PLENTY of happy holiday makers sought refuge from the big smoke on the Sunshine Coast during the silly season, and thankfully most who wet a line were well rewarded for their efforts.
The warmer weather and some badly needed rain kicked the estuaries into gear for the mobs of holiday makers on the coast. Just about every waterway from Caloundra to Noosa produced good quality flathead in pleasing numbers, and the most successful tactics were trolling minnow lures and drifting live baits. Naturally, these methods attract other species such as bream, mangrove jack, tailor, trevally and the occasional surprise catch such as jew or even cobia.
Occasionally cobia (black kingfish) cruise up the river systems chasing bait, and while these fish are in the area anglers chasing whiting or flathead can be truly astounded. Between Christmas and the New Year one angler in the Noosa River had a cobia of 6-8kg grab his bait, which was intended for a more easily subdued species. Unfortunately he didn’t land the fish but during the battle it came close enough to the boat to be identified on several occasions.
At the northern end of the Sunshine Coast top quality tailor have been on the boil of an evening around the Noosa River mouth, with the average size being 2kg-plus. Anglers with bent rods are happy anglers! Also causing moments of panic have been quality tarpon and trevally. All three species are surface lure targets and will also take fly. Small poppers, trolled minnows in the smaller sizes and Rio’s Prawns accounted for plenty of these top sportfish throughout the chaotic holiday season.
Many boats and other watercraft can sometimes cause chaos but most boaties on the coast have been very well-behaved indeed. I haven’t even heard a good ramp rage story to re-tell so things seem to be running smoothly for a change. Parking can be a hassle though, and there are days when there’s absolutely nowhere to park once you’ve dropped the boat in. The message is to get there early!
Mangrove jack have been turning up in good numbers of late, and Greg Lacey down at Davo’s on the river reports that most have been caught on live bait. Woods Bay and in between the lakes have been the best places to have a bash at jacks. A few have been taken on bibbed minnow lures in the snags and trolled lures around the rock bars. Further south, jacks have been active around the Cod Hole and the Motorway Bridge in the Maroochy River, as have trevally.
Quality whiting are available for most of the year and the last few months have been no exception. Worms and live prawns are the gun baits for these tasty fish and during the warmer months the Noosa River mouth, Weyba Creek, around Chambers Island and the surf gutters are good places to have a go.
Mud crabs are also on the move although most have come from the upper reaches of the estuaries thus far. Recent widespread rain however might push them downstream where they will be more accessible for one and all.
Offshore hasn’t been as tempting as usual at this time of the year, as windy conditions and storm activity have resulted in very sloppy seas and a nasty swell. Early January was all but a washout so hopefully those who hang in there will be rewarded with some quality fish in February.
The mackerel have arrived on time and sporadic catches have been recorded right along the Sunshine Coast. The mackerel thus far have been responding to trolled chrome minnows, Spaniard Special lures and trolled gar. As usual, the average size is rather small at the beginning of the season with most fish going 6-8kg.
February should see more mackerel, with the schoolies and spotted varieties settling in as well. The current regulations for the Queensland east coast allow anglers to have a maximum of 30 school mackerel in their possession with a minimum overall length of 50cm. Spotted mackerel, on the other hand, have an in possession limit of only five fish and a minimum legal length of 60cm. Telling the difference between these species can be confusing for some but ignorance is not accepted as an excuse. Local tackle stores or any Boating and Fisheries Patrol office can help you with the rules of the game and fish identification. As a general rule, school mackerel have a white patch on their dorsal fin. This obvious mark is not present on spotted mackerel.
Sunshine Coast reefs have delivered some quality bottom fish to kick summer into swing. Sunshine Reef has provided some top quality coral trout whilst North and Chardons have seen a few snapper and scarlet sea perch boated.
1) Greg Lacey with one of the first Spaniards of the season on the Sunshine Coast. This one took a Spaniard Special trolling lure.Reads: 670