Experimenting the Key
  |  First Published: April 2008

Continuing wild weather and widespread flooding has limited fishing opportunities around Noosa, however there has been some great fishing in quite a range of environments.

Lake Macdonald has fished slowly after donating large numbers of bass to Maryborough via Six Mile Creek and the Mary River. There has been some bass action, particularly around the weedy edges of the lake, but it will be years before we can confidently target bass in the high forties like we used to.

Borumba Dam is now at 100% and fishing very well. Saratoga have been actively taking surface presentations at dawn and dusk, while bass a plenty have been hammering all the usual offerings in a wide range of locations. Local, Jed Hollis, enjoyed a solo effort at Borumba recently and for the most part found the going pretty quiet. However, Jed is known for his tenacity and he continued to change lures, locations and tactics. He eventually came across an area with bass chasing baitfish on the surface and enjoyed a hot session during which he landed 14 or so bass, most well over 40cm to the fork. Unfortunately Jed had to leave the fish biting – a difficult thing to do sometimes!

The Noosa River has been somewhat of a hot spot for mangrove jacks of late. Due to large amounts of fresh in the system, the lower reaches have fished the best. Weyba Creek, the Munna Point area, Woods Bay and the Noosa Waters canals are the best places to have a crack. The best results are from fishing live baits, live gar and prawns have been effective in the turbid river system and fresh baits of mullet strips have also brought a few jacks undone.

Quality bream and a few flathead are prowling the lower reaches. Drifting livies, whitebait or frogmouth pillies is a good way to find flathead. During the run in phase the lower reaches of the system are beautifully clear so the lures could get a run then. Traditionally this river system has fished better on the run out, particularly for flathead, however with the draining creeks still pretty dirty the river is very coloured during the run out. If the rain ever stops for more than a few days the river will start to clear!

One obvious benefit from all the fresh running downstream is that it pushes a lot of fish, as well as crabs and prawns, down to the lower reaches. Tarpon have made an appearance in the lower reaches and these fish are great fun on fly or light spin gear.

Offshore we have seen plenty of quality sweetlip as well as scattered schools of spotted mackerel. Sunshine Reef has been a good area to target spotties but it has been rather hit and miss. Other close to home reefs worth a try would be North Reef, Jew Shoal, Halls and Massouds Reefs.

A few Spanish mackerel have turned up too, but not really in sufficient numbers just yet to target them. Hopefully by April it will be a vastly different story with clear blue skies, clear water, balmy days and hordes of mackerel and tuna on the surface.

Those fishing the bottom are catching good numbers of sweetlip to 3kg. These tasty fish go pretty hard so be prepared and hang on tight. Snapper, plenty of squire, Moses perch, parrots and a few pearlies complete the fish box picture at days end for the last of the summer months.

Fishing the rocks, with the National Park is an obvious place to start and very rewarding. Traditionally the bastion of the bait fishing rock hopper, these days there are plenty of fishers that will cast and retrieve slugs, poppers, large minnows as well as the plethora of soft plastics from the rocks with great success.

Keen local angler, Peter Morris, is always trying something or somewhere a bit different. Pete was tossing 80mm Squidgies around recently and managed to hook and land a very respectable jewfish close to 1m long and about 8kg.

There are many recognised ways to snap your favourite fishing rod. Indeed, I have successfully employed most during 40 years of fishing, and many of my current collection are a centimetre or two shorter than they used to be. The techniques (and rods) that come to mind are the old wind slamming the rear door of the Landcruiser trick; poking the rod tip into a rotating fan trick; and everybody’s favourite, the good old sitting on your rod trick.

Well, at long last someone has found a new and spectacular way to change their fishing rod from a one piece affair to a five piece version in a very short timeframe. The other evening I was goading my fishing partner into casting at a half submerged concrete pipe. After several attempts, with the lure landing both near the pipe and slamming into it, a very neat cast saw the small silver minnow plop right next to the end of the pipe. After a crank or two the rod, currently in one piece, loaded up as a serious jack did its best to stay away from our tinny.

“I knew there would be a jack in that pipe,” I boasted as I fetched the net in readiness.

After a few short minutes, and not much comment from my angling buddy, I thought that something was amiss. The fish was certainly large, but the ensuing struggle didn’t resemble any of the other encounters we had previously enjoyed with mangrove jacks. Alas, the ‘jack’ turned out to be a large and very angry pike eel with a hook jammed up its backside. As I stood watching the beast thrash violently on the surface next to our tinny, I quietly put the little landing net back where it was.

“This will be interesting,” was my next show of brilliance.

Within seconds the giant eel began a very rapid series of crocodile rolls, catching my friend by surprise, so much so that he didn’t even get time to freespool the reel so the now angrier eel could thrash away in the depths.

In disbelief I watched the leader, followed by the braid mainline disappear very quickly. This of course drew the rod tip into the melee and the ensuing series of quite loud ‘clicks’ clearly indicated this rod was not going to be of any further use! In fact, quite a series of those sickening clicks led to the eel being wrapped in mono, braid and multiple 6” lengths of graphite rod along with plenty of floating vegetation that had been trapped in the struggle. And, the eel still had a treble jammed in its backside.

My shrieks of laughter abated, for a few minutes anyway, while we motored to the riverbank and jumped out to sort out the resulting mess. The offending eel was liberated, less one treble and free from fishing line of any sort. Despite a sore backside, the eel was in much better condition than my friend’s rod!

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