It has been a pretty impressive storm season this month, and this has done a number of good things for the estuaries of the Gold Coast. There have been quite a few short sharp bursts of freshwater run-off, and the water temperature in the estuaries is around 24 degrees. This month should be an excellent one for mangrove jacks, school mulloway and trevally, with whiting and school flathead also featuring in catches.
Mangrove jacks are most active at night, or around dawn and dusk. In the night they often stray considerable distances from cover, which makes the percentage of fish landed much greater. They also feed very aggressively on the surface after dark, and shallow running minnows, poppers and lightly weighted soft plastics are all good lures at night. Another good night time option is trolling along the edges of rock walls with deep lures. When the bait is suspended in deep water in some of the Gold Coast ‘Lake’ estates, after dark slow trolling is deadly. My favourite lure in these areas is the Tilsan Bass.
The areas close to the seaway will have plenty of action this month. Early morning run-in tides often pull big schools of white pilchards into the estuary in December and tailor, queenfish, bonito, kings and mac tuna are all possibilities. Spinning with metal lures, soft plastics or fly-fishing is generally productive. Look for the birds and get on the water very early. Sometimes mackerel are also caught in the Seaway, and live baiting this area also produces school jewies with the odd bigger fish. In more recent times a lot of the jewies are falling to soft plastics.
There should be plenty of mud crabs up the rivers this month, especially if we get more rain. December is generally the first really productive crabbing month of the season. We do a lot of crabbing and over the years have experimented with a lot of baits. The most successful method for mud crabs is an uncooked chicken frame with a tuna or mackerel head placed inside it. This is durable bait suitable for overnight sets that greatly reduces the chances of fish eating it all out. With a sturdy long lasting bait with plenty of smell the crabs keep coming in the pot.
Whiting should bite well in the Nerang River this month. Small shrimp, baby soldier crabs and wriggler worms are ideal baits. Plenty of big whiting over 40cm long have been turning up over the past month so it should be a good season. Towards the end of the month the boat traffic increases enormously, and at this time it is definitely worthwhile getting the boat on the water by 4am. That’s a hard mission for most of us, but the fishing at this time is worth it and I’ve never seen a jet ski on the water at that hour.
December is generally the time that black marlin, Spanish and spotted mackerel and dolphinfish arrive off the Gold Coast. Reports from 1770, Fraser Island and the Sunshine Coast have been very erratic when it comes to billfish, so it seems unlikely that we are going to have a bumper black marlin season this summer. A few fish had turned up off the Central Queensland coast this month but there seemed to be more gloom than excitement.
It is possible that this season will have a run of bigger marlin running between 40-100kg rather than the baby blacks we are used to. It is very hard to predict the season, but the only certain rule is, if you don’t get out there and put in the hours, you won’t catch any fish!
This is a good month to start trolling a spread of skirted lures in a searching pattern on 8-15kg tackle. In 2006 we had an exceptional early season run of small wahoo that wrecked a lot of lures. In previous seasons wahoo bite-offs were generally rare in December but increased in late January. Last season I lost a lot of very good lures to these razor toothed baby wahoo. It is a very good idea to run a Halco Laser Pro rigged with single hooks amongst your skirted lures. Wahoo tend to eat this first most times, and these lures also catch marlin.
Good areas to troll in December are the Cotton Reef east of Jumpinpin, around Point Lookout, the Paddock east of Couran Cove, the Gravel Patch off Burleigh and the 36 fathom line east of the Seaway. Look for bait, birds and dominant current lines. In December the current generally runs quite hard.
Spotted mackerel and a few early season Spaniards should show at Palm Beach and Mermaid reefs this month, with a few cobia still around. Dolphin fish will also be around the close reefs if the current pushes inshore.
Bottom fishing out wide is difficult this month as the current is generally running quite hard. There may be a few pearl perch, rosy job fish and pigfish on the 50-fathom line. A few teraglin and tailer will bite on the moon on the closer reefs. In general it is a much better option to chase pelagics this month.
Overall, December is a great month to go fishing off the Gold Coast, with plenty of options in both the estuaries and the offshore reefs. Remember to be ultra-careful on the water this month, as there are some really dangerous situations that can develop in seconds on a very crowded waterway. Merry Christmas and tight lines!Reads: 2322