AS THIS Christmas issue of QFM hits the newsstands and letterboxes the Sunshine Coast will be filling up with holiday makers. Many will tow boats, some will hire boats or guides and plenty will take the opportunity to try their luck offshore with the plethora of bluewater charter vessels. One thing’s for sure – most of them will wet a line at some stage during their holiday.
During this busy time the Sunny Coast rivers and creeks are exceptionally busy, with all manner of watercraft heading in every possible direction all at once. Ferries, houseboats and large offshore vessels mix it with jet skis, tinnies, sailing craft, row boats, inflatables, kayaks, canoes and probably other floating objects that haven’t come to mind yet. The big worry for me are those on jet skis. Let’s hope all waterway users are sensible and that the ‘annual’ accident doesn’t occur this year.
Most systems in Queensland are well signed and those that are extra busy, such as pretty well all Sunshine Coast estuaries, have signposts everywhere. Do yourself a favour and read them – it might save you a fine or a nasty incident. The other day I was having a quiet troll for a few flatties in a six knot, no wash area, when a lunatic in a large cuddy cabin vessel roared around the corner doing 20 knots plus. I’m sure his lady friend in the yellow bikini was very impressed, but no-one else in the area was applauding.
The flathead season has been quite good so far, but rather unpredictable. Many anglers are experiencing good days followed by not so good days! Those trolling have had better luck on the run-out tide. Minnow lures that run at 2-3m or so are a good starting point. When working deeper water it makes sense to use a lure that will run at or very near the bottom. The same can be said for the shallows. Trolling shallow water can be difficult but mostly worthwhile. Sometimes the fish are quite spooky, and occasionally a quiet approach will produce the goods. Small 50-60mm lures in pink, or red over gold, generally work well. An electric trolling motor is a real bonus too, allowing you make a stealthy approach.
Mangrove jack have been caught right along the coast, particularly at night. In the Noosa River the snags between the lakes are good places for lure tossers to start their day. The Pumicestone Passage harbours good numbers of jacks, as do some of the creeks that run into the passage. Steamy evenings are a good time to test your casting skills. Try to cast the lure well back into the snags and work it back out again, pausing every now and then to slowly let the lure rise in the water column. A subtle twitch here and there often draws a strike from these purple bruisers, particularly when you’re not concentrating! You’ll need to use heavy leader, at least 40lb, because jacks head for cover immediately. Oyster-encrusted mangrove roots and bridge pylons make a mess of light gear.
Drifting live baits is another good way to find some quality flathead and jacks. The cover of darkness seems to release many fish from their inhibitions. Some go foraging for tucker, others sit next to a rock, jetty stanchion, bridge pylon or any submerged structure and wait, while others pillage and plunder the bait schools. A live mullet, herring or legal whiting generally won’t last long on a warm summer evening around here! Unfortunately, dropping one into a deep hole while at anchor will often find you connected to a massive eel or croaking catfish. Occasionally, of course, you’ll come up trumps with a jew, jack, flathead or estuary cod. Don’t forget your white all round anchor light if you do tie up, and your nav lights if you drift.
Threadfin salmon will make a rare appearance during summer and even the odd barramundi turns up here and there. Whiting and bream are still present at this time, although the bigger bream seem to all but disappear until the cooler water arrives in May or June. The best of the flathead also seem to move off after spawning, but there’ll be plenty of stayers to keep anglers happy.
Wild storms and better than average winds have hampered fishing efforts right across the board, particularly offshore. Hopefully by December, along with the massive influx of visitors, the winds will settle and conditions outside will be excellent. October saw a reasonable number of fishable days, and as November set in conditions seemed to improve.
Sunshine Coast reefs can be busy places during the holidays, and many of the estuary boating courtesies apply offshore as well. Of course, it’s well within the normal fishing boundaries to anchor nearby or follow a drift from a reasonable distance, but from time to time you get those annoying boaties who get a bit too close. Some anchor up only metres away and you can hear their conversation and see their new shiny reels. Please try to keep your separation distance respectable and enjoy the day rather than the company.
At the northern end of the Sunny Coast the bottom bashing has been excellent when conditions have been conducive to crossing the Noosa bar for a day of action and adventure! Sandi at Noosa Blue Water Charters has reported some monster cobia well over 50lb wide of North Reef. They have found other testing fish such as jew, amberjack, Maori cod and some top class snapper as well. This should improve further as the year rolls to a close.
Other trips have yielded quality bottom fish including sweetlip, pearlies, red throat emperor and some big parrots as well, all of which are top shelf tablefish. The pelagics have made a show or two as well and hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have a good run of mackerel and tuna.
Do yourself a Christmas favour and book a trip offshore. Ring (07) 5449 9355 for enquiries and trip schedules. I recommend a full day trip out to the Barwon Banks!
It’s that time of the year again, and it’s difficult to organise your loved ones to purchase what you’d actually like or need. Here are a few ideas:
- a good quality fishing shirt;
- a quality pair of polaroids;
- a basic electric bow mount (will set you back about $1500 if you shop around);
- fishing books, CDs and videos;
- a selection of locally manufactured lures;
- wet weather gear that can be stowed (might not be used often but will be very much appreciated when the heavens open up);
- one (or two) of those line cutters that you can hang off your fishing shirt;
- A waterproof book of fishing knots is a must-have stocking filler (I recommend the white one with the heavy pages);
- stainless pliers (good quality only);
- hats, caps, sunscreen, Bushman repellent and a spare dunny roll for the boat; and
- a charter trip or guided trip for that special friend or couple.
Rods and reels are personal things, so opt for a gift voucher instead.
Lastly, I’m currently taking anyone interested to a secret, private bass and barramundi fishery only three hours north of Brisbane, or about 90 minutes up the road from Noosa. The fishing is unbeatable, with plenty of bass on offer and very respectable barra over 10kg smashing surface lures with great gusto! Send me an email for further info.
Any QFM writer will tell you that the enormous number of fishing stories they hear are invaluable. They provide background to current research, tips, new spots to try and quite often something to laugh over. If I copped a fiver for every story I’ve heard this year I’d be able to afford that damn bow mount I’m chasing!
Seriously though, I value all the info that many locals and some visitors give me. Some enterprising souls email me all sorts of stuff, some with straight and narrow reports, others with long-winded accounts detailing the last whiting they caught. Keep them coming! I’m always looking for good pics as well, so if you have one just drop me an e-mail and I’ll see if I can have it published for you. Thank you to all those readers who’ve sent me photos.
Be careful on the water and stay safe this Christmas!
1) Another happy Noosa Blue Water Charters customer with a nice snapper.
2) Anthony Bellantoni with a quality grey mackerel caught off Caloundra. There should be a few of these around over the holiday period.Reads: 960