As the years rolls around to July, the days will get shorter and a whole new host of species will be on offer.
July is a prime snapper month, and they are available to be caught using a number of different methods. Soft plastics for snapper is a growing epidemic in our area and those who have tried it will understand why. When using softies for snapper I find most of my bites are as the lure is descending. And I generally find the fish that eat the lure on the drop are of a better class of fish. So I try to use the lightest jighead possible so that the sink times are maximised. When selecting a jighead there are many factors to take into account. These factors are mainly current and water depth and you may find yourself using anything from 1/4-1 1/2oz so don’t be afraid to experiment. I use a threadline outfit with 20–30lb line and I think braided line is a must. As far as type of soft plastic goes, I’m probably more of a fan of jerkshad-style plastics as I find they are less affected by strong current. Guzzler, Bass Assassins and Gulps are all favourites of mine and I think colour is not that crucial.
If soft plastics are not really your thing, a big knobby snapper will rarely pass up a well presented bait. By letting your bait slowly waft down with a small sinker you will be able to target the better quality fish that sit higher off of the bottom. This time of year the 18 and 24 fathom reefs east of Surfers Paradise, as well as Fidos and the Mud Hole all will produce the goods.
As well as snapper there will be a range of reef species around a little bit wider of the coast. The 36 and 42 fathom reefs will hold good numbers of pearl perch, parrot fish, pig fish and a wide variety of others. I find when targeting reefies such as these it’s pretty hard to beat a paternoster rig due to these fish living hard on the bottom. As far as bait goes, anything fresh is best. Pillies, squid and flesh baits will all produce good results.
Cobia will start to show up more and more throughout July. These fish are great fighting and also great table fair. You will find them more prevalent on the closer reefs such as the 18s and 24s as well as the Tweed Nine Mile and Palm Beach reef. Cobia are quite partial to a soft plastic, but big live bait is preferred by most. Live baits such as tailor, squire, slimeys or yakkas are fine and anything up to about a kilo is more than edible to a passing cobia. I like fishing an 8oz barrel sinker fixed between 2 swivels then run to 1 or 2 (depending on bait size) 9/0 hooks on a trace of around 80lb. Line of 30-50lb is fine for cobia but a big one will still give you plenty of curry, so beware of obstructions such as anchor ropes during a long fight.
The flathead season will really start to kick off in July. These fish are one of the most popular sport and table fish on the east coast so why not give them a go while they are around. Flathead are found almost everywhere wet, but if you want to target them successfully there are a few things to keep in mind. Flathead are very tide dependant, and due to this each, spot works on different stages of the tide. At a low tide try the gutters around Crab Island and behind SeaWorld. And for a higher tide ,the fish will generally be more spread out to on the top of the weed banks in most of the estuaries particularly the southern bank at the entrance of Tallebudgera and the mouth of the Tweed. Flatties will eat most lures, both trolled and cast. For trolling I think you have to have a few Lively Lure Micro Mullets. These are the best flathead trolling lure hands down! Other good ones to try are locally made Pig Lures and Ecogear SX48 and SX60.
Soft plastics are the most effective way to catch flathead. Anything from 3-6” will catch flathead in most applications. One of my new favourites, which I have had great success on so far this season is an Ecogear 5” Paramax. This is a curl tailed plastic. If you use this plastic you will catch a swag of fish. As usual with soft plastics the size of your jighead can be dictated by several things; water depth, tidal flow and wind strength are all contributing factors. I generally use 1/4-3/8oz for most of my flathead fishing as they are the most versatile.
There will be plenty of tailor showing up at the river mouths on the start of the run in tide and as well as most headlands and surf beaches. Tailor are ravenous but can be quite fickle from time to time. By using metal slug-style lures you will rarely miss out on a feed. But an important tip is to match the size of your lure to the size of the bait that the fish are feeding on, this can sometimes take a bit of experimenting on each given day but for most efforts anything from 20-40g is fine.
Sea bream will no doubt be on offer and are widely targeted. If you’re chasing a quick feed, a running ball sinker to a meter long trace and a size 2 hook, is the most effective rig. And as far as bait goes yabbies, soldier crab and white pilchards are all top performers.Reads: 666