With the days starting to lengthen and the conditions now much warmer, anglers will find good reason to get out and participate in their favourite form of fishing.
Whether you are a bluewater buff, a freshwater fanatic or an estuary enthusiast, there is plenty of variety on offer for you throughout October. Species such as flathead, mangrove jack, cod, bass, crabs, mackerel, cobia, threadfin salmon and bluewater pelagics will be prominent however plenty of other species are also available in healthy numbers.
The Brisbane River is world class when it comes to threadfin salmon, as they are available in larger sizes than in the most remote northern systems. They are prevalent all year round however the warmer months often see heightened activity.
They can be fairly predictable once you learn their habits and with specific targeting you can expect to encounter a few on the Brisbane River. The latest side imaging sounders make the job much easier, allowing you to locate the fish from a distance. It alleviates hours of probing fishless areas of water with a bait or lure. You already know when you cast that there is a fish in the general area.
Threadfin often travel and feed along the edges of drop-offs into the main Brisbane River bed, especially on the falling tide. This is similar to the habits of flathead and many other species. Most will move to areas where they can easily ambush baitfish, prawns and other morsels. As the tide recedes, these bait species need to retreat from the shallows and threadfin will lurk along these drop-offs, devouring any morsels they find.
Obviously some areas are more prone to holding baitfish and threadies than others, and this is where you can short track the exploratory process with a good sounder. During the darkened hours bait species will be attracted to lighted areas. This will attract threadfin and other species. Try around bridges like the Gateway, Goodwill, Freeway, and Captain Cook, the City Cat Terminals and any other residential buildings, jetties and pontoons where lights shine onto the water.
For threadfin try lures such as Jackal Mask and Trans Am, Thready Busters, Sebile Magic Swimmers and Flatt Shads and numerous lipless crankbaits. Soft plastics will also produce and there is a broad array that work. Personally, I mainly use Castaic Boot-Tails 3.75”, Z-Man Swimmerz 4”, Atomic Prongs and Z-Man Shrimpz 3”. This is just a small selection of possible producers that will tempt resident species in the Brisbane River.
As water temperatures warm, estuary cod will become much more abundant and aggressive. Whilst these are regularly taken on both dead and live baits they are also commonly caught on lures. Cod mainly hunt by ambush and have a particular preference for rocks walls, mangrove snags and many submerged man-made structures.
Estuary cod are commonly encountered by anglers targeting mangrove jacks. However estuary cod are generally easier to find and more wide spread than jacks. Try the rocks walls at the mouth of the Brisbane River, all the residential canals, the shallow reefs adjacent the bay islands, the rock walls around Mud Island, Scarborough Reef and in any estuaries and creeks that possess prominent structure.
Lure selection can include hard body minnows, soft plastics, vibration baits and many others. For working over rock walls, try to bang and rattle your lures over the structure as much as possibly. Estuary cod will regularly hunt crabs in these zones and the noise helps them locate the lures, as this sound is somewhat similar to that of a crab crawling across the rocks.
Suspending bibbed minnows can be cranked down until they hit the rocks and then wound slowly to keep them in the zone. Floating bibbed minnows are a better option around very heavy structure as they can be paused and allowed to float up away from any obstacle to avoid snagging. Plastics, especially shads, can be slowly rolled along the walls so that they bounce across the rocks. When the strike comes, you will need to go hard to keep the cod from reaching the sanctuary of its hidey-hole. If a cod does brick you then wait a while and you may find that it will swim back out, although this is not always the case.
This awesome sports fish is commonly caught in the same areas as cod in the creeks, rivers and canals but is rare within the main bay area. They will hunt by ambush readily taking up watch on the most prominent piece of structure in a particular stretch of water. Minnow lures, blades, vibration baits, poppers, stickbaits and plastics will all tempt jacks.
As the barometer rises so does the mangrove jack’s aggressiveness. They can be tempted at any time of the day or night. Casting lures around lighted areas in the canals and river systems at night will often reap a red reward. For some reason jacks are rarely caught in the Brisbane River but are commonly caught in most systems north and south of this waterway.
I personally target hard structure such as bridge pylons, rock walls, jetties and other submerged structure in most systems I fish. However jacks will also be caught around mangroves and along collapsed mangrove banks. Live baits such as herring, mullet, prawns, pike and others are prime offerings but they are also caught on dead baits at times.
Heading further up the estuarine systems to the brackish water and beyond will put you in prime bass territory. Impoundment fish are fun to catch but there is something a little more special about targeting and landing these wild fish. The fishing is more interesting with most of the better fish being taken from the most prominent structure.
Smaller minnow lures, spinnerbaits, vibration baits, plastics and several other sub-surface presentations will work well for targeting wild river bass. For my money the most exciting way to target these fish is on surface presentations such as fizzers, paddlers, stickbaits and poppers. These produce awesome strikes and are a visual and exciting way to fish.
Try the upper reaches of the Nerang River, Glasshouse Mountain Creek, Logan River, Brisbane River and most other prominent systems. A small tinnie, kayak or canoe will open up your opportunities to explore many of these systems. The impoundments will also be firing for bass throughout October and the summer months.
The flathead fishing has been excellent in recent months and should continue for a while yet. Dusky flathead numbers just seem to get better every year, which is possibly due to the size limit of 40cm the bag limit of five that is currently in place.
Learning how to identify flathead accurately is important because you can’t tell from just looking at coloration, as this will vary greatly depending on the terrain they are taken from. Splaying out the tail will help to tell the difference between many species due to the markings they possess.
Trolling small brightly coloured lures along the edges of prominent banks on the falling tide will provide great opportunity to tangle with a few duskies. Obviously these same banks can also be worked over with cast and retrieve offerings such as soft plastics, blades, lipless crankbaits, minnow lures, flies and other offerings. Drifting baits in the channels during the lower stages of the tide will also work well. Try whitebait, frogmouths, pilchards, hardiheads and even fillet baits. A snelled hook rig will provide the best hookup rate and bait presentation.
For the land-based anglers there are plenty of places for luring a few flathead. Try around the mouth of most prominent creeks, rivers and canals, including the Hornibrook Highway Bridge, Lota Creek, Boggy Creek, Kedron Brook Floodway and anywhere else you can access shallow sand or mud banks. If fishing with baits, use minimal sinker weights and cast your offering up the current. This will allow your bait to cover more water and increases the chance of putting it in front of one of these ambush predators.
As the water temperatures warm, crab activity will increase. Firstly the muddies and then the sand crabs in a month or so. Mud crabs are more limited to the major creek and river systems but are occasionally taken further into the bay. Try setting your safety pots in the deeper channels and holes, along the edges of collapsed mangrove banks, the mouths of feeder creeks and gutters or adjacent underwater contours such as mud ledges. Crabs will travel through or frequent in such areas, therefore setting your pots in these areas makes good sense.
Good baits include fish frames, chicken carcasses, whole mullet or tuna heads. Even a can of dog or cat food with a few holes punched in it will suffice if you are desperate. Crabs can be caught in all manner of pots but there is no denying that the better quality pots will work a little better and last a lot longer than the cheaper models. As a bonus, many of these are locally made by highly experienced crabbers.
Always set your pots with the entrances in line with the current flow, as this will make it easier for the crabs to enter the pot. Johnny Mitchell has a great DVD out on crabbing if you want to get serious. There is a lot more to crabbing than simply dropping a few pots over the side and hoping for the best.
Sand crabs will also be caught around the mouths of the major systems and out in the bay throughout October but generally the best is yet to come. I will talk more about them next month.
The Brisbane River can produce a surprising number of mud crabs at times, with results coming right up the system to well past Southbank. In most creek and river systems, setting your pots in hard to access spots will heighten your chances. A small tinnie, canoe or kayak will enable you to get well up some of the smaller feeder creeks. Remember to check your grabbing apparatus to ensure it complies with all regulations and is adequately labelled.
Cobia will be around in decent numbers throughout October. I generally find it is one month that tends to produce some of the better specimens. In Moreton Bay, 20kg plus specimens can be quite common at times. A few fish to over twice this weight always show up to test angler’s skills, patience and luck.
These larger fish are generally taken on the better baits with large whiptails, school mackerel and crabs all making great offerings. Remember that size limits still apply when using any species for baits.
The largest cobia I have ever seen was taken on a large grinner, which just goes to show the diverse array of offerings that will tempt them. Although they can be fussy at times, cobia are generally vacuums of the ocean and will hoover up anything they come across. Don’t think that you must have slimy mackerel or yakkas to tempt them.
Try areas such as around the beacons in the northern end of Moreton Bay, the Curtin Artificial, Cowan Ledges, Benowa Track grounds, Western Rocks and also the various wrecks and patches of Coffee Rock. Any structure that holds bait or demersal species is likely to have a few cobia lurking nearby.
School mackerel numbers will still be good throughout October and we should start to see a few surface feeding schools as the water temperatures increase and baitfish numbers improve. Drifting a pilchard around the bay islands, along prominent ledges and in the major channels will likely produce a few of these speedsters. The upper reaches of the Rous Channel and in the Four Beacons area are renowned spots for school mackerel and occasionally spotties.
Jigging with chrome slugs or drifting pilchards around the major beacons is a good ploy if you are after a few tasty mackerel fillets. Keep a look out for surface feeding schools and always have a spin rod rigged with a chrome slice or slug when traversing throughout the bay and you will heighten your chances considerably.
A few spotties may start to appear towards the latter part of the month but the action for these usually doesn’t get into full swing until around December.
Trolling on the offshore grounds will put you in with a good chance of encountering a few wahoo, black marlin, sailfish, dolphinfish, tuna or mackerel at areas such as The Group, The Trench, Flinders Reef, Hutchinson Shoals, Cotton Reefs and Sullies.
Baitfish congregations can be found almost anywhere at times and pelagics are usually not too far away. Areas of changing sea surface temperatures, prominent current changes and places where structure and ledges create changing current and upwellings are prime areas to begin your search for this activity.
Trolling with skirted lures, lipless offerings, large blades and bibbed minnows will put you in with a great chance. Keen billfish anglers will often go to the trouble of rigging swimming or skipping baits to heighten their chances. If prominent bait schools are located then you can also use live bait. Drop a Sabiki style bait jig into the school and extract a few baits before pinning one onto a live bait rig and sending it back down. The periods around the changes of the tide often see the best results.
Well as you can tell there are plenty of options for anglers throughout October. Water temperatures, baitfish activity and congregation are all on the rise and as such the fishing will be excellent. Whether you fish Moreton Bay, offshore or in the upper reaches of the creeks and impoundments, there is plenty on offer.
Don’t forget to slip, slop and slap and keep up the fluid intake to ensure you have a great day out, hopefully returning with a few tasty fish fillets and crabs for a wonderful feast. Enjoy your time out there and stay safe.Reads: 342