Snapper arrive for State of Origin
  |  First Published: July 2007

The old saying is, “when the State of Origin starts the snapper come on” and it has come true on the Sunshine Coast. The bigger snapper have come around in numbers with 3-5kg fish being taken. A couple of really big boys over 10kg have been landed from further out around the Barwon Banks and Wide Caloundra. As winter sets in, the fishing can only get better, so look out.

There have been plenty of reports from within the estuaries over the past month with big trevally and queenfish being taken around the canals at Pelican Waters and within the Pumicestone Passage. Grass sweetlip have been the surprise catch around the Boardwalk in Caloundra. It never ceases to amaze me the different varieties of fish that can be caught in this area with every year seemingly bringing something new.

The bream have been slow in coming but the occasional big fish over 1kg has been reported. Fishing around the Blue Hole during the top of the tide and into the run-off is a good place to start looking; yabbies and hardiheads are the best baits. Fishing under the mullet schools is another great way to catch bream, as they feed off the food the mullet discard.

The mullet run is on again and each day the professionals are parked along the Boardwalk, waiting for the schools to leave the sheltered waters and head out to sea. Now that winter has set in, concentrate on the deeper holes for bream at night including the Boardwalk and along the many pontoons around it. If live prawns are available they will out fish any bait I know but peeled prawn works too.

I recently got to see my youngest son, Nick, catch his first fish. He caught a happy moment (a species of bream that can give you a nasty sting) but to him it may as well have been a 12kg snapper. There is no doubt that being a dad has many rewards and this is only one of them. I can honestly say that he has his old man’s touch – when we arrived there were two other blokes fishing without any luck and Nick hooked the first fish of the day.

Whiting are around in good numbers so a feed of elbow slappers is still on the cards. The flathead have been slow, but are around for those prepared to work for them. Plastics have certainly come into their own when targeting flathead. The ability to reach the tricky spots under the mangroves and fallen trees enhances your chances of pulling in a whopper. Live bait is also a great way to catch flathead but sending them in around snags will end in disaster. Small estuary cod and the last remaining straggler jacks have been taken down the southern reaches around Coochin Creek and Egg Island along with a few bull sharks.

The beaches have finally provided some consistent catches of dart, whiting, bream and nice tailor with spotty mackerel still being taken in close around Moffat Beach. The protected areas of Kings and Moffat are worth a shot in any weather and anything is up for grabs. There were good catches around the new moon and full moon but to almost certainly bag some fish work the bottom of the low or top of the high tide.

Worms, yabbies, pipis, pilchards and soft strip baits, the fresher the better, are the way to go. Don’t ignore fresh squid as an option, at least the little dart and other pickers don’t escape that easy and you can be in the water long enough for something big to take the bait. As a guide to find the best spots to fish when the tide is right, check through the day along the Wurtulla Strip. The northern tip of Bribie Island is still a workable option for tailor, mulloway, flathead and whiting and there has been a nice hole sitting right out the front that is fed by a good-sized gutter.

Caloundra Wide and the 12 Mile have certainly gained a strong reputation over the past month with some big cobia being hooked. Fishing stories of cobia over the magical 60lb mark are always available to anyone who will lend an ear. Luckily I see what has been caught more regularly than I listen to the fishing tales. Squire have made their way into the reefs with some monster snapper over 10kg being taken.

The Barwon Banks has been a good spot for pearl perch and amberjack over the past month with the snapper averaging 3-5kg. Many anglers got caught by the fast 3.25 knot current that ran after the new moon in May and had to use 16oz or 1lb sinkers to try and reach the bottom. The only way to fish such a current is to drift with a sea anchor or two. When the tide is in full flow I would just sit it out because it is almost impossible to catch fish or even get near the fish during that period. The amberjack have been sensational. It is not unusual to lose a pearly to one of these monsters and there is nothing like a reel screaming when you have your catch only half way up. These brutes have a bad habit of running and running and pulling.

Medium size cod and a few trag have also been taken around the southern end of the Banks with pigfish making up the numbers. The old grinners will certainly be a part of your catch in the coming months and let’s not forget those iodine bream that some love to hate and others love to eat. A lot of trawler activity has slowed the fishing around the Banks recently. The brown slick with small dead fish mixed in makes it is easy to see where the trawlers have been.

The last of the pelagics have now been caught but what a pelagic season it was. It was the best mackerel season we have seen in four years and that can be attributed to the return of large bait schools and good conditions. A few keen anglers have been out to the local wrecks, namely the Tiger Kelly (south Barwons) and the Kosi (Wide Caloundra) targeting kingfish and amberjack. Jigging has not really gone well out on these marks, but bait fishing is a different story.

Winter has a habit of bringing on the big fish and this season is set to be beaut. It’s time to start fishing the close in reefs in the early mornings or late evenings for snapper, pearlies and big cod, saving all that fuel on the big trips. Give the Inner and Outer Gneerings a crack for sweetlip and red throat emperor on the way back in because they will stick around all day long. The area around Brays Rock, Currimundi Reef and Rapers Shoal will be worth targeting for snapper, kingies and a mixture of reef species. The calmer winter waters will make fishing from tinnies and kayaks easy so venture out this month and catch a big one.

Have Fun!

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