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More targets than a gun club
  |  First Published: December 2011



I was back at the marina cleaning up after a charter on RU4REEL and was about to close the transom door when a red fish swimming past the back of the boat caught my eye.

I looked more intently and noticed that there were more of them. I eventually counted six mangrove jacks swimming from pontoon to pontoon, using the shade of the pontoon as cover.

It was great to watch these prized estuary fish in their natural habitat.

I will admit, though, that I was definitely thinking strongly about returning later that afternoon with a rod and having a crack at them.

Seeing the jacks actively cruising around in the early afternoon was a clear indication that now is the time to be targeting them.

The Tweed is a healthy system at present and hopefully the rain will not affect it too much this Summer. A bit of rain will fire it up but too much will shut it down.

The rock walls, mangrove-lined banks and natural river structure can all hold jacks over the hotter months and it really comes down to spending time around the hours of darkness and in low light to try to catch one.

Deep-diving minnows, poppers, soft plastics and live bait will all work for these fish at different times.

You need to use the techniques you are comfortable with and perfect them, rather than trying a heap of different ones.

Concentrating your efforts around the run-out tide will also increase your chances significantly.

OTHER TARGETS

Jacks are not the only target species in the river in January. Trevally, flathead, bass in the upper reaches, bream and whiting will all be viable options.

The warmer water in the river generally pushes the bigger flathead into deeper holes with the smaller fish hanging around the weed beds.

The Terranora Arm produces good numbers of medium-sized fish throughout the Summer, while the Tweed itself seems to produce the larger fish, especially around the Blackwatch boat works.

Whiting will be in good numbers on the majority of the flats, with the area around the piggery and opposite Fingal the pick of them.

Yabbies and worms on light gear and fished with a minimum amount of noise is the way to get whiting. The bigger fish are a lot more wary than the smaller to medium ones and will often bite better early morning or late afternoon; or around periods of low boat traffic.

OFFSHORE

The pelagics will be in full swing by now with mackerel the talk of the coast.

Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef generally become parking lots around this time of the year but they still seem to produce, with good numbers of spotted and Spanish mackerel caught there.

All the other inshore reefs around the Tweed do produce mackerel as well and generally see a lot less boat traffic but they seem to be a bit more hot and cold.

Good mackerel fishers put in the hard yards and ensure that they are on the water early with their tackle ready and well maintained.

This is the month for the juvenile black marlin to show in numbers and these will depend on how the ever-present Summer rains affect our fishery.

The Mud Hole, Gravel Patch and Kirra are all good areas to target these fish by trolling a spread of skirted pushers.

Keep a vigilant eye on your sounder because bait schools are a good indication that there could be predators in the area. Find bait and work over the area thoroughly.

If the lures fail to produce then dropping a few lightly weighted livies around the bait schools could be the go.

The wider grounds will produce blue marlin with the odd striped marlin, tuna, wahoo and mahi mahi also on the cards.

There have been some real beasts around the Tweed Canyons and on the back of the 50-fathom line this Summer. The biggest fish that we released on charter went around 230kg and we hooked bigger fish that have unfortunately jumped off.

Big blues are amazing fish to catch and the show they put on is simply spectacular. I look forward to putting more clients onto a few blues this month.

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