Bizarre pelagic season!
  |  First Published: February 2007

The season for pelagics has been quite bizarre. There have been very few of the traditional pilchard or slimy mackerel schools but stacks of small wahoo and juvenile black marlin from 10-30kg. It has been very hard to find a sustainable fishing pattern, but there have been some very large schools of small silver baitfish that attracted lots of predators.

If you troll for marlin with skirted lures on mono traces expect to lose a few of your prettiest and most expensive offerings. I recently had two weeks holiday and I trolled offshore most days and lost 20 good marlin lures to wahoo during my break. Whilst we have caught plenty of wahoo, they caused a lot of damage. Most of these fish are between 6-10kg in weight and are great sport on light tackle.

Most years the wahoo don’t show in numbers until February, but this year and last summer have seen plenty of small wahoo arriving off the Gold Coast as early as November. These fish are great eating, but when you’re targeting billfish they create a lot of re-rigging jobs. This month they may even be in bigger numbers which may explain the lack of slimy mackerel.

Marlin should continue this month. When the blue water has been close inshore, there has been plenty of action in as close as the 12 fathom reef east of Seaworld, and this area is relatively wahoo free. Good areas to troll include the 24-fathom reef east of surfers, Brumbies off Kirra, the gravel off Burleigh Heads and the reefs east of Jumpinpin.

On the inshore grounds expect spotted mackerel to show up in big numbers; Spaniards should also be around. A good area to troll is along the northern end of South Stradbroke Island. Start at Couran Cove and work up to the Jumpinpin Bar. Keep an eye out for birds and bait and work a contour between 10-20m in depth. Small high-speed skirts are a good way to catch spotties. If you’re going to fish for marlin and want to put a feed in the ice box, a quick troll along this line before heading out wider to chase billfish is often very productive.

Bottom fishing is generally slower this month as the current is strong and the snapper absent. A few parrot and teraglin will be caught on the 24 and 36-fathom reefs, as well as tailor in the week leading up to the full moon.

Out wider the blue marlin should show this month. Not many boats have ventured out past the inshore action, but this season should see plenty of bigger blue marlin caught out on the wider grounds.

estuaries and Rivers

The water in the estuaries really warms up this month, and is when quite unusual fish can turn up in the Gold Coast rivers. Last year there were rumours about barramundi turning up around the Jumpinpin Bar, and this year there was a verified capture in the Logan River on a live bait. In February I’ve seen barracuda, queenfish, giant herrings, milkfish and scarlet sea perch caught in the Nerang River and the Broadwater.

It can be a tough month for anglers chasing bream and flathead, with the increase in water temperature slowing the fish right down. Most of the bream caught will be resident ‘pet’ fish that live permanently around the marinas, canals and jetties. There hasn’t been much freshwater run-off this season and a decent flood would really clean things up. Flathead will tend to be in the deeper water this month but early morning high tides can be productive up on the flats. Casting soft plastics is generally the most productive method.

Mangrove jack will be around this month and bite best at night. Casting poppers or trolling after dark is a good way to fish for jacks at this time of year. A few big 55cm+ ones should turn up this month. The rock walls around Bayview Harbour and Runaway Bay Marina hold a surprising number of good jacks.

Mud crabs have been pretty slow this summer, probably due to a lack of rain. On the big tides working up the little creeks can be quite effective. Chicken frames, mackerel heads and tuna make great crab bait. Out in the Broadwater there have been reasonable numbers of sand crabs. A run-in tide early in the morning is generally the best time to target sandies. They love whiting frames, mullet and flathead frames, but aren’t nearly as partial to tuna and chicken frames as muddies are.

Whiting should be around in good numbers this month. If there is a bit of fresh, yabbies make quite good bait, but generally small soldier crabs, worms and small shrimp are the ideal baits. The mouth of the Pimpama has fished very well for whiting this summer especially if you have bloodworms for bait.

Most of the action will be chasing pelagics offshore, and if the current wahoo run continues February could be a very good month for all the lure manufacturers and tackle shops of the Gold Coast.

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