Close-in reefs produce the goods
  |  First Published: November 2005

The past month has been very impressive and it’s shaping up to be a fantastic summer season.


Cobia, mackerel, tuna, kingies and a host of other pelagics are belting everything thrown at them. Because they have been in really close, boaties and rock fishers have been able to get amongst them. The occasional mackerel has also been taken from the beach.

The closer reefs have an abundance of small sweetlip, emperor, cod and squire. If you aren’t having any luck closer in, move out to the numerous bait schools, which have been continually breaking the surface as bonito and other predators get stuck into them. Cast a small slug in amongst them or try circling the patch with lures. I have had success with a Lively Lures Blue Pillie that dives to 2m. Some anglers have been making the most of the bait schools by collecting livebaits and catching lots of cobia with them.

The terrific thing about this time of year is being able to troll your lures on the way to your favourite fishing ground and having good success.

Murphy’s Reef is still producing snapper, pearlies and cod in the evenings and very early mornings. I think that fishing in the evenings with a strong berley trail offers the best chance of quality fish. Pearlies were the surprise packet at Murphy’s over winter: it has been a number of years since I have seen pearlies caught in so close and in such good numbers.

Caloundra Wide and the Barwon Banks have again produced the catches of the month, with large reds, amberjack and the odd mahi mahi hitting the decks recently. Snapper, hussar, cod and pearlies were still biting in early October, but this should slow down in November. The good news is that you don’t have to travel 25km-plus to reach the outer grounds because the shallow reefs have been productive as well.


The beaches have been up and down over the past month with catches of tailor up to 2.5kg, dart, whiting, flounder, bream and both bar-tailed and dusky flathead. The continual northerly winds have not helped the situation but there have been some nice days when even beginner fishers could get a great feed. The strip from Dickies Beach through to Point Cartwright has the better gutters and holes, but I find that you only need to go as far north as access 36 to pick a good spot.


The estuaries still hold good numbers of fish and the summer change over has just about taken place. Flathead are creeping out into the main channel from the back creeks and the run of mangrove jack around Coochin Creek and the southern parts of the Bribie Passage has been very promising. We should see some big trevally and school mackerel around the deeper areas of the Passage as the bait schools move in towards mid November. Whiting are available all year round and we are due for a good summer season on these terrific little fighters. Pike have been taken consistently on small reflective lures around the pylons and pontoons.

Diversity around Caloundra

The diversity of fishing options from Caloundra through to Noosa is quite amazing and often anglers don’t take advantage of this. It is easy to get stuck in a situation that is repetitive and unrewarding with fishing. Here are some suggestions to get you thinking about different fishing spots and methods around our area.

Firstly, think about the fish you want to target, and work out which are the best areas to fish for those species. For example, if you want to catch bream, flathead or whiting, look at the Pumicestone Passage or the canals, bridges and pylons at Mooloolaba. Next, check the tide times, weather conditions and prepare your rigs and bait accordingly.

A diary is an essential item if you want to progress beyond hit-and-miss fishing. It takes only a few minutes each trip to log what you caught, when and how. It is amazing the number of patterns that emerge over time from your entries.

Now that you have worked out when, where and how you are going to fish, it is time to take the trip and have a go. Don’t ignore nearby areas: in my experience many people forget about areas closer to home, believing the grass is always greener on the other side. But anglers living around Caloundra have fantastic fishing right on their doorstep!

Caloundra offers excellent rock, beach and estuary fishing, with many pontoons, jetties and boardwalks that are fully equipped for fishermen. Flathead, whiting, bream, trevally, flounder, cod, queenies and tailor are just a few of the species you can encounter in the Pumicestone Passage. You can easily travel to Caloundra or any part of the coast, pull up and cast a line. Local tackle shops should be able to assist you in finding a location where the fish are biting and provide you with any other information.

If Caloundra is not your bag then try the long beach strip from Dicky’s to Point Cartwright. 10km of beach is bound to have a few good gutters along it somewhere and it’s just a matter of looking for them. If you don’t understand what a hole or a gutter is, take a look where everyone else is fishing: they may know what they are doing.

There are also numerous bridges with oyster-infested crustaceans on them all over the Sunshine Coast, and they are well worth a crack for some bream and mulloway. Canals are plentiful and hold amazing numbers of flathead, bream and some other surprises as well.

If you are into bait or lure fishing, the canals, jetties and major ship moorings are particularly good spots to try. They are so plentiful around Mooloolaba that it would honestly take you 10 years to get to know the best spots. Lure casting around the pylons of the jetties or under moored boats can produce a multitude of species that are all accessible from land-based areas. The main channel heading out through the bar has been home to some of the best catches of big fish over the past few years. Then there are the rock walls leading out to the ocean. I fish these walls with lures regularly to catch pike, mackerel and many other fish to use for bait.

We have only gone as far up as Mooloolaba and even though this is a relatively small area, it would take many years of fishing to get to know it inside out. I am not an expert on Noosa as I do most of my fishing around my home base. We will leave that area to the local experts such as Dominic Fry who would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

If the cost of bait is getting beyond a joke you should spend some time learning to collect your own. There is no need to purchase bait once you know how to collect it yourself. Catching bait takes up over 50% of my fishing time and it is something that I can share with my two boys and enjoy just as much as catching fish.

Don’t be too worried about not having enough gear either: these days you don’t need to have a different rod and reel for every occasion. Today’s equipment is so versatile that you can use it in almost any fishing situation, whether it is estuary, beach, rock, lure or bait fishing.

The biggest problem is that many of us set our initial goals too high. Everyone has to start somewhere and the natural progression from land-based fishing is a tinnie to weave in and out of those areas you can’t reach. Purchasing a tinnie with a 25hp motor can set you back as little as $6500, and it’s even cheaper if you look around for a good second-hand one. If a tinnie is impossible because you can’t afford it or tow it, then take a look at the numerous kayaks and canoes that are purpose-built for fishing. These small boats start at $650 new and can get you out into the close reefs, helping your fitness along the way.

There are plenty of other ideas and locations but the best advice I can give you is to speak to locals, listen and learn, and never be afraid to try something new. Magazines are another great way to learn about fishing, so read up as much as you can. Become an expert in your own area of fishing before you move on to try something new. Most importantly though, remember to have fun while you are doing it!

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