G’DAY everyone, in this month’s article we will discuss some options for finding fish in our estuaries during November.
The water temperature will rise to about 25C, which means the typical winter species including bream and tailor will slow down while mangrove jack and whiting fire up. Mangrove jack are without doubt the biggest bucket list fish targeted in the Gold Coast and Tweed River region and you need quality equipment, good planning and a fair degree of time and patience to catch them.
I suggest a 6-10kg rod loaded with 20lb braid and 30lb leader being about as light as you should use while targeting this species. The first thing jacks will do once hooked is make a lightning quick and powerful attempt at busting you up in the extreme structure where they wait in ambush of unsuspecting prey.
Fishing in very heavily structured areas around snags, bridges, rock walls and jetties early in the morning and late in the afternoon and night around the tide changes will increase your chances of success. Jacks will readily respond to a variety of lures as well as dead or live baits including herring and mullet as long as you fish them tight to structure.
Whiting is another species that really starts to make its presence felt this month and all through the coming summer months. This species is one I hold in high regard for a hard-fighting nature relative to size when targeted on very light equipment. As with most species, whiting can be targeted on a range of lures and live baits. When it comes to targeting them on lures, all you need is a very light 1-3kg or 2-4kg rod loaded with nothing heavier than 6lb braid and a variety of small lures.
Some of my favourite whiting lures for trolling are small diving lures such as Zerek Tango Shads, my own Brad Smith Lil Mates, Pontoon21 CrackJacks, O.S.P Dunks and Lively Lures Micro Mullets. The key when trolling for whiting is you want the water to be a bit discoloured and the lures must continuously bounce and tap the bottom.
If you look at the lures listed above, they are all 50mm or less in length and will allow you to troll in water from less than a metre up to 4m in depth, which gives you a variety of depths to explore. When trolling for whiting, you can also expect to catch flathead because these lures are my preferred choice for trolling for flatties too.
Drifting the edges of channels and deep holes with small metals blades bounced close to the bottom will also produce whiting. However, my favourite way to catch whiting is fishing with surface lures over shallow flats in rivers and creeks. Small poppers work well with this technique but my favourite lure for the job is the Bassday Sugapen, which is a stickbait or pencil popper that is retrieved with a walk the dog technique created by twitching the rod tip during retrieval, giving the lure a left to right movement across the water.
Watching a school of good-sized whiting competing against each other to crash the lure off the surface is fantastic visual sport. If you choose to use bait for whiting, you can’t go past live worms and yabbies, once again fished with light equipment. Some anglers seem to think mulloway can only be targeted during the cooler winter months but I have great success at catching them in November and through summer.
Fishing the deepest holes in the rivers with lures and live baits around tide changes is the key for catching these big apex estuary critters. Thank you for reading and I look forward to talking again next month.