This would have to be one of my favourite times. The silly season is coming to an end, the water has warmed up and the summer species are on the chew.
Fishing around the holiday period can be a bit frustrating for locals, especially in places like the Tweed that generally don’t see anywhere near as much pressure as further up the coast around Southport.
I don’t do much fishing over peak holiday period but wait until things have quietened down before seriously tackling the river again. Don’t get me wrong, there are always fish to be caught, but I tend to enjoy the more relaxing period after the school holidays. I spend most of the holidays working on the charter boat, anyway.
Places like Palm Beach and Mermaid reefs cop an absolute hammering around Christmas and on a good day you will see around 100 boats on Palmy Reef. Tempers can flare and some unpleasantries can be exchanged on the water.
As we move into January many of these folks return to work and it gets a bit more manageable on the water.
Spotted and Spanish mackerel should be around in reasonable numbers and the season generally depends on how much bait is pushed into these reefs and how long it stays there. The more bait, and the longer it stays, the better the spotty mackerel season will be.
Kingscliff also holds good spotties at times and these can also be a better class of fish than those we see around Palm Beach and Mermaid.
Floating pillies rigged on gauge wire around 40lb and small single hooks are the go for the spotties, or you can go for a bit of high speed spinning.
While anchored up, try to have a couple of live baits out on balloons; cobia, Spanish mackerel and oversized spotties won’t often swim past a good size slimy mackerel or yakka.
The inshore reefs have been producing black marlin and although the action has been a bit sporadic, they have been keeping many of us entertained.
They can be frustrating fish to keep on the hook due to their acrobatic nature but each time you lose one makes you want to keep coming back to have another crack.
As I mentioned last month, try to rig your lures with light-gauge single hooks like Pakula Katanas and Gamakatsu SL12s; these should improve your hook-up-to-landing rate significantly.
The bottom fishing on the wider grounds definitely becomes increasingly difficult this month, with the current usually ripping at its strongest.
The windows to fish out on the wider grounds become extremely small but hopefully the action on the troll will make up for it with species like yellowfin tuna, mackerel tuna, Spanish and spotted mackerel, wahoo and black marlin being viable targets.
The Tweed River should be on fire with good-sized trevally, the odd mangrove jack, bream, flathead and whiting in good numbers.
The average size of the bream can be a bit smaller over the Summer but the sheer numbers of these smaller fish can keep you happy and the rods bending.
I love taking my two little boys out at this time of year for a fish to keep them away from the TV and computer games. We pump a few yabbies and then hit the flats for a few whiting and bream.
Then eventually they (hopefully!) tire themselves out and fall asleep on the floor of the boat, giving me a quick chance to try to knock over a jack or a few good flatties.
One technique that is becoming a standout on the jacks is casting and retrieving large paddletail soft plastics. Castaic 5” paddletails or Z-Man 6” Swimmerz seem to be the leading brands.
The technique revolves around rigging the plastic on a 1/2oz jig head with a 5/0 or 6/0 heavy-duty hook. You then pick your structure and try to cast the plastic a bit beyond it, allow it to sink for a couple of seconds and then, using a constant retrieve, wind the plastic past the structure and all the way back to the boat.
Be vigilant all the way back because the jacks often follow the lure and smash it just as you want to lift it out to make the next cast.Reads: 903