Summer Fishing Magic
  |  First Published: February 2009

This has possibly been one of the best summers for estuary fishing I have witnessed for a few seasons. Overall it’s probably just as well considering the long spells between opportunities to get outside due to the weather.

This is something that perhaps the government departments who speak of doom and gloom within the fishing industry should witness first hand. Who knows, we may then have some real scientific evidence to base all these new regulations on. It’s March and that means changes to how we fish, bag limits, size limits and where we can fish around South East Queensland are effective. Check the DPI website for all the details.

Nearly every waterway has had its fair share of good runs this summer from the Pumicestone Passage in Caloundra right though to Noosa. One of the most prominent species has been the mangrove jack. From every canal, bridge pylon, mangrove area, rock wall or jetty they just kept on chewing bait and smashing lures. Fish between 2-4kg were in the paper or on the news nearly every week.

Both trevally and tarpon have been regular by-catch around the traps. The humble flathead has also been making a great appearance and this season we only just missed the magical 1.2m mark on a big breeder.

Fishing around the mouth of the Caloundra Bar has been very productive particularly in the early morning or late afternoon on the ebbing tide. The recent rains have been great for the estuaries flushing them out and putting a bit of colour in the water so that the bigger predators can hide awaiting ambush. It has also benefited the crabs with muddies gracing a few pots of late.

The Maroochydore River is one of the better spots to try for flatheads in particular right down the back around the Bli Bli creeks and tributaries. The Pelican Waters canals have been awash with boaties tossing lures at the rock walls, pylons and hundreds of pontoons in search of bream, trevally, jack and tarpon.

Down past Bell’s Creek towards Coochin has been the spot for the whiting over the summer period. The better fish preferred live prawns, small yabbies and worms, which proves that fresh bait is best by far. The passage has also seen a good run of mulloway most of which would be better categorised as soapies but it was nothing to catch and release over 10 in any session. These fish normally weighed in around the 2-4kg mark, which is a reasonable size and great fun on light gear.

The humble floating popper would be the winner in surface lures for the summer without doubt. Lures like the Maria Pop Queen in 30 and 50mm, Tiemco Might Popper and the Rebel Teeny Pop R 50mm have caught some big whiting and trevally within the estuaries. More and more anglers are testing this sweeping fad and learning fast the boundaries and the number of species that will hit poppers.

We should continue to target the flathead and bream and will continue to get mangrove jack through to April. Whiting are an all year round option and a great species with which to introduce kids to fishing. The deeper holes around the Boardwalk in Caloundra are worth trying for bream, trevally, mulloway, flathead and jack not to mention an odd shark or two.

Outside on the many reefs we have on offer around the Sunshine Coast there have been strong reports of mackerel. As is typical of mackerel fishing here, the action is hot one day, cold the next. The big Spaniards will still be around but the schoolies will be ready to disappear for another year soon.

Trolling deep divers such as Halco’s or Lively Lures are a good option when float lining is slow and unproductive. Spots to try are Currimundi Reef around Bray’s Rock and the Five and Seven Mile reefs at Caloundra. Further north Sunshine Reef has had a great run on mackerel as well.

The Barwon Banks has started to produce more reefies. After a slow 2008 our expectations are high for the coming 2009 winter. Mahi Mahi, wahoo, tuna and small sailfish are all out around the 100m line. The snapper are in close with big fish being taken with 5km of Point Cartwright on more than one occasion. Murphys Reef will be the spot to nail some good reefies once the weather relaxes and the strong southerly blows are over for another year.

The Inner and Outer Gneerings are a safe night fishing option. Their close proximity makes them the perfect choice if there is any doubt that the weather is going to change. They have also proven to be the spot for sweetlip and estuary cod.

Wide Caloundra has pearl perch, cod, fingermark and snapper around but you have to work for them. It is a matter of finding a spot that is holding and targeting them. We have found that if there is no fish around move on because not even the berley will help in the non-peak fishing times. Moving to deeper water is not necessarily the answer but it is the way to go if all else fails and you feel like jigging up some pelagics.

The beaches have been nearly a write off for the entire winter season on past efforts. The wild weather sure saw to that. There are very few gutters along the Wurtulla Strip but a number of holes are still useful at high tide. Dart, bream, whiting, and chopper tailor are around if the weather lets you get out. My tip is to head up to Tewantin and have a crack at the big snub nose dart and mulloway that are being caught. As the cooler weather comes on we will be able to settle into a better fishing routine on the beaches so hang on it’s just around the corner.

Two surprise hook-ups for this season have been a cobia and a threadfin salmon taken inside Pumicestone Passage. But the winner for summer 2008/09 was the capture of a hairtail amongst the long liners and trawlers up in Mooloolaba Harbour. For those of you that don’t know what a hairtail is, it resembles a fresh water eel except it is entirely silver like a ribbonfish and flat. Hairtail also have a very scary set of teeth that they use to tear the bait to pieces and can inflict some serious damage to anglers. We used to catch them in great numbers down in Newcastle around the Harbour but in much deeper water, which they prefer. That’s why I am so passionate about fishing, it just keeps throwing up curve balls and everyday there is something new to learn and test along with someone new to teach.

Remember to brush up on the new changes coming into effect on 1 March 2009 and always have fun!

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