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Give it a try in July
  |  First Published: July 2014



Fishing throughout the Moreton Bay area during July is usually rather productive, however anglers need to expect some cold morning starts or night time chill to get amongst the better quality fish on offer. Tailor, snapper, squid, mulloway, bream and numerous others are available for those who make the effort. With winter well and truly here, now is a great time to get out to make the most of the cold water species.

MULLOWAY

In years past, mulloway have been exceptionally hard to locate and target. However, since 2011 the numbers been increasing steadily throughout the river, bay and estuarine waters, with average sizes increasing. Legal specimens over 75cm are not that hard to locate now and are regularly taken on baits and lures. Some of the more reliable locations include the Brisbane River, Harry Atkinson Artificial Reef, Peel Island Artificial, Logan River, around the Bribie Island Bridge, Caboolture River and numerous other locations. Any specimen over a metre definitely rates a mention but it is the larger trophy specimens over 15kg that anglers strive for.

Mulloway will accept a broad array of offerings, both real and artificial. Live baits of mullet, herring, pike, banana prawns and the like are prime offerings yet a broad array of quality dead baits will also interest them. Try pilchards, whole squid, fillet baits and diver whiting fished on strong, appropriately sized hooks and with at least a 30lb monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. Targeting larger specimens generally dictates an upgrade in tackle and leader strength.

Lures can be used in a host of situations with different offerings being easier to fish in some situations. For deeper waters such as the Harry Atkinson and Brisbane River mouth, I generally use blades, vibes (such as Trans Am, Samaki Vibelicious, Jack Hammer Fish Candy etc.) or soft plastic shads and curl tails with 3/8oz to 1/2oz jigheads. Micro jigs can also be put to good use in the many locations, and the knowledge pool on working these lures is rapidly growing amongst SEQ anglers. I was shown few good techniques by a Japanese angler whilst on a trip in Malaysia recently which I am keen to work on, as I have had very little exposure to this form of fishing in the field.

Locating mulloway can often be as simple as locating the bait because the jewies are generally not too far away from a food source. Finding them has been made too easy for some anglers since the introduction of side imaging sounders some years ago. Anglers with a good knowledge of their sounder’s workings can drift through an area locating fish or prominent bait schools more than 30m out to each side of their vessel. From here it is a simply matter of marking that bait and then returning to that location to work it over in your chosen method.

At night, lighted areas within our rivers and estuaries can be especially productive. These attract bait which in turn attracts mulloway and other predators such as threadfin, tailor and numerous others. Quality mulloway are now fairly easy to locate and catch, so try your luck.

BREAM

Another month of cool weather will have done wonders for the numbers of bream throughout the estuaries. These plucky fish can enter the inshore waters en masse during the cooler months and make a great target for anglers of all skill levels. You don’t need to be a tournament pro to get amongst the bream – they can be caught on the most simple hand caster, hook and bait combination. However, a good knowledge of their habits and preferences can go a long way to increasing your results, especially in the size stakes.

Bream will engulf a broad array of smaller lures and most baits. Obviously, quality fresh baits are more likely to produce better quality fish, however humble offerings such as pilchard cubes, mullet gut, fowl gut, frozen prawns and squid strips will still entice them.

Most creek, river, estuarine and shallow bay reef areas will hold some good numbers of bream. These can be targeted in any of the aforementioned ways, with some areas being better options on the lower stages of the tide and others during the higher stages. Although each area can fish a little differently you will generally catch bream at any time in most areas. The Scarborough Reef is definitely a good area to prospect for those trophy class bream. Specimens over 1kg are regularly caught here along with an array of other species including snapper, estuary cod, sweetlip, flathead and numerous others.

While bait fishing will produce results, there is no denying that those with good lure fishing skills and a good knowledge of this area will reap the rewards on most days. The shallows around the bay islands (Mud, Peel, Green, Bird, Goat, Coochiemudlo etc.) will generally fish well on the higher stages of the tide. Most anglers cast small diving minnow lures or topwater offerings in these zones. While specialised techniques at specific locations will often produce those larger specimens, casting out a bait in any creek, river or estuarine system throughout the cooler months is likely to reward you with a feed of tasty bream.

SNAPPER

The mostly hotly targeted species by bay anglers during the cooler months is snapper. These are generally available around the various bay islands, artificial reefs and wrecks throughout the bay. Mud Island, Peel Island and the Harry Atkinson Artificial Reef are some of the more popular locations which can produce good numbers as well as quality specimens. However, those anglers who generally get those larger snapper over 6kg will generally be fishing away from the crowds or during periods of low boat traffic, such as mid-week, at night or when the weather is not the best.

The Brisbane River is a surprise at times and can produce some fairly respectable snapper. Most are caught as bycatch by those targeting mulloway, king threadfin salmon and the like. Specimens over 4kg are caught at times with the occasional fish better than 6kg reported. However, most are in the 35cm to 50cm range, which is a great eating size.

There are many isolated patches of reef and rubble in the bay that will hold good quality snapper but locating these is often a case of putting in plenty of groundwork and using your sounder productively. Many of these patches are only big enough for one boat to fish and thinking anglers will anchor well up from the chosen spot, letting out anchor rope until they are close enough to float baits back into the zone. Good quality fresh baits and careful presentation completes this thoughtful approach, which is generally the key to those 8kg+ trophy knobbies.

Dawn and dusk are prime times to be on the water targeting snapper as these fish generally move around a bit during this period and can be fairly aggressive towards any possible food source they encounter. Bait fishers often find that the periods around tidal change are the best for catching snapper while the lure fishing brigade generally achieve the best results when the tidal flow is at a maximum. Snapper fishing can be exceptional during the colder months but be aware of the minimum size limit of 35cm and a bag limit of four fish in possession, with only one of these over 70cm.

SQUID

Targeting cephalopods such as squid is becoming increasingly popular as anglers realise how much fun it can be and how tasty fresh squid can be when cooked correctly. They are also fairly easy to access from a land-based perspective during the cooler months when westerly winds create clean water around the foreshores and within the bay, harbours and canals. All these areas can hold decent numbers, with arrows and tiger squid being the main ones encountered. Most are caught on egi (‘wooden lure’ in Japanese) which are prawn-profiled lures with several rows of razor-sharp spikes at the back which embed in the squid’s tentacles when it grabs the jig.

Around the foreshores of the bay at places such as Scarborough, Wynnum, Manly, Wellington Point, Cleveland and Victoria Point are popular spots for the land-based brigade. Most squidding in these areas is generally done during the darkened hours however most spots will still produce during the daylight hours. Around the foreshores, squid are generally caught a little deeper in the water column during the day than they are during the darkened hours. The residential canals and harbours also hold good numbers of squid during the cooler months.

Within Moreton Bay, try the shallows around the bay islands, the periodic weed beds along the western side of Moreton Island, the Blue Hole, Rous Channel and other areas where clean water flows over shallow reef, rubble or weed beds. All these can be worked over with egi. While you’re drifting around the fringes of the major bay islands fishing for snapper, bream and the like, try drifting out a pilchard or other whole fish bait rigged on a squid skewer (jag). These are best suspended 1-2m below a just positive buoyancy float.

A trip to Coochiemudlo Island is a good way to spend the day with plenty of good squid fishing areas that can be reached via shank's pony. It is only a short and inexpensive trip over on the ferry, leaving from Victoria Point, and there are also plenty of other fishing options around the island.

TAILOR

The cooler waters produced during the winter and early spring period create ideal conditions to get amongst a few tailor. These can be caught throughout the estuaries, in the rivers, throughout Moreton Bay and on the eastern facing beaches as well as further afield.

Anglers fishing the beaches and some other areas commonly use whole pilchards rigged on ganged hooks however there are several other baits and a broad array of lures that tailor will accept. Whole fillet baits (including pike, bonito, mullet etc.), pencil gar, frogmouth pilchards and whitebait are also great offerings. Lures such as blades, soft plastics, vibration baits, minnow lures, metal slices, pencil poppers, stickbaits, flies and several others will elicit strikes from tailor.

In the estuaries these fish can be found in a broad array of locations from the shallow flats to the deep channels. The main catalyst for tailor being in a particular spot is baitfish, so working areas where baitfish are likely to congregate is a successful ploy. Working along prominent rock walls (such as at the mouth of the Brisbane River), around lighted areas at night (bridges, jetties, pontoons) and along the edges of prominent channels are just some locations that are likely to produce. The deeper gutters on the beaches are generally the key areas, with dawn and dusk being prime times to soak pilchard baits or spin lures in these zones.

The Brisbane River can produce a surprising numbers of tailor during the cooler months, with specimens over 60cm being caught. I have had sessions where I have landed more than 20 quality tailor between 40cm and 50cm while casting lures such as Magic Swimmers, blades and plastics around the lights of the Gateway Bridge during darkened hours. Tailor are quite good when eaten fresh but become mushy and oily when frozen so it’s best to only keep enough for your immediate needs.

CONCLUSION

These are just a few of the species which are available during July. In addition you will still locate a few tuna and mackerel throughout Moreton Bay, luderick in the estuarine channels, sweetlip, tuskfish, cod and others around the bay islands plus flathead, cod, king threadfin and others in the Brisbane River as well as a host of other possible species.

Although conditions will be somewhat on the chilly side, the quality of the fishing should be enough to get you rugged up and out onto the water. Generally the temperature on the water is a few degrees warmer than on terra firma, however the wind chill can be a factor at times. Regardless, you should get out and experience the awesome species on offer throughout July. I know a large flask of steaming coffee and I will be out there.

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