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May I begin by wishing all anglers and their families a happy, prosperous and fishy 2011.
Back in the old days before chartering when I had a “real job”, I always had January off. I
spent my time doing nothing mainly but I did spend the hot middle part of the day
fruitfully with my feet up, watching the cricket and reading fishing mags. Not a bad life,

I’ll spend some time describing Wide Caloundra in detail over the next couple of articles
so that those who wish to fish it have a better understanding of my favourite fishing spot.
Wide Caloundra is over eighty square nautical miles in area stretching from just south of
Point Arkwright at Mooloolaba south to mid Bribie Island. Wide Cal starts rising up about
14 nautical miles east of the mainland. Approximate co-ordinates for Wide Cal are south
from 26* 41.000’S to 26*51.000’S, a length of 10 nautical miles. The most westerly parts
of Wide Cal rise at about 153*26.000’E and head east to 153*34.000’E. Depths range from
56 metres on the high country to the drop off over 100 metres to the east.

Fisher people access Wide Cal from three main ports: Mooloolaba, Caloundra and
Scarborough to the south. There are benefits and down sides to using each of these
departure points. Mooloolaba allows the flexibility of heading north to other grounds
such as the Barwons if the fishing is slow. Mooloolaba also has an excellent and lengthy
game fishing season. The down side is the tow to Mooloolaba and the very crowded
ramps at peak times. Caloundra gives you the choice of the length of Wide Caloundra as
long as the bar is workable. Scarborough (and Spinnaker Sound near Bribie) have the
longest travel times but there are advantages in having some protection from the islands
and a shorter tow if you are Brisbane based.

An invaluable aid to fishing Wide Cal is the SUNSHINE COASTOFFSHORE FISHING GUIDE,
published by SUNMAP. This map clearly shows the three main raised reef areas of Wide
Cal in white. When I was starting off I drew up 1 nautical mile grids on the map. This
allowed me to fix roughly the GPS locations of the hard country. After that it is simply
time on the water sounding around til you find a good looking ledge or a pile of fish and
marking these spots. Trust me, it works!

If you have a chart plotter with NAVIONICS cards, these have the contour lines for
offshore on them. After years of finding all the ledges through sweat and toil, I was a bit
taken aback when a mate of mine showed me his plotter with all the good bits on his
NAVIONICS chart. Cheating, almost! I run a plotter with C MAP cartography which lacks
these contour lines. I rang CMAP to ask them for an upgrade ASAP. I am still waiting...

Before the Greenies start greedily rubbing their hands together in glee at having yet
another fishing area to shut down, it needs to be pointed out that Wide Cal is mainly poor,
flat country with rubble and wire weed as its fish holding territory. The best analogy is to
think of Wide Cal as a very large cattle farm in North West Qld, where the cattle range
over huge areas in search of sustenance. There are very few concentrations of brilliant fish
holding structure that we see at the likes of Hutchies or the top of the Barwon Banks. The
consequence of this is that there are not huge amounts of fish in any one location but
there are plenty of spots where a good feed will be.

 Fishermen at Wide Caloundra should also graze over a wide area, spreading their effort
over a number of locations in a fishing day. I will usually fish up to ten different locations
ranging in depth from 58 metres to 100 metres on any day. This minimises the chances of
locally depleting the fish there and gives the clients a chance of catching some different
species as well. I usually drift fish using a sea anchor or by holding the INCREDIBLE on the
motors. Others prefer to anchor on a spot, fish there for a time and then move on.

Next month I will surrender a few tips on sounder settings and what to look for when
exploring new ground at Wide Cal.

January Fishing.

January sees the shallows really light up with a great range of mixed reefies. Spangled,
Red Throat and Red Emperor, Grassy Sweetlips, Venus Tusk Fish, Maori Cod and other cod
species, Hussar, Fusilier, Green Job Fish, Morwong and Moses Perch, really turn on the
colour in the fish box. On some drifts there may be half a dozen or more species coming
over the side at any one time. It pays to have an early start to avoid the crowds. Also, the
fish seem to go a bit quiet when the sun gets higher in the sky.

Floatlining always gets the better fish, especially when the Spangleds are around. I usually
don’t anchor and berley this time of year as the boat traffic can get heavy and put fish
down. As a courtesy for your fellow anglers, try passing anchored vessels by their bow,
not the stern where their berley trail and fishing activity is.

Trolling for part of the day will add some excitement as the Wahoo are really on the chew
this year. To date there have been some thumpers over 25 kg landed off Hutchies as well
as plenty of School fish. Do take the elephant guns as these fish are tough critters which
will empty spools of light line before your eyes. Been there, done that! Hopefully last
year’s brilliant Spanish Mackerel season will be repeated so there is every reason to tow
some lures or slow troll livies once you have a feed of reefies on board.

A number of solid Yellow Tail Kingfish turn up on the shallower reefs at this time and will
attack the trolled lures meant for Wahoo. These fish go really hard and are dirty fighters
so using 15 kg as your main line would be the suggested minimum. The Kingies also climb
all over the floaters meant for reef fish and provide spectacular, if usually unsuccessful
brief and brutal battles.
The top end of Wide Cal is fishing very well for Cobia this year. These have ranged in size
from school fish up to 30kg plus thumpers. While there is a bag limit of two for Cobia, you
may wish to let the second Cobe go if it is also a big mother. Try leaving them in the water
if you are going to release Cobia as they will play up like second hand lawn mowers when
they get in a boat, damaging themselves, gear and possibly you when brought aboard

Pearl Perch are around in good sizes and numbers and will also start showing up in the
shallows as well. As Pearlies are my bread and butter species I tend to give them a bit of a
rest in January when there are plenty of other species on the chew.

To have a crack at fishing the shallows this January with INCREDIBLE CHARTERS, please
call Keith on 3203 8188 or email: (Discounts for kids
during the January school holidays too!)

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