Full-on flathead fishing
  |  First Published: September 2004

SEPTEMBER on the offshore grounds can be pretty quiet, with a few exceptions. The snapper have mostly spawned by this time and the water generally remains cold. Current on the wide grounds is usually a trickle, but it can be a good month to target striped marlin and yellowfin tuna on lures around the 50-fathom line and beyond. In general a spread of 15-24kg tackle is adequate at this time of year around the 50-fathom line, and most of the tuna are from 10-30kg. Water temperature is usually around 19-20C.

Many of the really big amberjack and samson fish get caught in September, and with the popularity of jigging a lot of anglers are targeting them. The big pinnacles out on the 50-fathom line are a great place to start looking for these big bruisers. 300g jigs like the Demon Knife are pretty popular on braided line out on the 50s. A bit of lumo colouring helps in the deeper water.

Snapper are still worth targeting this month on the 36-fathom line, the inner edge of the 50s and on the inshore grounds. This season has, in general, been fairly poor by most reports. Floatlining accounts for nearly all the bigger snapper these days, and requires careful weight selection. Pilchards, tuna, mullet and yakkas are the most popular baits.

Cobia are another regular catch in September. This season there was a spectacular early run of cobia, with some monsters over 50kg being caught. Catching cobia requires a bit of patience, and livebaiting is generally the most reliable method. Because of their huge mouths cobia tend to wolf down quite big fish with ease, and one of my favourite livebaits to use is tailor. These are easy to catch on many of the inshore reefs, and when they’re fished live they are usually (but not always) resistant to attack from mack tuna and those horrible grinners. This gives a meandering cobia more time to find your bait. Another ideal bait for cobia is tarwhine.

The best cobia spots I know are 18-fathoms off Southport, Mermaid Reef and the Cottons. Inshore wrecks also fish well. Cobia spend a fair bit of time feeding over sand, and a reef or structure in the middle of a large patch of sand is often quite productive. Anchoring and berleying while fishing livebaits at various depths is the best way to reliably catch a cobia. Berley by using big chunks of old fish frames. These fish often swim in small schools so it’s not uncommon to have a double or triple hook-up after a period of inactivity. This type of chaos is often difficult to unknit, as cobia are one of the most dour and stubborn fighting fish you will ever hook.

Broadwater and Gold Coast Rivers

Flathead are the prime estuary target this month, and all through winter there were quite a few decent fish caught. Normally fish over 70cm are rare catches in winter, but this year plenty of good ones showed up early. The new bag and size limits haven’t been in long enough to have caused this, but it’s very pleasant to make winter catches of some of those monsters normally associated with spring.

In September the best flathead fishing is usually in the body of the main Broadwater between the Seaway and Jumpinpin. Because it’s spawning season many of the fish are starting to move into the river mouths and entrances, and a lot of smaller male fish are accumulating around the bigger females prior to spawning. As the water warms slightly the fish feed hard to put on condition, which is one of the reasons they bite so well this month.

There are many ways to catch a flathead, but soft plastic lures have, over the past few seasons, almost replaced bait as the preferred method. Jigging soft plastics around the Seaway and Jumpinpin bars will account for plenty of big fish this month. Remember that it’s illegal to retain any flathead over 70cm in Queensland, so look after those big breeding females and get them back into the water quickly.

As the days warm up a bit it’s also worthwhile going jack fishing this month. Deep trolling hard-bodied lures like the Tilsan Bass, Mann’s 20+ or Reidy’s Goulbourn Jack are definitely worth a session or two this month. A low tide an hour after dark is ideal, especially if it has been warm and there is a bit of rain about.

Bass fishing in Robina Lakes has been pretty good this winter, and as the days warm up a bit September should see some good fishing. Boat access to this area is now quite difficult unless you have access to the loch system. The best lures are usually spinnerbaits and small white single-tailed soft plastics.

The Seaway in September produces school jew, tailor, flathead and tarpon. There are also some big bream around the north wall. Livebaiting with herring, mullet, yellowtail and slimies produces the best results. A few big jewies will still be caught at night but this is usually the end of the season for the big winter fish. I had few reports of big jewies this season.

Overall, September is one of the quieter months of the year where flathead are the main target. It is also time to start practicing for the Flathead Classic, which is a fun release tournament held on the Gold Coast to coincide with the overlap between NSW and Queensland school holidays. Contacts are in the Tournament Calendar in this issue of QFM, and I highly recommend this comp if you want a few days’ fun fishing with a chance to win some great prizes. The prizes are all lucky draw, so every angler has a chance of winning a new Stessl Boat and Bombardier motor.


1) Becky Bell with a nice flathead. There will be plenty of big flatties caught this month.

2) Cobia are another regular catch in September.

3) Snapper are still worth a try this month on the 36-fathom line.

4) Daniel Easton with a Robina Lakes bass.

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