Rockin out – Grant Budd (Noosa) June 2016

Probably one of the most idyllic and popular fishing spots in Noosa is the rock wall that runs out to the mouth of the Noosa River and the bar crossing.

After a short drive through the Noosa Woods you are greeted by one of the best views any land based angler could wish for on a sunny day. With the rock wall in the foreground, the Pacific Ocean in the background and the river running out to meet it, you can see why this is a popular place to relax and fish.

The Noosa River and the bar is an ever changing and sometimes dangerous gateway to the reefs beyond. It is also the place where many an uneducated or unfamiliar skipper has felt what it is like to roll a boat and worse. The deep channel that runs along the length of the rock wall is the main highway for all fish and boat traffic that call the Noosa River home. Comprised of huge boulders the rock wall was created many decades ago during the re-development of Noosa and its river system. This is not the original exit point of the Noosa River and as such the additional bends and manmade structures throughout the river system are continuously changing often at times creating problems with sand build up.

Throughout the seasons heavy rains wash out the build of sand when combined with higher spring tides. This year however due to the fact we have had very little rain the sand is building up more than previous years. The constant daily ebb and flow of the tides and weather creates frequent changes to the channel and as such certain fish come and go.

As you read this, the main river channel that has been in place for decades is almost full of sand. Where once a 2-4 meter deep channel used to be is now impossible to navigate in anything bigger than a tinny on a high tide. There is however a newer channel forming so who knows what effect this will have on the rock wall, if any?  For now however the fish are still there and although at certain times they are very wise you can still catch a wide variety of species.

With all your usual estuary species on offer sometimes you can catch something you hadn’t quite expected which is why I enjoy this spot. I have seen various species ranging from small Kingfish to Cobia and Mackerel to name a few. If using bait usually the first fish to show are the Butter Bream and smaller Yellow Tail Bream. These can strip any offering in seconds leaving you with bare hooks or even taken into the rocks to become snagged. If you are lucky to avoid these smaller fish you could catch a sizable Flathead or Trevally. If lady luck isn’t smiling upon you then a stingray could find your bate. The river is home to some very big rays up to the size of a car bonnet and Shovelnose sharks reaching over 100kg.

If you catch a stingray you can usually tell as you watch all of your line burn off your spool in one long steady pulsating run with no head shakes. If this happens it is best to lock your spool and hope you pull the hooks. A shovelnose will put up one hell of a good fight if your gear can handle it with long runs and a guaranteed pair of stretched arms at the end J

There are of course times where your line races off your spool, but you get all the big head shakes and tail beats against your line. These are at times I like the most as some seriously big fish cruise about and many of us have no idea what these fish are as we often lose the battle. All you can do is give chase along the rocks as much as possible and hope you can turn your catch before it is too late. Often anglers are left with a bewildered look on their face as their spool empties itself in record time and all you can do is look on in disbelief!

Another more popular way to fish the river is with soft plastics and these have accounted for some great fish along the way. These limit the chance of catching smaller fish as your plastic is on the move a lot more and gets a reactionary strike from the bigger fish. The Noosa River is home to at least half a dozen Trevally species and depending on the time of year you can catch a great variety of them. We don’t get the bigger fish like they do further north but you could land anything from a solid Golden to a chunky GT. There is even a chance of catching a Jewfish, but generally the smaller school size ones around 600-750mm.

These still put up a great fight on lighter gear, especially once they grow past the mid 70cm mark as they really start to fill out and thicken up. Remember minimum legal size in QLD is 75cm. Other species on the list include Mangrove Jacks which are most active during the hot summer months so these are starting to shut down for winter. These fish hit like a freight train and are more often caught and lost than landed. Mangrove Jacks are renowned for smashing your offering while heading back toward their rocky lair. Once caught you have a 50/50 chance of pulling one out, but it can be done with correct drag settings and quick reflexes.

As far as the “BEST” times to fish there appears to be no best time. During the hundreds of hours spent fishing here I have caught fish during all tides and moon phases. I have been here at first light, last light and at midnight and still caught nothing, yet had a session of a lifetime during one of the hottest afternoons on a busy weekend day. The more you fish here the more you try to find a pattern but there are far too many variables to fishing here so its best to just have a go. Night time fishing has its rewards but is very hard to see and run the rocks in safety so its best to fish with a mate or from a boat.

The best all round equipment is a fast taper rod around 7ft in length. This lets you fish your line away from the rocks which reduces the risk of an unwanted bust off should you catch a decent fish. A longer rod allows for lengthy casts when the wind is up and you only need a light jig head. Ideally a rod rating of 3-5kg or 4-6kg and something that can fish light to medium weight jig heads is best suited.

It is important to remember that the currents can vary depending on the moon phase and amount of water in the system. This variance means you sometimes have to change jig head weight many times during a single 2-3hr session. The most common weights are 1/8th through to 1/2oz although if you fish bigger plastics then you could see yourself go up to 1oz.

It is important to check your rods cast rating before you attempt to launch a 1/2oz jig head out to the horizon and turn your prized stick into a travel rod! A 2500-3000 high gear ratio spin reel loaded with 10-15lb pe braid lets you stay in contact with your plastic especially when the current picks up. Higher gear ratio reels let you quickly get on top of your catch and turn it away from the rocks. Top all this off with 2 meters of 12-20lb fluorocarbon leader and you are ready.  

Many an angler has donated a lot of tackle to these rocks so be sure you turn up well equipped and don’t forget a big landing net!

A final word of warning, the river mouth rocks are merely resting in place and some are very unstable. It is important to take care when walking or running over the rocks as many people have fallen hard inuring themselves and breaking or losing their gear. Stay safe and have fun.