The start of the year has been an excellent one for pelagic action, particularly on the wider grounds off the Gold Coast.
There have been plenty of blue marlin out past the 50 fathom reef, and the drop off between the 70 and 130 fathoms has been a very productive corridor to fish. The blues have averaged around 300lb, although some bigger fish over 800lb have been caught as well.
In addition to the blue marlin there have been a few stripies and medium sized black marlin as well. By-catch has mainly been mahi mahi with a few big wahoo also thrown into the mix.
The Tweed Canyons, Jims Mountain and the Riviera grounds have all produced good fish, but quite often the 100 to 140 fathom area has had the best looking water.
Closer inshore the small black marlin have been erratic, with the odd fish showing up on the inshore grounds but no real pattern as far as numbers goes. Most of these fish have been between 40-70kg, and usually the boats heading wider have produced more fish. There have also been quite a few striped tuna and small yellowfin on the 36 and 50 fathom lines. There has been a fair bit of bait around the Fish Traps on the 50 fathom line.
In closer to shore the mackerel have been all but absent. Hopefully the start of February will see more spotties and Spanish mackerel being caught at Palm Beach. While there have been a few cobia around at times, the very erratic appearances of mackerel are worrying, and unless things change soon the season will be poor compared to previous years. Despite this, it’s definitely worth getting up early and anchoring on a good pinnacle, berleying hard, and then fishing live baits, pilchards and metal lures in the berley slick. This is a very reliable way to fish in close at this time of year and as well as mackerel can produce anything from a snapper to a marlin.
Bottom fishing has largely been restricted by current, but on the 50 fathom line on days where there has been a bit less flow plenty of kingies have been caught on live bait and jigs. The odd pearl perch, pig fish and snapper are also being caught. The 36 fathom line has produced a few snapper and tuskfish but again current is restricting opportunities. The 24 fathom reef might be worth fishing at night this month with live baits targeting mulloway, but it tends to be a better trolling spot than a bottom fishing mark. Trolling a spread of minnows early in the morning can produce a mix of Spaniards, tuna and wahoo.
The Nine Mile east of Tweed has been producing plenty of small yellowfin and quite a few wahoo for the high speed trollers. Hex Heads and Halco Laser Pro 190s have all been productive. mac tuna are surprisingly scarce at the moment. There have also been a few small cobia right on the top of the Nine Mile and some GT that respond to cast poppers and stick baits.
February sees the water temperatures inside the estuaries reach 25C. This makes the summer species such as mangrove jacks and trevally very active with the best fishing taking place at night. The main target species this month are whiting, mulloway, mud crabs and mangrove jacks.
There has been some very good mulloway fishing in both the Jumpinpin Bar and the Seaway throughout January and hopefully this will continue into February. While a bit unseasonal, a lot of these fish are between 80cm and a metre. making them a very reasonable target. They have responded well to soft plastics in white and pink and small live baits. The last hour of the run out and the first hour of the run in have been the most productive time, particularly when this occurs early in the morning. Sharks have been a big problem, eating a lot of the hooked jewies before they can be landed.
Mangrove jack fishing has been quite good so far this season in the Coomera and Nerang systems. Some quality fish over 50cm have been turning up on a regular basis and a lot are being caught on trolled lures. A run out tide at dusk has been the most productive time, but the fish will bite right into the night and some of the bigger specimens seem to be caught after 9pm when they move further from cover.
I’ve been trying to catch whiting on poppers over the past month and have had a bit of success lately. This is a fun way to fish the estuaries in summer, and whiting, flathead and bream all respond to this method. The secret to catching whiting on poppers seems to be a constant fairly fast retrieve, and most of my success has come using the old Rebel Pop’R, Bushies Stiffy and Luckycraft lures. Small chemically sharpened trebles help. If you want to give it a go fish a rising tide on a flat where there are lots of yabbie holes in about half a metre of water, using two pound braid and light leader. Whiting are surprisingly aggressive on poppers and charge the lure and take it with a gentle suck.
Mud crabs have been in good numbers on the bigger tides but there hasn’t been a heap of rain and most of them aren’t very full. The Pimpama has crabbed well this summer and if we have plenty of rain, try working the mouth of the river. Chicken or fish frames are good bait but there is a lot of sorting to do with plenty of small crabs between 12-15cm around, and there have been a lot of fisheries patrols about.
Overall, February is a fantastic month for fishing the Gold Coast, and the action on the wider grounds so far this year have been first class. Good luck and tight lines.Reads: 2033