Perfect for pelagics
  |  First Published: December 2004

January sees the blanket of bluewater move in close to the Gold Coast Seaway and is a great time to chase pelagics. At the time of writing, small black marlin have already turned up and the run of little blacks should be in full swing this month.

The main target species in January are marlin, dolphinfish and spotted and Spanish mackerel. Early indications are that it will be an excellent season, and the early November rains will have definitely helped get the bait schools active.

A good tactic in January is to head to the 46m line north of the Seaway and then troll north, heading out to 50m and then back into 46m. This troll depth seems to be very productive. Start trolling about six miles northeast of the Seaway and slowly work your way north. This area is good for black marlin and dolphinfish, and not many mackerel are encountered here which saves on lure chop-offs. We troll north until the Cotton Reef, and then start to work our way south. 10kg tackle is generally adequate here and small skirted lures like the small Meridians, Pakula Uzis and mosquitos work well.

A new charter boat has started work off the Gold Coast with excellent credentials and a lot of black marlin experience. Sea Ray Charters is a 34 Blackwatch skippered by Daniel Easton with Ben Job as deckie, and I went out with them the other day and we jigged up some nice kings. It’s a thoroughly professional outfit that will fish for snapper, jig the deep reefs for kings and amberjacks or troll for marlin. If you are keen to get into some January action ring Brad Job on 0414 287 455. Cost is $1200 a day and the boat fishes six anglers. A great way to spend a day on the water.

The spotted mackerel should be in full swing this month with a few early Spaniards likely to turn up as well. Palm Beach and Mermaid reefs are definitely worth a close look early in the morning. Spinning chrome lures, trolling pilchards and livebaiting all work well. There should also be a few cobia at Palm Beach and plenty of small tuna.

Bottom fishing slows down a bit this month as the current picks up, but jigging should still be productive on the deeper reefs. For bait fishermen a few teraglin, pigfish and pearl perch will still be caught on the 36 and 50 fathom lines.

On the wider grounds and out past the shelf there will be a few blue marlin, big dolphinfish and the odd black marlin. There have also been some sporadic encounters with big yellowfin tuna. Plenty of local game boats will be out hunting big blues at this time of year and the action will increase further into February.

Overall, I think this month is going to be a beauty. The number of small black marlin being encountered in Hervey Bay in November always means hot fishing off the Gold coast in January, so get those hooks sharpened and start trolling.

Gold Coast Estuaries

The secret to getting the Broadwater wired this month is to get up early to avoid the boat traffic. The Seaway area fishes well for school jewies, tailor, a few yellowtail kings and trevally on livebaits, soft plastics and jigs. Prime tide is a high between 6am and 8am. The hole at the north wall of the Seaway and the pipeline are the most productive spots. Live slimies are the best bait, and you can usually catch these on bait jigs on the close reefs just off the Seaway.

There will be plenty of mangrove jacks caught this year, and at the time of writing it has already been a pretty good season. Poppers around the rock walls at night have been quite productive, producing jacks, GTs and big-eye trevally. There have also been a few giant herring around, and these are one of the most spectacular fish we have ever hooked.

Whiting will be on the chew as the days get hotter, and the Nerang River is the best place to target them. Fishing early in the morning on a run-in tide is very productive. The best and easiest bait to use is small shrimp. These are easy to catch with a dip net around rock walls and mangrove fringes. Some of the whiting have been 40cm monsters and these fish are amongst the best eating estuary fish available.

There are still plenty of flathead about. At this time of year most of the fish are in deeper water, around 5-8m. The flathead feed on herring a lot in the hotter months, so try around bridges, rock walls and areas of fast current flow. Deep jigged soft plastics are very effective, and lately we’ve had a lot of success with PrawnStars in the Honey Pot colour.

The Jumpinpin area is a very busy waterway through the holidays, but from a fisherman’s perspective it’s very productive for whiting, school jew and flathead. The deeper water around the mouth is worth exploring with drifted live mullet this month at the top and bottom of the tide. There are a lot of jewies in the section between the mouth of Swan Bay and Kalinga bank just off the coffee rock ledge.

Overall, January is one of the best months on the fishing calendar apart from the crowds. From big whiting to black marlin, this month has it all.


1) January is a great time to go gamefishing.

2) The author with a nice kingie taken on a trip with Sea Ray charters.

3) There are still plenty of flathead about.

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