Offshore sensational!
  |  First Published: February 2006

It’s been an amazing past year on the Sunshine Coast for all forms of fishing.

Our early 2005 summer season was a cracker with mackerel and other pelagics landed during what was also a terrific marlin, sailfish and dolphinfish season. The early winter months saw a long awaited and surprisingly good season of snapper arriving. Record sizes and consistent catches riddled the newspapers and fishing reports. The season ran long with plenty of other reef species being taken in good numbers including sweetlip, cod, trag, red emperor, trevally, amberjack, cobia and the list goes on.

The beaches had a rough time in the later half of the year with strong northerlies pounding them continuously for months making it difficult to fish. The first half saw good dart, tailor, bream, whiting and flathead being taken on regular intervals.

The estuaries produced great bream with a better than average season overall. The whiting were a little slow but certainly picked up in the summer months. The Pumicestone Passage saw catches of big queenfish, trevally, snapper and flathead through winter continuing in to the summer months. The strangest catches in the Passage in 2005 were the snapper something previously totally unheard of with any type of consistency. The biggest recorded was 4kg and three others reached 3.3kg.

A fishy start

Another year moves in to history and we move forward in 2006 with high expectations for the upcoming pelagic season. Spaniards, schoolies and even a few doggy mackerel have taken lures out around Point Cartwright, Caloundra Wide and 12 Mile over the past few weeks. Their numbers will grow as the summer months really kick in to gear so around the end of this month things should be great. Dolphinfish are the rage at the moment with some good fish being taken off the shallow reefs of the Barwon Banks and Caloundra Wide.

The outer reefs around Barwon Banks have produced good numbers of pearl perch including large catches in 85m or more. Spangled emperor to 8kg are being taken on floating baits in around 40m of water along with cod and good sweetlip. Snapper are still available and fish 5kg+ are being captured in the deeper waters.

Larger snapper are still readily available around the banks with catches of snapper over 7kg coming in all the time. A recent trip produced five great fish for Gary and myself along with buckets of bludger trevally. Gary caught two big snapper before I even got started, but it was my day on the trevally. Every time we landed a trevally about 30-40 would be schooling under it waiting to pick up the next bait. We used float lines with a pea sinker leading to a three-ganged 6/0 rig, baiting with a whole pilchard or slimy mackerel for the best results. A couple of very large amberjack and rocky bottoms cost us a number of good rigs but added to the sporting atmosphere of the trip.

The snapper were still hitting our lines around 10.30am proving that if you find the right ground and structure on your sounder you will catch the fish. It turned out to be a pretty good decision. We originally tried the deeper water and didn’t get a bite in the first 10 minutes before we packed up and headed for shallower ground.

The closer reefs such as Murphy’s, Inner and Outer Gneerings are all producing smaller squire, cod, parrot and sweetlip with school and spotted mackerel the by-catch for anglers floating baits. A troll around Old Women Island can certainly reward an angler with kingfish, spotty mackerel or even a nice Spaniard or two. This is a top spot to try when the weather prevents you from venturing out wider.

The most recent full moon produced good catches of squire, sweetlip, trevally, cod, rat kings and small reds in the closer reefs like Murphy’s and the Outer Gneerings. Caloundra Wide and the 7 Mile reefs are also producing some good cobia and amberjack along with school mackerel and a good mix of reefies. Caloundra has been in the news lately because cobia and amberjack still seem to be smashing lines out there. Even the 5 and 7 Mile reefs have given anglers some real fights with these beauties. Pearl perch over the 3kg mark will be around in strong numbers over summer period.


Now that the holidays are over things the number of swimmers and boats will go back down. Bream, flathead, whiting and trevally are still the main catches with mangrove jack attacking lures further south down the passage and around bridge pylons on the Sunshine Coast. There was a big run of early season jacks that has since slowed.

Working around pontoons and bridges with plastics at this time of year is the best bet for bream and other species. Up as far as Mooloolaba around the long liners and permanent boat moorings are great opportunities for anglers to catch some fish. The good news is that a lot of these areas are accessible from land. The best baits for the estuaries at the moment are the humble bloodworm, yabbie, peeled prawn and fish strip bait. Herring are around in numbers and have been great bait for flathead, trevally and grunter bream around the boardwalk area in Caloundra.

The coming summer months will see the bigger Spaniards starting to move in and the smaller pelagics increase in size and catch numbers, for wanting anglers.

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