Calm Brings on the fish
  |  First Published: May 2008

It may have taken a while, but we've finally experienced the much anticipated calm conditions. And what a transformation a few days of still weather has made to what has been, for months, an ugly beach.

Not only is Teewah Beach beautiful again, there are lots of different fish species available in the excellent gutters and holes all along the beach. And the pelagics are also feeding hard on healthy bait stocks in Laguna Bay.

The change occurred almost overnight when a strong southeasterly blew itself out and wasn't followed by another strong southeasterly, as we've become accustomed to recently. Glorious still days allowed the surf to settle quickly and the calm sea immediately began depositing the last of the remaining debris on to the beach.

Dune grass that has been washing around in the surf for months is now high and dry, along with much of the dead algae that has been discolouring the surf. Run off from the occasional downpour is still discolouring the water close to the mouth of the Noosa River, but water clarity otherwise is reasonably good.

As soon as the conditions cleared up the birds came on cue and started working near the first cutting the day after the southerly dropped. By the following morning, mackerel and tuna could be seen feeding close inshore along the full length of Teewah Beach and the terns were everywhere. Bait schools were being harassed by hungry dart, and giant and big eye trevally became visible in the clearing surf, as did the newly exposed coffee rock in the many gutters south of Teewah.

There simply aren't enough hours in a day to fully explore the angling opportunities that present in these situations. For me, the sight of spotties, longtail and mac tuna just behind the break was just too tempting to ignore. The potential for tailor and trevally around the bait schools is always good as well, so spinning with Sliders was naturally going to be my method of choice. The hard part is to know which section of beach is most likely to have them within casting range of the shore.

The main concentration of bait and feeding activity has been, and continues to be, between the river mouth and Teewah. Head south from Teewah and spin the coffee rock gutters for tailor, trevally and possibly mackerel. Throw half a dozen casts in each gutter with varying retrieve rates through any likely looking water, especially over the rocks. If no success move on to the next gutter. Remember to constantly watch for bait school activity and particularly a boiling school of pelagics within range. The further south travelled, the calmer the surf is due to the protection offered by Noosa Heads and the greater the likelihood of being able to get to the schools.

So it was on this day after watching multiple schools just out of range further north, I found I school within casting distance on arrival at the first cutting. My first retrieve through the school hooked up on a 5kg mac tuna which started peeling line at a rapid rate before being turned and beached. Macs off the beach using 4kg mono are always fun, but this one more than most given the months of prior fishing frustration. I only managed the one tuna that morning, but a few large choppers from over coffee rock north of the third cutting on my way home were very satisfying also.

The next few days produced several more mac tuna and tailor, along with lots of big eye and 2kg giant trevally stopping the slug in its tracks. The tailor however, were not buzzing around the bait schools in any numbers and certainly haven't been prolific in the gutters either. I've managed a few in the 2-3kg range and choppers if I worked hard, but there have been a lot of long casts in still conditions between strikes. The odd fish has been taken on pilchard and mac tuna baits, which should continue to work well with the first of the northward migrating tailor due during May.

Bream also begin their spawning migration in May and will be exiting the Noosa River mouth in healthy numbers to spawn in the surf gutters along Teewah Beach and I would expect be readily available from most gutters. Dart, whiting and tarwhine have been fairly regular captures of late along with some flathead and these species should continue to be available. Big golden trevally are proving difficult to land at D.I. which should have equally large yellowtailed kingfish and jew hanging around it. Snapper of between 2 and 4kg have also been coming from D.I. with some regularity and will continue to be a potential through May.

Out on the bay, the arrival of the mackerel and tuna schools in flat seas has attracted plenty of attention with quite a number of boaties out and about each day. I've noticed a fair few guys that are out day after day as well and I'm wondering how they're still lifting their arms. An unfortunate consequence however of so many boats is the spooking of schools. Some anglers I notice, seem to misinterpret how they should react when schools are sounding at the approach of a craft. Instead of positioning their boat so that the school is feeding in a direction towards them, they are charging faster to the schools in the hope of getting there before they sound. Either that, or they simply haven't any appreciation of angling etiquette. Calm seas have also allowed boaties to access the many inshore reefs in Laguna Bay. Sunshine Reef is producing quite a few quality coral trout, sweetlip have stayed on the chew at Little Halls and snapper are relatively plentiful on most reefs.

There are so many fishing options that have suddenly become available in the region. During April and into early May some quality fish have been taken from our estuaries, our beaches and headlands as well as offshore. Local angler Peter Morris who regularly accounts for more than his fair share of good fish from each domain, has been at it again and as always has the pics to prove it. A jewfish taken on a plastic off Noosa Heads as the sea calmed was his second of recent times. And as expected, Pete was amongst the spotties early in the piece before moving onto trout at Sunshine. No doubt there are more fish to come from Pete who I think is currently trying to track down longtails off the stones to make up for one dropped after an hour on the fish. Nice to know that you do drop them also mate.

For those who don't seem to be able to spend the time chasing fish that some of us manage and the occasional fishing trip is becoming more a miss than hit affair. Now is as good a time as will present this year to enjoy the excellent fishing the region provides. With mangrove jack, jewfish, whiting, bream, cod, flathead, mud crab and more in the river and lakes. All the surf species available along the beach as well as the various offshore options of reef and pelagic species with a workable bar to access from. It should be a terrific month of angling opportunities ahead for any that are able and willing to put in some hours.

Of course, beach seine netting will commence this month and will alter dramatically what fish will be where. Sometimes the mullet don't start running until mid-month and the nets stay dry until then. But their license to net begins May 1 and at some stage they will be in use. The main target being mullet during May causes most, but certainly not all netting activity to be near the river mouth, so heading north may be advantageous.

However, once netting starts then nothing is predictable except that fish will become harder to find. All surf species are affected it seems except flathead and even the mackerel and tuna schools seem to disappear once the netting starts. There are no solutions to this scenario except to reduce netting activity and that doesn't appear to be going to happen any time soon. All I can recommend is to get straight out there and make the most of the opportunities that exist now.

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