No run, no fun
  |  First Published: December 2016

This year has started with a consistent run of pelagic species. Spotted and school mackerel have turned up thick and fast across Caloundra 5, 7 and 12 mile reefs, Hutchinson Shoals, Gneerings and the Barwon Banks.

There has also been a very healthy amount of bait, which will hang around for the next few months and while there is bait, there is fish! Mackerel feed aggressively on bait schools, slashing and slicing their slender bodies through them and chomping everything in their sight. A busting bait ball is the perfect time to cast a 20-40g chrome slug or hardbodied lure over the bait then retrieve at high speed. If you don’t succeed the first time, try and try again.

Mackerel can be very easily spooked, so when approaching a school of these feeding speedsters, keep quiet. Put your vessel in casting distance and switch the motor off. This will at least give you enough time to cast a few times before they move on.

My favourite method for mackerel fishing is trolling live or very fresh dead baits at about 1-2 knots. There are various methods to rig up a trolled bait, so take the time to learn which one works best for you. There are many tackle stores across the Sunshine Coast and 99% of the staff that work in the stores fish, so they know how and what works the best. Just ask and they’ll show you how, the rest is up to you.

If mackerel fishing isn’t your thing, then move out a little wider toward the 50+ grounds of Wide Caloundra or Hutchinson Shoals, because at the moment and over the next few months there are good numbers of quality mahimahi, wahoo, tuna, sailfish and marlin from north to the south. The water temperature in these areas is up over 25°C in parts and the bait is thick. Trolling a mixture of hardbodied minnows, divers or skirted lures will give you the best chance of hooking up to any of the above species. Anywhere between 6-8 knots is where you need to be at the throttle.

If chasing wahoo, you can troll from anywhere between 8-12knots, as these razor toothed speedsters can’t resist a fast trolled lure. Be prepared to lose a bit of tackle though, because when a wahoo hits a lure, it hits it hard and fast and will try anything to get off the hook. Always rig up with wire leaker and use as little hardware as possible, because too much bling puts them off. Our reefs are still producing quality tuskfish, trout, hussar, fusilier and kingfish. The snapper and pearlies have moved out to the deeper stretches and if you are planning to head our deeper, pack plenty of lead because the current can get quite strong. But remember, no run, no fun!

The many wrecks are consistently producing XOS yellowtail kingfish, cobia and mulloway at the moment with live baiting proving to be the most effective methods of connection.

Moving out of the deep blue and into our rivers and estuaries this time of the year can produce big smiles. There are plenty of hard-hitting mangrove jack about smashing just about anything you cast at them. Target this species at sunrise and sunset, and again, use whatever rig works best for you.

There are still plenty of bream, flathead and whiting about. The Pumicestone Passage is pumping at the moment with healthy amounts of herring and mullet, which are very tempting for a large bream or mangrove jack.

There are good numbers of sand and mud crabs about if you’re willing to sink a pot. Remember your pot limit and to only take males.

Our beautiful coastline of beaches is delivering dart, tailor and mulloway. It’s the perfect time of the year to fish along our beaches with daylight hours extending a little and warmer air and water temperatures.

Over the next month, the fishing will definitely heat up, so get those engines serviced, dust off the gear and get out there. As always, remember to fish for the future.

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