Snapper time in Caloundra
  |  First Published: July 2016

The Sunshine Coast has welcomed the arrival of one of our favourite winter reef species – big, beautiful snapper! After a long drawn out summer the water temperature has cooled down enough to see the larger red specimens come a little closer to our inshore reefs.

The inner and outer Gneerings, Murphys, Currimundi and Caloundra reefs are all firing with quality snapper, spangled emperor, sweetlip, pearl perch and kingfish making up anglers’ bags. This is the time of year we tend to anchor our vessels and entice the above species by berleying up and bringing the fish to the back of the boat. Once you have established a good berley trail it’s not that difficult to send the fish into an eating frenzy.

Whole pilchards, squid or any type of fresh cut bait floated down a berley trail on your favourite rod/reel combo will keep you busy until your arms ache! The lighter the line the better. I avoid using heavy gauge leader materials and most of the time if I’m fishing for snapper I won’t use any swivels and just enough lead to send my offering slowly down the berley trail. Always remember to try and fish around moon phases and the run-out tide for best results. My favourite time to fish in winter is in the afternoon. If you’re lucky enough to sneak out around 2-3pm and get onto your favourite spot and start the process, you’ll generally have a good feed by sunset.

If the weather allows and for any reason you haven’t been lucky enough to fill your esky, try drifting around the 45-50m grounds after sunset to rustle up a few pearl perch. These fish are very active around this time of the evening and their oversized eyeballs make it easy for them to spot your offering. But remember your bag limit of five per person and size restriction of 35cm+.

The deeper wrecks across the Sunshine Coast hold XOS pearl perch and you’ll love it when you reel a 3-5kg pearly up from 100m+. It’s like pulling up a bucket of water, but it’s all worth it, as this species tastes absolutely amazing on the dinner plate. My bait of choice for pearl perch is a whole pilchard but I have fished alongside many anglers who swear by large plastics. I guess I’m just old-fashioned and love good old smelly bait. Don’t be scared to try different methods for any species of fish. There are hundreds of lures, plastics and jigs to choose from. Pop into any of our many tackle stores across the Sunshine Coast and don’t be afraid to ask the staff for their advice. Many of them will be happy to help and share with you their tips and tricks to catch that fish of a lifetime.

Our estuaries, lakes and beaches have been very productive as well. The Pumicestone Passage in Caloundra has anglers busy at the moment with good catches of whiting, tailor, mulloway and flathead. Fresh yabbies and worms are the baits of choice. Currimundi Lake has also been active and anglers have landed quality whiting and bream during the day and at night. Whiting cant resist a fresh yabby so take the time to gather a few fresh ones. Also use a berley trail of bread and chook pellets to get them active and once it starts, it’s game on.

The canals around Pelican Waters and Kawana hold good numbers of bream and the many pontoons and pylons are happy hunting grounds too. The cod hole in Maroochydore is firing at the moment with XOS mulloway landed mostly at night on live poddy mullet.

The flats around Chambers Island are producing quality whiting, bream and flathead and anglers have had success on both lures and baits.

While the estuaries are offering some great fishing opportunities at the moment, our beaches have also started to fire. Tailor, dart, whiting, bream and mulloway have been recorded from Caloundra right through to Point Cartwright. Remember to use the low tide to locate gutters, troughs or any holes and use the landscape or structure to mark your spot. Return on the outgoing tide and present your offerings. If beach fishing is your thing then now’s the time to get excited.

Although I love to go to the wider grounds of the Barwon Banks and wide Caloundra for a lot of my fishing, it’s snapper time and we won’t have to venture too far offshore at all to bend those rods and bring home a good feed. Remember to always log into coastguard VMF73 and stay safe.

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