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Fortune favours the flathead fisher
  |  First Published: September 2014



Flathead are the major target species this month, and plenty of anglers will be practicing for the upcoming Flathead Classic.

At this time of year the flathead begin their spawning run and there is a lot of fish movement towards the entrances of Jumpinpin and the Gold Coast Seaway. Big fish over 75cm are a lot more common as the water warms. Fishing deep water with large soft plastics, soft vibes and blades will produce plenty of great fish on the top of the tide and last half of the run-in tide.

These bigger fish require at least 10kg hard leader and there are quite a few mulloway around as well. Work the drop-offs and deep ledges and in general you need at least a 1oz jighead to get your lure into the zone. I find keeping the boat directly over the lure is the best strategy in deep water. Don’t skimp with small lures. Big flathead like a lure at least 15cm long. Big curl tail plastics are deadly.

Away from the entrances there are plenty of flathead on the flats although the average size is smaller. Trolling small lures such as Lively Lures Micro Mullets is a deadly method up on the flats at high tide. The biggest fish we have caught in the last few years fell to this method. Soft plastics, blades and vibes also work well and it pays to vary your lures constantly until you lock into the bite. This often varies from day to day.

In September we generally average around 25 to 40 fish per session in good weather conditions. So far this season the flathead fishing has been quite good so the upcoming Flathead Classic should be a beauty.

Mulloway will be around in good numbers this month in the Seaway and at Jumpinpin. Live pike have been the gun bait this season and quite a lot of fish over 120cm have turned up, especially at night. Big soft plastics fished on the bottom of the tide and first of the run-in tide have also accounted for some great fish. There have been plenty of smaller specimens under 75cm and it is important to let these fish go in good condition.

As the water warms the whiting become more active. It has been a very dry winter and already the whiting are moving well upriver. Wriggler Worms, yabbies, shrimp and small soldier crabs are all very effective whiting baits at this time of year. Some big fish over 40cm have turned up in recent weeks.

The mullet run is starting to taper off in September and a lot of other spawning species such as beam have finished their winter spawn and start to move back up river. September is a good time to fish the Nerang River with soft plastics and hardbodies targeting bream and a few early season mangrove jack as the water starts to warm up a bit. This year the mangrove jack were still being caught in June so the ‘off season’ is now getting quite short.

OFFSHORE

September is a mixed month on the offshore grounds and the water temperature is generally between 19-21ºC. Every thing this year has been about a month late and the seasonal changes in winter were slow, which meant the snapper run started late and both the 36 and 50 fathom reefs have fished slowly. This has started to improve and September should see some good snapper fishing on the wider grounds. The northern end of these reefs has fished better than the more southern marks.

For the game fishers, this month can produce striped marlin and yellowfin tuna with the odd black marlin. Not a lot of boats troll at this time of year but it can be quite good on the wider reefs if there is bait about. When the gannets are active there is generally a few pelagics about as well. Striped marlin can be encountered anywhere from the 50m line to well off the continental shelf. A lot of anglers tend to head out too far offshore.

The Cottons is an area that is a consistent producer in good seasons and holds a lot of bait. The biggest black marlin I ever hooked off the Gold Coast ate a live tuna I was trolling in September. It was a fish well over 150kg and we lost it after a 4 hour battle when the reel seized up.

Fishing the 20 fathom line at night with live baits can produce plenty of mulloway this month. Most bites come after sunset and live slimies are the gun bait, although they are often harassed by teraglin. Most offshore mulloway are around a metre in length. A nice calm night and a bit of patience should produce a few good fish. Circle hooks work well, and if you miss a bite the fish isn’t ‘stung’ and generally will come back and eat the next bait you drop down. The Cathedrals north of Jumpinpin is another great reef for mulloway.

This year has seen relatively few cobia turn up off the Gold Coast but they often start to show on the inshore grounds in September. Plenty of berley and big live baits are the key to success. Out wider there will be kings, amberjack and Samson fish and deep live baits and jigs are the best methods to lock onto one of these tough fighting fish.

Overall, September is an interesting month to fish the Gold Coast and most of the action will be focused on chasing flathead. The Flathead Classic is a major national fishing event and this year should see a record field lining up to compete in this fantastic catch and release competition. Good luck to all competitors, and make sure you have some Micro Mullets in your tackle box!

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