October should see the water temperature begin to rise by a few degrees and the bait schools will start to show as the first trickle of the East Australian Current moves in at the end of the month.
Most of the action will be out wide this month and the winter species will slow down a fair bit but the kingies, amberjack, samsonfish and pearl perch should still be active on the 50 fathom line.
The snapper season this year was very patchy, with rough seas making life difficult on the wide grounds for much of the time. There will still be a few snapper on the 36 and 50 fathom line but most of the fish have now spawned and the breeding aggregations disperse as the water warms.
The most reliable way to get a decent feed this month is to make the effort to get some live baits in close and then take them out on to the 50 fathom line. We generally fish live yellowtail or slimies on a 10/0 octopus hook on 40kg leader rigged below a 200-300g bean sinker.
Fished on 15-37kg braid and drifted so the live bait sits about 3m above the bottom, this is a deadly rig on a wide range of big fish and is much more reliable than jigging. It also accounts for some monster pearl perch and big snapper as well as the usual kings and amberjacks.
In October, which is traditionally a very tough month offshore, this tactic can make all the difference. Look for high pinnacles with fish holding above them. There are quite a few 75-90cm amberjacks around at the moment and this is a great way to catch them. Also expect to be smashed up at least twice per trip. Some of the bigger fish are impossible to stop in rough country and will take you into the rocks and wire weed regardless of how hard you pull on them.
Closer to shore there should be a few mulloway at night and a bit of berley will also attract cobia. Deep live baits in a berley trail can be very effective early morning on the 24 fathom line. There have also been plenty of big mac tuna around as well, which can be a pest at times when your precious live baits get scoffed time after time.
Game fishing is generally quiet although if the bait shows there is a possibility of striped marlin and yellowfin. Quite a few yellowfin from 20-60kg have been caught in the past month on the wider grounds. Most have fallen to trolled lures but a few have been caught on jigs as well, dropped into schools marking on the sounder.
The yellowfin can travel in schools up to 50 fathoms down. Cubing with pilchards or chopped tuna is another method that has plenty of potential.
October is the start of storm season and with the rapidly changing barometers in the afternoons mangrove jacks become active. There have been quite a few jacks caught early in the season and as the water warms they become very active at night.
Small live baits, poppers, soft plastics, deep trolled hardbodies and mullet strips all work well. A few fish over 50cm have already been caught in the vicinity of Sovereign Islands. Expect to lose a few lures, as the fish will generally head straight to the nearest oyster encrusted structure on hook-up.
Flathead will be the main species targeted in the estuaries this month. As things start to warm up the fish become very active around the entrances and a lot of big fish move into the deeper water.
As this edition of QFM hits the stands a lot of the teams fishing the 2011 Flathead Classic will be in their final stages of preparation, and it looks like being the biggest Flathead Classic ever.
Vary your tactics when it comes to chasing flathead on lures. Use blades, soft plastics, hardbodies and rattlers. Every day the fish seem to have different preferences, although if the water is dirty, then pink and chartreuse are time proven colours. In clean water try gold, silver or white.
Catching flathead on lures is a constantly evolving game and the more you do, the more you learn. In tough conditions such as hot northwesterlies, downsizing leader and lure size can pay dividends, and never ignore trolling when things are tough. Bigger lures catch bigger flathead, but a good small lure like a Lively Lures Micro Mullet will catch flathead of all sizes.
October is also a good month to chase mulloway in the river entrances on soft plastics. The methods used are different to what we tend to do when chasing big flathead, although it is common to catch both species.
When the jewies are thick generally there aren’t a lot of flathead about, and visa versa. Try white 7” Gulp Jerk Shads for jewies and fish the first of a run-in tide at dawn or dusk.
The Jumpinpin Bar has lost a lot of its good structure and many of last year’s good snags are now out wider. Most of the jewies encountered in October are between 70-100cm with the odd bigger fish.
Overall October is a good month to focus on the estuaries and be prepared for some hard work on the offshore grounds. As the water temperature warms a lot of the pelagic gamefish become much more active and hopefully this summer will be a beauty. Good luck to all those competitors in the Flathead Classic.Reads: 1995