Hopes for a black Christmas
  |  First Published: December 2012

Rain and strong south easterly winds can often put a bit of a damper on the Christmas spirit, so here’s hoping that this year is a bit different and we experience some favourable conditions over the festive season.

The few months leading up to Christmas have been looking rather promising for a good run of black marlin on our inshore reefs. The odd fish has already been caught and the grounds to the north have been producing reasonable numbers of these acrobatic and prized sport fish.

They have bypassed the Tweed coast over the past few years so we are hoping that this year they will finally make a return.

If they do, it opens up the marlin fishery and allows everyone with a seaworthy boat the chance of catching a marlin, instead of limiting the opportunity to those that own larger boats that can make the long trip out to the wider grounds.

December is the first month that these fish should show up – I say should because we don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch, but the indications are there.

If they do then any of the inshore reefs that hold concentrations of bait will be good places to start trolling a spread of pushers or live baits.

Try to stick to single hooks on your lures and use as light a gauge of hook as you possibly can. A thick hook struggles to find a purchase point around these little blacks’ bony mouths.

Gamakatsu SL 12s or Pakula Katanas are the hooks of choice.

If you do get one and are a bit inexperienced at handling larger fish, be aware that they can and often do play up at the boat.

If you intend taking a picture of one and releasing it, try not to lift the fish into the boat solely by its bill. Instead, support its belly as you do; If you place all its weight on its bill then it can do irreparable damage to the fish’s spine and they don’t often survive this.

The current seemed to be playing silly buggers with the wider reefs leading up to December and this has been making fishing the offshore wider reefs a bit of a lottery. One day can produce reasonable catches, while the next can be unfishable due to a raging current. On these days it has been a case of trying to scratch a feed together closer in, or throwing the trolling gear over and having a tow.

Yellowfin, mack tuna, Spanish mackerel and the odd wahoo are all viable targets on the troll this month, while spotted mackerel should be showing up at Mermaid and Palm Beach reefs in reasonable numbers.

If you are heading out for a troll it is always a good idea to refine your target species a bit instead of simply throwing out a few lures and going for a drive.

If you intend targeting mackerel or tuna then subsurface lures like Halco Laser Pros or Rapala X-Raps with a bit of wire trace would be a good choice.

On the other hand, if you wanted to target the small black marlin then trolling a spread of pusher-style lures that create bubble trails on the surface would be a better option.

Obviously, you will see an overlap of species when doing this but by trying to be a bit more species-specific, you will gain a much better hook-up to landing rate.


The Tweed River should be extremely warm by now with all the summer species firmly entrenched throughout the system.

If you stick to a simple formula like whiting on the flats, flathead around the weed beds and mangrove jacks and trevally around the bridges and rock walls, you should be okay.

Just keep an eye on that rain because it could push a lot of the fish down to the lower reaches of the system if it does decide to inundate us.

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