NOW that the silly season is completely over, the Sunshine Coast estuaries have returned to their normal levels of boat traffic. Not that that’s very quiet, mind you. When you live in paradise you have to be prepared to share it! Most Friday afternoons see an influx of visitors from all directions, and on Sunday afternoon they all head home.
Despite the ongoing drought conditions, our Sunny Coast rivers are in pretty good shape and have been fishing very well. We did enjoy some good rains in early February, and I hope this continues!
Mangrove jack and flathead have been the primary captures over the last month or so, with top class whiting and some pretty hefty trevally about too. The flatties in the Noosa system have been a relatively easy target if you can find a good concentration of them. Small minnow type lures such as Jack Snacks (particularly in pink/black and pink/chartreuse), and Rio’s Prawns (gold fleck is the go) have accounted for plenty of flatties, as have drifted frog-mouth pillies.
Unfortunately, there are a few selfish anglers out there who are choosing to ignore the new regulations that protect these excellent sportfish. It seems that some people just can’t bear to release a good fish, but if the new regulations are ignored there eventually won’t be any good fish left! The slot size limit is there for a reason.
There have been some top class mangrove jack caught right along the coast in recent weeks. Jacks are right up there with all the other ‘glamour’ fish, and deservedly so! Being on the losing team of a very short battle with a jack is something that many anglers can’t quite comprehend. I suppose it makes the odd win far more enjoyable!
Good jack spots have been Johns’ Landing, the myriad snags between the lakes and any structure at all in the Noosa River. The Maroochy River has delivered some excellent jacks around bridge pylons and along snaggy banks upstream from Bli Bli. Further south, Pelican Waters and the creeks running into the Pumicestone Passage have also turned up some top jack fishing. Don’t forget to lob that lure right into the thick of the snags. A metre short and you won’t catch too many red bream!
I’ve found that red on gold chrome with a few tiger stripes is a very good jack lure presentation. My guess is that this offering resembles a juvenile jack. Being a territorial fellow, old jack probably wouldn’t appreciate a little tacker cruising past his lair. He might tolerate the first few but, when his patience wears thin, he will launch an attack that can make your knees tremble. I look forward to the day when our impoundments are well stocked with the toothy red fellows of five or six kilos plus!
Thehot trevally bite of the past two or three months seems to have slowed somewhat. There have still been a few good shows at dawn and dusk in the Noosa system, particularly in the lower reaches. Dawn seems to be the best bet though – even pre-dawn, as some ultra-keen locals have found.
Trolling shiny lures, cast and retrieve, skipping prawn lures, sinking lures worked along the bottom, fast retrieved chrome slugs, live baits – take your pick! Perhaps using several of these tactics during one session might bring success. The only constant that I’ve been able to pinpoint this Summer is that dawn and pre-dawn sessions are the most productive (although sometimes the trevs are co-operative and at other times they’re not). Small queenfish and tailor have been the occasional bonus on offer for the keen insomniacs amongst us.
Plenty of anglers enjoy a feed of succulent, sweet whiting fillets. Good places to try of late have been the lower reaches of the Noosa River and the north shore beaches. Further south, hot spots have included along the Cotton Tree stretch of the Maroochy River, and in the Bli Bli area. The Mooloolah River has yielded some top shelf whiting, as have its canals, and the Pumicestone Passage has definitely been worth a session or two, particularly on shallow sheltered banks.
Most whiting anglers choose to bait fish and, generally speaking, live offerings work the best. Live sand worms, live prawns and pipis are all top whiting baits. Two or three small soldier crabs are also worth a try, as are the humble pink nippers! Use a light line, small hooks and the smallest sinker you can get away with. Many whiting anglers run a short length of red tubing over the last few centimetres of line, with the aim of attracting more fish. I’m not entirely convinced that that works, but it can certainly help protect the light line at the business end from bite-offs.
Noosa local Bill Watson has had remarkable success fishing offshore in his Perception Swing kayak. Bill must have a large store of intestinal fortitude on board as he paddles his kayak over the Noosa bar – no mean feat – and then heads out to sea trolling along the way! Bill has caught some top fish, including mack tuna to 8kg, Spanish mackerel to 9kg, and snapper and coral trout. I’ll be having an in-depth look at this fascinating bluewater alternative in a future issue.
Tony Webber at Noosa Blue Water Charters has reported some excellent catches coming aboard up at Double Island Point. Recent catches have included red emperor, rosy jobfish, snapper and some quality cobia.
Out at the Banks, anglers have been picking up snapper, squire, parrots, pearlies, coronation trout and some good amberjack. The local reefs have been yielding similar results, with plenty of spotties and Spanish mackerel as well. Plenty of spotties and a few Spanish mackerel have been taken down at Currimundi Reef.
March should see the average size of the Spaniards on the increase, particularly for those who deep troll. Last year at this time, fish to over 20kg were caught on large chrome minnow lures, trolled bonito, tailor, yakkas and gar. For those anglers after a feed of reef fish, Sunshine is the place to go for some top class coral trout.
1. Brisbanite Tony Kokolis travelled up to the Sunshine Coast and was rewarded with this catch of a 30kg cobia on a Noosa Blue Water Charter.
2. Anthony Bellantoni used a Micro Mullet in Minyama Canal to tempt this 42cm whiting.Reads: 803