Cop a cobia
  |  First Published: October 2013

As the winter months fade, the South East Queensland area harbours some fantastic angling opportunities.

October is usually the number one month of the year to target cobia off of the southern Gold Coast. These hard fighters can grow well over 80lb in our area and, for those willing to put the time in, there will be plenty of these great fish around.

Although cobia are able to be caught using various methods, I find fishing a live bait of substantial size is probably the best way to attract a big cobia into a bite. Slimy mackerel, tailor, juvenile snapper and tarwhine are all really good cobia baits. When fishing I will try to vary my baits to different depths and if possible different species, although some days you just need to take what livies you can get!

When live baiting I will generally use two hooks, but at times I go back to one hook if the bait isn’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, then about 1m of 80lb trace to either one or two 9/0 Mustad hoodlum or Gamakatsu 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 spots that you can expect results. Try and anchor where baitfish are present, find bait and 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. A massive advantage is to use a glow sinker when fishing like this. Keeping terminal tackle eg. swivels to a minimum is a definite must for snapper as they are often very wise and try and use a range of baits, such as strips of tuna, squid and pillies. I usually fish with 30lb monofilament line straight through to the hook. I like mono line because I think you 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 50 fathom line. Pusher style lures in sizes of around 7-12” would be your best bet for this time of year. Blacks Snacks, Pula Kai and Meridian lures are all proven performers in this area so they are always a safe bet. A 50lb line is really all you need for striped marlin, but anything lighter is risky business as there is always the chance of an odd blue marlin showing its face in the lure spread.


October is without doubt the best month if you want to target big flathead on the Gold Coast. Every year the big breeding females move into the local mouths and inlets to breed. These breeding stock fish are usually of quite substantial size with a fish of 80cm or more being nothing out of the ordinary.

When targeting big flatties 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. Note, 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. I don’t think flathead are particularly shy of a heavy head so just make sure that you are regularly making contact with the bottom.

As far as plastics go, anything will work on its given day, although I try to stick with a few of my favourites. The 4-5” paddle-tail from the Mcarthy 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 but I have found that when the fish have a bad case of lock jaw, a shad or 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 SeaWorld and the mouth of Tallebudgera Creek, will be able to cross paths with a few. Use a jighead of either 1/4oz or 3/8oz for this style of fishing and vary it according to the wind; if there’s too much wind your lure will not get to the bottom as 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 you will find there will be times when you can’t get a bite on plastics, but blades will continuously get fish. Ecogear blades are in my opinion the best on the market, for action and minimal fowling. The VX40 is my favourite size blade and any baitfish colour will work fine. As the tide drops, try fishing where the water off of these weed beds drops 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. I like to fish a rig of a smallish ball sinker down to a swivel and then 1m or so of trace down to a size 4 or 6 long shank hook when doing this style of fishing. Keep your rig simple and you will have most success.

Bream and whiting will be found around the Council Chambers in the Nerang and the Piggery in the Tweed. I find 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 decent 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 of fish and use a moderate paced retrieve, if the fish are around, they will climb all over it.

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