This is the best month of the year to target big snapper on the 36 fathom line as the big nobbies move in to spawn. With excellent fishing and a rapid drop in water temperature in early winter, conditions are prime for some great snapper fishing over the next few weeks.
Soft plastics, octa jigs and pilchards are all effective, but to specifically target big nobbies over 8kg nothing beats small livies or bigger dead baits such as mullet, especially if you can get a bit of berley into the feeding zone as well.
The 36 fathom line is a massive line of reef, so look for high pinnacles surrounded by flat stuff for the best results. Early morning and late afternoon are usually the best time to fish, and there is often a frantic bite just on dusk, especially when quality fish are around.
There should also be plenty of decent mulloway on the offshore grounds as well this month, with fish over 10kg common. Live baits and pilchards fished on the 24 fathom line at night are often very effective. With all the bait around on the inshore grounds and plenty of mullet in the river it should be an excellent season.
Keep the bait 1-2m off the bottom and use plenty of lead to keep it in place so the fish can easily catch your livie. Tailor, slimies and yellowtail are all effective but pike are probably the best bait if you can get them; jewies just love live pike.
Out on the 50 fathom line there should be plenty of pearl perch, amberjack, Samson and kings, with a few big snapper for those who know the better pinnacles. If the forecast is for light winds the 50s is a great place to head, but it can be extremely rough in a strong northwesterly.
Hopefully the leather jackets will be quiet this year so we don’t lose too much gear. Jigging metals is another good option this month and some of the biggest amberjack in this region are caught in August. Deep live baits are another good option and are the most reliable way to get stretched.
On the game fishing front, August can be a month of surprises. Quite a few years ago a few South African marlin anglers moved to the Gold Coast and started trolling the 50 fathom line in August. This was at a time where marlin fishing was considered a warm weather sport, and they surprised everyone with reliable catches of striped marlin and yellowfin.
Since that time, considering the relatively low level of effort put in, quite a lot of striped marlin have been caught this month on both baits and lures. So if the gannets are around and the bait schools are present, a day out trolling can be a very good option.
As the days get a bit longer and the water starts to warm a little the flathead begin their annual spawning run. Towards the end of June and beginning of July there were stacks of smaller fish in all the usual haunts, and in August a lot more big females will start to move towards the estuary mouths and generally feed up hard prior to spawning.
Trolling hardbodied lures and fishing plastics will be very successful this month, and after a good wet season the estuary is in excellent condition and it should be an excellent flathead season.
I went for a fish yesterday and while the fish were mostly 40-50cm, we caught 38 in a six hour session, and this should improve in August with more and bigger fish.
A lot has been written about the attributes of various types of soft plastics, but success is more related to jighead size and the effective delivery than the lure itself. So don’t spend too much time changing lures looking for that ‘magic bullet’.
Instead get a few reliable ‘confidence’ plastics and stick with them and focus on getting good long casts to the right spot at the right depth with the right action. And if you wish to troll, try Al Dolan’s Micro Mullets in pink and silver. I spent 10 years looking to find the best flathead hardbodied trolling lure and very few lures match the Micro Mullet in a session, let alone over a season.
You can try $40 Japanese minnows or any fancy looking piece of plastic bought over the Internet but the Micro Mullet is a bench mark that I never bettered, and I spent a stack of money trying to find a better lure for flathead trolling in 4m of water or less. I’ve matched these things against literally a hundred other lures over more than a decade at a ludicrous cost. My message is to stick to the ‘meat and potatoes’ Micro Mullet. It seems to be the lure flathead want to eat on the troll more than any other.
August is also a great month to chase jewies in the estuary on both plastics and live baits, and the Seaway and the Jumpinpin bar should fish well. Most of the bigger fish tend to be caught at night. Live mullet, pike and tailor get the most bites, and 7” white jerk shads are a very effective soft plastic to try.
There have been plenty of Australian salmon in the Broadwater over recent weeks and these should still be around in August. These infrequent visitors to Queensland are a bit of a novelty up here and fight hard. They can be quite tricky to catch but respond to small soft plastics and metal slugs. Hold well off the school and make long casts. They are also a great fish to target on saltwater fly.
Overall, this is a great month to fish the Gold Coast, and a good time to start practicing for the upcoming Flathead Classic to be held in late September this year. Watch out for strong westerlies and good luck out on the water.Reads: 1993