Big snapper time
  |  First Published: September 2007

There should be some good jigging and snapper fishing this month for the offshore anglers, so don’t waste any opportunity to get out there and get amongst them.

The season so far has produced some really big snapper, with local tackle shop owner Doug Burt catching his best of 11.8kg. Most of the big reds have come from the 24 and 36-fathom areas. A bit of berley and a floating bait seem to have been the key to the bigger fish. The bigger fish are quite wary and when float lining I’ve found that good old nylon monofilament out-fishes braid by a wide margin - this seems to be a definite pattern. When float lining, it pays to experiment with your sinker size. The bait should have just enough weight to slowly get down to the bottom, and the sinker must be free moving to sink well ahead of the bait.

The 50-fathom line is a good spot to fish this month, with pearl perch, snapper and amberjack all good targets. Soft plastic lures fished off paternoster rigs are a proven method, and pilchards, squid and tuna strips an excellent back up. The best areas to fish are generally found to the northeast of the seaway entrance. It can be a long run in a small boat and watch out for strong westerly winds. It is generally a good investment to pick up some live slimies or yakkas on the way out as most of the bigger fish fall to live baits.

Close to shore, there are plenty of tailor around the artificial reef off Narrowneck. Look out for mackerel and tuna also in the area. There have been a lot of small white pilchards on the close reefs and these are attracting plenty of smaller predators.

The 18-fathom line is worth a look for cobia, mulloway and the odd big snapper. It generally fishes well with light lead and plenty of berley.

September is a good month for jigging on the wider reefs. The 50-fathom line is generally the best spot for kingies and amberjacks. 300g knife jigs or the locally made Chaos jigs are a good way to get connected to a solid kingie, samson or amberjack. Areas of high reef seem to produce the best jigging, but expect quite a few bust-offs as big fish head for cover.

Game fishers can expect a few striped marlin and the odd yellowfin tuna if they venture out with the right tackle. There has been a stack of sauries and slimies on the 36-fathom line over the past month and quite a few marlin have been caught in this area for relatively little effort.

The late season showing of stripes off Port Stephens in June is the same pattern that happened a few years ago. Quite a few striped marlin turned up off the Gold Coast in August and September, so it’s a promising sign for keen gamefishers.

Broadwater and Gold Coast Rivers

September is the best month for chasing flathead in this area as the fish start to move towards the river mouths. The flathead spawning run is in full swing towards the build up of the moon. Large adult females full of eggs congregate around the Seaway and Jumpinpin and each female attracts plenty of smaller males. Fish over 70cm will be relatively common and should be handled carefully prior to release. It is these adult breeders that spawn the fish of the future.

The central area of the Broadwater from Crab Island to Jumpinpin holds stacks of flathead and bream. The temperature warms up and there are often a few days of warm northwesterly winds. These tend to put the fish off the bite and make the water very dirty. In this situation, look for clear water and cool blue patches amongst the mud. This is the area to fish your soft plastics. If the wind is from the southeast the fishing is generally a lot easier. I find the Berkley Gulp 3” Shrimp to be a great lure at this time of year. Fish it with an aggressive twitching action and strike hard at any resistance.

Trolling deep running minnows is another useful method and accounts for plenty of big lizards as well as trevally, estuary cod and the odd mulloway. Work the deep channels and rock bars on the run-out and expect a few jacks around dawn and dusk. September is a good month in the Nerang for mangrove jacks and the old deep running green bomber, Storm Thundersticks or Mann’s Stretch 20 are as good as any.

The Seaway will hold tailor, flathead and school mulloway. Small live baits drifted on the run-in tide around the north wall are generally very effective early in the morning. Casting metal lures into the wash around the Seaway walls is a great way to target tailor when a bit of swell is running. Try a 65g Raider for tailor or a Sniper for tuna and trevally.

As the month warms up a lot of whiting start moving into the Nerang River. These fish often bite best at night during spring, and wriggler worms or bloodworms are the best bait. The flats around the council chambers are usually reliable. By this time of year most of the bream have spawned and some fish move back up river. These bite well on whiting baits as they strive to put condition back on. It is generally pretty easy to catch a mixed bag of whiting, bream and flathead at this time of year.

Mixed bags

Overall September is a good month for fishing on the Gold Coast. If the weather is good the wider reefs offer the best options, and if you are like many of us and love catching flathead on lures, then work the areas from Crab Island to Jumpinpin for great flathead fishing. September provides plenty of fishing options and is a real mixed bag of surprises for anglers.

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