Holiday Hotspot

IF you’ve ever experienced a sunset on South East Queensland’s Noosa River, then I’m sure you’ll agree it’s something you don’t soon forget. There’s a special magic about it. Sounds a bit clichéd, I know, but it’s a waterway that has so much appeal to so many people. Whether it’s kicking back with some fish ‘n’ chips at Tewantin, listening to the gazillion parrots at dusk or high rolling it down Hastings Street, Noosa seems to have all areas covered. For me, however, it’s the awesome fishing that keeps me coming back time and time again.

Estuary Options
The Noosa River is actually a pretty large expanse of water. It feeds in from a beach style inlet at Laguna Bay and winds its way upstream to the famous “Everglades”. The change in tide at the river mouth sees wonderfully clean and clear seawater flushing through the system bringing with it all the benefits of a healthy tidal flow. Kilometres upon kilometres of sand flats wrap through man-made canal areas and then back into pristine wilderness waterways. Moored boats, jetties, deep holes and plenty of bridge pylons scatter the system. The estuary fishing options are virtually endless. Bream, whiting, flathead and tailor are generously dispersed through the network of arms and islands that meander upstream with many “cross-over” tropical species occurring too. Thumping big mangrove jacks, tarpon, trevally, queenies, estuary cod and even barra have all been captured in the Noosa.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need heavy gear to tackle these fish. Many locals and super keen lure anglers often employ the “ultra finesse” approach to hoodwinking their quarry. Noosa has a really dedicated crew of young, die-hard sport fishermen that seem to regularly land monsters on little more than a wisp of line!

During the summer months multitudes of big hungry whiting start appearing over the shallow sand flats and are a fantastic target on pocket-sized surface offerings. A low angled rod with short stabbing retrieves will draw the most attention. Unlike with bream, a whiting-on-popper retrieve is one that should be kept moving, even when a fish is tailing only inches away. Bassday’s Sugarpen, Bushy’s Stiffy Popper and Lucky Craft’s Sammy range are proven performers.  It’s a real buzz seeing the yellowish silver flash of a thick set whiting “bow waving” behind your lure and knowing that you’re seconds away from connecting with one of light tackle lure fishing’s red hot targets. Apart from being a brilliant sportfish, whiting still have a cult following as one the tastiest table fish going. Whiting cost an arm and a leg in the fish shops and catching a few silver bullets only adds to the satisfaction when you hit pay dirt. Don’t be afraid to fish in water that is super shallow as this ground can be very productive. Look for yabby holes, a little bit of scattered weed and some relatively clear water and you’re half way there.
The Breakfast Shift
Another Noosa staple is the early morning “popper” fishing. Over the years this has become a bit of a club gathering among switched-on fishos. Anyone who wants to get into some of the action will have to set the alarm for pre sun-up, however. Being a popular destination for holiday makers the boat traffic can, at times, put the surface bite off. The trusty old Storm Chug Bug is a bit of a “go to” lure for many guys and gets very consistent results. Big tailor, trevally (of at least half a dozen different species) and mangrove jacks are all fairly regular catches that go incredibly hard on lighter sport tackle. A word of advice is to consider a leader of 10-12 lb or even higher when targeting the surface mob. Strikes are violent and often fish engulf lures, leaving the leader exposed to some nasty dentures. You’ll be glad you did as you’ll catch more fish and lose less hardware. When the sun creeps higher in the sky you can always employ a slightly lighter leader to trick the warier fish. Good places to start a bit of surface commotion are the “Frying Pan”, “Woods Bay” and the mouth of the river. Websites like Nearmap and Google Earth are sensational reference guides to get you psyched up the night before your trip. Remember, the real key to catching some fish in this way is to beat the crowds and be on the water as the sun is rising!
Upstream Options
Being such a massive estuary system, the Noosa River has fish dispersed throughout its entire length. Anglers who like to get away from the crowds can head further afield and fishing between the two lakes, Cooroibah and Cootharaba, can often be just the ticket. A bit of anchored live-baiting can be an awesome way to pass a weekend afternoon and completely unwind. Throwing out a few crab pots will often turn up a muddy or two as well. There is nothing quite like fresh mud crab and heading back home with a couple of these in the esky will see you hit legendary status with friends and family in the blink of an eye!

Lake Weyba is home to some of the biggest shovel-headed flathead I’ve seen and it’s a heart stopper to see one of these big logs slide up to the boat. Small vibration blades, soft plastics and big fluoro hard-bodies are all effective on lizards. Provided you have your drag set right, heavy lines aren’t really needed as fights are usually out in the open over snag-free sand. Provided they haven’t woofed your lure too deep you’ll usually boat these bottom dwellers with a little patience.

Beyond the two main lakes the river continues upwards into some very interesting brackish water zones. Kin-Kin Creek and further afield into the “Everglades” will see lucky anglers tangle with some of the northernmost pockets of wild bass in Australia. Tarpon, bream, flathead and jacks also live in these picturesque waters so don’t be overly surprised to see one in the landing net. Live herring, prawns and shrimp can be outstanding baits to float around submerged timber and rock bars. Lures that suspend or float slowly will be the go-to options around the drowned wood and will get smashed quickly so be ready!

Noosa is a very popular holiday destination and has some decent infrastructure set up to handle the boating crowds. Two very well lit and equipped concrete ramps and various other “unofficial” sand ramps enable fishermen to launch and retrieve their boats with relative ease. There’s a cleaning table for the successful anglers and feeding fish frames to the local pelicans is always a hit with the kids.
The local tackle stores are always worth dropping into for super fresh bait, walls of lures and local tips to where and when the fish are biting. A quick chat with the staff can make the difference between a good day and a brilliant one, so never be afraid to ask where the action is.

Davo’s Bait and Tackle (Shop 6, Noosa Homemaker Centre, Cnr Mary & Thomas Sts, Noosaville, QLD 4566, (07) 5449 8099) is an institution and Hooked On Angling and Outdoors (27 Hilton Terrace Tewantin Qld 4565, (07)5449 7541, ) has all the up to date information on the best fishing options as well as thousands of exquisite lures.

Noosa is one of those destinations that anglers want to return to time and time again. After you’ve fished it once you’ll agree! See you out there.

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