February is typically a very good month to wet a line on the Sunshine Coast.
There are bass and saratoga options galore in the freshwater; flathead, bream, whiting and jacks in the estuaries and a plethora of species offshore that would keep any bluewater angler very happy indeed!
The pelagic scene should be in full swing by February. Most days hit 30 and with minimums over 20 nobody is complaining despite the high humidity. Afternoon thunderstorms come as no surprise and February should see plenty of rain.
Mackerel and tuna are the major targets for offshore anglers at this time of year. The average size of these fish is increasing with 10kg Spaniards common and plenty bigger being boated as well. Hordes of northern bluefin tuna will be harassing bait schools all over Laguna Bay and well beyond. Hungry packs of spotties and school mackerel will also be rounding up baitfish and this is the time of the slug.
On occasions the sky is filled with birds keen to clean up the scraps left by predators. At least they can act as a guide as to where to head next. When the surface activity is really frenetic, it is best to cut motors and idly drift with the breeze and wait for the fun to start nearby, hopefully within casting range.
When the fish are skittish, chasing boil after boil can be a waste of time as the fish will leave as soon as you arrive. You might get one or two casts in before they disappear and resurface elsewhere. However, when the chaos is at an absolute climax, a slug cast anywhere and cranked back to the boat with maximum speed will be belted more often than not. Sometimes the better quality fish are under the surface schools and it’s worth letting the slug sink, feeding line out as you go before commencing a speedy retrieve. To increase your chances of landing a great tuna or mackerel it can be worth halting the retrieve mid way and once again allowing it to sink somewhat before repeating at a rapid rate!
Many anglers start their slug session with a mono leader. They will probably take more hits than those using wire however, they will lose more slugs that those using wire! Whatever your choice, it makes sense to risk a few slugs with mono to start with and then switch to single strand wire if you are getting bitten off regularly.
It’s important to choose the right slug for the job. Most are shiny anyway, with colouring almost inconsequential. When it is truly chaotic anything will do the trick. However, on slower days it is very important to mirror the baitfish as closely as possible. If the menu is 30mm bait then a 60mm slug will go untouched, and vice versa. It’s important to have a healthy selection of various slugs on board as well as a few ready to go wire leaders.
The good news is that slugs are relatively cheap. It can even pay to make up a few of your own. Hammering a barrel sinker flat with the leader already in place can do this. I’ve also had some success by cutting stainless rod into various lengths, belting the ends flat with a serious hammer and drilling a hole at each end. A couple of quality split rings and one strong treble and away you go. A $20 investment on slugs at your local tackle store will provide the fun and feeds 100 times over.
Bottom bashers shouldn’t feel left out in the midst of summer. Close in reefs such as Halls, North, Sunshine and even Jew Shoal are well worth trying for a feed of quality reef fish. If you have a preference for coral trout try Sunshine Reef where you can also come across a few late snapper, Moses perch, sweetlip and a cobia or two.
North Reef is a large and complex reef system that consistently delivers the goods, but perseverance is the key. Arrive early and be prepared to berley hard or move regularly. Catches of squire, parrots, sweetlip and more cobia are quite common here.
Further afield the options are even better with green and rosy jobfish, amberjack, red emperor, big knobbies and kingfish all on the bite. The reefs off Double Island Point, Chardons and the famous Barwon Banks will hopefully reward your effort to land some top shelf table fish. Juvenile marlin and sails are busily feeding on these reefs also, so be prepared!
The Noosa River and its massive system of lakes and creeks will hopefully be slowing down by February from the onslaught of hundreds of visitors thrashing the place over the Christmas holidays. Once again the locals will be coming out to play and the quieter lower reaches might just be ripe for the taking.
Dawn and dusk patrols will be more fruitful than midday sessions. A run-out tide early or late in the day when chasing flathead with trolling minnows should be very successful. Whilst pink is a great colour for these aggressive bottom dwellers, other colours work as well. Gold chrome is a very good lure choice for flathead as are gold and red combinations. The most important factors though are depth and speed.
Lures that run near bottom structures are more likely to be taken than those that run at mid water. Even better, lures that kick up puffs of sand will attract the attention of nearby fish and may even encourage them to wander over for a look. I’ve been hassled about speed in the past, however, if you want flathead the slower the better. A lazy, walking pace trolled with lures near the bottom on a run-out tide at dusk is a sure winner!
If you want to catch barra get yourself up to the now world famous Rainbow Villas. You can go on your own and stay the night if you wish, or you can enjoy a guided day with everything supplied. Catching a big barra at dusk on a surface lure is something that not every angler experiences! For more info contact me on (07) 5447 7092 or 0400 223 397.Reads: 1093