Sunshine Coast with the spring in its step!
  |  First Published: October 2007

A steady flow of winter fish species mixed with reasonable weather has made the winter months a stack of fun for fishing all around the Sunshine Coast.

By comparison to previous years, this has not been the greatest snapper season. Even though the snapper have been plentiful around the 1-3kg mark, the bigger fish have been harder to find on a consistent basis.

However, the number of different fish species has been excellent and it is always good on any trip to bring home over eight or more types. They include snapper, cod, pearl perch, mowong, parrot, trag, sweetlip, king fish, amberjack, cobia and the list just goes on and on.

Inner Reefs

The close in reefs around Murphy and the Inner and Outer Gneerings have enjoyed a good run throughout the winter months and now we will start to see the bigger brutes starting to slowly come in to play.

Sweetlip have been the main stay with an odd 5kg snapper, mowong, parrot and some smaller reds filling the esky. The blinker off Point Cartwright has been home to a heap of rat kings and some smaller amberjack. The baitfish have been holding around this area for months and it is always worth a shot with a jig or a live bait to fill up the bait tank.

Old Women Island would be the pick to catch some bait and fresh calamari for the BBQ around the full moon. The eastern edge is normally the better target but it will depend on the tidal flow and the wind direction. This is always a good spot to take the kids and the old mate who does not handle the sea very well. You can always pop around the northern side if things get a little bumpy or head in closer to shore on the western edge to target some bread and butter species.

The same can be said for the northern marker out from Bribie Island that has been a great spot to get a feed of whiting and pick up some mixed live baits in the bargain. There have been small trevally, yakkas, whiting, whiptails and a very rare slimy here and there.

Some monster toads have also hung around the area all winter. Caloundra Five and Seven Mile reefs have seen a fairly slow run by normal standards but nearly always provide a feed for those that stick it out. Anchoring with plenty of berley is the best way to attract the better fish towards your area.

An important issue that must be tackled is the number of boats that are tying off on the channel markers – particular the one off Bribie Island. Not only does the law not allow this practice but also it is incredibly dangerous as it is the main shipping channel.

Big ships come in close to the marker and I have personally seen how close 4m dingies have come to disaster from the larger vessel’s wake. The large ships come on really fast and have no chance of avoiding you if your rope breaks and you drift in to their path. So take care and obey the rules that are there for your own safety.

Out Wide

The Twelve Mile reef is getting closer to the better performing spots over the past few months. I have found that Caloundra Wide is the better spot to fish, with strong catches of snapper, cod, pearl perch, cobia, a few kings, good parrot and others.

There is so much good country around the area and it is worth switching on the GPS and spend time finding future fishing areas for a later trip.

The area that I fish fairly regularly is between the 60m line to around the 110m line. Luckily the currents have allowed a lot of drift fishing these past months. To target some bigger fish, drop the pick and berley up to bring them on.

Drift fishing is a great way to catch fish and the natural movement over the areas created by the current presents your bait as a moving live target to the fish. You will find that when movement is slow so too is the bite. When you start to travel that little quicker, then the fish just smash your baits.

You will never know what may hit your line but experience will soon teach you what areas hold what type of fish. This will give you the chance to target exactly what you want when you want it.

The Barwon Banks has been home to some sensational snapper over the 8kg mark. If you know the spots then you won’t have any problems in finding them on a consistent basis.

For anglers that have been out searching for the snapper will appreciate the frustration that the season has thrown upon them – but hey, that’s fishing. The average snapper has been around the 2-3kg mark and they are a welcome item to the esky any day.

Good size trevally are around in numbers and they are fighting for your bait no matter where you plonk yourself. A few red emperor have been taken around the shallower parts of the Banks in the wee hours of the morning – by shallow I mean 27–45m.

The southern end around the steps has had its fair share of fish taken and the Three Sisters has provided plenty of mixed bags. It is worth moving from shallow to deeper waters or visa versa dependant on the time of day and tide.

Towards the end of October we will begin to move into our transition phase and when November hits it will be a bundle of everything. The good news is that the amberjack, cobia, king fish, mahi mahi and other hard-hitting pelagics will come in to play with more consistency.

The Estuaries

Plenty to talk about with the Pumistone Passage in full swing and it has been a rather up and down winter run but there has been plenty of smaller fish to keep us happy.

I have enjoyed sessions with stacks of fish taken on soft plastics and baits plus great drifting runs for flathead and whiting. Catching the bigger fish has been a result of using the plentiful live bait around the passage. The best has been yabbies, hardiheads and herring and it does not take long to get your bait for a fish.

I watched a keen fellow fishing with a cool ale in hand from one of the many pontoons around the area and enjoyed the simplicity by which he caught some nice fish. He simply had two slices of bread and covered a small hook with it and wham… a bream every few minutes.

The coming period of course will bring us in to the flathead breeding season and it is important that we remember our size limits and handle the fish carefully so that they may complete the breeding cycle. Only take what you need and return any fish that you find full of roe.

There is nothing like watching this huge prehistoric looking lizard coming to the surface and seeing that it is well over a metre, what a buzz.

The Beaches

There are still plenty of fish to be taken around the holes and gutters along the Wurtulla Strip. Dart, bream, whiting, mulloway, tailor and flathead are all there when you catch the right tides and moon phases. Baits range from worms, prawns, pilchards and strip baits with pippies taking some nice kilo plus bream.

Moffat beach has some lovely bream and has been by far the best option during the rough windy weather. We have even seen some school mackerel being taken from the shore, which is a rare indeed.

The rocks around Caloundra and Shelly have been worth a cast for good bream, trumpeters, chopper tailor and estuary cod but overall the snags have the bigger numbers.

Soon the action will settle down and bigger predators will roam the areas in search of good livies. It will mean some late nights and very early mornings to bag the good ones but hey, we love it.

It is my prediction that there will be a good transition this year. So clean the gear and the boat and get ready for some super fishing in the near future. Have fun!

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