October is a bit of an in-between month on the Tweed River. It’s not yet fully summer and there is still the odd bit of cool weather that lingers.
The water temperatures generally show a marginal rise and this has an effect on the fish. More of the summer species begin actively feeding while we tend to say goodbye to the last of the winter fish.
We experienced a fairly good black fish season, even though it was a bit late. As summer draws near, we can look at packing away the float rods until next year.
Mangrove jacks, trevally, whiting and flathead will start to be the target species over the ever-popular winter bream and tailor, although some good tailor will still be around harassing the fresh schools of herring.
The flats up around Fingal are as good a place as any to target a feed of whiting with yabbies and worms. These fish can also be actively targeted with lures and the shallow mangrove flats up behind Ukerabagh Island and Seagulls on the top of the tide can result in the odd elbow-slapper.
Light lines and stealth are required for the bigger fish on the flats when fishing with bait.
Unfortunately, as the weather warms up, the boat traffic increases, making fishing the shallower water very tricky with jet skiers and boats hooning up and down the river putting the fish down.
When this happens, it can often be a good move to fish the deeper drop-offs because the fish relocate to areas where they feel less threatened.
The flats up around the Black Watch factory and the airport are always worth a look for a few flathead as the water warms. The weed beds hold good numbers of bait and the flathead use the shelter of the weeds and the discolouration of the muddy bottom as points of ambush.
Live baits or whole ganged pillies are great for chasing these fish. The majority of these shallow fish are around 40cm to 50cm with the odd bigger fish to test your tackle.
If you prefer casting or trolling lures for flathead then plastics rigged on 1/4oz or 3/8oz heads will work great.
The popular size plastic is generally around 3” to 4”. Paddletails or straight tails will both do the job. The new Atomic Guzzlerz range has been working well, as have the ever-popular Berkley Gulp of Pogys and Minnows.
If the lure is bumping the bottom then you are in the strike zone.
Hardbodies also account for their fair share of flatties with the Lively Lures Micro Mullet one of the all-time favourites.
Try to target the edges of the weed beds when trolling and ensure that the lure is hitting bottom on the odd occasion. If this isn’t happening then change your lure to a deeper diver.
At the time of writing there were some good trevally working the bait on the coffee rock bottom in front of the hospital. GTs and big-eye trevs become really active as the water warms and can be targeted with slugs or plastics through this area.
The plastics often outperform the slugs because they can be worked more effectively in the deeper water.
Live herring drifted through here is also a deadly method for these fish. It is usually just a case of stopping them from getting you in the reef and hanging on.
Cobia will still be around in numbers with Point Reef, Palm Beach and the Nine Mile the pick of the spots.
Livies and large fillet baits drifted back down a bit of berley or fished on the bottom are both techniques to get connected to one of these tough fish.
A good thing to try is to put out two livies suspended under balloons and then concentrate on fishing the bottom. If you do hook up to a cobia then have another rod ready because other fish will often follow the hooked fish to the boat.
Snapper are still an option and the inshore reefs have still been producing the odd cracker. The float-liners have been smiling because with most of the boys chucking plastics, they have been having most of the bait fishing to themselves.
The current should progressively get stronger on the wider grounds so try to pick your days when heading offshore.
October is still a good month for getting out on the water so have some fun.Reads: 1229