A bad time to be bait!
  |  First Published: December 2008

This month things really start to fire on the Tweed River. The water temperature is right up there and you wouldn’t want to be a prawn or a herring on the river.

Schools of big-eye trevally patrol up and down the river under the cover of darkness on those hot and sticky nights. It’s great putting the boat on the water and idling along listening out for boofing fish.

They generally hold around the bridges or the mouths of the creeks and canal entrances, waiting for the bait to be flushed out.

Last year we had the odd session around the Barneys Point Bridge that had us casting poppers to huge schools of these fish. Double or triple hook-ups were regular occurrences.

Being in the right place at the right time is the key and although these red-hot sessions might last for a few hours, they are generally short-lived and end as quickly as they start.

Working a popper through the fish with an erratic retrieve is the best technique, although they will grab plastics slugs and diving minnows as well.

I have been away fishing tournaments as well as working on a charter boat out of Southport so have been missing out on much of the jack fishing. I suppose that a six-month-old son who already has four teeth doesn’t make going for an early morning fish any easier!

All my mates have been really sympathetic, though, and have been constantly ringing me up with tails of jack captures and bust-offs, so I am keen to get out there and pin a few of the red devils. And this is my favourite month to do it.

Whiting have been coming out on the flats opposite the Fingal boat ramp but the boys have been fishing really early or staying late for the better class of fish.

Any of the flats in the river all the way up to Murwillumbah will hold numbers of these fish; just keep an eye on the rain because this will affect where they are in the system. If we do get a bit of rain, then this generally gets them biting so try to get out there straight away.

Some good-sized mud crabs have been coming out of the river, too, but unfortunately stories of stolen pots have been filtering through. This is disgraceful behaviour and I reckon that one day some of these mongrels will mess with the wrong blokes’ pots and get caught doing it.

There are good numbers of bream still in the river although the upper reaches seem to be holding the better numbers. You have to catch quite a few little ones to get the bigger ones but it is pretty good fun doing it. It is also a good time to be practising to catch these fish on lures.

The upper reaches of the river should also hold a few bass. The small creeks that branch off the main river are the places to be looking for these fish by casting small deep-diving lures or poppers around the snags.

It pays to upgrade the leader a bit because these fish hit hard and can have you stitched up in the snag pretty quickly.


January is the best month on the Tweed for targeting small black marlin.

It sounds as if the boys have been having a pretty good run of them up north and this generally means that our season should be good, too.

Trolling small pushers or live baiting are the best techniques. The by-catch of wahoo, mackerel, mahi-mahi and tuna is pretty good, too.

There has still been the odd good snapper caught on the inshore reefs although with the water clearing up due to the stronger currents, it has been necessary to fish a bit deeper for them.

Kingfish have been a frustrating by-catch on the plastics because they have been good fish and very hard to stop on the lighter spin gear. We have had some classic wipeouts, which have left us laughing at the unfortunate victim.

I keep a jigging rod rigged with a 180g Chaos jig on my boat at all times and if I see the kings on the sounder we can usually catch them on the jig, even in water as shallow as 20m.

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