Go flat out on flathead
  |  First Published: September 2005

This year the fishing on the wide grounds off the Gold Coast has been outstanding.

There has been very good snapper fishing, stacks of pearl perch and some big amberjacks and samsonfish with plenty of kingies mixed in. There has also been minimal current. This month should see the trend continue and it should be the best month of the year for deep water jigging.

One method we’ve found to be very useful is using the jig outfits for both bottom bashing and jigging. Jig outfits are lightweight, very strong and pull in big fish that in the past usually got away. I use a Shimano Trinidad 40N on a T Curve 400 rod and find this a fantastic outfit for nearly all deep water fishing using either baits or jigs.

A lot of the big amberjack and samsonfish get caught in September. The big pinnacles out on the northern end of the 50-fathom line are a great place to start looking for these bruisers. 300g jigs like Sacrifice Sticks, Chaos Jigs and River 2 Sea Knife Jigs are ideal and a bit of lumo colouring helps in the deeper water. Also, the longer the jig, the more bites you get.

Snapper are still worth targeting this month on the 36-fathom line, the gravel on 42 fathoms southeast and the inner edge of the 50s. This season has been a good one for big snapper. Float lining accounts for nearly all the bigger snapper these days, and requires careful weight selection. Pilchards, tuna, mullet and yakkas are the most popular baits. Soft plastics are an alternative with the 4” PowerBait in pink working well.

Cobia are another regular catch in September. Catching cobia requires a bit of patience and livebaiting is the most reliable method. Because of their huge mouths they tend to wolf down quite big fish with ease, and one of my favourite livebaits to use is a legal tailor. These are easy to catch on a lot of the inshore reefs and when fished live are usually (but not always) resistant to attack from mac tuna and those horrible grinners. This gives a meandering cobia more time to find your bait. Another ideal bait for cobia is tarwhine; try a big bait and trim its tail with a pair of scissors.

There has been a surprisingly large number of marlin caught this winter. Blacks, stripes and blues have all been caught out past the 50-fathom line on trolled lures. September is often a good month to chase striped marlin and there has been plenty of bait around. There has also been a great run of juvenile black marlin off Townsville at the time of writing, so things look good for a run of small black marlin over the summer months.

Broadwater and Gold Coast Rivers

Flathead are the main target this month, and the Gold Coast Sportfishing Club Flathead Classic is on from September 14 to 17. Late entries will still be accepted, but you may miss a shirt of the correct size. Entry forms are available from most tackle shops. There have been lots of good lizards on the chew and the recent rains have seen plenty of fish movement. A few 80cm fish have already turned up.

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

There are a few new soft plastics worthy of inclusion in any keen fisher’s tackle box. Flathead love the 3” Berkley Mullet in the clear body and the pepper colour, while the new colours in the Squidgy Shads are outstanding flathead lures in clear water. Mojos are another brand worth a look. Every time I visit the tackle shop there are new softies on the shop wall and I’m sure they catch me as often as I catch fish on them!

As the days warm up it should become worthwhile to go jack fishing. Deep trolling hard bodies like the Tilsan Bass, Mann’s 20+ or Reidy’s Goulbourn Jack are definitely worth a session or two. A low tide an hour after dark is ideal, especially if it has been warm and there is a bit of rain about. Casting poppers around canal entrances and moored boats is also worth trying.

Big bream should still be in the Seaway this month. Some monsters have been caught after the recent floods on strip baits and pilchards. I saw a Japanese angler pull one from the south wall of the Seaway that was over 1.5kg. This whopper took a half pilchard on three snooded 1/0 hooks. The rod was around 5m in length, which greatly aided in getting the bream over the rocks.

The Seaway in September produces school jew, tailor, flathead and tarpon. Some decent jewies were also caught after the rain on live mullet in the Seaway at night. Live baiting with herring, mullet, yellowtail and slimies produces the best results.

After the flood in July, the water cleared quickly, and it was the first significant fresh since March. This fresh has meant a few mud crabs have been about throughout all of winter.

This September should be a great month after recent rains. There has been plenty of bait both inshore and offshore, and the flathead fishing has been good so far. I would target kingies and amberjacks on jigs and livebaits on the offshore grounds this month, and on windier days I’d be chasing flathead in the Broadwater.

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