Still plenty of pelagics
  |  First Published: March 2009

The run of small black marlin that the Tweed Coast experienced has finally come to an end but this is by no means the end of the pelagic season.

Wahoo, tuna and mackerel will still be on the cards for those who are keen to have a troll.

In the Tweed River, whiting are the main target species although the diehard jack fishos are still hard at it.

The whiting fishing has gained a larger following among the lure fishos since the casting poppers for them became so popular. On a recent trip on the Tweed we did a show with ET Ettingshausen to see how many species we could catch in a day.

We started with a bass in the upper reaches, then made our way down to the lower reaches where we added bream, flathead, pike and tailor and then went searching for a whiting on a popper.

It was here that we lost our way because the popper fishing for whiting was so much fun that we simply couldn’t leave it.

Several fish were landed on the Lucky Craft Bevy Pops in the clear ghost colour, but dozens more were missed.

We were fishing in a south-easterly wind of around 25 to 30 knots that caused a large bow in the line between the rod tip and the lure. This made hooking the whiting very difficult.

It really didn’t matter, though, because watching whiting charge the Bevy Pops from a few metres away and then smash them like queenfish was more fun than actually winding them in.

The bream didn’t miss out, either, and if you didn’t get a hook-up or a missed strike from a whiting then a bream would tackle the popper as it was worked over the weed beds into deeper water.

Something to remember when targeting the whiting on poppers is that you can fish for them in the shallowest water. Some of the fish were right in among the mangrove roots in a few inches of water.


Try to make long casts, because the fish will often follow the popper for a few metres before smashing it. Be very quiet when fishing the shallows – try not to drop anything in the boat and use the electric motor as sparingly as possible.

Stingrays are a good sign of a healthy sand flat. If they are around in good numbers then so are the whiting and bream.

The fish will often hang around the rays as they disturb the sand and dislodge any crustaceans or worms that take refuge in it.

A cursory cast over a ray will normally get an immediate response.

It is not uncommon to have three or more whiting chasing your popper until competition for food overrides cautiousness and one of them decides to smash the lure.

One little trick to remember is not to pause the popper. Whiting seem to be a lot smarter than bream and if they get a good look at the lure, they will generally lose interest.

So work the lure with a constant popping retrieve until the fish is hooked.

The area around the hospital has been inundated with small baitfish and the trevally have been constantly hammering them.

Slugs cast off the rock walls around the Jack Evans Boat Harbour and the hospital have been producing the goods.

If you can time your fishing trip around the early morning or afternoons then your chances will be right up there.

In saying this, though, sporadic schools have been busting up in tight on the walls right throughout the run-in tide.

If the boat traffic passing through this area is at a minimum then the trevs seem more active.

The bridges throughout the Tweed have also been producing good numbers of big-eye trevally during the night.


The upper reaches of the river are still producing the odd bass on small deep-diving hardbodies cast right into the snags.

The water has been a bit discoloured due to regular storms so the key has often been to make a few casts at each snag, working it over thoroughly before moving to the next likely-looking spot.

After the holidays the mangrove jacks have really come on in the river and good numbers of quality fish are still being landed on lures and live bait.

Good quality hooks, strong rods and a bit of luck have been the key to landing the bigger models.


Wahoo, mackerel and tuna are the fish to be chasing in March.

Keep a lookout for the big GTs because they love to hang out between the Nine Mile and Fidos Reef, especially around Easter. The odd spotted mackerel should still be around at Palm Beach Reef but the Spanish mackerel will be more popular targets around this time of year.

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