The South East Queensland offshore fishing is one of the most diverse in Australia with both tropical coral reef species and temperate rocky reef species able to be taken while bottom fishing. As well, the surface species abound providing good sport fishing with excellent eating qualities.
The area available to be fished extends from the ocean beach shoreline to the deeper offshore waters of 100 meters plus. Many of the inshore species such as tailor, swallowtail and bream can also be taken close to shore or around the offshore rocky outcrops.
The recent construction of artificial reef structures in areas accessible to offshore anglers has provided excellent fishing opportunities for a full range of both surface and bottom fish.
The close in areas are often "coffee rock" or low rocks ledges and as the water deepens there are shallow "coral banks" progressing into the deeper "rock structures" that hold species such as snapper and pearl perch.
The coral reef species include sweetlips, tusk fishes, tropical snappers, various cod species, trevallies and if you are lucky a prize coral trout or red emperor. In the deeper waters the predominate fish are snapper, pearl perch, teraglin jewfish, amberjack, Sampson fish and the hard fighting cobia (black kingfish).
If you prefer a good fight then surface species such as mackerels, tunas, dolphin fish and the spectacular marlin and sailfish are not uncommon when trolling.
Many of these species have fisheries regulations controlling sizes, bag limits and other requirements so it is essential to obtain a copy of the latest rules before you go fishing.
A variety of rigs can be used but the most common are the "dropper" rig with the sinker on the bottom and two hooks about half a meter apart close to the sinker. Alternative rigs especially in shallow water are similar to a "tailor rig" with a 1 meter trace and running sinker. For trolling the standard multiple hook rig or "snoozed" hooks with a wire trace is the best. The size of the sinker being used depends on the current, whether you are drifting or anchored or just want to sit the bait in the mid water.
Baits vary but the common ones used are fresh baits such as mullet and squid, WA pilchards or if you are really looking for a big fish then live baits such as "yakkas or slimey mackerel" will give good results both on the bottom or on the surface.
When going offshore fishing the weather conditions should always be checked and especially if you are crossing an ocean bar such as South Passage or Jumpinpin. Any wind over 10 knots will generally create uncomfortable conditions.
Also make sure you have the appropriate safety equipment with may just save your life in an emergency and log in with your local rescue service when leaving port.
Prepared by David Bateman AM, President SQAFCA, 22/2/2011