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Fishing and weather looking up
  |  First Published: September 2014



With temperatures gradually rising over the next few months, anglers will notice a slight change in the prominent species found throughout Moreton Bay and the filtering waterways.

Good targets throughout September can include mulloway, king threadfin salmon, flathead, squid, snapper, crabs, mangrove jack, school mackerel, cobia and numerous others. However, you should still be able to get amongst a few tailor, bream, sweetlip, squid and heaps of other prime species. With air and water temperatures rising, now is the time to spring into some awesome September fishing action.

CRABS

If the old wives tale of only catching crabs during months with an ‘r’ in them is correct, then you should be back into the action this month. It is true that crabs can often be a little empty during the cooler months (which coincidentally don’t have an ‘r’ in them) but they can be caught year round.

Nevertheless, the warmer months definitely produce better numbers of prime sand and mud crabs and therefore this is an awesome time to target them. With dillies now being outlawed in Queensland, safety pots remain the best way to catch crustaceans. Pots are available in numerous sizes and qualities and will attract and catch crabs in the bay, rivers and estuaries.

Crabs commonly travel and feed along contours and in deeper holes, so set your pots in these areas. The ledges surrounding the bay islands, the edges of the main riverbed (especially along collapsed mangrove banks), the mouth of filtering gutters or gullies and prominent holes offer great opportunity for success.

Good baits for your crab pot can include mullet and other whole fish, chicken carcasses, or fish frames. The regulations relating to crabbing apparatus should be checked before heading out and you should be familiar with the size and bag limits for sand and mud crabs and be able to tell the difference between the bucks (male) and the jennies (females).

As the water temperatures rise the quality of the crabbing will improve dramatically. Getting your pots into those harder to access spots can generally produce better results when chasing muddies in the estuaries. Even in the bay when chasing sandies, pot placement can be very important to the final result. Observe the type of areas where the pros set their pots and look for similar underwater terrain to set your apparatus in.

King THREADFIN salmon

It is not just the Brisbane River where threadfin are being caught consistently these days. The Caboolture and Logan rivers and numerous creeks filtering into the Pumicestone Passage and Jumpinpin area are also regularly producing threadies to over a metre in length.

Although many of these are taken as by-catch by those targeting mulloway, mangrove jack, cod sharks and the like, some anglers are realising they are available in sufficient numbers to make targeting them a serious option in these other waterways. Providing commercial netting is banned from these systems we should only see the numbers of threadies flourishing in years to come.

Threadfin will respond to a wide array of lures and baits and from my experience, our southern threadfin are much less fussy or profile-orientated than those found in northern waters. Also the average size is a lot better than those commonly taken in North Queensland and the Northern Territory. If only we could get barra to migrate south in the same numbers!

One major drawback of our threadfin population is that they don’t seem to take well to handling, therefore it is best to take the hooks out while they are still in the water and then send them on their way. Removing them from the water will stress them considerably and often they can’t be revived.

Live baits are a popular offering for threadfin, especially for those anglers fishing from the shore along the Brisbane River. Mullet, herring, banana prawns, pike and numerous other livies can be used. Even dead offerings of the same, as well as pilchards, have produced results. Some good lures can include vibration baits, soft plastics, blades and in some locations, bibbed minnows. The most important thing is putting your offering in front of them and working it well. Most decent quality lures will have a decent action that will produce strikes when worked as the lure was intended to be fished.

Throughout September, there will be some good numbers of threadfin in the lower sections of the river but it is also well worthwhile heading upriver to target them on the shallow mud banks, edges of the declines into the main riverbed and around any current altering structure.

Night sessions are also worthwhile and threadies can often be found slashing baitfish off the surface, especially around lighted areas.

mangrove JACK

One of the warm weathers hotly targeted species is the mangrove jack. These are available in virtually every creek, river, canal, harbour and even in some land-locked lakes. The warmer weather, especially when the barometer is spiking, will see them increase in aggressiveness.

They will respond to a wide array of lures, such as plastics, minnows, topwater offerings and even vibes. These need to be worked closely to prominent structure such as rock walls, mangrove snags, bridge pylons, jetties, pontoons and the like. Jacks hunt by ambush and will rush from their hiding spot to nail any possible food source. They will return to that structure just as quick, which has earned them a reputation as a tough adversary amongst sport fishers.

Anglers commonly use line classes between 7-15kg to target jacks in heavily structured areas, and even this is sometimes not enough, especially when a 50cm+ specimen nails your offering. Both baitcasting and spin tackle can be used and there are even a few guys chasing them on fly.

Live baits are also popular, however the jacks will often have you back into the structure before you can put any real pressure on them, due to the amount of slack line. Mullet and large prawns are the best but herring, pike and numerous others will work. Most keen jack anglers will release the majority of their catch because they realise what an awesome sport fishing target they are. Estuary cod, trevally, hairtail, bream, tarpon, mulloway, threadfin and numerous others can fall for the lures and baits aimed at jacks.

SCHOOL MACKEREL

Even as early as late July, school mackerel were showing up in certain areas throughout Moreton Bay. One of the more productive spots was in the upper reaches of the Rous Channel, especially in the stretch adjacent to the mouth of Browns Gutter. I managed a few here in late July, and a couple of times since, mainly on drifted pilchards or trolled deep-diving minnow lures.

The commercial line fishers who inhabit this area when the mackerel are around will generally troll spoons behind paravanes or trolling boards. The Halco No.3 Barra drones are probably the easiest to find, however, Macka Spoons, Flashas (35g and 50g) and even shallow diving minnow lures can all be trolled behind paravanes successfully. The lure should be around 3-5m behind the paravane or trolling board and attached with a quality ball-bearing snap to eliminate the twist problem associated with spoons.

Throughout September there will still be a few schoolies throughout the Rous Channel, Rainbow Channel, Kianga Channel and other areas of Moreton Bay. Jigging the beacons with chromed slugs and slices is often rewarding, especially just before high tide and just before low. Trolling the tops of major bank systems such as those out from Tangalooma, between the Four Beacons and Moreton Island and Middle Bank can also be productive, especially from half tide up to the high. I mainly used small, deep diving minnow lures, which are trolled around 5-7 knots. Light braid allows the lures to get deep and also makes it a lot of fun when a quality schoolie, which can exceed 80cm in length, grabs your offering. Bonito are common captures in these zones with this technique.

COBIA

Along with the school mackerel, other pelagics such as cobia will also enter Moreton Bay in better numbers throughout September. The last few seasons haven’t been great for cobia but this year will hopefully return to the days when you could hook a couple of quality cobia in a session. Many of these fish were better than 20kg and due to their tough fighting nature, they were a real handful on anything less than 15kg tackle.

Large live baits are generally the best however they can also be taken on dead offerings and numerous lures, especially soft plastics and jigs. Live baits can include whiptails, numerous demersal species (adhere to size regulations), sand crabs, slimey mackerel, bonito, school mackerel and even large grinners and other species. They usually aren’t that fussy and will slurp up any kicking morsel they come across. Try around coffee rock reefs and ledges, wrecks, the beacons in the shipping channels and other prominent structure that hold demersal species and other bait species.

Occasionally cobia can be seen cruising the shallow sand flats as they hunt for crabs, although they are generally mistaken for sharks as they have a similar profile. Cobia numbers will hopefully increase over the coming months although the last few years haven’t been that productive.

FLATHEAD

Increased numbers of flathead started to get noticed in the estuaries around the start of August and there has been some good catches ever since. I have heard of flatties being caught (and released) to over 90cm with some keen flathead anglers accounting for numerous 80cm+ specimens. Good numbers of smaller flathead have been caught with many accounting for over 20 legal fish in a session, with most released.

Soft plastics are extremely popular presentations for many as you can sink these into any depth and work them close to the bottom where the flatties lurk in ambush mode. On the shallow flats, an irregular or slow retrieve will generally suffice while in deeper water and when working the edges of banks, many anglers chose a series of hops and winds to keep the plastic banging the bottom. Flathead submerged in the sand will use their lateral line (which acts like an ear) to detect movement in their general vicinity. The more times that your offering bangs the bottom, the greater the chance that a flathead nearby will detect its presence and chase it down.

Other good offerings can include blades, bibbed minnows (especially when trolling) and flies (generally Clousers or weighted Deceivers). Live offerings are also great, especially when fished in deeper holes around the change of the low tide. Drifting with whole fish baits, either dead or alive, will allow you to cover a degree of water in your search. Trolling diving minnow lures or casting jighead-rigged plastics along the edges of major banks on the falling tide is usually a recipe for success. Anglers who understand the habits and movements of flathead throughout the tidal phase will really reap the rewards in numbers and size of flathead. The larger specimens will usually take up the best ambush spots where the greater majority of food sources will pass during the tidal phase.

Generally on the top of the tide it is best to fish the tops of the banks (especially any contours, weed beds or small gutters) and then as the tide starts to fall the flathead will mainly be found along the edges of the bank and at the mouth of small gutters and creeks. On the lower stages the main channels, deeper gutters and holes will be worth probing.

SNAPPER

Decent numbers of snapper can still be caught within Moreton Bay and the offshore reefs during September. There has been some quality fish taken over the last few months within Moreton Bay, mainly around the bay islands, artificial reefs and the numerous wrecks.

Many of these have fallen for plastics, micro jigs and other lures although the trusty baits of squid, pilchards, fillet baits and others will always work a treat when presented well.

Anglers will probably find some good fishing on the shallow offshore reefs throughout September as many of the quality snapper which have entered the bay to spawn during the cooler months will make their way offshore again. Do not despair however as there will still be plenty of quality snapper to be taken within Moreton Bay as there are heaps of resident fish on offer during every month of the year.

SQUID

If the inshore waters are still nice and clean from the westerly winds of winter then there should still be plenty of squid (mainly tigers) to be taken around the bay foreshore. Generally the prominent channels, especially the Rous and Rainbow, will have good numbers of arrow squid on offer throughout September.

I caught a few up in the Rous during late July while targeting mackerel on pillies. Generally I get better success on arrows when using a pilchard on a squid skewer than I do when using egi. Double figures of arrows can easily be caught in an area once you locate them as they are generally in quite large schools. The shallows around the bay islands should still be worth prospecting for tiger squid an others during September on egi.

CONCLUSION

With so much on offer during September and the weather warming up by the day, anglers should be motivated to get out into Moreton Bay and the numerous creeks, rivers, canals and other waters to get amongst some of the desirable species on offer. The school holidays are a perfect time to get the kids out into the great outdoors to experience real life, away from the attractions of electronic devices.

Don’t forget to slip, slop and slap and be safe and courteous to others when out and about, especially during the school holidays when there are increased numbers of inexperienced boaties about. Hope the rest of your family don’t outfish you too badly!

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