Noosa’s reefs are jumping in July
  |  First Published: July 2007

Another massive group of holiday makers will be visiting the Sunshine Coast for much of July and who could blame them? With temperatures averaging a mild 21 degrees, most of the visitors will be having a ball, particularly those who get into the multiple angling opportunities on offer.

Despite popular opinion, July is one of the best months to cross the bar and head offshore. The chance of a serious Spanish mackerel is slim, but if you do manage to hook one it will be a monster. Generally, the only Spaniards lingering along the Sunshine Coast mid-year will be XOS models.

Similarly there will be scattered catches of northern bluefin tuna. These arm-stretching speedsters will be brutes, with many over 20kg. The pubs will be full of stories about incredibly fast and powerful lure-thieving fish that disappeared in the direction of Fiji trailing 200m of line in their wake. Be prepared!

Those who fish the bottom structure can look forward to a great run of snapper as they congregate on the closer reefs. This makes them much more available and even those in small tinnies can target them on good days. Be wary of the Noosa bar; if you haven’t crossed it in the past seek advice. A good starting point is the Boating and Fisheries Patrol office at Munna Point or the Coastguard office nearby.

Many locals target snapper with unweighted baits drifting down a berley trail. This is a great fun way to tangle with some spectacular knobbies that hit like freight trains mid-water. Others choose to fish on or near the bottom, particularly if the sounder shows fish hanging off structure. Anchoring up current will hopefully allow your bait to be presented to the fish in such a way that they don’t have to swim too far to collect it.

If you are into berleying and using unweighted or lightly weighted baits, judicious delivery of the trail is a must. Small chunks of pilchard delivered at regular intervals will eventually bring the fish to the boat, just as long as the current isn’t running to hard.

Naturally, other species will be turned on with the free tucker, pearl perch in particular. There is every chance of a cobia or two joining the melee. Cobia started schooling up on North Reef in early June and many of those caught were better than 20kg. Scarlet sea perch, Moses perch, yellowtail kings, big tusk fish and from time to time coral trout and even the undisputed star of the show, the mighty red emperor, are regular catches off Noosa in the cooler months.

Trollers get in on the act too. The evidence suggests that lures without rattles perform the best when you’re chasing snapper on the troll. Large minnows, particularly chrome jobs, will provide a good chance of securing a feed of snapper and a very good chance of hooking one of those tackle-testing, barrel-shaped tuna or that big Spaniard if there are any about.

The bizarre Davo’s Bait and Tackle Spaniard Special is another lure worth trying for snapper. Rather like an overgrown spinnerbait, these lures track very well and when rigged with a small bonito or perhaps a pilchard they can be deadly.

Jew Shoal is worth trolling mid-year for snapper, and plenty of quality fish are caught in this way every winter. The vast North and Sunshine reefs also deliver the goods and both are readily accessible. Further afield, the Barwon Banks are really only for those with larger boats but the trip can be very worthwhile with big hauls of snapper common in July. Amberjack, jobfish and pearlies galore are also on the menu for those who have boats capable of the extended journey.

Noosa River

The focus of most anglers in the Noosa River will be bream. Along with hordes of bream there will be tarwhine, whiting, trevally and plenty of tailor, particularly in the lower reaches, around the river mouth and along the beaches. A small slug rapidly retrieved will often trick tailor, which in my opinion are great tucker if they are bled, iced and eaten the same day. If you intend to freeze tailor for later use you may as well practise catch and release!

Bream often respond well to berley trails and once the fish are firing it can be relatively simple to make large catches. Once again take what you can use immediately and enjoy watching the others swim away. Deeper holes are the go during the day and the shallows are worth targeting as the sun drops below the horizon. Frozen prawns are a good standby but small herring or live nippers or prawns are truly gun baits for big bream. When you drop into a tackle store for a packet of prawns consider investing in a yabby pump and/or a cast net. Your success rate will increase dramatically.

Trevally will be hunting at dawn and dusk and occasionally throughout the day when it is very overcast. Surface offerings are the most fun, however live prawns are a better bet on slow days. Munna Point is worth a try, particularly around the bridge pylons and the Woods Bay area.

Festival of Water

The Noosa Festival of Water was held at the magnificent Botanic Gardens adjacent to Lake Macdonald on June 3. This event is well worth attending and offers all manner of free activities including kids fishing clinics, boat trips to the Gerry Cook Mary River cod hatchery and displays galore, most of which are relevant to the most precious resource on the planet.

Some keen members of the local stocking group and I hosted a well-attended Fishcare display and we had live fish in tanks which attracted lots of interest. The Mary River cod in particular are a spectacular fish and those provided by local breeder Russ Manning really pulled the crowds in. This species is in the news regularly due to the proposed damming of the Mary River, which could spell disaster for the cod down the track.

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