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Mack and tuna invasion
  |  First Published: June 2003



AS WE head into winter on the Sunshine Coast, we get plenty of southern visitors. The breaming is generally very good in most Sunshine Coast estuaries and creeks in June, and these fish provide plenty of entertainment for local and visiting fisherfolk.

OFFSHORE

Mackerel and tuna have been the flavour of the month on the Sunshine Coast. Throughout April and into May big schools of northern bluefin and mackerel tuna have been boiling right up and down the coast. Bill Watson (who featured in last month’s QFM) has continued with his good form, catching quality fish from his Perception Kayak. Bill has pulled some top fish from Laguna Bay in recent weeks, including a 15kg northern blue.

Further south the Bellantoni boys have been trolling chrome minnow style lures off Mooloolaba and Caloundra, scoring school mackerel, spotties, Spaniards, mack tuna and northern blues. They’ve been busted off quite a few times too by big unknown critters that were probably mega Spanish mackerel.

Bottom bashers have been right into the thick of things as well! Very good catches of snapper and big sweetlip have been made right along the coast, and this will almost certainly improve as we move into winter. Other June options on most Sunshine Coast reefs include cobia and red emperor, and there is always the chance of a big, fat coral trout.

In all, the offshore scene is looking good, apart from occasional sloppy seas and medium to big rolling swells that keep most fishos at home.

BREAM

The bream invasion is now in full force. Most anglers target bream with bait, and live bait is the most successful option in my experience. Live prawns are the number one choice, but small mullet or herring, pink nippers, soldier crabs, worms and pipis are also good options. Very fresh flesh baits, such as mullet or gar fillet, probably come next on the menu, and pilchards and good quality frozen prawns after that. During my Fishcare wanderings I’ve come across folk using all manner of bait for bream, including cheese, cubed heart and other forms of offal, bizarre pudding mixes, bacon, corn and steak! Whatever takes your fancy, I suppose!

Luring for bream has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years. This trend has been pushed along by the BREAM circuit and the excellent videos that have been the result of some hotly contested tournaments. It seems that small lure presentations are the go. Soft plastics and small minnow type lures are all the rage, and they work! Surface poppers, fizzers, bloopers and whatever else runs noisily along the surface also work well, and the fly tossers don’t miss out either.

The Sunshine Coast is a very good place to target bream. Many estuaries and creeks hold good populations of bream during winter, and these fish are also accessible along our beautiful beaches.

The minimum legal size for bream in Queensland is only 23cm, and there is currently no possession limit. Eventually there will be an increase in minimum size and an in possession limit, and I think a maximum of 10 fish would be appropriate – discouraging those greedy, pillaging anglers who keep huge quantities of spawning fish.

WHITING

Whiting are another mainstay of local inshore fisheries, and these delicious fish are well worth targeting in winter. The golden lined whiting (also called rough-scaled whiting) has a broad golden band below the lateral line. They also have dark patches along the rear half of the back and grow to 45cm, although they are not often seen at this size.

The sand (or summer) whiting grow to 50cm and over a kilo! They are by far the biggest of the whiting family and they are easily identified by a uniformly silver body. The dorsal fin is covered by rows of small dots and the pelvic and anal fins are yellow.

The winter whiting (also called trumpeter whiting) is another excellent tablefish. These fish grow to about 30cm and can be identified by their silvery body covered in dark blotches. They also have a prominent silver line from just behind the head right down to the tail.

Whiting can be found in shallow sandy areas and amongst seagrass beds. Occasionally deeper channels are worth targeting, and drift fishing can be productive. Once you’ve located feeding fish it can pay to drop a pick overboard and concentrate on that area. Live prawns are a very good bait for big sand and golden-lined whiting, whilst worms, pink nippers and very small soldier crabs can be very effective for winter whiting. Luring for whiting is slowly becoming more popular, although they are usually taken as a by-catch by anglers chasing bream.

Good luck with your whiting efforts and don’t take too many home! Golden-lined and sand whiting carry a minimum size of 23cm and no in possession limit. Winter whiting (also called trumpeter whiting) currently have no size minimum or in possession limit, and as such are heavily targeted.

PEDAL KAYAKS

A few weeks back I took a Hobie Mirage Outback kayak for a jolly. I was sceptical about the performance of a pedal-driven kayak, but after five minutes of pedalling my way down a small Sunshine Coast creek I felt right at home.

The Mirage drive mechanism is far more efficient that I expected, and after four hours of pedalling my way up and down the creek I was only just getting warmed up. Of course, you have the option of putting the fins away and paddling, but this means you no longer have your hands free to cast while on the move. When pedalling, you steer with a small toggle controlling a quite effective rudder.

I caught a couple of mangrove jack or two from the kayak. I also trolled as I pedalled my way from spot to spot, and the four built-in rod holders came in very handy.

In all, I found the Outback to be a versatile and user-friendly craft with the bonus of being able to cast, grab your beer from the built-in stubby holder or wave at your buddies as you cruise past!

1. This top class northern bluefin tuna, taken off Mooloolaba, couldn’t resist the charms of a chrome/red head Outsider lure.

2. Queensland Fishcare head honcho Tony Ham caught this top mangrove jack (and a few others) during a brief jaunt to the Sunshine Coast.

3. Pedalling the Hobie Outback was a breeze – a perfect creek trolling setup.

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