Marlin, mackerel and hungry predators
  |  First Published: December 2012

December is one of my favourite months to fish; the marlin will be here in numbers, the mackerel will be 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. 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 floatlining pillies for these line burners, trolling can be a very effective way of targeting mackerel when things are tough.

Trolling isn’t as basic as it sounds, as there are a few different methods. Slow trolling dead swimming baits is always a favourite, and these sometimes 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 exclusively, which are a skirted lure with a lead head and ganged hooks. They are very simple to use and allow you to rig a straight swimming bait with ease. These lures add a bit of colour to your bait and make it really stand out, which can 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, cast a metal slug type lure, such as a Laser in 35g or 50g, 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.

All signs are in our favour and the juvenile black marlin should be running strong this month; their long runs and acrobatic displays will attract many keen anglers. Trolling skirted lures between 6-7” and around the 40m and 50m line will bring on a few bites with some tasty bycatch, such as mahi mahi and wahoo. 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, such as jacks, cod and various trevallies.

Although not great fish to eat, trevally are a fantastic sportfish and throughout summer the rivers will be full of them. Main canal entrances in the upper reaches of the Nerang River and Currumbin Creek during a run-out tide are always hard to beat.

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 that run on a new moon. When you come across fish feeding on prawns, a small paddle-tailed lure can produce outstanding results. By putting a set of slightly heavier hooks on the lure, it will suspend or even slightly sink. When the trevally are around work this lure with a series of twitches and pauses through the hard running eddies and you’ll find 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 fairly standard jack equipment.

I use a variety of lures when chasing jacks and different sorts will work on different days so it’s good to be prepared. Soft plastics can be great and I’m starting to fish them 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 the new Nories Spoon Tail and the 4” Z-Man Swimmerz. They seem to have a profile and action that fits the bill!

School mulloway will still be around right through December. The Southport Seaway almost always holds mulloway but size is often the let down. Remember mulloway in Queensland have a legal size of 75cm.

My number one mulloway lure is a 5 1/2” DOA jerk minnow. This lure has what they are after – a sized lure that will catch any class of fish from 5-50lb. I use 20lb braid and 20-30lb leader matched with a rod that is fairly short, around 6ft, for deeper water fishing.

December will no doubt bring a few decent mud crabs to the table and there’s not many pass times 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.


Trolling can be a very effective way of targeting mackerel when things are tough.


December is the most productive month to chase river predators, such as this cod.

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