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I see red
  |  First Published: August 2011



Many of us will be seeing red this August, as it’s the prime month to target big snapper off our local waters.

Though I’ve had great success on soft plastics for snapper I really enjoy fishing a bait down a berley trail and waiting for that anticipated bite. Snapper will bite on a wide variety of baits but it’s pretty hard to go past a good quality pilchard.

I’ve caught plenty on strip and butterfly baits but I think pillies will catch any class of fish. When bait fishing, I favour float lining, which consists of a small ball (as small as possible) sinker running right on to my hooks; McCubbin glow sinkers are by far the best.

This rig is best fished by free spooling the bait very slowly towards the bottom. Snapper tend to grab the bait as it descends and at first will feel no resistance. When I feel the ‘run’ I wait a second or so before firmly setting the hook. I think when fishing for big snapper this method is probably best.

The snapper can be found at just about any reef offshore of the Gold Coast but the 24 fathom reefs off Surfers Paradise, Fidos, the Mud Hole and at times Deep Southern will all also hold good numbers.

Without a doubt soft plastic fishing for snapper is a very effective method, and at times they will often take a plastic over bait. Plastics can be extremely easy to fish, often by just making a long cast up current and stripping a bit of line out and forgetting about it in the rod holder can be just as effective as anything.

I like to let my plastic to the bottom slowly, trying to attract a bite as the lure drops and once the plastic has reached the bottom, give it a few sharp jerks and allow to it sink again. Snapper will bite on a wide range of plastics but Gulp, Guzzler or Bass Assassin are proven winners. I constantly vary my jighead; having a selection from 1/4oz to 1oz with varying hook sizes will do the deed most of the time.

Cobia will start to become more prevalent in August. These hard fighting fish are not only great sport but make fantastic table fair. Cobia are also quite partial to a soft plastic, but a doubt live bait is undoubtedly the most effective way to target these fish.

I like to use fairly hefty live bait, such as tailor, a small snapper or slimey mackerel. A running sinker to a heavy swivel and about 1m of 80lb leader, to either a single or double hook rig depending on the size of your bait is my preferred rig. Lately I have had success fishing my livies on a circle hook but if the bait is quite large, then two 8/0 J style hooks are probably more suitable.

Cobia frequent any of the reefs in our area, but they don’t seem to venture too wide so anything around the 18 to 24 fathom line as well as Palm Beach Reef and Fidos are all good places to kick off your cobia season.

If the weather is nice you may be keen to head a little bit wider from the coast. The 42 and 50 fathom line are the perfect places to target reef species like pearl perch, pigfish and morwong, as well as numerous others. When fishing these deep reefs I prefer to use a paternoster or dropper rig as these species mainly live close down to the bottom, so your bait spends more time in the bite zone.

Jigging metal knife style jigs is a good way to get your arms stretched by some hard fighting fish. Kingfish, Sampson, amberjack and bonito are all jigging target species. These fish will live anywhere that there is reef so it’s worth giving a go next time you’re out. Jigs from 200-400g will cover most bases. By jigging and winding a fairly vigorous pace, this can spark the attention of a passing predator.

INSHORE

August is a good month to really kick off your annual flathead onslaught. The big breeders will be showing their faces regularly and following them will be plenty of numbers of smaller school fish.

Along the break walls of both the Southport seaway and the Tweed bar are prime locations for big flathead.

Most big plastics will fit the bill for deep water flathead but my new favourite is the Power RT brought out by Ecogear, this robust shad still has a great action even with a very heavy head, which is a big plus. I don’t think colour makes a huge difference, I tend to vary my colours according to the water clarity; if it’s dirty use something bright, if it’s clean use something light coloured

Gulp jerk shads and Curl Tail Grubs have also produced good results. A 1oz jighead will do most of your deep water flathead work around the tide changes but anywhere around mid-tide you may need to go heavier to ensure you are making regular contact with the bottom.

When you are chasing smaller flathead a smaller profile lure is required. I find something between 3-5” matches the hatch. I will generally swap and change lure types all day, but I’m a big fan of a few in particular. The DOA 4” jerk shad is defiantly one of my best lures and their colour range is fantastic. This lure and an Ecogear BTS shad are the pick of the litter in my opinion. I will generally only use two head weights when fishing shallower water, I find 1/4oz and 3/8oz and I alter depending on water depth and how strong the wind is. I use coloured McCubbin jighead exclusively when fishing for flathead, a fluoro colour jighead can be at times what’s needed to get the bites!

In august spots to try are Crab Island, the pylons around the Sundale Bridge and the Kennedy Drive boat harbour in the Tweed River.

School jew will be showing themselves in August and, along with flathead, they also love soft plastics. I find plastics between 4-6” best for jew as it generally matches the size bait that they will feed on. These fish are mainly found around deep holes, drop off and break walls, and these sorts of places are generally targeted most effectively around an hour or so either side of the change of tide.

For jew I try to fish about a 20lb line and a leader of around 30lb, this will allow a smaller jew to still put up a fight but you have the stopping power in case you hook a big fish.

August is also a good month to target some stonker bream. These fish will take bait or lure and provide great sport throughout our estuaries. Cast hardbodied lures and soft plastics around the canals or shallow running crank baits and poppers over the flats you will be sure to nail a few. Bream can be quite finicky on lures so be sure to use a light leader, 6lb or 8lb max.

Tailor, trevally and a few Australian salmon will be readily available around the Southport seaway, and if you can time a run-in tide around dawn or dusk it won’t take you long to come across some action. Casting surface lures and metal slugs around 20-40g is generally best, though a live herring or poddy mullet will do the trick as well.

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