It all depends on water temp
  |  First Published: October 2006

At last we’re well and truly out of Winter’s grip and all things fishy are looking up. Or at least they should be, but the way this year’s been so far I wouldn’t be too sure exactly how October will shape up.

A normal October would be a mix of some early nor’-east sea breezes and the last of the late Winter westerlies. The days should be warm and the nights still a touch chilly.

At this time of year ocean currents should be at their coldest, with around 16° or 17° water lashing the rocks and beaches and further offshore the temperature may climb to 19° at the most. But this year we’ve seen warm currents hovering around 20° right through into September, giving Central Coast fishos a chance to tangle with cobia up to 35kg. Our waters are lucky to see many cobia at all through Summer, so to be catching big cobes towards the end of Winter and early Spring is highly unusual.

A few small striped marlin and even a couple of spotted mackerel were caught in early September. Still, I would be very surprised if some colder water doesn’t push in this month and linger through to December.

There have been quite a few kingfish on the reefs, mainly small with a few better fish to 15kg. In theory the kings should hang around this month.

The usual run of salmon at this time of year will be found frothing away off Catherine Hill Bay, Norah Head and Terrigal, sometimes taking lures, other times refusing anything you throw at them.

The odd half-decent snapper has been caught over the past two months, along with those ever-pesky leatherjackets, silver trevally and of course a few flathead. So providing the currents and weather behave as they normally would through October, the main offshore targets should be snapper, trevally, flathead, kings and salmon.


Ocean currents and weather also have a major impact along rocks and beaches. This is the time when the swell can be big and dangerous one day and flat as a tack the next. If you’re lucky enough to pick the good times in between, there’s every chance you’ll catch fish but don’t expect any miracles.

Rock fishos should mainly concentrate on drummer, groper and blackfish around the washes with first-class bait like white bread, cunje, red crabs and green cabbage. Sometimes we’ll see a small run of bream through October which will quickly get in on the act if you berley with bread for drummer.

Salmon and the odd tailor are also quite likely along the rocks and beaches this month and you’ll find those by casting whole pilchards on ganged hooks.

Depending on the water temperature, October can be good for jewfish at spots like Budgewoi, Pelican and North Entrance beaches. Beach jewies tend to be more active as the water starts to warm around 19° but if it’s a stable 17° or 18° without any sudden drops you are in with a chance. Just remember the top baits like fresh beach worms, locally caught squid or fillets of tailor or mullet and fish a rising tide after dark.


Tuggerah Lakes and Brisbane Waters can be a little hit-and-miss through October but generally the fishing will get better as water warms. The blackfish bite should taper off a bit this month, not that it’s been a ripper of a season anyway.

Bream should be a chance on baits or lures in both systems. If the cold weather lingers on I reckon baits like mullet gut, blackfish gut, pink nippers or prawns are the best for bream but soft plastics will produce bream if we get plenty of hot, sunny days to warm the water and make bream more active.

There’s no doubt that flathead are what most estuary anglers look forward to each October and this is the first month of what I consider our local flathead season. Again, water temperature plays a major, particularly in Tuggerah Lakes where tidal flow is minimal. More flathead will hit lures if the water is warm.

This year, I’ll be trying a few different lures on the lizards. I’ve long been a fan of Berkley PowerBaits but as my old mate Grumpy said to me, ‘Get ya head out of the sand and try something different’. So at last I’ve found a few alternatives.

Over the past few months I’ve had great success with 4” Berkley Gulp Finesse Worms and the 3” Gulp Fry, both in watermelon colour. These are surely the most effective estuary plastics I’ve used over the past few years and will be a real hit on local flathead and bream over Summer.

Another interesting lure to try on flathead is the Chatterbait, a strange spinnerbait / plastic hybrid that’s made a big impact on the US bass scene. So get hold of some of these and see how you go.

As things warm up, the author won’t have to wear 10 thick jackets and beanies to catch bream on his favourite soft plastics.

Providing water temperatures are stable, we should see a few jewies hit local beaches this month.

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