This winter we have seen an increase in the inshore snapper numbers, although nothing overly dramatic. Likewise, the mackerel and tuna have been lingering, which by now have generally thinned out so much they are almost impossible to catch. Hopefully every mackerel season will be like this from now on.
Cricket score catches of spotties were the norm from the outset with scattered Spaniards amongst them. As the season wore on the numbers, and size, of the Spanish variety increased and the spotties started to scatter. Here one day and absent the next was the order of the day for the next few months.
Sporadic catches of tuna were also mixed in with the mackerel, which too continued right through to the depths of winter, if you could call it that. Being a southerner I know what a cold winter is like, and believe me, we don’t get them on the beautiful Sunshine Coast.
Bottom bashers were delighted with an early, albeit brief, run of quality snapper. This fizzled out to almost nothing but by late June/early July they were on the go again. Parrots, sweetlip, spangled emperor and other mixed reefies made offshore trips worthwhile, even to the close reefs such as Halls, Jew Shoal, Sunshine and of course North.
Further afield there have been quality amberjack and rosy jobfish mixed in with heaps of big snapper and all of the usual suspects such as hussar, parrots, pearlies and the like. Noosa Blue Water Charters have had some fantastic sessions out wide so give them a call if you are keen to catch some serious fish.
Regular catches of sensational coral trout, particularly from Sunshine Reef, have really delighted some lucky fishos. Trout are by and large an incidental catch in these parts, however there are a few dedicated anglers that target these top shelf fish and they do so very well.
Becoming a specialist that targets a single species, particularly a finicky species such as trout, takes lots of time and effort. Most anglers simply don’t have enough spare time to dedicate to targeting single species, however those that do can sometimes clean up when everyone else goes fishless.
One day I hope to have enough time up my sleeve to be able to specifically build a knowledge base on most species in the area. There are so many factors that come into play that dozens, perhaps hundreds of trips and countless notes on conditions, such as time of day, light intensity, wind direction and speed, water temperature, air temperature, tidal phase and current speed and direction...and so on. Even then making sense of it all after years of data collection can be a chore. Assessing the results and then being able to make accurate predictions on when and where certain species can be best targeted must be the goal of any angler, be it saltwater, estuarine or the deep blue. Then perhaps, you could be legitimately called an expert!
Speaking of which, there are plenty of ‘experts’ floating about on the Noosa River. They all seem to have their own ideas and theories; some work well, some not so well.
Flathead anglers are a good example of diversity. Most of them like to fish the run-out tide in the Noosa system with soft plastics, however there are still a few avid hardbody fishers about – particularly trollers.
Trollers can cover a lot of territory and generally catch fish, from 20kg mackerel to 1000kg marlin, so don’t let anyone look down on you simply because you have a troll now and then! Have a relaxing troll for some flatties next time you are on the river. Try and follow the contours in about 3m of water and from now through to mid summer you’ll bring home a feed if you persevere.
Those that prefer to drift often arrive home with a pile of tasty flathead fillets along with a few by-catches of jew, bream, tarwhine and occasionally mangrove jack. Good baits to drift are small pilchards, frogmouth pilchards or simply fresh strips of fish flesh, particularly mullet.
Surface fishing is a great way to crank up the heart rate. Tailor and trevally are very good target species for those that like to bloop a popper across the surface, particularly at dawn or dusk. There have been plenty of both species taken at night around the river mouth, which is great fun so get out there and have a go. Other species that will respond to this technique include bream, jacks, whiting and even flathead.
Our old mate Phippsy is another surface addict and he has schooled plenty of punters in recent months in the joys of catching fish on the surface. Phippsy prefers light tackle that not only enhances your chances dramatically it also increases the thrill level to a maximum, particularly when you are encountering species that pull well beyond their size.
There have been plenty of luderick around the river mouth rocks, which is an annual event around here. These fish attract lots of attention and all the specialist gear gets dusted down and serviced, ready for a few short months of fun.
There are a few jewies around at present and they should continue to appear right through the remainder of the cooler months. As the minimum size for jew fish is now 75cm there won’t be too many legal specimens caught, however this is a great sign for future years.
Last month I incorrectly tagged one of my photographs. The picture showed a young and extremely enthusiastic Shannon Lacey about to release a trevally into the Noosa River. Unfortunately I referred to him as Chris Lacey. My apologies!Reads: 1266