Warmer conditions throughout October should offer some hot angling options. A broad array of species will be available throughout the Moreton Bay area for anglers to target. Some species that should be fairly abundant include mangrove jack, mackerel, threadfin, tuna, crabs and several others. However, anglers are often surprised at what is caught during October as some species are still hanging on from the cooler months and warm water species show up early which keeps things interesting and rods bent over. Let’s look at a few of your October options.
Although jacks have been actively caught for over a month or more, October offers better opportunity as waters warm and metabolisms increase. This ignites more aggressive behaviour in mangrove jack and many other species resulting in a good time for fishos. The early morning and evening periods are ideal times to be on the water as there is a marked increase in jack predatory behaviour during those periods. Most sportfishing anglers choose to target jacks on lures such as soft plastics, vibration baits, and topwater offerings, as well as both deep and shallow diving minnow lures. Live baits can also be put to good use and are popular with those who like a more relaxed way of fishing from either a land-based or boating perspective. Mullet, large prawns, herring, and pike are some of the prime offerings in the creeks, rivers and estuaries.
Jacks love structure and use such locations for cover to wait in ambush mode for a passing morsel. Good structure can include mangrove snags, rock walls, pontoons, jetties, bridge pylons, rock bars, retaining walls, and other submerged structure. Anything that creates cover or alters the current flow is a likely jack haunt. Often you will need to get your offering right next to the structure to get the strike. This puts you at a disadvantage, as jacks like to grab their food and retreat back into the structure at lightning fast pace. Except for those with exceptionally fast reflexes and a degree of luck on their side, many will have their line shredded before they can blink. This is one of the reasons why anglers rate the jack so highly as a sportfishing target. Most anglers release the majority of their jack captures even though they are an exceptional table fish.
The canal systems offer a prime habitat for jacks with plenty of hard structure and numerous food sources. The quality of fish that are extracted from these heavily populated areas is often amazing. Additionally they offer easy access for those with a canoe, kayak or small boat. Often there are even numerous areas where anglers can access good jack water from the shore so don’t think you need watercraft to target these exciting crimson assailants.
Slow rolling with soft plastics or minnow lures, or hopping plastics or vibration baits will generally produce the goods. Casting close to the structure is important and will greatly increase your chance of success. Even live offerings should be fished near to structure or in deeper holes. However, when the strike comes you’ll need to set the hook and work the fish hard and fast if you are to be in with any chance of landing it. Anglers generally opt for 8-15kg line with 10-40kg leaders. Bait casters are popular for casting lures as the single-handed casting systems offers greater opportunity for accurately placed casts, which as mentioned, is exceptionally important. However, quality spin outfits will also work for lures when in experienced hands. For live-baiting, anglers can use any type of outfit including spin, baitcaster, overhead, alvey and even hand lines. Jacks can be targeted at any time of the day or night however a rising or peaking tide around the extremities of the day (dawn and dusk) will produce prime conditions. Estuary cod, trevally, tarpon, bream, flathead and numerous others can be caught by those targeting October jacks.
Flattie numbers have been exceptionally good throughout the last few months with knowledgeable anglers able to score more than a dozen quality fish per session. There have been some crocodiles amongst them with numerous fish over 80cm and the occasional one over 90cm reported. The ban on anglers taking flathead over 75cm has done wonders for their numbers with large breeding females left alone to produce thousands of offspring. It is almost hard to fish an estuary with baits or lures and not encounter a flathead or two nowadays. There will still be plenty of flathead around during October so get amongst them before their numbers begin to dwindle.
The edges of major bank and flats systems offer the best opportunity for anglers during the falling tide. Flathead will take up ambush mode along the contoured edges into the main channel to await food sources being flushed from the flats as the water level drops. The best flathead (generally the larger females) will take up the best ambush position. Whilst we would prefer to leave these large females alone, they generally have an entourage of smaller males in tow and multiple flathead can be taken from one spot. Drifting the edges of these banks whilst casting lures and working them down the declines and across the mouths of prominent gutters exiting the banks is an effective way to cover a sizeable area of possibly productive water. An electric motor is a big asset for this type of fishing.
If you are not very familiar with the area you are fishing then trolling offers a good way to explore it. Working along the edges of sand and mud banks or the banks of smaller creeks or channels can be highly productive. Small, deep diving minnow lures which track close to the bottom, preferably banging it occasionally, are a good offering. There are a huge number of lures available on the market with Lively Lures Micro Mullet, RMG Scorpion, Jackall Soul Shad, Zerek Tango Shad, Eco-Gear SX60 and numerous others working a treat. On steeper sloping banks it often pays to troll a deeper diving lure farthest from the bank and a shallow one closest to the shore.
As mentioned last month, mackerel numbers should be on the increase around this time of the year. The Rous Channel, Rainbow Channel, Pearl Channel and around the beacons in the northern bay are good locations to prospect. In the channels many anglers troll spoons behind paravanes and trolling boards or deep diving minnow lures to secure a few macks. Drifting with pilchards rigged on gang hooks is also popular in these channels and around the beacons. Generally I find the periods adjacent the tide changes are better than the mid-tide period however this can change from one location to the next. From around half tide I also like to get up on the tops of prominent bank systems, such as the Tangalooma Banks, Middle Bank etc. and troll smallish (to around 125mm) deep diving minnow lures. The faster you can troll these, the better. I will often get the angle of the rods low so I can crank up the speed without the lures blowing out of the water. Light braid line (I use 10lb) will also allow you to troll faster and get the lures deeper. This also increases the fun when you hook a feisty school mackerel. Bonito, frigate tuna and a few other species can also be caught using this technique.
Both sand and mud crabs will become more noticeable in numbers throughout October. If we haven’t had any decent downpours in recent weeks then you will probably need to venture well up the rivers, creeks, drains and gutters to get quality mud crabs as these will have retreated well up the systems by now. If we have had decent rain then the crabs will be located in more open water. Setting a few safety pots baited with chicken carcasses, fish frames, whole mullet, tuna heads or even a few pillies in a gutter-mesh bag will be enough to entice any crabs (both sand and mud) which are lurking nearby.
As you get further out around mouths of the rivers and estuaries, you will begin to notice an increase in the number of sand and blueswimmer crabs. As you get even further out into the bay the concentrations of these will increase and the mud crabs will become very scarce. Sand and blueswimmer crabs have the same size, bag limit and measuring method however, mud crabs have different limitations and methods of measurement so check these out before setting your pots. There are also regulations for the type, number, and ways of labelling your crabbing apparatus so ensure yours comply to avoid fines and loss of your pots.
Although numbers of threadfin are very healthy in the Brisbane River, they are also showing up regularly in the Caboolture, Logan, Pine and numerous other systems that possess good mud banks. Since the invention of side imaging technology, threadfin have received a lot more attention. They are relatively easy to locate, as they possess large air bladders that show up prominently. Once located, it is generally just a case of presenting a soft plastic, blade, soft vibration bait or live bait to tempt them. Some anglers have even been using micro jigs, minnow lures, flies and other offerings with good results. Whilst I have seen threadfin caught on the humble frozen pilchard and other dead baits, a live prawn, herring or mullet is a much better choice. In the Brisbane River, threadfin can be located right along its length however most of the fishing pressure comes from the lower reaches from around the Gateway Bridge down to the beacons at the mouth. Reports of threadfin captures have come from as far out as Mud Island and netters working the shallow banks from the mouth of the Brisbane River get substantial hauls of threadies at times. I find the start of the falling tide to be the best period to be prospecting along the declines into the main riverbed. This includes the areas out from the shipping docks where the bank has been scoured out, and often undercut, from the huge propellers of the mooring ships. Be aware of the distance restrictions out from these jetties or you may be fined. I prefer vibration baits and jighead rigged soft plastics (generally shads and prawn profiles) when fishing these zones. Threadfin don’t take well to handling so remove the hooks whilst they are still in the water if they are destined for release.
The shallows around the bay islands can provide some awesome opportunity for bream on shallow diving lures and topwater offerings. The pristine reef and rubble laden shallows can also produce snapper, sweetlip, tuskfish, tailor, trevally, morwong and a host of other species. You may even get a squid or two attacking your offering. These zones can be a flurry of activity at time, mainly around the higher stages of the tide, and offer some exciting fishing with most strikes visual. Obviously in such shallow water, stealth is exceptionally important so you will need an electric motor to reposition or you will have do a full drift of the area before you start the motor to start another drift.
As the waters warm there will be an increase in pelagic activity. In addition to the aforementioned mackerel, there will also be several species of tuna to track down. Mac tuna, longtails and frigate tuna may be found anywhere in the bay, however the deeper channels (Rainbow, Rous and Pearl) and the shipping channels are prime places to begin the search. Tunas will sporadically be found breaking the surface however most of the time anglers may only know they’re present from the small v-shaped wakes they emit as they zoom around just under the surface. Additionally, birds often follow cruising tuna awaiting an easy meal when they push baitfish close to the surface. You will generally need very small (10-20g) metal slugs and slices or micro plastics to tempt them at this time of the year. Fly fishers are able to present very small baitfish profile flies over 30m or more and often have the upper hand in the hookup stakes when pelagics are feeding on small bait. It can pay dividends to have a spin rod ready rigged when transiting the bay as pelagics can pop up at any time during October but they will usually not hang around for more than a couple of minutes, so be prepared. Live baiting with yakkas, slimy mackerel and similar offerings can produce longtails around the beacons and prominent ledges. You may even encounter a cobia or two!
There is plenty on offer for anglers fishing the waters of Moreton Bay and the systems feeding into it during October. Plenty of quality species will be available throughout the month with more coming to the fore as the waters warm. Whilst the bay island shallows, artificial reefs and wrecks will still hold some decent numbers of snapper, a few mulloway and other species there will be a lot more variety on offer to bay anglers during October than during the last few months. Whilst hot days might require extra fluids, sunscreen and protective clothing to avoid the elements, there is nothing like being out fishing under the soothing southern Queensland sunshine. Go get amongst some of that prime October fishing!Reads: 316