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Exciting and Depressing Times
  |  First Published: November 2006



The arrival of warmer conditions in SEQ, from an angling point of view, can be an exciting prospect or a depressing inevitable.

It’s exciting as warmer waters means the arrival of pelagic species such as mackerel and tuna but depressing as the same water temperatures can cause the Hincksia weed to inundate the beaches in this region. So far seasonal southeasterly trade winds have kept water temperatures down and the weed has only bloomed a few times. Recent northerlies were short lived and some fresh southeasterlies killed the Hincksia, causing slicks of dead weed to float on the ocean surface from Gladstone to Coolum.

The surf zone at the southern end of Fraser Island from Happy Valley to Hook Point was quite badly affected for a week or so before the island was almost weed free again.

Along with the pelagics, November is still a wonderful time of year to target tailor. The last of the north bound tailor on their annual spawning migration are available along with the first of the south bound fish that have already spawned. The north bound fish that are carrying roe and milt are less aggressive than southbound ones and require different targeting techniques. When using pilchards or gar for southbound fish, the angler should retrieve the bait quickly after a strike, which will be eagerly followed and struck at by the tailor.

In contrast north bound fish are sluggish and often won’t follow the retrieved bait. These fish tend to respond better to flesh baits such as bonito, mack tuna and tailor flesh, which I think is the best flesh bait for tailor. Similarly, lure retrieves need to be varied for the different attitudes that these fish have. Use fast retrieves for south bound fish and slow retrieves for north bound fish.

Whiting have been taken in good numbers all along Teewah Beach and the quality has been excellent. Most of the bigger whiting are being caught on pipis, particular the valve section of the pipi. Worms are still the best bait for whiting but the larger fish prefer a whole or half pipi, with the barb of the hook protruding through the valve of the pipi. Pipi numbers aren’t what they used to be and some discretion should be used when collecting them and also in keeping them. It’s also essential to change the water in the pipi bucket to prolong their lifespan.

Fish sometimes take the whole bait rather or just bite around the hook. Large species such as permit (snub-nosed dart) are often caught on small sections of pipi. Using knives or PVC tubes to collect pipis at low tide tends to cut the protruding ‘foot’ of the pipi off which prevents the survival if released later and also efficient baiting of the hook.

Finding pipis is easier if you know what type of conditions they prefer. Exposed sections of coastline with high energy surf are popular areas. They are less prolific from Teewah north to Double Island Point. Damp portions of beach are a likely location at low tide and again at high tide. Pipi lumps on the beach aren’t visible at high tide, but by doing the ‘pipi shuffle’ around the edge of high tide gutters, good numbers can be located while fishing.

Pipis have a habit of migrating. A ‘colony’ of pipis can with the help of a southeasterly wind, move a couple of kilometres with the current, from one beach to the next beach. All of the pipis on the eastern seaboard are the same type, which ensures a healthy population for the beaches that are heavily targeted. That’s not to say that beaches that are continually targeted won’t have reduced numbers in the long term. Conservation measures by the recreational angler are essential in maintaining healthy population levels here and at Fraser Island.

November and December is when pipis spawn the most although they do spawn all year round. With growth rates being very rapid in juveniles, they attain a 35mm shell after 6 months after which growth rates slow down. Three years is the maximum age that they attain and a size of 80mm in the common pipis found on South East Queensland beaches which are the largest of the 5 species in Australia. Whiting and dart in particular, coincide their own spawning activities with that of the pipi so as to have a food source for their young around March and April. Naturally, any collapse in their food source would impact dramatically on these and other species.

An area of concern on Teewah Beach is the number of 4WDs that are now driving on the beach. The Council is looking at the impact that these vehicles are having on beach ecosystems. Although different studies have shown that vehicle traffic has very little impact on pipi populations, it is being argued that the 4WDs are having an impact here. A very recent impact assessment report commissioned by the Noosa Shire Council was non-committal and deemed further research was required. Should pipi, or for that matter worm, ghost crab, pied oyster catcher, snail or any other inhabitant numbers be visibly low and of concern, then we run the risk of beach closures to 4WDs as has happened in northern NSW recently and several times at Fraser Island.

SLIDERS LOCATIONS

I’ve had a few enquiries about the Slider lures that are often mentioned in my reports. Of late, there have been a number of anglers wishing to target the soon to arrive mackerel and tuna with these metal casting lures. There are now two locations in Brisbane that anglers can purchase Sliders and one at Noosa. They are Mossops at Wooloongabba, The Tackle Shop at Carseldine and Wide A Wake Tackle at Noosa Harbour.

There is still six months of the tailor season left with the southern migration on our doorstep and being very responsive to fast retrieved slugs are in my opinion a better target than the spawning tailor runs. Of benefit also is that these fish are devoid of roe so impact on fish numbers is far less significant.

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