May’s winter migration mackerel
  |  First Published: May 2017

May is the start of a transition stage where the water temperatures fall and the current outside slows down. With this the summer species start to fade out and all the winter migration fish filter in along the Gold Coast.

Strange things happen in May. We’ll see anglers chasing snapper for the first time and more than often than not hooking up to mackerel. More importantly, the Gold Coast needed a good flush out and all the rain in early April will improve the fishing on all fronts. The Spanish mackerel are still in good numbers over the border. This is a great indication, as these fish need to migrate north past the Gold Coast.

Two methods that I like to use when chasing Spanish in May are casting stickbaits like Maria Loadeds and Zerek Zappelins early in the morning. This method is highly addictive with visual surface strikes and leaping mackerel that launch themselves several metres in the air, but the hook-up rate is not good. Troll live bait like tailor and yakka on a downrigger or snapper lead for success.

The Spanish mackerel have been very erratic in locations in the last month. It may take some time to find them. Places like Diamond Reef off Southport, Focus Reef, Burleigh Gravel, Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef are great. The spotty and school macs are still in good numbers in May. Anchoring up before dark and float lining half cut pillies in a berley trail and spinning 15-40g metal slugs is a great method for catching a feed.

Expect a few cobia to pop up in the berley trail this month while chasing mackerel. Wahoo don’t hang around too long off the Gold Coast and May is the perfect month to target these speedsters. Trolling Hex Heads in purple at speed will work well this month. Places like the Tweed Nine Mile, the Mud Hole and the 80m line off the Q1 building have been very effective in April.

This method really turns them on. The downside is you burn lots of fuel. Try slow trolling large dead bait like bonito, tailor and large slimies. As the water temperature starts to fall and the currents slow, outside bottom species will start to feed more.

The 30-fathom line off the Tweed and the 36-fathom are producing good numbers of snapper, tuskfish, pearlies and the odd kingfish or amberjack. The humble two hook paternoster rig will be the way to go if the current is still running out wide. Float lining will produce the better fish.


Inside fishing will start to improve this month after ex-cyclone Debbie dumped more then 500mm of rain on the Gold Coast. This flush out will improve the fishing over the coming months. The only downside of a flush out is it also pushes out a lot of vermin from the upper estuary systems like catfish, so most of the fishing action will be close to the bar entrances.

The Seaway will fish well this month as the winter species start to migrate along the coast. Mulloway love dirty water so expect plenty of action from these guys this month. Tea bagging big plastics is a good idea. Fishing the top and bottom of the tide around the North wall, the pipeline and the reef in front of the Seaway Tower will produce good numbers of fish.

Snapper love to move into the Seaway after big seas and bad weather. Drift dead baits like pilchard and herring between the two green markers on the Stradbroke side on the run in tide. Once that tide turns and starts to run-out, they go off the bite very quickly. May will produce plenty of school size flathead around the Crab Island and along Currigee campsite. Casting small 3-4” plastics on light jigheads, look for clean water on a falling tide. This combination will score you plenty of flatties this month.

The mud crabs have been on fire lately after all that freshwater. With so much freshwater in the system mud crabs like to find any bit of salt water. I like to put my crab pots in 20-25ft of water, usually the first deep hole out the front of any creek, canal or river. I like to use oily bait for my crab pots from mackerel frames to mullet. Even chicken frames are a great alternative.

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