Big Fish Fire
  |  First Published: August 2006

Plenty of big fish have been caught around the Sunshine Coast in July with a promise of bigger and better things to come in August.

Some pretty average weather has dampened opportunities throughout the past couple of months with strong southeasterlies and heavy seas. Still when the weather prevailed there was a mad rush to the boat ramps and before 6am in the morning you couldn’t find a park anywhere within a 1km radius of the boat ramps.

The outer reefs, Barwon Banks, Caloundra Wide and 12 Mile have all produced quality fish consisting of big snapper, amberjack, wahoo, pearlies, cod, trag, and even the odd red emperor. Some monster 8kg+ snapper hit us on a recent trip out wide. We left at 2pm to pick up some live yakkas and slimies before heading to our destination at the southern end of the Banks. After drifting across a couple of spots we landed one snapper to 3kg and got absolutely smashed using a live slimey. A couple of just legal pearlies came on board before we landed some monster snapper and amberjack. Fishing out there on the calm water around sunset was an absolute pleasure, something the 30+ boats within a 5km radius obviously agreed with.

Drifting is one of the best methods to nail fish in mid to deep water, 60-90m, and gives you the added ability to continue to move and find fish without the hassle of the anchor. Often bigger fish will move around regularly and follow baitfish, their main food supply. So you must be ready to move with them to stay in the strike zone. Berley can help if you are anchored but in my experience being able to move around is a better way to catch the fish. If I go over a spot three times and the fish are all there with no signs of breaking up then I will consider anchoring and dropping berley.

The bottom of the Hards at the Banks has been producing good numbers of snapper but I recommend looking for other areas while the fish recover from the belting that the pros gave them recently.

Pearlies are at last starting to come on in good numbers and we will get bigger and better catches throughout August/September.

Anglers should aim for some topwater action with a number of horse-sized 30kg amberjack being weighed in. Everyday catches are averaging around 10-15kg and even that size amberjack will test most anglers to the finish. Amberjack are a powerful fighter that won’t give up until the very end so make sure you play them long and well to avoid being busted off mid-fight. Most anglers try to nail them too quickly without wearing them out enough to gaff. Amberjack often go for a couple of flighty runs and the bigger ones will peel off line really fast as they hit the bottom or run long and hard. This is often followed by a give and take battle that can take some time depending on the size of fish you have hooked. The fish also might just lay dormant in mid-water and lock you into a stalemate. This is all part of what makes landing these brutes fun.

The closer in reefs have produced some nice reefies and fishing your spots in the early evening has produced the best results. A tide change during this time is a big bonus but not totally necessary to bag a good catch. Reefies like 45-50cm red emperor have been around in numbers, hopefully we will be in for a cracker season on these great fish. Sweetlip are the main stay with snapper, cod, an odd kingie and mackerel being taken.


The estuaries around Pumistone Passage have winter whiting, good bream around the blue hole, the Boardwalk and the rock wall along the Pelican Waters bridge. Flathead are around in good numbers and can be caught basically any time of day on both baits and plastics. Chopper tailor are around the change of tide at Caloundra Bar and the Luderick are starting to run around the Boardwalk. They may be few and far between but the ones being taken are big.


The beaches have been firing with some good tailor, bream and big snub-nosed dart on offer. Whiting and flathead are also around but are generally caught whilst targeting the first few species mentioned. As the water gets colder the bigger tailor should start to haunt the holes, so let’s hope the southeasterlies stick around a little longer.

The gutters along the Wurtulla Strip have been consistent on both tides and hold some nice fish. Anglers who put in the hours have been rewarded with an occasional mulloway and hopefully their numbers will climb in the coming months. Worms are still the number one bait and if you can get your hands on them some fresh squid it will make a difference.

Big gar are being taken in Maroochydore and are well worth trying on some quality bream. All you need to do is fillet the gar and chop the fillet length in 2-3 pieces and put it on your hook. This method works well and keeps the pickers at bay. Mullet are around with the annual mullet catch in full swing but not up anywhere near the numbers of recent years.

So there is plenty of fresh and livebait for anglers to catch to use in all angling situations. Be it the beach, estuaries or the outer or inner reefs, fresh bait will outfish old bait any day. Spend some time learning where to collect bait from your local area and give it a go. This is a great way to involve the kids and get them started. It helps the hip pocket out as well.

August should see big snapper smashing baits along with the reliable pelagics such as amberjack and kingies making their mark around all the reef systems. Pearlies will get thicker and we should see the bigger ones holding in the deeper waters around mid-August with the smaller legal ones moving in to the shallow reefs such as Murphy’s and Caloundra 5 and 7 Mile. Tales of big reds will keep us ‘a jumping’ not being able to keep ourselves at home in the hunt for some quality fish.

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