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 36s and the 50s for big bait balls consisting of yakkas and slimey mackerel. Slow trolling live baits around the congregating schools will rarely be turned down by a passing marlin. These fish may not be as small as they were last month with some hefty specimens around the 100kg mark not being an uncommon contender. 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 Kais, and anything around 7-9” will do the trick nicely. It’s probably not a bad 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.
The last few months have seen some great blue marlin fishing and I think it’s safe to say that January will be no different. Blue marlin are a black marlin’s much faster and angrier cousin. They are one of the most exciting fish to catch and if you’ve never experienced it, then put it down as a ‘must do’. When fishing for blues, 24kg outfits are considered light and almost inadequate. To seriously chase these speedsters 37kg or 60kg is far more suitable. These oceanic predators are mainly found in waters 70 fathoms or deeper, with the odd exception. When fishing out in these waters the most subtle differences can mean big things. A solitary bird or a pod of dolphins can be signs that lead to bites. When it comes to lures I find skirted lures from 9-14” are perfect. Elephants will eat peanuts though, so it’s always worth putting a small lure out as well.
There should be some 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 favourites. 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!
This is my favourite month of the year to chase big river whiting; the Nerang and Tweed being my favourites but Currumbin and Tallebudgera creeks hold plenty as well. As always the Council Chambers and around Sorrento in the Nerang River are great spots to start the whiting onslaught. And in the Tweed around the Piggery is a very productive area. Bloodworms 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. Ill use anywhere up to a 5 ball when targeting whiting and downsizing when the current slows. A long trace of light 6lb fluorocarbon works best for me, finished off with a hook around size 6. This has proven a deadly set up.
The mud crab season should be starting to flourish this month also with good catches coming from the upper reaches of our local rivers. Though we may experience some heavy rain and, if so, further towards the mouths will be far more effective. The rectangular collapsible pots are what I’ve had most success with. These pots are cheap but still effective. Unfortunately getting pots stolen is not uncommon especially on weekends and school holidays, so when the pots aren’t that expensive it lightens the pinch a little bit. Raw chicken carcasses are 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 be still plentiful around most canal systems. I find anywhere where 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 hard bodied lures through the structure is as good as any way of targeting these fish jacks especially, 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.
There should be good numbers of bass lurking in January the upper, brackish reaches of all of our rivers hold bass. I find TN50 Jackalls as well as Ecogear VT55SP are a good lure when the sun is still high and any small poppers in low light conditions.
The Hinze Dam should be firing and using spinnerbaits is 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. Purple and natural olive colours are the best for me. When using spinnerbaits, try the more prominent points around the dam. These protruding areas will hold more and often larger fish.
Until next month be safe on the water and good fishing.Reads: 641