May sees the current slow down and the water start to cool. This month pelagic activity should still be good and bottom fishing and jigging on the wider grounds will improve. Target species for May are Spanish mackerel, spotties, wahoo, amberjack, snapper and kingies. Out wide there should be some blue marlin around, and as the water cools slightly, a few striped marlin should show up as well. It is a month with plenty of fishing opportunities.
Mackerel fishing in May can produce bigger Spaniards than earlier in the season. Big mackerel respond to big baits, such as small tuna, tailor or bonito. Slow trolling around Mermaid Reef, the Gravel Patch and 24 fathoms east of Surfers is definitely worth a try early in the morning on a high tide. Fish over 20kg sometimes turn up this month.
Another spot that produces well for mackerel is the top end of South Stradbroke Island, between the ‘Pin bar and Couran Cove. There is a stack of bait in the area and plenty of Spaniards and spotties have been caught there this season. I recommend trolling depths of 8-20m along the beach. If the bait is on the top, spinning with chrome lures is very effective.
So far this season, wahoo have been quite small and sporadic. The Tweed Nine Mile is definitely the best spot to target wahoo, and live baiting with small mackerel tuna is the best method. High-speed trolling with lures such as Hexheads is another option. As well as wahoo, expect mac tunas, yellowtail kings and Spaniards. Some of the best mackerel in the past season have been caught while wahoo fishing.
As the current slows, the area around 50 fathoms southeast should be a good spot for samson, amberjacks and kingies on deep jigs. This is a really fun way to fish and I suggest using 230/300g knife jigs or the Sacrifice Stick by Daiwa. A strip of lumo pigment also seems to help. 60-80lb braid and a good jig outfit often aren’t enough to stop some of the beasties that live in these depths. Good areas to jig are generally in 80-90m of water over high reef; bigger kingies and amberjacks are difficult to get out away from the reefs, but maximal drag is the way to go!
Snapper should become active this month and the 36-fathom line is worth a fish early in the morning. If the current is a trickle, a bit of berley helps. Tuna and pilchards are the preferred baits, and soft plastics like the 4” PowerBait work well on reds. A few pearl perch should also be about this month, while snapper are likely to be most active over the new moon period and will start to move inshore onto the closer reefs at this time.
Out wide there have been a few animal-sized blue marlin this season, with fish around 300kg being relatively common. Some of the boats are now going to 130lb outfits after being blown away on 80lb line. Recently, local boat Big Deal lost 600m of line straight down, to a monster that ended up busting off.
As it gets cool, the common species in the estuaries tend to change. Around the Seaway, big spawning bream start to move as the first westerlies blow, and tailer become quite common. Whiting drop off in numbers and mangrove jacks move towards the Seaway and river mouths. Flathead fishing improves as the flats cool down and a few mulloway will also be caught.
May can be a very good month for sand crabs in the Broadwater. The area between the mouth of the south arm of the Coomera and the southern end of Crab Island is always worth trying on the run-in tide. Keep the pots in 12-15ft of water and don’t forget that calm days produce more sandies than windy ones.
Fishing the flats around Tippler’s Passage will produce quite a few school-sized flathead and bream on soft plastics this month. On the run out, look for patches of cool, clear water, which are often trapped up on the flats. Finding the best water quality is the key to catching the most flathead, especially in northerlies. When the first westerlies start to blow, the fishing can be red hot in this area, especially on smaller tides early in the morning.
Spinning with metal lures around the Seaway walls will produce tailer, doggy mackerel and the odd bonito this month. GTs and big eye trevally are also common in this area. A few school jew can be caught on soft plastics and livebaits, while some bigger mulloway may turn up at night if the mullet start to run.
Up the rivers and creeks most of the action will be with bream; plenty are being caught at the time of writing on soft plastics and hard-bodied lures. The odd bigger fish over 1kg will turn up this month.
Overall, May is a transitional month in the estuaries, but as the westerlies begin to blow and it gets cold at night, a lot of species will start to school up prior to spawning. Towards the end of this month there should be plenty of action in the Seaway area.Reads: 693