September is a great month to fish the Gold Coast. To all anglers fishing the upcoming 2016 Flathead Classic, I wish you good luck and hope plenty of fish come your way.
The winter species should continue to bite off the Gold Coast. Snapper are still be in good numbers on the 36-fathom line and a lot of the biggest fish of the year can be caught this month. The areas off the northern end of South Stradbroke Island usually fish better than the southern grounds in September. Soft plastics, micro-jigs and lightly-weighted pilchards tend to fish the best. Current is usually quite minimal this month, and the best fishing is between dawn and about 8am. There have also been plenty of reasonably sized pearl perch on the 50-fathom line this season, and quite a few teraglin and tuskfish.
Out on the 50-fathom line, September is a good month to chase kingfish, amberjack and samsonfish. Metal jigs and deeply fished live baits are usually the best methods. There are also some good pearl perch and a few snapper on the 50-fathom reef this month. It’s worth floating a live bait out the back while fishing this area, as there is always the chance of a striped or black marlin this time of year. These fish tend to feed down deep in the winter months. Quite a few of the local charter boats have caught good marlin in the past month on live baits. If you see gannets diving and sauries jumping, it is worth a troll.
Out past the continental shelf, the fishing will be patchy. There is always the chance of a few yellowfin this month and blue marlin can also turn up if the water temperature holds around 22°C. Most yellowfin tend to be out wide around the thousand fathom line. Lure trolling allows you to cover the water but there can be a lot of water between the fish. There has been a lot of local interest in chasing broadbill swordfish on the wider grounds, setting baits at 300-400, using breakaway rigs. September could be a good month to try this exciting new daylight fishery. I’m sure that once a few boats are successful, we will see a lot more effort in this potential area.
Closer to shore, this month is sweet to chase mackerel tuna, tailor and bonito on metal lures. There are often big schools of white and frog mouthed pilchards just off the shoreline, and most of the tailor are just at the back of the surf line. There have been some great tailor caught this season, and quite a few over 3kg are turning up at the back of the surf at the northern end of South Stradbroke Island. When casting metal lures, work upwind of the fish. When the fish are on small bait, you may have to downsize your metal lures. Poppers are effective. While it can be tempting to get in close to the surf break, make sure your boat is pointing towards the oncoming waves, in case a bigger set rolls in. I have had a few scary moments over the years!
September is the best month of the year to chase flathead and with the upcoming Flathead Classic, there will be a lot of boats out practicing. As the fish get ready to spawn, they feed aggressively. The big females are generally very active this month, as they put on condition prior to the spawning run. Throughout the Broadwater and in all the draining rivers, there should be good flathead fishing, and it pays to have a plan. As a general rule, I like to fish the flats on the top of the tide, and in the draining channels as the tide falls back. The most productive time is usually around the bottom of the tide and the first two hours of the run-in. The toughest part of the tide is often from the second to the fourth hour of the run-out tide, but all spots will vary as the fish move around.
Trolling small hardbodied lures is extremely effective this month. My favourites are the Lively Lures Micro Mullet and the Zerek Tango Shad for lure depths of less than 2m. Troll it while looking at the side imaging on the sounder. Areas of soft mud are usually the most productive, but avoid areas with hard sand and sand ridges. Once I find a spot where we catch a few fish, I usually drop the electric motor and have a cast. This has been a very effective method to work out new areas, as trolling is a good searching technique.
There should be some good mulloway fishing this month around the entrances of the Seaway and Jumpinpin. The mullet run starts to fade this month, and the fish start to feed at a deeper level. Live pike are one of the best baits to try and can be caught casting small minnows, metal lures and soft plastics around the weed beds on the run-in tide. Mulloway can also be caught on soft plastics and soft vibes in daylight hours this month. Most fish in September are above the minimum legal length, which is 75cm.
Up in the canals and around the floating pontoons, the mangrove jacks will start to bite this month, as conditions warm up a bit. Cast soft plastics and small hardbodies around the front edges of floating pontoons and snags, for the most effective method in recent years. I’ve noticed in September that the jacks are less crazy and easier to extract in the cooler water.
1. Mark Frendin with a nice flathead caught on a Tango Shad.
2. Breanna Malon caught a great 60cm flathead on a Micro Mullet.
3. Shelley Christie with her first mulloway after many trips – an awesome 120cm beast caught on a live pike in the Seaway.Reads: 320