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Impending marlin madness
  |  First Published: December 2014



December should really turn on the action, with the annual run of small black marlin and the estuary fish biting their heads off, what’s not to love about the festive season?

Offshore

There were good reports of lots of small black marlin in Hervey Bay last month and these fish should turn up in numbers off the Gold coast this month. As the East Australian current moves in close to the coast and the water temperature increases to around 25°C, there should be plenty of action from the grounds north of Jumpinpin right down to the Tweed Coast. At the start of the season I like to work the more northern grounds around the Cotton Reef, Sullies and the 20 fathom line north of Jumpinpin Bar right up to Point Lookout.

There are plenty of ways to target black marlin, but trolling lures is generally simple and productive, although the hook up rate is a lot lower than bait fishing. Small 15-25cm skirts rigged on 100-150lb leaders using 10/0 Gamakatsu SL12 saltwater fly hooks work well for me. Good lures are small Pakulas, Meridians and the locally made Black Snacks. Good colours are blue and silver, purple over pink and lumo green, but colour preferences vary from day to day. Good alternative methods include trolling swimming and skipping gars and slow trolled live slimies. If I find a big school of pilchards or slimies, I generally change from lures to live baits.

As well as marlin there should be good numbers of mahi mahi from small fish around 2kg up to big bulls over 15kg. There have already been quite a few dolphin fish caught throughout October.

Wahoo should also start to show and cause a lot of lure damage. I find that when wahoo start to show, it is a good idea to troll a Halco Laser Pro in with the skirted lures as these can keep the teeth away from your expensive skirts and catch a good feed. Small yellowfin and striped tuna also respond to the same methods

This month also sees the blue marlin activity increase out on the wide grounds and over the past 2 years, December has produced a lot of big blue marlin off the Gold Coast. These require stand up 37kg tackle to get consistent results. The 24kg is a bit light on the bigger fish and it can be a real struggle to get them up out of deep water. I like to work the area northeast of the Gold Coast Seaway in a depth between 150-400m.

Catching big blue marlin from a trailer boat is one of the most challenging ways to fish and while some days are doughnuts, the rewards are great when you see a big blue crash a lure and the reel growl under heavy drag. Out wide the by-catch in December is generally big mahi mahi and big wahoo. You need good sea conditions to work the wide grounds, as you will generally be at least 50km from the Seaway.

Bottom fishing this month slows down a lot as the current warms and runs hard but there should still be a few kings, amberjacks and pearl perch around.

In closer to shore the spotted mackerel and a few early season Spaniards and cobia should start to turn up on Palm Beach Reef. Last year’s mackerel season was outstanding and I hope this year is a repeat of the great fishing we saw earlier in the year.

ESTUARIES AND RIVERS.

As the water warms up, the flathead start to slow down markedly and most of the fishing action is centred on mangrove jacks, mulloway, whiting, trevally and sand and mud crabs.

Over the years, mangrove jack fishing has changed a lot, largely due to the huge number of floating pontoons that provide food and an ‘all tide’ shelter for jacks. The most successful local method, as popularised by local jack legend Mick Horn, is casting paddle-tail plastics along the edge of pontoons and working them quickly back so they swim about 30cm below the platform. This is an outstanding method but bust offs are common. You need to be quick to strike and get the head of the fish quickly or they will bust you off on the poles and oyster-covered obstructions.

Poppers are another good option and small deep diving hardbodies catch a lot of jacks as well. Trolling rock bars and long rocky walls is another good method.

A lot of good jacks over 50cm in length will be caught this month, with the chance of a trophy 60cm fish if you are lucky enough to stop them. The really big ones are very tough to get out if hooked close to cover.

Catching whiting on poppers is also worth a try this month. I like to use the Bassday Sugar Pen. Look for sandy areas with plenty of yabby holes and plenty of current. It is amazing how savage whiting can be on surface lures. The secret seems to be a fast constant retrieve that imitates a fleeing prawn. While you may catch a lot more whiting on bait than lures, I find lure fishing for big whiting is a lot more fun and avoids digging for worms in the mud. Fish over 40cm should be around this month.

With the warming water, the crabs will be on the move and it is worth chasing a few mud crabs on the run in tide in areas such as the Pimpama River, Coombabah Creek and the north arm of the Coomera River.

There should be plenty of sand crabs around the weed beds in the central parts of the Broadwater. Fresh fish frames of oily fish such as mullet or tuna work well for all crabs, and chicken frames are a good alternative bait when chasing muddies.

Overall, this month should see great fishing on the Gold Coast and by Christmas there should be plenty of small marlin being caught on the inshore reefs close to the Seaway. Have a safe summer and great fishing.

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