December would have to be one of my favourite fishing months; the marlin should 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. I’m sure this year will be no different and, as long as a few weather patterns go our way, they should be fierce. Mermaid and Palm Beach reefs will be the 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. But trolling isn’t as basic as it sounds, as there are a few different methods.
Slow trolling dead swimming baits is always a favourite. 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 that 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 can make your bait really standout, which may 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, keep a metal slug type lure ready, such as a Laser Lure in 35g or 50g to cast 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 I’d imagine the juvenile black marlin will be running strong this month and with their long runs and acrobatic displays, will attract many keen anglers. Trolling skirted lures between 6-7” around the 40m and 50m line will bring on a few bites with some tasty by-catch. The likes of mahi mahi and wahoo will also be on the cards, so make sure you keep an esky full of ice, because if you look after these fish they are great table fair.
Anyone who knows me will know that I’m a huge fan of chasing schools of trevally up the rivers. They are great fun to catch and at times you can hook some cracker fish! Big-eye trevallys to well over 70cm aren’t unusual. If you can match the new moon with a run-out tide, you will rarely miss. I prefer to use small suspending lures over poppers and plastics. They like an erratic retrieve with plenty of pauses. They are also a sucker for a well-presented fly!
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. Rolling plastics is really popular and works well; they also don’t hurt your pocket as much if you get stitched up! My favourite plastic is a 5” McCarthy shad tail. That lure is a nice size and will catch jacks of any size.
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 5.5” DOA Jerk Minnow. This lure has what they are after and this is 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, I like around 6ft for deeper water fishing.
December will no doubt bring a few nice 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.Reads: 723