Cold snap, big snapper
  |  First Published: August 2012

This winter has been cold. The spawning run of snapper began in June so this month the season will be in full swing with a lot of bigger fish being caught.

The 36 fathom line generally produces the best catches. Octa jigs, jerk shad soft plastics and the ever-reliable float-lined pilchard all produce good results. For bigger fish tougher bigger baits, such as mullet frames, sergeant baker fillets and whole slimies or slimy mackerel heads, can produce monster nobbies at times.

If you are targeting big snapper and locate a good showing on your sounder it is important to turn off your sounder, as the pinging noise puts big wary fish off the bite. Quite a few snapper over 8kg will be caught and it shouldn’t be too hard to get a bag limit in good weather conditions.

Closer to shore there are migrating schools of mullet, tailor and luderick moving along the beaches. There can be some outstanding tailor fishing by spinning with metal lures in the back of the surf line when the westerlies blow hard. The area just east of the Jumpinpin Bar can produce fish up to 4kg but you need to be very careful to not get caught inside the break. We usually have a designated driver and make long casts into the outer end of gutters or onto breaking waves.

The close reefs will produce cobia, mulloway, snapper, teraglin and bonito. Berleying and fishing light line works pretty well on most occasions, and I generally fish a floating pilchard on the rod in my hand and set a couple of live baits deep or mid water. Live tailor and big slimies are the most effective baits for big cobia and jewies.

For gamefishers August can produce yellowfin tuna and striped marlin. The water temperature on the Continental Shelf rarely drops below 20ºC these days and August is often the time we see the coldest water of the year. In July there were quite good catches of blue and striped marlin still being reported with yellowfin tuna to 40kg turning up on trolled lures on a fairly regular basis. Quite a few mahi mahi have also been caught.

Cubing with cut pilchards may be a good option this month, particularly if there is bait and bird activity in the general area. The waters off the Gold Coast are a much better winter yellowfin tuna fishery than most people realise, but this gets little attention from anglers.

On the 50 fathom line there should be pearl perch, kingfish, amberjacks and Samson fish in good numbers with some big snapper as well. The 50 fathom reef is quite extensive and runs as a long ridge of rock from east of the Tweed to east of Point Lookout. All along this ridge there are good fishing opportunities. Jigging, live baiting and fishing paternoster rigs are all successful strategies to try.


The early winter rain has really got the fish on the move. Cold nights have triggered a lot of fish movement, and the entrances around the Seaway and Jumpinpin are full of fish moving in and out on the tide.

In August, the mullet should be in big numbers and these attract a wide range of predators from sharks to big mulloway. Since the new legal size for mulloway was increased to 75cm there has been a great increase in the number of small mulloway being caught, but these are rapidly growing fish that will grow from 60cm to 80cm long in less than a year. A mate recently caught a nice 101cm mulloway in the Seaway that had a tag in it. This fish was tagged at a bit over 80cm a year earlier in the mouth of the Brisbane River.

Target big mulloway at night this month using big live mullet, and chase the smaller school fish on the drift during the day on small live baits or soft plastics. The best live bait to use during the day is a live pike. Jewies can’t resist them.

August is one of the best months of the year to chase flathead throughout the whole estuary. By this time a lot of the adult females are roed up and start to move into the entrances around Jumpinpin and the Seaway. These fish require a lot of energy to spawn and put on condition so they feed hard. There are also a lot of fish in the central Broadwater this month from Crab Island through to Tippler’s Passage. Most of these are in the 40-60cm bracket.

If the water is clean we generally catch between 20-40 flathead a session. It pays to work out which lures they are partial to on a given day as they can be quite fickle. You need to experiment with soft plastics, blades, lipless crankbaits and hardbodied minnows and mix it up between trolling and casting to find the most successful method. If the fish are active and chasing bait they like faster more active presentations. When the north westerlies blow and the water is dirty slow your retrieves right down and try trolling.

As the water starts to warm up towards the end of the month it is definitely worth going for an early season mangrove jack session. I’ve done quite well in late August in the past and the percentage of fish lands often seems higher as they aren’t quite as uncontrollable when hooked in cold water. The rock bars in the Nerang are a good spot to try this month.

Overall August can be a cold but productive month for anglers on the Gold Coast. The Flathead Classic isn’t far away and a lot of teams will be out practising this month and the conditions so far have been excellent.

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