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Fishing In The Cities

Fishing In The Cities

The waters that feed the veins of the city of Gold Coast, behind Surfers Paradise and other nearby communities, house a diversity of marine life similar to that of the wild tropics. Just throw in a few hundred kilometres of winding canals lined with waterfront mansions, millions of tourists, and a boating fraternity that has more registered vessels per capita than any other city in the southern hemisphere.

Fishing throughout the waterways of the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast produces a major amount of fish life not only in the estuaries, but also in the freshwater impoundments and out at sea. Anglers flock in numbers to the natural beauty of the Hinze, Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams, along with the surrounding freshwater creeks to target the ever-elusive Australian bass. If you are lucky enough, the upper reaches way past the weirs and causeways can also land you a catch of wild fish.

Every year, fingerlings or baby fish are placed into the freshwater impoundments where they grow to become a sought-after sportfish by many anglers. From here, fishermen target the various species, generally comprising of Australian bass, yellow belly, cod, and saratoga, with light line classes and different methods.

Fly-fishing is one way of targeting these species if you are into spinning, diving lures. The new wave of soft plastic technology takes off to new exciting levels. Basically, the fish in the dams will feed all year round. The bass cannot breed in impoundment waters as they need to get down to the salty brackish waters to spawn. If there are two hundred thousand fish swimming around the enclosed waters of the Hinze, then there is a great chance you will catch something any day and any time of the year. But it is the summer months that bring the fish on the chew as they become more active with the heat and the movement of insects. Cicadas thrive in the hot air temperature and humid conditions and sing their sounds to nature throughout the day. It is common knowledge that when the cicadas sing, it is time to go fishing. Insects land on the surface of the water and the bass sit below waiting to engulf the distressed creature. When you think about it, it is the evolution cycle all over again with the fish surviving by working as one with nature.

In the saltwater, it is very similar as summer species thrive throughout the canals and surrounding waterways. Trevally, mangrove jacks, estuary cod, tarpon and other species school up in numbers around the entrances to canals and creeks, waiting to ambush the smaller prey being flushed out by the torrents and currents. Small jelly prawns school up along the rocks, which in turn attract the herring that are then closely followed by hungry trevally, jacks, cod and tarpon. These fish are mostly active at night on the ebb or run-out tide when everything tries to make its way out to the oceans. Other fish that are attracted to this movement are the sharks. Large numbers of bull and whalers feed among the schooling trevally devouring anything that moves in front of them. Many a nights I have spent on the banks of a canal, flicking poppers out into the abyss before being smashed by a trevally; and then right at your feet, a bow wave appears out of nowhere and grabs your fish only a few feet from where you are standing, which is generally in the water. The end result is a head quivering to the shock of losing its body to the boss of the canal. My favourite spot for this kind of action would have to be the main junctions of the Nerang River and Monaco Street canals. Here, the currents are strong and eddies swirl throughout the ebb tide, and fish school waiting for that free feed.

It is amazing to witness this. And to have it all in our own backyard is simply unbelievable. The lights of Surfers Paradise gleam over the water making night fishing not only a visual experience, but also an enjoyable one. It is worth getting out there and giving night fishing a go. You will be surprised with what you see and catch!

And it is not just the Gold Coast, but also the Sunshine Coast and other cities and communities along the coastline. Where there are lights or currents, smaller baitfish are attracted and the cycle moves on from there. Besides these, there are also un-natural man-made structures that attract, house and hold fish, such as jetties, pylons, bridges and marker buoys.

This cycle can also be extended out to sea, as baitfish move down the east coast with the strong southerly currents we experience every summer. Fish that swim across the surface and feed off the surface are commonly known as pelagics; and it is these species that anglers target off the coast. Marlin, dolphin fish (more commonly known as mahi mahi or dorado), tuna, mackerel, wahoo, and a few other species are regularly encountered when trolling or live-baiting around the schools of smaller baitfish. The sharks inhabit these areas and waters, but this time you are not standing in there with them.

In eighteen miles or thirty odd kilometres east of the beach, the waters drop to the depth of a hundred meters. The locals know it as “the shelf”. From the shelf it does not take long before the water reaches incredible depths. It is here where the fish turn from large to incredibly massive. Things you could not imagine in your wildest dreams swim at these depths, and fish that could easily snavel a lure as long as your arm, and of course sharks so big they would put the wind up the toughest of men.

Fishing around cities and in particular our neck of the woods during the warmer months of the year is extraordinary. It allows a wide variety of angling opportunities to suit just about anyone wanting to catch a fish. The best news is, it has only just begun.


By Paul Burt