Jacks, flathead or reds?
  |  First Published: September 2006

Should I or shouldn’t I? A tough question that I normally start asking myself about the middle of September.

Should I get the mangrove jack gear out and brave the odd cold morning or wait another month until it warms up more? The prospect of an arm-wrenching hit from an early season red devil normally sways the decision. I will definitely make a few trips this month to see if there are any around.

The number of good-sized flathead normally makes up for the failed jack attempts and this month is definitely a good one to start looking for trophy flathead.

I use an absolute beast of a baitcaster outfit to target these big lizards at this time of year. It is the same outfit that I use for my jack fishing and I use it because it handles the minimum 6” plastic I need for targeting the bigger fish.

I can catch plenty of 40cm to 60cm flatties throughout the year so this month I try to fish specifically for the big girls.

The heavy rod is used for two reasons: Firstly, to set the hook on the big plastics, and second to get the fish into the boat as quickly as I can so that they can be released fairly quickly.

We need to remember that these big lizards are the breeders so they must be released to look after the future stocks. Atomic 6” Shads are my lure of choice, rigged on a 2oz jig head – hence the heavy rod.

Any of the deep holes throughout the river are good places to start. The area behind the hospital is one of the standouts but unfortunately due to the strong tidal flows, tackle loss can be a bit of a deterrent.

Lures are not the only options and large dead baits or livies should bring the same results.

Good catches of bream should still be on the cards this month although the size of the fish should start to decrease. Freshly pumped yabbies, chook gut or pieces of pillies are pretty consistent producers for the bream.

Any of the rock walls or rock bars have been producing good bags of bream, with the Terranora Arm being the more consistent. I have been chasing the bream throughout winter on softies and have found the Atomic 2” Grubs and Berkley 3” Minnows to be the lures that I tie on first for the deep water.

Fishing any of the snaggy banks with small hardbodies can also produce a few good bream. My favourites here are the Smith Camion and the Jackall Chubby, both in the deep-diving models. Unfortunately with summer starting to approach, these expensive little lures will begin to be stolen by the odd patrolling jack so I normally pack them away til next winter.

The upper reaches of the Tweed should be producing a mixed back with bass being the standout species. Casting small hardbodies, poppers and spinnerbaits around the snags and undercut banks is an excellent way to pin a few of these tough little fish.

We spent quite a few awesome mornings up around Murwillumbah last month chasing these fish and had a few monumental bust offs to keep us interested. The good part was you never knew if the next cast would be a bream, a bass or a flathead.


I will be trying for the snapper on the close reefs this year as I missed the best part of the run last year. The larger fish seem to come out around this month so if you are after a trophy snapper, this might be one of the better times to go chasing them.

There were some good jew around last month among the snapper and we managed a good one of 16kg which was a very pleasant surprise on a good old pillie floated down a berley trail.

The yellowtail kings start to frequent the shallow reefs as well this month so don’t be surprised if you hook a few of these turbocharged fish on snapper gear.

Hopefully the leatherjackets will have left us so we can continue chasing the reefies out on the wider grounds. At the time of writing the charter boats were complaining bitterly about the amount of tackle being lost to these fish.

We did two trips to try and attempt a bit of jigging and after catching a kingie each on our fist drops, the leatheries moved in and started snipping jigs off. They are not bad chewing but they seem to snip your line off wherever they feel like it and fishing definitely becomes a costly affair. Hopefully by the time you read this they would have disappeared again.

September is a good month to get out there and do a bit of vertical jigging as we consistently catch our biggest kings around this time of year. If the leatheries are gone then get out there, tie on a 300g Chaos Jig and give it a go. If you hook up, just hook the knees under the gunwale and hang on tight!

September is a top month for fishing around here so get out on the water and have some fun.

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