Unusual winter hard to predict
  |  First Published: August 2013

August generally has westerly winds and inshore the conditions are usually quite calm. It is a great month for deep water reef fishing off the Gold Coast and is generally the best time of the year to catch big snapper on the 36 fathom line.

So far this year the water temperatures throughout early winter have been quite high, at 22-23ºC, and with big numbers of large Spanish mackerel still around Coffs Harbour in July it is a very unusual winter. It is unclear as to whether the constant warm water may affect the snapper spawning season and fish patterns are hard to predict.

The 36 and 50 fathom line are the most reliable places to fish this month. As a guide, fish early and late on the 36 fathom line targeting snapper by float lining or soft plastics, and chase pearl perch, amberjack, Samson and kingfish on the 50 fathom line when the sun is high in the sky. Light westerlies less than 15 knots are the best conditions to fish out wide. It gets very rough in a 20-25 knot northwesterly so stay inshore if this is the forecast.

In closer there should be cobia, snapper and teraglin on the 24 and 18 fathom reefs and a few mulloway at night. A bit of berley definitely helps get the bite going and dawn and dusk until dark are generally the best times. So far the inshore grounds have still had quite a bit of pelagic activity into July, which is most unusual, with Spanish mackerel and wahoo still being caught regularly. I doubt this will last into August but with fish as far south as Port Macquarie still getting caught we may see August mackerel off the Gold Coast. A lot of anglers fishing floating pilchards on mono traces have been bitten off by macks.

Cobia haven’t shown in numbers so far but the warm temperatures may mean the cobia run is late as the main body of fish may still be on the mid north NSW coast. They could show in numbers in August with a bit of luck. The reefs in 18 fathoms just in front of the seaway are worth a look and the artificial reefs in 23m of water to the north of the Seaway have produced cobia and mackerel this winter. Most of the cobia have been between 12-20kg with not many really big ones showing up as yet.

For the game fisher, August is erratic. Some years produce a reasonable run of striped marlin, and there should still be a few blue marlin and yellowfin out wide for the persistent troller but it requires patience to get the bites.

Deep water bottom fishing with electric reels on features such as Jims Mountain is another good option if there is minimal current. Target species include bass groper, blue eye trevalla and bar code.


August is a great time of year to fish the Gold Coast Broadwater. Flathead will be around in numbers, there should be big mulloway in the Jumpinpin and Seaway entrances and the spawning run of bream and mullet will congregate in the river mouths and nearby beaches.

There have been huge schools of white pilchards in the Seaway area and large schools of tailor and giant trevally following them. This will continue into August and spinning with small silver metal lures should be effective. Over the last two seasons we have also seen plenty of Australian salmon turning up in August and they may arrive again this month if the water cools down.

August is also a good month to chase squid in the Broadwater. The best conditions are a still day on the last of a run-in tide with clean water. Work your squid jigs over the weed beds slowly and vary the colour and depth of the jig. I really like some of the Yamashita jigs, particularly in the darker colours. These last very well and although more expensive than some other squid lures the catch rate makes them a good investment. Squidding at night under the lights along the foreshores is another great option.

Flathead fishing should be good in August with the big female fish starting to move towards the river mouths in preparation for the spring spawning season. Jumpinpin and the Seaway area start to produce quite a few fish over 70cm on deep soft plastics, trolled lures and vibes.

The central Broadwater from Crab Island to Tipplers also produces a lot of 40-70cm fish for trollers and on cast plastics. Over the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of success using small Zerak Prawns fished on a 1/8oz jighead. This has produced a lot of small to medium fish. These lures are very durable with my first one still going strong after more than 30 fish. The Kevlar body strip works really well to give great tail action while maintaining strength and durability.

Mulloway should be around in numbers this month with a lot of the bigger fish getting caught at night. The mouth of Swan Bay, the seaway and the deep hole near Sovereign Island are all worth a look. Live mullet and soft plastics are usually the most effective methods. The hour either side of high tide is the main bite period.

Towards the end of the month the mullet numbers start to drop off a bit and the mulloway tend to feed down deep. At this time working deep soft plastics such as Gulp 7” jerk shads can be very effective. They also catch plenty of big flathead as well as mulloway.

Overall, August is a great month in the estuaries and a very good time to catch your PB snapper off the Gold Coast.


Michael with a decent mulloway, which is considered small by night standards.


Helen Cooper with a 60cm flathead. The big female fish will start moving towards the river mouths in preparation for the spring spawning season.


August is the best time to catch big snapper.

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