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Bring on the snapper
  |  First Published: March 2008



The fishing has been strong along the Sunshine Coast and, although there has not been a great deal of consistent weather, we have all enjoyed a few bumper sessions from the shallow to the deeper reef systems.

The snapper have been on, with some real trophy fish being taken in the shallow waters on floating bait. These baits have been accounting for nearly all the bigger fish from Murphy’s through to Wide Caloundra.

Caloundra 12 Mile has enjoyed a good run of cobia this season and lots of fishers have enjoyed their first tangle with these great fighters.

Amberjack, Samson and kingfish have also made up the pelagics caught in the berley trails and on selected jigs. Smaller squire up to 2-3kg, greasy cod, pearlies, fingermark, reds, rosy job fish and a mixture of more reefies have certainly been a feature around the 60m marks at the Barwon Banks. It is nothing to bring home ten different species in one outing, which in any ones book is a good day out.

There has also been an increase in shark numbers. Lately, I have lost more fish to sharks than I have in over five years of fishing the Banks.

The great news is the mahi mahi, or dolphin fish, and some very thick and healthy tuna have been taking lures trolled around between tides. Wahoo are a great by-catch when you target these tuna schools and I have witnessed them coming out of the water and stealing a bleeding tuna from the back of the boat. Targeting tuna through March will get you some lovely fresh sushi, and it can also boost your bait stock for winter.

The seas have not been particularly friendly over the past few months, so for those that are cautious, it is best to try the closer reefs.

Murphy’s outer reef system is producing well, and early mornings and evening fishing is by far the best way to go. The nearer side reefs are full of little pickers but some nice sweetlip and cod have been welcome editions to the eskies. The bigger mackerel, in particular the Spaniards, will be the target this month and the next. Spotties and schoolies can still be taken around Rapers Shoal, Currimundi Reef and along the front of Point Cartwright. Floating pilchards or livies are the best option, but some big slimies have had good results.

Following the bait schools, and targeting the feeding monsters in-between, will be the way to fish this month. Go out early morning through to the middle of the day for the best results.

ESTUARIES

Estuary fishing has served anglers well, with the bread and butter varieties really taking the cake this season. Bream, flathead and whiting have been consistent throughout the Pumicestone Passage and the many rivers and canals around the Sunshine Coast.

Elbow-slapping whiting have been caught around the middle of the passage at the boat club and a little further south. The best bait has been bloodworms and yabbies and this should continue through March.

Poppers have really taken off around this area, and when a whiting takes a popper it shows you just how aggressive these little fish can be. Bream and flathead also like to get in on the act, with trevally and queenfish a very welcome surprise to most anglers.

The flathead run has been consistent but they remain sluggish. They are willing to take a soft plastic but only when it just about runs over the top of their head. I have found the Gulp pumpkinseed turtle back worms and minnows in 3” and 4” absolute killers, and I have noticed an increase in the number of toadies that like to bite the tails off them.

Mulloway and trevally have been taken around the opening of the Caloundra Bar in the mornings, on either the making or ebb tides. Some anglers have gone as far as using hardbodied lures, including Rapalas and Bombers, to nail them.

Working south around Bells and Coochin Creeks has proven to be the spot in the passage for some nice mangrove jack, up to 3kg. The many canals and bridges around the area are another top spot to have a crack at them but most people don’t give them a go. There are stacks of backwater rivers that hold plenty of terrific country for them to feed and breed, so have a look at your local map and try a new spot in 2008.

BEACHES

The beach scene, up to the end of February, was shattered from all the bad weather and it has taken some time for the weed, twigs, branches and foam to disperse. However, there is now an opportunity to have a good crack at some healthy dart, bream, flathead, tailor and whiting with cleaner waters and consistent seas.

The best bait has been prawns and worms. For those targeting mackerel from the beach, I would be using a fast retrieve spin or overhead outfit and belting a few slugs though the waves.

Have a go at the beaches on the days that the seas are playing hardball or back track with your light spin outfit. Cast a few plastics or hardbodied lures around the pylons of the bridges and in between the many moored boats around Mooloolaba.

Overall March should produce some great pelagic action and hopefully we have not seen the end of those monster snapper until winter sets in.

EPA ZONING

Like most fishers, I have spent the last few months trying to understand the proposed changes to fish sizes, limits and netting regulations along with the EPA zoning of our reef systems.

I cannot believe that such a minor political party can steal so much influence within the political arena. They are going to stuff our sport and for absolutely unsubstantiated reasons. There is a lot going on in the background that many people don’t know about, the so-called ‘bigger picture’.

I am humbled by the strong and dedicated number of people out there fighting these changes with all their passion.

The EPA zoning and fisheries proposed changes to fish sizes, limits and styles closes on 8 March 2008, so we must all keep our fingers crossed and stay vigilant on these matters.

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