May’s Golden Opportunities
  |  First Published: May 2006

Erratic seasons offshore, plenty of rain and wind and some great estuary fishing have combined to make the Gold Coast an interesting venue for anglers. You can strike gold one day and miss out the next.


It’s been one of the most unreliable seasons for anglers fishing off the Gold Coast in many years. Mackerel have been unpredictable, the inshore marlin fishing has been poor and the current has been very fickle. May, after a period of rough seas and cyclone swells, should settle down into a more predictable fishery.

One of the highlights this year has been the good numbers of wahoo, and there should be plenty of big ones around on the grounds east of Southport and also east of the Tweed.

One of the most effective ways to target wahoo is high speed trolling. Locally made Hex Heads lures work well, and the bigger models are ideal. These can be trolled at speeds to 15 knots, but I have found 10-12 knots to be the ideal speed. When high speeding I troll four lures, two positioned well back at around 80 and 100m, and two in close at around 40 to 50m. I also use at least 10 or 15kg tackle. The strikes at this speed are high impact screamers, and in May the fish generally average around 15kg, with a few over 20. I use 49-strand wire for wahoo because it is easy to work with and doesn’t kink.

My favourite method, however, is to troll a small live tuna around areas like the Tweed Nine Mile. These catch a lot of the bigger fish. We generally troll a few small tinsel squids until we pick up a small mack tuna, frigate or bonito, and then put the tuna out on a pre-prepared wire rig on 15 or 24kg tackle. If there is a wahoo or big Spanish mackerel in the area it won’t take long to find the tuna. The down side of this method is that it also appeals to sharks.

There should be plenty of Spanish and spotted mackerel around in May. East of Couran Cove, South Stradbroke Island has had plenty of mackerel in attendance this season, and the area is worth a look early in the morning. It always has between 10-20m of water that holds plenty of bait. Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef are two other grounds worth a look in May.

Out wide there should be quite a few blue marlin, and beyond the 100-fathom line is the best place to explore. These big fish are generally out of the range of most trailerboats and average around 140kg. May is often the best month of the year to chase blues off the Gold Coast.

On the wider reefs the current should drop off a bit, and bottom fishing and jigging for snapper, pearl perch, samsonfish, kings and amberjacks should improve over May as the water cools slightly. The 50-fathom grounds northeast of the Seaway will definitely be worth a look.

A few squire and snapper will start to move inshore during May and the 24-fathom grounds will be worth a look early in the morning. Overall, May is generally an excellent month on the offshore grounds, but this season has been totally unpredictable so far!

Gold Coast Estuaries

Big bream will start sniffing around the Seaway area as the first of the westerly winds take hold. Fish to 1kg will congregate on the pipeline and around the north wall. Lures such as Berkley Gulps in Swim Minnow pattern are deadly here; dull browns seem to be the best colour. The quality of bream should improve throughout the entire estuary as May progresses, and it shouldn’t be too hard to get a feed.

May is the first month of the year where I start to seriously target flathead on soft plastics. At this time of year the central Broadwater is generally the best place, between Crab Island and Tippler’s Passage. Most of the fish will be between 40-60cm and casting soft plastics is usually very effective. A low tide around 8am is ideal, and the first of the run-in often has the best fishing. Trolling small lures is another alternative.

Mullet start to school up around the river entrances in preparation for their spawning run, and there should be a few big predators nearby. Big mulloway often turn up in the Seaway and around Jumpinpin in late May. A few big kingfish and sharks will also be in the Seaway area. Drifting a live mullet can be a very effective method on the last of the run-in tide.

With the first westerlies there is often an excellent run of garfish between Crab Island and Wavebreak Island in May. Fish the last half of the run-in tide across the tops of the weedbeds. All you’ll need is a bit of bread berley and a small piece of prawn under a float.

Whiting will be on the chew in the Nerang, and this area has been fishing very well after recent rains. Live shrimp, soldier crabs or wriggler worms are all effective baits for whiting. Run-in tides generally fish the best. A lot of these late season whiting range to 45cm and fight hard on light tackle.

Overall, May is a great month for fishing Gold Coast waters. As the water temperatures cool slightly and the prevailing winds shift to the west there is a lot of fish activity in the river mouths, and fishing should be excellent.

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