Winter on the Reefs
  |  First Published: June 2010

The Sunshine Coast is alive with old man snapper, and as winter takes a hold the water temperature has dropped to really bring the big boys on the bite.

It’s not all snapper either; there are also plenty of other reef species available to make a day out fishing a real buzz.

The Barwon Banks has been in the news reporting strong catches of parrot, red throat emperor, snapper, trag jew, hussar, pig fish, pearl perch and amberjack.

There are stacks of bait schools around particularly near the Three Sisters situated around the middle of the Banks in 27-40m of water. You will often see game boats pulling up to catch their bait for a day out on the deep water.

The 85s are also producing some great snapper and big amberjack. Some points along this drop-off have limited amounts of wire weed where the pearl perch hang out and you can bet the big amberjack will be there ready to munch down on anything you hook and try to bring to the surface.

It has also been a good season on the trag jew and fish exceeding 6kg are regularly being taken at the shallows and deeper areas of the outside reefs.

Cobia have been caught around the Caloundra 12 Mile and out further through to Wide Caloundra. Floating livies or large yakkas have accounted for the better number of fish, while the smaller specimens are nailing paternoster rigs designed for reefies. Fresh squid is also fantastic bait for big cobia if you are able to get them.

Working the 60m line around Caloundra Wide you will pick up snapper, pearl perch and plenty of red throat emperor.

Big sweetlip are in the shallow reef areas such as the Outer Gneerings and Murphy’s Reef. One sweetlip I encountered only a few weeks ago weighed more than 7kg and was a tough fight. Nothing special nailed him it was just a pilchard rigged for sitting just off the bottom and designed to tempt anything that swam past.

Paternoster rigs are the better option for targeting snapper and pearl perch. But for the bigger snapper my preferred method is a snood rig using two 7/0 or 8/0 octopus circle hooks rigged on a 40lb mono trace.

I also use ganged rigs like three 6/0 Tru Turn Style 711 hooks laced with a juicy pilchard or a single 8/0–9/0 Gamakatsu big bait hook with a chunk of squid or other bait on it.

The choice is yours but you must have rigs that will suit your surrounds: for instance it’s useless fishing with a weighted gang rig in wire weed when a paternoster rig will reaps the rewards faster and more effectively.

The estuaries have seen the arrival of the big blue nose bream and some quality fish have fallen to yabbies, prawns and hardiheads.

Military Jetty in Golden Beach is one of the better evening spots to target the bream and if this area is quiet you can move around the corner and fish the rocks around the Pelican Waters Bridge.

Further back around the canals tarpon are stirring in the early hours of the morning but you will have to be early because just as the sun comes up they go off the bite.

Whiting can be taken from the banks along The Esplanade through to the back of Coochin Creek. This is a large area, but there are some fairly obvious spots to target them so just take a look around.

The deeper channel along the Boardwalk in Caloundra has produced good size bream particularly in the wee hours of the morning along with tailor, flathead and squire.

Fish the northern tip of Bribie on the last of the making tide for big whiting in the surf and be prepared because there are mulloway around stealing them once they are hooked.

The main channel markers off the tip of Bribie are also a good place to start your offshore trip this month with mulloway, cobia and amberjack all in close right through to Brays Rock. There are normally good bait schools around this area in the winter so throw in a jig if you intend to head out in this direction.

Mooloolaba is enjoying some good bream fishing particularly around the wharfs where the long liners and trawlers moor.

The public jetty there is normally always packed with anglers and if there is no space available there then work around the rock wall area.

The back estuaries have been quiet but there are still smaller fish to be taken around the bridges and pontoons. The canals around Kawana have certainly improved in recent months with bream, flathead and mullet all available.

Currimundi Lake still has bream, with the best bait in this area is smaller herring. The water is a little smelly but there are still fish around so give it a go.

The beaches are all producing dart, flathead, tailor and bream and the better areas to target are between access 36-41.

Dicky Beach has decent pan size whiting on offer. Worms and yabbies work a treat on these fish and the occasional oversize one will swallow a whole peeled prawn.

Kings Beach is the spot for bream and whiting, and also has the odd chance of a squire or greenback. Fish in to the evening for the better tailor particularly on the making tide.

This coming month will be great on the reefs and the big knobbie snapper will really come out to play. We will see better tailor being taken around the beaches too, so pack up and get out there.

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