Silly season produces pelagics
  |  First Published: December 2013

It is time to get out there and start dragging some baits and lures around on the big blue paddock as the East Australian Current should be in full swing this month. Black marlin, mahi mahi and wahoo should all arrive off the Gold Coast this December.

Last year the season started early but was greatly shortened by the floods. This season there have been good reports in October of 30kg marlin around the top of Fraser Island and off Double Island Point, and these fish should come our way now.

Most seasons see the mahi mahi arrive ahead of the black marlin, and December is usually a great month to target them on trolled lures. I like to work the edge of current lines in 20-50 fathoms and target areas where the ‘coral spawn’ lines leave distinctive edges. A lot of small bait tend to hide under the coral spawn lines, and mahi mahi travel along these ‘roads in the ocean’ eating all types of small creatures in their path.

I like to troll small to medium skirted lures in lumo white, purple and pink or blue and gold when targeting mahi mahi. I usually fish these on 10kg tackle with a pair of Gamakatsu SL12 10/0 hooks on 100lb leader.

Each season the average size of the mahi mahi varies but there are generally quite a few nice ones between 8-16kg around in December. These fish are also a sucker for a pitched live bait.

In December an average days trolling produces a few nice mahi mahi, a wahoo or two, and one or two marlin strikes depending on the season. In general the last 2 weeks of December fish better than the first 2 weeks.

Other good options this month are chasing some early season spotted mackerel and small cobia at Palm Beach Reef and stocking up on bonito, small mac tuna and big slimy mackerel for the upcoming Spanish mackerel season. Trolling small lures on the close inshore reefs and spinning metal lures around the bait schools is a good option.

On the wider grounds, weather controls the fishing. When the current runs hard from the north and the wind is from the south it makes it pretty rough wide of the shelf for a small boat.

But when the seas are calm it can be a great month to target blue marlin in the area from 70-130 fathoms east of Jumpinpin. This area is only a few miles east of the northern end of the 50 Fathom Reef and I’ve caught quite a few nice blue marlin from my 6m tinny in this area in December. All of these fish have eaten trolled skirted lures fished from stand up 24-37kg tackle. Each season has different patterns, but this area often holds a lot of tuna schools and these attract the bigger predators.

In general the strong currents make bottom fishing difficult this month, however on the low current days the 36 and 50 fathom line will produce rosy jobfish, pigfish and pearl perch. The main action this month is definitely chasing pelagic species in the surface layers.


By the time this goes to print I reckon Mick Horn will be pretty close to his century when it comes to the number of mangrove jack he’s caught this season on the Gold Coast. A lot of jacks have been caught in the Coomera and Nerang rivers and most have fallen to cast rather than trolled lures. Poppers have also accounted for a few nice ones, particularly after dark.

Jacks can be a frustrating fish, but the more you go, the more you’ll catch, and each trip feeds into the next. I know Mick recently caught 3 fish over 60cm long, including a PB of 65cm so there are some monsters about at the moment.

There should still be a few flathead around this month. In dry seasons the spawning run is often quite late so there may still be a few good fish in the deep water, as well as 40-60cm fish in Tipplers Channel and around Crusoe Island. Some really nice ones are being caught in the Seaway at the moment. Slow worked deep plastics, blades and vibes all work well at times, but it pays to mix up your lure styles and presentations as in the warmer water the fish tend to become a bit sluggish.

There should still be a few decent mulloway around the river entrances and the deep channel near Jumpinpin. There are also quite a few bull sharks about and some really nice mulloway have been chomped lately well into the fight, which is very frustrating. The sharks seem to quickly lock onto a hooked fish and can be hard to avoid.

In December the mulloway tend to be a bit smaller with fish around 70cm very common, and the odd fish over a metre to keep it interesting. Live baits will generally out-fish lures this month but big vibes and soft style vibes in the bigger sizes have also been very effective.

Whiting should be around in numbers this month. If it stays dry most of the action tends to be well up river and a lot of the better fishing is at night. Wriggler Worms and Shrimp work well at night, and small soldier crabs are very good during the day. Quite a few fish in the 40cm bracket should turn up this month.

Overall, December is a good month to get out on the blue water and troll during the day, and a few early morning and late afternoon and evening jack sessions are worth a look.

Happy Christmas and play safe this month. There’s a lot of good fishing ahead!

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