High Expectations Offshore
  |  First Published: November 2008

It is going to be a very interesting month with high expectations for a good marlin season just around the corner.

Reports from up north show there are plenty of juvenile black marlin moving south, and in good seasons the first fish often show in November off the Gold Coast. This run of small billfish is often preceded by a good run of mahi mahi and occasionally wahoo. It’s time to dust off all your trolling tackle and get a few early preseason trips underway so you have everything sorted out prior to the main run of fish in December. I’m going to concentrate a lot of my effort on the grounds east of Jumpinpin this month and along the bottom half of North Stradbroke Island, as a lot of the early season fish tend to hold on the big schools of pilchards that seem to hold on the 40m line just north of the Jumpinpin Bar.

Lure trolling is a good option this month as it allows you to cover plenty of water and appeals to both mahi mahi and marlin. Small, skirted lures such as Meridians, Pakulas and the new Black Snack range all work well. If the marlin this season are small (15-30kg) as is predicted they are great targets on 8-10kg tackle. I’ve found the best way to get a good hook up is to fish a pair of Gamakatsu SL12s in 10/0 size and use a light drag of about 1.5kg on strike. The fish tend to hook themselves as they take off. When using these hooks make sure you put small zinc corrosion anodes on the shanks and wash them after every trip. This keeps them sharp. Don’t go overboard on leader size for small black marlin. The lighter leaders seem to get more bites. 150kg Jinkai is the maximum size needed for this kind of work.

Out wide the current will pick up this month and the water temperature will increase. This can make bottom fishing very difficult. Snapper and pearl perch decrease in numbers, but tasty pigfish and rosy job fish should be around on the 50-fathom line. A few amberjacks and Samson will also be around. In early October the leatherjackets were quite thick on the 50-fathom reef and gear losses were high. You only need the smell of bait on your main line and they will bite you off. They are murderous on soft plastics. Sometimes if the current is strong it is still possible to jig with good results. There should also be the odd marlin, both striped and black, and mahi mahi on the edge of the shelf this month.

On the inshore grounds the fishing can be good. Some big cobia should move onto Palm Beach Reef this month and there is sometimes a good early season show of spotted mackerel. Cobia generally precede the first mackerel by a month or so. Pilchards, live slimies or slow trolled dead baits all work well on cobia.


Everything seems to be a month late this year. The water quality in the central Broadwater has been very poor, with lots of weed and brown coloured lifeless water making lure fishing very difficult. The flathead have been very erratic because of this problem, and the secret has been to find productive patches of clear green cool water amongst the brown sludge.

This month is a good time to concentrate on mangrove jack. These fish can be caught in northerly winds, and working dawn and dusk around rock bars, canal mouths and rocky banks can be productive. As we start to get more afternoon storms the fishing generally improves. Soft plastics, hard bodied minnows and deep trolling methods all work well. The Nerang and south arm of the Coomera often provide the best fishing. Sovereign Island canals are also worth a look this month. Casting poppers and small shallow running minnows is often effective.

There should be a few mulloway around the Jumpinpin and Seaway entrances to be caught on live baits and soft plastics. Most of the big fish of winter have left the estuaries by now, but there should still be a few fish from 60-90cm about, especially if there are schools of frog mouthed pilchards about. The best soft plastics for jewies this year on my boat have been jerk shads. The Atomic Guzzlers are definitely worth a look too.

In the Nerang River there should be plenty of whiting on the flats and channels as the water temperature increases a few degrees, and the sand crabs should also be around in good numbers this month. Whiting frames are great bait for sand crabs. There are also a few grunter bream around and the odd giant herring in the upper reaches.

Small GTs and big eye trevally will be a lot more active this month. Casting poppers around the Bond Uni canals can be very productive, and this also produces the odd mangrove jack. A few flathead can also be caught in this area. The week after a period of storms, just as the water clears, is often the best time.

In the Pimpama River it is a good month to start chasing a few muddies and there is often quite good flathead fishing on soft plastics near the river entrance. The flathead have generally all spawned by now and start to move back upstream away from the river entrances. Most of the fish will be 45-60cm this month and the big crocodiles get fewer in number. With the 70cm maximal size limit I reckon a few of the big fish are getting caught a lot more than once, and they definitely seem to wise up to lures a bit.

On the run in tides a few tailer, trevally and the odd school of small mac tuna will be around the Seaway entrance. Spinning with metal lures can be very productive on a run in tide early in the morning.

Overall it is a good month to prepare for summer, and let’s hope those small marlin turn up in big numbers and stay around for the entire summer.

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