Each year after the Easter holiday local anglers come out of hiding to find that nothing has changed and they can get on with their lives. However this year it’s been a bit different.
The media extensively reported the incident that took place here and, as a result, the subsequent attention is likely to bring about changes to the way we use this stretch of coastline. The number of campers and 4WD that use Teewah and Rainbow beaches at peak periods has been very high for many years now. I am amazed that there haven’t been more serious incidents involving children before to bring these issues into the spotlight. Now that they have, let’s hope that decisions are made that allow us all to still enjoy the area in a safer environment.
In contrast to all the negative publicity, anglers have been enjoying the high quality fishing on offer recently. It seems as if everybody is getting a feed of good quality whiting with some bream, tarwhine, dart and flathead. Schools of tailor have been a little hard to find but anglers chasing schools of mack tuna in close with slugs have been spinning up as many tailor as tuna. Inside the river mouth has also produced some reasonable quality tailor and trevally on livebaits.
Mack tuna have been feeding along the entire length of the beach so I headed north towards Double Island Point to see try my luck beach fishing. I found a boiling pelagic mass well within casting range at Red Canyon and beached two spotties and two mack tuna. Two other fish took my lures before leading the schools away.
The next morning I heard that Massouds Rocks near Freshwater were in a decent gutter. After failing to get a response from a number of casts I was starting to feel like my options were running out. I moved on to Rainbow Beach where I could see good sized schools of baitfish just metres from the shore and after a few unsuccessful retrieves I found a couple of 3kg queenfish.
Having more or less given up for the day, it was a very pleasant surprise to see a fair amount of activity around the bait schools I had already tried near the Leisha Track. My first lure was hunted down by an eager spotty which lifted my spirits. So with renewed enthusiasm I spent the next hour casting a variety of slugs and sliders at anything that moved and I managed five spotties before the action slowed. I noticed a couple of splashes 500m away towards Rainbow township and I was off again.
On closer inspection it was more than a couple of splashes and it was almost on top of a sandbar in thigh depth water that I could walk out on to and fish comfortably from. My first cast at some surface feeding longtails 30m from where I was standing was taken immediately and the fish finally began to give my Shimano its first work out of the day. A 7kg longtail lifted my spirits even further before I landed and released a 90cm spotty.
The following 3 hours was a fishing experience that I will remember for a long time. Among numerous bust-ups were longtails, spotted and school mackerel, queenfish and mack tuna. My TSS4 survived the session and was definitely in need a service if it was to get a repeat performance the next day.
On the calm Saturday morning I saw longtails feeding 20m out form Rainbow Beach and I thought another session like the previous day was on the cards. The school spooked a little with the sound of the vehicle but stayed well within range for my first cast. I retrieved the lure quickly across the glassy water and watched as a 8kg longtail attacked the lure. Twenty minutes and 300m of lost and retrieved line later, the northern blue finally ran out of steam. My second cast was also taken by a longtail that quickly busted off. I was busy rerigging when the school disappeared from sight and prompted me to move to my next location.
I arrived at Middle Rocks where the water surface was being disturbed by baitfish that were being harassed by several tailor.
Each cast for the next half hour produced 40-50cm choppers. I was casting and retrieving along the same path over submerged rocks when a badly directed cast pitched to the right. A spotty hit the lure immediately before the Spaniard attacked the spotty. The spotties and tailor kept coming, but Spaniards were having a field day chewing on anything that moved other than my lure. By 9 o'clock the bite had slowed to a stop.
Dave and I arrived Rainbow Beach at first light on Sunday morning but much to Dave’s disappointment nothing was moving so we continued looking for signs of pelagic action around the bay. We hadn't gone too far when we both saw bait breaking the water near the first coloured sand hill. Lures started flying at any surface movement and Dave hooked up after 15 minutes of casting. The second Dave’s fish busted off I hooked up on a fish. This fish took me up and down the beach for 10 minutes before coming readily into the beach.
I caught a few Spanish mackerel off the beach in the early 80s, so I was thrilled when my fish turned out to be a 6.5kg Spaniard. For the next half hour Dave and I threw all our slugs at the Spaniards that were herding bait slightly out of our range.
We eventually abandoned the mackerel to head for Middle Rocks to chase tailor.
That night the swell picked up along with a 20 knot southeasterly that signalled the end of a fabulous few days of fishing.
Mackerel will become scarcer in June until there are only tuna, queenfish and tailor left to target. Fish tend to come in close on quiet, calm days but I have, on occasion, caught queenfish and tuna on a busy afternoon near the Leisha Track. Let’s hope that most mullet netting this year occurs near the Noosa River Mouth and doesn't affect fishing at the top end of Teewah Beach and at Rainbow.
Quite a few important aspects of this style of fishing were highlighted for me in those 3 days. I’m going to outline some basic rules of thumb that can result in quality fish when applied properly.
Ensure that your reels are well spooled with appropriate line quality and poundage. Also have a selection of spare and alternatively sized lures available.
None of the species that I caught would take lures with a wire trace in the calm water. Where there was wave action, the mackerel, queenfish and tailor would take lures with wire but the tuna needed to be feeding heavily before they would strike.
Avoid using swivels when attaching monofilament leaders - there are several good knots that can be used although wear and tear can weaken the knots. Knots should be retied with new mono after drawn out battles with larger fish. Have a variety of spinning lures with mono leader, wire leader and no leader configurations available for speedy rigging in the 30-65g weight bracket. This is vitally important for distance casting. If the hooks supplied on the lure are smaller than size 2'0 then change the hooks to either a larger treble or 2 conventional hooks back to back.
Some fish, such as tuna, can be fussy and will rarely take a retrieved lure unless they are feeding on the surface. If this is the case then wait for an opportunity to cast past or into the feeding school.
Indiscriminate lure retrievals will put many fish off and are unlikely to draw a strike.
All of the bait and pelagic schools that I fished amongst responded to individual vehicles on the beach including mine. Even a car door slamming can cause the fish to move away from the beach. Park 100m away from the school and approach quietly.
Most pelagic schools tend to herd baitfish in a particular direction. Tuna generally herd against the wind and tide. Tailor, mackerel and queenfish are less predictable but will often be visibly tracking in one direction, so position yourself so that the fish are coming toward you. Chasing schools from behind is definitely less successful, so take the time to assess the feeding direction and position accordingly.
Pelagic species respond most to lures that are retrieved at high speed. A Shimano TSS4 with a gear ratio of 5.8:1, wound as fast as possible retrieves at a slower speed than these fish can swim but is fast enough to excite their feeding instinct. However most of these species don't always respond to speed. Tailor that are heading north on a spawning migration will often only respond to slower lures. Alternatively they may respond only to lures that are retrieved quickly and then paused for a few seconds especially near the edge of the surf gutter or when spinning from headlands. Mackerel are also a bit inconsistent when it comes to retrieval speed but the same alternative methods for tailor apply for mackerel.
It's all well and good for me to offer some tips to anglers who want to fish in this fashion, but the opportunities don’t always present themselves on a regular basis. Luckily for me, I live at Teewah Beach and have information sources that tell me of what's happening where. Most anglers only have a planned annual holiday or weekend trip to experience this great fishing. The key is to keep an eye open for these situations and to be on the beach early. Some beaches also perform better in this regard than others. Rainbow Beach, Orchid Beach, the northern and western sides of Fraser, Moreton and Stradbroke Islands and the Bribie Island eastern beach are locations that I like to sight fish. The common denominator for these locations is that they are sheltered from swell but are still open to the sea. Exposed sections of coastline do come in to play in particularly calm weather or when there are high concentrations of bait.
For me there are few more exciting fishing methods available and probably few more frustrating methods also. But the results can be fantastic and sooner or later the opportunity will present itself. I’m heading back to Rainbow Beach soon to see what else I can find.Reads: 735