Reef Fishing Peaking
  |  First Published: June 2006

The talk around the Sunshine Coast is all good with plenty of fish varieties available in the estuaries, beaches, canals, closer reefs and the deeper waters.

The move into June/July will be a particularly good one for anglers who like to fish the closer reefs. Larger sweetlip and snapper have started to settle around the areas of the Inners and Outer Gneerings, the Caloundra 3, 5 and 7 Mile and Murphys giving all boaties the chance to catch some quality monsters.

Late afternoons on a making tide is the best time to fish for optimum success and if you throw a full or new moon phase anything can happen. Start your berley trail about 4.30pm once you have anchored around some good features for holding fish and sit back and wait. Just make sure you rig some lines for floating and don’t just bottom bash.

Your float lines should have three gang hooks with swivels in between and as little weight as possible on top of the hooks. The strength of the current will determine how much weight you will need to reach the strike zone. To get to the zone all you have to do is let out line slowly so it drifts down at the same pace as the berley. If the fishing is hot simply release line until you feel the fish strike, this is how you can judge the distance in to the strike zone. A good tip is to tie a piece of different cloth to your main line so that you know when you have released enough line.

Pillies are still the best bait and livies are worth a try in the evenings if you can find some. If you haven’t tried livebaiting at night then I suggest you keep a close eye on where the current is taking your lines. Livies have a habit of making a big tangle of everyone’s gear, which is much harder to sort out at night.

Sweetlip, squire, cod, amberjack and pearlies have all been caught throughout the closer reef systems over the past month and will continue as we move in to the middle of the cooler period. There are stacks of baitfish around out past the beacon off Point Cartwright including small pilchards and skip jacks. Some of the bigger schools are holding bonito and tuna amongst them. Currimundi Reef has held rat kings, good sized bream and sweetlip with snapper available for those fishing around Brays Rock.

The Barwon Banks continue to produce good catches of snapper, very big sweetlip, trag jew and spangled emperor. The pelagics have hammered us with average size amberjack around the 7-9kg mark taking lines on the drift with some samsonfish, yellowtail kings and tuna also making an appearance.

Bottom bashing has produced trevally and barracuda, which can be identified on the sounder smashing bait schools all over the place. On a good day small sailfish and tuna jump right out of the water and you can watch the sailfish finning through the bait schools.

The Hards is firing as well at present with good catches of quality snapper to 8kg attacking lines in the early evening and mornings. Caloundra Wide has been a little quieter of late but anglers are still managing average catches of pearlies, snapper, parrot and sweetlip.

Spanish mackerel and spotties have been taken around Caloundra 9 Mile with the odd one or two venturing in a little closer to the 7 Mile reefs. Bigger Spaniards can still be found but as the cooler months draw closer they will disappear until next season.

When the weather permits I suggest you get out and have a go at the Banks overnight. Get a couple of boats for safety reasons and head out to experience the difference in the fishing. Remember to log on to the Coast Guard and listen to the weather forecast every couple of hours. Don’t even attempt it without the correct safety equipment and have plenty of food and water on board just in case – being overly cautious may just save your life.

Beaches and Estuaries

April saw some great beach fishing from the northern tip of Bribie Island right through to Noosa. The strip along from Wurtulla to Bokarina has again had some great gutters producing excellent dart to 1.2kg, tarwhine, bream, whiting, flathead and the occasional tailor. It’s a welcome relief after the long periods when we couldn’t fish the beaches due to the strong northerlies.

Sweetlip and chopper tailor have been regularly caught around the rocks at Kings and Moffat Beach using large fresh prawns and pilchard strips as bait. Pilchard strips last a lot longer if you tie a couple of loop knots on to the end of the bait and hook to stop the fish from pulling the bait straight off. Give it a go and you will be surprised at the difference it makes to your catch rate. The beaches will continue to fish well over the next few months with the bigger predators, like mulloway and tailor, making their presence felt.

The Boardwalk at Caloundra has been the spot to fish with queenies, 1kg+ bream, sweetlip, trevally and cod all being taken at different times. The amount of prawns and baitfish around is attracting heaps of fish and keeping them within the passage network. The Blue Hole has seen some remarkable catches of bream and big flathead, which should continue into the colder months. Further south near Egg Island trevally and mangrove jack have been caught along with the other bread and butter varieties. Bells Creek has also been home to some good flathead due to the enormous amount of poddy mullet hanging around the area.

Whiting have made a strong comeback with some real elbow slappers being weighed in at Caloundra Bait and Tackle. Hardiheads are one of the best baits for really good-sized bream and if prepared correctly, will not disappoint. Like everything with fishing, there is a right and wrong way to do things and then there’s another idea that will work.

I run my fingers along the side of the fish removing the scales. These little fish have really tough scales that can dull a knife’s sharpness in no time. Removing them will help your hook-up rate, get the scent out to the fish and saves your hook from losing its point. I feed a long shank hook through the eye twice and pull it right through before inserting the barb end of the hook through the tail about half way down and pulling the line tight.

The alternative method is to remove the scales and insert the barb end through the tail and into the top of the body and tie a couple of half loops around the tail and hook. Either of these two methods will help anglers catch bream. You will find that the fish hit the bait firstly to knock it out then come back to finish it off. So don’t strike first time, a little patience goes a long way with big bream.

The number of prawns still in the system indicates that fresh prawns are still the go within the Pumicestone Passage. Fish stripbaits, yabbies and worms are great alternatives that are available all the time. Herring are another bait to rig up for bigger bream along with a lot of other pelagics that frequent the system. Invest in a cast net and have a go at collecting your own bait – it’s fun and cost effective.

So look for the bigger sweetlip and snapper in close over the next couple of months. The estuaries will come in to their own as winter sets in and with the larger predators moving in around the closer reefs and beaches the fishing should remain excellent.

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