ELATED: Eladie Slater with two trout from Sunshine Reef.
ELATED: Eladie Slater with two trout from Sunshine Reef. CONTRIBUTED

Totally Hooked: Coral trout are on the chomp now

WITH the coral trout season under way and catches on the Coast increasing every year, I thought I'd give you some insight about catching some of these awesome fighting fish.

Coral trout, also known as leopard fish, can be caught up to 75cm in length and weighing in at 6 to 8kg.

The legal size limit in Queensland for these beautiful coloured fish is 38cm, with a combined trout bag limit of seven. This combined limit includes all the trout family: for example, the blue spotted trout (also known as the footballer trout) which has a size limit of 50cm minimum and a maximum size of 80cm.

Most anglers believe the coral trout is in the top-six best eating fish in the ocean.

Coral trout are protogynous hermaphrodite, which means they are initially born female and change to male over time. The trigger for this is unknown and this sex change will happen between 23cm and 62cm, with the average being around 42cm.

Young females can lay just under 100,000 eggs and the more mature fish will lay up to 500,000 eggs in just one year.

Fisherman have said that 20 years ago, they would be lucky to catch only two fish in a season on the Sunshine Coast. These same fisherman are now catching up to 100 in a season, so this shows stock sustainability is astounding.

With catches increasing over the years, we have a better insight into what tides, times and conditions are best.

November is a great month for coral trout, but they are still being caught right up to May. We have found that run-out tides combined with a moderate flow and anchoring correctly has proved the better time to fish.

Make sure you anchor your vessel up current from the reef, letting out enough rope to be sitting on the ledge or side of the bombie. Do not anchor on top of the reef.

Coral trout love hanging on the side of bombies and the edge of reefs. Popular spots for chasing them on the Coast are North Reef and Sunshine Reef, with smaller catches sometimes caught at Murphys Reef off Mooloolaba.

North and Sunshine reefs are easily accessible from the Noosa River, which normally takes only 15 to 25 minutes from the mouth of the river. The tackle required is simple but effective and, ensuring you present it correctly, will result in a top catch.

Let's start with the rig: I prefer to use a forged hook such as the Mustad 7766 size 7/0. Try not to use circle hooks for this rig as it limits your hook-up rate and is not as effective.

Gang two of the 7/0 hooks together and combine with a running ball sinker on top of the hooks using Instinct XTS 60 to 80 pound tough leader tied to a quality black rolling swivel.

Baits required are live yakkas and large pilchards and make sure you rig them with the top hook placed up through the jaw and out through the nose.

Then leave the second hook lay loose under the remainder of the bait. This way, the bait swims straight down to the bottom, giving a life-like appearance.

Make sure the bait remains hard on the bottom: do not jig the bait up and down.

The arsenal needed to catch these fish should consist of rods such as Live Fibre and Ugly Stick in the 15-30kg range - overhead or spin, as both will do the job.

These rods have been designed with a lot of pulling power which is required to lift these fish from the ledge they are swimming around.

Use a quality fishing line such as Shogun Ice Blue in the 40-60 pound, which will do the job perfectly or alternatively, the use of a quality braid in the same strain will suffice.

Once anchored in position, make sure you start fishing with your normal bottom rig first and catch some other reef species. This will create activity on the bottom which seems to get the trout biting.

For all the latest information, log on to www.fishingnoosa.com.au for up-to-date bar and fishing reports. Don't forget to drop into Davo's Tackle World in Noosa or Davo's Northshore Bait & Tackle at Marcoola to find out where the fish are biting, and remember: tight lines and bent spines!