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Jacks in January
  |  First Published: December 2014



In January, pelagics will be in full swing and the rivers will be firing. Anglers will be able to target a heap of different species both inshore and offshore.

Inshore

Over the last few summers, mangrove jack have been on plenty of angler’s catch list and this summer so far has been no different. A big thing I find in January is that the fish have seen plenty of lures by now so it pays to mix it up a bit.

A lot of fishos are catching mangrove jack these days by rolling soft plastic lures. There is no doubt this is a really good way to catch these fish! But I find come late season (January) it pays to broaden your horizons a little bit. I’m a huge fan of casting small floating hardbodies for jacks. Something around 70-90mm is prime jack size and a lure that dives around 10ft will suit most applications, especially when fishing bridges and pontoons.

I don’t worry too much about tides but I find upper reaches of the river fishes better on higher stages and sections of the river closer to the mouth tend to fish better towards the end of the run-out tide. If you can time those tides with either first or last light, then you will be very likely to come across a jack.

This is my favourite month of the year to chase big river whiting. The Nerang and Tweed are my favourites but Currumbin and Tallebudgera creeks hold plenty as well. As always the Council Chambers and around Sorrento in the Nerang River is a great spot to start the whiting onslaught. And in the Tweed around the Piggery is a very productive area.

Blood worms are in my mind the best bait for river whiting, but are 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. I’ll use anywhere up to a 5 ball when targeting whiting and downsizing when the current slows. A long trace of light 6lb fluorocarbon seems to work best and finished off with a hook around size 6, this has proven a deadly set up.

There should be good numbers of bass lurking in January in the upper, brackish reaches of all of our rivers. The TN50 Jackalls as well as Ecogear VT55SP are good lures when the sun is still high and any small poppers in low light conditions work well.

The Hinze dam should be firing. Spinnerbaits are 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, but purple and natural olive colours seem to be about the best. When using spinnerbaits try the more prominent points around the dam, these protruding areas will most times hold more and often larger fish.

Offshore

The blue marlin will be savage out wide in January. Put your lures in at around the 150m line and head out. A lot of the fish around this time of year will be in 200-300m of water. Keep an eye out for any birds or bait because a sign as simple as a couple of birds in a small area can mean predatory fish.

Leave the light gear at home when you’re fishing out here, 24kg is absolute minimum and 37kg and up is recommended. Lures 9-14” are standard out there and by mixing up your spread with a variety of colour and size you will have the best chance of matching what the fish are keen on during that particular day.

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 slimy 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 being quite a common 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 Kai’s, and anything around 7-9” will do the trick nicely. It’s probably not a bad idea to 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 mahimahi.

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