Fresh and salt smolder
  |  First Published: November 2009

December would have to be one of my favourite months to fish, the marlin should be here in numbers, the mackerel will be in droves and the upper reaches of our creeks and rivers will be full to the brim of hungry predators.

In recent years catching a feed of mackerel has been high on many anglers ‘to do’ list and I’m sure this year will be no different, and as long as a few weather patterns go our way they should be fierce.

Mermaid and Palm Beach reefs are the usual stomping grounds for the masses and there will be some exceptional fishing to be had at these locations.

Although I’m a big fan of floatlining pillies for these line burners, trolling can be a very effective way of targeting mackerel when things are tough. But trolling isn’t as basic as it sounds, as there are a few different methods of doing this.

Slow trolling dead swimming baits is always a favourite. These fish can be finicky at times but they will find it hard to turn down a well-presented dead bait such as a slimy, tailor or the humble pilchard.

When trolling dead baits I use Aussie Jigs exclusively which are a skirted lure with a lead head and ganged hooks. They are very simple to use and allow you to easily rig a straight swimming bait. These lures add a bit of colour to your bait and can make it really stand out which may attract a mackerel bite.

When trolling baits keep your eyes peeled for diving birds and schooled fish. If you’re lucky enough to come across a school of mackerel, keep a metal slug type lure ready, such as a Laser lure in 35g or 50g, to cast towards them on a fast-retrieve, spinning reel. Let your lure sink for a few seconds and then wind as fast as you can. Schooled mackerel are a real sucker for a fast retrieved lure.

With a bit of luck the marlin will be running strong this month. With their long runs and acrobatic displays they are sure to attract many keen anglers. Trolling skirted lures between 6-7” around the 40-50m line will bring on a few bites with some tasty by-catch. Mahi mahi and wahoo will also be on the cards, so make sure you keep an esky full of ice, because if looked after these fish are great table fair.


December is generally the most productive month to chase river predators such as jacks, cod and various trevally. Although they are not great fish to eat, trevally are a fantastic sportfish and throughout summer the rivers will be full of them.

The main canal entrances in the upper reaches of the Nerang River and Currumbin Creek during a run-out tide is always a pretty hard time to beat. But don’t be fooled, these fish may be plentiful but can be hard to entice onto a lure. Most times this is due to them feeding on small prawns which will run on a new moon.

When they are tough like this I’ve always found a trusty 3 and 3/4” Atomic Paddle Tail in gold is a great lure to start with. In recent times I have also had outstanding results on a Lucky Craft Pointer in 78mm. This lure suspends so work it with a series of twitches and pauses through the hard running eddies and I think you’ll find there won’t be many times you’ll miss out.

As always the trusty old mangrove jack will be a big contender this month. When a big storm is brewing on the horizon on a hot summer afternoon, it’s prime jack time. Jacks live on most rocky outcrops, deep structure and pontoons. In the upper, more brackish reaches of the Currumbin Creek you’ll always be able to tangle with a few of these fish.

A solid rod with 20lb braid and 30lb leader is fairly standard jack equipment. As far as braid goes I’ve been using a line brought out under the Hi Seas banner called Grand Slam. I’ve found it very reliable while trying to put some serious hurt on serious fish. I’ve used this braid for two years now and it’s definitely one of the best braided lines I’ve used.

December will no doubt bring a few nice mud crabs to the table and there’s not many pastimes more satisfying than bringing home a feed of these tasty critters. Most deep holes and creek mouths in our local creeks and rivers will hold a few muddies.

As far as bait goes some fresh chicken carcasses are about as good as they come, also mullet, tuna or any other fish flesh with a bit of oil in it will be your best bet to attract the crabs into your pot.

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

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