Gear up for the New Year
  |  First Published: December 2009

January will offer a huge range of species to challenge anglers, from wide offshore to the upper reaches of local creeks, rivers and dams. So start gearing up because this month is always a boomer!

The small black marlin will still be in numbers this month but may be out a bit wider than previous weeks. Start searching around the back of the 36 and 50 fathom lines for big bait balls consisting of yakkas and slimy mackerel.

Slow trolling live baits around the congregating schools will rarely be turned down by a passing marlin. These fish may not be as small as they were last month with some hefty specimens around the 100kg mark not being an uncommon contender.

Whilst searching for these schools of bait, troll some small to medium sized skirted lures such as Black Snacks and Pula Kai, and anything around 7-9” will do the trick nicely. It’s probably not a bad idea to leave your light 8kg rods at home and start bringing out the 15kg rods to try and avoid marathon style fights. If you’re keen to get the heavy gear out and start venturing past the shelf there will be a few blues and stripies on offer as well as the occasional jumbo mahi mahi.

There should be some nice Spaniards lurking around the Nine Mile, Fidos and the gravel patch, with dead baits and bibbed minnows such as Halco Laser Pros and Lively Lure blue pillies being a couple of my personal favourites.

The spotted mackerel will still in force at Mermaid and Palm Beach reefs and if you’re willing to face the crowds they can be a lot of fun. Plenty of berley and some short fine wire traces with 2/0 to 4/0 hooks and half pilchards for bait being a very effective method. When anchoring in these crowded areas be mindful to give other boats as much room as possible, remember they are there for the same reason you are!

There will be a few nice snapper starting to show up on close reefs this month. The 18 and 24 fathom reefs, as well as the mud hole, will be really good spots to start looking. Lightly weighted pilchards and strip baits being floated down a berley trail is a very effective method to catch these tasty fish. But remember once you start berleying not to stop because once you let the berley get away from the boat the fish will move with it.

Although braided lines are very popular these days I still like to stick will monofilament lines when floating down a bait for a big snapper. I find that due to their hard mouths and vigorous headshakes during the fight, using braided lines is a good way to pull hooks. And of course soft plastics are always a very good and very popular way to catch snapper. I use a very light jighead when plastic fishing, trying to encourage these fish to eat my lure on the drop, as most of the larger snapper will locate themselves suspended off the bottom.


This is my favourite month of the year to chase big river whiting. The Nerang and Tweed are my favourites but Currumbin and Tallebudgera creeks hold plenty as well. As always the Council Chambers and around Sorrento in the Nerang River is a great spot to start the whiting onslaught. And in the Tweed around the piggery is also a very productive area.

Bloodworms are the best bait, but not very easy to come by. So when you can’t get hold of any worms I use small black soldier crabs. The bigger blue ones mixed with sand are good berley but the small ones are much better bait. I’ll use anywhere up to a 5-ball when targeting whiting and downsizing when the current slows. A long trace of light 6lb fluorocarbon seems to work best for me and finished off with a hook around size 6, this has proven a deadly set up.

The mud crab season should be starting to flourish with good catches coming from the upper reaches of our local rivers. Although we may experience some heavy rain, further towards the mouths will be far more effective.

The rectangular collapsible pots are what I’ve had most success with; these pots are cheap but effective. Unfortunately getting pots stolen is not uncommon these days especially on weekends and school holidays so when the pots aren’t that expensive it lightens the pinch a little bit. Raw chicken carcasses seem to be about the most reliable bait around the place but any oily fleshed fish should suit just nicely.

Creek mouths, deep holes and drop-offs on mangrove banks are a pretty good place to start searching for crabs and don’t be afraid to move your pots around a bit.

Mangrove jacks, trevally and tarpon will still be plentiful around most canal systems. I find anywhere there’s a bit of tidal flow will hold these predators, mix that with some structure and bait and you’ll be in with a shot.

Rolling hardbodied lures through the structure is as good as any of targeting these fish jacks. A general rule is if you’re not getting snagged you either don’t have a deep enough lure on or you’re not in the right spot.


There should be good numbers of bass lurking in January in the upper, brackish reaches of all of our rivers. I find TN50 Jackalls as well as Megabass Smatra Vibes are good lures when the sun is still high, or any small poppers in low light conditions.

The Hinze Dam should soon be firing in January and using spinnerbaits is always productive. I use 5/8oz Bassman Spinnerbaits and vary the colour selection, however I have had the most success on purple and natural olive colours.

When using spinnerbaits try the more prominent points around the dam as these protruding areas will most times hold more, and often, larger fish.

Until next month be safe on the water and good fishing.

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