Surviving the holidays
  |  First Published: August 2004

THE USUAL holiday crowds have been bashing the creeks and rivers right along the Sunshine Coast. Things have run along quite smoothly for the most part, although there have been a few ‘moments’ on boat ramps that many of us would like to forget.

During the school holidays I shouted myself a day or two off and took the kids fishing on the Noosa River. While we caught a few fish and had some fun, I was highly amused by some of the goings-on at local boat ramps. Some people just don’t seem to get it! The idea is to prepare elsewhere, then reverse down the ramp, drop your boat in and go and park the car. Doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Why then are there boat owners who park halfway down the ramp and then gin around in the boat for ten minutes before venturing the other half of the journey to the water? Why also are there anglers who put the boat in the water and drive off while their buddy holds the boat at the bottom of the ramp? You’d think it would occur to them to move the boat out of the way so the next hopeful angler can get on with things.

Why too are there fishos who remove their boat and park it in the rigging area? I suppose it’s so they can sit around having a beer and telling each other how good they are. During this valuable male bonding time these fellows seem oblivious to the boaters who are forced to zigzag their way around the offending car and boat.

The class act of the day, however, was the brainless chap who reversed his jetski down the middle of a two-lane ramp, effectively closing it off to all other users. After watching him fiddle around with his machine, including a dry start on the ramp, I wandered down and politely offered ‘assistance’ if he needed it. He didn’t see the humour in my query and politely informed me that everything was OK and that one of the good things about jetskis is that they can be launched single-handedly! Oh joy, I thought as I wandered back to my car. As I waited, I wondered what all the other ‘good things’ about jetskis were!

Some hours after setting off for a day of fun and adventure, we hit the water. We had chosen to drift using whitebait and frogmouth pilchards as bait. The boat traffic was quite heavy as it was school holidays, but with some care the busier parts of the river were easily negotiated. It seems that 90% of the boats in the Noosa system navigate only 10% of the available water. This makes it relatively easy to find some quiet water. A short run up into Weyba Creek and the chaos of the lower river was far behind us. Peace at last!

A few drifts here and there and the kids were happy with small flathead and reasonable bream. Flathead are a year-round option on the Sunshine Coast, but the best angling for flatties doesn’t kick in until September, which is the very beginning of the annual spawning congregation.

Young kids have no trouble understanding that some fish must be released. We put all our fish back and my three- and eight-year-olds were quite happy to watch them swim away. Older kids can struggle with catch and release, so it’s best to instil these ideals at a young age.


Bream have been a regular catch along the Sunshine Coast, and during August most beaches will hold good quantities of these hard-fighting fish. Kilo-plus fish off the beach can keep you entertained for hours. Other spots worth a try for a few bream are Mudjimba, the lower Maroochy River and Goat Island. The boat moorings down at Mooloolaba always hold good numbers of bream, and the quantity and quality should peak by August. Casting small minnows and soft plastics around the moorings, and along the rock wall near the mouth, will produce fish most of the time.

Farther south, at Caloundra, the bream are lining up in the passage. The deeper holes are the places to target during the day. After sunset, then shift your focus into the shallower areas. Bulcock Beach and the Boardwalk are also reliable breaming spots, so get out there and have a go!


Snapper seem to have been the focus of most offshore pursuits during the first half of winter. Mixed in with the squire and snapper have been some top quality sweetlip, a few parrots and, surprisingly, quite a few school mackerel and the odd tuna as well. In early July several northern bluefin tuna and a few medium yellowfin were caught along the coast, mostly by those targeting bottom dwellers.

A few snapper have been caught recently using rather non-conventional methods. Noosa kayak angler Bill Watson has been catching them for ages using the Spaniard Special Troll Rig. Caloundra’s Mario Bellantoni has been catching snapper on the troll also, mostly using Arafura Barra and Huntsman bibbed lures. Bill’s latest trick has been trolling very small extra-deep bass type minnows around the headlands. This has resulted in snapper, tailor and all sorts of other goodies. You never know if you don’t have a go!

Even stranger is Fast Eddy Swere’s little effort. On a day trip with Noosa Blue Water Charters he matched catch rates with those using bait by dropping a large soft plastic down into the melee. I wonder how he would have gone if all anglers on the boat were using plastics? Not so well, I reckon. (I’m happy enough to drop a small squid or half a pilchard down a berley trail and hang on tight!)

Other interesting captures along the Sunshine Coast in recent weeks have included some very big cobia, once again caught by those chasing snapper and other bottom fish. A few top-shelf jew have made it into catch lists as well recently, with a few coming in from the beaches and lower estuary systems and a couple of thumper fish from out on the reefs.

1) Keen Sunshine Coast angler Dav Bewsey with a typical winter snapper taken from an inshore reef.

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