Hard to catch nothing

Dylan Versteegen with a 52cm saratoga.

By Jack Mangrove

Limited offshore days saw Sunshine Reef the popular choice, and for good reason. With good numbers of cobia, coral trout, mackerel, tuna, snapper, tusk fish, pearlies and various cod species on the menu it was hard to catch nothing.

Bigger jerk shad style soft plastics are popular as they get to the bottom quickly and allow for good distance casting. Be sure to drift when working plastics for better presentation and keep an eye on your sounder to mark any good ground as you go. Slow jigs are also another great lure type to use during lighter current days. These have a very slow fall rate with a lot of flutter and often get picked up by bigger fish like cobia, coral trout and jewfish.

If running bait rigs then 40-60lb double hook paternoster rigs fished with fresh mullet chunk and pilchard baits work very well on all reef species. Don’t forget to cast out a pilchard floater on a 4/0 3 hook gang rig as these are deadly when fishing low current days and given the time to drift downward naturally. If you are losing rigs to mackerel attaching a length of single strand wire will certainly help, just keep it light.

The local gutters along the North Shore and south of Sunshine Beach are still going strong with dart, bream, whiting the main species. These fish only require lighter surf and estuary combo’s and provide the most fun. Simple running sinker rigs with beach worms, pipi or mullet strip works best. There have been a few tailor running in the estuary so there is every chance of picking one up around the river mouth.

In the estuary we have seen the recent rains push the prawns downstream. These have fired up the fish, especially the mangrove jacks and trevally. Quite often where you see trevally busting on the surface there will be mangrove jacks sitting just below following the school, especially at night. This is the time to throw prawn imitation lures into the current and give them time to get carried downward and wait for the bite. Places to fish include the bridges of Weyba and Donella as well as Woods bays and the deeper channels toward the frying pan if in a boat.

Flathead are also present toward the river mouth and around the sand bags of the dog beach. If using soft plastics then curly tail and grub style soft plastics with a single to double hop retrieve works best. Whiting are still present throughout the estuary and are hitting surface poppers and stickbaits. They will also take worms and yabbies so inspect your pump washers before you go. Sand flats are the best place to find big whiting so look around the Frying Pan, Weyba and along Gympie Terrace toward Goat Island.

Mud crabs have also shown up along the mangrove edges upriver, so be sure to set a few pots before you start fishing. Make sure your pots are always out of the main boating channel and clearly marked before you leave them.

The freshwater dams have had a recent top up this week and both Lake Mac Donald and Borumba have seen some cracking toga landed with most fish taking sub surface lures. First light has been the best time with fish feeding very hard on the bony bream. Spinnerbaits also claiming some fat bass and toga during the daytime when worked away from the deep water lilies into open water.

So on behalf of Jack Mangrove, best of luck on your fishing adventures!

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