie Island there are plenty of opportunities for beach anglers to get amongst the fish. Bread and butter varieties like bream, flathead, dart and whiting are always in the holes and gutters and can be taken all day and night. Very early mornings or late tidal changes are the way to target mulloway. Tailor arrive in huge schools and give you a lot of fun while they are biting. The best baits include pilchards, pipis, worms and fish flesh.

So it’s a great month to go fishing across the Sunshine Coast. Book a holiday, get up here and enjoy everything we have to offer.

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