Billfish Enjoying the Weather
  |  First Published: December 2011

In late November the water temperature on the shelf was pushing 27C, meaning summer had definitely come early. Fortunately for anglers summer isn’t leaving us early with high water temperatures set to keep the big fish biting for at least another month.

This huge current of warm water has brought on some truly outstanding blue marlin fishing on the wide grounds off the Gold Coast as well as the release of a black caught by Mick Keough fishing on Lucky Strike that may well have gone over the magic 1000lb mark. I’m not sure how the inshore small black marlin season will turn out this year as reports from up north were disappointing, but a few small blacks have already been hooked so there may be action aplenty by mid January.

This month should be an excellent one for chasing pelagics. There has been plenty of big dolphin fish on the wider grounds, some cracker wahoo about and there are a lot of Spaniards moving south in the current, so I’m expecting plenty of screaming ratchets this month.

The bait has been quite scattered but should start to school up this month and attract plenty of fish. There should be big schools of slimey mackerel around Spot X, Deep Trag and up at Sullies this month and if the bait schools hold position the marlin won’t be far away.

There has been a lot of pelagic action in the 50-90 fathom area with some big blues hooked. We have been wiped out by really big fish on several occasions including a complete spooling but got lucky with one fish. It took 3 hours 20 minutes to bring it to the boat on 24kg tackle and was around three metres long and about 280kg, making it the biggest marlin we’ve caught from my 6m trailer boat Gemma 3. Aykut Ahmet was the angler.

January can see some wild weather but the breaks in between should see plenty of hot blue water in close. It’s a good time to troll a mix of different lures as you can’t be sure what you’ll catch next. Try trolling a couple of 160 or 190 Halco Laser Pros, a couple of skirted 20cm small marlin style lures and work the 20 fathom line east of the Seaway. Keep the boat over reef rather than sand and get up early so your lures hit the water before sunrise. This is the best time to find a wahoo or a Spaniard. Mixed bags of black marlin, Spanish and spotted mackerel, wahoo, dolphin fish and striped tuna should be pretty common this month.

As the current generally runs hard the bottom fishing is hard this month, particularly on the wider grounds. Fishing in closer may produce cobia with livies and berley, but January is a trolling month in my opinion. The Tweed Nine Mile reef is also worth the trip this month, and with the big wahoo being the species to target.

Palm Beach and Mermaid Reefs should fish well for spotties, Spaniards and cobia this month but expect it to be crowded, especially in the school holidays. After last year’s floods we can hopefully look forward to more normal summer conditions this month, and it’s likely we will have another good mackerel season.


As the blue water pushes into Jumpinpin and the Gold Coast Seaway there is generally a lot of bait moving inside, and big schools of frog mouthed pilchards often invade the mouths of the estuaries. These attract tailor, bonito, school mackerel, mac tuna and sharks. Casting metal lures at the end of the north wall of the Seaway can be very productive on the run in tide, and the entrance at Jumpinpin also produces some good spinning sessions in January. As well as pelagics, the bait attracts GT, big-eye trevally and in the Seaway there are sometimes schools of quite big tarpon and small queenfish.

Further up river there should be a few mangrove jack around the rock walls and rock bars in the Coomera and Nerang Rivers. Fishing at night is generally the most productive time, with quite a few big jacks over 50cm turning up this month. Estuary cod are a common by-catch when jack fishing. A lot of jacks this year are being caught on live baits and poppers and a low tide at around 8pm generally offers the best fishing. There have been some excellent jacks caught around Sovereign Islands.

Flathead fishing is generally quiet in January, but if you work the deep water and the frog mouthed pilchards are about there are still a few good ones on the run in tides. There have also been a few good jewies caught at Jumpinpin lately with most of them over the legal size of 75cm and quite a number over a metre long. Live baits have out-fished soft plastics by a wide margin over the past month.

Trevally fishing at dusk in the upper reaches of the Nerang has been quite good. Troll a few shallow running minnows until you find the fish, then work the area with small poppers or metal spoons. A few giant herring also turn up in this area with the odd big tailor. Most of the trevally are big-eyes with the odd GT also turning up and there are usually mangrove jacks in the same area.

Overall, January is a great month to fish the Gold Coast, especially offshore. If the early indications are anything to go by, this season looks like it will be a very productive one and the blue marlin action in particular may be world class.

Good luck out on the water and stay safe.

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