Flat out on Flathead
  |  First Published: October 2010

The winter months have faded into mere memories and the sun is shining bright with fantastic spring angling opportunities in southeast Queensland.

October is usually the best month of the year to target cobia off of the southern Gold Coast. These hard fighters can grow well over 80lb in our area and for those willing to put the time in there will be plenty of these great fish to be had.

While cobia can be caught using various methods, I think using a large live bait is probably the best way to entice a big cobia into a bite. Slimy mackerel, tailor, squire and tarwhine are all really good cobia bait.

If you have the option, use a variety of different bait species fishing at different depths, but some days you just need to take whatever livies you can get.

When live baiting I will generally try to use two hooks, but if the bait is small, one hook is sufficient. My rig usually consists of a swivel with an 8oz barrel sinker and a brass ring below it acting as a stop. I use about 1m of 80lb trace to either one or two 9/0 Mustad Hoodlum or Gamakatsu live bait hooks.

Cobia can be found on most offshore reefs with good spots the 18 and 24 fathom reef east of Surfers, Kirra, Palm Beach and Nine Mile Reefs. Try to anchor where baitfish are present, because if you find the bait then big fish won’t be far away.

There will be good numbers of snapper around in October. These fish can be tough to catch at times but with a bit of finesse it’s often easy to fool a few.

A pair of ganged 7766 Mustad hooks with a small running ball sinker is my rig of choice for chasing snapper. Keeping terminal tackle to a minimum is a definite must, as snapper are often hard to fool.

Use a range of baits like strips of tuna, squid and pillies. I usually fish with 30lb monofilament line straight through to the hook, as mono seems to pull fewer hooks than braid.

When searching for snapper this month try the usual haunts like around the 18 and 24 fathom line as well as Fidos Reef and the Mud Hole.

There will be an odd striped marlin showing up around the back of the 36 and 50 fathom line. Pusher style lures between 7” to 12” are the best bet for marlin at this time of year.

Black Snacks Pula Kai and Meridian lures are all proven performers in this area and are always a safe bet. When fishing for striped marlin 50lb line is all you really need, but using anything lighter is risky as there is always the chance of an odd blue marlin showing up.


October is without a doubt the best month if you want to target big flathead on the Gold Coast.

Every year the big females move into the local mouths and inlets to breed. These breeding fish are usually quite substantial in size with 80cm+ fish nothing out of the ordinary.

When targeting these big fish try places like the Southport Seaway and the Tweed bar where it’s best to drift along the drop-off where the rocks meet the sand and slowly hop your soft plastics. When fishing around rocks try to stay tight to your line at all times, as this will reduce the chance of being repeatedly snagged.

Vary your head sizes anywhere from 5/8oz and 3/4oz when the tide is slack and up to 2oz when the tide is running. I don’t think flathead are particularly shy of a heavy head so just make sure you are making regular contact with the bottom.

As far as plastics go anything will work on any given day, but I do try to stick with a few of my favourites, like 6” Atomic Guzzler, 7” Bass Assassin and 5.5” DOA. I like the straight tailed style of lure, but when the fish have a bad case of lock jaw, a shad or a curl tailed lure will get more bites when crawled very slowly along the bottom.

School sized flathead will also be on offer right through October. Casting 3” to 5” plastics at weed beds at the top of the tide in areas like Crab Island, behind SeaWorld and the mouth of Tallebudgera Creek to find a few school flatties.

Use a jig head of either 1/4oz or 3/8oz for this style of fishing and vary it according to the wind. If there’s too much wind your lure will not get to the bottom as regularly and your casting distance may be hindered.

As the tide drops try fishing around drops-offs from the weed beds into deeper water; the flathead will be there waiting for an easy feed.

There will be some good bream and whiting around towards the end of this month and they can be regularly caught on yabbies, beach worms and small black soldier crabs.

For these species I like to fish a ball sinker down to a swivel and then 1m of trace down to a size 4 or 6 long shank hook. Keep your rig simple and you will have most success.

Bream and whiting will be found around the Council Chambers in the Nerang and the Piggery and in the Tweed, with the better quality fish showing up at night. If you can time the later part of the run-out tide and the early stages of the run-in just after dark you will be in with a great shot.

There should still be some good tailor getting about in October too. Try fishing the Southport Seaway on the first of the run-in tide with metal slug type lures. Look for diving birds, schools of bait and fish chopping on the surface.

Cast your lures around the edges of the schools of fish and use a moderate paced retrieve; if the fish are around they will climb all over it.

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