No Bull! Sharks are at Noosa
  |  First Published: February 2009

Bull sharks are becoming synonymous with shark attacks, particularly in Queensland. They have been blamed for numerous attacks on humans in recent years, and unfortunately they a generally the culprits in many cases.

The bull shark is part of the whaler family and it is also known as the estuary whaler. They have been known to travel great distances upstream, well into freshwater reaches. Indeed, I have caught them myself in water fresh enough to drink.

These sharks grow to around 3m+ but they are much more commonly encountered at 1-2m. They provide great sport on lightish tackle, can deliver an astonishingly fast initial run and from time to time they leap frantically in an attempt to free themselves from an unknown captor. Smaller specimens are pretty good on the barbeque plate, particularly if bled on capture, skinned and iced.

There is a widespread misconception in the Noosa area that the river and canals are free of these predators. Some time back the QLD Boating and Fisheries Patrol were contacted regarding sightings of a bull shark in one of the Noosa canals. No surprise there! The amazing part of this kafuffle was the publicity the shark generated in all forms of the media. It was as though an amazing discovery had been made in the Noosa River! Incredibly it became ‘fact’ that if one shark was then caught and removed from the system there would be none left. Even today children swim in the Noosa canal system on the belief that there are no sharks present.

Targeting these aggressive sharks is becoming quite a pastime in this area. Heavy berleying is to be discouraged, particularly when this practice involves the use of blood or offal. Anglers that fish into the wee hours occasionally berley up in an attempt to increase their catch, but the next morning there are kids swimming in the same areas and this must be seen as putting them at risk.

Shark anglers should fish away from popular swimming areas, such as small creeks far upstream, deep holes and perhaps wide open expanses of water. A large struggling baitfish will bring sharks from far and wide; so don’t bother with the berley trail. Sharks are very sensitive to their environment and they will hone in on dinner from quite a distance.

Gear for this type of fishing should be relatively simple. Extra strong and extra sharp hooks are a necessity, matched to suit the size of the bait. The incidence of bite offs is quite low, so generally anglers get away with 40lb mono leader, however, if you must use wire keep it short. Weight is generally not required as the large bait will sink to the bottom in all but the strongest currents.

Serious shark anglers will go to the trouble of securing some large mullet or legal whiting for bait. Some say that almost anything will do for sharks, but the better the bait the better the result. Fin clipping the bait can increase its stress and thus activity level, but this may also reduce the baits already limited life span.

Please remember that all sharks are part of the environment and they do have a place in the Noosa River and every other estuary in the country. Interestingly a juvenile hammerhead was caught in the system in early February and tigers are quite regular visitors to the offshore reefs.

Targets for March

The Noosa River has seen quite a few quality jacks coming from both the lower reaches around Munna Point and the Woods Bay areas. The snaggy run in between the lakes has also delivered some quality jacks as well as a few good queenfish and some bull sharks on big live baits!

Mud crabs have been potted all over the system, however, securing a feed of legal crabs is difficult. Share farming is rife and deplorable, but a part of life. Whilst the regulations allow, try hiding your pots and securely shut the opening with cable ties. This wont keep everyone away from your crabs but the opportunistic types might think twice.

On the compliance side of things the busy river saw many boaters booked for speeding offences and the usual safety gear breaches. Please remember the speed limits – particularly the peak period amendments. And, being a good swimmer does not discount the requirement for appropriate safety gear!

The beaches have been very busy places during the crazy holiday period. Thankfully this has wound up at last and we can once again head up the beach to wet a line and catch a few fish in relative safety!

Bream, dart and a few good whiting have been on the bite around the gutters just south of Teewah on a low tide. Further north around the camping zone there have been better quality whiting.

The beach has flattened out now with the king tides and the recent wet/windy conditions, making it easy to drive on the low tide. The first beach cutting is quite soft whilst the second cutting has about a metre of water to push through, so take care.

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