January will offer a wide range of species to challenge anglers from wide offshore to the upper reaches of our creeks, rivers and dams so start gearing up because this month is always a boomer!
The small black marlin will still be in numbers this month but may be a bit wider than previous weeks. Start searching around the back of the 36s and the 50s for big bait balls consisting of yakkas and slimy mackerel.
Slow trolling live baits around the congregating schools will rarely be turned down by a passing marlin. These fish may not be as small as they were last month with some hefty specimens around the 100kg mark a common contender.
While trying to find these schools of bait it’s a good idea to troll some small to medium sized skirted lures; Black Snacks, Pula Kai’s and anything around 7-9” will do the trick nicely.
It’s probably not a bad idea to leave your light 8kg rods at home and bring along the 15kg rods to avoid marathon fights. If you’re keen to get the heavy gear out and start venturing past the shelf there will be a few blues and stripies on offer as well as the occasional jumbo mahi mahi.
There should be some nice Spaniards lurking around the Nine Mile, Fidos and the Gravel Patch. Dead baits and bibbed minnows should produce well, with Halco Laser Pros and blue pilchards respectively are a couple of my personal favourites.
The spotted mackerel will still in force at Mermaid and Palm Beach reefs and if you’re willing to face the crowds they can be a lot of fun. Use plenty of berley, short fine wire traces with 2/0 to 4/0 hooks rigged with half pilchards for best results.
When anchoring in these crowded areas be mindful to give other boats as much room as possible, remember they are there for the same reason you are!
There will be a few decent snapper starting to show up on close reefs this month, with the 18 and 24 fathom reefs and the mud hole really good sports to start looking.
Lightly weighted pilchards and strip baits floated down a berley trail is a very effective method to catch these tasty fish. Once you set the berley trail, you need to keep it going, because as soon as the berley gets away from the boat the fish will move with it.
Although braided lines are very popular these days I still like to stick will monofilament lines when floating down bait for a big snapper. I find that due to their hard mouths and vigorous head shakes during the fight using braided lines is a good way to pull hooks.
Soft plastics are always a very popular and effective way to catch snapper. I use a very light jighead when plastic fishing, trying to encourage these fish to eat my lure on the drop, as most of the larger snapper will locate themselves suspended off of the bottom.
This is my favourite month of the year to chase big river whiting. The Nerang and Tweed are my favourite rivers but Currumbin and Tallebudgera creeks hold plenty as well. As always the council chambers and around Sorrento in the Nerang River is a great spot to start the whiting onslaught, and around the piggery in the Tweed is also very productive.
Bloodworms are the best bait, but they are not very easy to come by, so small black soldier crabs are a good alternative. The bigger blue ones mixed with sand are good to use for berley but the small ones are much better bait.
I use anywhere up to a five ball sinker when targeting whiting and downsize when the current slows. A long trace of light 6lb fluoro carbon seems to work best for me and finished off with a size 6 hook, this has proven a deadly set up.
The mud crab season should be starting to flourish this month as well, with good catches coming from the upper reaches of our local rivers. Over the next month we may experience some heavy rain, then further towards the mouths will be far more effective.
The rectangular collapsible pots have been working well, best of all these pots are cheap but still effective. Unfortunately pots being stolen is a common occurrence these days, especially on weekends and school holidays, so when the pots aren’t too expensive it lightens the pinch a little bit.
Raw chicken carcasses seem to be the most reliable bait around the place but any oily fleshed fish should suit just nicely. Creek mouths, deep holes and drop-offs on mangrove banks are a pretty good place to start searching for crabs and don’t be afraid to move your pots around a bit.
Mangrove jacks, trevally and tarpon will be still plentiful around most canal systems. I find anywhere that there’s a bit of tidal flow, with some structure and bait will hold these predators. Rolling hardbodied lures through the structure is a good way to target these fish, especially the jacks. As a general rule, if you’re not getting snagged you either don’t have a deep enough lure on or you’re not in the right spot.
There should be good numbers of bass lurking in the upper, brackish reaches of all of our rivers in January. I find TN50 Jackalls and Ecogear VT55SP are a good lures when the sun is still high and any small poppers are great in low light conditions.
Hinze Dam should be firing and using spinner baits are always a very effective way of catching impoundment bass this time of year. I use 5/8oz Bassman spinnerbaits and while colour selection varies each trip, purple and natural olive colours seem to be about the best.
When using spinnerbaits try the more prominent points around the dam, which will more often than not hold larger fish.Reads: 3156