Hooked on Flatties
  |  First Published: October 2011

As winter months fade well and truly in our memories, the southeast Queensland area harbours some fantastic angling opportunities.

October is usually the number one month of the year to target cobia off 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.

Cobia can be caught using various methods, but I find using substantial sized live bait is the best way to entice a big cobia to a bite. Slimy mackerel, tailor, small snapper and tarwhine are all really good cobia baits. For best results vary your baits at different depths and if possible use different species, although some days you just need to take whatever livies you can get.

When live baiting I generally try to use two hooks, but if the bait isn’t very big, one hook will suffice. My rig usually consists of an 8oz barrel sinker with a swivel above it and a brass ring below it acting as stops, then 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. The 18 and 24 fathom reefs east of Surfers and Burleigh as well as Kirra, Palm Beach and Nine Mile reefs are all spots that you can expect results. Anchor where baitfish are present; if you find the bait, then the big fish won’t be far away.

There will be good numbers of snapper around in October. These fish can be timid at times and tough to catch 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 sinker is my rig of choice for chasing snapper. It’s also a massive advantage to use a McCubbin glow sinker when fishing like this and keeping terminal tackle like swivels to a minimum is a definite must for snapper as they are often very wise fish.

Again fish with a range of baits and strips of tuna, squid and pillies all work really well. I usually fish with 30lb monofilament line straight through to the hook. I like mono line because you pull far less hooks compared to using braid.

When looking for snapper this month try the usual haunts 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 36s and the 50 fathom line. Pusher style lures in sizes of around 7-12” will be your best bet for this time of year. Blacks Snacks, Pula Kai and Meridian lures are all proven performers in this area so they are always a safe bet.

You really only need 50lb line for striped marlin, but anything lighter is risky business as there is always the chance of an odd blue marlin showing its face in the lure spread.


October is without 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 stock fish are usually quite a substantial size with a fish of 80cm or more being nothing out of the ordinary.

When targeting these big fish try places like the Southport Seaway and the Tweed Bar; drift along the drop-offs 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, to 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. Flathead are not particularly shy of a heavy head so just make sure that you are regularly making contact with the bottom.

As far as plastics go anything will work on its given day, though I try to stick with a few of my favourites like Ecogear 4” and 5” Power RTs and Shadtails with good body roll work well on monster lizards. These fished alongside a 5.5” DOA are a pretty lethal combination.

I like the straight tailed and shad style of lures, though I have found that 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 this month. By casting 3-5” plastics at weed beds at the top of the tide in areas like Crab Island, behind SeaWorld and the mouth of Tallebudgera Creek, you should be able to cross paths with a few.

Use a jighead 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.

Blades are another lure to keep in mind when chasing school size fish, these lures definitely have their day and you will find there will be times when you can’t get a bite on plastics, then blades will continuously get fish.

I think Ecogear blades are the best on the market for action and minimal fowling. The VX40 is my favourite size blade and any baitfish colour will work fine. As the tide drops try fishing where the drop-off into deeper water off the weed beds, 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. I like to fish a rig of a smallish ball sinker down to a swivel and then 1m or so 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 in the Tweed. I find the better quality fish come 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. Try fishing the Southport Seaway on the first of the run-in tide with poppers or 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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