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Out with the Cold and in with the New
  |  First Published: August 2011



After tolerating a cold winter, it will be great to notice air and water temperatures warming slightly throughout August.

This change will heighten the opportunity for species such as school mackerel, cobia, summer whiting, sailfish, threadfin salmon and many others. However, winter species should still be around in numbers, with anglers continuing to score well on snapper, mulloway, bream, squid, tailor and others that they have targeted throughout the colder months. With such a good mix of species on offer, keen anglers will be eager to get amongst the action.

August can be a turbulent month weather wise, with cold blustery westerly winds limiting the opportunities for anglers venturing further offshore. Hopefully these winds will be kind this year, allowing us to get out onto the water to sample the plethora of angling targets. Beach fishing sessions, during westerly winds can be pleasant and productive, offering opportunities for all to get into some quality fish.

COBIA

August usually heralds the start of some pretty awesome cobia fishing, although this species gets caught in limited numbers all year round.

Larger fish tend to enter the bay around this time of the year and patrol the various channels, coffee rock or rubble grounds and around many of the shipping channel beacons.

Here they dine on a wide array of species including slimy mackerel, yakkas, squid, crabs, grinners, whiptails and various demersal species including snapper, sweetlip and cod. These fish all make prime bait for cobia but remember to adhere to any minimum size limits.

Bay fish generally average around 12kg but specimens to over 40kg can be encountered. Cobia are a tough adversary therefore I would advise approximately 15kg line to maximize capture rates. However, I have successfully targeted them on all line classes between 6kg and 24kg over the years.

Cobia are one of my favorite table species. In fact, the larger specimens, especially those over 25kg, taste better than the smaller ones. There is a bag limit of two cobia per person in place now (previously it was 10). One quality fish is enough to provide many meals for a family, so limit your take of this species

Dropping a live-bait adjacent to the beacons on the M, NW and NE series and then drifting away with the current is a good ploy for targeting cobia. Do this several times on each beacon before moving on to the next.

Cobia will generally try and bust you up on any structure. If you hook up, drive directly to the beacon and pull hard on the fish. They will generally pull against your efforts, heading away from the beacon. This greatly reduces the risk of them wrapping you around the beacon and while it doesn’t always work, it’s much more successful than standing your ground and trying to stop them reaching the beacon.

Snelled hook rigs and 40-70kg leaders will complete your rig. I prefer circle hooks as they set well, generally in the corner of the fish’s mouth and are therefore easier to remove and better for the survival rate of released fish.

Anchoring around prominent reef and rubble grounds such as those found at Western Rocks, Pearl Channel and Benowa Track Grounds and floating out your live baits while berleying with finely cut pilchard pieces will also work well. Berley attracts all manner of species to the general area and their feeding antics will attract any cobia within the general precinct.

Other areas worth trying are the Cowan Ledge, Curtin Artificial and Caloundra Four Mile Grounds.

MULLOWAY

This winter has been one of the best seasons for mulloway for many years. Baitfish proliferation, due to the early year floods, meant increased numbers of fish have entered the estuaries and rivers throughout the southeast.

Last season there was a lot of fish caught that did not eclipse the minimum size limit of 75cm. This year has also seen a lot of juveniles caught, but there has also been a good number of fish between 75-100cm and more.

The Brisbane River has produced plenty of quality fish with anglers finding success from the shore and from boats. Live baits have been the best bet for the shore-based anglers although some have also achieved results on soft plastic shads such as Castaic Jerky J Boot-tails, Squidgy Slick Rigs, Z-Man Swimmerz and many others.

I managed a decent shore-based mulloway of 85cm on a Sebile Magic Swimmer late one night in June as well as several good 50cm+ tailor, which just goes to show the possibilities that the Brisbane River holds. Many trips to the river have produced a couple of legal mulloway as well as other species including cod, tailor, bream, snapper and threadfin.

August sees some of the larger mulloway being caught, especially in the deeper channels by anglers live baiting. Good places to try include the Gold Coast Seaway, Tweed River, Pumicestone Passage, Brisbane River and Jumpinpin Bar area. Live baits, including mullet, gar, pike, yakkas, slimey mackerel and squid will heighten chances for those trophy fish.

SCHOOL TIME

Historically August is a prime month for school mackerel in the Rous Channel and some other locales. The upper end of the Rous Channel sees good numbers of school mackerel being caught by recreational and commercial fishers.

The commercial guys troll small spoons (such as the Halco Barra Drone No.3) behind paravanes, which puts them down into the strike zone. These rigs are trolled on heavy handlines by the commercial fishers, however rods are generally favored by the recreational sector. Line classes greater than 10kg will be required due to the huge pressure applied by the paravane.

These spoons are generally trolled at between 3-5 knots depending on the current. My preferred approach is to drift the channel with unweighted pilchards pinned on ganged hooks. These can be fished on much lighter line providing a more sporting approach and heightened fun. I generally use 4-6kg monofilament and find this sufficient for most fish hooked.

The upper reaches of the Rous Channel between the last two reds and first green beacon are often fished heavily however all sections of the Rous Channel, as well as Browns Gutter and the Rainbow Channel are all worth prospecting.

Other species such as flathead, longtail tuna, bonito, sharks, rays and many others will also be tempted by your offerings. Anchoring and berleying with small pieces of cut pilchard is another successful approach. During the slower stages of the tide your pilchard will need to be suspended under a float to avoid it sinking to the bottom where it will likely be smashed by scavengers.

An occasional Spanish mackerel is also caught in this area throughout August and the next few months. School mackerel will be caught around the beacons in the bay at times, however the Rous Channel and Rainbow Channel provide your best chances of success.

THREADFIN

Threadfin salmon have become regular captures for anglers fishing in the Brisbane River at any time of the year however as the waters warm the bite rate increases along with it. Threadfin well over 120cm are around, but the average fish is around 80cm.

These fish can be found around any bait schools and lurking along the drop-offs into the main riverbed. These areas can be fished with both baits and lures. Hopping your lures down these declines is a successful approach. Good offerings include Jackall Trans Am and Mask Vibe, Castaic Boot-tails, Z-Man Swimmerz, Thready Busters, Atomic Prongs and many varied plastics.

Most offerings will work when fished well. Keep the offering close to the bottom, using small hops, just like the antics of a panicking prawn, when fishing the declines into the main riverbed. Threadfin will lurk along this feature especially during the falling tide, as baitfish, prawns and other morsels are flushed from the adjacent flats by the receding water.

Other species you are likely to encounter can include bream, flathead, mulloway, snapper and cod. If you find prominent bait schools then these are also worth targeting because threadfin and other species are likely to be lurking nearby.

Live baits will work a treat for threadfin and other species in the Brisbane River. Try herring, mullet, pike, prawns and gar, pinned lightly and fished with a minimum of lead. Shore-based anglers generally do well on these offerings, catching threadfin right along the length of the river, well up past the city reaches.

Popular spots include the Colmslie Jetty and pontoon, Mowbray Park, Newstead Park, Gateway Bridge precinct and anywhere else you can access the Brisbane River.

When fishing from these areas be sure to clean up any mess you have made. The Council will close these land-based structures to anglers if they continually have to clean up after you. After cast-netting from any structure, throw a few buckets of water over it to wash off the mud and debris.

Threadfin numbers in the Brisbane River cop a hammering therefore releasing most of your catch quickly will guarantee the survival of this important sport fishing species in our waters. If you can manage release them without removing the fish from the water then survival rates are improved greatly.

SNAPPER

While numbers of snapper will still be good throughout August, anglers fishing the shallows around the bay islands may find the going a little tougher. This is generally due to fact that water clarity will be high due to the effects of the westerly winds.

Good bites will still be experienced throughout the extremities of the day, dawn and dusk, however the fishing throughout the daylight hours will be tough at times. The best ploy is to work deeper water where the snapper will seek refuge during periods of high light.

Try the artificial reefs, the deeper ledges between Tangalooma and Comboyuro, the various wrecks scattered throughout the bay, lower reaches of the Rous Channel and isolated patches of reef, rubble and coffee rock in the main channels. A few good fish will even come from around the beacons in the bay, especially by those who berley.

The offshore reefs fish well right throughout the day but the shallower areas such as Brennans Shoals, Robert Shoals and the coffee rock along the front of Moreton Island will mainly experience a hot bite pre-dawn and just on dusk. These grounds fish especially well for anglers using soft plastics and sometimes produce XOS squid, which are usually a welcome by-catch.

Night sessions soaking quality baits around the bay islands should reward you with some quality snapper and other species for anglers who anchor well up from their chosen spot and who stay exceptionally quiet while fishing.

This is especially relevant for the Scarborough Reef area, which produces quality catches for those who fish lighter rigging and stay in stealth mode.

WHITING

These tasty specimens will start to increase in numbers this month although the larger winter whiting are still the prized catch for many anglers.

What the summer whiting lack in size, they make up for in number. Good hauls of succulent summer whiting can be taken by knowledgeable anglers using quality baits and light rigging.

Live worms or thin tenderized strips of squid are prime baits, but peeled green prawns, frozen beach worms and thin strips of chicken will also work. Fine, long shank hooks, minimum lead and a fluorocarbon leader will heighten chances.

Try areas such as the Rous Channel, Browns Gutter, Blue Hole, Small Ships Channel and any of the prominent banks throughout the bay. Check on green zone regulations and speed limits as many of the banks now have some limitations for boating access and angling.

SAILFISH

Although there could be billfish of any kind around throughout August, it is generally the sailfish that show up first, especially in the grounds off the Sunshine Coast.

Between the Eight Mile and Eighteen Mile grounds, sailfish can be fairly numerous at times but will only hold in the area if baitfish schools are present. Hutchinson Shoals, the Trench, and all waters in between these three locales can hold pods of sailfish, so exploring can pay dividends.

When searching for sailfish swimming or skipping baits, especially gar, will produce the best results. Once areas are located where fish are holding, then try slow trolling live baits such as yakkas or slimey mackerel. For lure anglers, skirted offerings can also work but baits will generally out produce these ten to one.

Sailfish are one of those species that can be absent one day and in almost plague proportions the next. They are great fun on 6-15kg tackle and can reach sizes in excess of 50kg in our waters.

August awe

Well as you can tell there are plenty of options for keen anglers throughout August with a good variety of species on offer. The weather is starting to warm towards the latter half of the month, with the fishing action improving for many species and dwindling slightly for others.

This could be your last ditch effort to go out and target your favorite cool weather species. So far, the cooler months have provided some awesome angling but we are destined for some hot action throughout summer. Bring it on! I can’t wait.

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