October’s prime targets
  |  First Published: October 2005

October promises to be one of the better fishing periods of this year and is my pick of the months for chasing our prime targets.

Local anglers have been punished for months on end with a succession of high pressure systems working through the southern half of the continent and producing strong, relentless winds up the Queensland coastline. At the time of writing the first low pressure system in a long time is sitting off Victoria and this promises some good weather up here in the tropics.

What’s been biting

For those lucky or brave anglers who have been able to get offshore recently, there have been some great bites of mackerel, both Spaniards and spotties. Some horse-sized Spaniards have been captured by all of the usual methods, with trolled gar rigged on wog heads in front of the reefs on the pressure side working extremely well.

I was able to talk with local charter operator Kerry Bailey while he was out near Sudbury Reef recently. He was in the middle of a hot bite of big mackerel and his clients hooked and caught two good mackerel while we were on the phone. Kerry informed me that the macks were taking floated pillies and livebaits while his anglers were bottom fishing for trout and sweetlip.

Inshore, the fishing has been somewhat quiet and should improve significantly this month as the water temperature increases. The best of the action has been with school GTs and a few big queenies, both of which have been taken on livebaits as well as trolled and cast lures.

Anglers chasing a feed on the flats have picked up some grunter and the odd trevally on fresh peeled prawns. Closer to the mangrove banks and structure, peeled prawns once again have produced pikey bream and mangrove jack, with occasional barra and fingermark being taken on live prawns. Overall though, the action has been slow.

Looking ahead

Offshore this month we should be able to take advantage of better weather and some seriously good fishing, including a continued run of mackerel.

Bottom fishing will see some excellent large and small mouth nannygai and red emperor being captured. These great eating fish are best taken at night, although daytime can also be quite productive.

If you want to target these fish, it’s best to go with someone who has a bit of experience. Failing that, look for water around 50m in depth with a rubble bottom, away from and in between the actual reefs or bommies.

Nannygai and emperors pull hard, so use a suitable bottom fishing rod and reel or an 80lb handline. I usually opt for a TLD 15 or TLD 20 spooled with 50lb braid on a 6-foot heavy action rod; my new Silstar Crystal Blue power tip rod is perfect for the job.

The most effective rig is a paternoster or dropper rig that uses just enough lead to hold onto the bottom. I recommend using fresh whole squid, pilchards or fillet baits, along with braided line, which will allow you to detect every touch. When you feel the fish pick up the bait, allow enough time for the bait to be swallowed before striking firmly and maintaining solid pressure to keep the fish rising off the bottom. It is vital you get the fish on the rise straight away because if you lose control here you may be smashed up on any structure the fish can find.

If you are using mono line in deep water, it’s not necessary to wait before striking, as the stretch in the line will give enough delay to allow the fish time to swallow the bait and get the hook in the best place.


The local estuaries are now alive with plenty of sardine schools (greenback herring) and there will be some quality inshore targets around taking advantage of this available food. Large queenies, GTs, excellent sized barramundi and fingermark will all be making their way into the local estuaries and hanging around the deeper holes and river mouths as they feed up before the first spawnings of the season.

Slow trolling deep running lures like RMGs and Vipers through and around any structure will give you a very realistic chance of nailing one of these prime targets, especially around the top and bottom of the tide changes. Using well-presented, quality livebaits is also an excellent method to catch these top shelf fish. Remember that this month is your last chance to nail a barra locally until February next year, due to the annual barramundi spawning closure.

Don't forget the Queensland DPI Fisheries closures for coral reef fin fish, which take in the first 5 days of this month and from 27 October through to 4 November.

Till next month, good fishing!

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