The water has been warm and blue very early this season; there has been patches of 24ºC water off the Gold coast since November.
This is one of the best months of the year to troll for billfish off the Gold Coast, although after hearing reports from further north it seems the small black marlin run will be erratic at best this summer. It is much more likely that medium sized 2-3yo marlin from around 50-100kg will make up the bulk of the catches.
There have been quite a few big mahi mahi around on the 36-fathom line over the past few weeks and trolling along strong current lines is a good way to target them. Already some really good-sized dollies up to 18kg have turned up and most boats are picking up two or three per a day’s trolling at present.
Wahoo, spotted mackerel and Spaniards should also show up in numbers this month. It has been an outstanding mackerel season in central Queensland this year so hopefully we will start to see plenty of these fish moving onto the inshore reefs this month.
The spotted mackerel are in usually in full swing before the Spanish arrive, and areas such as Palm Beach Reef, Mermaid Reef and the 18 fathom line east of Southport are all worth a look. I like to berley with chopped pillies and spin with metal lures and jigs. When the fish are on the chew this is a fantastic way to get a feed and the impact of a good Spanish mackerel hitting a retrieved lure is always a thrill.
On the wider grounds blue marlin have already been very active and quite a few have been tagged and released by local boats in areas such as Jims Mountain and the Tweed Canyons. Most of these fish have been around 120-140kg, although there have been a few monsters hooked in November. The wider grounds have also produced some very big mahi mahi.
January is an excellent month to target big blue marlin off the Gold Coast, and with the unlikely showing of a decent run of small blacks on the inshore grounds, it is highly likely a lot of boats will fish heavy tackle throughout this month.
For bottom-bashers the current will greatly dictate the quality of the fishing. The 50-fathom line will hold species such as kings and amberjack, however pearl perch and snapper will be hard to find as the current generally runs at two to three knots. Jigging heavy metals can be an effective option even in heavy current but it is hard to get a bait down and keep it there.
Pigfish and rosy jobfish can be common at times on the 50-fathom line in summer. The area closer to the Seaway has less current, and early morning sessions can still produce a few jewies on live baits, the odd snapper and parrot and occasional cobia. It is always worth putting out a bait for a mackerel at this time of year when fishing any of the close reefs.
The Nine Mile off Tweed is also worth a look for those interested in chasing wahoo this month. This species, like marlin, is hard to predict but January is generally the first warm month where they start to show up in numbers.
As the water warms close inshore the estuaries heat up markedly and the fishing activity changes quite a lot. January is a busy month on Gold Coast waterways, and one of the secrets to success is to get up very early and fish the dawn period when boat traffic is at a minimum and the fish are most active.
The estuary is in excellent condition at present due to winter and spring rains, although the water has been quite dirty on run-out tides. Target species this month include whiting, trevally, mangrove jacks, mulloway, flathead and bream in the Nerang River. Some of the best fishing is at night.
Fishing poppers at dusk and well into the evening is a very effective way to fish for jacks and trevally. Work areas of heavy current around rock bars bridges and marinas. Sovereign Islands, Marina Mirage, the Nerang River foreshores around where the tourist boats tie up and the canals around Bond Uni are all good spots to try this.
I like to have two rods rigged, one with a popper and the other with a shallow running minnow such as a small bomber or Saruna. If you get a boil on the popper that doesn’t connect, try the shallow runner in the same spot. My favourite poppers are Yo Zuris and Storm Chug Bugs. Small stickbaits or the Sebilé Magic Swimmer are also quite useful for this style of fishing.
Whiting will mostly be on the chew at night and, if there is a bit of rain, will bite well on baits such as yabbies or beach worms. If you can get good blood worms or wrigglers they are even better, with small live shrimps another useful bait.
Another type of whiting fishing to try is small stickbaits or poppers on the flats. A rising tide and a big shallow flat very early in the morning are the best areas to target whiting on poppers.
In the seaway live baiting produces flathead, school mulloway and a few jacks and trevally. Tarpon also sometimes show up around the end of the north wall. Most of the mulloway caught this month will be under the legal size of 75cm. Soft plastics like 7” jerk shads are another good method when drifted through the deeper sections of the Seaway and kept close to the bottom.
Overall, January is a great month for pelagics on the blue water and good popper fishing in the estuaries. Good luck and tight lines.Reads: 2002