Cobia challenge worthwhile
  |  First Published: October 2012

As the winter months fade in our memories, South East Queensland spring provides some fantastic angling opportunities.

October is the top month to target cobia off of the Southern Gold Coast. These hard fighters can grow well over 80lb in the area and, for those willing to put the time in, there will be plenty of these great fish on offer.

Although cobia can be caught using various methods, fishing a live bait of substantial size is probably the best way to attract a big specimen into a bite.

Slimy mackerel, tailor, small snapper and tarwhine are all really good cobia baits. I try to vary my baits to different depths and, if possible, different species. However, some days you just need to take what livies you can get.

When live baiting I generally use two hooks but at times I go back to one hook if the bait aren’t very big. My rig usually consists of an 8oz barrel sinker with a swivel above it and a brass ring below it, acting as stops, and about 1m of 80lb trace to either one or two 9/0 Mustad Hoodlum or Gamakatzu live bait hooks.

Cobia can be found on most offshore reefs. The 18 and 24 fathom reefs east of Surfers and Burleigh, Kirra, Palm Beach and Nine Mile reefs are all great spots. Anchor where bait fish are present – if you find bait, big fish won’t be far away.

There will be good numbers of snapper around in October. These, at times, timid fish can be 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 reds. It has been a massive advantage to use a glow sinker when fishing and keep terminal tackle to a minimum; snapper are quite shrewd.

Ideally, fish a range of baits. 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 can 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 36 and the 50 fathom line. Pusher style lures in sizes of around 7-12” are your best bet for this time of year – Blacks Snacks, Pula Kai and Meridian lures are all proven performers.

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

Reports from up North indicate that we are in for a bumper little black marlin season. Start getting your light tackle gear dusted off and ready to go. I can’t wait as the last two years have been nearly non-existent when it comes to chasing these great sport fish.


October is the best month 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 of substantial size; 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-off 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, this will reduce the chance of being repeatedly snagged. Vary your head sizes anywhere from 5/8 and 3/4oz when the tide is slack, and up to 2oz when the tide is running. Flathead aren’t particularly shy of a heavy head, so make sure that you are regularly making contact with the bottom.

Any plastic will work on its given day for flathead. However, I tend to stick with a few of my favourites. A 4” and 5” Power RT from the Ecogear stable are a shad-tail with good body roll and work well on monster lizards. These fished alongside a 5.5” DOA is a pretty lethal combination for me. I like the straight-tailed and shad style of lures, although I have found that when the fish have a bad case of lock jaw, 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 Sea World and the mouth of Tallebudgera Creek, you will be able to cross paths with a few. Use a 1/4oz or 3/8oz jighead, vary it according to the wind. If there’s too much wind your lure will not get to the bottom regularly and your casting distance may be hindered.

Another lure to keep in mind when chasing school size fish are blades. Blades definitely have their day and when you can’t get a bite on plastics, blades can continuously get fish. As the tide drops, fish where the water drops off of weed beds into deeper water. The flathead will be there waiting for an easy feed.

There will be some decent 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. Use a rig of a smallish ball sinker down to a swivel and then a 1m or so of trace down to a size 4 or 6 long shank hook. Keep your rig simple for the most success.

Bream and whiting will be found around the council chambers in the Nerang and the Piggery in the Tweed. 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 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 and use a moderate paced retrieve. If the fish are around, they will climb all over it.

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