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Fishing Feature: Escape up the Beach 2013-12-12

The good weather is definitely here to stay and with any luck it will remain over Christmas. The glorious weather of late (apart from the odd shower or two) is just what the doctor ordered for kids who are breaking up from school today. Many parents would have packed up the 4wd, tent and beach fishing gear and be chopping at the bit to get over the Noosa River via ferry and hit the beach between Noosa North Shore and Freshwater camping grounds. The beaches are easily accessible, camping spots are a-plenty and the fishing is great for summer species.

Where to go: The stretch of beach from Teewah to Cooloola is the gateway to the Great Sandy National Park and most people access this area by crossing the Noosa River at Tewantin on the ferry and follow the road to the beach - and it's less than 30mins from Hasting St! Two wheel drive vehicles can park at the end of the bitumen and walk less than 100m to the surf beach. Those lucky enough to have a 4WD can choose from 3 cuttings in the dunes to access the beach. You need to turn left, heading northwards up the beach you will find Teewah township, the huge Cooloola sand mass and beach camping and the Freshwater Camp grounds. The 2km+ from the river mouth to the third cutting along the North Shore is restricted from any vehicle in efforts to preserve the beach.

Council has taken a proactive approach towards the protection of our natural environment as the closure provides ecological sustainability and helps preserve our natural environment for the future and this happened last month and seems to working.

When to go: If wanting to drive up the beach a bit, aim to hit the sand on the low tide for greatest driving ease. At this time the sand is at its hardest, with wide stretches of beach allowing you to pass other cars safely. You can drive up until a couple of hours before high tide, but the closer to high, the higher up you will have to drive. Poor planning can see you driving in very soft dunes at incredibly slow speeds (possibly destroying all dune plant life). This can lead to you getting bogged and will double the travel time as well. Tide times from Teewah to Double Island vary from local Sunshine Coast tides, as a general rule you should take off an hour and a half from the Maroochy river mouth tide.

What to take: There is a pub with general conveniences just as you get off the ferry from Tewantin and before you go onto the beach, but once on the beach there is no petrol station or shopping centre (just make this clear with the wife!) There is, however, kilometres and kilometres of pristine beach for fishing, swimming, sunbaking and of course, relaxing. Take an esky of cold beers, plenty of picnic food, an umbrella for shade, fishing gear, swimmers and sun protection. If you managed to get a whole weekend free from commitments, take the tent and make it a nice valentine's weekend surprise for the other half.

Tackle: On the fishing front, bring out your 11-14ft beach rod. If targeting beach species, a nice whippy rod constructed of hollow fibreglass or carbon composite, preferably one piece is recommended. A beach rod must have the feature of a tip light enough to cast lightly weighted baits while letting you "feel" the bite. The flexibility of the tip must enable you to hook and play a fish without placing too much pressure on the line or inevitably having it give way and snap. Rig up an Alvey or reasonably sized spin reel with 4 - 8kg line to compliment the rod. The minimum of moving parts in an Alvey, and their simple design compared to other reel types, make them almost maintenance and trouble free, especially with the corrosive wear from sand and salt.

The golden rule is to fish as lightly as possible. The lightest line, sinker and hook combination as the weather conditions allow. In windier conditions, increase the size of your sinker to allow for the line to be cast sufficiently. Light rigs allow the bait to be moving with the surge of the wave and this action helps find a lot more fish. An excellent line for beach fishing is the durable Schneider line in breaking strains from 4 - 8 kg. Use lighter line for dart, bream and whiting, heavier lines for tailor and jew.

If fishing for dart, whiting, flathead or bream, use a similar bait as you would in the rivers - worms, pippies and squid. A #1 bait holder or #4 long shank hook, surf sinker and at least a 50cm leader of slightly heavier line will set you up to target these species. These fish usually feed in the shallower gutters and can often be seen in the breaking waves if the water is clear. Additionally, bream and flathead can't resist a white bait or frogmouth pilchard rigged on a small gang of hooks.

The bigger fish - tailor and jew, have sharp teeth that will cut through line, so some trace is needed. Wire traces tend to scare fish, so upgrade to some heavier nylon around a meter long in 15 to 20 kg breaking strain. Pilchards of the WA variety, gar, small mullet strips, froggies and white bait on a gang of linked hooks will do the trick. The number and size of the hooks used depends on the type and size of your bait. Small pilchards or baitfish need gangs made from #3 to #1/0 hooks. For WA pilchards the gangs will be made of larger hooks. Gauge this by measuring the length of the bait against the gang. The correct way to bait your rig is to place it alongside the bait and align the point of the first hook with eye of the bait. Note the spot on the side of the bait where the last hook rests. Insert this hook first and continue with the others in sequence. The first hook should now go through the bait's eye socket.

Lachlan Dutney whiting 40cm

Whiting like this 40cm specimen move into the Cooloolah and north shore gutters at this time of year. Low tide gutters can normally be fished with a long whippy rod for best results.

Larry Bushby 62cm Dusky Chambers

Dusky flathead in the 55-70cm mark are common catch in the gutters and holes at this time of the year and love eating whiting bait or pillies on gang rig.

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