We’re right in the thick of winter, and this is a great time to be fishing the Gold Coast. The temperatures might be cold, but the fishing action is absolutely red-hot!
It has taken quite a while this winter for the warm weather to stop and the ocean temperature to drop. This has effectively made most of the winter species start late in their migration runs. This month should also see the current drop back and there should be good bottom fishing on the wider grounds with a few opportunities for the game fishing fleet.
Cobia are a good target species on the inshore grounds this month. Already some great fish over 25kg have turned up on the artificial reefs just north of the bar, and these great fish should increase in numbers this month. Cobia always turn up at the same time the humpback whales arrive off the Gold Coast.
To catch cobia on a reliable basis, nothing beats a good berley trail and a large live bait. They aren’t overly fussy when it comes to what type of live bait you use. I’ve caught them on tailor, slimy mackerel, tarwhine, goatfish, snapper and teraglin. The key is to have a sizeable offering that is quite active, and to berley using pilchards or chopped tuna. They also respond to soft plastics and drifted strip baits.
Cobia are a superb fighting fish and on light tackle take quite a while to get on board. Good areas to try this month are the 18 Fathom Reef off Surfers, the blocks (artificial reefs in 23m of water just north of the Seaway), 27 fathoms northeast and Mermaid Reef.
Out wider on the 36 and 50-fathom line, there should be good snapper and pearl perch this month. Snapper fishing has been very patchy over the past few seasons and the water has remained quite warm over most of winter. There are also a lot of smaller 28-30cm fish around, which may reflect over fishing in the area.
The best way to get a feed of good snapper is to fish a tide change at dawn or dusk and use good fresh strip baits, pilchards or soft plastics. Each season just seems to get a bit tougher, but there are still some excellent fish around. Pearl perch are a good target on the 50 Fathom Reef, but there are a few isolated patches of reef in 100-120m that are very productive when the current slows down.
At night on the inshore grounds should see you into some good mulloway fishing on the 18 and 24-fathom line. Live slimy mackerel are the best bait and nearly all the action starts after sunset and into the night. Most of these fish are between 100-115cm long and at times it is possible to catch your bag limit very quickly. Due to barotrauma, these fish are almost impossible to release in good condition, but they are a great table fish.
For the game anglers, there will still be a few blue and striped marlin around on the edge of the continental slope with the chance of yellowfin tuna as well. If the water temperatures stay over 23°C, the game fishing should be quite good this month.
July is a great month to fish the Gold Coast estuaries and there is a lot of fish movement throughout the system as migrating schools of bream, sea mullet, tiger mullet and black bream move towards the entrances in preparation for spawning. Flathead become a lot more active as the water starts to cool down.
Big mulloway are a good target species this month. Most of the bigger fish are caught at night using live mullet around the eddies in the Seaway and around the mouth of Swan Bay near Jumpinpin. The best time to fish is around the change of high tide. Some of these fish are between 120-130cm long and the bigger fish target the large schools of tiger mullet that school up at night along the rock walls. A cautious approach is required, minimising noise and light on the water. I’ve been chasing these fish for many years and most of my bigger fish have been caught in July.
Flathead fishing should improve this month and a lot of 40-60cm flathead should be active in the central part of the Broadwater, from Crab Island through to Tipplers Passage. Work the draining channels using soft vibes, plastics, blades and small hardbodied lures.
Trolling the extensive flats can also be very productive. There have already been a few big crocodiles caught this season, the biggest so far I know of was a 96cm fish caught by keen local Kane Barclay on a Pig Lure. If the water stays clear the fishing should be quite good. If the wind blows strongly from the north or northwest, the fishing can be quite tough and it pays to look for patches of cleaner water.
Squid are another good target this month and in the day can be caught by working squid jigs over the top of the weed beds at high tide. In general, the best conditions are a high tide, a still calm day and clean clear water. There have been plenty of big tiger squid around this winter and they make excellent eating and some of the bigger ones are nearly 1kg in weight. I find it is important to change your lure fairly regularly until you find the lure the squid are most responsive to. I like the Yamashita jigs. They are a bit more expensive but last quite well and catch a lot of squid.
Overall, July is a fantastic month to come and fish the Gold Coast. There are always plenty of options and the day time lure fishing available in the Broadwater can be quite exciting across a range of species. If you are passionate about catching your first decent mulloway, this is the best month of the year to get out there and do it.Reads: 737