Mangrove jack magic
  |  First Published: November 2015

Last November we saw the first run of pelagic for the year hit our shores with both dolphin fish and small wahoo turning up. November is usually the start of our juvenile black marlin season, with good numbers of black marlin around the Hervey Bay area. These fish should filter down the east coast and hit the Gold Coast around late November. Good numbers of bait on our local reefs should hopefully keep them around for a while for us to enjoy.


Local made skirted lures like Black Snacks and Pakulas are a great option and are a good way to cover ground. Trolling most of our local reefs, east of the Seaway and areas like Kirra reef, the Gravel Patch and the Nine-Mile are great places to start. Spotted mackerel will appear this month – Palm Beach reef will see the first run of mackerel followed by Mermaid Reef. I like to get on the water before sun up to beat the crowds and sound around looking for bait and mackerel before I anchor up. Floatlining half or a whole pilchard with no weight down a berley trail is a great way to catch a feed. Make sure you use a light nylon coated multi trace around 20cm in length with a black swivel and a 3/0 suicide hook. This is a great set up for finicky mackerel. Palm Beach reef will hold good numbers of cobia this month and will cause a bit of havoc for the fisherman that choose to fish light for mackerel! Snapper numbers start to thin out in November but can still be caught by floatlining pilchards down in a berley trail. The 18, 22 and 24-fathom off Southport in addition to the Mud Hole are all places that will produce good numbers.


The flathead classic run by the Gold Coast Sport Fishing Club has been and gone, with 217 teams fishing and over 6000 fish caught over the 3 day competition. Congratulation to the Whyte boys going back-to-back wins targeting flathead in the deep using soft plastics, soft vibes and hard vibes. Flathead numbers should continue throughout this month with most of the action happening around the full moon. Big female flathead will still be around this month. Tea bagging big soft plastics like 5” Zman paddlers around the Seaway and Tweed Bars will ensure an encounter with some big girls – this technique is fantastic on mulloway as well.

Whiting should be biting well this month, especially in the Nerang River between the Southport school and Sorrento. Bloodworms, soldier crabs, shrimp and wrigglers are the best bait. As the days start to lengthen and the weather starts to warm conditions should start to fire up the mangrove jacks. The waterways around the Gold Coast provide a wide range of both natural and man-made structure that mangrove jacks love to call home including extensive canal systems, rock walls, pontoons, retaining walls, bridges and lay down timber. I have found that the most productive areas typically hold water between 1.5-4m in depth and have water temperatures between 24-29°C with decent tidal flow.

Early morning and late afternoon is the key to snare these red devils. There are so many ways to catch mangrove jacks. I like to get out early around 3am and throw surface poppers around rock and retaining walls that feed out of canals and rivers. Slow rolling 4” Zman Diezels just millimetres from jetties is a must when chasing jacks. Bait fishing is a very popular way to chase mangrove jacks at night. I like to use live herring and mullet fillets as bait – 20lb mainline and 40lb leader are a must. These fish are quick so having your rod in your hand will increase your chances of not getting busted off. Places like the Bundall Bridge, the Council chambers, and the rock bar in front of The Southport School in the Nerang River fish very well with bait. Other places that fish well are the rock bar behind the golf course in the Tallebudgera River, Boyds Bay Bridge, and Tumbulgum Bridge in the Tweed River.

Hinze Dam

As the days start getting longer and hotter, the insect population starts to increase making surface action a must. This can be one of the most exciting ways to fish, casting cicada pattern surface walkers to grass patches and fallen timber is a proven winner when fishing Hinze Dam. Hinze Dam will be starting to produce a few more fish off the edges. By casting spinnerbaits and slow rolling paddle-tailed soft plastics around the points and weed edges you will more than likely come across a few bass and the odd saratoga.

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