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Offshore a Great Bet in Feb
  |  First Published: February 2006



The summer holidays have come to an end and it’s time to really start fishing without the Gold Coast crowds. February is a great month for getting back into the fishing spirit.

Offshore

During December and early January the marlin were very erratic off the Gold Coast. An endless stream of northerlies kept the inshore water quite dirty, and there was a lack of bait in the usual spots. Most of the billfish encountered were medium blacks between 60-100kg and the majority were caught on the 50-fathom line. A few small blacks were caught in close with the odd sail, but it seems as though a lot of billfish bypassed the Gold Coast. Hopefully now there will be plenty around and the water will have cleaned up.

Despite the dirty water there have been plenty of dolphinfish, with most being between 8-12kg. The majority of these have fallen to trolled lures. The edge of the dirty water has often had a distinct current line, and this has been the best place to troll. By February the dolphinfish usually thin out a bit, and the wahoo increase in numbers. There have already been a lot of small wahoo caught and a lot of early season lure damage.

The mackerel should be in full swing this month. Palm Beach, Mermaid and the area east of the ‘Pin bar are all worth a troll. Look for bait and birds and always carry a rigged spin rod with a metal slug. I think this year’s mackerel season is going to be a beauty. A few Spaniards turned up in December and any season that starts early is generally a very good one. Since the banning of ring netting, the number of spotted mackerel caught off the Gold Coast has greatly increased, and February is an excellent month for spotties. Pilchards, slow trolled live baits and metal slugs all work well on spotties. Trolling along South Stradbroke between 10-15m depth is a good way to find a few spotties and Spaniards. The area directly in front of Couran Cove Resort is a very good mackerel spot.

Bottom fishing this month will be governed by the amount of current. Out on the 50-fathom reef there should be a few kings, snapper, pearl perch and pigfish. Snapper show up on the 36- and 42-fathom reefs but the catches are far less than in winter. Jigging heavy metals will still produce a few kings and amberjacks.

Out beyond the shelf, February is a great month to chase blue marlin. The last two seasons have been quite good, and as the warm water moves south over the Tweed Canyons, Jim’s Mountain and the Riv Grounds, plenty of blue marlin should be following the current. There have been a lot of schools of striped tuna on the wide grounds this year and these should attract blue marlin.

February is an excellent month for pelagic gamefish out from the Gold Coast. It’s trolling time, so get those lures frothing and bubbling. From blue marlin to spotted mackerel, there’s an excellent chance of success this month.

Broadwater and Gold Coast Rivers

The water in the estuaries in February is the warmest it gets all year, and this brings most of the species more commonly associated with tropical climates to the Broadwater. Barracuda, blue finned trevally, queenfish, mangrove jacks and even mackerel all venture into the Broadwater this month. It’s a great month to fish in the Seaway. Live baits and soft plastics produce tuna, tailor, tarpon, bonito, trevally, mulloway and the odd mackerel. On bigger tides schools of white pilchards sometimes move into the Seaway area, and these big schools attract plenty of predators.

Further up river, most of the action is in the deeper sections. Trolling deep diving hard-bodied lures is a great way to target jacks, cod and flathead this month. Sections of the Nerang River can fish well on run out tides this month, and some of the biggest jacks of the season get caught in February. So far this season has been a beauty for jacks, with plenty over 50cm coming from the Nerang and Coomera rivers.

February is an excellent month to chase big whiting. Early morning is the best time, and the best fishing is usually in the Nerang between TSS and Sorrento. Shrimps, soldier crabs and wrigglers are the best baits. Fish over 40cm are reasonably common this month. A long trace of 2kg mono, small ball sinker and a number 4 or 6 Aberdeen hook are all that is required to get a feed once you’ve got the bait. It pays to move around a bit. If there has been a big fresh, try using yabbies.

There will be a few flathead around Jumpinpin this month. Most of them are in the deeper, cooler water and run-in tides tend to fish better than run outs. Try the Gulp 3” Poggy in mackerel or white. These are fantastic soft plastics that the lizards love. I was quite surprised to hear that in late December a lot of 60cm flathead at the ’Pin still were fully in roe. This may mean the spawning season this year has been prolonged. Early in the morning is the best time for lizards. Try Kalinga, Whalley’s Gutter and Tippler’s Passage.

Garfish should also be around the weedbeds in the central Broadwater this month. It’s a good time to stock up on gar for mackerel baits, and get a tasty feed as well. All that is required is a bit of bread berley and some peeled prawns under a small quill float. Both snub-nosed and sea gar will be caught. The bigger specimens are excellent eating.

February is a great month on the water. The mad Christmas crowds have dispersed, and it’s usually a lot easier to get a bit of peace and quiet now to get on with the business of catching fish in the estuary. Good fishing and tight lines!

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