One of the best things about fishing in July is the weather. While it does get a little cool at night and the early mornings, the day and afternoons are nothing short of spectacular throughout the Southern Bay.
The ideal weather is a forecast for a cold clear night with southwesterly winds dropping out through the morning. Usually by lunchtime the conditions are nice and calm continuing through until after dark. Now I know that most anglers recommend fishing early mornings and late in the evenings for the best results; in many cases it is the most productive time to fish. However, in winter these calm warm afternoons can provide some extremely enjoyable fishing with the added bonus of not losing any precious sleep.
For an afternoon session around the bay there are a number of species to target. On a rising tide, bream and tailor will be hunting in the shallows. The closer it gets to dark, the better the tailor numbers, but bream will generally bite well on small lures right through the day. Some good areas to try are the shallow edges of Goat and Bird islands, especially the spit that runs between the two. At Peel Island, the southwest rocks area is always worth a go, while further south the northeast end of Coochiemudlo Island can be very productive. At Redland bay, the rock walls at the mouth of the harbour and rocky points to the north and south are worth a look. Further up at Cleveland point, there are good rock and gravel patches for access by land-based and boat-based anglers.
Another target for the afternoon session is the squid. This humble critter has had its profile raised over the last few years with more and more anglers becoming interested in these tasty cephalopods. Squid love calm weather more than most other species, so when the water gets stirred up they tend to head for cleaner pastures and winter is when the water is at its clearest in South East Queensland.
On a rising tide the squid will get right up into the bay shallows, hunting among rocks and weed for small fish, prawns and crabs. When the tide runs out, the squid retreat to deeper coral and rock ledges, where they can still be caught but they are generally not as aggressive as on the rising tide.
For chasing squid in the shallows, smaller jigs in the #2 to #2.5 size are ideal as they don’t sink as fast as larger jigs. Some models such as the Daiwa Emeraldas SZ-RV sink more slowly again for their size, giving them more ‘hang time’ to be grabbed by the squid. Short sharp twitches with the rod tip or a more rhythmic walk-the-dog style retrieve with pauses to let the jig sink to the bottom (or as close as you dare in rough country) is most productive. The zig-zagging and twitching gets the squids attention, while the pause allows it to sneak up and attack the lure.
Choice of jig colour is a hotly debated topic around the place but my personal preference is for bright fluoro colours in low light and dirty water, while more natural coloured tan, olive and brown with gold or red reflective tape underneath get the nod in clear conditions.
On a falling tide, sandy areas, especially those adjacent to rocky points, gutters and channels will be home to flathead (both dusky and bar-tailed are common) as well as the odd flounder. The shoreline around Redland Bay can be quite productive as can the flats on the inside of Coochiemudlo Island. There are numerous areas among Garden, Macleay and Karragarra islands where a flathead can lay ambush to its next meal.
Drifting a gang hooked pilchard is a good way to go, as is slow hopping a soft plastic such as a Gulp Jigging Grub along the bottom. Trolling small deep diving lures such as 76mm Koolie Minnows or Deep Maria Cranks is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. The main thing to remember with flathead trolling is that the slower the better and that the lures need to touch the bottom every so often. This causes little puffs of silt and sand to kick up, imitating the prey and also ensures that the lures are close to the bottom, where the flathead feed.
Some of the largest Bay snapper are caught at night in the dead of winter, but there are plenty of smaller size specimens in the 35-65cm range around in daylight hours. Again, mid to late afternoon is a good time to have a go at them. All of the reef drop-offs around Peel, Mud and Green islands are worth a look as are the ledges in front of Wellington and Cleveland points.
When conditions are calm, light lines can be an important factor in encouraging snapper to bite. For most of the year, 12-15lb lines and leaders are suitable for snapper fishing in daylight hours. In the middle of winter many experienced anglers drop down to 8-10lb fluorocarbon leaders to make their presentations just that little bit stealthier. It can really pay off in the number of bites that you receive, but it can also leave you seriously undergunned when a larger fish takes a liking to your lure or bait.
Another trick is to steer clear of bright fluorescent coloured lures in the clear water and downsize the bait or soft plastic.
Until next month, tight lines! If you would like more information about fishing the Southern Bay, just drop in and see us at Fish Head in the Victoria Point Town Centre (just across the car park from McDonalds) or send an email to --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 2250