Report 10/8/17

Mal McKinlay
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Nicole Penfold
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Report 10/8/17

Post by Nicole Penfold » Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:40 am

I’m back. After towing a caravan 6,000kms through Victoria and NSW in freezing, windy conditions to the highest caravan park in Australia on Mt Kosciuszko and back I now know why those poor unfortunate people who live south of the Queensland border are so envious of our Queensland winters.

Anyhow back to the Maroochy River. After fishing with my mate for 3 days around the August full moon the 2 of us were flat out putting enough fish on the table to feed the cat. So I have to ask – where have all the fish gone? When I left 5 weeks ago you had to hide your bait to put it on your hook for fear of being attacked by just about every winter species. I fished for whiting in my usual spots with soldier crabs for bait but did not get 1 solid enquiry. As they had already started to taper off before winter, I expected this, so I was not disappointed. With the trusty berley bucket over the side I was confident that we would attract at least, bream and gar. In 3 days we caught 2 garfish and not once did they school up behind the boat. As far as I can tell the gar have already packed their bags and headed north for the summer. They usually hang in the Maroochy for another month but all indications are that they are gone. Perhaps the mild winter that the Sunny Coast has experienced had something to do with it. The next couple of weeks will tell for sure.

But what about the bream? They should still be biting their heads off. We fished every logical place for 3 days and only came up with 10 fish over 27cms. Well, after 3 days of frustration I’m pretty sure I know the problem. The fish are there but they are not interested. For starters the water is so clear they can see you when you launch your boat at the boat ramp. The big bream didn’t get big by being stupid. The small fry are still active on the burley trail but the big boys and girls are sitting way at the back of the class practising guile and cunning. On the top of the tide you can see the bottom clearly even in 6 metres of water. So if I can see them it stands to reason that they can see me (only twice as good).We are in desperate need of 100 to 200 mills of rain to flush the river and wash the prawns and bait fish back down to the mouth. By my rain gauge the last decent flush was back in March 2017 when we had 300 mills for the month. Don’t get me wrong if you are prepared to fish at night you will improve your chances greatly. There has been a fisho cleaning his fish at Picnic Point boat ramp every morning I launched my boat. He had a nice lot of bream that he had caught each night only a 100 metres from the ramp (land based). So the fish are there but you are going to have to get out of your comfort zone to get them. It is such a true statement that the farmers need rain for their crops but the fishermen also need rain for their fish.

Something else I may have discovered quite by accident. Where do the sand whiting go in winter? Particularly when the river is crystal clear as it is at the moment. Well – how about this for a solution. For the past week I have been swimming in the surf in preparation for the coming Surf Lifesaving Season. With calm offshore westerlies the Mooloolaba bay has been as smooth as glass with great visibility. Because I wear goggles, each time I have noticed small schools of sand whiting as I have been swimming from Mooloolaba Surf Club to the lifeguard patrol a kilometre towards the Mooloolah River mouth. On Wednesday August 9 as I swam in chest deep water the ocean floor was literally covered with sand whiting. I could see them watching me all the time and they would just swim out of my way as I passed and then move back just as if I hadn’t been there. It was like swimming in a giant whiting aquarium. There were fish from arm slapper size down to brats. I don’t know whether this is a one off situation or maybe it might explain why they just seem to just disappear from the Maroochy when winter arrives. If they hang in there over the next few days I’ll get some bait and give them a bash. I’ll keep you posted.

So over the next month we move into the crossover period of winter and summer species. By all media reports there are still tailor being caught at the mouth of the Maroochy but I wouldn’t think they’ll last much longer. I still can’t see the sand whiting returning in great numbers until we get some decent rain so it may be slim pickings in the weeks to come.

If you would like to share some advice or ask me any questions please feel free to email me on malcolmmckinlay0@gmail.com any time.

Good Luck, Mal McKinlay

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