Hot pelagic action out wide
  |  First Published: February 2016

We have had a steady start to 2016 with reasonable pelagic action hitting our waters. The water temperature has reached its turn on temperature at above 25°C.


There has been plenty of bait schools about attracting some welcome species including Spanish, school and spotted mackerel, mahimahi and those toothy speedsters the wahoo. Some anglers have even been lucky enough to hook a marlin or sailfish as well. The Gneerings Shoals, Murphys, Caloundra 5, 7 and 12-Mile reefs are all producing quality spotted and Spanish mackerel.

For those willing to venture a little further offshore to the banks, Caloundra wide or Hutchinson Shoals, you will more than likely rustle up a wahoo or mahimahi. Be sure to be extra careful when landing a wahoo in your boat as they can get a little cranky and thrash around on the deck of your boat and if toes or fingers are in the way, serious injury can occur.

If mackerel is your preference my advice is to take the time to use fresh bait, live or dead. Mackerel cannot resist a swimming yakka or slimy for breakfast. You will often see boaties trolling at a rate of knots circling you a number of times with hard bodies or skirted lures. Although sometimes this method pays off you’ll almost always hook up with a fresh bait trolled at around 1-2 knots, so at the end of your day you can come home with fish and fuel. With the price of fuel these days it pays to be a smarter angler.

There are a number of ways to rig your baits and if your knowledge with this is limited, pop into one of our many tackle stores on the Sunshine Coast and their staff will be more than happy to share their professional advice to you.

My favourite technique for landing a speedy wahoo is trolling skirted and bibless minnows at around 8-10 knots. There are hundreds of lures to choose from, so don’t be afraid to mix it up a little.

I prefer to remove all treble hooks and replace with singles for a better hook up and cleaner release if your fish is undersize or your esky is full.

Always be on the lookout for working birds and busting bait schools. It is always handy to have a spin rod and reel rigged with a chrome or metal slug. Approach in a quiet manner, casting over the school and retrieving through at high speed to provoke a response.

Once you’ve boated your catch, especially with pelagic species, ensure to bleed your fish and place in an esky with a slurry of salt water and ice to guarantee top table eating quality.

Please remember when trolling to give other fishers plenty of room to avoid crossing lines or unnecessary conflict. It’s a big ocean out there so give each other space, as sometimes there can be up to 30 or more boats working in many close reef areas.

If trolling isn’t paying off, or bottom fishing for a feed of reef fish is more your thing then there has still been reasonable catches of snapper, pearl perch, tuskfish and kingfish over most of our inshore and offshore reefs. Just a couple of weeks ago the action was a little bit quiet on the surface, so I deployed a whole pilchard to the bottom at Caloundra 12 and hooked and boated a nice 6.5kg snapper. The lesson I learnt was to keep my options open and be patient.


Into the estuaries of the beautiful Sunshine Coast now, and the action has been a little slow. The water temperature is well above 26°C in these areas, so you’re best option is to target deeper holes and drop offs for flathead and bream. The early bird catches the worm, so set the alarm and get out there well before the sun gets too high in the sky.

There are plenty of good fishing areas up and down the Pumicestone Passage for the land-based angler. I always target the pylons leading into Pelican Waters by casting soft plastics and hardbodied lures for my bream and flathead. If lures aren’t tempting the fish, invest in a bait pump and work along the sand flats and shallows for some fresh yabby baits. They are irresistible for a whiting and bream.

Moving along to our beaches of Moffat, Wurtulla and Kawana, these are producing quality flathead, dart and the odd whiting. My preferred bait is a fresh pipi or pilchard for an almost guaranteed feed. Don’t forget to use your almanac to your advantage and take the time to read the best moon phase and tide times for all types of fishing. Remember, we don’t eat all day and neither do the fish!

Another helpful tip is to keep a detailed diary of when you did or did not catch fish. Over time, you diary will become your fishing bible.

Remember to always let someone know where you are going and when you will be home. I log into the coast guard each time I go out and so should you.

Best of luck and stay safe.

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