This summer has seen some outstanding fishing off the Gold Coast. Large numbers of black marlin and mahimahi have dominated catches, and the marlin run has seen most of the local tackle shops doing a brisk trade in selling skirted lures and trolling outfits. The marlin have ranged from small fish around 15kg, up to solid 100kg-plus models on the wider grounds. There have been plenty of big bait schools on most of the offshore spots, and the predominant baitfish has been pilchards.
This month should see the inshore run of marlin continue, and the action out on the 70-80m line improve further. As a general rule, most of the marlin action each summer sees the inshore run of smaller fish move down the 25-50m corridor, with the bigger 40-120kg fish working the bait schools on the 80m line in spots like Deep Trag, Spot X and The Traps. These fish are ideal targets on 15-24kg tackle and most are caught by live baiting. They can take hours on 8kg tackle.
In February the blue marlin bite is generally a good one, with plenty of big fish in the 150kg range showing up in depths from 100-500m. At this time of year, trolling can produce all 3 marlin species, with blues, blacks and stripes being common. Realistically, 37kg tackle is the best gear to troll out wide, as some of the blues are over 200kg and take a lot of slowing down.
The mackerel generally begin on the inshore grounds in February. I doubt the run of Spanish mackerel this season will be as good as last year’s, as I have never seen a good marlin season and a good mackerel season in the same year. However, in early January a few Spaniards and spotted mackerel were starting to show at Palm Beach Reef. Most of these are being caught on metal lures or floating pilchards,
The great run of mahimahi that were off the Gold Coast in December and January should start to slow down this month, and most of the fish that turn up will be on the wider grounds. This year has seen prolific numbers of these great fish, with quite a few extremely large specimens over 20kg turning up on a pretty regular basis. Most have been caught on trolled lures as bycatch by anglers targeting small black marlin. Mahimahi love bright lures and on light tackle are a great fighting fish. My boat ended up catching 27 in December alone, which shows how prolific they have been. The average size has been 8-10 kilos, which is a bit bigger than in most seasons.
This month should see a few big wahoo start to show on the wider grounds as they move south with the current. These increase in numbers towards the end of the month, and can be very destructive on skirted lures intended for marlin. I like to run a Halco 190 Laser Pro with 2 single hooks in my spread of skirts. This catches wahoo, keeps them away from the skirted lures, and also pins a surprising number of marlin.
For the bottom fisherman, February is a tough month. On the wider grounds the current is generally quite strong, making bottom bashing difficult. There are usually still yellowtail kingfish around on the 50-fathom line, and a few squire and teraglin on the inshore grounds.
In February there is generally a bit of rain around and it is a good month to target whiting, mangrove jacks and mud crabs. The Gold Coast Seaway has also had an excellent run of good-sized mulloway this summer, and these should continue biting this month. Similarly, the Jumpinpin Bar has also produced mulloway on live baits and deeply fished soft plastics. Most of this action has been on the run-in tide. The area around the pipeline in the Seaway has produced the majority of the mulloway caught. Some big fish to 120cm have also been landed from the sand pumping jetty just south of the Seaway.
This year has been a very good one for mangrove jacks, with quite a few 60cm red terrors being caught on lures and live baits. The Coomera has been the most productive river in the region this season. The most successful method is to cast plastics around floating pontoons and retrieve the lure quickly so it travels just a few centimetres below the edge of the pontoon. A 3/8-½ ounce jighead is used to get a bit more weight, so the plastic stays deeper on a fast retrieve. The 4” white Z-Man minnows have been the most popular jack lure this season.
There have been healthy numbers of whiting throughout the estuaries, and February should see good catches in the Nerang River, Coombabah Creek, Jumpinpin Lagoons and the Pimpama River. Bloodworms and wrigglerworms are generally the best baits to use, but yabbies, shrimps and small soldier crabs are also good. In the hotter months the whiting often bite well at night, particularly if there is a bit of moon.
A fun alternative method is to target whiting on surface lures. Working shallow sand flats with plenty of yabby holes and prawns using small, clear-bodied poppers and stickbaits works very well. The secret seems to be to have a constant and fast retrieve, and when a fish appears behind the lure you need to wind even faster.
There should also be plenty of mud crabs around this month, particularly on the bigger tides. Chicken frames make ideal bait, in that they don’t get eaten out by fish and are attractive to crabs. Overall, February is one of the best months on the fishing calendar and this marlin season has been a beauty.
Mark and Blair Frendin with a nice little black marlin, one of many caught this season so far.
Dave Green with a top muddy that’s heading for the wok.
Check out those amazing colours. Kane Barclay with a nice mahimahi. It’s been a great season for them.
Blair Elcock with a spotted mackerel. There’s been a few about already, which is good news.Reads: 559