Gold Coast Fishing Planner
  |  First Published: December 2005

During mid-November lots of anglers were looking for billfish offshore from the Gold Coast but few were finding them. It was just a bit early in the season, now there should be plenty of small black marlin bouncing around the game fishing grounds just off the Gold Coast.

As soon as the water temperature breaks through the 25-degree mark it will be on. There have been good catches of dolphinfish and small to medium sized yellowfin tuna early in the season, and the bait schools have been fairly solid close to the Coast.

In January most of the marlin action is around the 50m line, although fish move around a lot, following bait and pockets of warm water. Good spots to start a troll include the Cotton Reef, Sullies, The Paddock, The Gravel off Burleigh and the 36 Fathom Reef. Start searching with a lure troll, and try livies if you find a big bait school. Tackle in the 8-10kg range is ideal for little black marlin and sailfish. Some seasons a lot of bigger fish turn up and 15-24kg are preferred. From reports from Hervey Bay and off Fraser it seems the fish caught this year will be between 20-40kg. There should also be a few sailfish off the Gold Coast this month. They seem to be getting more common every season.

Spaniards and spotties will be in full swing. The area east of Couran Cove is worth an early morning troll. In my boat we often put in an hour or so in this area before heading out wider to chase marlin. This often gives us a decent feed in the esky on ice before we even put out the billfish lures.

Plenty of dolphinfish will be caught this month. There is often a distinct line of blue water where the run out from Juminpin and The Seaway meets oceanic current. If this is a sharp demarcation, it is an excellent area to troll for dolphinfish. These fish seem to show a preference for purple lures and already this season there have been some good specimens over 10kg caught east of the Jumpinpin Bar. Floating objects also attract these beautiful fish; never ignore a log out at sea.

Bottom fishing will be quiet this month, as the current will be running very hard. Jigging on the 50-fathom line is still a possibility, but a fast drift means the lure won’t be in the spot for long. On the closer reefs Spaniards and spotties should be about in numbers, and there will be a few teraglin, tailor and squire at night. I think 2006 is going to be an excellent mackerel season for Spanish and spotties. The action at 1770 in November was outstanding, and these fish will arrive off the Gold Coast this month. Most of the Spaniards will be 7-10kg. Trolled baits, chrome lures and pilchards will all be effective.

Estuary options

So far it has been a pretty good jack season with plenty of angry red fish busting off most anglers. Quite a few over 50cm have been caught in the Nerang and Coomera rivers. Almost every back eddy that holds bait will have a jack in attendance at this time of year. Good methods include deep trolling, soft plastics and poppers cast around wharves and jetties at dawn. The Berkley Gulp range is proving very popular at the moment on the local jacks. When fished slowly on a light jighead they can be devastatingly effective.

We have also caught a few good jacks fishing well into the night on trolled lures and soft plastics. Don’t think the bite is only at dusk. A lot of the best fishing is between 10pm and midnight, particularly if there is a low tide change. Run out tides tend to fish the best.

There have been plenty of school jew in The Seaway this summer. Small live baits have been very effective, as have soft plastics. The hole at the end of the north wall, the pipeline and the south wall near the white gate are all worth a look. The most popular soft plastic for jewies at the moment seems to be the 4” Realistix by Berkley on a 3/8oz jighead.

January is a great month for whiting. There should be plenty of big ones in the Nerang and Coomera and small live shrimp are the best bait, with squirtworms and soldier crabs also effective. Fish a long trace of 2-3kg mono and work the sandbanks and channels. If you don’t have a fish in 10-15 minutes move to the next spot. The Nerang River whiting are tricky fish to catch and the big ones are very subtle biters. Early morning is generally the best time. When the boat traffic is heavy the fish go off the bite.

There will be plenty of bream upstream this month around the wharves and structures. These resident fish are present all year and a lot of them have seen plenty of lures. It’s a hard time to fish soft plastics around the jetties as quite a few jacks are present as well, and generally smash up bream leaders in a heartbeat.

Big eyed trevally are becoming increasingly common in the Gold Coast rivers, and GTs seem to be getting scarcer. Big eyes love small poppers cast at night, and are active nocturnal surface feeders. They are good fighters and are great fun to target on light tackle.

Overall, January is one of the best months for fishing on Gold Coast waters. Most of the action is pelagic fish on the inshore reefs, and the rivers offer good jacks, whiting and school jew all month. Get up early to avoid the crowds is the best tip I can give you.

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