OFFSHORE: It was a scramble to get out while the going was good later in the week with blustery conditions forecast from Wednesday onwards. The local reefs were quite fishable prior to that (although at times a bit sloppy) with light to moderate variable easterly winds the norm rather than the exception. There wasn't much swell on the bar but the small sets packed a punch, much to the surprise of any skipper who managed to stray outside the boat channel.
And the good news was that the fish were certainly on the chew and those anglers with the bigger boats reported good snapper, mahi mahi, cobia, jewfish, pearl perch, tuna and mackerel out wide towards and at the Barwon Banks. Along the middle reef belt, though, the pelagic action ran hot and cold.
Benoit Fourie (pictured above) and a mate fished North Reef on Saturday hoping for a Spanish mackerel. After a couple of hours of trolling a variety of hard body lures without much luck, however, they elected to do a spot of bottom bashing. And, as you can see, it paid off in spades when Ben hooked this 1m+ jewfish on a squid bait and shortly after, an 83cm specimen using a bonito fillet. After dropping a small cobia at the side of the boat when it spat the hook they then decided to head for home, stopping off at Hall's Reef where they picked up a few grass sweetlip and two legal size flathead. Not a bad day out.
Report and photo (above left) from Chicko Vella, Davo's Tackle World... "It's been a while since we got so many good days in a row! The mackerel recipes have worn thin at my place. So with the full moon cycle, I decided to tackle the reef fish on an overnighter on the weekend with my mate Sonnie. We headed north to investigate the possibilities and on our very first stop the sounder was lit up with... mackerel!! They were so hungry, anything that hit the water was devoured. After dark we settled into boating a few good size sweetlip. Calm night and small swell made for a good snoring competition!! Fish on!! Chicko."
The spotted and large Spanish mackerel were out and about around Coolum and Sunshine reefs. The best results came from trolled baits including garfish, slimy mackerel, larger pilchards and sauri’s on a weighted chin guard or a squid teaser rig. The bigger Spaniards and tuna love this presentation. Deep divers and medium divers around the southern end of Sunshine Reef also yielded some nice fish. From Jonathan Leslie... "Hey mate. Took the midget and his mate for a spin over Sunshine Reef on Saturday. His mate Gus (above right) caught the biggest fish he’s ever seen on a trolled dead slimey. His grin says it all!..."
For the bottom bashers, though, it was a matter and local knowledge and quality marks. Amanda Bissell (pictured above) and Tim Milat did well at Sunshine Reef on Sunday. According to Tim there were heaps of grass sweetlip on the bite out there but Amanda claimed bragging rights for the trip when a quality coral trout monstered her whole pilchard bait. She also claimed the Davo's Tackle World/ChaseBaits Fish of the Week prize with her first ever Noosa trout.
The bait schools were out and about in numbers in Laguna Bay, as were the tuna and smaller mackerel. From 14 year old Tom Wall, above... "Hi all. I caught this beauty of a Grassy Sweetlip at Hall’s Reef on Saturday morning. It went for a pilchard piece on a running ball sinker rig. It measured a whopping 55cm (they apparently only grow to 56cm). It tried hard to head into the coral and snap me off but I managed to get him up. There were plenty of school mackerel, bonito and tuna on the bite as well. Tom Wall, Sunshine Beach." There were also a few good size Spaniards on the prowl around Jew Shoal at first light.
COASTAL: Mike Sultana, Davo's Northshore Bait and Tackle... "The stretch from Coolum to Castaways has been good for smaller jewfish and tailor this week with best results between sunset and moon rise. Finding a good gutter with a rip is a great place to fish for these species. Half and whole pilchard baits, mullet and bonito strips have claimed some nice fish on the incoming tides. Whiting were well spread from there to Sunshine Beach and were responding well live worms and yabbies. Flathead were also out and about and have been going for whole prawn baits and mullet strips.
Apart from that, spotties were within casting distance of rocks at the north end of Sunshine while flathead, dart and small tailor were active around Teewah.
ESTUARY: Adam Neilson, Davo's Tackle World Noosa... "The spotties were schooling close enough to the river mouth at times to be included in the estuary report this week. Fishing from the banks, though, produced flathead from the deeper channels and whiting from the sand flats on the run-out tide. Along from there, mangrove jacks were active from the car park rocks to the Dog Beach while further up, the Current Line produced trevally and queenfish. The Woods Bays were good for GT's and diamond trevally while the stretch from Culgoa Point to the Munna Point Bridge yielded jacks, trevally and tailor.
Tewantin angler Don Scott (above left) was fishing for whiting in the lower estuary late on Tuesday when, not long after dark, this 47cm mangrove jack tried to run off with his beach worm bait. A nice bonus to top of his catch of whiting and a tailor. And from James Trethewey, above right... "Hey guys. Up from Brisbane and staying at the Culgoa Point Resort. Was just after the rain came through about 5pm on Wednesday. Was fishing with squid getting some bream until my other line with a pilly on it went off. On the end was a 47cm mangrove jack. Only the second jack I have caught so it is now on the menu for lunch."
Whiting were biting in Weyba Creek while upriver, trevally, queenfish and tailor on the prowl along the Noosaville stretch. Last but not least, flathead were on the bite near the mouth of (and inside) Lake Doonella and the Noosa Marina while jacks were active between the lakes. Oh, and let's not forget the mud crabs which were on the move throughout the system. From Samantha Broderick... "Hi Bill. Emma (above) and her pop went crabbing on Saturday night and ended up with four yummy buck muddies. The only problem was she didn’t have enough hands for the photo. Cheers, Sam."
Report from Jimmy Free, Noosa River Fishing Safaris... Hey mate. We caught mangrove jacks in good numbers down the river mouth this week as well as a few flathead. Pictured (above) from Saturday afternoon's charter is Dave from Brisbane with a couple of 55cm (est) jacks and Michael from Peregian (below) with a 43cm model. The Woods Bays were a little hit and miss but got some fun little cale cale trevally and some goldens. We did a whiting session in the Frying Pan on live worms and got a good feed for the punters. There were also some big schools of grunter bream or javelin fish up in Lake Cooroibah."
FRESHWATER: Grant Budd, Davo's Northshore Bait and Tackle... "Freshwater was harder to fish with the daytime temps over 30C and last weekend sitting at 38C. This sees a limited surface bite as the early morning sun tends to drive the fish into the shade or deeper. Borumba is dangerously low and I witnessed every passing boat hitting trees at speed. It is far safer to run electric motors and take your time as some huge trees are just below the surface. Water clarity is a little reduced from the winds but should clear over the coming days. Popular lures are smaller Jackall Squirrels, Hot Bite Spectre Assist and TT Vortex spinnerbaits. Working the shade lines and edges of lilies with a small hard body lure will entice any fish lying in wait. Always be sure to put in a long enough pause with jerkbaits as most fish will hit during this time. Weedless lures are also a must, especially in Borumba as the weed has grown 3-6 meters from the bank with the drop in the water level. Take your time and enjoy the freshwater this March as spring is usually a great time to be out there."