Break out the trolling gear
  |  First Published: December 2010

Later this month most of the Summer pelagic species really start to show up in reasonably good numbers.

Don’t get me wrong, I will be out there towing a few lures right from the start of December, and with any luck turning a few reels, but generally speaking around the Tweed region we get the fish a tad later than the guys fishing out of Southport.

What often happens is a few small black marlin, mackerel and the odd wahoo make an early appearance on our inshore reefs around October and early November.

This is often due to a sudden spike in water temperature and an increasing number of bait schools. This scenario was just starting to play itself out this year when the rains and big seas put paid to everything before we could really get out there and take advantage of it.

Once this early flash of pelagics has moved through, we often have to wait for the water to improve for them to return, normally around Christmas.

December is thus the month to really get the trolling gear out for the offshore species and also for the inshore and river species.

It’s not only marlin, wahoo and mackerel that will be keen to take lures in December. Mangrove jacks, trevally and cod in the Tweed River are also likely candidates.


I’m hoping the rain has flushed out the system and prompts a good run of Summer fishing. It will be interesting to see just how the season shapes up after the rivers recover.

Trevally should be around in really good numbers because they seem to flourish when the rivers take a hammering from loads of fresh water. One can usually see them getting stuck into baitfish right on the frothy colour changes in the river, where the dirty fresh coming down meets the cleaner water coming in from the ocean.

They are quite often feeding on the tiniest of prey and can be quite difficult to tempt in this type of scenario. Small soft plastics or minnows will often be the key to getting the bites.

The Tweed Arm of the river from the Chinderah rock wall all the way down to the mouth is the most popular area to target these fish as they travel up and down searching for an easy meal.

As the water quality in the river increases, they migrate further upstream with the schools of bait.

The end of the North and South walls also produce some good fish at times for those willing to get out of bed early.

If there is a bit of whitewater hanging around the end of the wall, fish will use this as cover to ambush bait.

Spinning with slugs, poppers or plastics or, alternatively, drifting a whole pillie through the suds can result in any number of species.


Unfortunately, landing the larger specimens by yourself or without the help of a long gaff can be a bit of a mission.

If you see large schools of bait moving past the wall, the predatory fish won’t be far behind even if they can’t be seen hammering the bait.

At the beginning of Summer large schools of pilchards came right in to the North Wall and guys fishing off there hooked numerous good fish. Unfortunately not many were landed.

You can expect to tangle with yellowtail kingfish, cobia and numerous tuna.

December can be a top month for fishing on the Tweed River and offshore reefs if the rain stays away.

It is the month that kicks off the Summer fishing proper and we can look forward to some top action.

Unfortunately the traffic on the water this month will increase dramatically as we lead up to the holidays and the start of the silly season.

All manner of water sports tend to overlap and the Tweed River and its offshoots can be very frustrating places to be at times if you are trying to fish and other river users are engaging in other forms of enjoyment.

If you still want to try to secure a feed or just enjoy your time off with the family then don’t fight the crowds on the main river, instead look at other areas that are harder to reach, or try around places with speed restrictions.

This way you can still enjoy a bit of fishing and the fish should not be as affected by the increased boat traffic.

The other option is to head out super-early and make use of the time when the river is a lot quieter.



Not everyone has been driving a boat or backing a trailer their whole life and they often need a bit of help or friendly guidance.

Although a packed boat ramp or a busy river are not the best places to practise these things, a bit of patience on the boat ramp or careful driving on the river could go a long way towards making a day enjoyable rather than frustrating.

Remember to prep your boat for launching before you back it down the ramp, thus limiting the time you take, and stick to one side of the ramp to allow enough space on some of the wider ramps for another vehicle to get in alongside yours.

Another tip is to place your safety chain on when towing your watercraft up or down the ramp – don’t rely on your winch to keep it secure. I have seen numerous jet skis and boats end up on the concrete ramp because a winch’s anti-reverse has failed.

Hopefully we can all get along on the river this December and enjoy what the wonderful Tweed region has to offer.

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