It’s 6am on the Mooloolaba waterfront behind Kawana Waters Hotel. The temperature is mild enough to be wearing shorts and a shirt. All is quiet amid the moored boats except for the eager anglers sitting around the stern of the 12 m game boat Cervantes, who are washing down freshly toasted raisin bread with coffee.
The crew was waiting for a couple of anglers to arrive before the charter took me and the other customers offshore for a morning of bottom bouncing over the nearby reefs. The holidaying customers were from as far away as Bendigo, Casino and Townsville.
It took about 15 minutes to reach the harbour entrance; then the Cervantes was pointed east and the V8 Caterpillar engines were opened up. When asked where we were heading and why, skipper Allan Harvey said he was undecided. ‘It’s hard to tell where the fish will be some days,’ he said.
Our first stop was after about 40 mins steaming. Baitfish showed on the sounder and where there is baitfish, bigger fish are sure to follow. Tackle was pure Queensland – indestructible Alvey centre-pin reels. The lines were baited with squid, dropped to the bottom and it wasn’t long before all manner of reef fish started coming inboard: red emperor, Moses perch, coral trout and parrotfish. There were a few snapper too; small fish called squire locally.
The normal association with the Sunshine Coast is sun and surf: the region doesn’t have a big reputation for fishing. It should. It has enough piscatorial opportunities to cater for all fishing tastes. Offshore there are game fish such as marlin, sailfish and tuna.
The surf fishes well for tailor and flathead, and the estuaries are fine waters for trevally, flathead and bream. Inland within a couple of hours drive you can catch Australian bass, saratoga and even barramundi.
Some Queenslanders I know would walk barefoot across broken glass to have a shot at some serious reef fish – particularly red reef fish. Here we were several miles offshore, an area where during the summer marlin, sailfish, mackerel and tuna abound, and yet most Queenslanders would sooner bottom bounce.
After an hour or so, Allan moved closer inshore, and the fishing was even better. Along with most of the previously mentioned fish were some pearl perch, which are highly prized for their taste. The patrons were happy, and so was the skipper.