September is the first month of spring and with it comes some very fertile fishing on the Gold Coast, in close and offshore.
In September, Australia’s most popular sport fish, snapper, should be biting their heads off. You will find them on almost all of the offshore reefs east of the southern Gold Coast, and areas such as the 36 fathom line off Surfers Paradise, the Tweed, the Mud Hole and Fidos Reef are always a bit of a winner.
Lightly weighted whole pilchards fished slowly down to the bottom, with a small McCubbin Glow sinker is my favourite way to catch snapper; soft plastics weighted accordingly to depth and current is also very effective at times.
For fishing baits, I prefer to use monofilament fishing line, this is because snapper have very hard mouths and you need to have a fair bit of stretch. However, I’ve had far better success with soft plastics when using braid. This is probably because I’m able to work the lure better and also feel bites a lot easier. With either braid or mono lines, I use around 20-30lb breaking strain.
Cobia should be causing a ruckus on our local grounds this month. These hard dirty fighters are not only great sport but also a fantastic table fish. They are best targeted with big live baits and, most times, the live bait species is not that important; tarwhine, small snapper, tailor, yellowtail and slimeys around 1kg are really good live baits for cobia.
It’s time to dust off the heavy gear when cobia fishing, although you can land even the biggest cobia on fairly light line. If there is a few boats in the area these fish are much more manageable on 15-24kg lines. Use a leader of around 1m in length and a breaking strain of around 80lb with either one or two 7/0 to 9/0 hooks depending on the live bait that are on offer.
A little bit wider off of the coast at the 42 and 50 fathom line you will encounter good numbers of pearl perch, pigfish and morwong. Most of these fish live close to the bottom so the most effective way to target these fish is with a paternoster rig with two or three droppers. I prefer either a gang of two 5/0 or a single 6/0 circle hook on my droppers with a glow in the dark bead just above the hook.
Probably the most commonly made mistake when fishing for these fish is using baits that are too big; half pilchard, flesh or squid baits of similar size are more than big enough. You will catch far more fish when fishing with slightly smaller bait. When fishing this deep I think that braid is the only way to go, you will feel the bites through the line far easier, which will result in a lot more fish in the boat.
The flathead should be in plague proportions during September and soft plastics have to be the most effective and the most enjoyable way to target flathead. I like to use a soft plastic tail of around 3-4”, such as an Ecogear 3 3/4” BTS or 4” DOA, as it is probably the most versatile size. Using this size plastic will catch flathead of all sizes from little wigglers to shovel-headed monsters.
Most of your flathead fishing can be done with jigheads of around 1/4oz and 3/8oz in weight and a hook of around a 4/0. Again, I find these two sizes the most versatile.
Flathead are an ambush predator, so fish areas like drains or drop-offs at the last of the run-out tide and you will have a good chance of finding them in a feeding frenzy. If the flatties are shut down on plastics it is always worth a troll with hardbodied lures such as the Lively Lures Micro Mullet. These lures account for plenty of fish and are often great to use when prospecting new spots.
Big winter bream should be well and truly on offer throughout this month, and there are countless methods to target them.
Lure fishing for bream has taken Australia by storm and this is a perfect time to get amongst a few. Casting lightly weighted soft plastics and hardbodied lures around pontoons or moored boats will put you in with a chance of crossing paths with a few specimens. You could also try deeper sections such as the Southport Seaway or the Tweed Bar with plastics rigged on 1/16oz jigheads.
The newest bream plastic on the market is the Ecogear Aqua Bream Prawn. I’ve been using this lure for the past few months and I’m yet to fault it. Bream just love the taste of this thing! To catch bream consistently you have to go for a stealthy approach; light line and leader works best. Lines anywhere from 2-6lb are best for bream and a 6lb or lighter leader will do for most applications.
There will still be a few decent tailor getting about this month and when these things are schooled up they can be ravenous. Tailor are best found in the estuaries following the first push of clean water on the run-in tide. They can be caught casting or trolling metal or hardbodied lures. If schools of tailor aren’t visibly apparent, try trolling a couple of deep diving minnows around the bars and entrances; chances are they are still there but perhaps a bit deeper than usual.
On the beaches there will again be good numbers of tailor and also some thumper bream. Try fresh sand worms for the bream and pilchards for the tailor. Use a standard running ball sinker down to a leader of around a 1m in length – I use about 40lb for tailor and 10-12lb trace for bream.Reads: 958