Report 26/5/17

Mal McKinlay
malcolmmckinlay0@gmail.com
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Nicole Penfold
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Report 26/5/17

Post by Nicole Penfold » Tue May 30, 2017 4:22 pm

REPORTER INTRODUCTION
My name is Mal McKinlay and I have lived on the Sunshine Coast for 10 years, and during this time have fished the Caloundra end of Pumicestone Passage, the Mooloolah River and the Maroochy River regularly. I have loved my fishing all my life, but now I'm retired I have time to pass on some of my knowledge to any interested parties.

My target species is mostly Sand Whiting or, as we call them around here, Summer Whiting. Why they were ever named Summer Whiting I will never know because some of my best results have been in the middle of winter. All of my fishing for the past year has been on the Maroochy River so my information for this report will concentrate on this remarkable fishing destination.

This week I fished 3 days leading up to the May 26 new moon and caught 41 whiting over the 3 days, with the best being 38cm and at least half of them were over the 30cm mark. All these were caught in the middle of the day on the run back tide.

The first 4 months of 2017 have been some of the most productive whiting trips I have experienced since I have lived here. I only fish the lower reaches of the Maroochy – that is from the Motorway Bridge east towards the river mouth. This area is the widest section of the river consisting of sand flats, islands, channels and structure such as jetties and pontoons. All estuary species abound here and if you target them specific you are more likely to achieve a good result.

I only ever fish live bait. Over the years I have tried the new generation fishing tackle such as lures and plastics, but it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. I do love the new graphite fishing rods, and have replaced all my mono lines with braid and fluorocarbon leaders, but when I go fishing I'm there to get a feed –- and live bait wins every time.

Although whiting are the main species I target, the Maroochy River has so much to offer on most estuary species. For example, for the next 3 and half months or around the Sept full moon this river has a million Eastern Australian Sea Gar feeding and spawning, and offering anglers who know how to catch and process them hours of pleasure. A lot of these fish are over 30cm, and when filleted eat as almost as good as whiting.These are the fish I cook for my friends when my whiting supply starts to run low, and they love 'em.

And then of course we are entering prime bream season, which I don't target specifically because they are such spiky little buggers to handle and process. However, I know all of their habitat places in the lower Maroochy and can pass on lots of information for those of you who are interested.

Flathead are another popular target. I lived at Toogoom in Hervey Bay for 15 years and used to catch big flathead on live baits there. The Maroochy River is really just an extension of my creek at Toogoom, so I'm planning to try for some big lizards down here.

For now, here are some whiting tips to help you increase your catch rates.

WHITING TIPS
The number 1 bait for Sand Whiting in the river is without doubt mud worms or blood worms. This bait unfortunately is very hard to come by on the Sunshine Coast. There are places up tream where you can get blood worms in the thick mangrove mud if you are prepared to wallow around in thick mud. You can buy mud worms from bait suppliers which are dug on the foreshores of Moreton Bay ,but they will cost you an arm and a leg. I hate paying for bait when the river will provide it for free. Fortunately, the Maroochy River at the moment is the healthiest I have seen it in 10 years and you can pump 50 yabbies in quick time or grab some soldier crabs on just about any of the large sand banks that are exposed at low tide.

The number 2 bait for Sand Whiting is the humble but prolific Soldier Crab. Quite often when I’m cleaning my catch at the cleaning table at the Picnic Point boat ramp, amazed onlookers ask what I use for bait. When I reply that I use soldier crabs, they look at me with disbelief. When I’m targeting whiting now and the soldier crabs are out, I don’t even bother to pump yabbies. I try to get the smallest soldier crabs that I can fit on my hook. It doesn’t matter what colour the crabs are (they can vary between dark grey to bright blue), the big whiting just love them. Try not to get crabs any bigger than your little finger nail. Sometimes you can get enough crabs for a session in 5 minutes, but other times you have to work for them because they are masters at burrowing in to the sand or mud before you get to them. When they are scarce I count them as I collect them, and if I can get to 250 I know I’ve got enough to catch a good feed of prime fat whiting.

Sometimes, however, the soldier crabs don’t come out at all and there is no choice but to pump a few yabbies. You will still catch whiting on yabbies but the quality cannot be compared to those you will catch on soldier crabs.

Good luck, Mal McKinlay

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