Last weekend was indulgent, decadent and incredibly romantic.....for the women! Valentine's Day often turns into a whole weekend of doting (slavery), wooing (speaking Shakespeare constantly) and romantic events (all decisions must be made by the wife, however). Considering the whole world stops for this one date in the calendar and most men are punished if they don't have something booked, planned, delivered or bought for the occasion, I say the following weekend should be about Un-Valentine's Day. A day or whole weekend (if extremely lucky), to be apart from your other half, to do your own thing and be unromantic! I'd choose to go as far away from restaurants and gushy movies as possible - the reefs off Noosa. Now that's my idea of paradise.
Rather than telling you around-about where my favourite reefs in Noosa are, the co-ordinates are readily available to punch into the GPS so you absolutely can't miss it.
Jew Shoal: 26° 21' 95'' S LONG S 153° 06' 88'' E; in nice and close in Laguna Bay.
North Reef: LAT 26° 18' 55'' S LONG S 153° 10' 13'' E; approx. 15 kms N E of Noosa.
Chardon's Reef: LAT 26° 25' 25'' S LONG S 153° 13' 67'' E; approx. 15 kms E of Sunshine Beach.
What to expect:
Jew Shoal is very close to Noosa itself and is easily accessible from the bar. On a fine flat day you can be out there in under 10 mins with a glorious view of all the tourists sipping coffee in Hastings Street. Keep your eyes peeled for circling birds as Jew Shoal is an ideal spot to pick up baitfish. Trevally, tailor and big snub nosed dart are caught in the surface water on poppers, metal slugs and shallow diving surface lures as well as with bait. During mackerel season this is the spot to be trawling pilchards or bonito strips on a set of gangs. Expect to also catch big cod, snapper and most of the other reefies throughout the year.
This is also a great little spot to take your snorkeling or diving gear as the reef is gorgeous on a day with good visibility as there is a huge pinnacle to explore. Be aware that in decent swell there will be a wave-break at Jew Shoal, so gauge the capabilities of your boat before heading out here in the swell. If it is blowy, Jew Shoal is quite sheltered which is an added bonus (unless there's a North-easterly of course).
North Reef is a one of the best snapper fishing locations out from Noosa and it produces quality specimens throughout the year, but especially in winter. The fish are constantly on the move and trial and error is needed to track them down. Some of the big snapper have been up to 7kg this year and North Reef is well known as a feeding ground for pearl perch, maori cod, coral trout, yellow tail and black kingfish, large long tail tuna and the odd red emperor as well.
It takes around half an hour travel but once you arrive at North Reef, you will have to sound around looking for structure to anchor on. The bottom structure consists of coffee rock, coral reef and weed beds with a depth range between 35 and 45 meters. Most anglers use a dropper rig with a heavy snapper lead that will hold against the current. If you are using burley than it is well worth sending down a whole bait on a set of gangs weighed slightly with a ball sinker that is heavy enough to get your bait down to mid water.
The very northern end is called "The Coffee's" because it is made up of coffee rock type reef. The local charter boats regularly have success here. Early morning and late afternoons are the best times to fish North Reef; but when it is on fire it produces quality fish all day long. The main worry is crossing the Noosa Bar during the dark as it is notoriously shallow on low tide, so it pays to cross half tide or higher.
Chardon's Reef is east of Noosa and approximately 15km off Sunshine Beach which means you get to take quite a scenic trip around the headland and National Park on your way out. Chardon's averages around 50 meters deep so it is a great spot to target pelagic species. Snapper, pearl perch, trag jew, many cod varieties and scarlet sea perch are common catches. Coral trout also start to show up there in March but currently this a proving to be a top spot for spotty and Spanish mackerel as well as yellowfin tuna on lures. Local charter operators say that Chardon's fires up mostly over winter and the summer is often a great time to target marlin and other top end game fish.
Don't always expect to catch fish on your first trip to north as the fish are constantly moving and may take several trips to find them. Noosa Blue Charters (54499355) and Noosa's Laguna Charters (0428 409 628) are good local charter operators that fish these waters on a weekly basis and it is well worth booking a full day trip out with them to learn how they fish these areas and what end of the reef is working at the time.
At least you will be enjoying your freedom from the demands of life while away from it all, well at least a few km off the coastline. And nothing beats getting away from the uninviting suggestion from the wife to see that new romantic comedy or to have a candle-lit dinner while she discusses when you need to start thinking about children!
NOOSA: Longtail and mac tuna in Laguna Bay yesterday. Good catches of parrot and sweetlip at Sunshine Reef. In the river, good whiting on poppers in the top end of the Frying Pan and off Munna Pt. Flathead throughout the lower reaches and a few trevally on poppers in Woods Bay, best one went 3kg at night.
MAROOCHYDORE: Whiting up to 550g are feeding in the dirty water between Chambers Island and the Black Banks. A few trevally chasing prawn lures at the river mouth. Grunter bream and bream along the drop-offs near Bli Bli bridge. Mud crabs to 1kg between the cod hole and Bli Bli bridge and up Petrie Creek.
KAWANA: Dart, flathead and whiting along Kawana Beach, best between Access 15 and Point Cartwright. Trevally and gar in the lower reaches. Bream off the rocks walls and a few mangrove jacks near McKenzies Bridge.
CALOUNDRA: Trevally and bream in the Pelican Waters Canals. A very nice jack caught yesterday in Bells Creek. Bream and gar off the Boardwalk. Flathead and whiting opposite the Military jetty.
Paul Anderson was all smiles after pulling in this 6.4kg snapper
Ian Tagg fished Halls Reef (just north of the Noosa Bar) for this succulent 2kg sweetlip.
Don struggled to boat this huge 17.5kg spanish mackerel caught while trawling pillies at North Reef.
Emily Armstrong with a beautiful mangrove jack caught in the middle reaches of the Maroochy River on live bait overnight.