Many of us will be seeing plenty of red this August, as it is the perfect time to target big snapper off of our local waters. Although I’ve had great success on soft plastics for snapper I really enjoy fishing a bait down a berley trail and waiting for that anticipated bite.
Snapper will bite on a wide variety of baits but I think it’s pretty hard to go past a good quality pilchard. I’ve caught plenty on strip and butterfly baits but pillies will catch any class of fish.
When I’m bait fishing, I use float lining. This method consists of a small ball (as small as possible) sinker running right on to my hooks – McCubbin Glow Sinkers are by far the best. I free spooling the bait very slowly towards the bottom, once the snapper grabs the bait, which is generally on the decent, it will feel no resistance. Once I feel the ‘run’ I give it a second or so before firmly setting the hook. This method is particularly good for big snapper.
Snapper can be found at just about any reef offshore of the Gold Coast. The 24 fathom reefs off Surfers Paradise, Fidos, the Mud Hole and at times Deep Southern will hold good numbers.
Soft plastic fishing for snapper is a very effective method, and at times they will take a plastic over bait 10:1. Plastics can be extremely easy to fish, often by just making a long cast up current and stripping a bit of line out, or forgetting about it in the rod holder can be just as effective. I let my plastic drift to the bottom slowly, trying to attract a bite as the lure drops, and once the plastic has reached the bottom, give it a few sharp jerks and allow to sink again.
Snapper will bite on a wide range of plastics but Gulp, Guzzler or Bass Assassin are proven winners for me. I constantly vary my jighead, I find by having a selection from 1/4-1oz with varying hook sizes will do the deed most of the time.
Cobia will start to become more prevalent in August. These hard fighting fish are not only great sport but make fantastic table fare. Cobia are also partial to a soft plastic but if you want to target cobia effectively, then live bait is the way to go. I like to use fairly hefty live bait; tailor, juvenile snapper or slimey mackerel would be more than suitable. A running sinker to a heavy swivel and about 1m of 80lb leader to either a single or double hook rig, depending on the size of your bait, is my preferred rig. Lately I have had success fishing my livies on a circle hook but, particularly if the bait is quite large, two 8/0 ‘J’ style hooks are more suitable.
You will find cobia on any reef in our area, but they don’t seem to venture too wide so anything around the 18-24 fathom line, Palm Beach Reef and Fidos are all good places to kick off your cobia season.
If the weather is nice you may be keen to head a little bit wider from the coast. The 42 and 50 fathom line are the perfect places to target reef species like pearl perch, pig fish and morwong, as well as numerous other ooglies that like out there. When fishing these deep reefs I prefer to use a paternoster or dropper rig. I think because these fish mainly live close down to the bottom your bait spends more time in the bite zone.
Jigging metal knife style jigs is a good way to get your arms stretched by some hard fighting fish. Kingfish, Sampson, amberjack and bonito are all target species while jigging. These fish will live anywhere that there is reef so it’s worth giving a go next time you’re out. Jigs from 200-400g will cover most bases. By jigging and winding a fairly vigorous pace, this can spark the attention of a passing predator.
August is a good month to really kick off your annual flathead onslaught. The big breeders will be showing their faces regularly and following them will be plenty of numbers of smaller school fish. Along the breakwall of the Southport Seaway and the Tweed Bar is prime location for big flathead.
Most big plastics will fit the bill for deep water flathead but my new favourite is the Power RT brought out by Ecogear, this robust shad still has a great action even with a very heavy head, which is a big plus. I don’t think colour makes a huge difference, but I will vary my colours to the water clarity – if it’s dirty use something bright, if it’s clean use something light coloured. I’ve also had good results on Gulp Jerk Shads and Curl Tail Grubs. A 1oz jighead will do most of your deep water flathead work around the tide changes but anywhere around mid-tide you may need to go heavier to ensure you are making regular contact with the bottom.
When you are chasing smaller flathead, a smaller profile lure is required; something between 3-5” long matches the hatch. And there are plenty of different types of lures to choose from! I will generally swap and change all day, but I’m a big fan of a few in particular. The DOA 4” Jerk Shad is definitely one of my best lures and their colour range is fantastic, between this lure and an Ecogear BTS Shad, these two are the pick of the litter in my opinion.
I will generally only use two head weights when fishing shallower water. The 1/4oz and 3/8oz and I alter depending on water depth and the strength of the wind. I use coloured McCubbin jighead exclusively when fishing for flathead, as a fluoro colour can be what’s needed to get the bites at times! The best spots to try are Crab Island, the pylons around the Sundale Bridge and the Kennedy Drive Boat Harbour in the Tweed River.
School mulloway will be showing themselves in August and they, along with flathead, love soft plastics. I find plastics between 4-6” best for mulloway as it generally matches the size of their bait. They are mainly found around deep holes, drop-off and breakwalls, and these sorts of places are generally targeted most effectively around an hour or so either side of the change of tide. Try to fish about a 20lb line and a leader of around 30lb, this will allow a smaller specimen to still put up a fight but you have the stopping power in case you hook a big fish.
August is also a good month to target some stonker bream. These fish will take bait or lure and provide great sport throughout our estuaries. By casting hardbodies and soft plastics around the canals or shallow running crankbaits and poppers over the flats, you will be sure to nail a few. Bream can be quite finicky on lure so be sure to use a light leader, 6-8lb would be maximum.
Tailor, trevally and a few Australian salmon will be readily available around the Southport Seaway. If you can time a run-in tide around dawn or dusk it won’t take you long to come across some action. Casting surface lures and metal slugs around 20-40g is generally best, although a live herring or poddy mullet will do the trick as well.Reads: 1394