Gold on the Gold Coast in May
  |  First Published: May 2015

The Gold Coast comes into its own in May with sensational weather, cooler temperatures and calmer seas combining to deliver anglers excellent angling conditions and opportunities.


This month should see some great fishing on the reefs off the Gold Coast and Tweed. The mackerel made a bit of a slow start this season, but came on well in late March. In May the Spanish mackerel are generally good solid fish between 8-12kg, with the odd bigger fish up to 20 kg on offer. The 18 and 24 fathom reefs east of Southport should fish well for mackerel this month. Spinning metal lures, trolling hard bodies and deep trolling live and dead baits should all be effective. Mackerel are generally pretty easy to spot on a good sounder, as they tend to stack up in vertical schools over the top of reef pinnacles. When the fish are deep it pays to take the bait or lure down to them, and investing in a downrigger can help you catch a lot of fish.

Spotted mackerel should be in numbers on Palm Beach Reef and Mermaid Reef this month. As the water cools down a bit a lot of bigger spotties in the 6-8kg bracket start to show up on the inshore reefs, returning north from their southern migration into NSW waters. Berleying and fishing pilchards in a berley trail is an excellent method for spotted mackerel and produces Spaniards as well.

This season has been a slow one for wahoo, with only a few fish showing on the Tweed Nine Mile, and virtually none on the wider grounds. Hopefully we will see them increase in numbers this month. High speed trolling metal lures such as Hex Heads works well, and a small live tuna trolled around the Nine Mile Reef off Tweed is probably the best most reliable method when the fish are feeding. Wahoo need a bit of current to fire up, and if the water is ripping south over the reef, the fishing is generally pretty good.

Out on the wide grounds the blue marlin fishing should be pretty good this month. These fish have been very erratic this year, with some days producing upwards of 10 strikes and a few days later not a fish shows. Fishing out of my 6 metre tinny we recently had a double hook-up on blues with only two of us on board. That was pretty interesting, but after a long fight we landed both fish. They were about 140kg each, and at one stage they were jumping about a kilometre apart. We also caught a bigger 170-180kg fish a few hours later.

The bottom fishing should improve this month as the current slows down. The 36 and 50 fathom lines should produce some good catches of squire, snapper, pearl perch and a few pig fish and kingies. Jigging is another good option in this area. In closer, fishing live baits at night should see a few mulloway caught on the 18 and 20 fathom lines, while berleying and fishing light line and floating baits should produce a feed of snapper at dawn and dusk.


May is a month of transition in the estuaries, and as the first cooler westerlies start to blow the water temperature drops a bit, and a lot of spawning species will start to migrate towards the entrances of the Seaway and Jumpinpin. Drifting live baits or fishing deep soft plastics will produce mulloway, tailor and a few flathead in the deeper water. There are often quite a few big mangrove jacks in the Seaway in May. Small live baits fished in the wash at the end of the north wall of the Seaway can produce some great fish at times. As soon as you get a bite, strike hard and keep the fish coming towards you as they will get back into the rocks in a flash if you don’t control the fight.

Whiting should be in good numbers in the Nerang and Pimpama Rivers this month. Small shrimp, worms and yabbies all produce some good fish and there should be a few big ones over 38cm on offer this month as well. When small prawns are around catching whiting on surface lures is another good option. Work water about half to one metre deep on the top of the yabby flats, and make sure you work your lures fast. The Bassday Sugar Pen is my personal favourite whiting surface lure. It is amazing how aggressive these fish can be when chasing a lure. While we don’t tend to get the numbers of whiting on lures that are caught on bait, it is an exciting and challenging way to fish.

May is the first month of the year where I start to target flathead. In general the fish are small, between 40 and 55cm in the main, but they become a lot more active as the water temperature start to cool. Soft plastics, soft vibes, metal vibes, and trolling small hardbodies are all effective methods. The central part of the Broadwater, from Crab Island north to Tippler’s Passage, is generally a pretty reliable spot in May. There are also quite a lot of big bream as by-catch at this time of year. Flathead fishing is highly dependent on water quality. If the water is clean and clear the fishing is generally good. When it is dirty, particularly in northerly winds, the fishing tends to be quite poor.

There can be some very good spinning in May for species such as tailor, small queenfish and trevally, around the Seaway. The key is to have an early morning high tide and a clean run in tide. There are generally some big schools of white pilchards in the Seaway in May and these bring in the predators. 20-30gm Lazers are deadly when cast from light high-speed threadline outfits.

Overall, May is a good month to fish the Gold Coast and is a transition month between more tropical species and the traditional winter fish. With the big bait schools in the estuaries and inshore reefs it should offer some reliable fishing when the weather is favourable.

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