The weather is definitely all over the shop at present with flooding/cyclones/incessant rain north of here and unbearable heat/fires/wind south of here, it almost makes you want to seek solace in a cold, wet area on high ground. Our hearts go out to all those affected by the tragic weather patterns we are having and I hope everyone can help out with donations to those in great need. It seems every night on the news, something else has gone terribly wrong in the world. In light of so much ‘bad news' at present, the only way I can take my mind off it for a bit is to go somewhere where I won't get any radio, TV or mobile phone reception - up the beach!
Fortunately this part of Queensland is experiencing glorious weather apart from the odd shower or two. February is one of the best months of the year to pack up the 4wd, tent and beach fishing gear and hit the beach between Noosa North Shore and Freshwater camping grounds. The beaches are easily accessible after much traffic during January; camping spots are a-plenty now that the kiddies are back at school 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. For those who would rather fish close to a river mouth, yet want the option of beach gutters, turn right when you hit the beach and take a short drive south to Noosa North shore. If you 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. If you prefer the creature comforts of your own bed at home and only want to hit the beach on a day trip then turning right just after you enter the beach via the cuttings could be for you. A short five minute drive south along North Shore will bring you to the Noosa River mouth, which provides a wide variety of river and beach species for keen anglers to target.
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.
Ah just writing this makes me feel like shutting the shop early today and making a move before the old man can say "Where has my hard working son disappeared to?". So hopefully me beach fishing tips will help you get away from it all, even if it is just for an afternoon and hopefully when you get back, there will be some good news for the country!
LOCAL FISHING REPORT
NOOSA: Spotty mackerel in good numbers up off Sunshine Reef in the mornings. Whiting along north shore. Mangrove jacks from Noosa Sound and in between the lakes over night. Flathead and whiting in the lower reaches.
MAROOCHYDORE: A 6.9kg snapper and 3.4kg spanish mackerel were taken by yak angler Paul Anderson from a Patch of Reef up off Coolum. Jacks in the creeks and around bridges over night. Scattered catches of whiting throughout the river. Mud crabs up to 2kg between Petrie Creek and Wetland reserve over night.
KAWANA: Spanish mackerel from the Gneerings and Murphies. Snapper to 5.9kg, sweetlip and parrot from Murphy’s and the 10 mile. Dart, whiting and bream from access 8 along Kawana Beach. Quality bream of Point Cartwright rocks.
CALOUNDRA: Whiting between the bar and Bells Creek. Mangrove jacks in Pelican Waters, from the boardwalk over night and on live bait in Coochin Creek. Flathead around the drop offs between the bar and the military jetty.
Peter Baitey was up to his old tricks again targeting mangrove jack up Petrie Creek using live pody mullet to temp this 1.5kg specimen.
Noosa angler Mark Arnall caught and released this 2kg mangrove jack between the lakes.
This 49cm Jack was taken with a Soft Plastic by Daniel from Caloundra
while aboard Anglers Advantage Fishing Charters on the Pummicestone Passage.
Some of you will be able to relate to my struggle to keep my New Year's resolutions only one month into the year. Drinking less was one resolution I announced at the stroke of midnight on the 31st. But this was too hard to stick to given the stinking hot conditions we've had of late! The other resolution was to look after my body better, I have already scheduled thorough weekly workouts for arms and shoulders by practicing my cast and retrieve technique!
Eating healthily is going to be easy this year as I plan to live off plenty of fresh fish. Unfortunately I'm easily enticed by the taste of beer batter. There is bound to be a few fellow anglers out there who are in the same boat, so I have done my research and spoken to my darling mother who is super healthy and have compiled a few facts on the healthier ways to cook fish.
So you've caught a huge fish. Firstly, keep the fish cool in an esky on ice and don't forget to bleed all pelagic species like tuna, mackerel, tailor and dart to name a few. Oxygen makes the flesh start to decompose and blood is high in oxygen as it transports oxygen about the body. So any blood left in the fish fillets will speed up this process. When you get home, rinse the fish in cold water and dry. Wrap in foil, or cling wrap or place on paper towel in well sealed container and store in the fridge - with the plan to use within 1-2 days.
The three most important things you need to remember when it comes to cooking fish:
1. DDon't overcook - the texture will become coarse, dry out and the flavour will be destroyed.
2. DDon't over flavour - fish have very delicate flavours, so be light-handed with salt and spices.
3. KKeep moist - preserve the natural juices when cooking by using a moist cooking method.
The top four cooking methods:
Baking in Foil - an excellent way to retain flavour and moisture (especially if you have a larger fillet or whole fish). Add a liquid such as fish stock, white wine or lemon juice (approx ¼ of the fish weight i.e. 200g of fish needs 50ml of liquid) with a little butter, salt, pepper and seasonings of your choice before sealing the fish in foil. Bake in a moderate oven 180-200C for a mouth-watering result.
Barbecue - quick and easy, but can often dry out the fish. So protect it with marinades, bastes, lemon juice or a little butter brushed on frequently during cooking. Or wrap it in foil with these liquids and seasonings. Do not attempt to move the fillets for at least a few minutes; this will only break up the fillet. Once the fish has formed a crust on the bottom and the colour of the fillets has started to change on the sides you can turn it over. This is my favourite option for summer social do's.
Grilling - a fast way to cook fish and possibly the healthiest. Using either fillets or whole fish this method allows the fish to develop its own rich flavour under the intense heat. Fish should be moistened during the grilling to prevent it drying out. Or marinate beforehand and use the liquid for basting. Whole fish or thicker fillets seem to fare better under the grill as the fish has time to develop a rich golden brown crispy coating by the time the inside is cooked. If whole fish are to be grilled score the skin and flesh to allow better heat penetration.
Shallow Frying - cooking in a small quantity of fat sufficient to come up to the level of half the thickness of the fish in a wide shallow pan. The best fat for fish is butter or half butter and half olive oil. The oil combined with the butter reduces the risk of overheating the butter. Always put presentation side down first so the flesh stays together well.
To test if your fish fillet is cooked, place a rounded knife into the thickest part of the flesh. If the knife is quite warm, the fish is cooked and if the knife is still cold then cook for a little longer. This prevents the fish being pulled apart to test. The flesh should "flake" readily. Another indication is when the inside flesh turns from translucent to white.
A great recipe passed on to me by a local angler-come-chef is the simple dish - Fish Fillets with Parmesan, Chilli and Herb Crust. The best fillets of fish to use include trevally, tailor and reef species: pearl perch or snapper. It has very little fat and can be grilled, barbequed or shallow fried. Try it out before summer is over, oh and it goes very well with an ice cold beer - a low carb one of course!
Fish Fillets with Parmesan, Chilli and Herb Crust.
1. Lightly dust 4 x skinless white fillets of fish with flour, salt and pepper.
2. Dip into a beaten egg whisked with 1 tbs of milk.
3. Coat with the mixture of ½ cup of dry breadcrumbs, 1 tbs finely chopped fresh chilli, 2 tbs of dill and parsley, 4 tbs parmesan cheese and 4tbs lightly crushed almond flakes. Press on one side of the fillet firmly.
4. Heat 1 tbs of oil and 30g butter in a bbq, grill pan or frying pan.
5. Add the fish by placing the herb crust side down first and cook for 2-4mins until golden and the flip over. (Cook on medium heat if shallow frying).
6. Top with guacamole, tomato salsa or tartare sauce and serve with a crisp green salad.
7. Bon Appetite!
NOOSA: Whiting along north shore. Mangrove jacks at the Sheraton bridge, Munna Point Bridge, the entrance to Noosa Waters and along the Noosaville stretch on softies and live bait. Quality whiting are being caught with poppers along the Noosaville stretch. Trevally and bream around the Sheraton Bridge. Crabs in the lower reaches of Weyba Creek.
MAROOCHYDORE: Grunter bream and keeper whiting around the bli bli islands. Mangrove jack in the creeks and around bridge pylons. Whiting throughout the middle and upper reaches of the river. Trevally at the top of the tide in the morning in both canal systems. Estuary cod and bream in the southern channel.
KAWANA: A 4.3kg coral trout and a few sweetlip from the Gneerings. Mangrove jacks around the bridges and walls in the evenings. Whiting in the sand basin and up stream of McKenzies Bridge. Trevally in the late afternoons around the Kawana Boat Ramp, on the edge of the sand basin and along the eastern rock wall.
CALOUNDRA: Grunter bream off the boardwalk. Greenback tailor off Wurtulla Beach over night. Quality mangrove jacks in creeks, bridges and rocky walls. Big eyed trevally in Currimundi Creek. Tarpon to 52cm on surface lures in the lake behind the gold corse.
Young Travis Hamilton enjoyed a morning out on the Maroochy River chasing whiting with his dad Darrin and was lucky enough to catch a few nice snodgers up to 36cm.
Mangrove jack have been prolific over the past few months in Sunshine Coast estuaries, with Jeff Vere fine looking specimen taking a live poddy mullet up Petrie Creek overnight.
Darrin fished last Friday on the banks between Chambers Island and Bli Bli on the flood tide for another tray of quality whiting, with the biggest weighing in at 540g.
Ollie B. braved the ruff weather this week venturing out to the Gneerings for a morning fish, which payed off with this quality 4.3kg coral trout.
With the school holidays over and the kids back to school - it is time to assess the damage that Christmas and the festive season has done to your wallet. What better way to help your own bank balance, and then start to source out some free bait for a change? And as I mentioned earlier on in the month the scorching summer sun and surging forces of king tides have enticed schools of baitfish and prawns into the rivers.
All live and fresh bait available for purchase in local bait and tackle stores would have been caught by a licensed professional in the immediate area or not too far away. Catching bait takes skills and a lot of hard work if you are planning on making it your livelihood. However, with a small investment in the tools of the trade, plenty of practice and perseverance - you too can catch enough bait for your recreational fishing needs.
The easiest and cost-free option is to seek out Soldier crabs along the mud flats and sand bars on low tide in local creeks and rivers. The distinctive blue body on the 1.5cm wide crustacean is the best way to identify them. They are named Soldier crabs as you will rarely see one on its lonesome - but in an army of at least 500. The best clue to look for is the blue masses close to the waters edge, along a sand or mud bank. Unlike most other crabs, they can run forwards or backwards instead of just side to side, and they will do so when approached. So be quick to scoop up some before they burrow into the sand. You can still dig them out of the sand, just look for hundreds of little holes in the sand - but who really likes getting down on their hands and knees! If the sand is fairly wet, these holes will have filled in with sand again and all that you will see is a slight dent in the sand.
Soldier crabs are a tried and tested favourite bait for whiting, but they are also a scrumptious snack to bream, grunter, flathead, trevally and even dart if used on in the surf. The key is to use more than one on a long shank hook - I usually place at least three on at once, straight through the middle of their body. Bear in mind that they can easily be picked off though, so have your wits about you when using this bait.
Another free option is pippies-requiring little more effort than some bending over and a casual stroll along the beach. Pippies as we call them in Queensland are also known as Cockles, Surf Clams, Eugaries and Surf Clams. They are thick fleshy bait encased by two shells - meaning you need a knife to pry apart the shells to actually get to the bait. Pippies used to be found on all the beaches along the Queensland coastline and I remember digging up hundreds of them as a child, some twenty years ago on Maroochydore beach. You can still find them, but very scarcely along the highly populated surf beaches. The best places these days for Pippies include the NE tip of Bribie, Yaroomba, the more secluded beaches in Noosa National Park and North Shore to Double Island. Pippies are mainly used in surf gutters, by placing a whole Pippy on the hook to target whiting, dart, bream and occasionally tailor.
For a small investment of less than $50 you can start targeting Yabbies with your own yabbie pump. Pumps come in two sizes: regular and king-size. Anyone who is approaching 6foot should take the king-size. Not only will the pump facilitate the collection of one of the best all round live baits, but you will save money on purchasing prawns and worms as the yabbie is an excellent substitute. All you need to look for is groups of small yabby holes in the sand on the around 1hr either side of the low tide. Pump the sand pumped from the wholes up onto the river bank and keep your yabbies live in a bucket of water. Yabbies can generally be found in canal systems of most rivers. Also try North Shore of the Maroochy River and either side of McKenzie's bridge on low tide. Pumping yabbies on the sand flats at low tide can be as much fun as fishing itself. Yabbies (like fresh prawn or worm) present well on a size 4 long shank or bait holder style hook, with size 0-3 sinker depending on the tide. Keep running sinkers set up with 60cm of leader between the hook and swivel and light line on a whippy rod also helps to target the bread and butter species such as whiting, bream, flathead and trevally.
If you have a bit more money to your name post Christmas, then I suggest shelling out from $50 to $100 for a cast net. Cast nets, provided they are rinsed after use and stored well, will last for many years. They are the essential element for the angler who likes to use live herring or prawns. Both herring and prawns move up and down the river systems on a high tide in large schools. These bait schools are not easily visible from the bank. Keep your eyes peeled for birds circling and the water bubbling as though it was on the boil. Usually where there's bait, it is certain to be a hungry fish in tow. Huge schools of prawns and herring to 50mm have been moving along the beaches and into the rivers either side of Christmas, as well as during the king tides. Noosa Rivers and beaches have also had the bonus of small 20-50mm juvenile frog mouth pilchards and baby sardine-like bait.
Cast netting is a skill you learn which will stick with you a lifetime. The best option is to have a fellow angler or someone in the industry demonstrate for you. All the staff at Swan Boat Hire will happily give you pointers and a demo to get you started. Once you have the knack and start catching prawns, herring and even little poddy mullet, you can target the predator fish such as jew, mangrove jack and tailor. With these species; the livelier the bait, the better your chance.So if you can get free bait - make the most of it! Start off in the rivers and move your way onto the beaches and rocky outcrops with live bait - and don't turn back.
NOOSA: Small dart and a few whiting from the start of the camp grounds along north shore. Mangrove jack up to 2.1kg from the Tewantin Reach and between the lakes. A few quality whiting the top end of the drying pan and from Munna Point.
MAROOCHYDORE: Whiting on the flats and bream around the drop offs between Chambers Island and the river mouth. Mangrove jack in Petrie creek and the Coolum Creek reach. Quality mud crabs around the bli bli Islands.
KAWANA: Whiting and dart between the surf club and point Cartwright with cutting 8 producing excellent catches on the making tide. Trevally, queenfish, mangrove jacks in Kawana Waters. Bream and sand crabs along La Balsa park. Good sized jacks from McKenzies Bridge at dawn and dusk.
CALOUNDRA: Tailor to 4.5kg from the rocks at Kings Beach over night. Flathead and bream opposite the power boat club. Trevally, queenfish and mangrove jacks in the canals around dawn and dusk. A few jacks in Coochin Creek. Jew 5-8kg from Shelly Beach overnight. Quality grunter throughout the passage.
Jon Cara used live herring to attract the attention of this feisty 2.1kg mangrove jack and big eyed trevally in the middle reaches of the Maroochy River over the weekend.
Ray from Yandina fishing Club put in the hard yards in the mosquito riddled Bli Bli reach using live poddy mullet collected with his cast net for these fine mangrove jacks.
The mud crabs are on the move around the Bli Bli Islands with a quality family effort from the Engle family, with 6 mud crabs with the biggest weighing 1.8kg.
Darrin Hamilton is at it again for another week with a quality haul of whiting and a 48cm dusky flathead from the middle reaches of the river.
Eating meat pies slathered in tomato sauce, using the term G'day mate, breakfast beers, wearing the singlet/stubbies/thongs combo, enjoying the outdoors - my list could go on forever... These are all well recognised, most loved Australian activities. My wife would happily have me add 'shopping for sales at the Plaza' to the list, but I would prefer to put forward the suggestion that Mangrove Jack fishing should be on that list. Many Aussies love the outdoors, namely fishing. But as we all know you can fish anywhere in the world, what makes fishing for the highly elusive Mangrove Jack so special, is that you can only catch them in our great country.
The continuous steamy, hot conditions we've had gracing us this summer and the distinct lack of flooding definitely will have the jacks on the prowl throughout the Sunshine Coast estuaries. The past weeks we have also seen massive schools of herring boiling on the surface in a feeding frenzy throughout the Maroochy River, and no doubt in most coastal rivers. These herring are at the bottom of the food chain for most big predators and along with small mullet and river prawns make up the majority of a mangrove jacks diet. The green river prawns numbers increased at the end of the year in our local creeks, upper reaches and canals. This is when a cast net can become invaluable to an angler who is trying to match what the mangrove jack are feeding on. And you only have to look at the photos of recent 'Jack' catches to realise that we're in peak Jack-fishing season.
WHERE TO FIND JACKS:
These fish are as comfortable around snaggy environments as I am with a fishing rod in my hands. Their favourite habitats include rocky structures, bridge pylons, and fallen trees, under pontoons, deep holes and, as adults, inshore reefs. Mangrove jack are drawn to these habitats as they provide great shelters and they can easily ambush prey or your bait with a vicious swift attack as it passes by their territory and lair. They will then dart back in to the deep coverage with the unsuspecting fish or when they become hooked, and this is when angler's lines tend to snap as they rub against the usually abrasive surfaces. Mangrove jacks are getting caught in their usual haunts. These include:
Live bait is generally the best, due to the appeal of a moving prey. Poddy mullet, diver whiting, prawns, gar, herring and hardy heads are all good locally found Jack food. When Jacks are really on a hot bite they will take most whole fish types of bait like W.A. pilchards, whitebait and even strips of mullet fillet. Lures are the other option. Jacks are so territorial, meaning they will take most lures that pass by their patch. They don't always hit the offering because they want to eat it. Jacks may hit your lure or bait as a warning for it to move away from their home. Some of the best hard bodied lures include; the RMG Scorpion 68, gold Bombersand the silver Berkley Frenzy minnow. Soft plastics are very affective for Jacks also because such a large surface area is covered with repetitive casting and retrieving. Four inch Powerbait minnows, three inch Atomic prongs and Gulpfive inch Jerk minnows have worked well in the Maroochy River.
It is best to find out what the Jacks in your local area feed on and try to match or replicate it. For instance, in Petrie Creek, Jacks will feed on green prawns or small mullet. So I use Atomic prongs to mimic the prawn and four inch Realistix Powerbait as a poddy mullet. Prawn Star lures look and swim similar to the river prawns. Make sure you work your lure in around overhanging trees, submerged snags, bridge pylons and rocky walls. Jack fishing legends always tell me 'you must be in their zone to make them angry enough to hit the lure or bait' which is obviously within a metre or two.
TACKLE FOR JACKS:
You need durable rigs to withstand the enormous fighting power. A strong reel with solid, yet smooth drag is needed to pull these fish in. The rod must have the ability to be fully loaded and then some. As a general rule I use 10kg mono or similar strength in braid, with a 40-60lb high abrasion resistant leader. Use a small ball sinker when there isn't much run in the tide and increase the size as the tides speed does. Use a running rig with a strong chemically sharpened suicide/octopus style hook to suit the bait size. Generally a 3/0 to 5/0 is ample for jacks.
Dawn, dusk, the turn of the tide and overnight are all good times for jack fishing. Overnight is when jacks will tend to wander away from their structure in search of food, so the odds of a successful fishing sessions is much better over night.
So armed with these Jack Fishing tips and the prospect of catching a beauty to cook up on barbeque on the most Australian day of the year (coming up next long weekend). Get in amongst the action and help me add Jack Fishing to the list of great patriotic Aussie activities!
There are plenty of quality whiting feeding on the shallow banks between Chambers Island and the river mouth, these 36cm specimens took a liking to my (Matt) bubble pop 45.
Mangrove jack have been smashing through the schools of herring and mullet around the Cane Bridge near Dunethin Rock as Murray Neauendorf found out this week when a 1.5kg specimen took a liking to his live bait.
Jeff loves to flick his home made lures in Petrie Creek in search of Mangrove jacks, but in this case his 2kg fish took a live bait.
Chris Gofter was fishing from Chambers Island using live sand worms when this 3kg monster jack smashes his whiting rod and after nearly spooling him on 6lb line, was dragged ashore with great delight.
Noosa: Plenty of mangrove jack to 2.25kg in Woods Bay, off Munna Point and up towards the Ferry crossing point. Bream at night in Noosa Sound and Weyba Creek. Estuary cod, bream, moses perch and school jew between the lakes and mud crabs still on the move in the creeks.
Maroochy: Mangrove jacks to 2kg throughout the upper reaches and creeks. Good flathead around the Motorway Bridge on the dropping tide. Whiting between Chambers Island and the Black Banks, also a few at the Maroochy Waters Canal entrance. Flathead, bream and grunter bream upstream of the Bli Bli channel markers at night. Schools of baitfish also on the move with the high tide.
Kawana: Plenty of baitfish schooling just inside the bar and through to the Coastguard. Whiting in the Basin and along the La Balsa stretch. Plenty of bream around the moorings and the canals. Trevally and mangrove jacks over night around McKenzie's bridge.
Caloundra: Bream, whiting and trevally from the Boardwalk. Whiting along the shallow banks out from the Power Boat Club and between Golden Beach and Bells Creek over night. Mangrove jacks in the Pelican Waters canals and upper reaches of Currimundi Lake.
It’s that time of year again – no, it’s not time to start buying Easter eggs and hot cross buns – though some large supermarkets would have you believe it is that time already! In the coming few days the coast will be graced with the biggest tides of the year. Sunday night is full moon and on the following day the high tide peaks at 2.16m at 8:59am at Mooloolaba, 2.23m at 8:08am at Noosa. The 8 foot tides building up over the weekend through to Monday are also likely to be effected by swell and weather conditions like strong or prolonged wind (when blowing onshore) or unusual low barometric pressure (which have both been known to raise sea-levels!).
The benefits of these king tides are plenty – it will give the rivers and estuaries a great flush out, often bringing jews, jacks, cod, crabs and even some of the bigger flathead out of hiding from up river. Many anglers will be avoiding the upper parts of the river and only the very keen anglers will be able to fish the dirty water mark. The majority of us will fish at the river mouth or on the second high tide later in the evening, which will still be high but it will limit the dirty water mark to the very entrances of the river, due to the large amount of fresh water flowing seaward.
Personally – I treat the flushing/flooding effect of the king tides as an ideal time for crabbing. Crabs caught during months with the letter ‘r’ (e.g. March) tend to be much fuller than those caught during the winter months. This is generally due to the belief that mud crabs hide in their holes during winter and malt their shell. They tend to remain empty during these months until they get a chance to grow into their new larger shell. Partially full crabs tend to have a greenish ting to their shells and full crabs have a darker more browny-blue colour. The best way to tell how full a buck is, apart from observing its colour is to press down on the under side of the crabs carapace, beneath the point. If the shell indents then the crab is only partly full, and if it does not, then it should be full of meat. Bucks around 1.2kg have been common catches in the channels surrounding Chambers and Channel Islands. Muddies have also been potted in the creeks, the Cod Hole and along the Maroochy Wetlands reach. Good numbers of sand crabs having been moving through the river on the daily tide as far up as the Bli Bli bridge, but unfortunately many are still undersize. So since it is Janua-r-y – what are you waiting for!
Being able to distinguish between male and female crabs is a very important way for anglers to play a role in sustainable fisheries. The mud and sand crabs though very different in appearance, both have the same protective cover on their under body. On male crabs this cover is in the shape of a long narrow, pointed flap. The females have a broad, more rounded flap that covers more than half of their underside. All female crabs must be returned to the water after capture. Male mud crabs must measure 15cm from spine to spine on the spines closest to the back swimmer legs. Male sand crabs have to measure 11.5cm from notch to notch on the notch closest to the spines. Each angler can keep 10 male mud crabs and unlimited male sand crabs, but it is important to stress the need to only take enough for your own immediate use and leave some there for the future.
For any young anglers who want to catch crabs this summer to try using dillies. Dillies are made up of a ring of wire with cotton mesh in the shape of a witches hat with a float to hold the net off the bottom. Place a fresh mullet on a piece of string than runs across the bottom of the ring. The crab tries to get at the mullet and becomes trapped in the cotton mesh. Dillies are very affective to use and can be pulled up for inspection every 20 minutes. Dillies are also cheap, ranging from $5 to $8 depending on the quality and you can buy replacement netting for around $2.50 a meter. Place your dilly off a bridge, jetty or the shore and wait for the crabs to get trapped. You can use crab pots in the same location but allow at least an hour or two for the crabs to get inside the trap.
All crab pots and dillies must have an I.D. tag attached to it with the owners surname and address printed. All traps that aren’t attached to some sort of structure must have a light coloured float, no less than 15cm in dimension on the end of the rope.
Like fishing, night time is the best time to crab. Crabs are nocturnal and are therefore more active after dark. Moon phases and tide sizes will also affect crab numbers. I find crabbing on the big tides, either side of the full moon phase, to be the most productive.
LOCAL FISHING REPORT
NOOSA: A few yellowtail kingfish to 12kg from Noosa National Park. Try for whiting in the lower system. Trevally and mangrove jacks in Noosa Sound, Woods Bay and on surface poppers in Weyba Creek. Flathead and bream from Munna Bridge.
MAROOCHYDORE: Whiting around the islands. A 2kg jack was taken in the upper reaches last night on live prawn. Also plenty of mangrove jack feeding in the creeks with Petrie Creek overnight being the hot spot. Bream throughout the river.
KAWANA: Trevally and mangrove jacks over night around the bridges and other areas holding bait. Plenty of bream around the moorings and the canals and a few muddies in Mountain Creek. Sand crabs and whiting to 38cm in the Basin.
CALOUNDRA: School jew and the odd quality flathead from the mouth of Bells Creek. Bream and jacks over night from the boardwalk. Jacks under Pelican Waters bridge over night. Cod, jacks and a few grunter from Coochin Creek.
Craig Halloran was fishing from one of the Gympie Terrace jetties in Noosa when he jagged this 1kg trevally. (With thanks from www.fishingnoosa.com.au)