Wide range on offer in May
  |  First Published: May 2011

May is a great month to fish offshore from the Gold Coast. The current generally drops a bit on the wider grounds, and there is good bottom fishing and pelagic action as well. The water temperatures this season on the wider grounds have been unusually high for these parts, with 29ºC water on quite a few days. In May the water temperature generally drops to around 22-23ºC

This year so far has been one of the best seasons for Spanish mackerel for over a decade, and these should continue this month, with plenty of bigger female fish over 20kg turning up late in the season. The wider grounds like the 24-fathom line and the Gravel Patch off Burleigh should produce a few trophy fish this month. Try big baits like tailor, mac tuna and bonito or trolled lures like the Halco 190 Laser Pro have also been excellent this year.

In May the catches are generally fewer in numbers but tend to be bigger on average. There is also quite often a ‘return run’ of spotted mackerel at places like Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef. These fish are on the return half of their annual migration as they move back north searching for warmer water. They are also often quite large, with spotties over 7kg being quite common.

Wahoo are a major target species in May. The Tweed Nine Mile, the Mud Hole and the 24-fathom line should produce some decent wahoo to more than 20kg this month. There should also be a few monsters turn up this month. The best wahoo I’ve seen caught in May was a 39.5kg fish caught by Peter Crawford on a live yakka a few years back. Try trolling small live tuna, fast troll Hexheads or try a spread of big minnows.

On the billfish front, this year has been very quiet on the inshore grounds but out past the 50-fathom line blue marlin catches have been an erratic but satisfactory so far, The blues have produced a few days of consistent fishing with up to eight strikes a day, followed by quite a few days where not a reel turns. There have been quite a few caught in the 100-150m line which is only about 6km wide of the 50-fathom line, putting it well in the range of well equipped trailer boats.

Snapper, pearl perch and amberjack should be around on the 50-fathom line and it is definitely worth planning a few bottom fishing sessions this month, particularly if you are getting a bit tired of eating mackerel. Strong currents can be a problem, but even in moderate current it is worth trying a bit of deep water jigging. Pearl perch also respond well to small metal jigs and deep soft plastics.

As the water starts to cool the mulloway should become active on the close in reefs off the Seaway. Deep live baits are well worth a try and look for a high tide around 7-8pm. On a calm still night this can produce both mulloway and snapper.

While May is a month that is ‘between seasons’ on the offshore grounds, I think all the summer rain has fertilised the ocean well. There are stacks of baitfish around and this month has plenty of good options to try.


This month should produce plenty of fish in the Seaway area. There has been a plethora of small frogmouthed pilchards in the estuary for a month now, which has attracted plenty of predators from flathead to kingfish. Live baiting the Seaway is a very good option this month, particularly on run-in tides. Load up on slimy mackerel and yakka baits from the close in reefs; drifting these baits around the North Wall and the Pipeline will be very effective.

There are plenty of small jewies around 65cm in the Seaway at present with a few legal ones over 75cm turning up at times as well. In May the mullet schools start to gather with the first of the westerly winds and the jewies get a fair bit bigger, especially at night.

As the water temperature cools the flathead become a lot more active on the flats and most of the fish will be up the rivers or in the more central areas of the Broadwater. Try blades, small white soft plastics or shallow running jerkbaits cast over the weeds. I think this year’s flathead run will be the best in many seasons due to the extensive rains and stacks of bait around. Most of the fish are also in excellent condition.

Bream will start to school up and move into the Seaway area towards the end May, and can be targeted on baits, small blades and soft plastics. Up river bigger bream will start to put on condition prior to the spawning run that usually starts in June. Last year’s bream run was extremely poor so hopefully this will be reversed this season.

There should be plenty of sand crabs in the central Broadwater this month between Tipplers Passage and Crab Island. The muddies start to slow down a bit as the water cools but are still worth chasing on the bigger tides if there is a late bit of fresh water run-off. It has been a bumper year so far for mud crabs.

Tailor should be around the Seaway and Jumpinpin entrances on the run-in tides and some nice fish should turn up on pilchards and metal lures. Look for bird activity in the early morning as a sign of where the tailor will be.

Overall, May is a great month to try a wide range of fishing on the Gold Coast before winter kicks in. Good luck and tight lines.

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