Snapper sets the Pace
  |  First Published: September 2008

On the Sunshine Coast the winter fishing season is always judged on the quality and quantity of one particular fish. If we catch this fish in big numbers we seem content that all has gone well for another year. The fish of course is old man snapper.

So it’s the end of another ripsnorter winter season with many tales and slightly exaggerated fishing stories being thrown about for all to enjoy. Some would say the snapper have not been fantastic this time around but I have to disagree. While the bigger fish we witnessed from previous seasons were not as consistent this year, there was still plenty to go around.

The shallow reefs of the Inner and Outer Gneerings, Murphys and Caloundra 5 and 7 Mile have been targeted fairly heavily. Anglers have been fishing closer to shore mostly due to the rising petrol prices and unsettled weather throughout winter.

Fishing in closer gave me the opportunity to get more involved with soft plastic fishing and I learnt some useful tricks of the trade. I have finally found a soft plastic that works consistently and worked out a few colours that get slammed. The way I see it, anytime you are learning something then there is plenty left to enjoy in any sport.

Caloundra has not been as consistent as we have seen in the past. However, fish have been taken around the Coffee Rock out from the northern tip of Bribie Island and out around Bray’s Rock which is situated 500m north east of Kings Beach near the channel markers. The marker buoys have all held baitfish as well as many small sweetlip and other tiny reef species.

Further out from the 12 Mile and beyond more substantial catches of snapper, cobia, estuary and maori cod, hussar and jobfish have been taken with pearl perch continuing to be a by-catch. The better pearly grounds seem to have disappeared, one has to wonder how or where they will breed in seasons to come.

Large numbers of baitfish hanging around the boat during morning fishing has been a common sight this winter. I’m not sure what they like to eat but they seem content on hanging around and providing a spectacle between fish.

Fishing around the Gneerings Shoal has provided some quality fish including snapper to 4kg, cod, juvenile reds, grassy sweetlip, red throats and a heap of morwong. The morwong have weighed in over 7kg with the average around 3-4kg making them a great fight on lighter gear.

Late afternoon into the night has produced better catches overall. If you have been targeting the bigger snapper has definitely been the time to go for them. The floating bait was the better way to tempt them and with the tides it could get a little difficult to get the bait down into the strike zone. It is all a matter of trying different ideas and weights until the familiar thump, thump on the end of the rod.

With the shallows providing plenty of entertainment one would have thought that places like the Barwon Banks and bottom of the Hards may have been a little. But on the good days these locations were lit up like a cities as keen fisho’s stayed the night to try their luck. The deeper water did not necessarily mean bigger and better fish but those that did the time reaped the rewards with large snapper, pearlies, cod, hussar, parrot, trag jew and other mixed reefies. The 120m line was average to say the least and sometimes fishing around the 35m mark was far more productive than the deeper holes.

On the beaches chopper tailor, dart, flathead, bream and whiting all being taken at the moment. Some holes are full of bream around the 700g mark and it is difficult not to get a feed. Fishing the top or bottom of the tide in the afternoon of early mornings coming onto sunrise or sunset is without doubt the way to go. The best baits have been pilchards, worms and fresh squid but take it easy on the worms as they do attract the little stuff first.

The Wurtulla Strip around beach access 35-40 is the spot to try and then on towards the surf club around Kawana. Fishing the rocks around Point Cartwright has been good for an odd jew, chopper tailor and small grassy sweetlip not to mention the thousands of pickers that hang around the rocks. Kings Beach has been a consistent hot spot throughout the winter period and this should continue throughout this month.

The estuaries have been alive with bream. This has been a top season for the average size fish with big sessions both on bait and lures. The Blue Hole has again featured in despatches along with Military Jetty, Pelican Waters bridge and the pontoons within the canals. Flathead are hot and on the go smashing a variety of soft plastics and nailing any fresh bait put in front of them. Fishing the drop offs along the many sand bars within the Pumicestone Passage will normally reward you with many good quality fish.

The bigger predators have used the muddy conditions after the rain to move right up to the back of the passage and it is not unusual to see anglers fighting with big trevally throughout the day.

The whiting though not huge are around. For those that love to chase whiting just walk the flats around The Esplanade with yabbies, worm or peeled prawn to get a feed.

Further south within the passage around Coochin and the Island there have been a stack of flathead and stray jacks exciting anglers, so it is worth a trip on a good day. This month should see the estuary species in abundance as the water warms and the flathead continue to breed and feed.

The baitfish numbers will grow bringing in more predators for us all to target. Don’t forget to try the pontoons, bridges and hundreds of canals around the coast as they hold an abundance of fish. Land based anglers along with boaties have as many spots to hit as each other so no excuses. Have Fun!

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