Going Offshore is Gold
  |  First Published: September 2008

This month sees the westerlies start to abate and the days get longer. Water temperatures should be around 21-22ºC on the wider grounds and there will be plenty of options for the offshore angler.


So far this year the snapper fishing has been very good and the catches should continue into September, although most of the fish will now have spawned. The 36 and 50 fathom lines should be the most productive areas.

A lot of good snapper are being caught on big soft plastics and also on heavy cuttlefish style jigs imported from Japan. These have greatly changed the way that many anglers fish for snapper.

There have been a lot of big snapper around with a few exceptional specimens up to 13kg being caught on the 36-fathom line. A lot of fish over 8kg have turned up on a pretty regular basis as well, in fact I can’t recall a year where so many really big snapper have been caught, with most being caught on baits.

As well as snapper some big teraglin, Samson and amberjacks have also turned up. Deeply fished live baits have been very effective.

September is a good month to target kingfish, Samson and amberjacks. Jigging big metal lures is very popular, but I am beginning to wonder if a lot of our big resident fish are waking up a bit to this deadly technique. In my experience it just doesn’t seem to get as many hits as it did three years ago. We have jigged quite a few times recently with limited success only to have the first live bait we’ve dropped to the bottom slammed by a big king or amberjack.

Try the 50-fathom line for these tough fish, and the more prominent the pinnacle you fish, the more big ones you will hook. Bust ups are very common in these areas, and even with 15kg drag the big ones will clean you up on the bottom very quickly.

Striped marlin and yellowfin should be around on the 50-fathom line, and if the water temp holds above 22ºC there is still the chance of a decent blue marlin. On a recent day offshore we had only been trolling for an hour and we hooked a good blue that took an hour to land. This fish swallowed the lure to the back of its gills so it was obviously hungry. It measured 2.6m on short length, which puts it at about 160kg. It was caught on a lumo white Star lure, a new range of trolling lures coming from South Africa.

In close to shore there will be a few cobias about, and mackerel tuna should school up and feed around the Seaway entrance and just off Jumpinpin. At night there will be a few mulloway on the close grounds as well. Live baits are the key to success for jewies at night.


It is time to get serious when it comes to chasing flathead. Soft plastics fished close to the entrances will produce a few monster lizards to over 90cm this month, and there will be plenty of smaller male fish in the same areas as well. The secret to good flathead catches for September is to work a number of spots and find exactly where they are holding, look for bait schools and birds. Flathead are a lot more pelagic in nature than most people realise.

Overall the best flathead fishing takes place in light south easterlies, and the toughest wind of all is a strong northwesterly. If the snot weed appears, which is like a form of midwater algae bloom and leaves brown scum on your line, move and find another spot. Success is all about water quality – clean cool water is the best for good flathead fishing. In hot north westerlies it can be extremely hard to get a bite.

There is a flood of new scented lures coming on to the market and it will be interesting to compare the results of these with the established Berkley Gulps and Squidgy Pro range. I think soft plastics are really a misnomer these days, as such lures are better referred to as ‘artificial baits’.

Expect also a few nice mulloway in the Seaway and Jumpinpin areas, along with a few decent GT. So far this season most of the daytime jewies in the estuaries have eaten live baits and soft plastics like the 130 Squidgy Fish or the Gulp 7” Jerk Shads. It is very confusing as to recommending which colour as these lures are now sold in ‘chicken’ colours. I like nuclear chicken, satay chicken, bbq chicken and plain white. What happened to the simple days where a lure colour was just a simple colour!

The bream will have all spawned by September and will be moving back up into the estuaries. This season was a very poor spawning season for bream along most of the NSW coast and there were very few netted on the beaches in the state. A mate who works as a professional local netter told me that bream were paying $14 a kilo in Sydney markets, which is almost triple the usual price that professionals receive for their catches.

I recently spent an unproductive session fishing for jewies at Jumpinpin but watched one boat catch over 50 bream in a couple of hours, with only a couple of tiddlers going back in and a few of the fish being 1kg+ thumpers. It is certainly about time we had an increase in minimum size and a bag limit for what is, or used to be, our commonest estuary fish.

Overall, it is not a bad month to get on the water, and good luck to all those anglers fishing the Flathead Classic this year.

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