Offshore conquests
  |  First Published: May 2004

SUNSHINE Coast residents and visitors are sick to death of crappy fishing weather – but where there’s a will, there’s a way!

If it’s raining cats and dogs it’s likely that most estuaries will be largely shut down, so go offshore. The discoloured water pouring into the Pacific Ocean from every estuary on the East Coast produces a nice colour change that can fish very well at times.

If it’s too lumpy outside, try the fresh. Having said that, the Sunny Coast impoundments are a major challenge at the moment, almost certainly due to the massive amount of new water and sudden drop in temperature. Perhaps some maintenance on your collection of reels or the boat trailer might be in order!


Due to the continuing and widespread rain, most of the angling opportunities in just about all Sunshine Coast estuaries have been pretty well right at the mouth! High tide has been the go, with a bit of clean seawater pushing upstream a little. In the Noosa system, the Frying Pan has produced the goods – as has the run from the Spit down to the river mouth. Drifted livies and whitebait have been the best tactics, with trolled minnows coming in at second best. Soft plastics have also produced some quality fish.

Trevally have been an option lately, with dawn and dusk the only real windows of opportunity. Small surface poppers, soft plastics, quickly trolled minnows (gold chrome seems to be the best colour at the moment) and live prawns have brought some good fish undone. The best I’ve seen in the past month or so was a juvenile GT that pulled the scales all the way down to the 2kg mark. Naturally, this little fellow was released to grow into one of those arm-stretching monsters more commonly seen farther north.

A few sand whiting and bream pretty well finish the Noosa River off for this month. The run from the yacht club through to Goat Island has been producing well, with Weyba Creek also worth a try. Farther south there have been some very respectable bream caught near another Goat Island, this time in the Maroochy River, while the rock walls at the mouth of the Mooloolah River have also seen some top breaming through March and into April. The Black Bank area has delivered a few quality whiting, as has the Mooloolah upstream from McKenzie’s Bridge.

The rains have encouraged the mud crabs to follow the fresh downstream, so it’s worth dropping a pot or two in on your next outing.


Winds often in the 25-30 knot bracket, with seas at 2m plus, have meant seriously difficult conditions to say the least, but when the opportunity came the rewards were out there.

Sandi at Noosa Blue Water Charters reports that North Reef at the top of the coast has delivered pearlies, snapper, parrots and a few quality red emperor on the bottom, while those chasing pelagics have found a few school and spotted mackerel. Sunshine has seen pretty much the same, with the occasional coral trout as well.

Out at the Barwon Banks there were quality Spanish mackerel along with the odd school of longtail tuna. Bottom bashers found willing trout, sweetlip, squire and a few reasonable red emperor when they could get out there in relative safety.

Historically speaking, May has been a corker of a month for those who like chasing tuna, particularly out in Laguna Bay. Plenty of longtail (northern blue) tuna were about at this time last year, and if the longtails didn’t want to play the mack tuna were a fair second prize on most days. Of course, there are still some fair to middling school and spotted mackerel about, and there’s always the chance of a quality Spaniard at this time of year.

Local offshore kayaking specialist Bill Watson has been at it again, when conditions have allowed. Bill’s latest conquest was an 8kg longtail tuna, caught on the troll while rounding the headland with a view to surfing home and avoiding a parking ticket at main beach!

1) A typical May northern bluefin. This excellent specimen weighed in at over 12 kilos and was caught by towing a Mack Bait in sloppy conditions off Alex Headland.

2) This 8kg Spaniard was caught off Caloundra on a trolled Blue Pilly deep lure.

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