The busy season slows down
  |  First Published: February 2007

The Noosa River is officially one of the busiest waterways in Queensland. During peak holiday season there were constantly boats and all other types of watercraft on this system, with many of people intent on scoring a feed of fresh fish.

In order to maintain some control over the high number of boaties new speed restrictions are in place, particularly in the lower reaches. Please check with the DPI&F Office at Munna Point or a tackle store for more detailed info, or face hefty fines if you’re caught speeding.

Whilst the river and its creeks and lakes cop a bit of a thrashing at this time of year, it will still provide some great fish for anglers prepared to start early. Pre-dawn is a magic part of the day – all is quiet, there are plenty of car parks at the ramp and the river is ready to divulge its secrets. The ramps will be choked by 10.00am with boats coming and going. Ramp rage will increase as tempers flare and parking will be at an absolute premium.

In order to keep the flow of boats smooth please be prepared. Undo straps and shackles and check bungs before reversing down the ramp to reduce turn-around times. It can be very annoying waiting for people who use both lanes at once and take forever to set everything up. I have even seen people sit in their boats and clean fish on the ramp whilst others in the queue get angrier and angrier.

By February the crowds will have subsided a little, but they do seem to linger in the Noosa area longer than other tourist centres. The lower river will deliver plenty of tailor and trevally at dawn. Munna Point and Woods Bay are great places to toss poppers around before dawn. Trollers will also catch a few fish in this area, as will anglers using live baits such as herring or prawns.

Flathead will be available just about anywhere in the system. Trolling bibbed minnows does the job for me, particularly on the run-out tide. Try to follow the sand banks in 2-3m of water with your lures digging into the sand occasionally. When a fish or two are located probe all around the boat with plastics or prawn lures.

Drifting with the run-out tide and towing flesh baits or livies will also secure a feed of flathead fillets. Bream, tarwhine and mangrove jacks are also caught in this way. Dusky flathead have a legal slot size of 40–70cm and fish outside these limits must be returned to the water immediately.

The channels across Lakes Cooroibah and Cootharabah will both fish well, especially for flathead. It’s also worth dropping a crab pot or two into the river at the beginning of your session.

In the upper reaches of the river there are several small creeks that deliver bass and occasionally jacks, trevally and tarpon. It’s best to launch at Boreen Point and run across the lake, rather than take the lengthy trip from Noosaville.

Offshore there are plenty of options not far from the infamous bar. The next boat to be swamped on this bar won’t be the last, so please be careful and seek assistance if unsure. Halls and Little Halls reefs are very close in and worth fishing after rain. North Reef is large and scattered and it can pay to sound around for good shows on your sounder. Anchoring carefully can make the difference between a great day and an average one. Berley is useful here and often attracts good numbers of fish, particularly snapper which are available year round.

Sunshine Reef to the south is also large and scattered but it also fishes well. More snapper, sweetlip and a few trout are common catches at Sunshine. Pelagics such as mackerel and tuna should be well and truly on the go by February so it can pay to have a solid spinning rod rigged with a slug at the ready. There were plenty of smallish mackerel just outside the bar in early January so they should be widespread by now. If you do manage to find a school of feeding mackerel approach it slowly as they can be spooky. Drifting in with the wind is a good option with rods at the ready!

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