December weather at sea
  |  First Published: September 2009

While October can be one of the most difficult months on the offshore grounds, the current is still fairly minimal on the wider reefs. The 50-fathom line has also been fishing quite well for kingfish, amberjack and samsonfish on live baits and deep jigs.

At present we seem to be just at the end of a plague of leatherjackets, which has made fishing on the 50-fathom reef quite an expensive exercise. The toothy jackets are biting off hooks and rigs at a very ferocious rate. When using multi-coloured braid they seem to want to bite the green sections.

Snapper will become more difficult to catch as the water warms. There have been plenty of small fish between 30-40cm on the 36-fathom line responding to bait, Berkley Gulps and Lukanis jigs, but on my boat big snapper have been few and far between.

By now most of the fish have spawned and are moving back out to deeper water.

Pearl perch should still be about on the wire weed patches on the 36- and 50-fathom areas. I recently caught my PB pearly of 5.2kg while floatlining for snapper on the 36’s.

As the water warms up and the current increases it is a good idea to fish with braided line out wide for pearlies, as less lead is required to get to the bottom and it is important to drift at a fairly slow pace. Pearl perch are also very susceptible to soft plastic lures and are suckers for Lukanis or other similar style cuttlefish jigs.

For anglers fishing late afternoons into the night, the 24-fathom line is worth a look this month. This spot has produced quite a few cobia, mulloway and some big snapper at the end of August.

The southern end of this extensive reef is fishing better than the northern end. Local snapper legend, Mark Morelands, caught a 9kg nobby in this area recently on a live tailor, proving big baits catch big fish.

Spanner crabbing has been terrific lately around the 50m line east of the Seaway. On our last trip we reached our bag limit very quickly. Once set up, spanner crabbing is pretty easy and you get plenty of exercise pulling pots up from deep water.

Trolling is definitely worth a look out wide this month. Good blue marlin, yellowfin and striped marlin turned up throughout August and most of the action was around the Tweed Canyons or Jim’s Mountain. Some of the yellowfin were over 50kg.

It is generally a bit too early for the first little black marlin of summer, but a few medium blacks have been hooked on the 36-fathom line by anglers targeting other species. There is plenty of bait, gannets and dolphins in this area so it could be worth a look.

The area just to the north of the Seaway entrance can produce good fish in calm conditions. This bank has shallowed up a lot over the past year, but the drop-off holds great fish.

The sand drop-offs from 5-17m holds a lot of bait, and a slow drift in this area with a few slimies or yakkas can yield some decent mulloway at night, with plenty of hammerheads, shovel nose and whaler sharks also in this area.

Big mackerel tuna also patrol this drop-off and can be caught on spinning tackle. The wreck of the Aquarius is also worth a look if you are in this area.

With the weather we’ve had lately predicting the upcoming fishing is very hard. The patterns of the past just don’t always hold up anymore, and with August temperatures in the 30s out at sea you’d sware it was December!

Gold Coast Estuaries

The Gold Coast Sportfishing Club’s Flathead Classic is being held early in October. The flathead will be actively spawning this month and quite a few big specimens over 75cm will most likely be caught, and must also be carefully released. I recently caught a 96cm monster at Tippler’s on a small Gulp Minnow in a foot of water, and there have been plenty of reports of good fish around.

Northwesterlies shut down the flathead fishing greatly. In these conditions work the clean current of the run-in tide and move constantly until you find an active patch of fish. Our catch rate drops by about 75% in hot northwesterlies. The fish are still present but hard to motivate, although sometimes we get a bit of a bite on tide changes.

Most of the good flathead fishing will be close to the Seaway and Jumpinpin entrances. The deep channel along Kalinga Bank and the top end of Crusoe Island should be particularly productive spots, particularly in southeasterly winds.

Tippler’s Passage is another good spot to try and the Aldershot’s is also quite good this month. The main thing to look for is clear water with good visibility and a lack of floating weed.

Mangrove jacks will start to show in numbers this month and become a lot more active, especially at night. Soft plastics worked around the jetties and rock walls can be a good method, and poppers and small stickbaits are also productive.

Some big jacks over 50cm should show in the Nerang and Coomera Rivers this month. Trolling is often the best method to get a lure into the strike zone and is a very effective technique in the Nerang River. Deep runners like Storm Thundersticks, Bombers, Jonesy’s and Producer’s. Try to avoid $30 Japanese lures as the pain of losing several per session can be avoided.

Whiting also become active as the water warms. Most of the better ones are caught on worms in the Nerang River after dark when the boat traffic is minimal. A few elbow slappers have also been turning up in the south arm of the Coomera River and Coombabah Creek.

October can also be a good month for mulloway on soft plastics around the Seaway and Jumpinpin areas. White 7” jerk shads are the most popular lure.

Overall, this is a good month to chase lizards in the estuary, but the unseasonably hot late winter may impact to slow the fishing a bit. We need a bit of spring rain. As the days get longer, get up early and fish away from the crowds wherever possible.

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