Sunshine Snapper Back
  |  First Published: May 2011



Spanish mackerel and coral trout continue to dominate catch lists off Noosa as the weather gradually cools its way towards winter. Snapper have also been regular catches, so offshore boaties have plenty of options.

Sunshine Reef has been one of the best locations to satisfy your hunter gatherer instincts, with the slightly further afield Chardons Reef also very much worth the fuel. Plenty of big Spanish mackerel, a few sailfish and the usual reef suspects have been on the chew.

Bottom bashing will deliver the goods on the reef fish. A floating pilchard or gar is a simple enough procedure to employ and will deliver the goods on a big fat Spaniard, or possibly a cobia, tuna or a big knobby that has munched its way up your berley trail.

Trollers too are picking up their fair share of big mackerel. Large lures, particularly flashy chrome jobs and Davo’s Spaniard Specials are the best tools for trollers.

Plenty of coral trout have been caught at Sunshine Reef and a few at North with some fish coming in at a very respectable 5kg. Local surfing identity Tom Wegener was stoked with a quality trout from a shallow inner mark at Sunshine Reef on what turned out to be a relatively slow morning.

We are still waiting for the spotted mackerel to arrive en masse and it appears that they might not show this time around. As previously reported, last summer was one of the best ever for spotties with just about everyone is catching a good feed with relative ease. The only likely explanation is that the enormous amounts of freshwater spewing out of every estuary all along the eastern seaboard have pushed the spotties further out to sea. There is certainly no evidence that it is a stock issue so let’s hope we don’t see any knee jerk reactions and have to put up with spotted mackerel closures as well as the recent snapper closure.

By the way, someone forgot to tell the local snapper population that they were off limits for six weeks as plenty were caught off Noosa. Some boats caught the best snapper they had seen in years during this period, but of course the fish were released as quickly as possible. The results of the releases will no doubt ever be known.

Closer to the bar, Laguna Bay has on some days been a seething mess of pelagics with longtail tuna leading the way. A big school of these brutes is something to behold and, generally speaking, one fish is enough as they can take some time to subdue, particularly on light spin tackle.

Having a spin rod loaded with a slug and within easy reach is a good option as the boiling schools can turn up at any time. A selection of slugs of various sizes is mandatory as these fish can become very focussed on their prey – if the tuna are harassing baitfish 60mm in length and you are madly retrieving a 30mm slug, it will probably go untouched. Matching the hatch can be difficult however on some occasions it is the only way to draw hits.

If the culprits are bonito or mac tuna, then one for the bait board can be a welcome addition to the pilchard stocks. If they happen to be longtails, or better still yellowfin, one for the chef will be plenty. Frozen tuna simply isn’t the same as a fresh slab dropped onto a barbecue plate with a drizzle of lime juice and of course washed down with a chilled crisp white. One 15kg tuna goes a long way.

Inside the river there have also been plenty of options. The Woods Bay area has seen big schools of tailor and trevally on the go, particularly at high tide. If you can arrange your trip to coincide with a dawn high tide you will really be in business. On most days the action slows dramatically as the fish go deep and/or disperse as the sun comes up.

Slugs and plastics catch their fair share as do skipping prawn imitations and fly anglers. A live unweighted prawn cast in the general direction of the last boil wont last long. Trollers catch a few fish too, but it can be difficult if there are a few boats working the school.

Flathead and whiting have been worth targeting in the lower reaches, particularly as the flooding tide pushes some clean sea water into the river. Bream and tarwhine have been easy targets around the river mouth and the Munna Point region.

Mud crabs are widespread and not particularly easy to catch but worth a try. You wont catch too many if your pots are in the shed, that’s for sure!

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