Reefies arrive
  |  First Published: May 2007

The winter months are almost here and stacks of anglers are starting to enjoy the return of reef species on the Sunshine Coast’s the inner and outer reefs.

We could talk about the weather being all over the place but hey, we’ve heard it all before. This game relies on hitching up the boat, grabbing the rods and heading out whenever the opportunity exists. I can prepare for a trip in under two minutes and that is not a fishermen’s tale!

The good news around the Sunshine Coast is big Spaniards have arrived and I have seen some monsters out around the Barwon Banks and Caloundra 12 Mile. Between wahoo, ‘cuda and mackerel it’s hard to pick which one is the meanest and possesses the worst head. We have had quite a few dry mackerel seasons but this season the spotties have been around in good numbers. Some days they are on but are patchy on others but that’s fishing. Anglers trolling around the Banks have caught yellowtail tuna and 7kg mack tuna. I prefer Lively Lures Blue Pillie and the Halco 190 gold Bomber shallow diver as these two hard-bodied lures have taken more pelagics than any other over the years, and I am happy to recommend them.

Tuna are fairly easy to catch once you have located your strike point. Normally we troll around until we take a hit and mark it immediately on the sounder. If you continue to do that for the first 2-3 hits you will nearly always find that the fish are holding in a particular area. If you go over the spot and don’t take a strike, don’t give up, it could just mean that they are circling outside your line or they have moved slightly after being spooked. When they come on its fast and furious action so don’t waste time running big wide circles. It is important that you space your lure selection correctly to avoid any crossover problems when turning. We normally troll the lures at between 5-8 knots and will vary the speed if it’s not working but we never go over 12 knots or under 5 knots. There are various methods to use when trolling and that could mean you run an oval shape path turning through the school twice or zigzag around and through the area they are in. I have found it is easier to use an oval shape attack as the lures have time to adjust.

The snapper are back on and 7kg specimens have been taken consistently around the deeper waters of the Barwon Banks and around the 60m mark at Caloundra Wide and the 12 Mile. Parrot, fingermark, cod, sweetlip, red throat emperors, pearl perch and a range of other pelagics have also been consistent.

Murphys Reef has also fired with good captures of sweetlip. Some 6kg monsters have been mixed in with the other fish. Anglers have been enjoying by-catches of smallish snapper, pearlies and red emperor.

Trolling around Murphys has also seen quite a number of spotties and a few Spaniards taken. The shallow parts of the reef around 30m are the best places to target these fighters using down riggers with a mixture of surface, deep and shallow divers. Caloundra 5 & 7 Mile reefs have really only produced during the evening and you can expect to take red emperor, snapper to 4kg, pearl perch and a mixture of other reef species. We have found recently that floaters are not getting as much of a response as the ever-reliable paternoster rigs. This could be because the fish are holding around the bottom because of the bigger predators around at night. I use a paternoster rig that will dramatically improve your hook-up rate.

The Inner and Outer Gneerings are the spots for a feed of sweetlip and some other reefies when fishing through the middle of the day. Best baits have been fresh squid and pilchards.

The estuaries have been running well and continuing to provide sport and a good feed for anglers. Whiting have been the main stay over the previous months and there is no reason why that will not continue with the addition of some bigger bream.

There has been an extraordinary number of bull sharks taken lately in the Pumicestone Passage – some have been 15kg+. Most have taken live mullet or flesh baits and don’t mind carving up a bait in the middle of the day. Stick to the channel areas and the ski zone for the best results.

The flathead are still around but only smaller versions have been caught. Trevally, pike, squire, estuary cod and queenfish are other species that have been taken around both the Pumicestone Passage and Military Jetty. Check your tide times and moon phases to ensure you have the best possible chance out there.

The beach scene has improved out of sight with dart coming on in better numbers and bigger sizes. It has been a fairly rough run over the past few months but hopefully it will continue to improve and the bream and bigger whiting will arrive in numbers. Not too many tailor graced our shores this season and that is more than likely due to the late run of the mullet. The great news has been mulloway; they have really fired up and provided some awesome action out around the coffee rock area out from the northern tip of Bribie Island and around the normal haunts. Beachworms are a terrific bait for mulloway but if you cannot get live bait then don’t dismiss the humble king prawn. I have been known to hit the food chains and purchase 4-5 big green prawns to have a crack at them in the past. Some may say that they would rather be eating them right about to the point when the reel screams. Beachworms should start to get easier to find soon and the tides and moon phase will help anglers get some of the best fresh bait around.

The fishing will only get better from here on and for anglers able to get out wide to reefs such as the Barwon Banks, Coolum, The Hards, Wide Caloundra and many closer in reefs the rewards will far outweigh the waiting game. All the reef species that make this a fisherman’s paradise will really hot up over the coming weeks and we will begin to bring some great pictures of the big snapper and other fish. Estuaries and beach fishers can take heart that once the winter species have set in hard we will enjoy some good bream and whiting action with the usual pelagics such as trevally and queenfish busting a few lines to keep the tall tales alive for another year. Have fun!

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