15 June 2018 fishing report

This week’s fishing tip:

Finesse fishing. There is more pressure on fish these days, therefore it pays to go stealthy when chasing estuary species.

Starting with line, you can still catch big fish on light braid. Use a good quality braid that has a thin diameter for it’s breaking strain, tied to a metre of fluorocarbon leader.

Whether you’re using bait or lures it will make a difference to your catch rate, especially trolling and casting soft plastics and vibes. 6lb braid and 10lb leader is enough to handle most fish in the rivers.

Other things that will tip the odds in your favour are using good quality, proven lures, and as light a weight as possible to reach the bottom.

Also it is amazing what size and numbers of fish you can catch on tiny 4cm long lures. Elephants eat peanuts!


Gold Coast estuary fishing report:

Dusky flathead of 50-80cm are enjoying the cooler water and feeding quite aggressively at the Tweed and Gold Coast upstream areas.

At this time of year there is bait fish present, which attracts these fish that are fattening up for their spawning activity in the months ahead.

Also the water upstream is not as clear as at the mouth, giving ambush predators like flathead better opportunity to strike at close range without being spotted.

Both trolling and drifting with vibes are working well, but it does pay to choose the correct plan of attack on the day based on the conditions.

At the Gold Coast broadwater there seems to be an ever increasing number of solid Purple Tuskfish. They are easily caught on bait and lures and put up quite a fight on light tackle.Terry and Scott caught some healthy flatties in the high 50s on Hurricane vibes with us at Nerang river.


The big sea Bream will begin to enter the systems, and winter whiting, flounder, squid, snapper, flathead, and a range of other reef and estuary species will be around.

Fishing a run out tide is preferred to avoid the super clear ocean water pushing in through with the run in tide, or if you’re fishing on a run in tide move further from the mouth as the day goes on.

Smithy the master guide is putting clients on to lovely fish at the Tweed river. The bio masses of big bream and tailor that we predicted are running late but won’t be far away.

The good news is the river is still firing with good numbers of flathead smashing lures including the two fish pictured below of 70cm, and an 81cm model posing here with Smithy and client Geoff. The best lures this week being Zerek fish traps and Atomic semi hardz.



8 June 2018 fishing tips and report

This week’s tip:

While using lures such as blades and vibes, it doesn’t hurt to rub on some scent such as S Factor.
Keep a tube in your pocket and every 30 minutes at least apply more. We find it does make a difference, at the very least if a fish hits and misses they are more likely to return for a more aggressive second bite.

The scent will let off a faint berley trail too while you’re drifting, further helping your cause in getting fish to find your lure.

If you use a vibe with a good strong but fine vibration, even better, improving your catch numbers, sizes and hook up rate.

Gold coast calm water fishing report:

Right on cue as the same time as last year, the bigger flathead are starting to school up. Firstly they’ll be up the rivers feeding and fattening up, then as spring approaches they will gather in numbers around the river mouths ready to spawn. Of course at any given time smaller resident flathead can be anywhere, so always expect the chance of lizards where you are, especially if there is ample bait showing on your fish finder.


Like the Mulloway they function well in cooler water around 20 degrees. Any sharp cool changes though and it may pay to start later in the morning to give them a chance to warm up and start feeding.

We encountered some healthy fish in the Broadwater and Nerang river in the last week, with fish 50-60cm and above common. Most were carefully handled and released to fight another day. Four year old Lucas and his Parents Mae and Shaemus, had an eventful session with Lucas catching a 62cm flathead, great effort by the young fella. They kept one nice fish for a feed and released the rest. Lucas also caught some nice Sand Whiting.

At Tweed river it’s still fishing well with Smithy getting amongst the Mulloway, flathead, and bream on Hurricane blades and Zerek Tango shads.

The big bream and tailor have not entered the rivermouths in good numbers yet but the time is drawing close .

Lucky there is still plenty of flathead on the bite in all the rivers and creeks at present along the east coast.


When you’d like to learn more, message us here to book your gold coast private charter: m.me/bradsmithfishingcharters

Smithy & Clinto

1 June 2018 fishing tips and report

This week’s tip:

We mentioned last week that big bream will start to enter our rivers over the next few months.

Nice quality tailor will also enter the rivers at the same time so keep an eye out for any bird or surface activity as this is a major sign of where to find these lure crunching fish.

Trolling minnow lures and casting small metal spinners is the way to approach these hard fighting critters early morning. Use the cheaper lures to troll as they are not too fussy when feeding, and will chop off expensive lures too often.


Fishing report:

This week’s fishing continued at the Gold Coast broadwater with still a few nice whiting around the 30cm mark feeding near the yabby banks. On Sunday I stayed out till after sunset with Mark and his son Joachim from Victoria. The whiting were hungry and Joachim had a ball pulling in a mix of winter and sand whiting for dinner.

Earlier in the day local Dad Michael and kids James and Lexi came fishing, we started at Crab Island, caught some whiting and a solid Tuskfish. Hilarious how hard it fought on the little kids rod they brought with. It then got windy so we retreated to a yabby bank, pumped some yabbies, and caught more whiting, tarwine, and bream, so they had fish for tea as well.

This week we look forward to chasing flathead and tailor when the wind drops, the winter squid are increasing in number, and soon the big sea bream will make an appearance in the river mouths to spawn.

At the Tweed river Mulloway and flathead continue to dominate the daily catch on Hurricane blades fished in the deeper holes.

25 May 2018 fishing report

This week’s fishing tip:

Windy days on the weekend.

Easier and tempting to stay in bed, sleep in, get up, have a coffee, then watch a fishing show on tv that makes you want to go fishing.
Sound familiar?

You only live once so get out there and get fishing. Windy days provide some really good fishing.

Obviously offshore is out of the question it’s too strong, but in Gold Coast estuaries estuaries fish can be very active. The wind can provide surface chop so the fish have the cover to be less wary, and it can stir up some dirty water off the banks, and move the food around, again providing cover for fish to feed.

You can anchor which is not often that effective. Trolling works well on windy days. I’ve been out in gale force wind and smashed flathead for hours on end trolling Lively Lures micro mullets. Try troll with the tide for best results, and if there is a head wind at the same time even better, slows you down and keeps you in the strike zone longer when passing through a patch of fish.

Also if drifting look for cover, during the cyclone up North a few months ago we found a high sheltered bank at the Tweed and had a fantastic session on solid flathead and big sand whiting.

Fishing report:

What a great time of year to get out there and experience the great outdoors! And no better way than to do so on our calm water fishing charters at the Gold Coast.

Until the tides got smaller we were racking up big numbers of fish in the broadwater. The dominant species have been Purple tuskfish which put up a terrific fight on light tackle, and nice flounder, winter whiting, flathead, squid, and snapper. Prawn shape blades and yabbies have been smashing them. This weekend as the tides increase we should see plenty of fish activity again.

At the Tweed the flathead have been biting on blades fished deep and trolled Pontoon 21 crackjacks. Now that the water temperature is cooling down there will be an increase in numbers of big sea bream entering the rivers to spawn. The weeks leading up to the new and full moons over the next few months should be the time to target these solid, hard fighting fish.


18 May 2018

This week’s tip:
When chasing dusky flathead it helps to have a number of techniques ready to use. Trolling hardbodies can really take big numbers of flatties at times.

If you find you’re getting many smaller fish, try move a few metres left or right on your next run through the area, the bigger fish are often not far away and dominating the best feeding position. Other times when the drift is steady and the wind is not opposing the tide, have some blades, soft vibes, and gulps available. The blades and vibes can be lightly jigged close to the bottom.

While you’re drifting throw out a 2 inch Gulp shrimp on 1/6oz jighead, make sure it just reaches the bottom but not too far out that it’s dragging, and place the rod in a holder and let the drift and boat movement do the work. Many times this has caught the biggest flathead of the day for us!

Fishing report:

This past week the flathead at Tweed river have been prominent with some bigger fish appearing and becoming more aggressive.
Successful methods have been trolling Pontoon 21 lures and drifting with soft vibes, the Zerek fishtrap works well.

Alaeddin from Sydney on Brad’s charter at the Tweed river got a lovely 1 metre Mulloway on 1/6 oz Kato blade in greenback colour, 20 minute fight on 6lb braid. Great effort and the fish was released in healthy condition.

Some good fishing opportunities available now at the Gold Coast broadwater, with the dredger in operation it will attract fish.
Mud and food dug up will provide ambush cover, so we should see some big whiting, flathead and various other species taking advantage.

Targeting Mangrove Jacks on the Gold Coast

January and February have always been my favourite months to target jacks because they tend to school up and feed more freely before the cooler winter period arrives. Unlike some of the systems in the far north of the country, the Gold Coast and Tweed River systems do not hold plague proportions of jacks, but it is believed the small concentrations of fish in our area hold a number of the largest-sized fish in the country.

This is of course great news for us anglers given the aggressive fighting capabilities of these big fish, but it also means we have to work a lot harder to catch them. Let’s first discuss some of the best places and times to target these fish because proper planning is a must for any chance of success.

Heavy structure such as rock retaining walls, trees that have fallen into the water, bridges, natural rock bars and jetties all prove great homes for mangrove jack to find cover and ambush their prey. Once you have found your chosen spots, the next consideration is the times and tides to fish. Trolling for mangrove Jacks is often a technique used to find great ground to throw swim baits at, but it also allows you to cover more ground and get down deep where these predators site in deep holes and underwater canyons.

I have always tried to plan my trips around the tide changes, either from high to low or low to high, during the grey light periods and at night. By grey light periods I mean either as the sun is rising in the morning or even better in the last hour of the day at dusk, which I call the fruit bat period because that’s when they start flying around.

One of my regular clients once said to me: “Isn’t it funny how you tend to tighten up the grip on your rod as you see the first bats flying around.” This is a fair comment considering the number of strikes you get during this period. The next step is being lucky enough to have one of those stinking hot balmy days that we get in summer when you could almost cut the air with a knife because it is that humid and late-afternoon storms are building up to the west.

Having the right equipment is another very important part of the preparation because finding these fish is one thing but stopping them from busting you up in the snags is another. And trust me, if they can find a way, they will. I know a few anglers fish quite lightly for jacks and have good success but I tend to play the percentages and fish a bit heavier.

Mangrove Jack Gold Coast

Nerang River Mangrove Jack

However, at times I still get destroyed by them. My lightest outfit is a 6-8kg spin rod loaded with 20lb braid, which I use for casting lures. My next outfit is a 6-8kg spin setup filled with 30lb braid for live baiting. Rounding out my equipment are a couple of 8-10kg baitcaster combos, one with 30lb braid and the other with 50lb, which I use for trolling deep-diving minnows.

Once again I fish heavy and use high-quality Toray braid and leader materials that are shock and abrasion resistant, with the lightest being 30lb and the heaviest 50lb for trolling. OK, so now we are ready to hit the water let’s have a look at some of the techniques you can try for jacks.

I love trolling deep-diving minnows because you get the opportunity to cover a lot of ground and the big deep-diving minnows seem to have a way of finding the XOS fish. The shallowest water I troll my deep divers in is about 4m, with most of my work occurring in the 6-10m range.

Some of my favourite models are my own Digga lures that I have been making for years as well as Sebile Koolie Minnows, RMG 125 Crazy Deeps that plunge to 8m, Pontoon 21s and Atomic 85 and 95 Double Deeps. The key to success when trolling deep divers is to have your lures running close to the bottom, or even better, to have them occasionally crashing into the rocky structure.

This can result in a lot of snag-ups and at times lost lures, but my old saying is “no guts, no glory” because you have to keep close to the structure and play Russian roulette with the craggy areas that jacks call home. Live baiting is probably the easiest way to fish for jacks.

It can be a very rewarding technique after taking the time to anchor up correctly and ensure you are in a good spot to be able to properly position your lives. Some of the best live baits for the job include poddy mullet, whiting as long as they are of legal length, and to a lesser degree herring, which aren’t as good because they are frail, die easily and at times the bream seem to pick the guts out of them.

Live garfish are another good choice and you could also try introducing a few quality cut baits to the water. Strips of tuna, mullet and tailor are on the jacks’ menu. Soft plastics are an option for targeting jacks and they are very versatile due to the fact they can be jigged vertically around deep structure or cast to the bank and worked along the bottom with a slow rolling action.

Casting to different forms of structure along the banks is very popular and rewarding because this is a really hands-on thinking game and works well when using plastics and hard-bodied diving minnows. Just be prepared to put in multiple well-aimed casts.
Casting surface poppers and stickbaits for jacks has become hugely popular in recent years.

The visual aspect of a big jack hammering the lure off the top is the ultimate reward. Accurate casting is required for optimum results and I have found that surface lures worked close to and parallel to rock walls are the way to go because the lure is kept in the strike zone for a longer period.

Well that’s a little round-up on how to target a species that could in many ways be described as the holy grail of our local waterways. As such, mangrove jack should be treated with respect in the form of catch and release management or only taking one for a feed.

As with all species, we have to fish for the future.

If your keen to jump on a Jack charter, drop me a line here at Gold Coast Jack Fishing Charters

Trolling for Mangrove Jacks

G’DAY; I hope you had a great Christmas and new year holiday break. There is no doubt the mighty mangrove jack are bucket-list fish for most anglers in southeast Queensland and northern NSW due to their aggressive, hard-fighting nature and the fact that they will respond to an array of well-presented lures and baits.LAST RS Jack on Nerang River Young Boy 2-resized

It should also be mentioned the jacks caught here in our backyards are consistently rated as being some of the largest in the country. Being contracted to catch jacks for breeding and aquaculture programs over the past 15 years has given me insight into some of the research being conducted around this species.Jack Fishing Brad Smith

It appears that jacks stay in our rivers for a longer period before moving to offshore reefs than they do in the more northern parts of the country. I could go on about this more, but the point of this article is to pass on one of my favourite techniques for targeting the red devils: deepwater trolling.

Some anglers consider trolling as perhaps being lazy or lacking the more hands-on approach of casting and retrieving lures tight into structural areas, but trust me, when you get slammed by a big jack while trolling it makes the hairs on your neck stand up.

The equipment I use when trolling for jacks is very important and must be well maintained because these fish will find faults in reels that might not have a good drag system. Your knots and leaders must be tied correctly and checked in order to take the brunt of a jack’s bone-crushing strike.

I use 10-12kg baitcaster rods matched with quality baitcaster reels loaded with 30 and 50lb braid. I like a 40-50lb shock-resistant leader on the 30lb braid and a 50-60lb leader attached to the 50lb braid. Toray braid is my choice because it is very strong and has a finer diameter for its breaking strain than most other brands.

Book a Mangrove Jack Gold Coast Charter

Some of my favourite trolling lures for the job are the Mann’s Stretch 20+ hard-bodies, though they are becoming increasingly hard to find these days, and Halco 8m-diving Crazy Deeps. Lively Lures Mad Mullets work well, as do Sebile Koolie Minnows, and I always carry my own Digga lures as part of my arsenal.

A lure that has received a lot of attention from me and is working exceptionally is the Atomic Shiner 85 Double Deep. These are smallish lures in terms of length but crash dive very well.

Another important and inexpensive piece of equipment to carry is a Tackle Back, which is basically a device for retrieving snagged lures. Mine has saved me from losing plenty of lures and, therefore, money.
RS Brads Son Jack Pic-resized

The times and tides are also important when planning a mangrove jack trip. I have caught heaps of jacks through the middle of the day but by far the most consistent time to target them is very early in the morning, or even better, during the late afternoon and night.

I’ve lost count of the number of fish I have hooked around what I call the ‘fruit bat period’, and that is of course as the sun is about to set and the bats hit the sky. If you can manage a trip at this time that coincides with a tide change you are giving yourself a great chance of success.

Locations are also important, and the Gold Coast and Tweed regions have plenty of spots to choose from. Long stretches of retaining walls are a perfect place to start because they provide structure, which jacks 100 percent rely on, as well as plenty of depth. Some walls have collapsed in places, and this combined with the natural reef that you will often find in these high-erosion stretches provides the perfect hideout for jacks.

The trolling technique is not at all hard if you follow the basic principle that your lures must be kept tight and close to the structure at all times, with the ultimate scenario being crashing and bouncing your lures along the edges of the wall or hitting the reef along the bottom.

This is a no guts, no glory style of fishing and if you are not prepared to lose the odd lure, even with the help of a Tackle Back, you are not in the mix for consistent success. Always try to troll as slowly as possible, and I do most of my trolling against the tide for jacks, unlike when I’m trolling for flathead, bream and whiting, where I usually troll with the tide.

The only reason I troll against the tide is to slow the boat, and the tidal flow pushing into the lure helps to suspend it while it’s crashing through the rocks, which decreases snagging. This type of fishing can become a bit mundane because sometimes I will troll the same stretch of wall over and over for one or two hours without so much as a sniff. But trust me, when you do get smashed you will soon forget about the laborious time and effort you put in.

If you have the presence of mind, which in most cases you won’t because the strike is so brutal and fast, try to get the boat away from the wall and into the middle of the river or creek in order to try to pull the fish away from the craggy hideouts it will attempt to bust you up in.

Well that’s it for another month; I must start preparing my boat for a jack trip. After writing this I am as pumped as ever to fish for mighty mangrove jack.

Gold Coast Fishing Charters

A day fishing with Brad Smith began over 20 years ago with the objective being to only take a maximum of two people to ensure that all clients receive personalised attention.

With the growing demand for my charters and the reputation that it has acquired I also offer a larger vessel that can comfortably cater for five people with two alternating hand chosen personally trained skippers. This boat caters for small groups and families that are looking for a great day on the water while still maintaining our objective and that is to guarantee that you catch fish and learn the skills on how to get the most out of this wonderful sport.

Jack Fishing Brad Smith

Educating my clients on the skills and techniques on how to read the conditions and tides whilst catching a wide variety of different fish species on lures is why my operation is unique and held in such high regard.
It is also worth noting that this operation stays in touch and sometimes ahead of any of the evolving advancements in technology, equipment and techniques that are required to ensure that you catch fish.

Often there is a healthy bag of flathead, bream or whiting before lunch. Then as the afternoon and depending on tides again, there might be time for a yabbie slowly drifted down a canal to extract a few ‘resident’ whiting or perhaps a lone trevally cruising the jetties and pylons that frequent the tweed and broadwater canals.

Perhaps your lucky enough to be in the summer months on Gold Coast Fishing Charters and be ready to try your hand at the top tiered Mangrove Jacks in the early evening. Hold on though, they pull like nothing else!

Myself and my skippers are very proud of what we do and cherish the opportunity to share our knowledge of the local waterways with beginners to accomplished anglers and for people of all ages.

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