Seeing red
  |  First Published: August 2014

I think many of us will be seeing plenty of red this august due to it being probably the preferred month to target big snapper off of our local waters.

Though 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 I think pillies will catch any class of fish. When I’m bait fishing, I choose to floatline. This consists of a small ball (as small as possible) sinker running right on to my hooks. And for sinkers, McCubbin Glow Sinker are by far the best! This rig is fished best by 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. For big snapper this method is best. The snapper can be found at just about any reef offshore of the Gold Coast but I particularly like the 24 fathom reefs off Surfers Paradise, Fidos, the Mud Hole and at times Deep Southern will also hold good numbers.

Soft plastic fishing for snapper is a very effective method, and at times they will take a plastic over bait 10 to 1. Plastics can be extremely easy to fish, often by just making a long cast up current and stripping a bit of line out and forgetting about it in the rod holder can be just as effective as anything. I like to let my plastic to the bottom slowly, trying to attract a bite as the lure drops and once the plastic has reached the bottom 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 fair. Cobia are also quite partial to a soft plastic but if you want to target cobia effectively, live bait is the way to go. I like to use fairly hefty live bait; tailor, squire or slimey mackerel would be more than suitable. A running sinker to a heavy swivel and about 1 metre of 36kg 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 I think, particularly if the bait is quite large 2 x 8/0 ‘J’ style hooks are probably 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 to 24 fathom line as well as 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 it out there. When fishing these deep reefs I prefer to use a paternoster or dropper rig. 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 whilst 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 at 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 both the Southport Seaway and the Tweed Bar are 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 jighead which is a big plus. I don’t think colour makes a huge difference, but 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 Jerkshads 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. I find something between 3” and 5” long matches the hatch and as for types of lures, there’s plenty! I will generally swap and change all day bit I’m a big fan of a few in particular. The DOA 4” Jerkshad is definately 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. I find 1/4oz and 3/8oz best and I alter between the two depending on water depth and how strong the wind is. I use coloured McCubbin jigheads exclusively when fishing for flathead. I think a jighead that’s fluoro colour can be what’s needed to get the bites! In August 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 from 4-6” best for mulloway as it generally matches the size bait that they will feed on. These fish 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. For mulloway I try to fish about a 20lb line and a leader of around 30lb, this will allow a smaller mulloway 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 hard bodies and soft plastics around the canals or shallow running crank baits 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 or 8lb would be maximum.

Tailor, trevally and a few Australian salmon will be readily available around the Southport Seaway, and 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, though a live herring or poddy mullet will do the trick as well.

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