It has been quite an erratic season so far for those chasing pelagic off the Gold Coast. Out wide of the 50 fathom line the water quality has been quite good and there has been a mix of blue, black and the odd striped marlin, with quite an overlap of small and medium blacks mixed with some big blues.
I recently watched local boat Barcoe battle a monster blue for nearly 4 hours on 60kg tackle in a chair. Unfortunately the fish came up dead; it later weighed 405kg, giving an indication of the size of some of the monsters out there.
February is the prime month of the year on the wider grounds and there should be some good heavy tackle marlin fishing over the next few weeks. On my boat Gemma 3, a 6m aluminium centre cabin, we’ve caught some good ones this season and the best had a short length (tip of lower jaw to fork of tail) of 287cm making it somewhere around the 220-230kg mark. That one took an hour and twenty minutes on stand up 37kg.
For those interested in chasing big blues I’d suggest putting the lures in on the 100m line, trolling out to 200, then working back and forth on this contour looking for birds, bait and dolphins. This season quite a few blue marlin have been caught just wide of the 50 Fathom Reef, which is quite close in for this species.
On the inshore grounds there should be black marlin and mahi mahi, a few wahoo and some tuna. A cold patch of dirty water has shrouded the close in grounds for almost a month now and the fishing has been slow. It hasn’t been a good season so far for small black marlin off the Gold Coast on the normally productive inshore grounds with only a few fish taken, and the mackerel fishing has also been quite poor.
When the current starts to run-in close this month there should be good fishing on the gravel patch off Burleigh for mackerel and marlin. This area holds a lot of bait and also attracts good numbers of wahoo. Trolling and live baiting are productive on these grounds.
The Tweed Nine Mile is another good option in February. High speed trolling lures, such as Hex Heads, can be very productive at times, and slow trolling live tuna also works very well when targeting wahoo. Big poppers cast in this area can also produce a big GT in February.
For the bottom fisher most of the activity will be dictated by current. When it runs hard it is almost impossible to fish, but there can still be a few juvenile snapper, pearl perch, rosy jobfish and kingies around. There are still a few mulloway on the chew at night as well on live baits.
Summer has been relatively dry so far and a lot of the activity has been well up the rivers. It has been an excellent season for mangrove jack and most are being caught by casting soft plastics parallel to floating pontoons and then quickly working them back just under the level of the bottom of the pontoon. The upper Nerang and Coomera have both fished well.
The most popular lure has been the 3” and 4”Z-Mann Swimmerz in white. This type of fishing can cause a bit of consternation with the owners of the pontoons and it is important to remember that fishing inside Sanctuary Cove is out of bounds unless you are a resident there.
Bridges and rock walls also fish well and poppers are another good option this month. The Lucky Craft G Splash is a very effective popper to try. This will also produce trevally and tarpon. There have been a lot of nice tarpon in the Coomera lately with 60cm fish common. They jump high and go hard and are difficult to keep a hook in.
The flathead just seem to go on and on this season, and while February is generally the worst month of the year for them, so far a lot of nice ones are still being caught around Jumpinpin and this may well continue next month. Most are being caught on small soft plastics up on the flats early in the morning when it is a bit cool. They have been around 40-55cm long with the odd bigger fish. Trolling is another option using small Lively Lures Micro Mullets or Piggy Lures.
Whiting are a good target this month and if it stays dry, the Upper Nerang should fish well. This is an unusual whiting river in that it has a distinct lack of flats and intertidal zones, and the main food in this river for whiting is small shrimps. In February some of the best whiting fishing is at night using worm baits, with quite a few fish going over 40cm. Other good places to try include the Pimpama River and Coombabah Creek.
Poppers worked over the flats are another option and is worth trying this month when there are small jelly prawns around. It is amazing how savage a whiting becomes when it is chasing a popper.
Fishing the deeper sections of the Seaway and around Jumpinpin is another good option this month, although bull sharks can be a big problem eating a lot of the mulloway hooked. The worms inside mulloway are actually the juvenile form of a bull shark tapeworm, so clearly this predation has occurred for centuries. February is a bad month for bull sharks, but there are quite a few medium mulloway around in the deep entrances that can be caught on live baits and deep soft plastics.
Overall, February is generally one of the best months of the year to catch pelagic, and if we get the blue water in close it should fire up for the month ahead. At least so far this year, we don’t have a flood!Reads: 1053