Snapper – In the Sunshine Coast Waters, the best time for Snapper tends to be June to early October. October, November & December we tend to see a substantial drop in Snapper numbers caught. Once back in January it will begin to pick up again, but colder days, which are not that common at that time of year of course, do tend to give the better snapper results. Time wise Snapper can be caught most of the day and early evening, with dawn and dusk times being the clear standouts. Snapper are not a night time fish. As far as bait goes for Snapper, it will vary greatly. It is possibly more a case of the fisherman’s preference than it is the Snapper’s preference.
Cobia – Cobia are almost a year round fish on the Sunshine Coast. The best time is certainly from November to March, but its not unusual to see only a minimal drop in catches during the other months. Certainly most commonly found over or near reefs and wrecks, the Cobia has a varied diet for both live and dead bait. Depending on the fisherman’s skill to make dead bait look live, there is little difference between the two. Cobia seem to thrive in the warmer waters off the sunshine coast, and its only when we see a drop in temperature that we see any dramatic drop in numbers being caught. As with the snapper, the Cobia is not a night time fish, but is certainly plenty active at any other time.
Parrotfish – Parrotfish are truly as a year round fish on the Sunshine Coast. The name parrot comes from its distinctive rounded snout with beak-like teeth. The average weight is 1kg and 30 – 35cm in length. Many different subspecies are found although the “Bicolor parrotfish” appears to be the more commonly caught species of late. Others often have blue spots on a rainbow-like yellow and pink background. There is no best time for these little beauties of the deep at all. As with its smaller cousins it’s most commonly found over or near reefs and wrecks. Parrot Fish have a varied diet but does appear to have a preference for live bait. As a Coral Reef species, Parrot Fish seem to thrive in the warmer waters off the sunshine coast, and its only when we see a drop in temperature that we see a slight drop in numbers being caught. Again as with the snapper, and Cobia this is not a nighttime fish, but is certainly plenty active at any other time, perhaps with a slight preference for the middle of the day. As for eating, Parrotfish have a soft, moist texture and delicate flavour which combines well with all sorts of spices.
Tuskfish – Often mistaken for a Parrotfish, tuskfish, part of the Wrasses species, are also a solid year round fish on the Sunshine Coast. Its big difference with its cousin is the large tusk like teeth at the front of its mouth. See Parrotfishes for more detail on this species as both have identical traits.
Spanish Mackerel – Spanish Mackerel catches tend to drop off from late October through to early January. The best time for this species tends to be late winter & autumn (June July August), but as with most warm water species, they are found throughout the rest of the year in smaller numbers. Local knowledge of the area certainly assists greatly to catch this fish as trolling is the only reliable method of targeting the species. This also means that night time fishing for Spanish Mackerel is not the norm. Dawn and dusk are the best times, which is when Fish n Crab Deep Sea Charters are either heading out and trolling, or returning and trolling. This fish can smash a rig not setup correctly or not designed to cope with this powerful breed. If you do hook one you will know about it. Be prepared for a fight to get it on board!
Amberjack – Amberjack are another daylight only species. A good all year round fish, with a slight preference for the warmer months, it can grow to prodigious sizes! Although they are known to have a preference for live bait, squid also works extremely well. One of the more common big fish caught off the Sunshine Coast and always an impressive catch to show off. Bottom Bashing, Drifting and trolling all work well for the Amberjack.
Sweetlip – Sweetlip (aka Grass Sweetlip) are possibly the most consistent all year round fish in the Sunshine Coast Waters. Both day and night fishing works well, although the middle of the day can be a little more difficult of course. It’s difficult to find any adverse conditions to point out for this fish. Easy to target with all types of bait and fishing styles. The only areas not suitable are waters more than 70m deep.
Dolphin Fish – Dolphin Fish (aka Mahi-Mahi) are another species that love the warmer weather. December through to late March tends to be the peak time they are found in larger numbers around the Sunshine Coast areas. Known as one of the best eating fish, it is a favorite target in season! Often found near debris and buoys, Fish n Crab Charters always check our own crabbing markers for any Dolphin Fish activity before hauling in the gear. A quick cast with a spinning rod and floater near them is often rewarded with a nice catch. Trolling is another great method to catch one of these beauties! Any time of the day is good during the season for this fish. At night they are a rare catch.
Longtail Tuna – Longtail Tuna can be caught on lures, baits and even on the fly. Not the easiest fish to entice, it makes for an even more exciting experience to get one of these fighters on board. These speedsters are often found in a school with other similar species of tuna, and tend to prefer more inshore waters. They are often found around all kinds of structures as well as drop-offs into deep water. The “Banks” are a popular location for them. Although more commonly caught around the 15-20kg mark, they can exceed 30kg! Best time is sunrise, but is still quite common during most of the day until late afternoon.
Maori Cod – Maori Cod are a good year round fish, albeit with a slight winter preference. Able to be caught both day and night, sunrise does tend to produce the best results. That all said, the only truly clear preference they have is reefs. Equally attracted to both Pilchards and squid, Mullet does seem to give the best results to attract them. Although not the biggest fish out there, it usually weighs in around the 5kg Mark, it is certainly one of the tastiest!
Pearl Perch – Pearl perch are found in small schools on deeper offshore reefs. Day or night time makes no difference, with winter giving slightly better results. A pearlish-green-silver-grey in colour with golden-brown specks on the scales, Pearl perch are characterised by a large, shiny mark behind the gill covers and a small, dark blotch at the rear of the dorsal fin rays. We generally catch this species over reefs. Bait such as squid, prawns and small live bait work best, although we certainly see plenty caught on pilchards and mullet. Pearl perch tend to achieve a maximum weight of around 5.5kg and reach 70cm in length. Without exception it is regarded as one of the best tasting fish in the ocean!
Spangles – Spangles tend to move in schools across the reef and through the sandy bottomed flats where they can feed on the reef. They are found in shallow reef areas and have a preference for loose rocky, gravel or broken coral bottom. In shallower water they favour hard coral, or rubble bottom and the sand patches adjacent to them. We tend to anchor up over the reef and over the coral sand of the shallow lagoons and cast as close as possible to the submerged coral outcrops. This is a tried and tested method for catching Spangles. Remember, sizeable Spangles are often only in small schools. Spangles love to pick up bait and swim away with it before swallowing, so keep the line loose and let the fish run freely as it takes the bait. Striking early will often pull the hook from their hard toothy mouth. This is why Squid and Mullet will often prove move successful than Pilchards as they last better in such conditions. Definitely prefers colder water temps making day time and summer catches rare.