OCTOBER is a great month to be fishing Moreton Bay and its surrounding estuaries and creeks. Wind can often interfere with the number of days you can spend on the bay in October, but with so many options available you can always find somewhere worthwhile to wet a line.
School mackerel numbers start to thin out at this time of year, but there will still be some around the Rous Channel area. Drifting with pilchards (see the September 2004 issue of QFM) and trolling spoons behind paravanes are the best methods. Other areas worth trying are the Naval Reserve Banks, Hanlon Light, Yule Bank and Middle bank. Jigging the beacons with chrome slugs (TT Assassins are great) will also produce a few school mackerel, with the Four Beacons and most shipping channel beacons producing a few fish. It definitely pays to be the first person to jig the beacon for the day, and if you have a few drops without a strike just move on to the next beacon.
Longtails are often found in reasonable-sized schools along the front of Bribie, Gilligan’s Island, The Sand Hills, Lucinda Bay, Rainbow Channel and the Greasy Hole off Mud Island. If the longtails are breaking the surface, try a small chrome slug or fly. If they are a little scattered, use poppers and surface lures such as Fat R’s, Strike Zone Skippas, River2Sea Morans and Gillies Poppers. Livebaits drifted around the general area where a few fish have been sighted will often produce hook-ups when other methods fail.
Longtails can be fairly particular at this time of the year because they’re feeding on small bait and often become profile oriented. This is the time to try some fine-tuning techniques, as outlined in my article in the recently released Fishing Qld Vol 7 magazine.
Mack tuna, frigate tuna and bonito also show up in good numbers in the same areas as longtails, and they can also be found in quantity around the South Passage Bar, Rainbow Channel, the western side of Peel Island and along the edge of the Amity and Naval Reserve Banks. The two most consistent spots in the bay are usually Middle Bank and the area out from the Sand Hills.
Use the smallest chrome slugs that you can cast the required distance, because these fish can be very particular as far as bait size goes. Try some of the Riley Rockets that Gary Howard distributes as they have a good profile-to-weight ratio. Small flies such as Surf Candies, Polar-fibre minnows, Queenie Killers, Felty’s Eyes and Felty’s Sprats are productive on surface-feeding pelagics.
There may be a few early season spotted mackerel travelling with the schools of mack tuna, longtails and bonito, so don’t be surprised if you get bitten off while sinking a slug or fly through a pelagic school.
Cobia are the species that many anglers yearn to catch, and October is a good month to get out and give them a try. Large livebaits such as slimeys, yakkas, bonito, tailor, pike, fusiliers and squire are the way to go. Even the humble old grinner will produce cobia if other livebaits are hard to locate. Another good bait is a whole or half sand crab, which works well when there are a lot of bait stealers around.
When targeting cobia, use a snelled hook rig with good strong hooks such as Gamakatsu Big Bait Circles, Mustad Hoodlum or Demon on 100lb to 150lb leader. Good places to try include Western Rocks, any of the beacons in the northern bay, Capt Nelson, Curtain Artificial and Four Beacons.
If you have a need for speed, try trolling a few high-speed skirted lures such as the TT Wild Things, Hex Heads, Fire Heads, Fetish 8”, and the numerous bibless minnows such as Reflectas, Mack Baits, River2Sea and Halco Tremblers for a wahoo. Bibbed minnows such as Rapala CD Magnums, Impalas, Laser Pro and Williamsons will also work well at times. Hutchies, Flinders and the area around The Group off Point Lookout are the prime areas if you decide to venture outside the bay.
The ledges and gutters around the islands in the southern bay will still fish well for squire and snapper with good quality sweetlip being an added bonus, especially around the eastern side of Green. Use fresh baits and fish the early mornings, evening and the darkened hours for best results.
Soft plastics can also work well, regularly outfishing baits, especially around Peel Island. The various wrecks in the bay, as well as the Harry Atkinson, Curtain Artificial and Benowa Track areas, are also worth trying with bait and plastics. On a good day, even small boats can venture outside the bay to Hutchies for a fish. Here you can catch squire, snapper, sweetlip and a variety of other species in about 30m of water.
The weed beds at Peel and Tangalooma should be worth a try for a few squid, which can make a tasty feed or A1 bait for snapper and other species. The area between Green and St Helena will often produce a few squid as well as good quality cuttlefish. Try drifting pillies, rigged on a stem-style squid jig.
It will be worth dropping a few pots around the ledges of the bay islands this month, as decent numbers of sand crabs can be caught. Try to use fish frames left over from previous trips as they make excellent bait and will save you a few dollars. Remember that there’s a new way of measuring sand crabs and be sure to keep an eye on your pots and dillies. Plenty of them mysteriously go missing in action.
Mud crabs will also start appearing in the creeks. Setting a few pots in the deeper holes and the mouths of the filter creeks and gutters should get you a tasty feed. Even a few of the suburban creeks such as Tingalpa, Eprapah and Breakfast will produce good muddies. Setting a few pots next to the ledge along the front of South Bank usually pays dividends.
Prawns, mainly greasies, should be available in the deeper holes. The Pine, Caboolture, Burpengary and Logan systems are all good places to cast-net a few of the deep holes during the slack stages of the tide.
The Jumpinpin area provides many options, whether you’re chasing fish or crabs. Flathead will be getting ready to breed, and good numbers will be found on top of the flats at high tide. Try drifting a frogmouth pilchard or whitebait on a small snelled-hook rig across the flats. You’ll be surprised how many flathead, bream, sole, whiting, tailor and other species you’ll catch.
When the flats are high and dry during the lower stages of the tide, troll a few small minnow lures in the adjacent gutters as flathead congregate here waiting to get back up on the flats. Whalleys Gutter, Slipping Sands, Gold Bank, McKenzies Channel, Neverfail Creek, The Aldershots, Tipplers Passage, The Stockyards and Cobby Passage are good places to try. Remember that flathead have a maximum size limit of 70cm and a bag limit of five per person.
For good quality bream on fresh baits, try Kalinga Bank, Squire Island, Crusoe Island, Tiger Mullet Channel, Short Island and any of the deeper holes around the area. Night will definitely produce better quality fish and more of them. A few school jew are also taken in these areas, especially on livebaits. Kalinga Bank and the Pin Bar are definitely spots to try for the bigger jew. Whole live mullet and tailor are good baits to use, especially at night.
There are plenty of school flathead around the Pine River, Hays Inlet, Wells and Scarborough foreshore areas. All these spots can be fished without a boat, and many anglers have great success casting flies, bibbed minnows and soft plastics. Soaking a few baits along the Scarborough foreshore is often fairly productive in the early mornings and evenings on the higher stages of a rising tide. The ledges around Scotts Point often produce a few quality bream for anglers fishing half pillies and chicken fillet strips on a high tide after dark.
Most shore-based locations should fish fairly well for bream this month and it’s definitely worth trying the canal developments. You may even encounter a few cod, trevally and jacks, as they can also be caught on lures and livebaits during October.
October can be a great month to be on the water, and there are many options with traditional summer and winter species. The weather is starting to warm up and it’s great just being in the outdoors without having to rug up. Catching fish is usually just the icing on the cake for many anglers. You’ve had plenty of ordinary days weather-wise during winter to service your reels, sharpen your hooks, make up rigs and do maintenance on the tinnie, so get to the water and go get ‘em!
1) Pelagic schools are abundant in the bay, providing plenty of excitement on lure and fly.
2) October will see good numbers of squire in the bay, like this one caught by Brandon Wessels at Peel Island.
3) School flathead can be easily caught on baits and lures around the sand banks.Reads: 331