Sunny Coast fishing kicks into gear
  |  First Published: October 2003

FISHING during August was a tad slow in most Sunshine Coast estuaries, but September kicked things into gear with some rain and warmer weather. This improvement should continue in October (fingers crossed).


Last month flathead were the prime target along most of the coast. They were present in slowly increasing numbers and sizes, mostly in the lower reaches of the estuaries, and occasionally from the beaches. Munna Point, the Frying Pan, Tewantin Reach and Lakes Weyba and Doonella have all been worth a look in the Noosa River. Further south, areas worth prospecting are the Bli Bli stretch and around Chambers Island in the Maroochy and upstream from Mackenzie’s Bridge in the Mooloolah River. The passage is also holding good numbers of flathead so you could try trolling the broad expanses in the upper reaches and the Coochin Creek area.

Flathead aren’t particularly fussy; any well-presented offering will be taken with gusto when the fish are there. Trolling small minnow lures in gold, orange/red, or mullet colours is a good tactic. Jack Snacks and Micro Mullet lures are a very good start. Once you’ve located a fish or two it can pay to have a break from trolling and cast the area well with the same lures, Rio’s Prawns or any of the multitude of soft plastics on offer.

Drifting live baits is also a deadly way to catch a few flathead. The prime live offerings are mullet, legal whiting, biddies and a collection of clicking prawns. The by-catch will include mangrove jacks and they too are on the move. Try to find an area where the drift isn’t too fast, too shallow or too deep. I reckon 2-4m of water is enough, and drift runs parallel to drop-offs and accompanying yabby banks are good places to try.

Another good way to find some lizards is to wade for them, as I recently did with local angler Steve MacDonald. Tossing small lures and rubber tails ahead of our planned walk produced a few nice fish. Once again, the drop-offs were the best places to target rather than very shallow water or the deeper holes. Quite a lot of country can be covered in a short time in this way and you never quite know what you’ll come across next. Small sharks and shovelnose rays are common along the coastal strip so be prepared and always wear good footwear. And don’t forget to release the big henfish!


The breamers are still having a ball, mostly those who are using bait. Deeper holes and structure are the best places to target during the day, and as the light fades the shallows are worth a cast or two. A quiet approach around moorings, cleaning tables, boat ramps and the like will also yield a fish or two.

The run-in seems to have been more productive lately, with the area near Pincushion worth a shot in the Maroochy. Another good area to try is the Cotton Tree to Chambers Island run. The Passage also held some quality bream into September, and with the cool nights thus far there’s no reason why this shouldn’t continue. Anglers chasing fish under the cover of darkness have been enjoying the most success.

Some very big whiting have made their way into a few lucky anglers’ creels, and most of these fish were taken on live bait. Prawns and pink nippers are a good start. A few whiting are taken on lures, and tiny pink bibbed divers or rubbers are worth a try.

The tailor and trevally run is continuing with some pretty good specimens taking quickly trolled chrome minnow lures, cast and retrieved slugs, jigged rubbers and deep fly. Dawn and dusk are the best times by far if you want to tangle with these speedsters.


Fishing the beaches at this time of year can be very productive but cold and lonely as well! Beach guru Tinny Treloar ran a very well attended seminar in conjunction with Davo’s Bait and Tackle at the Villa Noosa Hotel recently. During the evening he unloaded his massive burden of secrets for all and sundry to hear. (Unfortunately I had too many coldies and I’ve forgotten the secrets already!) Perseverance is one of the key elements to his success as well as a fair bit of know-how regarding reading beaches and their associated gutters and tidal runs. Rigs don’t have to be particularly complicated, but a few tricks here and there all add to your chances of success. I’ll be exploring his successes and the learning curve he followed to get there in a separate article soon.

Meanwhile, there have been a few quality tailor caught along the beaches in recent weeks. Amongst the tailor have been a few flathead, plenty of whiting and the odd dart and bream as well.


Snapper continue to dominate catch lists on the Sunshine Coast offshore scene. Most reefs have produced a fair quantity of squire and a few quality snapper for those who’ve persevered. Chardon’s seemed to be the pick of the reefs with quality snapper, squire, pearlies, a few amberjack and the odd cobia.

The Waterfront Hotel Fishing Club in Bli Bli was very well represented in early September by member John Sharp who enjoyed a top day offshore with Noosa Blue Water Charters. John pulled a monster cobia on board that pulled the scales down to an exceptionally respectable 23.5kg.

North Reef has been producing some squire, a few snapper, parrots and the odd stray school mackerel whilst Sunshine has delivered pretty much the same along with some quality trout. October should see much better offshore conditions than the coast experienced during August and September, with the best cobia and snapper of the season boated during this time. Do yourself a favour and get out there! There are plenty of offshore charters available if your boat isn't capable.

1. Kieran Conway from Sydney with an exceptional Noosa River flathead of 65cm. The fish was caught on a Jack Snack lure and released in good order.

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