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August angling options
  |  First Published: August 2015



Anglers getting out on the water over the coming month will be met with plenty of options in the angling stakes. A good range of species will be caught throughout Moreton Bay waters during August, but historically it can be a reasonably windy month with plenty of westerly direction, however with weather patterns all over the place of late, anything could be on the cards.

As the month progresses, we should see average temperatures rising, which will make early morning starts a lot more pleasant. Let’s look at a few of your angling options for August.

FLATHEAD

One of the big movers in the estuary over the coming month will be flathead. Although decent numbers have been on offer for more than a month now, August should see a greater influx of these prime table and sport fish.

Flathead are a great species as they respond well to both baits and lures. Anglers who learn about flathead and their tidal habits will be at a great advantage. As flathead spend the majority of their time on the bottom hunting by ambush, you obviously need to probe this zone to be in with the best chance. Flatties will sit in areas that offer them the greatest chance of scoring a feed. They will lie on the bottom and erupt upwards to engulf any tasty morsel that is unlucky enough to lurk too closely to their concealed position. A flathead’s lateral line acts like an ear therefore any crab scuttling across the sand, prawn sifting through the silt or baitfish feeding along the bottom is easily detected.

Understanding the basic movements of a flathead will short track your path to success. Learning how your local piece of water should be worked will generally only come about from on water experience, however you can learn a lot by observing marine maps and checking out your areas at low tide.

Observing where the most water and the last of the tidal flow exits the major flats and banks systems is a good ploy. Flathead will take up ambush spots along the edges of banks and in the gutters leading off them during the falling tide, as they know there is a high possibility that a good amount of food sources will exit the flats and banks at these locations as the water recedes. Once the tide has bottomed out, your best chances will probably be in the main channels and deeper holes.

Once the tide again rises enough to flood these flats areas, the flathead will initially move to the edges of the banks and then up onto them, the smaller specimens first then the larger ones as the water depth becomes sufficient enough that they don’t feel conspicuous in the shallows. Once up on the flats areas, flathead take up ambush spots in small bottom contours, darkened patches of bottom and weed bed areas, occasionally moving to a new location that promises better feeding opportunity. This tidal cycle is repeated constantly and although some areas work differently to others, you should be able to take this basic framework of flathead activity then refine it to apply to your favourite waters.

Flathead will eat a huge array of baits and lures and are basically opportunistic predators that will engulf most offerings. Trolling minnow lures and casting sinking lures such as jighead-rigged plastics, vibration baits, flies and other offerings are popular ploys. However, most offerings worked in the strike zone (close to the bottom) will produce results.

When trolling, most anglers employ smaller (generally less than 100mm) minnow lures in bright colours such as pink, orange, chartreuse, white or combinations including these.

The same colours can be popular and productive in the soft plastics department, especially in discoloured water. Soft plastics are generally jighead-rigged and cast and retrieved along the banks by either slow rolling with occasional pauses or hopping it down the declines. Blades and other vibration baits are worked in a similar manner.

Flathead offer some awesome possibilities for the land-based angler. The mouths of many creeks offer good opportunity to wade and cast to likely looking spots. I have spent a fair bit of time casting flies (mainly Clouser Minnows) and small curl-tail plastics in areas such as the Scarborough Foreshore, the mouth of Pine River, Lota Creek mouth, Manly Foreshore and around the numerous canals in our area.

If you have a kayak then you have a myriad of places to fish and you can additionally use your craft to get to places not accessible via Shank’s pony alone. Flathead have a size slot between 40cm and 75cm with a maximum bag limit of five in possession.

SNAPPER

The winter months have been kind to Moreton Bay anglers with good numbers of snapper to be caught in all corners. The usual locations around the bay islands, the artificial reefs, wrecks and ledges have all produced decent snapper, however, it never ceases to amaze me the new locations where decent specimens are being located.

Even heavily fished and highly busy waterways such as the Brisbane River continue to produce snapper in good numbers and to creditable sizes. Areas such as the Harry Atkinson always seem to get a flogging from the hordes of anglers who flock there but when you see the numbers of decent snapper that are continually caught you can’t argue with those who try their luck.

Living close to the boat ramp at Wellington Point, I often head out there for a session and rarely come home disappointed, however, this is usually during the week and during periods when the weather is less than perfect, which means there is less boat traffic. When it gets busy with boats coming and going and anchor chains rattling up and down then it can easily shut down, just like any other spot. Hopefully the new 20 acre reef that is scheduled to be put in out from Scarborough will be just as big of a drawcard for quality species, as the Harry Atkinson is.

The Peel Artificial has produced some creditable snapper in recent years and it is additionally getting known as a regular producer of mulloway. Some anglers can manage to catch and release double figures of quality mulloway here on lures in a session. Generally these fish are first located using side imaging sounders and then tempted with plastics, vibes and micro jigs.

The margins and reef edges around Mud and Peel Islands have been producing quality snapper for anglers using both lures and baits. Finding a good spot along one of the contours on the northern or eastern sides of Mud and then anchoring here away from other anglers can be a successful approach.

Lightly weighted baits are best cast up current and then allowed to drift down and settle on the bottom. They can be left here for a short time before being wound in, checked and then cast up current again. Some anglers simply choose to leave their baits out until a fish finds it, however, this more active way of fishing presents the bait more naturally. This same technique is also worth trying on areas around Peel such as the edge of the main reef contour, the Houseboat Wreck and at the artificial reef. Drifting whilst you present baits close to the bottom can allow you to cover a decent area of water and also offers great bait presentation, especially with whole fish baits such as gar, pike, pilchards, hardiheads and whitebait.

Vibration baits and jighead-rigged plastics offer a very natural presentation, especially when cast up current and retrieved back with the tidal flow. These are generally hopped and paused or wound with a series of erratic winds and pauses to solicit strikes.

Apart from snapper, they will also entice sweetlip, tuskfish, mackerel, tuna, kingfish and a host of other species. Most lure fishing anglers have their favourite offering. Many are very different in brand, size, shape and colour because basically, snapper aren’t that fussy. Put the lure in the zone, fish it well and chances are high that you will be rewarded.

PELAGICS

Anglers may notice an increase in pelagic numbers during August. Small tunas and bonito will begin to become more prominent, especially in the Rous, Rainbow and Pearl channels. These can be targeted on small metal slugs and slices or baitfish-profiled flies.

The eastern end of the Rous Channel often holds good numbers of school mackerel during August and September. These can be targeted by trolling lures, mainly deep diving minnows to around 130mm in length, or spoons, often behind a paravane to get them down. I will expand more on some good techniques for Rous Channel schoolies next month.

Longtails are always present in the bay in varying numbers, however, they aren’t always obvious as they often feed deeper when there aren’t big bait schools (as are present in the warmer months) and are often only single cruising fish. These are best targeted with live baits such as yakkas, slimey mackerel and pike. Occasionally you may see one or two individual fish cruising just below the surface and can cast at them with stickbaits, pencil poppers and metal slices.

Recently I was lucky enough to hook one on a Samaki Thumpertail (soft, paddle-tail vibration lure) while targeting snapper at the Harry Atkinson. On my small 2500 Certate reel and light rod it took me several kilometres northeast with the current and two hours later I was lucky to land a 125cm, 19.6kg longtail before the sharks got it.

Around the edges of major bank systems, such as Middle Bank and Tanaglooma Banks, and in prominent channels (Rous, Pearl and Rainbow) schools of smaller tunas such as macks and frigates as well as bonito are often found. These can be pedantic in their feeding at times but can often be tempted with a small metal slice (generally less than 20gm) or a small baitfish profiled fly (such as a Surf Candy, Bay Bait, Eyes-Fly or Queenie Killer). These are a lot of fun but can also make awesome bait with small cubes great for bream, fillet strips ideal for snapper and tailor and whole rigged fish making awesome troll baits for Spanish mackerel, wahoo and other bluewater predators. The fillets can be salted to make them tougher and last longer.

SQUID

I waffled on a bit about squid last issue and did feature articles on catching them on both egi and baited skewers. You can source a back issue or check out the July issue online a short time after this edition hits the shelves. You should be able to put some of this theory into practice during August as squid numbers are generally at a premium.

The shallows of the bay islands, the residential canals and the foreshore areas are great places to start you search. Clear water is highly desirable for squid fishing. Casting and egi (squid jig) can be very rewarding for both land-based anglers and boaties. Freshly caught squid are so much better than any other you have tried when cooked on a high heat for a short time. This can include stir fry, crumbing, battering or simple searing on the barbeque plate. Yummo!

BREAM

Bream numbers have been healthy over recent months and this should continue for a while yet. This species is manageable by anglers of all skill levels and will accept a wide array of baits and lures. Good technique with small plastics, minnow lures, blades and even topwater offerings can go a long way to not only scoring good numbers of bream but also those larger, old and wise peg-toothed specimens.

Quality baits will generally reign over frozen offerings with yabbies, worms (beach and blood), prawns and fillet strips working extremely well. However, many large bream are caught by inexperienced anglers soaking a stinky servo bought bait. Try around structured areas such as the canals, bridge pylons, bay island shallows, rock bars and jetties.

However, bream will roam into all manner of areas and can be caught in most inshore saltwater areas including the beach gutters.

BRISBANE RIVER

Threadfin, bream, flathead, snapper, mulloway and a host of other species have been regular captures in the Brisbane River in recent months. This will continue throughout August with the area east of the Gateway Bridge receiving the most fishing pressure. Areas such as Clara’s Rocks, the Oil Pipeline, Sunken Wall, retaining wall at the mouth and around the fronts of the major jetties being good places to probe.

Live baits are well worth acquiring (try around the Sewerage Shute or Boggy Creek) if you are going to anchor along the edge of the main river bed or one of the aforementioned areas.

These same zones can be probed with lures such as blades, vibration baits (both hard and soft), soft plastics and small jigs for good results. A side imaging sounder is a big asset in the Brisbane River and will allow you to locate prominent soundings of bait, larger predators and bottom structure as you traverse wide of the river bed declines and the faces of the jetties.

If you’re searching for threadfin, don’t be deterred from heading well upriver (even up as far as Mount Crosby) because during the cooler months threadies seem to be more prominent further away from the mouth.

CONCLUSION

Whilst conditions can be cold and windy during August, the fishing is generally very good for inshore and bay anglers. Quality fishing for flathead, bream, tailor, snapper, mulloway and numerous pelagics can make your angling efforts worthwhile. Additionally, there is a whole lot more on offer to whet you piscatorial appetite during August. Squid are a serious target with awesome numbers of these scrumptious cephalopods available to both land-based and boating anglers. It will be warm again before you know it so get out and experience some of August’s angling options whilst the action whilst the water is cool and the fishing is hot.

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