You won’t know if you don’t try
  |  First Published: September 2007

At last there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully those frosty mornings are a thing of the past, so getting out of bed for an early fish isn’t so painful.

With the change of seasons, fishing is also set to change with some fish starting to thin out while others should kick into gear.

Years ago I was of the opinion that September was one of the worst months of the year. Really, though, it’s all about choosing the right species to chase and putting a bit of thought into the process.

Sure, this isn’t exactly the best time of year for fishing but it can be pretty good. Our main problem this month is usually the westerly winds and we’ve already had plenty of wind right through Winter, so if we’re lucky it might not be so bad now.

One thing I do like about the westerlies is that they flatten out the seas, making groper fishing from the rocks much easier. Not only will you catch groper when the seas are flat, with some berley and lighter lines there’s a good chance of drummer, bream and blackfish.

If there isn’t a lot of whitewater close in around the rocks, try drifting baits out further to tempt fish that are deeper down over patches of reef. Sometimes, by setting your float depth at 4m to 5m or more you’ll find the fish are still there, but it’s just a matter of getting a bait in front of their faces.

Bait or lure placement is no less important when rock fishing than it is when casting lures at snags for bream or bass.


Salmon should be in full swing this month. Casting whole pilchards on ganged hooks is the way to get into salmon from the rocks or beaches.

But if the fish are thick and aggressive there’s a reasonable chance you’ll catch just as many on metal lures. Some of my favourites are the Sure Catch Knights, half-by-quarters and the good old ABU Toby.

I’ve still got a couple of original ABU Tobys and I reckon they were one of the greatest metal lures ever made. If you’ve never seen one or don’t know what they look like, ask at your local tackle shop for something that’s similar to the old ABU Toby. As far as I know there are a few copies made by other companies, some available through the people at Wilson.

Big, white frothing patches of salmon should appear along the coast from Catherine Hill Bay, off Norah Head and down to Broken Bay about now. Once again, the humble pilchard often brings these fish undone but they will also respond to very small metal lures and soft plastics like Berkley Power Minnows and Atomic Jerk Minnows.

It surprises me to see how many boats drive straight past a big patch of feeding salmon. I know they aren’t a highly prized table fish like snapper and don’t grow as big as kings, but if you’re out to enjoy some sport fishing fun on light gear, a heap of big salmon are about as good as you’ll get.

I was recently talking to Phil Bennett up at South West Rocks about the increase in salmon numbers along the coast. Up that way they get salmon only from about July to early October but Phil certainly appreciates their presence while they’re in town.

As we discussed the issue of some anglers wanting the salmon to be netted to reduce their numbers, Phil’s comment was ‘ban netting, not salmon’. I tend to agree with that.

Some say all those salmon are eating too many baitfish, leaving species like tailor and striped tuna to starve and therefore tailor and stripey stocks are dwindling. Really, what would the whole situation be like if we simply had no bloody nets in the first place ?


After the floods, most of the fish in Tuggerah Lakes moved down towards The Entrance and many anglers caught plenty of blackfish, bream, estuary perch and tailor. Now, as salinity levels increase and the lake water starts to warm, we should see fish move further back into the creeks as well as heading back up into Lake Munmorah.

This month blackfish should still be on the bite at The Entrance and a few other spots like Toukley Bridge or the San Remo outlet. The odd flathead will kick into gear and estuary perch will become harder to find.

Hopefully bream fishing in the lakes will get better as temperatures climb and prawns become more active.

Being deeper and more tidal, Brisbane Water wasn’t as affected by the floods as Tuggerah Lakes, although it’s taken a while for Erina and Narara creeks to clear up. Aaron from Freddy’s Fishing World tells me it’s been a tough year for jewfish but perhaps things could change as we move into Spring.

I’ve noticed in the past that jewies seem to become more active from around the end of October but that’s not to say the odd bigger fish isn’t lurking around right now.

September may not be the greatest month to wet a line but you never know unless you try and the more you try, the greater your chances of success.

There is plenty of scope around Norah Head when the seas are flat. Groper, blackfish and drummer are all a good chance this month.

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