The summer season has hit with a bang, bringing with it all types of pelagics and summer reef and estuary species in to play around the Sunshine Coast. When the weather permits the fishing is great – the only real problem for anglers is avoiding getting sunburnt. If you don’t cover up and ‘slip, slop, slap’, you will suffer.
The northerly winds have continued as normal through November and into early December, making outside trips successful only on very few selected days. I am happy to say that the usual November blues are over and we can move on and look forward to more productive fishing. The trips have been worth it, with spots like the Banks producing some quality pearlies, parrot, reds, Maori cod, trag and cobia. This month and onwards we should see the mahi-mahi (dolphinfish) in and around the shallower side of the Banks in greater numbers. It’s useful to remember that trolling will produce some great pelagic action along the southern run and around the 35-45m line out at the Barwon Banks.
The Caloundra 5-mile and 7-mile and out around the channel marker from Brays Rock is where most of the mackerel have been caught so far. One hour is about all you need to secure your limit of schoolies around the beacons by trolling either lures or dead baits. That timeframe will certainly come down considerably as the pelagics arrive in bigger numbers through the summer months. I remember last season it often took us only 15 minutes to bag out on schoolies.
Further out around Caloundra wide, some great catches of cobia are being reported with the odd amberjack making its presence felt. Livebait seems to be the best option if you can get them in any numbers. Some good quality parrot and cod are also being caught on early morning runs to the area.
In closer to Point Cartwright the action has been steady, with catches of school mackerel, all different types of tuna, some kingfish and the occasional cobia. Kingfish are great fighters on light gear and we enjoyed a top session landing plenty in an hour and a half out off Mooloolaba recently. We targeted a ledge that came up from 15-20m on a northerly drift and straight away got hit hard. The first fish in the boat was only just legal, but what a top little fighter! Bigger fish came on after an hour adding to the fun. I tried dropping a Powerbait down at one point and caught a kingie on it, but it was bait that caught the majority on the day. The only thing that stopped the session was the increase in the wind, which took us away from the ledge every time, and conditions weren’t suitable at that stage to anchor.
Sunshine Coast waters are still alive with baitfish. They’re being attacked on the surface all over the Sunshine Coast, giving lure- and flyfishers the opportunity to test their skills. Being caught in the middle of a feeding frenzy is a noisy affair, but what an adrenaline rush! The action is fast and furious and it’s normally over as quickly as it hits so be ready with your small slugs, lures and flies.
Boaties would have noticed the recent coral spawns scattered right across the area from Noosa to Caloundra. We have noticed that it’s particularly thick around Old Womens Island and Murphys this season. If you catch it early enough (it’s not hard to tell if it’s fairly recent) it becomes a great indicator of reef structure below and is worth pulling up and sounding around for future areas to fish. Strangely enough, the only thing that you may catch around a coral spawn is a pelagic, which may be hiding under the thick cover.
Livies have been a little hard to get in close lately. There have been plenty of them around, the only difficulty has been in getting them on the jigs. At one stage it was so tough that even berley didn’t help.
The Pumicestone Passage is alive with grunter bream up to 1kg+ in the deeper holes, rockwalls and bridge pylons. Flathead have continued with a good show right through November, and fish between 40-70cm will still be commonplace in January.
In the back creeks like Coochin, Halls and Bells, good catches of mangrove jack continue with two recorded catches of over 4kg caught on live poddy mullet. Don’t be shy in presenting these guys with a strip bait, using it to the same effect as a lure. Jacks love fresh bait and will pound it if presented well. Live prawns are also another great bait but sometimes you just can’t get past the bream with such tasty morsels on offer. Smaller trevally have ventured down in to the same areas creating some mixed havoc with anglers, obviously smashing baits before the better fish can.
Whiting, well what can we say? They have really come on through November with some amazing catches that could only be fitted in to the category of ‘elbow slappers’. Any whiting around the 500-600g or less can provide great sport on light gear not to mention a top feed, but when you are consistently pulling fish over 30cm and 600g, that’s fine fishing indeed. Live bloodworms are the absolute best bait for these fish and although they are expensive, they are well worth it. Yabbies are a great second option and they are able to be collected for free down around the back of Bells Creek boat ramp at low tide.
Lure fishing around the pontoons in Pelican Waters and Military Jetty can catch you some trevally and the odd queenie but the best two recorded catches for the Pumicestone Passage through November were a 9kg queenfish taken on a dead herring and a 4kg snapper caught on the making tide, mid morning also on a dead herring. These fish were taken at the end of November so you just never know what will hit the line.
Once again I am happy to report that there are plenty of baitfish around in the passage including live herring, mullet, gar and hardy heads. Sadly it appears that the dead baits are catching the bigger fish; figure that hey! After the heavy rain in November it is time to get the crab pots out again. The blue swimmers are on the move and situated all around the passage both in the southern reaches and closer to the boardwalk. There is nothing like a good feed of fresh crab, but only take what you need and watch your sizes.
Dart and whiting are the main catches from the many beaches around the area along with some nice grass sweetlip out from Kings Beach on the making tide. There is an odd tailor or two around but you would want to be lucky to hook one at the moment. Now that the northerlies have softened the beach scene should start to improve over the December period - if you can find a spot without swimmers or surfers during the school holidays that is.
I have fished Moffat on a couple of occasions over the past month with very limited success. Moffat Beach is a very rocky area particularly around the southern end and has taken a fair bit of gear off anglers over the past decade. It also has an in close reef about 400m out from shore which I am led to believe that this is what takes the fish away from the beach area. I still think that it should have a natural draw factor for both big and small fish but it certainly does not live up to that reputation. The only thing I can assure you is that I will try all different methods, areas and baits to try and crack the secret that it holds.
Quiet a few shovelnosed sharks have also been caught in close but I am happy to say well north of Dicky’s Beach. Further along the stretch of beach towards Wurtulla there are a few nice gutters and holes that are worth a look during the making tide. They seem to be close enough to reach at high tide making them prime fishing spots. During the summer months don’t disregard the humble worm as the prime bait on the beaches. A multitude of fish such as bream, tarwhine, whiting, dart, mulloway and flathead will take worms as bait. Next in line would have to be a pilly strip so you should be able to get a feed with only a small selection of fresh baits.
The summer months have now taken over from the transitional November period bringing with them the pelagics, bigger estuary fighters and a marked improvement on the fishing from our many beaches. Very shortly the Pumistone Passage will be full of boats and our beaches will be bursting at the seams with holiday makers all wanting to get wet and enjoy the sunshine. Happy New Year and I hope you are able to enjoy some of the fantastic fishing available on the Sunshine --e-mail address hidden--
1.The author with one of many King Fish caught recently of Mooloolaba
2. Michael Salini with a 23kg CobiaReads: 517