Marauding marlin and mack attack
  |  First Published: December 2013

There is eager anticipation of the arrival of the annual small black marlin run on the inshore grounds off the Gold Coast. In early December quite a lot of fish had been caught in Hervey Bay, so by the time you receive this there should be quite a few small blacks being caught off the Gold Coast.

I like to work the area east of Jumpinpin in January for marlin. The area from 25-50m often holds good schools of pilchards and slimy mackerel, and trolling rigged gar, small skirted lures or slow trolling live baits are all effective methods to get tight to a bouncing baby black marlin. Most of these fish are between 15-30kg and are a great target on 8-10kg tackle. Ideal conditions are a light 10-15 knot southeasterly and strong blue current running close to shore. Look for bait schools and birds and concentrate your efforts wherever you find bait. Most of the bites come on tide changes.

As well as marlin, expect wahoo, tuna and plenty of mahi mahi this month. Generally it isn’t too hard to come home with a decent feed.

Further out wide there should be plenty of blue marlin, if early reports are anything to go by. One to four bites per day from blues has been common through November into December and most of the fish have been around 120-140kg. Lucky

Strike, skippered by Ross McCubbin, managed an unusual double header of a black marlin and a blue marlin in 280m recently, with the black being bigger than the blue. That’s the first time I’ve heard of a double header of marlin of two different species. Both fish ate trolled lures. Lucky Strike also caught a 140kg blue on the same day.

In closer to shore the mackerel season should be in full swing. The spotted mackerel arrived at Palm Beach Reef in numbers in late November, with plenty of anglers catching their bag limit. By January there should be quite a few Spaniards as well. I like to anchor up and spin metal lures in a berley trail of shopped pilchards, with a live bait or pilchard on wire drifted out the back.

The Tweed Nine Mile can fish well this month for a wide variety of species. Drifting live slimies over the reef can produce everything from job fish to marlin, and casting big poppers is another great method. There are some monster GT in this area and they take some stopping and they love big poppers and stick baits. Wahoo also commonly show up in this area and high speed trolling skirted lures is worth doing early in the morning when the current is running.

For the bottom fisher, the action is dictated by the current. The 50 fathom line is hard to fish as the run is generally around 2-3 knots, but there are often a few kings, pearl perch and the odd juvenile snapper about for the persistent. In general trolling is a much better option this month.


January sees the water temperatures in the estuaries increase and on the top of the tides a lot of blue water pushes inside on the southeasterlies. This often brings in a lot of bait, such as white and frogmouth pilchards. These attract a variety of predators to the Seaway and Jumpinpin entrances and there are often quite good spinning using metal lures and plastics for great trevally, tailor, big-eye trevally and sometimes tarpon. At times bonito and mackerel tuna enter the Seaway as well as the odd mackerel. If you have a high tide at around 7am there is often quite good lure fishing on the last few hours of the push, but you have to get up early.

Whiting should be active in the Nerang River this month and as the year has been quite dry a lot of the fish are quite far upstream at present. Try small soldier crabs, worms or yabbies if there has been a bit of fresh. Small shrimp also work very well in the Nerang and have the added advantage in that you can catch them around the mangrove fringes on almost any tide.

It has been a good mangrove jack season so far, with quite a few fish in the 50-60cm bracket being caught. Most have been hooked on poppers and soft plastics casting to floating pontoons. The 4” Z-Mann Swimmers have been particularly effective and are a very durable lure. Hardbodies are another useful alternative. A lot of the jacks have been caught in daylight hours.

The flathead spawned quite late this season and in early December there were still a lot of fish carrying roe, so there may still be some productive flathead fishing this month around the entrances and the first shallow banks inside the Jumpinpin and Seaway area. Small paddle-tail plastics have been effective at times although the fish have been quite fickle. I also recently caught a small cobia on a soft plastic fishing for flathead inside the ‘Pin Bar.

Mud crabs and sand crabs should be in good numbers this month but the estuary needs a good flush as it has been quite dry. Work as far up the creeks as you can in the dry times and the deep holes after rain. For sand crabs work the run-in tide in the Broadwater between Crab Island and the Aldershots using mullet for bait.

Overall, January is a great month on the Gold Coast with plenty of good options. Hopefully we should have a reasonable marlin season and there are some promising signs so far for both blue and black marlin. Remember to stay safe on the water and take care out there as the increased boat traffic can make the Gold Coast waterways a very scary place. Good fishing and tight lines.

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