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)