Hordes of pearlies offshore
  |  First Published: October 2005

October is a fickle month on the offshore grounds. The first push of the east Australian current starts to move off the Gold Coast and at times, the current on the wider grounds can make bottom fishing and jigging very difficult.

The 50-fathom line should have plenty of pearl perch this month, and the area east of Jumpinpin in around 90m has produced stacks of pearlies all through the winter months. Mixed in with these, there have been Venus tusk fish, pigfish and plenty of small amberjacks and samson fish. Most pearl perch are caught on paternoster rigs although a few are caught deep water jigging with metal lures. The 200g Zest jig is excellent for pearlies – they hit it best with a slow jerky retrieve.

At the moment, the 50-fathom line is under siege from hordes of leatherjackets. These fish have appeared in enormous numbers off the northern NSW and southern Queensland coasts and while great eating, they make fishing for anything else almost impossible. Their sharp beak-like teeth cut through any line, and they seem to have a chop at anything that moves. Some charter boats have lost up to 30 snapper leads in a single trip. If you want to target these fish, use some nylon coated wire and 1/0 hooks. When they are in big numbers they are found from the surface layers to the bottom, so rather than avoiding them, at least take a decent feed of them home.

It has been a very good season for snapper, and there should still be plenty of good ones on the 36-fathom line in October. Most of these have been caught by floatlining with strip baits, slimy mackerel or pilchards. A few over 9kg have been caught in recent weeks, with the average fish around 1-3kg.

Game fishing will be slow this month. It’s generally too early for small black marlin, although this season may well be a ripper. There have been plenty of small marlin in central Queensland waters and a few have already been caught off 1770. The season off Cape Bowling Green this year was the best in a long time. As the current pushes these fish south the first ones generally appear off the Gold Coast in late November, but in good seasons it isn’t unknown to catch a few in October. Dolphin fish may be a better target however, and there will be the odd striped marlin on the 50-fathom line and beyond. If the current is running and the bait is around the marlin won’t be far away, so dragging a few lures is a very attractive option.

The area just east of the Seaway is worth a look this month for trevally, bonito, striped tuna, tailor and even salmon. There has been a large school of white pilchards in the area for a long time now, and it has attracted plenty of small pelagic predators. A few metal lures and a light spin rod can provide plenty of fun, and it’s a great time to stock up on bait for the coming marlin and mackerel seasons.

Broadwater and Gold Coast Rivers

October sees the water warm up a bit and it’s time to start thinking about mangrove jacks. These are one of the toughest species to get sorted out and it can take plenty of fishless hours to become proficient.

The best time to try is dawn, especially on weekends. There are a lot of jacks in all of the marinas, canals and rock walls, and although there are plenty of ways to catch them, I think the best technique is to troll with deep diving minnows. There are heaps of good jack lures on the market; look for a mullet-style profile and a tight action. Running depths vary according to the spots being fished. A few deep divers over 7m are good for the deeper spots in the Nerang and Coomera rivers, and the new 7m 125 Halco Scorpion in the yellow fin colour pattern looks like a fantastic jack lure. It always pays to experiment a lot.

We also catch plenty of jacks on lures late at night and my favourite night lure is the medium-sized Storm Chug Bug. Jacks tend to roam around at night and feed on the surface quite vigorously. I’ve learnt over the past few seasons that a lot of the big swirls and chops after dark are not small trevally.

Flathead will be in good numbers this month and by the time you read this, the Gold Coast Sportsfishing Club’s Flathead Classic will be over. So far this season there have been plenty of outstanding fish over 80cm around all the banks in Jumpinpin. The fish have been very scattered and a bit down in numbers but the quality has been excellent.

We recently tried a new soft plastic from the Berkley Gulp range – the 3” Porgy. It’s a damn good lure and definitely worth a look but I just can’t seem to get used to the stink of those disposable Gulp Minnows. The flathead definitely like it though and it’s been a bit of a secret weapon this season!

As the days warm up, the whiting will also increase in numbers and from the upper reaches of the Nerang to the Pimpama they will be worth chasing. Small soldier crabs are probably the most reliable bait at this time of year.

The seaway area will produce a few school jew this month on the run-in tides early in the morning. The pipeline and the hole at the end of the North Wall of the Seaway are the most consistent spots. Quite a few have been caught on soft plastics with Lumo 4” Atomic Shads producing results.

Overall, October is a good month in the estuaries and a bit of a transitional month on the offshore grounds. As the water warms up the action should increase, and the coming summer may be the best in years for small black marlin.

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