Baitfish Bonanza
  |  First Published: April 2006

The annual spawning migration of frogmouth pilchards has arrived. As always the froggies were a great drawcard for a variety of fish species.

The massive bait schools arrived at Teewah Beach with longtail, yellowfin and mack tuna, spotty and Spanish mackerel, giant and big eye trevally, tailor and huge schools of dart following closely.

Anglers in small boats have enjoyed the great sport out behind the breakers with large numbers of spotties feeding throughout the day. Tailor, dart and GTs have also been herding the bait into the surf making easier catches for beach anglers.

Noosa River

Good rainfall in the catchment has flushed some of the Noosa River’s nutrients out of the river and has pushed large numbers of garfish to the river mouth. Tailor have also been around as they make their way south for winter.

Teewah received 6” of rain in one night recently and that was enough for the swamps to overflow and make the river running dirty. The morning after the rain was overcast with 20 knots of SE blowing, but I wasn't going to miss the chance to spin some Sliders at the mouth.

The North Shore of Noosa usually has a gutter from the northeast from the mouth with a sandbank behind it. The southern side is the main channel of the river which boaties use to cross the bar. There is usually a build up of sand that you can walk across and cast spinners from into the white water. I normally work the bank’s full castable length and search for the greenbacks that hold there. I use lures no smaller than 50g that are about the same size as the gar.

I didn't have to walk far before my first Slider was swallowed. Tailor are always active and this one was no exception, leaping and headshaking violently with 100m of 4kg mono between us. They can be subdued a little after their initial burst, just reduce the line tension when you can see them on the surface as this normally causes them to ease back into the water.

Once the tailor is tired keep medium tension on the fish and keep walking so it remains directly in front of you at all times. If it swims sideways, walk sideways. Allowing these fish to work an angle will cause the hooks to drop out.

With 40m of knee-deep water behind me, I walked backwards towards the beach whenever the fish allowed. Big tailor often make last ditch attempts to leap out of the front of small shore breaks towards you when your line is at its shortest. By walking up higher onto the beach I was able to keep some line out and was happy when I finally had my tailor on dry land.

I bled the 3kg fish and put it into the ice slurry before casting again. The second, third and fourth casts were nailed as soon as the lure hit the water by other 3kg greenbacks. An hour later with 12-15 fish all around 3kg back in the brown river water, I was tired and the quality of the fish was falling as the tide headed towards bottom.

One week later after a full moon, I decided to have a look at what was happening with the froggies. 2km south from Teewah the terns were bombing bait balls herded to the shore by spotties. I landed a mackerel and a couple of 2kg GTs before everything quietened down. Often when the froggies are like this, the outgoing tide around a moon will cause the mackerel and tailor to herd the bait right into shore where they can feed en masse.

After a quick run back to Teewah to grab Winston, a former pro wormer, we headed back at the same spot where the bait was already in the shallows being carved up by tailor, trevally and dart. Acres of mackerel were going ballistic behind the break.

Winston and I spent the next hour or so spinning Sliders through the bait balls on the edge of the gutter, hooking up on trevally and tailor with bait schools around our feet and dart banging against our legs. Then before our eyes the water turned brown with an algal bloom and the bait headed east rapidly.

April should see more of the same action and with the southeasterlies now prevailing, the weed problem should be minimal. Any decent rain that falls and causes the river to rise will have the tailor at the mouth.

With very few gutters on the beach, dart can be targeted either side of low tide in the channel that runs from Teewah to the river mouth. Finding narrow sections of this channel is the key and should also deliver yellowfin bream, tarwhine and good quality whiting.

Oyster crackers are always a potential catch in April on pipis in Teewah as are jewies on beachworm. If the water is dirty, bream will become very fussy and will generally prefer mullet gut or tailor. If the water is clean then pipis and beachworm will be their main targets.

For the anglers who like to chase tailor with flesh baits and pilchards plenty of sharks should also be around. Spanish mackerel occasionally come inshore and I have found that whiting and tarwhine strips are the best baits for them. Landing these fish from the beach generally requires a rig with 25-30cm of wire with a further length of about 60cm that has a ball sinker running freely along the wire. This rig shouldn’t pose a problem for tailor.

Last April I lost quite a few 2-3kg tailor to bigger tailor that left me with the head of the smaller fish on my lure. I estimated that these tailor, which I saw leaping with my fish in their mouths, were 7-9kg.

Weed on Teewah Beach and at Fraser has contributed to an increased population of fish and also for some specimens to reach their full growth potential.

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