November Heaven
  |  First Published: November 2008

Still, clear mornings with gentle westerlies streaming mist out from the swamps behind the dunes and on to the beach. Humpback whales spraying spume into the orange horizon of the rising sun and occasionally one breaching to splash back down in a spectacular eruption of seawater. Dolphins herding schools of tailor or mullet by porpoising repeatedly break the sheen of the glassy ocean. These are typical November days along Teewah Beach and the seas are generally calm and the water clear.

Early spring rains that raised the Noosa River a little, followed by warm northerlies, prompted an algae called Anaulus australis to bloom nearly a month after the rains from the river mouth to north of Teewah. Fortunately, a solid southeaster dropped the water temperature, which killed off the algae very quickly.

However, with the temperature increasing each day and a two day northerly breeze the algae has started growing again. Surf that was clean yesterday near the Noosa River mouth, today is near coffee coloured and the algae is growing northwards against wind and current. The fish naturally don't like it and as the algae front goes past as you are fishing, they go off the chew.

Most anglers notice that the water is off coloured, but believe that it is fresh from the river or sand stirred up by swells even though there won't have been any rain for a couple of weeks, or swell for that matter. So from an angling point of view, it is important to recognise the algae for what it is and look for areas that aren't affected. It is triggered by stream rises carrying accumulated nutrient to the ocean and as such is generally confined to the southern end of Teewah Beach. Therefore, if arriving onto Teewah Beach from the southern end and the water is dirty there, it is worth driving north in the hope of finding clean water.

There have been isolated catches; notibly at the northern end of Teewah Beach. Good tailor up to 4.8kg were being taken in one gutter near Double Island for a few days before the gutter was netted, which halted everything in its tracks. Whiting are about, but mostly juveniles with the odd school of good fish to be found. Tarwhine seem to be a constant these days with regular catches from all along the beach. It used to be that bream would be the constant and tarwhine the occasional, but his has now reversed. A few small jew have been taken on worm in the middle of the day which is quite unusual for this beach.

Double Island Point headland has golden trevally present most of the time and these fish will take live baits or pilchards and occasionally a popper or slug. Some of these fish are large, so the bait options allow for heavier gear in a difficult environment to have fish running any great distances. Big kingfish also haunt the headland but are rarely taken due to their sheer size. Tailor and giant trevally are regulars from DI and mac and lontail tuna are starting to show up around Double Island and Noosa headlands. So with calm seas and light winds early morning, rock hopping could be a worthwhile exercise in November.

Continuing good catches of tailor at Fraser Island is great news and indicates there are numbers of fish spawning in the gutters. Logically, the weed that has been, at times, along the full length of Teewah and Rainbow beaches and along Fraser, will have played havoc with the successful spawning of tailor and other species in recent years. Now that the surf along all these beaches is mostly clean, it can be anticipated that a successful spawning this year could keep tailor numbers at manageable levels for a while longer. The other good news is that the tailor schools that have been keeping smiles on faces at Fraser for the last few months, are about to make their way back down the coast.

From my earliest memories of fishing Teewah Beach, my father always insisted that January was the month of the big tailor. His theory was tailor migrate north to spawn and then the greenbacks make their way back down the coastline while the choppers head offshore for their southern migration. Thirty plus years later, there is no denying that he had it correct and January is still the month for big tailor on Teewah Beach.

Nevertheless, things have changed in those 30 years and outside influences are affecting tailor movements generally. The choppers now days are more likely to head south along the coast as there are fewer Spanish mackerel in Laguna Bay than there were, and Spaniards love choppers. So we tend to have choppers that have already spawned at Fraser, arriving at Teewah in November and at the same time the last of the northern migrating greenbacks are passing through. A crossover of migrating schools occurs in April when the last of the greenbacks are heading south and the first choppers arrive on their spawning migration.

I find that slugs of around 45-50g that are made of lead and have a short profile, travel best in strong winds. Of importance is that the slug is cast into the wind so that the retrieve is down current and without a large balloon of line billowing out to the south. When a tailor hits the lure, that balloon of line takes time to pull up tight on the fish and the impact that is needed to set the hooks is lost.

One slug that I use at times, other than Sliders, that suits this situation is Prickly Petes 45g slug. I always change the hooks to single 4/0s however, as the small trebles they are supplied with don't suit tailor.

As is normally the case in November, sand has built up along the beaches over the calm winter months and high tide gutters are few and far between. Low tide however allows access in places to the channel that runs the full length of the beach. Where the channel is narrow with a sandbank out the back creating whitewater is a likely location where tailor and other species such as dart, bream and tarwhine would be. Ideally, the low tide that falls a couple of hours around dawn or dusk best for tailor. Many would say that dawn and dusk low tides mean that the moon is far from ideal and there is truth in that. However, the moon doesn't dictate the terms entirely and I've had plenty of success on these tides over the years.

This is not to say that tailor can't be caught during the day from the channel when the moon is near new or full, as they most certainly can. Some of the best tailor I've caught over the years have been around lunch time on spinners. One of the benefits of fishing the channel is that the water is further away from the beach traffic which spooks the fish in the closer gutters. Spinners are the key, and retrieved at high speed over patches of rock in the channel from November to April can produce spectacular results. Trevally, mackerel, queenfish and yellowtailed kingfish are useful bycatches that can be taken, especially in the warmer months.

Rock along Teewah Beach can be found in a few locations, but with the shifting nature of surf sands, are not always exposed. Coffee rock exists nearly all the way from the 1st beach access cutting south of Teewah to half way between the 3rd cutting and Teewah. During the southern migration, exposed rock in gutters or the channel in this area can be very productive. In front of Teewah itself is more coffee rock reef that seems to rarely be exposed these days in any accessible locations due to sand build up.

Further north and 1.2km north of Freshwater Road is Massouds Rocks. This patch of rock, which is often visible protruding from the surf, performs wonderfully well at times for tailor and sometimes kingfish. Spring, during the northern migration of the tailor seems to fish best here. Between the Leisha Track and Double Island Point on Teewah Beach is another reef that is rarely exposed these days. But when it is visible and accessible, tailor and giant trevally are regular species to be taken.

Rainbow Bay has numerous coffee rock patches that are a slug throwers paradise. Tailor, queenfish and giant trevally are the most common species along Rainbow to be taken on spinners. This north-facing bay tends to collect a lot of south migrating tailor and any of the rocky patches can produce. Some of the queenies to be found in Rainbow during the warmer months are large specimens and a challenge on spinning gear from the beach. Polarised sunglasses improve the ability of the angler to spot rock in the surf and are especially useful at Rainbow due to the calm nature of the bay and reflective surface.

All in all, November has some promise this year that previous years did not have due to weed. And the potential for a summer of low pressure systems like last years, which commenced on December 28, means that it may not be such a bad idea to get to the beach and make hay before the weather and the Christmas crowds do.

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