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Offshore opportunities in July
  |  First Published: July 2016



Flathead have come on strong, and in the past week there was a large quantity in all of the local estuaries. The majority of these have been fairly big fish with a few oversized girls among them. Flatties are one species that will take any lure within striking range.

Vibes, minnows and plastics have all accounted for flathead in recent times. Baitfishers who use live or dead bait have had plenty of success. I prefer lures, which I always run barbless, for their ability to cover ground and the ease of release. Gutters, pressure points and eddies are all likely spots to find fish. We spend a bit of time walking the banks over low tide fishing into the holes along the other side of the local narrow creeks.

Quite often you will see the flathead lying clearly on the exposed sand. You can read their direction and movement over the previous incoming and outgoing tides. This tells you that flathead were in the spot and should be available at different times.

Barra Bounty

Barramundi are still a viable capture in Central Queensland, especially in the Fitzroy River – particularly in the town reaches. Though they aren’t in the numbers of last month, you have a good chance of catching a brag quality barra this month. Anywhere the water is a little warmer than the surrounds is a fair place to look. The deeper channels and around the bridges or rocks are other areas where they hang out at this time of year in the river. The majority of bigger fish down the beach have moved to the headlands and the bays. They will come in and out along the channels and over the sand flats with the tide.

Last week while chasing flatties I noticed a couple of young blokes using very large plastics and working the deeper dips along one of the big Corio sand banks. They landed two big barramundi and a few flatties in a short session as the water rose over the bank. They said that they only get fish there on sunny days in winter. I sounded back over the same territory and found that the shallow water was nearly 2°C warmer than the faster flowing water away from the bank.

Bream

The big bream have schooled up in many of the estuary mouths and bays this month. Several captures lately have confirmed there are plenty around the area. Any of the creeks with yabby beds and oyster rocks are good starting points. The headlands right along the coast are bream hot spots with the average fish going a kilo or better. The Rosslyn Bay Harbour is a prime bream spot where you can take the kids and fish in comfort without needing a boat or all the fancy gear.

King threadfin

King threadfin have dominated local estuary catches again. Whether you work plastic vibes through schools, you find with your sounder, or troll hardbodies along the channel edges they will keep turning up. Plastics are the most popular and let you work a school of fish at any depth when the current isn’t too strong. When you can’t get them down anymore swimmers and prawn coloured paddle-tails come into their own, particularly as you can add bigger jigheads until you find the right one for that spot.

Snapper

As I mentioned last month, big knobby snapper have arrived at quite a few of the inshore patches between the islands and the mainland. Findlays, Forty Acre Paddock, Tuna Reef, The Pinnacles, Outer, Man and Wife, and Liza Jane have all had some decent snapper.

Plastics are a very good option when you know the fish are around and the bonus is you rarely get done over by pickers or vermin. We always set the electric anchor some distance away from where the fish are holding so that noise does not scare the fish in the fairly shallow waters.

Once the fish have been spooked you may as well pack up and move somewhere else because they won’t come back on for some time. The same principles apply when baitfishing for snapper. Light gear floated back down towards the fish works best. As always, fresh baits are the only way to go.

I can’t stress enough that you can’t drop the pick and chain where the fish are and expect to catch a snapper.

Offshore

Offshore, golden snapper (fingermark) seem to have featured a bit more than normal in the last week or so. A number of the fishers chasing grunter at the local rubble patches have scored a few serious goldens as great by-catch. Large vibes, or plastics are doing the job for most of the anglers, although live baits and fresh squid or flesh bait have also worked well. Grunter and black jew will be in form this month mainly around the full and new moon phases.

Big GTs have congregated at various spots around the area in the past few weeks. A lot of the frothy bommies on the deep-water sides of the islands are turning out some huge fish. Poppers, big hardbodies and XOS chrome lures are the better choice if you want to target a trophy-sized trevally. Once again we fish with barbless hooks so that the fish has every chance of a healthy release. Around the islands the other types of trevally are going well from tea-leaf, golden to spotted and bludger trevally. The smaller tea-leaf trevally are quite good eating if bled on capture and eaten as soon as possible.

Red emperor, nannygai, red throat and coral trout just won’t slow down, and any opportunity to get offshore this month should be taken. Day or night the fishing is great. The lesser mackerels are showing up at many of the headlands and close patches, provided the weather is good enough to fish for them. Spanish are consistent and there are fish all over the mackerel spots around The Keppels.

The bigger fish have moved out but the resident fish from 6-10kg are always welcome. Big sea gar have schooled up at some of the island beaches and a few of the beaches in army country. I try to grab a bundle of these fellas when they are here to use as Spaniard baits when all else goes quiet.

SUccessfulSquidding

Squid are thick around the islands and the headlands heading north. Some of the biggest squid seen around here have been caught in the past week or so. We mostly get tiger squid (because of the stripes) and northern calamari, which are a much plainer and paler squid.

There are a number of top squid spots including Square Rock, Pumpkin Passage, Humpy, Man and Wife, Outer and Half Way. Virtually anywhere there is reef or weed mottled with patches of sand creating contrasting bottom colours can hold squid.

Lots of guys in Central Queensland keep the squid hoods for the tables and the gut, head and tentacles in another bag for red emperor.

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