I will be starting the New Year with a few fishing goals regarding species that I have not yet caught and PBs that I would love to improve on.
The summer species are well and truly settled in the river system. There have been constant reports of good mangrove jacks coming in, including some impressive stories of huge bust-offs and near-misses. I suppose these are the trips that keep us coming back for more.
Later this month I really get serious about fishing the Tweed. The silly season is over and there will be a major decrease in the pressure put on the system.
I enjoy grabbing a few rods in the late evening after work and heading out on the river. The intense heat of the day has dissipated and I often don’t see another boat on the water.
Unfortunately night fishing does have its hazards and floating debris is a major one. I try to keep the speed down when traversing the river at night. I learnt a lesson a few years ago when my prop came off second-best after I drove into a partly submerged tree. So try to be careful if you head out at night.
The Tweed has been fishing extremely well for whiting and should continue so throughout the summer. Some of my mates had such good sessions in December that they left the fish chewing their heads off once they had enough for a feed.
The usual baits have been producing with the ever-reliable yabby being the most popular. The sand flats opposite the Fingal boat ramp and above the Piggery have been getting a flogging but are still managing to produce quality fish. Up-river around Condong and even as far up as Murwillumbah there have been good numbers of whiting as well.
I prefer fishing up the Murwillumbah end because the boat traffic seems to be significantly less and I don’t enjoy being buzzed by skiers and PWC louts every five minutes when I am out soaking a bait.
The mouth of the Tweed around the Jack Evans Harbour has been producing the odd rat king as well as hordes of GTs and bigeye trevally. The kings were not very easy to land because of all the rocky structure but it was still good fun trying to get them out.
The start of the run-in tide around sunrise or sunset seems to be the best time to target these fish with soft plastics or metal lures. Drifting live herring through this area will also be a good way to tangle with some of these sluggers.
The GTs have been around 1.5kg to 2.5kg and have been fairly manageable on light spin gear but the odd larger model has been showing up. These fights are normally short-lived with an unstoppable run ending in a bust-off.
The bridges are also excellent spots to hit in January as they always hold heaps of bait. As the old saying goes, ‘Where there’s bait there should be predators’.
A few herring can be jigged up pretty quickly around the pylons and sent straight back out alive. Early mornings and late afternoons are best because this is the prime time for the predators to be feeding. You can expect anything from a flathead to a jack when dropping down a livie.
If you are on a boat and heading under one of the bridges on the Tweed, always keep your eyes open for lines hanging off the bridge because they are very popular land-based venues, especially through the summer.
This is the best month for marlin off the Tweed Coast. We do get a few through the latter part of December but it’s January when they really make their presence felt. The majority of the fish are young blacks of 20-30kg but there are also a few bigger fish so make sure that your gear is well serviced and up to scratch.
We usually start by towing a spread of skirted pushers around at 6 to 8 knots. We rig these with Gamakatsu SL 12 hooks because the finer gauge gives a better hook-up to strike ratio than the heavier hooks.
We troll for a while until we locate a decent bait school. If we don’t get a strike on the pushers working the bait, we stop and quickly jig up a few livies. They are rigged simply by hooking them lightly through the top jaw and sent straight back down into the bait school. If there are any blacks hanging around the bait they can’t resist the livies.
You often hook decent by-catch by doing this including cobia, mackerel, wahoo or tuna.Reads: 491