Transitional Turns
  |  First Published: April 2009

The water starts to cool this month and the current from the north will slow down. Water temperatures should be around 22ºC inshore and a degree or two warmer out wide on the shelf. This month is a period of transition as the pelagic activity decreases and the bottom feeding winter species become more accessible and active.


There should still be plenty of wahoo and Spanish mackerel action this month, as well as blue marlin, on the wider grounds.

So far this year the wahoo season has been reasonable east of the Tweed, but these grounds need a bit of current run in order to fire up. The 24-fathom line east of Surfers also works well when the last push of blue water moves down from the north. It can be a case of ‘no run, no fun’ as far as wahoo and mackerel go this month.

Trolled big baits, such as striped tuna and big bonito, are definitely worth using to target the big mackerel and wahoo in May. It is also a very good time to anchor up and start a berley trail of cubes and fish some live baits and pilchards under floats.

Pal Beach Reef and Mermaid Beach should still produce Spanish and spotted mackerel, and as the water cools a bit more school mackerel (known as ‘doggies’) will show up on the inshore grounds.

Out wider, now is the time to chase blue marlin beyond the 70 fathom line. A few years back there was some sensational blue marlin action in May, and hopefully that will be repeated this year. The big blue bombshells generally arrive unannounced as a massive watery explosion all over your lure. The take off is extreme and a reel full of 37kg is probably the best weapon, especially if it is attached to a game chair connected to a big boat!

I’ve fished for blues from my trailer boat quite a bit and while we have had some success, when a big fish goes deep on stand up 24kg tackle from a small boat it can be almost impossible getting them back up. It is also surprisingly easy to empty a full spool of 24kg mono in seconds before you’ve even cleared all the gear when a berserk blue marlin heads for the horizon and you can’t go 10 knots in reverse.

As the current slows down the bottom fishing on the 36 and 50 fathom line should markedly improve. As it is early in the season most of the snapper are smaller fish, but there should be plenty of pearl perch.

Remember the size changes for Samson and amberjacks is now 75cm with a combined bag limit of two fish. Both species will start to show up this month.

In closer, deep live baits and berley will start to produce cobia and mulloway on the close reefs, but jigging soft plastics is an option also worth exploring. Our biggest cobia last season, a fish of 37kg, ate a 7” jerk shad.

The new marine park Green zone east of South Stradbroke has closed off a lot of the lesser fished inshore grounds and it is important to remember this ground extends 3.2km out to sea, which is about equal to the 30m line.

The stupidity and lack of science in this particular Green zone defies any logic and is a classic example of populist politics producing protection zones with no real validity, scientific basis or reason. Unfortunately this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to such zones, and the review period is a decade away.


As the first westerlies start to blow, the estuaries cool and the spawning runs of mullet, bream and luderick begin. The estuaries are in excellent condition at the moment with plenty of early autumn rain, and there has been a huge amount of baitfish in the system.

May is a great month to start flicking soft plastics around in the central Broadwater. Flathead greatly increase in numbers on the flats as the water cools. Most of these are smaller fish between 35-50cm in length, although a few bigger specimens will turn up. Try small white plastics this month on the flats, as their main bait is generally small white pillies, which are prolific at present. The flathead tend to work the draining channels and tops of the flats this month.

Bream start to move into the Seaway and Jumpinpin areas and onto the beaches as well. The Seaway can be a bit of a fish highway this month, and tailer will often follow the bait inside on the run-in tide. A few big mulloway also start to turn up at night for those keen to fish a live mullet in the current eddies on the top of the tide.

As the water cools down crabs become far less active, although a few sandies should still turn up between Tipplers and Crab islands. Even though mud crabs quieten down a lot, on a nice warm day and a run-in tide it is still worth chasing a feed of sand crabs.

Whiting will drop off in numbers but the average size should be excellent throughout May. The Nerang and Pimpama are the prime spots, but a lot of hard to collect whiting baits will be bream food this month.

Overall, May is very much a transitional month on the Gold Coast. The summer rains and freshwater run-off all indicate we should have excellent winter fishing this year so it is a great time to start planning for prime eating winter species.

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