September smorgasbord
  |  First Published: September 2012

September is a fantastic time to fish Bowen waters for two reasons: weather and choice.

Anglers are spoilt for choice as cold water pelagics, like Spanish mackerel, are still on the chew and are around in good numbers while the warm water species, like barramundi, are beginning to wake up from lock jaw in the creeks.

And if that’s not enough to get you out in the boat, then the consistent weather that is expected should get you motivated. There is a reason why the locals chose September to hold the Bowen Wet Weekend Fishing Classic.

Offshore there are plenty more species on offer than just Spanish mackerel and September would have to be one of the best months to target coral trout. Through the colder months trout tend to feed a little sparingly and can be found in dribs and drabs but come September they tend to fire up as they move closer to spawning time. This behaviour tends to see them congregate in twos and threes on coral bommies that often leads to multiple hook ups and two to three captures at a time.

Bowen is littered with coral reefs, shoals and islands and it is not hard to find a bommie or two only a couple of kilometres from the ramp. Don’t be fooled in thinking that travelling big distances is the go as more often than not these inshore spots fire up just as good.

Have a floating bait out around these areas when fishing for trout as there are plenty of sport species on offer around Bowen reefs. GT often cruise the tops of the reefs and a floating pilchard or squid a couple of feet below the water will get swallowed up pretty quickly. Of course, mackerel will still be around in good numbers and live bait, like a fusilier or hussar, suspended under a balloon will bring the best results.

As the water begins to warm, the mackerel will start to disappear so September really is the last month worth targeting these speedsters. The beauty about fishing for Spanish mackerel late at the end of the season is that close in spots, like the Bowen Mackerel Patches and North Head near the Greys Bay ramp, tend to hold extra oversized fish.

Many of the locals believe these are lone bigger fish that hang around right to the end gorging themselves on the plentiful bait before heading off. Testament to this is the size of some of the Spanish mackerel weighed in at the Fishing Classic in September that have pulled the scales down beyond the 35kg mark and this is after they have been gutted and gilled!

Trolled wolf herring or trolled fusiliers will be the gun bait for these big fish and the secret is to troll slowly around the areas of current during the changes in tide.

In the creeks the water will be warming and the jacks will be the first to bite, especially when the northerly winds begin to dominate and push in plenty of heat. This usually stirs up a few storms and will bring the jacks on the bite.

This time of year the jacks really respond well to shallow running hardbody minnows as they tend to get a little closer to the surface and a wobbling Gold Bomber or twitched Reidys will bring excellent results when cast deep into structure.

For bait soakers it’s hard to go past fresh herring and fishing snags with little weight and plenty of berley will bring results. I love fishing right up little creeks this time of year as the jacks will often move up and down these little systems feeding. Putting out a good berley trail will bring them in and stir them up.

A good tip if you are getting plenty of bream is to move to another section of the creek as the pickers will keep the jacks away, especially if you are using soft baits like herring which fall of the hook pretty easily. Mullet is a good option if the pickers are on your bait. I actually prefer slab mullet over live for jacks as it seems to produce more fish.

The barra will be a little slower to get on the job, but they will be around and worth fishing for. The creeks south of Bowen like Emu, Kangaroo and Billys tend to fish better earlier in spring so heading south is recommended.

Next month the fishing will be heavily dominated in the creeks and the lead up to the full moon in October is not to be missed. This is one of my favourite times of the year to fish as you can really rack up some cricket score numbers on some thick shouldered fish. The bigger high tides begin to move in during daylight hours and this combined with some heat in the water always brings on a great bite.

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