OVERALL, September is a fun month on the water. There will be a lot of interest in the 2003 Flathead Classic, and if recent catches are anything to go by it could be a record year.
September is flathead time, and so far the flathead season has been outstanding, particularly on soft plastics. Catches of over 30 in a session have been the norm at the time of writing, and during September the size should increase markedly, with fish over 70cm becoming much more common around the river mouths. Remember that with the new bag limits and size limits you can keep five flathead between 40 and 70cm. All the big ones must be returned.
Good areas to try include the Aldershots, Crab Island, tipplers Channel and Kalinga Bank. Trolling hard-bodied lures works well on the runout, and casting soft plastic shads up into the weed beds is a great way to reliably pin a lot of 40–60cm fish. As well as flathead, soft plastics catch flounder, bream, whiting and quite a few delicious squid. A few tails worth trying include the 70mm Squidgy Fish in green and yellow, 3-inch Atomics and Storm Shads. A 1/4 or 3/8 jighead is all that is required, as long as it comes with a nice chemically sharpened hook. Use braid with soft plastics. The extra feel it gives you definitely means you will catch more fish.
A few mangrove jacks start to show in late September around the rock walls and rock bars. Trolling deep diving minnows late in the afternoon is worth a try as the days warm up, and most jacks caught at this time are pretty good fish averaging 45 to 50cm. The action hots up further in October.
In the Seaway area there will be a few tarpon and trevally at the end of the north wall, with the odd yellowtail kingfish around Wavebreak Island. The mulloway season so far in the Seaway has been very disappointing, with very few fish and plenty of cold nights spent without a run. Hopefully there will be a bit of September action on livebaits at the north wall of the Seaway.
Short Island near Jumpinpin should fish well for blackfish this month. The eddies around the point of the island can produce outstanding catches on weed. Further south the north wall of Wavebreak Island is a reliable spot for blackfish, as are the Seaway walls.
The bream run is starting to slow right down by September but up the Nerang the spinning on hard bodies and soft plastics can be very good early in the morning. Small flathead are very common in the same spots, and the odd jack gets involved as well. It can be a great time to spin the area from the Southport School to Chevron Island. The opening of the main Paradise Waters Canal is another very good spot, and also produces reliable GTs to 3kg on the last of the run-in tide. This area fishes a lot better on week days when there is a lot less boat traffic. Good lures include Attack minnows, Micro Mullets and Brad Smith’s Mighty Mites.
September also marks the first of the ‘R’ months, so it’s worth dusting off the crab pots. Most activity is around sand crabs in the deeper weedy sections of the Broadwater. Use oily bait and leave the pots at least an hour or two between checks in September. It is usually a slow month but run-in tides will produce a feed of sandies if you work hard.
September can be a bit tricky on the offshore grounds, with fickle currents and the winter species quietening down a bit before the summer ones start. It is still a very good month for snapper, and the winter season so far, particularly on the 36 fathom line, has been excellent. Quite a few fish over 9kg have been caught this year, nearly all by floatlining. The 36 fathom reef northeast of Jumpinpin has been very productive this year.
It is a good month to chase amberjacks and samsonfish on the 50 fathom line. Deeply fished livebaits or metal jigs account for most fish, and quite a few big yellowtail kings are also likely to get involved. Most years the biggest amberjacks get caught in September, with the odd fish over 40kg turning up. The reef known as the Traps, southeast of the Seaway, is a great place to try for monster amberjacks. Strong tackle is mandatory – less than 15kg sees most of the really big fish smash you up in the rocks. On metal jigs most of the really big amberjacks still seem to get away on the majority of occasions despite the heavy braided line being used.
For the gamefisher September has a few striped marlin out wide, the odd yellowfin tuna and the very occasional solid black marlin around the 50 fathom line. Water temps are generally around 19.5 to 21 degrees and there can be a lot of water between strikes. Some seasons produce quite a good run of striped marlin on the 50 fathom line at this time, particularly when the slimies are abundant. At this time trolling live slimies can produce some nice fish. Out really wide, past the shelf, there is still a chance of a big blue marlin in September. These wider grounds offer a good chance at yellowfin as well.
Cobia are another species that can turn up on the close reefs in September. 18 and 24 fathoms are worth a look providing you have plenty of berley and livebaits. A live tailor is good for big cobia with the added advantage of not appealing to the pesky big mack tuna that frequent these close reefs. Cobia over 35kg turn up fairly regularly in September. Connect one of these to 10kg string and you’ve generally got at least half an hour or more hard work on your hands.
Remember the Flathead Classic is open to all comers, and entry forms are in most good Gold Coast Tackle Shops. For contact details look at the tournament calendar in this magazine.
1) Kane Barclay was stocked with this flathead… until it spiked him!
2) Dale Tan with an 8kg mulloway. The mulloway season in the Seaway has been slow so far, and hopefully this will improve in September.
3) The author with a whiting from the Nerang River.Reads: 2642