River to Reef Book - Guide to Fishing & Boating
River to Reef Book - Guide to Fishing & Boating
River to Reef Book - Guide to Fishing & Boating

River to Reef Book - Guide to Fishing & Boating

The River to Reef book series is the brain child of Bill Johnston and as it's name suggests it is the comprehensive guide to fishing and boating. The first in the series covers the Sunshine Coast. Bill has kindly let us re-publish the intoduction to his book here. You can visit and buy 'River to Reef' by Bill Johnson at his site here:

Authors Introduction

Bill Johnston B.AgEcon GC.Aqua JP(Qual) Principal Agricultural Economist Extension Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries

I have grown up on the Sunshine Coast on a diet of sun, surf and fishing, but it’s the fishing that has really consumed me. I grew up in Brisbane, but spent most of my weekends and holidays at my grandfather’s beach house in Kawana. I now live on the coast permanently and would not change places in a blue fit.

Why you ask? Because the Sunshine Coast offers up a plethora of fishing opportunities. Fishermen who visit the coast have the opportunity to tangle with freshwater bass through to big game black marlin and everything in between.

The freshwater impoundments in the hinterland ranges are stocked with feisty Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata), golden perch or yellow-belly (Macquaria ambigua) and one of the best freshwater sport fishing targets, the southern saratoga (Scleropages leichardti). The upper reaches of the coastal river systems (Maroochy, Mooloolah and Noosa Rivers) also offer great wild bass opportunities. Throw the chance of a mangrove jack (Lutjanus argentimaculatus) in to the mix, and drifting the upper reaches of our magnificent rivers can deliver a great day of angling.

The Sunshine Coast is blessed with a number of major rivers that flow from the hinterland ranges right through to our magnificent coastline and each river offers a different fishing experience to anglers. The Mooloolah River is a relatively small meandering river and is our major commercial port because of its protected entrance. It offers excellent bream and whiting fishing in its middle reaches, and is renowned for bream on lures around the many pontoons, pylons and other structure found along the lower reaches. The best thing about the Mooloolah River is it offers one of the safest entry points to our plentiful offshore reefs.

The Maroochy River is a bigger river system but is much shallower, particularly the lower reaches. However, the deep holes that dot the river generally offer exceptional fishing. The most famous of which is the cod hole just south of the Maroochy River Bridge. This river provides the perfect playground for dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) and sand whiting (Sillago ciliata) in the shallows, and mulloway (Argyrosomus hololepidotus) in the deep holes and around the mouth. The Maroochy is also renowned for the abundance of mangrove jack in its tributaries and rock bars, as well as great land based fishing from both the northern and southern shores of the river mouth. Good catches of golden, silver and giant (GT) trevally and tailor (Pomatomus saltatrix) are a regular occurrence.

The Noosa River is a completely different animal. It is fed by a sequential lake system surrounded by a national park. It is a very popular holiday spot and is the home of the rich and famous. The river offers great estuary fishing and is renowned for its healthy populations of trevally (Caranx spp). The freshwater upper reaches offer mangrove jack and good populations of bass. From time to time, barramundi (Lates calcarifer) are also caught in the Noosa River.

All these rivers lead us to the reefs that lie off our coastline. The Sunshine Coast has a reef system that runs from north of Noosa to Caloundra, extending in to Moreton Bay, and running as far east as the Barwon Bank which lies inside the continental shelf. In general, these reefs produce abundant catches of snapper (Pagrus auratus) in the winter and spanish, spotty and school mackerel (Scomberomorus spp.) in the summer months. Other species commonly caught regularly include pearl perch (Glaucosoma scapulare), spangled emperor (Lethrinus nebulosus), grass sweetlip (Lethrinus fletus), cobia (Rachycentron canadus) and parrot/tuskfish (Choerodon venustus). Catching a feed on the coast is always on the cards when fishing our reefs - as long as you know how!

fishing in mangroves

The stretches of beach between Noosa and Caloundra are fantastic fishing platforms with plenty of gutter formations and offshore reefs to feed them. During the winter month’s tailor are plentiful and there are runs of yellow-fin bream (Acanthopagrus australis). Mulloway or jew, the pinnacle of the beach fishing, can also caught along our beaches. The summer month’s on our beaches offer a range of fishing opportunities including summer whiting, dart (Trachinotus velox) and dusky flathead. The beaches north of the Noosa River, Teewah and Rainbow, are renowned for regular catches of tailor, whiting and dart although you need a 4WD to access these areas.

Anyway, that’s enough of an introduction to the coast. If you want more info on the book and what its about, simply head to our website You can purchase the book online or head to one of our many local tackle shops, newsagents and book stores for a copy.

Good luck and enjoy the fishing!