Fishing With The Crowds
  |  First Published: December 2006

The holiday period can be a testing time for serious anglers wanting to have a fish because of the overwhelming number of boats on the water.

You need to take two main factors into consideration: the increased size of the tides and the high demand for parking space at boat ramps. The latter is the biggest issue to consider. The amount of new boat registrations in Southeast Queensland over the last few years and the lack of infrastructure to support the boating public is mind-blowing.

Options for December

The Brisbane River will produce quality fishing and crabbing throughout the holiday period. Early morning starts are the go for catching a feed of mud and sand crabs. Try the usual spots around the mouth like the Boat Passage (both sides of the bridge), Pinkenba Wall, Boggy Creek and along the new reclaimed section at the mouth. Towards Christmas and early into the New Year, mud crabs will make their way up the river towards the city and beyond. Sand crabs are in good numbers around Mud, St Helena and Green islands and in most of the deeper channels in Moreton Bay. Most of the sand crabs will start to move out of the shallows towards the end of the month and move into deeper water.

Fishing the river during December can be very rewarding. Just about every species that inhabits the river is on offer – snapper, jew, grunter, whiting, flathead, bream, estuary cod and even mangrove jack if you’re lucky. Due to the size of the tides, you will have to fish a slightly heaver jighead or sinker to get your baits to the required depths. It’s definitely worth the effort though.

At this time of year you can expect to find snapper in excellent numbers along most of the rock ledges from Claras rocks to the city, along the shipping docks at the mouth and the Hamilton stretch. Most fish are 1-2kg but some larger ones do turn up for those who search.

Bream, flathead and whiting are in reasonable numbers around most of the sandy areas like the mouth of Bulimba creek, both sides of the river around Pinkenba, and the numerous flats at the mouth of Boggy creek. The flats further out towards the mouth heading towards Nudgee Creek are great places for whiting on a flood tide. Worms and yabbies are the best baits for whiting and collected in this general vicinity at low tide.


Mackerel have been showing up around the mouth of the river and they’ve been in good numbers around the shipping lanes heading out into Moreton Bay. The majority of fish have been caught on small pilchards or small live baits like hearing and poddy mullet. When fishing plastics for mackerel I find that using T-tail baits with slightly heavier heads (3/8 to 1/2 oz) worked in a constant vertical retrieve is best.

Due to the number of boats anchored up around shipping beacons I opt for a slightly different approach. I like to circle the anchored boats with my electric motor, vertically fishing plastics to the fish I can see on my sounder. Quite often this approach out-fishes the anchored-up bait fisherman. It’s a must to use a small piece of wire about 10-15cm long attached to the jighead to stop bite-offs from the mackerel’s razor-sharp teeth.

Mud Island

Mud Island has been fishing well for snapper and large bream. With the increased tidal flow this area will be well worth a look over the Christmas break. Snapper are showing up around most of the reefy areas in 15-20ft of water, with the occasional fish showing up in shallows crash-tackling small hard-bodied lures presented for bream.

Bream will be worth chasing in the shallows around most of the smaller bay islands during December. Due to the size of the tides most fish will move up into the mangroves to feed in areas that they can only access on those tides. You will have to wait until the fish start to retreat from their dense mangrove cover, crab-infested mud flats to the outside edges. It’s best to start fishing about one hour after the turn of the tide.

Small hard-bodied minnows such as Ecogear CK40F07s and SX40s are excellent for fishing the shallows for bream. Accurate casts and slow constant retrieves are all that’s needed to extract good numbers of fish from theses areas. Try fishing a variety of structure like the shallow lagoons full of broken coral, mangrove trees, weed and deeper holes in close to structure.

Overall December is shaping up to be an excellent month to catch a feed of succulent seafood in the Great Southeast. Fisheries and police will be out in force during the holiday period so be aware of your legal requirements. Be safe and have a prosperous holiday period.


1. Col Singleton with a typical pair of river fish.

2. Col with a jew from the river. If we get some flushing rain during December the jewies will be thick.

3. Tony with a nice snapper taken from the mouth of the river. This fish was taken on a Ecogear Power Shad in 50ft of water.

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