This month pelagic fish really start to kick in off the Tweed.
Generally speaking, what happens in December is a good indication of just how good or bad the season is going to be for the avid trollers.
Fortunately, the Tweed offers a variety of game fish for us to target so if the black marlin are lacking a bit in numbers the mackerel can often make up for them.
Similarly, if the mackerel aren’t prolific then the wahoo can make a good showing. There is always something out there that will be willing to eat a lure or live bait if you are keen to put in the time.
At the time of writing the bait schools were starting to set in with good quantities of yakkas and slimies showing up on the popular bait reefs.
This will hopefully be a good sign for the Summer season and although the rest of the year’s seasonal fisheries have tended to be a bit late in arriving, we may see our speedsters turn up on time this year or maybe even a bit earlier if the weather holds up.
Palm Beach Reef and Mermaid Reef are the pick of the mackerel spots.
If you have never fished either of these reefs, don’t worry; they are not hard to find over Summer!
On a calm morning there are normally more than 80 boats vying for spots on Palmy, with almost as many trying to find a parking spot on Mermaid.
If you are early enough and get a spot on or close to the reef then try to get your lines in with a bit of berley going just on daybreak. This is usually the best time for the spotted mackerel and if it coincides with a tide change and a light southerly then you are in with a pretty good chance of bending a few rods.
Light wire traces and small hooks also improve your chances of getting the bites on the days when the spotties are a bit fussy.
Try to have one bloke throwing a slug most of the time in case they prefer the metal lure or they pass your boat just out of range of your baits.
When you do hook one on the slug, get some berley ready because other fish will often follow the hooked one and you can pull a few macks quickly by getting some berley out around the hooked fish when it gets close enough.
A word of caution when fishing these popular reefs: Don’t anchor too close to the other boats; this only aggravates everyone and the new braided lines will almost instantly cut through an anchor rope when a mackerel is screaming line off.
If there isn’t enough space for you in the group then move to the outside of the pack or head out to the gravel patch because the mackerel move around a fair bit and are not always right on the reef.
Downriggers are excellent tools for slow trolling baits or lures. We run two Cannon downriggers on the charter boat and catch the majority of our fish on these while slow trolling, especially once the sun is up.
Getting the live or dead baits down deep is often the only way to get a bite.
January is a top month to get among the whiting action on the river.
Worms and yabbies are the most dependable baits and although we usually Experience a lot of boat traffic on the river in January, the guys who put in the effort still get consistent catches of these excellent table fish.
Small poppers or surface-walking stickbaits like the Lucky Craft Bevy Pop or Sammy are also great whiting catchers and fishing these little lures over the shallower flats with light spin tackle can be heaps of fun.
You also generally catch the larger specimens using lures and the by-catch of bream, trevally and even flathead keeps things interesting.
Mangrove jacks will be prime targets, with rock walls, rock bars and any other similar structure good places to start targeting them.
January is a great month for fishing the Tweed region so remember the sunscreen and get out there!Reads: 3008