Don’t worry about what bait to use or what lure to tie on this month as the real dilemma for Bowen anglers lies in where to fish!
October is one of those special months where the options are endless as all areas from the outer reefs to the creeks are prime with fish. The other benefit is October traditionally brings stable, calm weather that not only keeps the ocean flat but the creeks clean and pristine which always helps when lure fishing.
Starting out wide, the outer reefs always tend to fire up when the water begins to warm and the fish on everyone’s hit list will be the ever tasty coral trout and red-throat emperor. These awesome fish are prevalent over Bowen’s outer reefs and spots like Wallaby’s and Old reefs are top places to bottom bash for these fish. The hardest part of fishing for coral trout out wide is finding what depth they are sitting in so it’s best to start up in the shallows and keep moving out into deeper water until you find the best bite. The other key component is to get your baits or lures down into the pressure side of structure, as this is where the fish are most likely to be found. Fishing behind structure or in backwater will only find empty water.
The other top reef species, the red throat emperor, will also be in abundance out wide and these fish can be found over the tops of reef structures or around sandy gutters. These fish love this time of year in particular and really begin to congregate in big numbers in readiness to spawn. Red throat love to bite hard on the last hour of the run in tide, which sees them become very aggressive and savage on both baits and soft plastics. Baits like squid, pilchards and mullet are a good start while the likes of 7” jerk shads will bring the better quality fish from the pack.
Spanish mackerel will still be an option out wide though most of the fish will be around the 10-15kg size with most of the larger female fish moving into southern waters or back up north in readiness to spawn.
In close, the inshore fishing also heats up with Bowen’s islands also fishing well this time of year. Bar-cheek coral trout also tend to become a lot more aggressive as the water begins to warm. The warmer water sees them move up into the shallow ledges and coral bommies that frequent many of Bowen’s islands and isolated reefs. Moving from bommie to bommie is the trick for this time of year and will see anglers pick up a good bag of mixed reef fish like grassy sweetlip, stripies and the trophy trout.
Grey mackerel and big queen fish also tend to pop up in good numbers around the Bowen harbour and island channels this time of year and with fish pushing the metre mark last year they are a popular target for trollers and jiggers. These fish are easy to find as they follow large bait shoals that are usually followed by good flocks of diving birds. Try not to troll through the bait schools as this only disperses the bait and scatters the fish below. Trolling around the edges of the bait balls is a better method as you pick up fish which are cruising on the edges and are less inclined to pick up by catch like GT or golden trevally that also feed on these bait schools.
While the offshore fishing will be firing so will the creeks, especially as the hot northerly winds begin to pick and the thunderclouds start to form. This signals the beginnings of some cracker barra and mangrove jack fishing in all creeks around Bowen. Barra will be on everyone’s hit list as this will be the final month to target these iconic fish before the season closes for another year. The good news is that the creeks will be clean and pristine which makes lure fishing just that much easier when trying to draw a strike. When chasing barra in October, I love to target these fish on the outgoing tide. It is this time of the tide when the barra begin to feed and get active after holing up on a snag during the times of high water. It’s not uncommon to find multiple fish on the same snag this time of year and when you find them feeding it can really turn into a red-hot session. This is where I love to use a combination of soft plastic and hardbody lures to mix it up and give the fish a bit of variety, especially when fishing the same snag. I find the bigger the lure the better in October and large paddle tails and jerk shads can be the key to extracting the bigger fish from the schools and keeping the rats at bay. With hardbody lures I love to get out my timber collection as nothing seems to suspend as well as a timber lure and if you can get a lure that rises as slowly as possible then you will be in the game when targeting barra in October.
Next month will be all about the mangrove jack. With barra enjoying their 3 month holiday and the storm season beginning to build, these red devils will be assaulting lures all over the places in the creeks. The arrival of the wet will dictate how and where these fish will be found but let’s hope it remains stable so anglers can get a good crack at these fish before the dirty water spoils the party. Out wide the offshore reef fishing will also remain well and truly worth the effort especially for reds that love to feed on the warmer summer nights. All in all it should be a cracker month and if you find yourself in Bowen waters in October, make sure you wet a line as it will be well worth the effort.Reads: 1344