Classic Catches at Caloundra
  |  First Published: May 2006

The coastline around Caloundra, like all others on the east coast, experienced some wild weather in March when a couple of big cyclones hit towns up north. Most of March was un-fishable because of high winds and big swells, so anglers had to be happy fishing the dams and estuaries.


When anglers have been able to fish out on the reefs amazing catches of reefies and pelagics have topped off a great summer season, but a fairly average March overall.

The much anticipated mackerel run didn’t eventuate, and although some good ones were caught, numbers were way down on last season. However, the run of snapper and reefies has been unbelievable, and there’s always next year for mackerel.

The closer in reefs such as Murphy’s, Caloundra 7 Mile, the Inner Gneerings and Outer Gneerings have had a good run of small, undersize red emperor. They seem to be everywhere and are the first to hit your baits; at one stage that we found them in big balls on the pinnacles around Murphy’s. The emperor averaged around the 40cm mark, which is still big enough to put up a great fight for anglers.

There have been plenty of other reefies on offer with cod, sweetlip, squire, grinners, iodine bream, trevally, fingermark bream and a few small pearlies around to make a nice mixed bag. The surface action from the spotties has been hard to find but there are still plenty of mack tuna around near Point Cartwright and around the blinker.

The Barwon Banks has been producing the best fish. Good numbers of snapper have been hammering baits set by anglers. I have included a picture of a spot out on the Banks to show you what sort of country we experience out there and what the fish will hold on. The photo was taken showing 160ft depth with a 35ft rise and a good sized knob that held fish on the day. This type of bottom is scattered all around the Banks along with pinnacles and knobs and, if you spend some time searching, you will find some great spots to fish. The Banks has been home to good cod, the odd trag jew, hussar, red emperor, parrot, pearlies, cobia, amberjack, samsonfish and wahoo.

This season, thanks to the current, we have been able to drift across the bottom at a slow pace. Normally, from January to March, the current belts through the Banks making it impossible to get your line to the bottom on a drift but this year we have only experienced that on the full moon’s big tides. Drifting is one of two methods that I prefer when fishing the Banks and Caloundra Wide; the other is anchoring with a good berley trail. Don’t ever dismiss using berley on the drift, particularly if your pattern is reasonably consistent. On a good day you should set up to drift over 4 to 5 features if the run allows you to and you would repeat that as many times as you could while picking up fish. By dropping berley you keep the fish interested and in the area for a longer period. Granted, the berley is further spread but the principles are the same and if the current isn’t too strong it will serve its purpose.

Dolphinfish have been around in reasonable numbers out in the deeper waters of Wide Caloundra and past the 100m line at the Banks. Some good dolphinfish have been caught on lures and live and floating baits over the past month or so.

I don’t know what it is but there seems to be a lot of speckled weed/rubbish, coral sporn, floating in the deeper waters which, if the gain on the sounder is too high can interfere with the quality of the information. Is it just me or when there is a lot of it around the fishing seems to be less active than when the water is clear? If you have any ideas or thoughts on this matter I would love to hear from you.

May should bring the spangled emperor and snapper in to the closer reefs with average sizes around 3kg. Murphy’s and the 23m line out from the Outer Gneerings should begin to hold some good amberjack in May. The bigger pelagics will entertain plenty of anglers over the next month or so as the winter transition begins in earnest.


The estuaries have improved from a slow start to the year with some good flathead being taken around the Pumicestone Passage. Drifting is second only to flicking baits or lures around the drop-offs and weedbeds at the moment to catch these flatties. If you don’t have a boat you can still fish in the main channel opposite Bill’s Boat Hire. Start near the first starboard marker and walk along the sandflats, towards the Coast Guard, and you will cover 200m of ground with the current, you’re essentially drifting for fish like you would if you were in a boat. Of course if the tide is running in then you would start at the northern end and work your way down to the marker.

There have been some nice fish well over the 70cm mark landed recently and I have been pleased with anglers’ reaction to the new size limits this season. It’s great to see everyone doing the right thing.

Bream are now well established and good numbers are being taken in the cod hole and around the boardwalk in the early mornings and after dark. Herring are still the preferred bait for the bigger fish with hardiheads, prawns and yabbies other good baits.

The rocks around Kings and Moffat beaches have had some nice bream in the evenings along with a few whiting. The quality of the fish is well worth the relaxing wait between bites at the moment. Whiting are still on the tooth and should be targeted using bloodworms and yabbies right throughout the passage.

Some good sea mullet are still swimming around in schools and have chosen not to venture out to sea. Fresh mullet is nothing to be sneezed at and is a strong favourite for plenty of people on the Sunshine Coast. A few are being caught on line, but the old cast net will account for them if you are quick and accurate.

Mangrove jack are still around the pylons and pontoons in Pelican Waters and as far up as Kawana Waters in the lakes.

Things have been quiet down the southern end with only a few reported catches, which would have a lot to do with the poor recent water quality. Not a great deal of action on the Wurtulla strip of beaches after the pounding that they copped in late March. Some dart are around for the diehards but the rips make it impossible to enjoy, so it’s better to stick to the covered beaches.

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