A September to remember
  |  First Published: August 2009

Many of the species that have been showing up over the last month will become more prominent throughout September. We should also see better numbers of mangrove jack, tuna, mackerel and crabs. There is a fairly mixed bag of species available this month and hopefully with some good weather and good fishing it will be a September to remember for us all.


These bottom dwellers are usually well spread out through the estuary and bay during September. In the bay there will be dusky flathead in more protected waters and the shallows around the bay islands, while further out in the Rous Channel, Rainbow Channel and surrounding sand banks, bar-tailed flathead are usually in plague proportions.

Bar-tailed flathead are a smaller species of flathead distinguished by three black and one yellow lateral bar, visible on the tail paddle when it is fanned out. Although they are rarely caught over 45cm long, bar-tails are still good tucker. What they lack in size they make up for in number, often being in almost plague proportions in some areas.

Bar-tails and other species of flathead (except dusky flathead) have a 30cm minimum size limit and a bag limit of five. Dusky flathead will be the prominent flathead species caught throughout the estuaries. Although some of their more unusual cousins such as fringe-eyed, marbled and tiger flathead also show up from time to time.

Many anglers look at a flathead and define the species by the overall colouration, however, the tail is the best indicator for species identification. Many anglers assume a light coloured flathead caught over a sandy bottom is a sand flathead, however chances are that it’s actually a dusky flathead.

Duskies have a legal size slot between 40cm and 75cm and a bag limit of five in possession. The most accurate way to quickly identify them is to fan out the tail, which has quite distinct markings including a blue spot.

It will seem like flatties are everywhere in the estuaries throughout September and you will have a decent chance of landing a few no matter where you fish.

Best results will come from trolling small, brightly coloured minnow lures along the edges of prominent banks at the mouths of creeks during a falling tide. Flathead readily take up ambush sites in such areas, waiting for bait species to be flushed their way.

Casting plastics to target these areas is also a good ploy but ensure the offering spends most of its time close to the bottom, preferably banging along it, as this will get the flathead’s attention.

Baits can catch flathead anywhere and often the first you know you have one on is when you go to wind in and there is a weight on the end. Drifting the channels will produce better results with whole fish baits such as hardiheads, whitebait, frogmouths, pilchards and herring working well when presented on a snelled, twin-hook rig.


School mackerel numbers are generally fairly good in September although they are rarely found harassing baitfish right up on the surface in any number. Small numbers are occasionally seen patrolling just under the surface looking for the odd hapless baitfish.

Trolling spoons behind paravanes in areas such as the Rous Channel and the main shipping channels will often produce a few mackerel. Large numbers are often located in the upper Rous Channel and I have sometimes caught more than 20 on drifted pilchards within a few hours when they are on really the chew.

School mackerel now have a bag limit of 10 and a minimum size of 50cm. Most of these schoolies would be less than 2kg but the occasional larger specimen is also likely to show up. There has even been a few Spanish mackerel and the odd longtail caught here over the years, so you never know what may nail your offering next.

Anyone fishing around the bay islands, whether casting plastics or soaking baits will encounter the odd schoolie. Drifting a pilchard below a float can heighten your chances when fishing these grounds.


Numbers of both sand and mud crabs will increase throughout September so now is the time to dust of the safety pots and repair those dillies. Make sure your crabbing apparatus is legal with adequate identification on the pots and floats.

Mud crabs will generally be found well up the creeks, especially in the harder to reach spots at this time of the year, unless there has recently been good rainfall to flush them out.

Set your pots in the deeper holes, adjacent to collapsed mangrove banks and at the mouths of small feeder creeks for best results.

Fish frames, whole mullet and chicken carcasses are some of the more productive baits. Half a tuna head, split down the middle, will also entice crabs into a pot for several days.

For sand crabs, set your pots along the edges of prominent ledges and channels within the bay and around the mouths of the creeks and rivers filtering into the bay. Some crabs may still be a little empty so release any that feel light, as they will barely have any meat in them anyway.


All estuary anglers enjoy the challenges of catching a mangrove jack. These crimson assailants love structure and are therefore best targeted within the canals, along rock walls, adjacent to bridge pylons and obviously around mangroves.

Jacks will take a broad array of lures and baits, predominately live baits. Minnow lures, soft plastics, blades and lipless crankbaits will all work on jacks when cast close to the structure. The closer you get the lure to the structure the better your chances are of enticing a jack.

Hooking them is usually the easy part of the capture equation due to their lightning fast reflexes which will often have you snagged or busted off before you can yell “I’m on”.

Live baits such as mullet, prawn, pike and herring, fished along the rock walls in the canals at Raby Bay, Aquatic Paradise and Newport Waterways, will put you in with a good chance of success for land-based and boating anglers.

Those with watercraft, even kayaks, can access many other areas in a host of creeks, rivers and canal systems. Other species you will encounter are bream, flathead, trevally, estuary cod, school mulloway and occasionally other species.


Schools of small tuna and bonito can often be found throughout the bay during September. These can be a lot of fun on light spin tackle and fly rods but can be a little pedantic at times, refusing everything thrown in their direction.

Anglers casting plastics to these feeding schools are often surprised to hook a snapper or other species if they allow their offering to sink well below the school. I usually dust off the fly rod and cast small flies at the pelagics. The small flies match the baitfish they are feeding on and can be delivered the desired distance with an intermediate line and a tight loop, even into the wind.

Try areas such as the Pearl Channel, Rous Channel, around Peel Island, Naval Reserve Banks, Middle Bank, Gilligan’s Island and along the front of Bribie Island. You will often find that afternoon falling tides are the prime time to target pelagics, but it pays to keep your eyes open and have a rod pre-rigged whenever you are travelling throughout the bay.

While you only need a light outfit to 4kg for these mini missiles, the odd larger sashimi torpedo, in the form of a longtail, will also be located, so ensure you have a heavier 6-10kg spin rod ready-rigged.

I had good success with the Maria Mucho Slugs last season and will again be throwing them at tuna at every opportunity, as they are the best I have ever used. However, most small chrome offerings can work when retrieved flat-stick, providing the longtails are in the right mood. The odd longtail is also found skirting the edges of these smaller tuna so keep your eyes open.


This waterway just continues to impress, especially considering it runs through the most densely settled area in Queensland. September usually produces some excellent results on threadfin salmon, snapper, bream, cod and other species. Anglers achieve results on both lures and baits, with live offerings the most productive fresh bait.

Most of the action for the threadfin happens in areas where shallow waters meet deep. However they are also found in expansive areas of shallow water, where they can be seen tailing on the flats and along the banks anywhere from the mouth to the Mount Crosby Reach.

At night threadies can often be seen smashing schools of bait attracted by the lights on man-made structures such as jetties, bridges, restaurants and pontoons, especially around the city reaches and further upstream in the Indooroopilly stretch.

They will take a broad array of lures and flies when feeding like this, however you can’t go far past Atomic Prongs, Jackall Mask Vibs, blades and suspending minnows. In the lower reaches from the Gateway Bridge to the mouth, anglers targeting threadfin work along the drop-offs into the main riverbed in front of the various jetties and around the oil pipeline.

Expect some quality snapper during September in these lower reaches as well. There is also the occasional large mulloway, which can weigh more than 15kg, just to keep things interesting.

As the evenings warm up, soaking live baits (mullet, herring, prawns and pike) along the edges of prominent drop-offs can provide some awesome action. Even if things are quiet piscatorial wise, it will be an enjoyable evening under the stars and a pleasant change from the devilishly cold winds of winter.


Although snapper are still around the bay in decent numbers, they will begin to drop off a little throughout September.

I often find that when the fishing is a little quiet, most anglers give up and there is no longer boats buzzing around the bay islands in search of old man snapper. This usually results in better quality fish for those with the faith to work their offerings throughout the quiet periods.

Although there will be fewer fish caught, September often produces some trophy specimens for anglers in the bay.

Soaking baits at night along some of the more prominent ledges in the northern bay, such as the Curtin Artificial, Cowan Ledge and Benowa Track will often entice snapper to 8kg and the occasional cobia and other species. Plastics fished around the bay islands and other popular locales will also continue to produce a few quality specimens.


These awesome creatures will hopefully be plentiful in Moreton Bay by now, but this will depend on the currents and water temperatures. Anglers soaking large live baits around any of the beacons, wrecks and ledges in the northern bay and the shallow offshore reefs will be putting themselves in with a good chance at success.

These stubborn fighters can be a real handful to gaff and you will need to really tire them out before attempting a shot with a high quality gaff, if you are keeping one for the table. Many of the better quality specimens in the bay are between 15-30kg so one will feed you for quite a while.

Overall there are a lot of options in Moreton Bay waters during September. Hopefully warm days will be complemented with nice weather, as this is a good time to get the family out on the bay to enjoy the outdoors and the great sport of fishing. With any luck the fishing gods will be smiling on us and results will be positive, making it a September to remember.

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