Tough times are in the past
  |  First Published: September 2016

It’s always great to say goodbye to the big deep freeze and look forward to a new season of fishing ahead. In recent years, it’s warmed up quickly in September and remained hot right through spring and summer. This season might be the same.

Over the years, I’ve found flathead to be one of the reliable species around our lakes in September. Although the Tuggerah system normally yields small flathead, from tiny tiddlers up to 50cm in length, slightly bigger models from 60-70cm aren’t out of the question this time of year. I’ve sporadically run into them in all parts of these lakes. There’s no doubt most larger flathead are likely to be found closer to the channel mouth at The Entrance.

Always release larger female flathead to help insure healthy stocks in the future. These lakes may be netted and you may ask what the point is. Recreational anglers also take a toll on fish stocks and many are inclined to keep bigger fish, rather than release them. This has an impact over time. Most of us are armed with a good camera in our phones these days, and we’re likely to take a photo of any bigger fish we catch. When the fun’s over, we can always look back at photos, but fish that were killed and eaten are gone forever. Flathead in the 45-55cm bracket are about the best to eat anyway. If you get lucky and land a big one, consider taking a few photos and carefully releasing it to breed and perhaps be caught again one day.

Aside from The Entrance, flathead can be encountered all around Brisbane Waters and Lake Macquarie this month. How shallow they go depends on the weather. If it warms up quickly, with a few hotter days along the way, then shallows around our local waterways attract bait, which then attract flathead. For the time being, stick to slightly deeper channels and holes, adjacent to shallower flats. Water from 2-5m or so is good at this stage, but by the end of the month it should be worth hitting shallower water more.

Despite many new soft plastics on the market, I’m confident with tried and proven old favourites, like the 100mm Squidgy Wriggler in the drop bear colour, 5” Berkley Gulp Jerk Shad in the lighter colours, and 4” Berkley Powerbait Minnow, in white or pearl watermelon. Flathead will take a swipe at most softies, but I rank those amongst the best.

Having praised soft plastics, there’s no question about the effectiveness of vibes on flathead. Smaller vibes also work so well on bream and whiting, so it makes sense to use them this season. You’ll still catch flathead, with increased chances of a mixed bag, which could include others like flounder, tailor or even mulloway.

If all goes well and the lake water warms up enough, we may get an early show of prawns. No flathead will refuse a live prawn, that’s for sure. If lures aren’t doing the job, prawns are worth trying, especially around the bridges at The Entrance and Toukley.

Luderick, trevally, tailor and salmon are likely to be caught this month. While they’re generally winter species, it’s common to encounter all of these during September in our waterways.

Rock and beach fishing has been tough recently, as is normal for late winter and early spring on this part of the coast. We’ve copped a lot of northwesterly winds this year, which is the worst wind direction for rock fishing. It simply turns fish off. Having said that, salmon have been out in full force, with a healthy sprinkling of trevally, bream and tailor.

With swell and weather conditions favourable, these species should be available this month, as well as luderick, drummer and groper. Don’t get too excited, or expect miracles along the rocks and beaches this month. However, if some light tackle fun is the main aim, salmon won’t disappoint!

Offshore fishing is typically slow this time of year. It’s likely that wind and sea conditions may be fine to head out, but the next problem is water temperature and quality. If the water is green and pushing up from the south, it’s going to be tough. If it’s blue and trickling down from the north, then fishing should be better. Remember, we’re still between seasons, as far as offshore angling goes. So if there’s any boat, trailer or fishing gear maintenance to be done, now’s the ideal time to do it.


Traditional winter species like silver trevally will still be out and about this month. This one is an average size for our local waters and took a small vibe fished down deep.


Despite the numbers of salmon around right now, a few tailor can be expected along the rocks, beaches and lakes this month.


Bream don’t normally kick into gear right now, but they’ll spark up as things get warmer. This one took a small suspending hardbody lure, worked very slowly with long pauses, which is a good approach while water temperatures are still cool.

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