Winter Snapper come out to play
  |  First Published: June 2008

Consistent weather coupled with remarkably great conditions has allowed us to get back into a steady fishing routine around the Sunshine Coast. Although there have been a few quiet patches of fishing mixed in with some good ones, just getting out there once or twice a week is a pleasure.

The winter periods are certainly the time to be out in the early afternoon giving yourself enough time to get a few livies if you want them and set yourself at anchor over your favourite spot. Once in position get your berley trail going and wait for the monsters to come in. Again, there is no reason to head right out into the deeper waters because the bigger fish are in close moving under cover of darkness and looking to nail whatever is on offer.

When fishing for snapper always use a bottom rig with as little weight as possible and a floater, which drops down in the berley trail and sinks with the berley. You will find that the bigger fish will work their way up the trail and take the free-floating bait.

Plenty of people have asked me the question about whether or not they should we use gang rigs or single hooks –and my answer is always the same. If you are using dead baits, the best way to present them is with a three-gang rig. I personally use Tru-Turn size 5/0, 6/0 and 7/0 depending on the bait size; if you are using live baits I prefer a snell rig with the extra keeper hook, which should greatly improve your changes.

Gang rigs do not spook fish; rather it is the poor way that you present your bait that spooks fish. Too many times I have seen anglers just chuck the hooks in to the bait and it hangs like it has been twisted, turned and run over by a truck. I am not an expert, but that would not seem to be normal to fish and that is why only the pickers will get to it. The best option if livies are hard to get is to use the freshest bait possible.

There is one last little tip when using pilchards as bait: don’t allow them to defrost to the point where there is a black pool of water in the bottom of the bucket. This actually makes the bait uninteresting to the bigger fish because of the smell. You are far better to continually change the water adding fresh seawater every 30 minutes or so or keep ice mixed in with your bait to keep them firm and fresh. The golden rule is that once it is defrosted it becomes berley for the next trip.

Fishing out wide around the Barwon Banks has been very productive with catches of snapper, gold spot wrasse, Maori cod, hussar, pearl perch, parrot, fingermark and stacks of other great species. A mixed bag is what you can expect over the next month for those that venture out after sunrise.

To nail the bigger boys more patience is required and either earlier or later departures are best. Once the sun is up around 9am head for either deeper water or go on the drift. Drifting gives you the advantage of covering more ground and the chance to pick up a few extra cod and parrot. Once again you could also nail a big pelagic while drifting. So if you were to depart around 6am you should be ready to come home with plenty of fish by 11am at the latest. This would include an hour of travel time to your destination each way. Yep, that’s all it takes if you time your trip well!

Caloundra Wide has pearl perch, good snapper to 7kg and a mixture of cod species. The closer reefs are great to target later in the afternoon come evening for red emperor and snapper. Some mackerel particularly Spaniards have been nailed around the Coffee Rocks and Currimundi Reef through to Point Cartwright. Most have been scoffing trolled baits and lures, however in June the big boys will be nearly gone for another season. Murphy’s Reef and the Inner and Outer Gneerings have proved popular of late with catches of sweetlip, including grassy’s and red throats, have been the main varieties taken.

There are a lot of little pickers in amongst them but they seem to leave the bigger baits alone. The Blinker, 8km east of Mooloolaba, is also a spot to try for some pelagics such as kingies because of the live bait that hangs around there. The most successful fishing over the past month has to be put down to jigging around the drop-offs and ledges for cobia and amberjack. The big 400g numbers are the go and will reward you with big arms and exhaustion, but if you get belted by a pelagic it all becomes worthwhile.

The Pumicestone Passage has had a fair run of holiday makers with all the long weekends and as things settle a little the fish will start to come on the chew again. The bigger bream are moving in as the water gets cooler and there are plenty of pan-sized whiting swimming around the shallows and flats from the Power Boat Club through to the Caloundra Bar entrance. The best baits have been fresh worms, peeled prawns and yabbies. The trevally are still about but generally are the by-catch when you are targeting bream, whiting and flathead.

Boardwalk anglers have managed to land some great flatties this past month with live pike being the magic bait for these 640mm plus fish. Speaking of bait there is stacks of it around still. The hardiheads are a little small for the cast nets but they are thick and there is nothing like a live one to nail some big bream or trevally. Herring are another good option as bait for bream both live or dead, but be warned: you need to hang on to your rod or they will pick your bait to bits very quickly. Military Jetty and the bridges around Pelican Waters have trevally, bream some flathead and the odd mulloway in the early morning and late evenings. Try the canals for mullet with your cast nets this month to get some good strip baits for the coming months.

Fishing the beaches is still rewarding for anglers with big dart, some mackerel if you are lucky, bream by the truckloads and whiting to be taken. Again, timing is all important here and prior preparation is crucial for a good outcome. Check out your position before you intend to fish and don’t just take the first one you see.

Binoculars are handy because you can cover more area than the eye can see and spot holes and entire gutters a long way off. The cooler weather can make it a little uncomfortable for fishing the beach but put in the time and the rewards can be fantastic. With so many good days ahead this month, plan your trips carefully and make the most of the conditions to try new ground and a different type of angling. If you are in doubt, head to your local tackle store for some advice. Have fun!

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