Prime flathead time
  |  First Published: August 2009

After the storms and heavy rain we had in early winter, the offshore fishing has been very good with some excellent catches of snapper on the 36-fathom line and plenty of big teraglin (trag jew).

Out wider the pearl perch have been thick on the 50-fathom line, and there have been some solid amberjacks, kingfish and samsonfish as well. This year has also seen a surprising number of big cobia on the 36-fathom line. The biggest problem has been the large schools of leatherjackets that are biting off lines, lures and hooks, making it almost impossible to fish at times. Some of these monster leatherjackets weighed over 3kg.

September sees the snapper numbers drop off a bit. There are often some really big snapper found on the more isolated pinnacles at this time of year though, so they are definitely still worth targeting.

Out wider on the 50-fathom line the fishing should be consistent, and this month is one of the best for chasing really big amberjack on jigs and live bait. The high ledges on the 50-fathom line to the north of the Seaway are usually productive. Most of these reefs are covered with thick wire weed, which holds a lot of small bait, cuttlefish, squid and octopus. Wherever you find good numbers of pearl perch you will also find bigger predators like kings and amberjacks. The bigger ones are tough to remove from the cover, and we have experienced some monumental wipe-outs in September.

On the inshore grounds the fishing will slow down a bit this month, as the snapper have finished spawning and most will have moved out to deeper water.

There have been plenty of big schools of pilchards and slimies and quite a few marlin have been hooked over winter by anglers targeting snapper and cobia. In September there is always a chance of a striped marlin on the 36-fathom line and the Cotton Reef east of Jumpinpin. If the gannets are still around it is a very good sign.

The 24-fathom line east of Surfer’s Paradise will produce snapper, tailor and teraglin this month but it can be quiet at times. Late afternoon and evening sessions are generally the most productive. A few mulloway also turn up on live baits at night in September.

The Nine Mile Reef east of Cook Island can produce some good fishing at this time of year. Soft plastics and deep live baits can produce monster kings at times and there should also be a few mackerel tuna and snapper. The reef fishes a lot better when the current is running.

Towards the end of the month cobia from 5-10kg also commonly turn up, with a few bigger fish on the inshore grounds such as Palm Beach reef. The area around the desalination plant may also be worth a look.


As the days get longer the fishing in the estuaries will improve. The main target this month is flathead, and the spawning run is about to begin in earnest with plenty of large adult females moving towards the river entrances to spawn in the sandy bottom adjacent to the surf zones. The fish tend to feed up aggressively prior to spawning, so there is usually plenty of flathead activity throughout the entire estuary system at this time.

The wind will play a major part in flathead fishing this month. Northwesterlies in particular shut the fishing down, and sudden changes in water clarity can bring in the brown, warm tide of scum that really makes fishing tough. At such times it’s a good idea to work the cleanest water you can find, and the entrances on the top of the tide are often the best bet.

Southeasterlies generally result in good fishing for flathead on soft plastics. The key to working lures this month is to fish the areas adjacent to weed and gravel beds and chase the water flow. On the run-in tide look for extensive flats with plenty of weedy cover, and as the tide falls start to work the draining channels running off the flats. The toughest period to fish is usually between one and three hours into the run-out tide. This particularly applies if the water is dirty and there is a lot of mid-water weed.

It is important to hunt up plenty of good spots, as water clarity will affect some a lot more than others and it varies greatly from day to day with prevailing conditions. In dirty water use bright lures. Pink and chartreuse are the traditional stand-outs.

This month is also a good one to start chasing a few early season jacks in the Nerang and Coomera rivers. As the water warms the fish become active, and this is one species that doesn’t mind biting in northerly winds. Work the rock bars and canal mouths with deep hardbodies, live mullet or shad-style soft plastics. The fish tend to bite best on a run-out tide just on dark, and will bite well into the night if there is a bit of moon in the sky.

Mulloway will also start being active in the Seaway and around the entrance at Jumpinpin. Most of the fish this month should range between 60-100cm. Remember the new minimum size is 75cm which is quite a solid little school jew. I released a 68cm specimen the other day and watched his plump tasty looking fillets swim away which just didn’t seem quite right.

Overall, September is a month where the seasons change and the water warms up. Offshore fishing can be great on the wider reefs, but most of the action will be in the estuaries and it is a great month to fish soft plastics in the Broadwater through to Jumpinpin.



Kelly Wills with a solid yellowtail kingfish.


There is usually plenty of flathead activity in the estuaries during September. Michael Green caught this quality fish from Crab Island.


Toadfish are the bane of soft plastics at the moment.


Ralph Wilkinson with a cod from 50 fathoms.

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