Caloundra continues to fire
  |  First Published: March 2007

The past month of fishing on the Sunshine Coast can only be described as outstanding. There were lots of days when the old northerly winds howled and stopped the reef fishing action and bite periods, but definitely not the pelagics.

Spotties and Spanish mackerel have been easily targeted around the Caloundra 5 and 7 mile reefs with the old spoil grounds a last haven for these great fish. Out wider there has been an abundance of dolphinfish, amberjack, cobia and kingies around the rocky reef outcrops. Smaller 30-40kg marlin have been smashing surface lures and live baits swimming on down riggers. Sailfish have been finning in and out of the massive bait schools around the Barwon Banks and further south outside of Moreton and Flat Rock.

I witnessed one of the biggest bait schools of slimies and yakkas on a recent trip to the 7s and Flat Rock. The school would have been three footy fields long and from 10-35m the bait was top to bottom and as thick as pea soup. If you can’t catch fish in an environment like that then it’s time to start a refresher course.

There are plenty of shows around at the moment both at Wide Caloundra and the Barwon Banks but it is a little difficult getting them to take bait particularly during a strong and long northerly blow. When the southeasterlies or westerlies come in just hold on to your rod and reel because the fish will go mad. Towards the end of January this was the case and we managed a few quality reefies and monster pelagics.

The count of under-size reds continues to increase with many taken around Murphys Reef and the closer Caloundra reefs in the early mornings and fishing the making tide in to the evenings. Some just legal sized fish have been taken which is a good sign for future seasons. Sweetlip, Maori cod and squire have managed to keep everyone interested within the closer areas. Currimundi reef has good size yakkas around the 8m mark so it’s worth dropping a couple of lures and doing a few circles around the system as the spotties are there.

The estuary systems have been flushed with rain and the diverse bait schools are keeping trevally, flathead, queenies and mangrove jack happy.

The summer whiting have been around in good numbers within the Pumicestone Passage and right along the beaches of late. Mangrove jack have been taken around Coochin Creek and as far south as Egg Island on live herring and a variety of lures and plastics. Currimundi Lake is another great source for jacks and since the lake has deepened and opened to the ocean the fish and birdlife have really started to recover.

The Boardwalk is as popular as ever with anglers arriving earlier every morning to get the better spots. It was not uncommon to see 10-20 anglers at any time during the holidays. The Caloundra Bar is a little shallow but still able to be crossed with plenty of care. Having experienced the South Passage Bar in less than average weather recently, I can tell you that crossing Caloundra Bar is nothing on that. At dusk your chances of a few chopper tailor are greatly increased when floating a live bait down in to the running current. Casting out beyond the first channel marker and letting it run down could reward you with a queenie, tailor, flathead or stingray and possibly even a bull shark. The deeper waters around the Boardwalk have held a few big bull sharks of late and a catch of 7kg+ is not uncommon. The northern tip of Bribie Island has produced some really good-sized whiting and a few bream within the shallow rips. The best baits here are yabbies or worms and there are plenty around to fish with for those willing to put the time in.

Walking the shallows around Bells Creek out past the first channel markers is another great way of finding flathead and good-sized bream. Working the deeper drop-offs and casting inside the markers with soft plastics is a great way to target these species. I have also noticed more anglers casting lures down the back of Bells Creek in the afternoons for flathead, mangrove jack and the odd trevally.

Floating a live poddy mullet down the current is one of the best ways to nail monster flathead. The trip around the area can be a little tough with the very boggy and silty mud getting up to thigh deep in some areas so take care and use a floating boogie board or something like that to transport your equipment.

The beaches have been reliable with catches of 1kg+ bream and some good-sized dart. The little ones are there too but you can work around them with out too much trouble. Using long shank hooks is one of the best methods when fishing the surf and the old bait will stay on a lot longer if you use half hitches to secure it to the hook. A small paternoster rig is worth a shot with as light a sinker as possible and remember to use the red or fluoro beads as they do make a difference.

While the northerlies blow it is difficult to keep your bait away from the weed and keep the feet from standing on a blue bottle or two but patience is the game. The paternoster rig works better presenting two baits one of worm and a pillie strip both half hitched to the hook for added security. For better results with your beach fishing use berley. It is no different to any other style of fishing and a berley stream will attract more fish. I usually start to berley one hour before I start fishing just to give the fish plenty of time to get in to the hole or gutter. Normal chook pellets and very tiny pieces of old bait are the way to go. It is important though not to feed the fish so keep your berley sensible and controlled.

The really big Spaniards should start to show their worth over the coming weeks and as the weather changes from the northerlies the reefies will start to hammer bait all around the reef systems and in particular in the deeper waters. Bigger snapper and pelagics will be the order of the day so check your equipment and get ready for bigger and better things. Enjoy!

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