More fishy migration in May
  |  First Published: May 2017

May is an interesting month to fish the Gold Coast with the water cooling slightly and the current dropping a bit. There is still a lot of good pelagic fishing. Wahoo, Spanish and spotted mackerel and blue and striped marlin are all potential targets this month. As the current drops the bottom fishing and jigging also improve sand snapper start to show up on the 36 and 24 fathom lines.

Out on the continental shelf there tends to be a lot of eddies in May. It’s a good idea to look at the sea surface temperature charts before heading out this month. If you can find a patch of warm water over 23°C you are in with a good chance of finding a blue or striped marlin, and I find fishing these warm patches is often more productive than the hot straight southbound currents commonly found in summer.

As well as marlin there is often the odd wahoo, mahimahi and yellowfin tuna in May. I have also found the blue marlin are a bit bigger this month with fish around 180kg being common. For this reason I always troll 37kg tackle in May when fishing wide of the continental shelf. It pays to put out a smaller lure well out the back this month, as there is always a good chance of a nice yellowfin tuna. Straight running bullet heads can be very effective.

In closer to shore both the 50 and 36 fathom reefs should see the fishing improve this month as the water cools down. Snapper, pearl perch, kingfish and amberjacks all increase in numbers over the month and a lot of the local charter boats shift their attention from trolling to bottom fishing. Float lining for snapper is one of the most effective methods and soft plastics are also effective. One of the best deep water snapper lures is the Gulp Nemesis. The snapper tend to suck it in as it wafts down to the bottom and it is usually bitten on the drop.

The southern reefs of the Gold Coast and the Tweed Nine Mile Reef are also productive at times this month, and the mackerel and wahoo are generally a decent size. If you can high-speed troll metal headed skirts at dawn you are in with a great chance, especially at the Nine Mile. Trolled dead baits can also be very effective. There is quite often a good run of big spotted mackerel at Palm Beach Reef in May.

It is thought that this is the return run of fish heading north after their southern migration. Some of these fish are around 7kg in weight. Trolling live baits from a downrigger is probably the best way to catch a big Spanish mackerel this month. The Diamond Reef on the 24 fathom line east of Southport produces hundreds of fish each season. When the fishing is tough a downrigger can get you in the action.

The close reefs also fish well at night this month, especially when there is a tide change around dusk. The artificial reefs in 23m of water just north of the Seaway are turning into very consistent producers of mulloway at night with fish averaging around a metre long. Overall, there are plenty of productive options off the Gold Coast this month on the offshore grounds.

Rivers and Estuaries

May is a great month to chase a wide range of species in the entrances of the Gold Coast Seaway and Jumpinpin. Bream, mullet and luderick start to build up in numbers prior to spawning. When the first westerlies start to blow it won’t be hard to find sea mullet as they start to move in big black schools.

At the same time there are usually big schools of white pilchards moving into the estuaries. These and white bait attract plenty of tailor and small queenies. On the sand flats flathead become very active. The mullet schools attract big predators such as sharks, mulloway and dolphins.

If you love your flathead fishing, May is the first month to get really serious about it. Clear cool water and plenty of bait make good conditions for chasing flathead on lures. Most of the fish are 40-60cm and can be caught on trolled lures, plastics, metal vibes and soft vibes. Bream are a very common by-catch.

It will be interesting to see if we can find a few big fish up on the flats this month by working large unweighted stickbaits this month. This method caught quite a few 70cm+ fish throughout the summer months. The key seems to be to work the flats early in the morning when the water is pushing in over the top of flats in about 30cm of water. These fish are chasing big baits such as mullet, eels and whiting and want a big lure.

Garfish are another good option this month, and the weed beds around Crab Island and Wave Break Island are worth a look on the run in tide. Use a berley of bread and tuna oil in a mesh bag and let the berley drift back in the current. A small quill float and a piece of prawn is usually the best method. In May you will catch a mix of snubnosed gar and sea gar and both make great troll baits and are good eating.

Other options this month include mulloway on live baits and soft plastics in both the Seaway and Jumpinpin entrances, whiting on poppers and baits, bream in the Seaway and Canals and there should still be a few mangrove jack around in the Seaway that respond to small live baits. May is a good month to fish the Gold Coast estuaries. As the water cools the fishing gets better and better and the weather is generally quite calm.

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