September all sorts
  |  First Published: September 2013

Traditionally, September is very much a transition month where we begin to see a shift back to warmer tropical water temperatures.

However, I am going to go out on a limb here and write that it wouldn’t be a shock if we get a late run of cold water through September as everything from the wet season to winter has been a mile off in 2013.

It certainly has been a funny old year with barely a winter to speak of through June and July with the water staying much warmer than usual. This has transferred into some below average mackerel catches through these months. However the good word is that the main run of these speedsters will be later this year, which is great news for those fishermen hitting Bowen waters in September.

If the cool weather remains and the weather allows for inshore conditions to stabilise, we should see a healthy run of big spotted and Spanish mackerel right throughout Bowen waters this month. These fish have been hanging out wide of late as inshore waters have been cloudy and bait free for much of the early winter months. September would have to be the most stable month of the year weather wise, which should translate into some top pelagic fishing.

Some of my favourite spots for chasing big mackerel this time of the year would have to be Camp Island and Abbot Point to the north of Bowen while Ratray and Saddleback islands to the east are also hot spots for these striped speedsters.

Wherever you chase them, a couple of simple guidelines will always put you in good stead. Firstly, when chasing mackerel around the islands, always try and concentrate your efforts around the first change in the bottom of the tide. This is when baitfish like fusilier and small trevally tend to group up, especially on the corners of islands where the current begins to push. These fish are usually highly visible in the translucent sapphire waters, so they provide a very good starting point whether you are trolling or floating a couple of live baits. If you can’t see any bait congregating, you will definitely see obvious current lines which are highlighted by turbulent or confused waters caused by tidal pressure pushing or sweeping around the island. These are hot spots for feeding Spanish mackerel, especially when that tide really begins to push. Be wary of other species such a big GT as these fish also love hunting these spots, however if you are like me, then hooking onto a monster GT is just as good as a Spanish mackerel any day of the week.

The islands won’t just be prime for pelagics; they will also be red-hot for tasty reef species like coral trout. September is a favourite time for anglers to chase these great tasting fish as they also respond well to the warmer water shift. The trick to getting into the trout around the islands is to fish 10m or so off the ledgeing coral fringe around the more scattered broken bommies surrounded by sand.

If the bluewater is wetting your appetite for some drag burning action, then the creeks will also be worth the effort in September. Once again, weather and water temperature stability will be the key to these fish biting and if you can get this right, there should be some thick shouldered chromies on offer. Barra are very predictable in September as well and your smaller model fish up to 70cm will be mostly hanging around obvious snags and drains which fish well this time of year on the run out tide. The larger trophy fish will mostly be hanging around the mouths of creeks of rivers on submerged timber or large holes or undercuts in the mangroves. Having a side imaging sounder helps to find these spots, but if you don’t have access to the technology then doing a bit of a reconnaissance at low tide should reveal a few likely looking spots.

Jacks will also be on the chew and the clear creek waters will make them suckers for a well-presented lure in September. This aspect alone makes lure fishing in September almost irresistible, as the visual spectacle of watching a monster jack scream out of nowhere and smack your lure will make any one weak at the knees. Be prepared to encounter some hefty sized fish as they have mostly been left to their own bait-destroying devices over winter with little fishing pressure.

Whether it’s barra or jacks you are chasing, my preferred lure of choice would have to be either shallow running hard body minnows or large paddle tail soft plastics. One softy in particular, which has been turning up fish on just about every trip of late, has been the Berkley Split Belly. If you haven’t given these bad boys a run on your local barra or jacks then give them a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Next month will see the creek fishing begin to hot up as the water temperatures and humidity starts to build. It will be a time for tight drags, heavy leaders and burnt thumbs as the jack fishing begins to really heat up. There’s nothing like hearing the creeks comes to life with bait fish getting chopped all over the place and this will be the symphony greeting fishermen need in the months to come. Bring it on!

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