Flathead, trevally, bream and whiting have been the mainstays in most Sunshine Coast estuaries, with mangrove jacks the star of the show.
The bread-and-butter species have tended to be more active in the lower reaches of the Noosa, Maroochy and Mooloolah rivers. Some quite respectable tailor have been making a good show at river mouths and along most beaches, with Sunshine, Mudjimba and Currimundi beaches all worth a shot.
April will see the jacks thin out considerably, although near the end of the last few seasons quality jacks were caught right through until May. Some were incidental catches but many were caught by those diehards who refuse to admit that winter is coming, and that the jacks will no longer cooperate.
Lures cast into thick cover and retrieved slowly and erratically will often get the job done. Similarly, very fresh baits or livies fished around rock bars or drifted into likely looking snags often pull jacks as well. Estuary cod are a common bycatch for those fishing structure for jacks.
The snaggy run between lakes Cooroibah and Cootharaba has delivered good numbers of jacks this summer, and they were still being caught well into March. The Woods Bay area is always worth a try for jacks, as are the rock bars near Harbourtown at Tewantin.
Further south, jacks have been active in the Cod Hole region of the Maroochy, along with a few jewfish. The lower reaches of the Mooloolah River are also been worth prospecting for jacks, particularly at night. The Pumicestone Passage, particularly around creek mouths, has also been worth the effort.
The offshore scene has been pretty hot lately with quality spotted mackerel right along the coast. The good run of Spaniards has also continued, and northern blue, yellowfin and mack tuna have been making regular appearances as well. Some of the spotties have been in the 6-8kg class, which is pretty good by anyone’s standards, and the Spanish mackerel have peaked at 20kg with a few of the extra large models to be caught before they move on for another year.
Those who to prefer to baitfish coast reefs have been doing very well at Double Island Point, with good catches of squire/snapper, pearl perch, red emperor, quality parrots and Moses perch.
Chardons wide has been fishing well also, and those who have made the effort to get out there and have a go have been rewarded with good catches of pearlies, red emperor, squire, hussar and gold-banded snapper.
You can identify gold-banded snapper by the two or three gold bands edged in blue just below each eye, and by the last ray on both the dorsal and anal fins, which is elongated to form a short filament. The minimum size is 38cm, with an in-possession limit of five fish. As they are considered to be coral reef fin fish they have a combined take and possession limit of 20 fish.
Regulations are complex these days, especially with the coral reef new fin fish legislation, so grab a copy of the new guide or seek advice from your local Boating and Fisheries Patrol office.
My inbox has been choked with e-mails asking about the welfare of my two pet barramundi, so I’ll fill you in.
Some months ago the smaller of the two hatchery-bred fish decided he would rather reside in the tank all by himself, and set out to dispatch his slightly bigger friend. The previous evening I had fed the fish 10 live shrimp, which went down the hatches rapidly. Some hours later I dropped a few frozen prawns into the melee and they too disappeared without delay.
In the morning, however, one of the fish was upside down on the bottom of the tank. His 'mate' seemed quite unconcerned and was ready at the feeding end of the tank for whatever might come his way. I tried to revive the unwell barra by holding him in the bubble trail from the filter/pump assembly. Unfortunately, despite 20 minutes of highly oxygenated water flowing over his gills, he did not recover and I had to humanely finish him off.
The smaller of the two had apparently killed his mate with repeated blows to the flank. This, I'm told, eventually ruptures the liver, which is fatal. I must admit I was warned that this event would occur, and sure enough it did mere days later.
I have since relocated the offending fish to a much bigger tank and he seems happy there, surrounded by a continual supply of live tucker with no flatmates to get in his way!
1. This big Spanish mackerel was taken near Old Woman Island off Mudjimba. The fish weighed in at 20kg and took a liking to a Blue Pilly deep lure.Reads: 613