Although winter is tapering off, anglers will still enjoy a host of cool weather species during their fishing sojourns to the estuaries, bay and offshore during August.
The cold westerly winds, that are common for this time of the year, will have heightened water clarity, which can make the fishing a little harder in the shallows.
Squid, snapper, bream, mulloway, flathead and numerous other species should be prominent in catches and we may even see the arrival of a few school mackerel and cobia throughout the bay later in the month. Grab that beanie, thermos and jacket and get amongst the action on offer throughout August.
The numbers and average size of mulloway on offer throughout the winter months has been exceptional with loads of metre plus fish falling for a selection of baits and lures.
Many anglers have caught double figures of quality fish while fishing areas such as the Brisbane River, Logan River, Harry Atkinson Artificial and Peel Artificial just to name a few. Other spots of note include the Caboolture River, Jumpinpin Bar area (including Kalinga Bank and Short Island), around the Bribie Island Bridge in the Pumicestone Passage, the houseboat wreck at Peel and various spots around Russel, Macleay and Coochiemudlo islands.
Lures that have been both popular and productive include soft plastics (especially paddle-tail shads and curl-tails), vibration baits (Jackall Transam, Samaki Vibelicious, R2S Fish Candy, Thready-Buster etc.) blades, micro jigs and even minnow lures.
Different spots often dictate the use of certain styles of lures, however some anglers just seem to produce results on a particular favourite lure no matter the situation they are fishing in. Generally, if you put it in front of their face and work the lure confidently then there is a great chance that you will meet with success. Anglers with a good knowledge of using their side image electronics are finding it a lot easier to find their target species and are generally not having a cast unless they find something to cast at. This has decreased the hours spent prospect casting and has increased their likelihood of success.
The best baits for mulloway are generally larger live baits such as mullet, pike, banana prawns, squid, herring and the like, however dead offerings of the same will also produce. Even previously frozen baits such as large squid, pilchards, mullet fillets, bonito fillets and gar will produce.
If you are after that trophy jew, then try live-baiting with a large tiger mullet, big pike or just-legal tailor pinned on a snelled hook rig with just enough lead to keep the bait in the strike zone. The various holes out from the retaining wall at the mouth of the Brisbane River and also along the edge of the drop-off into the main riverbed at the mouth are some good places to try. Most of the deeper holes in the southern bay and estuaries are also key areas where specimens to over 20kg can be caught.
Lighted areas throughout the Brisbane River and other systems can attract prominent baitfish activity which in turn can attract predators such as mulloway and threadfin, so these areas are also worth a try from the bank or watercraft. Be aware that many areas have restrictions as to how close you can get to them or if you can even fish there at all, so be careful. Remember to treat the smaller mulloway you catch with care and release them carefully to ensure their survival and possibility of growing to a trophy class fish.
By now there should be some decent tailor being taken from the beaches and also within the estuarine system.
While these can be caught around the lighted areas of the Brisbane River and other systems at night, tailor can be located in most corners of the estuary, bay island shallows, the eastern facing beaches and even well up the creeks at times. During the cooler months you can find them almost anywhere there is baitfish activity.
Targeting them is fairly easy when you find them harassing baitfish on the surface. They will take a broad array offerings from high-speed metal slices to walk-the-dog topwater offerings. However, anglers using all manner of artificials are often rewarded with a quality tailor, no matter whether they are casting flies, bouncing micro-jigs, vertically hopping vibes or slow rolling a plastic.
Bait fishers will also be rewarded on live herring, prawns, garfish and small pike as well as the humble pilchard, pencil gar or bonito strip.
Anglers fishing the eastern facing beaches are best to look for the deeper gutters to fish these offerings into.
Early morning or late afternoon high tides offer some of the best conditions, especially when there is a westerly wind over your shoulder. Dart, bream, flathead, mulloway and numerous other species are also caught in these gutters at this time. The shallows around the bay islands (including Mud, Peel, Green and Goat) often hold a few quality tailor, however most are found by anglers working lures for bream, but they subsequently get bitten off on their light leaders. The edge of the reef on the northern side of Peel, the Rous Channel and area to the southwest of Mud often holds some sizeable schools of tailor during the latter dates of August. The Mouth of the Brisbane River and Koopa Channel are also worth investigation
August is one of the best months to target squid around the bay shallows due to the clean conditions produced by westerly winds. Squid just love clean, clear water that flows over reef, rubble or weed beds.
Often in these zones they are easily visible, even before you cast at them. At night, some use spotlights to locate the squid in areas such as Manly, Wynnum, Wellington Point, Victoria Point and Scarborough.
Within Moreton Bay there is a host of great locations. Try the Rous Channel, Brown’s Gutter, Goat Island, weed beds on the western side of Moreton Island and south of Dunwich, Scarborough Reef and The Blue Hole.
The usual egi (prawn-profiled squid jig) will work in all these areas, however some days you may find the squid will prefer a particular colour or size of jig, so it pays to have a few different ones at your disposal. These jigs are usually worked with a series of hops and pauses or a slow, constant retrieve.
Drifting a pilchard or other whole fish bait rigged on a squid skewer is also a successful method, especially around the bay islands or in prominent channels where larger numbers of squid are often found. Often you may need to suspend this below a near neutral buoyancy float to stop it fouling on the bottom. This can often provide a tasty entrée when fishing for snapper and the like around the bay islands. Drifting will generally increase your chances. No matter whether you get arrow, tiger or the smaller bottle squid, they are all tasty when lightly cooked and eaten fresh.
As usual there should be quite a few pelagics to be taken within Moreton Bay waters during August. Schools of small frigate and mac tuna as well as Australian and Watson’s leaping bonito will be randomly found throughout the bay, especially along the edges of the shipping channel, Rous Channel, Rainbow Channel and also around the banks south of Tangalooma and Middle Bank. These can be targeted with small plastics and chromed slugs and slices.
Towards the latter portion of the month we may see some school mackerel begin to show in the upper Rous Channel and Western rocks areas. In the upper Rous, generally between the last 2 red beacons and first green beacon of the eastern end, commercial line fishers from Straddie can often be seen trolling spoons, which is a good indicator that the schoolies are around. These same techniques of trolling small spoons behind a paravane or trolling board with also work for us recreational fishers, however there are also numerous other techniques that produce.
Drifting the area with unweighted, or lightly weighted pilchards allows you to fish lighter line, which is much more fun than trolling spoons. These same baits can be fished from an anchored position and a little berley, such as cut pilchard pieces, which can increase results, however you will also get some large rays eating your baits as the tide slows.
Trolling small, deep diving minnow lures or spoons while employing a downrigger also allows you to fish lighter line than when using a paravane. Smaller minnow lures that dive between 4-6m can be trolled on lighter braid (without a paravane or downrigger) and will get into the strike zone to entice mackerel and bonito to bite. Wire traces will prevent any bite offs but will also decrease your bite rate considerably, so I recommend not using them.
Cobia may also start to show up towards the latter part of the month, however with the last couple of seasons being slow for cobia within Moreton Bay, I am not that confident that this season will be any different. However, it is always worth a go as large cobia are great to catch and awesome to eat.
They respond well to large live baits such as fusiliers, demersal species, crabs, school mackerel, bonito and other live offerings. These can be fished around the shipping channel markers, Western Rocks, Yellowpatch and any coffee rock areas or wrecks.
I find that a snelled circle hook rig is ideal for presentation and hook-up potential. One decent cobia can produce many great meals and they are an extremely tough adversary to land, especially on line classes under 15kg.
A few longtails will also be found throughout Moreton Bay during August and can be caught live baiting as well as with cast and retrieved offerings such as chromed slugs and slices, stick baits, flies and numerous plastics, especially jerk shads. They are generally larger fish with many eclipsing 15kg and are often found feeding solo or in pods of less than 5 fish.
High on the wish list of many bay anglers during August will be a quality snapper. These can be found throughout the reefs, bay islands and wrecks in Moreton Bay as well as in the Brisbane River.
Generally the better specimens are found within the bay, however snapper exceeding 70cm can be caught along the rocks walls, ledges and other structures in the river. These are often taken as by-catch by anglers chasing bream, flathead, mulloway and threadfin, however some anglers will actively target them.
They respond well to a variety of soft plastics as well as vibration baits, blades and even micro-jigs.
Baits such as fresh or live prawns, live mullet, mullet strips, herring and numerous others can work.
Within Moreton Bay, the same artificial offerings and baits will also produce although snapper commonly reach better sizes with trophy specimens exceeding 80cm on offer. There are also increased numbers to be caught and at times you will have to wade through a heap of sub-legal specimens to get to the larger fish, especially when bait fishing. I like to fish larger plastics to avoid these smaller specimens, however they are aggressive at times and will still have a crack.
Many of the larger specimens are found higher in the water column or further away from structure than the smaller specimens. When fishing wide of the bay islands, a plastic or vibe is often engulfed within a few feet of the surface as the larger snapper are often patrolling this zone looking for gar or hardiheads. Even the slightest flick of bait on the surface is worth casting to as a large snapper or pelagic can often be close by, making the baitfish nervous.
Early mornings and late afternoon and into the evening are prime times, generally regardless of tide so it pays to plan you trips around these periods if you can. However, some of the best snapper I have caught have been hooked during the middle of the day when the majority of boats have departed for home. Sweetlip, tuskfish, bream, flathead, estuary cod and numerous other species can be caught around the bay islands and artificial reefs while targeting snapper so you should return home with a mixed bag.
I sometimes even float out an unweighted pilchard when drift fishing the bay islands or artificial reefs as the occasional larger tailor and school mackerel can surprise you.
There are a lot of awesome species on offer throughout August. Westerly winds can sometimes hamper your opportunities to get offshore and will increase the water clarity, therefore the anglers who fish light will often reap the rewards. However, there will be some excellent fishing to be had both inshore and further afield for a range of prime species. Westerly winds are ideal for those who like fishing the beaches and the increased water clarity makes ideal conditions for Shank’s pony squid fishing. All up, August is a great time to get out and target some cold weather species before we welcome back the warmer months.Reads: 845