Port of Call – Southport, Gold Coast QLD
Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast is a popular destination for liveaboard cruisers and trailerboat sportsfishers alike. With excellent facilities and great fishing, it’s no wonder, says David Granville.
Where Is Southport?
Southport is located on the east coast of Australia, on Queensland’s famous Gold Coast, about an hour’s drive south of Brisbane and about 30 minutes north of the Queensland and New South Wales border.
What is Southport famous for?
The waters east of the Gold Coast are famous for an excellent run of juvenile black marlin in the summer months. The fish often come within a mile of the coast chasing schools of pilchards and slimy mackerel.
Having a billfishery so close to shore means that Southport is very popular with trailerboat sportsfishers. The introduction of the Gold Coast Seaway — two breakwalls which provide safe passage to the Pacific Ocean — has particularly aided the small boat brigade. On only the roughest days is the Seaway impassable.
The waters wide of the Gold Coast on the edge of the continental shelf and beyond are also popular among heavy-tackle anglers chasing blue and striped marlin. Indeed, on its day the Gold Coast sees blue marlin action as good as anywhere in the world. Inshore, during the winter and spring months there is a world-class fishery for huge amberjack, Samson fish and cobia just waiting to be discovered.
The estuaries around the Gold Coast also fish very well and boats of all sizes are well catered to by plenty of boat ramps and marinas with full facilities.
History of Southport, Gold Coast
The Gold Coast has had a relatively short gamefishing history. Most early gamefishing in the area was conducted from nearby Brisbane ports until the Gold Coast Seaway was opened in 1987 which provided safe ocean access to boaters and really kicked off the gamefishing in the area.
The Gold Coast now has two active gamefishing clubs that have vibrant memberships of enthusiastic gamefishers who head to sea most months of the year if the weather permits. There are several charterboats and an extremely large flotilla of privately owned gamefishing vessels.
Target Fish Species
Juvenile black marlin are without doubt the most prolific billfish, particularly in the summer months from December to February, but the old sailfish always turns up at this time of year also.
There also seems to be a regular run of mid-sized black marlin (60–100kg) that frequent the wider bait grounds and are great fun on light to medium tackle.
It is possible to catch blue marlin all year although February, March and April seem to be the peak months for these rampaging bulls. Striped marlin are generally not a target species but they are definitely more prolific in the winter months when the water is cooler. Billfish bycatch usually comprises of yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi and the odd wahoo.
The inshore grounds also produce some good sportsfishing opportunities with cobia, mackerel, wahoo and several reef species regularly encountered.
Southport is just 20 minutes north of Coolangatta airport and an hour south of Brisbane airport. Daily domestic flights from all major Australian capital cities fly into Brisbane and Coolangatta. Both Brisbane and Coolangatta also accept international flights although Brisbane is the larger terminal.
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