Surf, swim and fish!
  |  First Published: November 2009

On the Sunshine Coast it’s been a stormy start to the summer months, coupled with a good run of mackerel.Most recently we have witnessed a number of quality mangrove jack and monster flathead being taken on both baits and lures around the traps and the ever reliable bream and whiting have kept everyone guessing.

The holidays are now upon us and the whole area will be swarming with visitors and holidaymakers looking forward to catching a few waves, a good tan and a fish or two. And best of all there is every chance of successfully catching a fish both on the reefs and within the estuaries in December.

Recently Caloundra has enjoyed the reopening of the Boardwalk along the Esplanade which is now an even better spot to drop a line for visitors and locals. The best time to hit this spot is on the top and bottom of the tides and very early in the morning.

Big trevally hang around the deeper holes along with cod, flathead, queenies and who knows what else. One of the best methods to use when fishing along the Boardwalk stretch right through to the mouth of the bar is a single paternoster rig that has around an 8oz snapper lead on it to hold the bait against the current. Live pike and herring make top baits in the area and when they are not available fish strips or pilchards will work.

The mouth of Caloundra Bar has been attracting a lot of attention due to the fact that flathead hang on either side of the fast current in the eddies that provide shelter and a great ambush sight for the predators. Fish the rocks along the park end and if you have the means then pop across to the northern tip of Bribie Island and work the water 200m west of the tip and back.

The whiting will often congregate around the very shallow waters and sand bars which are revealed on low tide. Normally placing a bait just on a drop-off can reward you with some action and if things are slow then look for structure around the bridge at Military Jetty and Pelican Waters or work the pontoons and rock walls in the area.

While these particular areas remain good spots it is normally the bream, flathead and trevally that will hold in these areas. Another good tip is to work all the areas further south of Bell’s Creek around the weed beds. Normally this provides a great sanctuary for many species and it’s just a matter of working your way around until you take a hit.

If it’s mangrove jack you’re chasing then the pontoon next to the Caloundra Coast Guard is a good starting spot, as is the rock wall that works its way around the Pelican Waters bridge. Other spots like Currimundi Lake and the bridges around Minyama are always worth a shot and the good thing is you don’t need a boat to fish them.

The rock wall at Mooloolaba is a place you can’t afford to miss; it has the potential of offering up tuna, mackerel, sweetlip, squire and many other species. The area also offers a lot of other fishing opportunities with the beaches and flat water on the western wall the spot for whiting and flathead or either side of the main channel leading out to the Coral Sea.

The La Balsa Park side has rock walls and a pontoon to fish for bream and others but it can get very busy. The beauty of this and many other areas is that you can set a line and have a swim for a while if it all gets too much.

The other side of the river is where the long liners and trawlers moor and here there are a couple of public jetties that hold some big fish but in particular bream and trevally. Now that is a lot of options for you over the holidays.

If you own a boat and would like to get outside then use the Mooloolaba entrance for safety’s sake. The Caloundra Bar is just too tricky for those who are inexperienced. The Inner Gneerings, which are only 4km from Point Cartwright, are a haunt for big parrot, sweetlip, squire and mackerel and it is a spot that is normally sheltered from too many big sea days.

A little further east and you will find the Outer Gneerings, which stretch out level with the Mooloolaba blinker. Murphy’s is further out to the southeast and it is an area covered in pinnacles and flat gravel areas. Normally you can expect to catch everything around this area but by far the best time to fish it is on dusk into the evening.

Caloundra has a wide range of reef systems including the Five, Seven and Twelve Mile reefs that have everything from pearl perch to cobia around them. The Five Mile is one of the better spots for float lining for mackerel or trolling in an easterly direction along the Spoil Grounds, which is situated about 4km out off the northern tip of Bribie Island. All of these spots are clearly marked on a standard Mooloolaba navigation map available at most fishing stores.

Wide Caloundra has plenty of wire weed making it a home for pearl perch and associated predators. Big amberjack normally hang around patches of pearlies because they love to munch on them so if you get hit on your retrieve you can nearly bet an AJ has grabbed your fish.

Further north you move onto the Barwon Banks which is a vast area ranging from 27-140m deep. There are drop-offs, pinnacles, step downs, caves, ship wrecks, wire weed patches and heaps more making it a top place to search for fish. Normally it is around 40km east northeast out from Mooloolaba and you will be just coming up onto the area.

There is a wide range of species available at the banks. Parrot, hussar, reds, emperor, cod and others can be taken around the middle of the banks in anything from 27-60m of water. Drifting is a great option out there but you need to watch the sounder closely because as the ground changes your chances of snagging are greatly increased.

If you want to bottom bash and float baits out the back on anchor then use plenty of berley and be prepared to wait. Normally a good show of fish is not that difficult to find, it’s getting them to take a bait that can be frustrating.

There are numerous spots to rock and beach fish from Caloundra right through to Noosa as well. Dart, whiting, tailor, mulloway, mackerel and flathead can be taken right along the beaches so pack your surf gear as well.

There will be plenty of pelagic action throughout December namely cobia, mackerel, amberjack, mahi mahi and wahoo so enjoy your holidays, stay safe and a very Merry Christmas to you all.

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