Pelagics are pulling lines
  |  First Published: December 2016

Happy New Years! Hopefully Santa left some fishing goodies to play around with. January is always a busy time on the water and some days it’s rougher inside on the Broadwater than the deep blue sea. The wind plays a big role in January as the northerly winds will turn blue water into green lifeless conditions. This will make fishing quite tough, so hopefully the southerly winds will keep the blue water nice and close to our shores.

The year will start off with marlin and mahimahi. On the closer grounds, the pelagic family should be in full swing – both Spanish and spotted mackerel will be the main targets. There have been some massive yellowtail kingfish caught with some well over the 20kg mark.

The 36 Fathom, and off the Seaway and Tweed bars has been fishing well with live baits and knife jigs. If you’re chasing these bruisers, don’t go under 80lb main line and 100lb leader. Locked up drag should do the trick. Little black marlin have started to filter in, during December. Hopefully this month will see a larger run of these guys – already the darker coloured Black Snack skirted lures have been working well.

Trolling the 50m line from the Seaway to the Tweed Coast, remember these fish move around a lot. Look for warm water and plenty of bait. Other places to fish will be the Gravel Patch of Burleigh and the Nine Mile. Mahimahi have been in great numbers and are an excellent by-catch when fishing for marlin. The odd wahoo have been nipping off skirts as well.

In closer, spotty mackerel have finally been in good numbers and odd fish up to a metre have already been caught. The spotted mackerel will still be in good numbers on Palm Beach Reef and Mermaid Reef. Use plenty of berley, short fine wire traces with 2/0 to 4/0 hooks, and rig with half pilchards for the best results. A slow trolling pilchard with a pink skirt on the front is another great way of catching a few spotted macs or a Spaniard. With reports up to 80+ boats parked on Mermaid and Palm Beach reefs at a time, please be mindful how close you anchor to your fellow fisher.

Last year Spanish mackerel were quite finicky. Most techniques like trolling 190 Halco Laser Pros and slow trolling dead pike and slimy mackerel didn’t work. If this is the case, try trolling live baits on downriggers. This is one deadly way to get those tight lipped mackerel to bite. The Burleigh Gravel Patch, Diamond Reef and the Nine Mile and Fidos of the Tweed are great places that hold a lot of fish.

With the hot summer days, look after your catch, bleed mackerel and put them into an ice slurry, so you can keep their flesh nice and firm to maintain a high eating quality.


It’s been a great season so far for mangrove jack. The hot humid days followed by afternoon storms have really fired them up. Slow rolling soft plastics under pontoons and along bridge pylons have caught most of the mangrove jack. In January, mangrove jack become very active in the mornings and a bit doughy in the afternoon, due to the amount of boat traffic there is around in the Christmas break.

Getting up early in the morning and throwing poppers like the Yo-Zuri 3D and the Lucky Craft G Splash around retaining walls and boat harbours can be the most productive. I like a quicker retrieve that sends a spray, rather than a bloop from a cup face popper. This technique works well in January for mangrove jack, giant trevally and big-eye trevally.

Whiting are on the chew around the Council Chambers and Budds Beach. Bloodworms, canal worms and small black soldier crabs are effective. Most of the action is after dark. Catching whiting on surface lures is fun. The Tallebudgera Creek is a fantastic spot to target whiting on surface lures. In some key points the river is quite shallow, with many yabby holes and a good tidal flow. Retrieved quickly and without pauses, Bassday Sugapens and the Atomic Hardz Pop are very effective on whiting in shallow water.

Hinze Dam has been fishing well over the past couple of months. Casting cicada pattern surface walkers to grass patches and fallen timber is a proven winner 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’ll more than likely come across a few bass and the odd saratoga.

Overall, January has it all from the fresh water to the deep blue sea. Fishing early mornings and night is the key for a busy holiday season.

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