A November to remember
  |  First Published: November 2006

The water will warm up and the current will increase this month. Last November we had an unusual run of small wahoo, and a lot of small black marlin showed up quite early. There are plenty of signs that it will be an early season for billfish again this year.

The top end of Fraser Island has been producing plenty of sailfish and some small blacks since early September, and some dolphinfish are already on the wider grounds off the Gold Coast.

It is definitely worth an exploratory troll this month. Fish the first line of blue water you find, and if the current is running hard, try working around the Cotton Reef and Sullies, located in around the 50m line east of the Jumpinpin Bar. Small lures like Meridians and Pakula Uzis are usually good early in the season. The majority of strikes will come from dolphinfish and striped tuna, but there is also a good chance of a small black marlin or sailfish as well.

Current will dictate bottom fishing the wider grounds this month. As the current pushes down the coast, it often runs at over 2 knots. This makes it very difficult to get bait to the bottom. Jigging, braided lines and bigger leads can make it fishable, but it often requires a long drift. Start well up current of the GPS mark to ensure the baits get to the spot before the current drags them away. The 50-fathom northeast marks will produce pearl perch, kingies, tuskfish and squire this month.

On the inshore grounds there are often a few big cobia around. These generally precede the run of spotted mackerel. Palm Beach Reef always produces a few cobias in November, and the 18-fathom line east of Southport is another spot worth a look. Plenty of berley and big live baits are generally the most effective methods to target cobia. Small live bonito drifted over the reed also produce well.

Snapper numbers drop off this month but there are a few reef patches on the 42-fathom line southeast of The Seaway that produced big squire in November over the last two seasons. These reefs are inshore of the 50s by about 9km and are fairly flat and gravely. The 24- and 36-fathom reefs should produce a few squire and teraglin on the week leading up to the full moon this month.

Overall, November is the month to dust off the trolling lures and get ready for the season ahead. The large numbers of billfish caught off Townsville and the top of Fraser Island is a good sign for the season ahead. The southbound current should have these fish here by Christmas, but as in pervious seasons, the first ones may show up in November.

Estuaries and Rivers

As the water warms up the estuaries undergo a transformation and the winter species drop off in numbers. As storms start in the evenings, mangrove jack become much more active. November is a great month to chase whiting, mangrove jack, school mulloway, trevally and estuary cod.

Mangrove jack eat every lure style made, and the secret is to put the lure directly in front of the fish. Over the past few years we’ve had most of our success fishing poppers at night, when the fish move out into the open to chase bait.

If you are interested in chasing jack, look for areas of rock where the current runs hard. On the Gold Coast, most of the best mangrove jack hotspots are devoid of mangroves but have plenty of rock or man-made cover. Shaded areas under pontoons and jetties also hold plenty of decent jacks.

As the water warms up, big schools of herring increase in numbers throughout the estuary. If you see herring flicking in the current, there will always be bigger predators around. Live baiting with herrings is a very good general method, and produces big bream, flathead, mangrove jack, school mulloway and trevally. Hook the herring through the nose and let it flutter in the current on a long leader. Most fish love to scoff down a herring, as they are a very soft bait.

Whiting numbers will improve in the Nerang River this month as the days warm up. Shrimp, soldier crabs and wriggler worms are the most effective baits. Some excellent fish over 700g have already been caught this season. The water temperature in the Nerang didn’t get below 17 degrees all winter, and whiting have been caught in numbers every single month this year.

Flathead should still be about this month, but most fish have now spawned and are moving back up the rivers. The deeper sections of the channels are often the most productive. Gulp Pogy and Bozo’s are two soft plastics that are having excellent results. This season has seen plenty of fish over 70cm caught and this is probably as a result of the slot limits of five flathead between 40cm and 70cm.

Drifting live baits through The Seaway on a run-in tide is also worth a go this month. There are often plenty of school jewies, big flathead and a few GTs around, and the hole at the end of the north wall of The Seaway also produces big tailor, bonito and the occasional mackerel tuna.

Overall, November is a great month in Gold Coast estuaries. As the days get longer it pays to set the alarm clock early and get out on the water in the dawn hours when boat traffic is at a minimum. This is the best time to catch a decent mangrove jack.

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