Full bag at the 50 fathom
  |  First Published: October 2013

October can be a good month out on the 50 fathom line off the Gold Coast, current permitting. There are generally plenty of samsonfish, amberjack and kingies around, with a few pearl perch as well.

This year has also been an excellent season for rosy jobfish on the northern end of the 50 fathom reef. These normally increase in numbers in October and are one of the best eating fish around. They have been averaging around 1-1.5kg in weight and require small 2/0 to 3/0 hooks and squid or strip baits to catch. Bigger specimens also eat soft plastics and metal jigs. Rosies are a beautiful fish on the plate and their current run has been the best in decades.

If you are fishing the 50s this month it is a good idea to load up on live slimies and yellowtail on the way out, as deep live baits generally out fish jigs and soft plastics and there are some huge amberjacks over 40kg on the northern high pinnacles. It pays to mix up your methods. If one angler fishes a paternoster rig, another float lines a pilchard and the third fishes a deep live bait you will have most of the options covered. Alternatively, work a deep 7” Gulp jerk shad and a metal jig.

The main problem in October is that the current starts to run and makes deep fishing hard. There are still a few snapper on the 36 fathom line this month and an early morning float lining session is often a good strategy before heading out to the 50 fathom line. Fish the back edge of the reef and use as minimal amount of lead as you can.

In closer to shore there are often a few cobia starting to show on the close in reefs and the odd snapper is still around, and generally of good size. There will still be a few mulloway at night on deep fished live baits. Berley is the key and fish light.

It is also a good time to stock up on tailer and bonito to use as troll baits for the upcoming mackerel season. There are generally quite a few mackerel tuna around chasing bait in the same area and the water temperature generally increases a bit later in the month.

For the game fisher, October can produce yellowfin, striped and blue marlin. There are sometimes a few medium blacks on the outer grounds as well, but it is a tricky month to work out a pattern. So far, there have been plenty of 30-45kg yellowfin on the 1000m line east of the Gold Coast with some boats reporting multiple hook-ups, and others seeing plenty crashing but catching none.

Cubing may be an effective strategy, and using small lures with bullet heads trolled well back is another effective technique. Halco Laser Pros are another good yellowfin lure.

Some big blue marlin have also been encountered, with fish over 800lb being lost.


The 20th Flathead Classic is being held this month and already it looks as if the event will have over 200 teams. Held by the Gold Coast Sportfishing Club each October, this event has grown into one of the biggest catch and release tournaments in the country, and the catch rate is generally excellent.

Flathead numbers, since the introduction of the 5 fish ‘slot limit’ where only 5 fish between 40-75cm may be retained, have been in very good numbers throughout the entire estuary.

For anglers targeting flathead this month most of the action will be around the entrances and the first 5km or so upstream, as the big females are in the middle of spawning. Deep jigging soft plastics and vibes is a good way to target big fish, but trolling and fishing plastics on the flats is also very effective.

As the water warms up there is often a bloom of mid water algae, affectionately known as ‘snot weed’, throughout the Broadwater. This can make flathead fishing quite difficult as it fouls the lure and tends to put the fish off the bite. In these situations look for areas of cleaner water. The run-in tide often has a lot better fishing than the run-out tide due to fresh clean water. The weed tends to be at its worst in strong northwesterlies and hot days.

In the deep water along the Seaway Walls and at Jumpinpin, deep jigging will produce big flathead and quite a few mulloway this month. Every October quite a few really good mulloway over 120cm are caught in daylight hours on soft plastics, and the hour around high tide or the first of the run-in tends to be the most reliable time for these fish. A lot of the flathead that turn up in the deep water are spawning females over 80cm and these need to be handled carefully before being released. I like to use big lures in the deep this month with most over 20cm in length on a 1-3oz jighead depending on the current.

October is also a very good month to chase mangrove jack on the Gold Coast. Working plastics, hardbodies and live baits around pontoons, rock bars and bridges are all effective strategies. As conditions warm up, the jacks seem to get angrier and bust offs can be very common.

Up in the Nerang River the whiting increase in numbers as the days warm up and the water temperature increases. Good fish over 40cm in length are regularly encountered, and for the lure angler there are often a few jacks, GT and big-eye trevally.

Overall, October is a great month in the estuaries, and there are plenty of options on the offshore grounds as well. Tight lines!

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