Time to get serious about flatties
  |  First Published: May 2007

On the wider grounds there should be some good big blue marlin this month. The blue marlin have been generally quite active this year, with most boats fishing wide of the Gold Coast getting two to five strikes a day, although there have been a few dry spells.

In May there are generally increasing numbers of striped marlin around as well, with stripes sometimes being encountered in as close as the Cotton Reef off Jumpinpin. Most of the billfish encountered this month will be bigger fish, with the little black marlin of the warmer months generally absent.

Spanish mackerel have been quite erratic this autumn, although most of the fish caught have been excellent quality, many between 12kg and 16kg. The coffee rock east of Couran Cove has probably been more consistent than Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef. Trolled tailor, bonito, small tuna or pike have accounted for most of the bigger fish.

Spotted mackerel have been caught on the gravel off Burleigh, Couran Cove and east of the Seaway on the 18-fathom line. Spinning and trolling small minnows has been successful, although the schools have been very erratic, some days producing a limit in quick time, and others very slow.

It has been an excellent wahoo season, and this month the fish will get bigger. May is the best month to find those 25-35kg fish, and as the water cools a little the bigger wahoo start to show up. High speed trolling with metal lures such as Hex Heads is effective, but the best method is to slowly troll a small live tuna around the tuna schools near the Tweed Nine Mile Reef. To do this, rig a pair of 10/0 Gamakatsus on 80-pound 49-strand wire. Place the front hook in the upper jaw of the tuna, and the back hook about two thirds back along the fish. Troll at around one to two knots with the reel in strike drag. This is a very exciting way to fish. Tuna can be caught spinning or trolling small pearl squids. The smaller the tuna you can catch, the better the results.

For bottom fishers, the fifty-fathom line is worth a look this month as the current drops off. The pearl perch generally start to show in good numbers as the water cools slightly, and squire start to school up on the fifty and thirty-six fathom line. A few kings and amberjacks may turn up on jigs and livebaits. Pearl perch also love to eat soft plastics fished on a drop shot rig. The 4-inch Atomic lumo shads are excellent for both pearlies and rosy job fish.

In closer to the Seaway a few mulloway and cobia will start to show towards the end of the month as the water cools. In general the fishing on the close reefs, apart from mackerel, is a bit quiet this month. A decent berley trail is one way to bring fish to your boat. Hammerhead sharks can be common on the 24-fathom line.

We desperately need a good fresh to get the inshore reefs firing. This year has seen very few of the traditional baitfish schools off the coast, with slimy mackerel almost absent. It has been a very unpredictable year, but the best place to find fish offshore this month will probably be around the 50-fathom line.


May is a month of transition, and as the nights get colder and longer, the water temperature starts to drop and winter species become a lot more active. It is a great month in the local estuaries, and there is some excellent light tackle lure casting for bream, flathead and trevally all around the central Broadwater. May is the first month of the year that I start to get serious about chasing flathead, and we find a mix of trolling hard-bodied minnows and casting soft plastics to be the most effective way early in the season. Most of the fish are 40-50cm this month, and they tend to be in numbers in the main Broadwater areas, with the flats between Crab Island through to the Aldershots the most productive.

If you go out for a lure casting session, set a few crab pots. There have been plenty of sand crabs around, and the first three hours of a big run-in tide on a still day seem to be the most productive. Set your pots near weed beds in the main Broadwater in a depth of 3-6m. Mullet frames, flathead or whiting are the best bait for sand crabs.

Garfish are another option this month, and a bit of berley around the mouth of the Coomera or the flats north of Wavebreak Island generally produce plenty of gar by using a small quill float, prawn bait and a berley of bread. Big sea gar are excellent eating, and the smaller fish are great bait for spotted and Spanish mackerel.

Bream numbers start to increase throughout the entire system this month and a few begin to move into the Seaway area later this month. Small live herrings can be particularly effective bait for the bigger fish.

Overall, May is a very interesting month to fish the Gold Coast, with a lot of variety on offer. If we get a decent bit of rain the fishing could be excellent this month. The Seaway should also start to produce a few big mulloway towards the end of the month, but these will really get going in June.

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