We have enjoyed a wonderful run of quality fish here on the Sunshine Coast over the past couple of months. The exciting thing is that the snapper were again around in strong numbers, not the poor numbers that we consistently hear of from Fisheries! The wide areas of the Barwon Banks closer to the bottom of the Hards have been home to many a big snapper, with some weighing in at over 8kg after having been cleaned.
In between the snapper there have been enough pearl perch too keep all anglers happy. Some lovely fish have tipped the scales at around the 4kg mark, which is exceptional.
Working the run from the mids towards the north, there are plenty of rocky areas that produce parrot in numbers along with iodine bream, hussar, red-throat emperor and plenty of grass sweetlip. The better rig to use during this run is the humble paternoster (dropper), simply because of the rough bottom. The paternoster stops heaps of snags by having the sinker fixed to the bottom, taking the brunt of the hits.
Slightly west of this area is a spot that we call ‘Rough’ because of its very rough features. One moment you can be fishing in 40m of water and the next you will be in 55m so you need to keep your wits about you and watch the sounder closely. If you don’t, you will be responsible for anchoring the boat a lot of times when you snag up.
There is a lot of wire weed down around this area. If you have never encountered wire weed before, you are in for a treat. As the name implies, it curls like wire and is a coral-based weed, making it very rough and strong. It has a huge spring action and would probably be the best material to use in making shock absorbers for cars. If ever your rig becomes snagged in wire weed, you will probably lose it.
Still, it’s great country to fish for amberjack, samsonfish, kingfish, parrot (tuskfish) and stacks of other species. The mids around the 40m mark have produced a lot of rubbish fish such as iodine bream and small grassy sweetlip, but mixed in amongst them have been some good size red-throat emperor and big grassies.
The same area does hold a few pearl perch, but in my opinion there are better areas to target the ‘chicken of the sea’. The last standard option is to head south down the bottom of the Barwon Banks to a place called The Rocks. This area holds a mixture of both pelagics and reefies, and is always worth a look for snapper, too.
Wide Caloundra and the 12 Mile reef systems have also been producing snapper and big pearlies along with some very reasonable size cobia. Probably the biggest cobe I have seen this early in the season has been a 20kg+ fish which is extraordinary by any standards.
The top producing bait in recent weeks has been squid, and there is an abundance of them out wide if you jig at night time. If you feel you haven’t been getting enough snapper, you can understand where they will be with such quality food on offer.
The closer reef systems around the Caloundra 5 and 7 Mile, including Murphy’s and the Gneerings Shoals, have been consistent fish producers. There have been catches of moses perch, squire, pearl perch, Maori cod and sweetlip by the bucketload. The evening high tide has been the best tide to fish in these areas, so mark it in your calendar.
The Pumicestone Passage has seen the mullet run for another year and produced some classic bream, flathead and winter whiting around the traps. Trevally have been quiet this year by normal standards, but as the water warms up things will improve on that scene.
The deeper holes have been the spot to get your bigger flathead, and fresh bait has outclassed lures consistently. If you are having a crack at lures, the 3” Gulp shrimps are one of the better ones to throw around, along with a number of jerkshads.
The Passage has suffered a number of big rain spills which we thought may have a huge impact on the fishing. However, it doesn’t seem to have affected it much at all, outside of the normal couple of days for the water to clear. Bream have been around in the deeper drop-offs around 2m and can be taken on a number of baits including prawns, yabbies, mullet fillets and chicken gut. The smaller the hook the better, but the ever-popular long shank hook will always get you a feed.
Just outside the Caloundra Powerboat Club at the channel markers is a good spot to start, then work your way around to the Blue Hole and into the main channel towards the mouth. Don’t be fooled by a big show of fish in mid to high water on the sounder as most of them will turn out to be mullet.
The canals are ripe with bream and smaller flathead and these are best targeted in the afternoon or early morning tides. I have discovered that one of the best hardbody lures to toss around is the Damiki MUSP 45 or 50SP. These little lures are very effective on bream and a range of other species.
If you are into using blades, try casting them just behind the pontoons and work them slowly through the strike zone waiting to be hammered. A common mistake many anglers make is to retrieve their lure far too fast. You need to stop and pause your lure plenty of times and not be in such a hurry to get it back to the boat.
Further south in the Passage around Bell’s Creek, flathead enthusiasts been getting good numbers of lizards. The thick weed bed that runs down towards the boat ramp holds prawns and small baitfish, and that is why the fish are there. The large number of yabbies and poddy mullet that frequent the area also attract predators.
If you head even further south towards Coochin Creek and pull up about midway down you will always see stacks of boats fishing the area. This is where they get the whiting and bream, but you will need to look around for the better drop-offs and wedbeds before settling in for a session.
The canals around the back of the high school are also worth a shot for bream, late season jack or whiting, and lures work well in this area. Use your poppers in the early hours of the morning for the bigger whiting. The Rebel Pop-R and Stiffy poppers are the pick of the affordable ones. There are many other great poppers, it is just a matter of the size of your budget.
Fishing the beaches has been a pleasure, with tailor, bream, whiting and dart all being taken in the holes and few gutters around the Wurtulla Strip. Beach repairs are ongoing there due to the huge seas and massive sand loss, so be careful. The humble pilchard and prawns have produced well for anglers looking for a feed, and the simple paternoster rig is by far the pick when fishing for bread-and-butter beach species.
Moffat Beach has had a big run of mullet but the big news for anglers has been the outstanding amount of sweetlip that have frequented the area. If you are not hooked up to a bream or tarwhine then for sure it will be a sweetie.
Kings Beach is the spot for the whiting and fishing around towards the Caloundra Bar can reward you with chopper tailor, big flathead and plenty of bream.
A great winter season has been enjoyed by all with the opportunity to catch stacks more fish, so keep at it and have fun!
The Barwon Banks, Wide Caloundra and the 12 Mile reef systems have been producing plenty of snapper.
Ideal conditions for bream fishing.
Parrot (tuskfish) are a good species to target in August.
The author with a bream taken on a Damiki 50SP.Reads: 1610