January is the best month of the year to troll for small and medium sized black marlin off the Gold Coast. In late November fish had already started to show in numbers around Moreton Island, so this season should be more productive than the last. We trolled the 36 fathom line recently and hooked a good 50kg black that busted off on 8kg when it jumped across the line. The water was only blue beyond about 55m and conditions were poor, so getting a hook-up was a good sign. We also caught a small wahoo.
This season has again produced a very early run of small wahoo off the Gold Coast. Apart from last year I can’t ever remember catching so many little wahoo through November and December. In January they will probably increase in numbers so be prepared to have a few of your best marlin skirts chewed up. Most of these fish are around 5-8kg and make for excellent tucker.
Good areas to try for marlin are the 50m contour along South Stradbroke Island, the Cotton and Sullies Reef off the ‘Pin Bar and the 36 fathom reef directly east of the Seaway. Already a lot of the fish hooked this season have been over 40 kilos so it is probably a good idea to fish with 10kg and 15kg tackle.
The bait has been very scattered and most of the fish have fallen to trolled lures. In January there should be a lot more bait around. As well as marlin this should attract plenty of dolphinfish, wahoo, sailfish and tuna. It is a great month to go trolling.
There will be plenty of action on the Tweed Nine Mile and this can be a great spot to target black marlin. There are a few lumps inside the reef that often hold small tuna, and the billfish are generally in close attendance to the tuna schools. When the current runs hard, this area will be stacked with marine life. It also holds a lot of wahoo and a surprising number of massive GT.
Bottom fishing can be difficult in January as the current will run hard from the north every four out of five days. Despite this, there are still plenty of pearlies on the 50-fathom line as well as pigfish and rosy jobfish. Closer inshore there will be a few parrot, teraglin and tailor around, and the first decent Spanish mackerel will start to show up on the 18 and 24 fathom line east of Southport.
Anchoring up and berleying will produce everything from snapper to marlin. Many charter boats fish live slimies as a floater when bottom fishing and they catch plenty of marlin using this method. It’s likely that the fish hooked on the bottom attract the billfish in from a long distance, and these marlin then readily eat the live bait.
Overall, January is gamefish month. There should be enough dolphinfish and wahoo to ensure a feed is put in the esky, and hopefully there will be plenty of billfish around as well.
Mangrove jack have been pretty active this season, and poppers and shallow running minnows cast around marinas, jetties and canal entrances have worked very well. Some rippers have come out of the Sovereign Islands area at night on surface lures. Trevally, a few cod and some decent flathead have also been caught. Dawn and dusk are also quite productive times. Try small Yo-Zuri poppers, Storm Chug Bugs and Smith’s Saruna.
There should still be a few flathead around the seaway and the Jumpinpin Bar this month. Flathead have continued to bite well even as the water heated up a fair bit.
Whiting have been a bit slow in the Nerang River, which probably reflects the drought. We really need a decent fresh to get the river fired up. The water has been salty all the way to Nerang. The best time to fish the river will be at dawn before the noise of boat traffic and jet skis starts. If there is a decent bit of rain, the area around TSS is generally a good place to try.
The Seaway should have a few decent school jew and chopper tailor this month. It’s worth having a spin with Raiders or Snipers around the North Wall, as there are usually a few tailor on the run-in tide. Schools of frog mouthed pilchards commonly move into the seaway in January and attract plenty of predators, including sharks.
Bream anglers will largely be restricted to resident fish in the Nerang and Coomera rivers, and a lot of these fish are pretty well educated when it comes to lures. A bit of berley is often a very effective way to get them feeding.
As the water warms up, a lot of the more unusual tropical species will start to show. Giant herring, barracuda, queenfish and even barramundi have all turned up in previous years. There is a fair bit of anecdotal evidence that a few barra hang around the coffee rock ledges on the southern end of North Stradbroke Island when the water is warm in the summer months.
Overall, this is a great month for fishing, and long hot days and blue warm water make it an ideal time to hit the water. It would be great if we had a dump down of some decent rain to replenish our estuaries.Reads: 2026