Game face on, the game fish are coming
  |  First Published: December 2015

This month is the time when the water temperature increases a lot, with a warm current pushing in on the close reefs. There should hopefully be a reasonable run of small black marlin this year, but by the reports coming from more northern areas it is unlikely they will be in the numbers encountered last season.


I like to troll a spread of 5 skirted lures around 15cm long and work the northern grounds around the Cottons, Sullies and east of the Jumpinpin Bar in depths between 20-50m. As well as black marlin, expect to catch mahi mahi, a few wahoo, and yellowfin and striped tuna. Look for bait and birds. If you want to push further north, the area around Point Lookout is often very good trolling ground in December.

The water temperatures warmed up in October this year and there have already been some excellent blue marlin fishing on the wider grounds with 3-6 bites a day becoming common. This should improve even more in December. There have also been excellent catches of really big mahi mahi out off the continental shelf with quite a few 20kg fish caught in the early part of the season. This month should prove very good lure trolling for blue marlin in depths between 150-400m. Look for schools of striped tuna and birds, and don’t leave these areas once you locate them. The area just south of, and inshore from Jims Mountain has been fishing very well over the last month. A range of lure colours helps, but ‘evil’ (blue and silver outer skirt over green and gold inner skirt), blue and purple, and lumo green all work very well. Pakulas, Black Snacks, Black Pete’s and Meridians all work very well.

There should be a few spotted mackerel and cobia start to turn up on the closer reefs around Palm Beach this month and big schools of bait generally start to show on the closer reefs in the first few weeks of summer. If you can anchor on your spot before dawn and establish a good berley trail then fish live baits and pilchards, you are in with a good chance. Doggy mackerel, frigate mackerel and mac tuna can all be caught spinning with metal lures this month. The fish activity is usually easy to find by watching the terns and gulls.

Bottom fishing is very restricted by current this month. Out on the 36 and 50 fathom line there will still be a few pearl perch, kings and amberjacks when the current slows, but the snapper greatly decrease in number as the water warms up a lot. Closer inshore, berleying heavily will still produce a few squire, mulloway, tailor and teraglin. Dawn and dusk are the best times to fish, however, there may still be some good mulloway at night.

The main emphasis this month is on trolling for game fish, and in general you can put away your snapper tackle for another season.


The frequent afternoon storms have really stirred up the local mangrove jack population and some excellent catches have been made recently. Most of these fish have been caught on cast hardbodied lures and soft plastics worked around the edges of floating pontoons in the Coomera River system. In December, the mangrove jacks are very active in the early morning and there can be some great popper fishing in the canals and around rock walls just before dawn. They also respond well to stick baits. Each season the Gold Coast jacks seem to get a bit bigger and there’s always the chance of a 50-60cm fish. Each season quite a few fish over 60cm turn up, and December is a noted month for really big jacks.

Flathead slow down in activity this month. The spawn is now long over, and the fish start to move back up river and onto the weed beds. It’s still quite easy to get a few fish on the bottom of the tide cycle in the Tipplers Passage area. The fish tend to be a fair bit smaller in December with a lot in the 35-50cm range.

Whiting fishing with poppers is another good strategy this month. I like to fish on flats that have plenty of worm and yabby holes, but the key is to have a fair bit of prawn activity. I use a small stick bait on one rod (the Bassday SugaPen is my favourite) and a small cup faced popper on the other rod. The secret is to wind quite fast and when you see a fish following, resist the temptation to slow your retrieve down. Good areas to try include the flats up near the Jumpinpin Bar, Coombabah Creek and the flats around Crab Island and east of the Grand Hotel boat ramp. Such a fun way to fish!

I usually catch my whiting on poppers while waiting for the crab pots to fill. December is a great month to chase mud crabs, particularly if there is a bit of rain and the rivers get a good flush of fresh water. There is a lot of mud crab movement in December as crabs move upstream into the Pimpama and Coomera River systems. These muddies are green shelled with a few white dots on the carapace and are generally fairly empty. Chicken frames, fish frames or heads work well. There are a lot of pickers about in December and you will need tough bait if you are leaving your pots out overnight. I find chicken helps avoid the toadfish and small bream.

Overall, December should provide some great fishing on the Gold Coast this year. The water has warmed up early and the marlin and other game fish shouldn’t be too far away.

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