Pearl of winter
  |  First Published: June 2009

The Sunshine Coast has been the place to enjoy some superb fishing over the past month with even better times ahead. Like the whole east coast of Australia we have had our fair share of rain and wind but with the dams nearly 80% full, we can’t complain.

The outside reefs, especially the Barwon Banks, have been the place to fish for sweetlip, red throat, trag jew, pearl perch and snapper. Fish the pinnacles and drop-offs in 40-60m of water, as the majority of the fish seem to be in these areas. Deeper water like 85m+ is still producing but not in the numbers that are in the shallows.

Live bait has been around in big numbers so far this season. Slimies and yakkas are schooling up in the usual haunts and it only takes a couple of minutes fishing to fill the live well with enough bait to enjoy your trip. And there is nothing better than live or fresh baits to ensure a good fishing trip and quality fish. Keep an eye on QFM in the coming months as I am preparing a few articles on the best way to present live baits.

Fishing the Three Sisters in the middle of the Barwon Banks has, as usual, been a treat lately for anglers. Everything from big jew, snapper, sweetlip, parrot and stacks of other fish just love those rocky drop-offs and large holds against the pinnacles.

The Three Sisters is a series of three pinnacles in a row, with a depth ranging from 27m to 40m. This spot is a great producer on both bottom lines and floaters so give it a go soon. It’s around 36km east of Mooloolaba Harbour, which is about an hour in the boat.

The top of the Hards has been a little quiet for some time as a result of trawler activity in the area. Trawlers have bombed it for a long time and it doesn’t look like recovering any time soon. But early signs indicate the bigger snapper should be on in the coming weeks in better numbers, so be ready.

Wide Caloundra through to the Dog Leg has seen some brilliant big pearlies taken but still mostly smaller size snapper. The trag are also around with parrot, monster cod, pearlies to 4kg, coral trout and plenty of Moses perch to make up the numbers. Evening fishing has been by far the most productive way to go, but if you like to fish the early morning be prepared to move around in between the tides and target different species to keep the fish ticking over.

The inner reefs such as Murphy’s, Caloundra, Five Mile, Seven Mile, 12 Mile and the Gneerings are worthly of a mention as the fishing has been excellent. Moses perch, sweetlip, and red throat are around in good numbers.

Estuary cod and a few greasy cod have also been taken on the drift using whole fish fillets fished on the bottom. The big difficulty with that is the snag rate triples but it is all worth it once you are fighting a 10kg cod. We have been using fresh squid lately thanks to the large numbers of them out at the Bank. But the fish are not responding to the squid as well as we would have hoped; it’s possible the fish have gorged themselves on it for too long and are sick of it.

The humble pilchard and mullet fillets have been working a treat; so spend some time getting them fresh if you know where to go. There has also been a small school of bait hanging around the blinker at the 9km mark off Mooloolaba so stop there on your way out for a fish.

So what size breaking strain line should you use for these species? I use nothing over 20lb braid for my float lines for all the fish mentioned in this article. The only time I step up to 50lb braid is if I am fishing in deep water or chasing wahoo, sailfish, mahi mahi, big tuna.

I often see anglers gearing up for that fish of a lifetime and by doing so they miss out on catching smaller varieties of many fish. Take a minute and think about all the fish you have ever caught, then estimate an average weight. It’s unlikely there would be any number of consistent catches over 10kg. In fact it’s probably unlikely the majority is even over 5kg, so why use heavier line?

I recommend getting out of the ‘just in case a big one comes along’ mindset and downsize your line and leader. Monitor the difference in catch rates and you may be surprised. I catch more snapper on my spin outfit with 20lb braid and a stretch leader of 15-20lb. With a setup like that I should be able to land a fish around 8kg without any problems, and I do.

Now I understand that if you are in rocky country a heavier wearing leader is better and I agree but if I am float lining for fish the rule is: the lighter the better. I promise it will improve your skills as an angler and lift your hook up rate considerably, so give it a go.

The Pumicestone Passage is the spot for bream. Some bigger fish have finally come on the chew with good numbers being taken around the Blue Hole and at the front of the Bell’s Creek entrance. Further south around Coochin is the spot for whiting at the moment with top quality fish. The entrance of Caloundra Bar or off the northern tip of Bribie Island is producing some good whiting, bream and flathead with chopper tailor a welcome by-catch.

The Power Boat Club in Caloundra is a great location to fish in the coming months. Try the area around where the boats are permanently moored, as it is full of weed and holds flathead, whiting and bream. The area directly out from the club is also productive. At low tide it displays a shallow bank that runs for 300m out towards Bribie Island, and along this area is a deep drop-off into the southern side of the Passage. Work this area with soft plastics or hardbodied lures, ensuring the lures hit the sand and continually puff up lots of debris. This really gets the fish into a feeding frenzy and if there are a few lizards around they will grab them.

To the right hand side of the Club is the Pelican Waters Bridge and leading up to the bridge is a series of rocks that have been used to build the channel entrance. Trevally, bream, queenies and other species can be taken here especially in the evenings or early mornings. Further to the right is Military Jetty which fishes right into the main channel giving anglers plenty of opportunities to nail some good fish.

The beaches, particularly Moffat, have been fishing well for sweetlip, snapper and bream. If it’s whiting you want then travel around to Kings Beach after dusk or in the early morning for the bigger boys. Dart, bream and tailor are also running the deeper holes along the Wurtulla Strip right through to Point Cartwight and beyond.

Over all we have had a good month of fishing just gone and an even stronger one ahead. Fresh mullet is the order of the month, so if you can use them for bait as they work a treat. Have Fun!

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