Getting In on the Action
  |  First Published: February 2003

“DROUGHT on land, drought at sea.” We’ve all heard that expression at some time or other! For impoundment anglers, all this means is more fish per million litres – which was exactly what happened when the water levels plummeted in the dams last year. But for some estuary anglers, a drought can be very discouraging.

But let’s face it – fish just can’t disappear off the face of the planet, and late in 2002 I spoke to some anglers who’ve been thinking well outside the square. When I spoke to them they’d just arrived back at the Scarborough boat ramp after spending half a day fishing somewhere near north Moreton Island. At the time we in the grip of drought, and northerly winds also dominated the weather pattern. I’m not an expert when it comes to offshore fishing, and I assumed that the northerlies combined with the drought would make for extremely unproductive fishing. But when I asked these guys about their catch their reply was “a mixed bag of reefies”, which was a modest understatement.

During late 2002 there were loud moans and groans from Sunshine Coast anglers as weed invaded their estuaries. My only complaint was lack of it in our local waters of Bramble Bay! When this so-called ‘dreaded weed’ breaks down in the marine environment it becomes a great source of food for prawns and baitfish. The thriving bait generally brings in good numbers of estuary predators during Autumn.

With recent storms following the drier windy periods, our local estuaries have been flooded with natural debris – leaves, sticks, dry grass and seed pods. Big tides have also been responsible for lifting this from the fringes of the foreshores and carrying it around the fringes of the bay. Mullet, bream and other fish have taken advantage of these natural slicks, giving them good shelter to move around closer to our foreshores in shallower waters.

But although we’ve had some rain and heavy winds, larger tides have still seen the waters reasonably clear. If you’re a land-based angler, you should find that fishing during overcast days is far more productive in these waters.

All in all, it looks as though February should shape up to be a reasonably good month.


I recommend that you check out the early morning tides of January 29th, 30th and 31st (assuming you’re a subscriber or have purchased this QFM early!) and February 1st, 2nd and 3rd. There’s a big chance that these tides will have similar effects to the ones I’ve mentioned above. Once again, the fish will begin to hug our shorelines.

If there’s a mild northerly breeze (10 knots or less), try fishing the southern end of Bramble Bay – from the old Hornibrook Bridge and along the retainer wall to Shorncliffe – an hour and a half before high tide and an hour and a half after high tide on the dates I’ve mentioned. If easterly breezes dominate (10 knots or less), check out the foreshores of Clontarf and Woody Point. These tides, combined with mild overcast days, should be ideal for the early run-in tide around the rugged shallow flats running from Scott’s Point to Woody Point. Bream are the main target, and you’ve got a good chance of taking garfish if you’re prepared to run a bait net along some of Redcliffe’s beaches at high tide. Gar are a great bait at this time of year around our foreshores.

If you’re looking to fish some flats (easier on the feet) during these tides, check out the southern end of Pumicestone Passage, running north and south from Spinnaker Sound. These areas also fish well on overcast days. The beach here is clean and it’s easy to pump some yabbies around this area at low tide. There’s a bait and tackle store here that hires out small boats, and the shop is located practically on the water’s edge. The area fishes well for bream, flathead and whiting, and soft baits such as live prawns, yabbies and worms are the go.

This area, and the one I mentioned previously, are also good places for you to try out your small shallow-diving minnows or soft plastics. Some of the small minnows I use in these areas are the Halco Laser Pro 45, Predatek MicroMins in Tropical Perch and Hot Pink, and the SK Nymph. These are just a few of the lures that are worth trying.

Be sure to select lure colours and profiles that imitate the baitfish and crustaceans the fish are feeding on in the area. If there are fiddler crabs around with orange claws, choose a lure with splashes of orange. If there are yabby banks, try lures with splashes of pink, yellow, purple or green. In rubbled areas, where there are a range of different crabs in residence, try browns, greens, grey, black, white, purple or red. If the baitfish in the area are small and transparent, soft plastics should be dynamite.


If you’re a boatie and keen to take a few elbow-slapper whiting this month, the tides on the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th are ideal for three of my favourite locations – the sandbanks and channels around the Tewantin area of the Noosa River, The Skids in Pumicestone Passage, and the Jumpinpin (the channels and banks between Tabby Tabby Island and Mosquito, Eden and Short).

All of these areas have a couple of things in common. First of all, the larger tides of the month have a far greater chance of cutting the banks and bars, thereby exposing the food. Secondly, all of these locations are big whiting haunts.

To catch the action in any of these areas, it’s important to be there for the early stages of the morning incoming tide. The tidal variations in the ‘Pin area will be somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour, while those of the Noosa River may vary depending on wind direction. Adequate run in the water may come two hours or more after low tide. The Skids in Pumicestone Passage can also vary, depending on wind direction. At times it can take as long as three hours before the current becomes suitable.

I’ll certainly be checking out most of these spots myself over the next month, as long as the weather is kind. I hope to catch you out there to compare notes!

1) Will Lee with a whiting taken on a soft plastic.

2) The hard flats in front of the wreck at Woody are a good option, especially during the run-in on an overcast day.

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