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Prepare for offshore battles
  |  First Published: December 2005



The chaos has begun. Hordes of holiday makers are crammed into every bit of available accommodation along the Sunshine Coast, and the chaos extends to the boat ramps and into the rivers as well!

While the increasing pelagic activity encourages anglers to get out there and have a go, it can be a recipe for disaster with all sorts of mishaps occurring. Of course, with some planning and forethought the majority of these little dramas can be avoided.

I suggest trailers and motors should be the focus of visiting anglers this summer. A quiet walk around the bursting Noosa boat ramp carparks will reveal a range of trailers, from top shelf heavy-duty galvanized jobs to the humble rusty number held together with fencing wire and racing tape. It’s a wonder how some of those trailers make it up the street, let alone halfway across the country.

Trailers are easy to maintain. If you don't have the time, drop it in to a mechanic for a thorough check before you travel. Bearings are very important and springs, hangers, lights and tow hitches are also worth a look.

Outboards that fail miles upstream or offshore can also ruin your annual holiday, so have your motor serviced and tuned before you head off on the ‘annuals’. This may well save you some heartache and embarrassment should your pride and joy refuse to start at the end of your reef fishing session 50km offshore!

Offshore

During November and over the first week of December some very good quality tuna and mackerel were caught offshore. Ultra-keen Sunshine Coast fisho Davin Bewsey has been into them already, with some early starts an important part of the equation. Davin is often back home again by 7am so he really makes the most out of the hot dawn bite. Meanwhile, most other ‘keen’ fishos are just arriving at the ramp when Davin and his mates are winding the boat back onto the trailer!

Casting slugs into the frenzy is a great way to catch tuna and mackerel. The slug must be about the same size as the baitfish that the bigger fish are chasing or it will usually be ignored. Bite-offs are common, so if you lose a few slugs try changing to a single-strand wire leader.

Trolling large lures, particularly in chrome with a green or blue back, has seen plenty of mackerel and tuna caught off the Sunshine Coast over the years. Bibbed minnows work very well, but if things are slow it might pay to switch to a high speed bibless and up the herbs to around 15 knots.

Bottom bouncers have had a great year! The snapper season has been a beauty along with some quality sweetlip, red emperor and a few top shelf trout. Cobia were on the go towards the end of 2005 so there should still be a few cobia on local reefs as the new year kicks in! For those fishing Laguna Bay and surrounds it would be worth purchasing a chart of the area.

Little Halls Reef is very close to the Noosa River mouth and it can deliver a few surprises from time to time. Jew Shoal, North and Sunshine reefs are also heavily fished, but the large and complex reef systems keep delivering the goods. Skipper Mike and the guys at Fishing Offshore Noosa have had a very good run out of their favourite spots on both North and Sunshine reefs. The snapper have been very cooperative and the other species have come as a bonus. They have also been getting into the mackerel and tuna as well as a few top class dolphinfish to 6kg. If you’d like a trip with these guys you can get hold of Mike on (07) 5442 4919.

Estuaries

All Sunshine Coast estuaries copped a mighty flush-out in late November. The storms continued into December and besides a rather obvious change in colour it will not do these waterways any harm. Crabbers started to have a few wins, although some are still suffering from others raiding or stealing their pots.

Having said that, some crabbers display a rare level of brainlessness when distributing their pots throughout the river. In some areas it is almost impossible to navigate your way around the flotilla of floats. This can be particularly annoying when they are placed across channels used as major thoroughfares in the river.

Bream have continued to fire, mainly for bait anglers, after all the rain. Flathead are always a good target and the lower reaches would be the best bet until the water clears somewhat and the salt can push upstream once again. Whiting have also been a mainstay whilst other sundry catches such as mangrove jack, estuary cod, tailor, trevally and even the odd cobia and barramundi keep us all interested and coming back for more!

I'll be running barra trips once again up to the private waterways around Tin Can Bay area over the summer. Contact me via my email address or on 0400 223 397 for more info on this very exciting fishery. Catching a big barra on a surface lure is an experience that no angler will ever forget!

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