August is the best month of the year to chase snapper off the Gold Coast. Water temperatures took a while to drop this year, but recently most of the offshore grounds are showing temperatures between 19-21°C, and snapper have started to bite. There are plenty of methods to try, but generally bait will out-fish lures once you get wide of 18 fathoms. The best time to target snapper is dawn and dusk, and if you find a good showing on your sounder, be careful anchoring. Plenty of berley is generally the best way to get a good feed.
Over the past few seasons, lots of undersized fish have become abundant, and it is sometimes difficult to get fish over 35cm. To target bigger fish, try live baits or larger baits such as pike, whole mullet or big strips of tuna. The best method is to use a minimal amount of lead and light leader with a maximum of 15kg. Soft plastics and micro jigs are also effective.
Out on the wider grounds beyond the 36 Fathom Reef, there should be plenty of snapper, pearl perch, amberjacks, samsons and kingfish this month. Slow drifts using big baits are very effective, and a paternoster rig is generally the best way to target pearl perch. Deeply fished live baits or jigging with metal jigs is the best way to target kingfish and amberjack. There are also black and striped marlin on the 50 fathom line this month and a live bait drifted out the back can sometimes connect you to bigger fish than the pearl perch you set out to target.
Cobia and mulloway are also good target species this month. The 18 and 20 fathom line are good places to fish, and the artificial reefs in 23m of water north of the seaway have been producing quite a few of both species. These reefs hold a lot of bait and are increasingly popular spots. Big fish are lost when they head back into the structure, so be careful when you anchor. Most mulloway are caught after dark, and cobia are at their best early in the morning, particularly around the change of high tide.
For the game fishers, August can be slow. Sometimes yellowfin tuna are out on the thousand fathom line, as well as some striped and black marlin on the edge of the continental shelf, but there can be a lot of water between them. Covering the water using lures is generally the most effective method, and if you find striped tuna, birds and bait you are in with a very good chance. Recently, there’s been a lot of local interest in targeting broadbill swordfish in daylight hours and hopefully this month will see some success coming from local recreational boats.
The main fish to target this month is flathead. As soon as the water cooled a bit, the flathead came on the bite, and a few catches of 40+ fish in a session have already occurred. A surprising number of big fish over 80cm are turning up already. The key is finding bait, clean water and having a nice calm day. This time of year the flathead are feeding hard to put on condition prior to spawning. The run-in tide often fishes better than the run-out tide in August. If the wind blows hard from the northwest, it dirties the water and fishing can be quite tough, but in most other conditions they bite freely.
Try a wide variety of lures over a day of flathead fishing. Do a lot of trolling when the fish are spread out, and cast when you find a good spot where flathead are localised in a small area. Great trolling lures for a depth of less than 2m are the Lively Lures Micro Mullet and the Zerek Tango Shad. These lures are like chips and gravy to a flathead, bad for their health, but they all want to eat them!
When casting use a wide range of lures including blades, soft plastics in many styles, soft vibes and small poppers in the shallows. Having a range of outfits rigged up and ready to go makes fishing easier. In August most of the flathead are 35-60cm long with the odd bigger fish. Most of them are concentrated in the shallow grounds and near the end of the month, they will move into deeper water for spawning.
Squid are another good option this month, and there have been plenty of good ones around the weed beds near the Seaway and Jumpinpin. Use Yamashita jigs in brown and gold, and some of the squid in recent days have been close to a kilo in weight. The best time to chase squid is on hightide in calm conditions. Plenty of flathead are also caught on squid jigs. A slow retrieve with small twitches works best for the bigger tigersquid whereas the smaller arrow squid seem to prefer a more erratic retrieve.
There should be some big mulloway around this month in the Seaway and Jumpinpin areas. Large live baits fished on the hightide change at night is usually the best way to target these bigger fish. Already a few over 20kg have been caught this winter. Mullet are the best bait and can usually be caught in a cast net around the south wall of the Seaway.
Overall, winter fishing should be pretty good on the Gold Coast this month, and despite the relatively cold conditions, the fishing is generally very reliable this time of year.Reads: 760