October is an interesting month on the offshore grounds. There’s a transition where winter species start to reduce in number, and the first of the warmer water fish show towards the end of the month. By October, most snapper have spawned and start to disappear – their near orange spawning colours fade back to a pinker hue. There are usually a few really big snapper around this month, so while the numbers drop-off, the average size is often excellent.
In general, the current is slow in October and bottom fishing is reasonable on the 50 fathom line. Pearl perch, tuskfish, snapper, amberjack and Samson fish make up most of the catches. There are also good kingfish on the northern end of the 50 fathom line and the Kingie Reef this month.
Live baits, jigs and big soft plastics can all be effective. This area fishes best when the wind is light and from the south. It’s hard to fish in a strong northwesterly wind. It’s also common to see fish on the sounder and find it hard to get a bite. In this situation, try smaller baits and hooks. Wait for a tide change and move around until you find more receptive schools of fish.
October sometimes has an inshore run of cobia. These fish move onto Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef, later in the month, and also show on the 18 and 24 fathom lines east of the Seaway. Berley and big live baits are key. They also respond to large soft plastics. Most are 20-30kg.
The close reefs east of the Seaway can produce a few mulloway at night this month. There are also mackerel tuna, tailor, teraglin and the odd snapper. There are often schools of small bonito and mackerel tuna working the run-out tide lines east of the entrance. Spinning small metal lures and soft plastics can be very productive.
If you’re a keen mackerel fisher, it’s a good time to stock up on troll baits. The artificial reef just off Narrowneck is a great spot to spin for tailor and bonito. There are often schools of pretty Watsons leaping bonito in October.
For the game fishers, it’s generally a quiet month, but it’s hard to predict activity, as the water east of the continental shelf seems to maintain a pretty constant 22-23°C. This area can produce big yellowfin out on the 1000m line, as well as blue marlin and striped marlin. The 50 fathom line can also be worth a troll, targeting striped marlin. Look out for schools of slimy mackerel and sauris in October. If you see gannets diving, there are a few striped marlin in the area.
As the days get longer and water warms up, mangrove jack become active. Casting paddle-tail soft plastics like 4” DieZel MinnowZ along the edge of floating pontoons is the most popular method. Hardbodied lures that suspend on the retrieve are also effective.
Good canal systems to work include the upper Coomera River, the canal system of the Runaway Islands, Couran Cove and any canals in the Nerang River. Jacks have adapted really well to floating pontoons and the local population is thriving. In the distant past, I caught mangrove jack at night, but they seem quite happy to bite in the middle of the day now and pontoons give them a good position to hunt from, regardless of the tide.
Flathead will be spawning this month and there’ll be a lot of action in the deeper water. All these big fish are females and will be in large aggregations in the Seaway and Jumpinpin areas. Make sure you release any of the bigger fish. Vertical jigging large soft vibes, big plastics and blades can be quite productive this month. There should be plenty of flathead action up on the sand and mud flats throughout the Broadwater. In a good session we average 30-40 fish, in October.
The main factors that make things hard are northerly winds and dirty water. In this situation, the run-in tide is more productive than the run-out. Look for slightly cleaner patches and use brightly coloured lures. I’ve found the flathead to be quite fickle this season, when it comes to lure preferences. One day they climb all over small and medium sized soft vibes with gusto, the next day they want curl-tail plastics. Then they seem to like trolling. Mix up your methods and find what the preference is on the day.
There have been a lot of flounder turning up this season. Most of our flounder have eaten small hardbodied lures on the troll, and they tend to be in areas of soft sand. These fish are excellent eating and seem to be turning up more regularly over the past few years. I’ve noticed areas that produce flounder also have bar-tailed flathead and stargazers. These spots tend to be sandy, rather than muddy.
October is also a good month to chase mulloway on soft plastics, in the Seaway and Jumpinpin entrances. Excellent fish well over a metre will be caught. Tide changes are the best times to fish and most of the bites come as the water slows.
There should also be some quite good whiting fishing this month on both bait and lures. The Nerang River is often productive for whiting at night. Overall, October is an interesting month to fish the Gold Coast and the flathead can be outstanding.
Michael Green and Shelley Christie with a pair of amberjacks.
Bill Boyd with a sweet 83cm flathead from Whalleys Gutter.
The author with a nice kingie, caught on bait off the 50 fathom line.Reads: 1220