Flathead flurry at the Pin
  |  First Published: September 2012

September is the best month to chase flathead in the estuaries. The big adult females are starting to move towards the entrances of Jumpinpin and the Seaway and there are a lot of fish in the central Broadwater area feeding up prior to spawning.

So far this season the flathead fishing has been excellent, with good numbers of fish and quite a few early season bigger models amongst them. Casting and trolling have been very effective, and this month it is worth deep jigging around the estuary mouths with larger soft plastics, vibes and blades.

There should be plenty of fish over 70cm in these areas and a lot of smaller male fish as well. Use big soft plastics such as large Gulp, 130 and 150mm Squidgy Fish and the Queensland-made Thready Busters.

Up on the flats there are some great schools of medium fish between 40-70cm and trolling small lures such as Lively Lures Micro Mullets has been very effective. These fish should increase in numbers in September with clear water the key. If the wind is warm and blows from the northwest it shuts the flathead right down and makes for tough fishing.

With the upcoming Flathead Classic there will be plenty of anglers out there practicing. Good soft plastics include Swimming Mullet Gulps and Squidgy Fish. Colour preferences vary according to conditions, but in dirty water use brighter colours with more contrast.

Blades are another important part of the flathead arsenal and have been working extremely well this season. It has been fairly quiet on vibes compared to 2011 where they were the hottest lure in the box.

There should still be some good mulloway around this month, and throughout the cold of winter our group caught some great fish on livies to 128cm – the big one was just under 23kg (50lb). If fishing in the day try 7” white or pink jerk shads around the entrances. Keep the lure right on the bottom and use minimal rod action. Mulloway tend to pick up the lure with a very subtle bite, so don’t be afraid to strike at even the most subtle bump.

Live mullet fished at high tide at night in the back eddies of both entrances is still worth trying this month particularly if the mullet are still around.

Up river, September is the first month of the year to get really serious about chasing mangrove jack. As things warm up the jacks start to get active and the multiple rock bars and bridges in the Nerang and Coomera rivers are all worth looking at.

Whiting should also be around this month in the Nerang and the bite picks up a bit as the water warms slightly. It is also a good time to target bream and whiting on poppers.

While flathead are the major target for September, there are certainly plenty of other good options in the Gold Coast estuaries.


September can be a bit hit and miss on the offshore reefs as it is a month of transition between the winter species and summer pelagics.

Snapper should still be in numbers on the 36 fathom line and this season has seen some excellent catches on live baits and soft plastics. Closer in on the 20 and 24 fathom reefs east of Surfers Paradise there should be some decent snapper to be caught early in the morning or at dusk, but the inshore fish have a much shorter bite period and require a bit more finesse to catch. Berley will make a big difference.

Good baits include slimy mackerel, tuna strips and tailor fillets. Snapper like an oily bait with plenty of smell. Light line and a maximum of 15kg leader get more bites and, if conditions are clear, go even lighter. Expect to also catch teraglin, tailor, bonito and Maori cod. Use as small a sinker as you can.

For the game fisher, September is a fickle month. There have been reports of a few small black marlin already turning up on the close reefs and quite a few striped marlin encounters on the 50 fathom line. It is also quite likely there will be yellowfin tuna out wide.

A day’s trolling is a reasonable option if the conditions are flat but it is a hard month to predict. The water temperature off the Continental Shelf rarely dropped below 22º this year and there have been big schools of pilchards on the closer reefs. By reports from more northern ports there should be good numbers of juvenile black marlin this summer, which will be a change from the last 2 years.

Cobia are another option this month and live baiting and soft plastics work well. On a recent trip we couldn’t find livies anywhere but jigging plastics produced two good cobia, the biggest going 34kg – this is a great fish on light tackle. Cobia love berley and it pays to be patient and stay in a good productive spot and berley hard. While they aren’t generally dirty fighters, they are incredibly tough fish to land on light gear and make great eating.

Out on the 50 fathom line expect to catch snapper, pearl perch, Samson and amberjacks. This is a good time for jigging and live baiting the deeper reefs and most of the really big amberjacks are caught from late August until the end of September. While they are tough to land, every year a few fish over 40kg turn up in this area, so now is the time to chase them. There should also be plenty of yellowtail kingfish on the kingy reef north east of the Seaway.

Overall September is a great month in the estuaries and reasonable on the offshore grounds. The main problem that can ruin all types of fishing down here (with the possible exception of mangrove jacks) is the wind from the northwest. Hopefully we will have a month of light breezes and cool weather. Good luck and tight lines.

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