Jacks become active
  |  First Published: October 2004

OCTOBER is one of the toughest months of the year on the reefs off the Gold Coast. The winter species are generally declining in numbers and the first tongues of warm current haven’t arrived. Despite this it is possible to have good results if you put the effort in. Target species include snapper, pearl perch, cobia, amberjack, samsonfish and yellowtail kings.

On the inshore grounds, particularly at the southern end of the coast, a few cobia start to show up in October. These generally precede the first of the spotty mackerel by four to six weeks. With a few livebaits and a bit of berley these fish are definitely worth a look on Palm Beach Reef and the Tweed Nine Mile this month. The small reef just off Snapper Rocks was another excellent cobia spot but it has now all but silted up since the sand bypass system started. Most cobia are caught early in the morning on high tides.

Out on the wide reefs, jigging for amberjack and yellowtail kings should be productive this month. The high pinnacles on the 50-fathom line produce the most fish, and 300g knife jigs are very effective. Deep livebaits are also effective, often pinning bigger fish.

In recent months a few of the local game boats have started bottom fishing in 400-600m of water. Using deck winches or electric reels, this has been very successful, with big hapuka, blue-eye trevalla and gemfish all being caught. It’s a very long way to the bottom, but there are plenty of fish down deep. Providing the current doesn’t pick up this month, this supper deep bottom fishing should continue this month. There are some huge fish living in the basement layers; the trevalla have been up to 18kg and the hapukas up to 40kg. If you can fill a deck winch with over a kilometre of 150lb braid and find a 3-5kg sinker you’re in the game!

Gamefishing is patchy in October. A few striped marlin and yellowfin may be around on the wider grounds but there’s a lot of water in between them. The odd blue marlin can also turn up. If there are sauries around and the current is running it’s worth trolling, but it is a very unpredictable time with a lot of strikeless hours.

There will still be a few snapper on the 36-fathom line and quite a few decent pearl perch out on the 50s. Teraglin should also be around on the gravel patches and on the Cotton Reef on the October full moon. This reef can also produce a few cobia and plenty of mackerel tuna. It fishes best in a light southeaster, and if you catch a big mack tuna try using the fillets for bait and the frame for berley.

Spinning the tide lines off the Seaway should produce tailer, bonito, mackerel and striped tuna. Look for the terns. At the recent tackle show John Nowak launched the new Lazer Slug. This is like the old Lazer but has a thicker profile, which means better casting with a smaller profile lure. This will come in handy when chasing small tuna feeding on little bait.


October is a great month for lurefishing the Nerang and Coomera rivers. As the days warm up the mangrove jacks become active and start to steal lures and livebaits. All the rock bars in thew Nerang are worth a look in October. The best plan is to go in the late afternoon and fish until an hour after dark. Trolling deep divers is popular, as are small livebaits and soft plastics. A lot of these jacks are around 50cm long and take a lot to pull out of cover. They are definitely one of the best fish in the Gold Coast estuaries. Good lures to try include Mann’s 10s and 20s, Tilsans and deep Scorpions. Good livies include mullet, herrings and yakkas. Put the hook near the head of the bait, as most bites hit the bait’s head.

The bycatch when fishing for jacks includes estuary cod, giant trevally, flathead and big bream. The Coomera River tends to produce a lot more cod than the Nerang. The rocky holes in the upper Pimpama are also worth a look. This is one fishery where hard-bodied lures tend to outfish soft plastics, although a lot of work with rubber is starting to produce good results.

There are still plenty of flathead around this month. The big fish should be around the Seaway and Jumpinpin Bar and are spawning this month (remember that the maximum size limit is 70cm in Queensland). Tippler’s passage is a great area for flathead in October. Trolling small hard-bodied lures is effective, as is casting soft plastics. Lure sizes of 7-10cm are the best this month and catch a range of fish sizes. The flats north of Crab Island are also worth a look on big tides.

Livebaiting the Seaway with mullet, slimies and yakkas can produce a few jewies this month. The hole at the end of the north wall often holds plenty of schoolies in October, particularly if there is a bit of rain. Yellowtail kings have also been around the channel markers on the run-in tide.

As the water warms up whiting start to come on the bite. The Nerang from the Southport Bridge up to Sorrento is often productive on soldier crabs, worms and shrimp. As conditions warm up the whiting become one of the most reliable targets this month.

Overall, October is an ‘in between’ month for Gold Coast anglers, but there are still plenty of good options and it isn’t too hard to catch some pretty spectacular fish.


1) As the weather warms the jacks become active and start to steal lures and bait.

2) Luxury waterfront flathead fishing.

3) The right way to hold a flathead. There will still be plenty of flatties around this month.

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