December Favourites on the Menu
  |  First Published: December 2011

December would have to be one of my favourite months to fish, the marlin should be here in numbers, the mackerel will arrive in droves and the upper reaches of our creeks and rivers will be full to the brim of hungry predators.

In recent years catching a feed of mackerel has been high on many anglers ‘to do’ list and I’m sure this year will be no different, and as long as a few weather patterns go our way they should be fierce.

Mermaid and Palm Beach reefs will be usual stomping grounds for the masses and there will be some exceptional fishing to be had. Although I’m a big fan of float lining pilchards for these line burners, trolling can be a very effective way of targeting mackerel when things are tough.

However trolling isn’t as basic as it sounds, as there are a few different methods of doing this.

Slow trolling dead swimming baits is always a favourite, and these at times finicky fish will find it hard to turn down well presented dead bait such as a slimy, tailor or the humble pilchard.

When trolling dead baits I use Aussie Jigs. They are a skirted lure with a lead head and ganged hooks, which are very simple to use and allow you to easily rig a straight swimming bait. These lures add a bit of colour to your bait and can make your bait really stand out which may attract a mackerel bite.

When trolling baits keep your eyes peeled for diving birds and schooled fish. If you’re lucky enough to come across a school of mackerel, keep a metal slug type lure ready such as a Laser lure in 35-50g to cast towards them on a fast retrieve style spinning reel.

Let your lure sink for a few seconds and then wind as fast as you can. Schooled mackerel are a real sucker for a fast retrieved lure.

With a bit of luck the marlin will be running strong this month and with their long runs and acrobatic displays, will attract many keen anglers. Trolling skirted lures between 6” and 7” around the 40-50m line will bring on a few bites with some tasty by-catch. Mahi mahi and wahoo will also be on the cards, so make sure you keep an esky full of ice, because if looked after these fish are great table fair.


December is generally the most productive month to chase river predators like jacks, cod and trevally. While they are not great fish to eat, trevally are a fantastic sportfish and throughout summer the rivers will be full of them.

The main canal entrances in the upper reaches of the Nerang River and Currumbin Creek during a run-out tide is always a pretty hard time to beat. Now don’t be fooled – these fish may be plentiful but can be hard to entice onto a lure. Most times this is due to them feeding on small prawns which will run on a new moon.

When they are tough like this I’ve always found a trusty 3.25” Ecogear Grass Minnow in black and gold or pumpkin seed is a great lure to start with. I’ve also recently had outstanding results on an Ecogear SX60. This lure floats, but by putting a set of slightly heavier hooks on, it will suspend if not slightly sink. So when the trevally are around work this lure with a series of twitches and pauses through the hard running eddies and there won’t be many times you’ll miss out.

As always the trusty old mangrove jack will be a big contender this month, when a big storm is brewing on the horizon on a hot summer afternoon, this is prime jack time. Jacks live on most rocky outcrops, deep structure and pontoons. A fairly solid rod with 20lb braid and 30lb leader is standard jack equipment.

When chasing jacks it’s common to use a variety of lures and all different sorts will work on different days, so it’s good to be prepared. Soft plastics can be great, I’m starting to fish plastics a lot more on worm hooks now and I prefer to tie a loop knot with a small ball sinker tied into the loop. My soft plastic of choice are Ecogear Power Shads in 4” and 5”, they seem to have a profile and action that fits the bill!

School jew will still be around right through December. The Southport seaway almost always holds jew but size is often the let down, remember mulloway jew in Queensland have a legal size of 75cm. My number one jew lure is a 5.5” DOA jerk minnow, but it will also catch any class of fish from 5-50lb. I use 20lb braid and 20lb or 30lb leader matched with a rod that is around 6ft for deeper water fishing.

December will no doubt bring a few good mud crabs to the table and there’s not many pastimes more satisfying than bringing home a feed of these tasty critters. Most deep holes and creek mouths in our local creeks and rivers will hold a few muddies.

As far as bait goes some fresh chicken carcasses are about as good as they come, also mullet, tuna or any other fish flesh with a bit of oil in it will be your best bet to attract them into your pot.

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