Sea mullet on the run
  |  First Published: August 2005

We have been experiencing cooler than normal temperatures and poor weather conditions but this hasn’t dampened the spirits of the hundreds of keen anglers hitting the water. The cool westerlies and howling rain are sure to sort out a few of us over the next month or so. Still, a positive always comes with the cold and that is the flat seas that should greet us in the early mornings.


Late June around Caloundra sees the annual run of sea mullet, a spectacle that attracts huge crowds and holiday makers to the beaches around Caloundra. The professional teams make it look easy as they work together to trap and land stacks of sea mullet onto the sand of Kings Beach. The morning I was there the team bought in 20 tonnes of quality sea mullet.

Mullet is one of the best baits around; nothing beats fresh mullet pieces when you’re trying to lure a good snapper out wide, and it’s a good bait for plenty of other species as well. When the mullet are moving in groups throughout the Pumicestone Passage, try casting a line in under them. Big bream follow under the mullet schools and are often caught by boaties who follow them up and down the passage.


We should now start to see some monster snapper over 7kg come in to play, along with the big pearl perch we have grown accustomed to. Both species are just starting to make their presence felt out in the deeper waters around Barwon Banks and Caloundra Wide and beyond.

The inner reefs around Mooloolaba, Coolum and Caloundra have produced consistent catches of mixed reefies including parrot, squire, morwong and sweetlip. Larger grass sweetlip to 5kg are becoming commonplace to most anglers who are hitting the right spots. I would be looking at a very early morning trip to the close-in reefs at his time of year as opposed to travelling wide at night.


Out wider around Caloundra and the southern end of the Banks those scoundrel kingfish are circling the boats ready to catch any scraps or bait tossed at them. Fish of up to 15kg are being sighted patrolling, but just you try and get them to take a lure or bait with a hook in it! How did fish get so smart?

Fortunately, when the yellowtails aren’t hitting, the cobia are. Anyone who has caught a reasonable size cobia will understand the fun that they have to offer.

By the time you read this article we will be at the slow end of the run of amberjack between Moreton Island and Noosa. It certainly was a great season for these unbelievable fighters, with an average size of around 12-18kg. Some late runners are still being caught in the deeper waters around the Barwon Banks and Wide Caloundra using live yakkas or large fillets on gangs.

The amberjack in the photo on this page was caught in close on a floating pillie. After I hooked it I spent the next 45 minutes passing the rod up and over the rocket launcher, back around the boat and under the motor. Amberjack are renowned for their full on power and never-say-die attitude, and when we finally got him in the boat that there was not an ounce of fight left in him.


The Pumicestone Passage in Caloundra has seen a good run of bream, and it’s also not a bad time to fish the bar at night on the making tide for some tailor. The best way to get them is to cast slugs or slowly retrieve a ganged pillie. There’s also the chance you’ll pick up a trevally or small queenfish for your trouble.

Flathead will start to move in during the next couple of weeks and continue to excite anglers right through the winter months. The best spots along the Passage are the drop-offs which run from the bar through to Bells Creek.

But your main target fish for winter should be the humble bream. Fish up to 1.2kg are caught around the piers and rocky outcrops in the channel. The normal size is between 500-800g and they are plentiful at the moment. The best baits are yabbies, fresh prawns, herring and strip baits for the bigger boys. When fishing the Passage it is advisable to use a running sinker to reduce those snags that drive us nuts.


The beaches have copped a real hammering over the past couple of months but some very clear holes and gutters are worth a look along the Wurtulla strip. Beach access 36 held a strong high-tide gutter which produced a couple of chopper tailor and some small dart for me. Kings Beach around the rocky outcrops has produced some great snapper to 5kg and will be worth a shot over the next month for tailor and sweetlip.

In the weeks ahead the drummer will start to school in big numbers around the boardwalk. Last year the schools were so thick they looked like an oil slick, and hopefully this season will be just as good.

The bigger bream will move into the Passage and the beaches will start to produce some quality dart and late running tailor. Snapper and grassy sweetlip will start to come in closer, and the winter whiting will make their presence felt. It’s shaping up to be a great winter, so get your warm clothes on and get out there!


1) Part of the annual sea mullet catch. When these fish are running it’s a good time to hunt the bream that chase them.

2) The author with a sizable amberjack. It has been a great season for these fish, and there are still a few late runners around.

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