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Flathead in full swing
  |  First Published: September 2005



September is flathead time on the Sunshine Coast. The annual spawning congregation begins this month and the average size of these unusual bottom-dwelling fish increases significantly.

While flathead won’t be spawning for a while yet, their numbers seem to take a sudden jump as spring arrives. Many of the shallow lakes in the Noosa River system hold good populations of flatties, at least until the local trawlers find out and clean up the lot. This has happened in previous years: good anglers were catching large numbers of fish and releasing most, if not all, of their catch day after day, when suddenly the trawlers came in and the flathead disappeared.

At least there are now sensible size and possession limits to ensure that recreational fishers don’t get too greedy. Of course, these size limits are intended to allow the smaller fish to achieve a size at which they can spawn at least once. The maximum size limit of 70cm is in place to protect the big breeding females. These fish deliver millions of eggs and the end result is that the flathead population remains strong. The possession limit of five legal fish per person is also designed along these lines.

For the flatties, bouncing soft plastics along the bottom works a treat, as does trolling small minnows in eight or so feet of water. Those drifting with live mullet or herring should also clean up.

Bream have been going strong right along the coast with all forms of angling accounting for plenty of quality fish. The lower reaches of the estuaries have been the best bet and the beach gutters have fished pretty well too. Tailor and dart have been active along most ocean beaches during July and August and this trend should continue for a while longer.

Luderick have been a good bet in some of the Sunshine Coast’s more southerly river systems, while trevally and tailor have been evident in many of the larger basins, once again in the lower reaches of most systems. Slugs and poppers cast and retrieved around the mullet schools are a good bet for targeting these fish, although the action all but stops once the sun is up and often won’t recommence until dusk. On very overcast days however, the fish can continue to bite well into the day.

Offshore

The great run of snapper has continued on both Sunshine and North reefs, and of course further afield. Longtail tuna are starting to show on the inside edge of North Reef and will be taken on days when the current is stronger. Out wide on Sunshine Reef, large sweetlip and pearl perch have been common and this trend should remain with us into September at least.

Mike at Fishing Offshore Noosa predicts that cobia will be on the chew for September, which is good news for those who like to tangle with these strong fish. Often taken on baits floated down a berley trail for snapper, big cobia can put on a very determined fight. Once brought next to the boat the bigger specimens are best released. Smaller fish make pretty reasonable tucker but you can’t beat a good feed of sweetlip in my opinion!

If weather conditions remain dry, we should see another good run of northern bluefin tuna and more of the top quality snapper that many boaties have chased throughout the last few months.

Local legend Fred Creek and his mate Greg Lacey made the trek out to the Hards in early August. The lads, along with deckies Chris and Keith, caught plenty of quality snapper and kept a couple of the better fish for the table. Also on the agenda were a few red emperor, pearl perch, the usual parrots and even an amberjack or two. Small sinkers with baits of pilchards and squid on strong 5/0 hooks drifted down the berley trail did the trick in about 60m of water.

Out in Laguna Bay there has been plenty of activity also. Trollers have caught a few quality snapper, including an exceptional specimen that fell to a Spaniard Special towed behind a kayak by Cheryl Lacey. Bill Watson was apparently the tactician on the day!

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