If you haven’t booked your campsite by now you have probably missed out! The Sunshine Coast, and Noosa in particular, is exceptionally busy at this time of year so remember to plan ahead for next year – you may as well book now! By early December the plethora of accommodation options along the coast are already filling rapidly.
If you like to wet a line and have ventured to Noosa then you shouldn’t go home disappointed. Early starts are a great idea for both the river and fresh water options. This is not simply due to the very busy river, with every conceivable watercraft heading in all possible directions, but more to do with warm weather at this time of year. Fish that hunt during periods of low light are far less responsive to lures and baits once the sun is high. If your holiday euphoria and excessive indulgences exclude predawn starts the next best thing is a dusk session.
It is a sad but true fact that many hopefuls that fish this area go home empty handed and largely unimpressed, so do your homework. Ring around, ask questions at the boat ramp, hassle the tackle store staff and interrogate other campers.
Eventually you will find someone that just can’t wait to tell you all their secrets and unload their knowledge of the system. Not all locals are secretive and plenty of visitors catch good fish and many of them, very willing to share their tips.
Another option in the hunt for local knowledge is seeking the assistance from a professional. A few dollars spent on a guide for a day can be a very good investment and can turn a dull fishless holiday into one to remember. See the inset information box for more details.
Here are a few tips of mine to make your Noosa River fishing holiday a memorable one.
Generally speaking flathead are the mainstay of this picturesque and exceptionally clean waterway. They can be caught around the clock, seven days a week, all year round and pretty well from one end of the system to the other. That narrows it down doesn’t it? Again do your homework, ask around and you will reap the rewards.
Fishing the run out tide is a good policy when chasing flathead. Drifting with live baits or good quality fresh baits will see you connected to quality flathead, as will trolling and casting lures.
Grab a map of the river from a tackle store and ask the staff where the flathead are. You won’t know where the fish are if you don’t ask! If all else fails try the narrow channel that runs across Lake Cooroibah, the run from Tewantin to Munna Point, both sides of Munna Point Bridge, Weyba Creek and down near the river mouth as well as around the Frying Pan. After plenty of rain the run in can be a better option, particularly if the river is very discoloured on the ebbing tide.
Mangrove jack are the star of the show in my opinion. They too are present year round but they are a much better option during the warmer months. The snaggy run between the two big lakes produces well and there are countless good snags to cast at, troll past or drift bait into. Also try anywhere near man made and natural structures such as rock bars, fallen trees and mangrove roots.
The Woods Bay and Noosa Sound areas (refer to your map) in the lower reaches deliver plenty of jacks during summer and are worth targeting. Trollers do well in these areas particularly along the jetties and other structures in the Sound. Estuary cod are often caught as a by-catch along with other species such as bream, flatties, grunter and occasionally jewfish.
Speaking of which there were plenty of juvenile and obviously undersize jewfish in the Noosa system in late spring, so please be aware of what fish is what and do the right thing. Ignorance is no excuse these days and enforcement officers are much tougher than days gone by when all you got was a slap on the wrist.
Tackle stores all have a good supply of leaflets clearly explaining the rules and regulations. There is also a Fisheries Office adjacent to the camping ground at Munna Point. If you are unsure of anything relevant to boating and fishing stick your head in the door and ask questions.
Offshore there is a whole new world of fishing opportunities. Firstly though, make sure you are well prepared and have all the required safety gear on board. The bar can be hazardous so once again ask questions if there is an element of uncertainty about bar crossings.
The Coast Guard folks at Munna Point are very helpful in this regard and can be contacted on 07 5449 7670. They provide an excellent advisory and rescue service and monitor all bar crossings with a camera. The Noosa Coastguard should be contacted on Channel 88 prior to crossing the bar and if required they will escort you on your first attempt. They also sell Noosa River maps with local points of interest and they are well worth the investment.
There are far too many reefs within reach of the Noosa bar to mention them all here, however I will provide a summary to get you started and a few marks as well (for marks see inset box).
Close to the bar Little Halls and Halls Reefs are worth a shot, particularly on ugly days when the rock and roll is a bit much to venture too far. Both of these reefs can deliver well after sustained periods of rain when the river is flowing dirty.
Further afield is Jew Shoal, a large area worth trying for snapper and very much worth trolling if the mackerel and tuna have arrived en masse. This is a distinct possibility and once again tackle store personnel will be up to speed with this.
North Reef is a vast area of rubble and structure. Sound around slowly until you find a show of fish and anchor up so that your baits or plastics are in the same zone as the fish. The same can be said for Sunshine Reef and both can deliver well.
Overnight trips can be a real hoot in calm weather and all manner of fish will come aboard including snapper, sweetlip, pearl perch, cobia, estuary cod, jew and occasionally yellowtail kings and undersize red emperor. Sunshine Reef is a favoured location for those looking for a feed of coral trout.
Longer trips to the Barwon Banks, The Hards or Double Island Point can be very rewarding but need careful planning and capable boats. The fantastic Coast Guard crew are always ready to help those in distress but beware, they will be largely unimpressed when called to assist someone that has run out of fuel or created their own little disaster. Should you need this kind of assistance be generous with your donation!
There are some exceptional freshwater fishing options within easy access of the Noosa area should you desire a slower pace and some breathtaking scenery. Lake Macdonald near Cooroy has a very good population of Australian bass as well as Mary River cod, saratoga, and golden and silver perch. But remember permits are required to fish most freshwater impoundments in Queensland.
Slightly further afield is Borumba Dam, which has pretty much the same species and is currently a better option. The saratoga fishing in particular can be very rewarding up at Borumba. Spinnerbaits worked around lilies and drowned lantana are very effective, as are poppers particularly during low light periods. Hardbody lures are still effective here and casting to bank side structure will deliver the goods. Don’t move along too quickly though – take your time and work each little bay or point thoroughly.
Again, I should point out that you should seek guidance from tackle store staff. If you venture to one of these impoundments without recent good advice you could be wasting your time. Fish are fussy and difficult creatures and what works one month may well not work the next.
Barramundi, Australia’s premier sportfish, are available within a few hours drive from Noosa. Lenthals Dam up near Maryborough is well worth the trip and fishes well for barra as well as bass. Further north Monduran Dam, near Gin Gin, holds good numbers of serious barra and again further up the Bruce Highway Lake Awoonga is another fantastic barramundi fishery. So get stuck into it!
The holiday period means very busy waterways. I’ve bleated on before about safety issues so I won’t go there again – except to once more mention the seasonal six knot zones in the lower reaches of the Noosa River.
These areas are well signed by MSQ so you really only need to keep your eyes open to stay out of trouble. However, if this is a challenge, take note of the T-Boats office on the Gympie Terrace side of the river. If you maintain six knots downstream of this point between 1 December 2008 and 31 January 2009 you will be pretty right. If not expect a speeding ticket.
Another tip, if you are heading outside you will need to have upgraded to the new digital 406 Mhz EPIRB by now and it is a good idea to register your vessel and unit at the AMSAR website. Details are supplied when you purchase your new life saving EPIRB.
Whatever you choose to do over the holiday period I trust you will enjoy yourself and stay safe. Lastly, a very big thank you to all those mad keen fishos that keep me up to date and supplied with photos! Merry Christmas!
The following are a few good contacts to have when fishing around Noosa:
River and offshore favoured anglers should contact Karl on 07 5474 2179.
If Beach fishing is more your preference try Chiso on 07 5449 9993.
For Reef Fishing specialists call Fishing Offshore Noosa on 07 54424919.
Located at Munna Point, the Coast Guard can be contacted on 07 5449 7670 for any bar crossings or other offshore advice or inquiries. Coast Guard can also be reached on Channel 88.
As follow are some marks to get you started.
North Reef26.17.45 S153.11.45 E
Halls Reef26.20.34 S53.05.15 E
Little Halls Reef26.21.35 S153.05.00 E
Jew Shoal26.21.64 S153.06.88 E
Chardons Reef26.25.52 S153.13.62 E
Sunshine Reef26.23.57 S153 08.72 E
Arkwright Shoal26.33.90 S53.08.42 E
Barwon Banks26.25.60 S153.34.40 E
The 6 knot seasonal limit chart shows where must adhere to this speed limit on the water.