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A wide range of New Year Challenges
  |  First Published: December 2011



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 100kg.

While trying to find these schools of bait it’s a good idea to troll some small to medium sized skirted lures such as Black Snacks and Pula Kais, 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 start bringing out the 15kg rods to try and avoid marathon style 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 decent size Spaniards lurking around the Nine Mile, Fidos and the Gravel Patch with dead baits and bibbed minnows such as Halco Laser Pros and Lively Lure blue pillies being 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. Plenty of berley and some short fine wire traces with 2/0 to 4/0 hooks and half pilchards for bait being a very effective method.

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 larger snapper starting to show up on close reefs this month; the 18 and 24 fathom reefs as well as the Mud Hole will be really good sports to start looking.

Lightly weighted pilchards and strip baits being floated down a berley trail is a very effective method to catch these tasty fish. But remember once you start berleying you must continue to do so, because once you let the berley get 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 a 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 also always a very good and very popular way to catch snapper. Use a light jighead when plastic fishing, to try to encourage the fish to eat the lure on the drop, as most of the larger snapper will locate themselves suspended off of the bottom.

SOUTH GOLD COAST INSHORE

This is my favourite month of the year to chase big river whiting. The Nerang and Tweed are my favourite locations 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.

The area around the Piggery in the Tweed is also a very productive area. I think bloodworms are the best bait, but are not very easy to come by. So when you can’t get hold of any worms I use small black soldier crabs. The bigger blue ones mixed with sand are good berley but the small ones are much better bait.

I use anything up to a 5 ball 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 hook around size 6, 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. We may experience some heavy rain, in which case fishing towards the mouths will be far more effective. The rectangular collapsible pots are what I’ve had most success with, these pots are cheap but still effective.

Unfortunately getting pots stolen is all too common these days, especially on weekends and school holidays so when the pots aren’t that expensive it lightens the pinch a little bit.

Raw chicken carcasses seem to be about 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. Anywhere with a bit of tidal flow will hold these predators, and if there is some structure and bait in the area then you’ll be in with a shot.

Rolling hardbodied lures through the structure is a good way of targeting these fish, particularly jacks. A general rule is if you’re not getting snagged you’re not fishing deep enough or you’re not in the right spot.

FRESHWATER SOUTH GOLD COAST

There should be good numbers of bass lurking in the upper, brackish reaches of the rivers. I find Jackall TN50 as well as Ecogear VT55SP are a good lure when the sun is still high and any small poppers in low light conditions.

Hinze should firing and using spinnerbaits are always a very effective way of catching impoundment bass this time of year. I use 5/8oz Bassman spinnerbaits with purple and natural olive colours the most consistent. When using spinnerbaits try the more prominent points around the dam; these protruding areas will most times hold more and often larger fish.

Until next month be safe on the water and good fishing.

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