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Offshore boom town
  |  First Published: December 2012



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 36 and the 50 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 shouldn’t be bigger than last month with some hefty specimens around the 100kg mark being common.

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 Kai’s, and anything around 7-9” will do the trick. It’s probably a good 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 nice 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 favourite baits.

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 decent snapper starting to show up this month on the 18 and 24 fathom reefs, as well as the Mud Hole. 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 not to stop 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 nobby. 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 always a popular way to catch snapper. I use a very light jighead when plastic fishing; I try to encourage these fish to eat my lure on the drop, as most of the larger snapper will locate themselves suspended off of the bottom.

INSHORE

This is my favourite month of the year to chase big river whiting. The Nerang and Tweed are my favourites 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, and around the piggery in the Tweed.

Blood worms are the best bait, but 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’ll use anywhere up to a 5 ball when targeting whiting and downsizing when the current slows. A long trace of light 6lb fluoro carbon seems to work best, and finished off with a hook around size 6.

The mud crab season should be starting to flourish this month as well. Good catches have been coming from the upper reaches of our local rivers. If we experience some heavy rain, further towards the mouths will be far more effective.

The rectangular collapsible pots are what I’ve had the most success with; these pots are cheap but effective. Unfortunately getting pots stolen is not uncommon 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 off 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 still be plentiful around most canal systems. Anywhere there’s a bit of tidal flow will hold these predators; mix that with some structure and bait and you’ll be in with a shot.

Rolling hardbodied lures through the structure is a good way of targeting these fish, especially jacks. A general rule is if you’re not getting snagged you either don’t have a deep enough lure on or you’re not in the right spot.

FRESHWATER

There should be good numbers of bass lurking in the upper, brackish reaches of all of our rivers. I find TN50 Jackalls, as well as Ecogear VT55 SP, are good lures when the sun is still high, and any small poppers in low light conditions.

The Hinze dam should be firing. Spinnerbaits are always a very effective way of catching impoundment bass this time of year. I use 5/8oz Bassman Spinnerbaits and colour selection varies trip to trip, but purple and natural olive colours seem to be about the best. 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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