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Light tackle champions offshore
  |  First Published: February 2015



It’s been the best light tackle marlin season we’ve had for a few years and, with a bit of luck, February could be when it’s at its peak!

This season live baiting has been the way to go, and when there’s big bait schools around, like there has been, it’s by far the best way to catch fish! I use an eagle claw circle hook, anywhere from 7/0-9/0 is fine. Due to there being a few larger model fish around I’d be more inclined to use a bit heavier trace than what you would normally run for juvenile black marlin. I find 100lb fluorocarbon is perfect for the job. By weighting your live baits it will allow you to sink your bait deep down into the bait school.

For those willing to venture further afield there should be a few nice blue marlin showing their faces. These fish aren’t for the faint-hearted, their explosive runs are enough to get even the most experienced angler’s adrenaline racing! For these fish you’ll find yourself venturing beyond the continental shelf and any of our local wide grounds will hold these spectacular game fish from time to time. These areas may at times appear barren but often subtle changes, such as temperature or current lines, can make a huge difference to the day’s result.

Leave your light rods at home when you’re venturing to these areas, and 24kg gear is often too light for these fish. The fish in our area average between 250-350lb and will eat lures from 7” to as big as you can imagine. I run a pattern of lures with varying sizes when fishing for blues and I find a small light coloured lure 7-9” long furthest from the boat being a real performer at times.

February is still a good month to target mackerel of all species on our close reefs and spots like Mermaid and Palm Beach reefs as well as the Gravel Patch and Fidos are all good places to start. As always anchoring, setting out a berley trail and float lining pilchards back into the trail is my most successful way to target these fish. Two rules to guide your mackerel onslaught is use light, either single strand or nylon-coated, multi strand wire (around 20lb is suitable) and keep the berley flow constant at all times. Even when fighting fish keep the berley going because the majority of the time with mackerel where there’s one there’s more.

When looking to anchor, first sound around for a while and try to find some bait or a standout pinnacle that may set your position on the reef apart from the rest of the crowd.

Later in the month there should be a few nice snapper and mulloway starting to show their faces on our close reefs. Lightly weighted pilchards and deep set live baits, such as yellowtail and slimy mackerel, are both methods that are hard to beat. These fish are great to eat but remember when you’re taking a feed of fish to look after your catch; it’s always best practice to have an esky on board with an ice slurry. This won’t allow your fish to go off in the heat and also makes your fish taste much nicer.

inshore

February is always a good month to target mud crabs so if you’re heading up the river to wet a line why not throw in a few pots. Any banks with a nice drop-off and a bit of structure will hold a few crabs. I’ve always had good success with the rectangular collapsible style pot, as these pots are easily stored and quite inexpensive, and they work pretty well. Always remember to clearly label your pots and floats with your name and address.

The rivers will still be holding a few jacks, cod, trevally and tarpon throughout this month. A run-out tide in the late afternoon until early evening is prime time to chase these fish. Casting and trolling around any rocky banks or outcrops is a good way to target all of these fish. When fishing around these areas it’s generally not a bad idea to keep a tackle back on board. I generally run by the rule that if you’re not regularly coming in contact with the bottom and occasionally getting snagged you’re either not in the right spot or you perhaps need a deeper lure.

Down towards the river mouths, don’t be surprised if you run into a few schools of tailor. This month generally holds a fair bit of bait around our local entrances and on a run-in tide. That first push of clean water will generally bring in a few chopper tailor with it. Keep a close lookout for any diving birds or fish breaking the surface; these are key signs that a school of ravenous tailor are present. Once you’ve located these schools, casting small metal lures towards them with a moderate retrieve will rarely see you without a hook up. Any small metal lure around 15-25g will do the trick just nicely.

There should still be good numbers of whiting in the mid reaches of the local rivers, particularly the Nerang River. But the sand banks towards the mouth of Tallebudgera and Currumbin creeks are great areas to target a few whiting on poppers. This method is surprisingly effective when chasing whiting and even a less experienced fisher person can achieve good results. I try to stick with lures that are transparent or lightly coloured and anything about 50mm in length should do the trick. Try using a slow but constant retrieve and don’t bloop your popper too hard. I find a leader of around 4lb and around a rod 2m long and 4lb mainline is probably maximum. This is simply to get the most action out of your lure.

Freshwater

There should be a few bass on the chew this month, and with the sudden water level rise, the Hinze Dam should be firing! Lately I’ve been getting good results rolling lightly weighted paddle-tailed plastics around the weed beds and points. I like 2.5-3” grass minnows made by Ecogear for this application. I mainly use natural colours, greens, golds, and, when the water is a bit dirty or it’s overcast, I like white.

Be safe on the water and good fishing.

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