Stocking up on Local Knowledge
  |  First Published: February 2003

‘HOT and cold’ best describes the fishing on the Sunshine Coast throughout the holiday period. There have been plenty of successful anglers out there enjoying the fruits of their labour, but many others haven’t been too happy with their own results.

The other day I was at a popular boat ramp and, aside from the occasional tantrum from Joe Blow desperate to get the boat in during a very busy period, I encountered many successful anglers and also some who hadn’t got a touch. These disappointed visitors were convinced that the Noosa River was devoid of marine life.

Huge numbers of boats and other floating objects don’t help much, and local knowledge is a very important too. It can be difficult to lob into your holiday destination and successfully target the local fish without having a good idea of what to do, where to do it and, of course, when!


The first thing to do in new territory is to seek local assistance. While Joe Blow down at the ramp might not offer exceptional advice, the next bloke you talk to might. He may not divulge his most top secret spot to you but, generally speaking, he’ll be worth listening to. Indeed, many fishos who’ve had a good outing are very keen to tell anybody who’ll listen all about it!

The next step is to visit the local tackle store. While you purchase some bait or some locally-produced lures, probe the staff for info. They earn their living from the local fishing scene, so they’re well on top of it. Just about every tackle store staff member that I know is an avid and successful angler, and they know their local waterways very well indeed. If you’re a 6’4” 20-stone bloke covered in tatts, be as polite as you can. You don’t want to intimidate anybody! If you’re a lady fisho, try wearing a swimsuit and sarong when you visit the store. This is almost a guaranteed way to extract the best and latest info on where to catch feed of fish to enjoy on your holidays!

Homework is a dirty word to many, but when the subject is fishing it’s not that bad. There’s a plethora of fishing books on the market that are all worth a look, and hundreds of old ones to choose from as well. The info in the older books may not be very up-to-date, but at least they’ll give you an idea of local species, structure in the lakes, rivers and creeks, and what’s available along the coast and offshore.

Magazine and newspaper articles can be of enormous value. They’re reasonably current and may even offer worthwhile advice on when and where to fish.

Lastly, there’s a massive amount of fishing information on the internet. This can be of historical interest and, of course, more recent catch details are available too. It makes sense to see what was happening in your target area exactly 12 months ago. Sites containing excellent information relevant to this area are www.fishingnoosa.com.au and www.fishingmonthly.com.au.


Estuary fishing has also been a hit-and-miss affair. The Noosa River has had some very good periods of flathead fishing, particularly on trolled minnow lures and drifted frog-mouth pilchards. Trevally have been a good target for those prepared to get onto the water well before dawn, and dusk sessions have produced also. Chopper tailor and whiting have been major targets for estuary anglers lately, and a few jacks and jewfish have turned up here and there as well.

Further south, the Maroochy River has been fishing well, with flathead and bream widespread throughout the system. Some thumper whiting have been caught in the Maroochy, with keen local angler Dennis Healy scoring some beauties. Dennis and his son Ashley have been fishing the run-in tide, and their gun bait is bloodworms. Their best fish to date has been a monster whiting of almost 40cm.

Some big bream have been taken further upstream, as have a few estuary cod and mud crabs. The infamous fisho ‘Pothole’ from the Hookers Fishing Club is looking forward to catching some big jacks in the Maroochy through February. He’ll be targeting the Black Banks area and hopes to pull a few good flatties out of the water too. Pothole is still on the hunt for a big jew, and every since a mate of his caught a 50lb monster at Coolum Beach on a tailor bait he’s as keen as ever.

The Mooloolah River has delivered some quality fish lately, with whiting, bream and flathead the most common catches. Dawn anglers have tangled with some good trevally, particularly in the lower reaches and along the rock walls.

Caloundra has seen some very good whiting and flathead and a few horse bream coming from the Pumicestone Passage. Some of the smaller creeks and creek mouths have delivered good jacks to well over 2kg and, thankfully, many of those have been returned to the water. Mud crabs have also been available in the Passage, and by February they should be full and ready for that chilli crab recipe you’ve been wanting to try for years!


Offshore fishing has been very good one day and not so good the next. The weather has largely been to blame for this, with spotted mackerel hot for short periods right along the coast and then disappearing. Laguna Bay, off Noosa, has delivered plenty of good spotties but once the wind freshens somewhat they seem to go elsewhere. A few good Spanish mackerel have come from Laguna Bay also, and keen locals John Haenke and Chris Lacey have both bagged fish in the 10kg range during the holiday break. The frequency and size of these superb sportfish will be on the make right through February and into March.

Coolum Reef, Currimundi Reef and Caloundra 12 Mile have all delivered plenty of spotties and a few good Spaniards as well. Don’t forget that spotted mackerel now have a minimum size of 60cm and an in-possession limit of five per angler. There are a few heathens that have chosen to ignore the new regulations, but they’ll get caught one of these days.

Bottom bashers are having a ball when conditions are favourable. Some excellent fish have been coming in from the Barwon Banks, including some big snapper, sweetlip, pearl perch and a few thumper samsonfish. Closer reefs have delivered snapper, squire, parrots, moses perch and the occasional coral trout. Mid-December saw some very respectable cobia of around 25kg and some 10kg jobfish coming aboard.

Fish safely, and make sure you’re aware of the new fishing regulations in Queensland.

1. Anthony Bellantoni with a 5kg snapper caught trolling off Brays Rock, Caloundra. The lure is a Blue Pilly in Mack Green.

2. This nice 10kg Spanish mackerel couldn’t resist a bonito trolled by Chris Lacey.

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