Make a trip to the Sunny Coast pelagic playpen
  |  First Published: March 2016

We have had a consistent run of pelagic activity across the Sunshine Coast. Spotted and Spanish mackerel have turned up in good numbers around the inner and outer Gneering Shoals, Caloundra 5,7 and 12-mile reefs and Coolum Reef, with fish weighing in around the 10-15kg mark.


Some anglers have been lucky enough to land fish over 20kg. A problem we have at the moment is having to do battle with the grey suited taxmen (aka bull sharks). Unfortunately, these animals are at the top of the food chain and if they’re hungry, we lose! Let’s hope the mackerel hang around for the next couple of months and we boat more than we lose.

There have been quality schools of bait across the coast, which keeps the action hot. Remember to always be on the look out for birds and busting bait schools. If the bait is deeper in the water column, try using deep diving minnows, weighted rigs and if you’re lucky enough to own one, a downrigger.

A downrigger is a useful piece of fishing equipment can sometimes be the difference between fish or no fish. The initial outlay hurts the bank account, but believe me, it’ll pay for itself in no time. Again, fresh bait is best, but live bait is even better.

The wider grounds off Caloundra, Hutchies and Barwon Banks have been o fire with numbers of wahoo, mahimahi, tuna, marlin and sailfish. I find trolling a mix of hardbody and skirted lures around the 6-8 knot mark works best.

Reef fishing has also been productive with reasonable catches of tuskfish, snapper, pearl perch and mulloway being boated, especially on the 80+ grounds east of the Barwon Banks and Caloundra Wide.

The wrecks have been a little hit and miss but some have been lucky enough to wrestle with quality kingfish and amberjack. The many channel markers across the coast are home to one of my favourite brutes, the cobia! These fish are best targeted with live bait, especially on the change of tide. But be prepared to have your arms stretched, as these black kings of the seas can reach well over 40kg in weight.

The wave buoys are also another place to target cobia and mahimahi. We are always keen to troll a spread of lures, bait past wave buoys or any floating object we come across on our day offshore. All-in-all, over the next month keep your options open offshore because I think the best is yet to come!


Moving out of the deep blue and into our passageways and rivers, anglers are having success with good catches of bream, mangrove jack and whiting. Early mornings and late evenings are the prime times to target these shallow water species, particularly around the Golden Beach strip and Pumicestone Passage.

Our moon phase and tide changes are crucial in all aspects of fishing, so keep your almanac in your back pocket for that right time.

There have been quality fish caught around the Pelican Waters bridge pylons and pontoons. Peeled prawns and yabbies are good baits to use but if you take the time to catch live herring, poddy mullet or sand worms you will only increase your chances of a quality catch.

There are a lot of deeper holes along the passage, so make sure you identify these at low tide and keep them in your memory bank and target later for a chance to catch a big estuary cod or prehistoric flathead.

Remember to be respectful if fishing around canal pontoons. Most pontoon owners don’t object to people fishing them, but take care not to snag up on or around them.

There has been a few mud crabs potted about the place and one of my favourite strips is the Currimundi Lake and estuary system. Always check size and sex of your muddy and make sure it’s full; the darker the crab, the more full of tasty flesh it will be.

Currimundi Lake is also another good spot to cast a rod with bream and flathead generally within reach from the bank. So with the water temp well over 25°C at the moment, earlier in the day is better if fishing rivers and lakes.


The beach scene has been quite productive with quality bream, whiting and dart in the wave breaks. My bait of choice is the humble pilchard ganged with enough lead to get you over the break zone. Pipis, prawns or strip baits also produce, but can tend to get picked rather than gulped!

Always remember to be very careful beach fishing and never turn your back on the sea. Early morning or late evening is the best time to target the beaches and if you’re lucky, you may even connect with a few tailor and mulloway. The Caloundra Bar and the entrance to the Mooloolah River are hot spots at this time of year.

To wrap it up, March is a good month overall for anglers with a great variety of species on offer, and if our weather gods are kind to us we will all enjoy fresh fish on our dinner tables.

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