Seize the moment
  |  First Published: April 2016

The Sunshine Coast weather turned it up for a blowy end to summer but this unfortunately limits our ability to venture offshore. The few days we actually did manage proved highly successful. The fish were hungry and on the chew hitting just about any lure or bait we submerged.

Spanish and spotted mackerel are in plague proportion through the Caloundra reefs and up to and beyond the Barwon Banks. Good catches have been recorded at the Gneering Shoals and Murphys Reef on a mixture of dead baits and hardbodies.

Our not-so-friendly resident sharks are still proving a nuisance. My advice is to up your line class, lock the drag and wind like mad! Water temperature is well above 26ºC and will continue for the next month or two. Most of my Spanish have weighed in around 10-15kg, but as we move into April/May expect to hook up to larger models.

The best times to target mackerel is first light and around the new and full moon phases. There are still plenty of wahoo, mahimahi, tuna and billfish out on the wider reefs off the Barwon Banks, Caloundra and Hutchinson Shoals.

Pinnacles and wrecks hold good supplies of baitfish and these locations are a haven for large pelagics, such as yellowtail kingfish and amberjack. Don’t go to battle with light tackle as these brutes will fight until they’re in the boat. My outfit consists of a Shimano T-Curve deep jig with Shimano 12000D baitrunner loaded with 80lb braid and 100lb leader (no less). For bait there are plenty of other reef species about, such as snapper, pearl perch, parrot and sweetlip across the reefs. So if they’re not biting on the troll, hit the bottom. Offshore is really firing – seize the moment!

The estuaries house quality bream, mangrove jack and mullet at the moment. Over the last month I have targeted the canal systems from Kawana through to Mooloolaba and my efforts have been well rewarded. As with any type of fishing, tidal and moon times are paramount whether you’re fishing 50km offshore or in your local estuaries. Military Jetty and around the Pelican Waters Bridge are absolute hot spots around the tide changes, and most effective at first light or sunset. If you’re keen enough to hang around after dark you will definitely improve your chance of nailing a hard-hitting mangrove jack.

Chopper tailor should be about over the next couple of months, and the Caloundra Boardwalk is a productive spot to fish from. Casting 20-30g metal slugs across the inlet and bar area is a proven method for a chopper hit. Just be careful as to who is behind or beside you when casting any type of fishing rig as accidents can occur. There have been a few flathead landed about the coast on yabbies and fresh prawns. Always choose your bait carefully if buying from tackle stores or service stations, and make sure the bait is fresh. Get yourself a yabby pump and cast net and take the time to gather as much live bait as you can. Once you get the hang of bait collecting you’ll reap the rewards.

If bait is not your thing, then there are thousands of soft plastics and lures to choose from and if fished correctly can prove just as well, if not better than bait. At the end of the day do whatever works best for you.

The beach scene has been far more productive with quality flathead, bream, whiting and dart working through the wave breaks. Invest in a good pair of polarised glasses to help you identify the gutters and channels so you can cast your offering right in front of the fish’s nose. Whole ganged pilchards, pipis, prawns or strip baits are proven winners on the surf scene, but the odd metal slug or lure casted way beyond the wave break and retrieved at high speed will prove rewarding also. As always, be very careful when fishing anywhere near surf or rock ledges and never turn your back of the ocean. Beach fishing is a great way to involve your family and teach your children the basics of fishing.

This month try and organise your offshore fishing trips in the cooler parts of the day, mornings are always best for pelagic fishing or if reef fishing, sunrise and sunset combined with tide changes will be the most productive combination. The weather should start to cool down through the day in April so we may be able to get a few more hours out of our fishing trips. Sun cancer is a serious concern to us all so please remember to ‘slip, slop, slap.’ Check your almanac for best fishing times – but hey, if the stars don’t align get out there regardless and seize the moment!

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