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Fish smarter inshore
  |  First Published: August 2016



Anglers fishing throughout August are generally faced with cool conditions and westerly winds. These winds tend to create clear water conditions inshore. While this is good for squid, it often makes it harder to tempt other species.

Anglers often need to fish smarter and employ finesse rigging to achieve consistent results in the inshore waters. Luckily there will be plenty of cool water targets to concentrate on during August and anglers will often be stuck for choice. Species such as bream, flathead, luderick, snapper, squid, mulloway and tailor will be around for anglers to enjoy over the coming months. Let’s look closer at the aquatic smorgasbord that awaits August anglers.

LUDERICK

After many seasons of not targeting luderick (blackfish), I have been getting amongst them at several locations around Brisbane. They’ve been plentiful with most sizing between 37cm and 45cm in length – a solid fish in SEQ luderick terms. The rock walls at the mouths of most canals and harbours and the rock walls in the Brisbane River have all held quality luderick. Generally, the falling tide will provide the most positive bites, especially when the tide is only flowing moderately. Fast currents generally minimise the amount of bites and slow tidal flow makes them bite delicately. You need to watch the float constantly for indications of downs or ups as the float may only move a centimetre either way when the bite is forthcoming. Blink and you may miss it.

Weed has been reasonably easy to find with most floating pontoons and submerged poles having a little cabbage weed on them. Shallow saltwater drains are also a good source of luderick weed. Once you have secured your luderick, it’s best to keep them alive in a mesh bag in the water until you are ready to fillet. If allowed to die a few hours before filleting, a bad weedy taste can be evident in the fillet. Fillet, skin and remove the black gut cavity immediately after death and you are left with some very tasty fillets. I also like to soak the fillets in some salty water for fifteen minutes or more before drying the fillets to eat fresh or freezing for later consumption. While targeting luderick, I have also been rewarded with a few large and tasty mullet. For more information on rigging up for luderick, check out my techniques column in the July QFM.

SNAPPER

After a slow start to the snapper run this year, mid-June finally saw anglers consistently catching snapper at a variety of haunts throughout Moreton Bay. Additionally, the Brisbane River has also produced plenty of decent snapper on both live baits and well-worked lures such as soft plastics, vibration baits and even small jigs. Most have been taken along the ledges receding into the main river basin, the scoured holes at the fronts of the jetties (be aware of restrictions) and the dredge holes along the retaining wall at the mouth. Anglers have achieved results even when fishing from the bank, especially around the Gateway Bridge and occasionally the Colmslie Jetty.

The kayakers have also been getting amongst a few at Claras Rocks, the oil pipeline and Caltex Reach. Within Moreton Bay, snapper have been taken at a huge array of locations. The usual haunts such as the artificial reefs (including Curtin, Harry Atkinson and Peel), Scarborough Reef, Benowa Track grounds, Comboyuro Ledge, wrecks and Bay Island surrounds have been well attended by both snapper and anglers.

However, thinking anglers (especially those with good electronics) are forever finding more grounds where snapper abound. Some of the larger specimens are often found near small isolated patches or reefs, coffee rock or isolated ledges that hold bait. On the larger grounds, where numerous anglers congregate, stealth is often the key to good results and while you can do all the right things, other anglers can often ruin your chances by driving over the grounds repeatedly while trying to sound out fish or bait. Especially bad are the boats with noisy two-stroke motors, anchoring directly over their spot with the anchor chain constantly clanking as the boat rocks on the surface or shifting location repeatedly. These will scatter any fish on the grounds or put them off the bite. Find an area away from the hordes or go out during periods when the boat traffic is minimal, or days when the weather is less than perfect.

A broad array of quality fresh or live baits, as well as numerous styles of lures, will all work for snapper. Good presentation is the key to consistent results with snapper, no matter whether you are fishing baits or lures.

BREAM

Decent numbers of bream have been around in most coastal saltwater locations. Estuaries, including the creeks and rivers, often hold the best numbers, however many of the trophy specimens are taken on the beaches or in the canals. Quality fresh baits such as green prawns, herring, mullet fillets and whitebait yield consistent results, but other offerings such as chicken fillet, hardiheads, pilchard pieces, squid, worms (sand or blood) and gar fillets and others can all reward.

Subtle rigging with finesse techniques (fluorocarbon leaders, fine gauge hooks and minimal sinker weights) is definitely worthwhile. The scavenging nature of bream means that they are often caught on very simple tackle with basic baits. Lure fishing for bream has been popular for a long time and anglers are constantly refining techniques, discovering new lures that work well for bream in numerous situations. Many lure manufacturers are working hard to make new offerings to satisfy the discerning tastes of bream aficionados.

Bibbed minnows, blades, small vibration baits, soft plastics, flies and other artificial offerings will all work well on bream in knowledgeable hands. Try working lures along the rock walls, around mangrove snags, adjacent artificial structures such as bridge pylons, pontoons and jetties plus the mouths of feeder creeks on the falling tide and the weed beds and mud flats of the estuaries.

FLATHEAD

As the month progresses, anglers will notice a big increase in the number of flathead appearing throughout the estuaries. The lower reaches of the bay and all the way down to Jumpinpin offers anglers a huge array of great flathead waters. The shallow channels and edges of major mud and sand bank systems can provide some predictable fishing for anglers during the falling tide. Flathead will take up position in prominent ambush spots where water flow brings forth tasty morsels such as crabs, prawns and baitfish. Predict where bait species will travel with the current as the water drains from the mud and sand banks and you have found some prime flathead water to fish.

Once the tide is low, flathead are commonly found out in the main channels where anglers can target them on lures, or with baits drifted close to the bottom. Trolling is a good way to cover an area of water, especially if you are not familiar with the myriad of channels and banks that make up the waterway. Trolling the edges of channels and creeks is a good start to locating a few flathead.

Small brightly coloured minnow lures that bang and rattle across the bottom are ideal for probing these areas in your search. It pays to have a deeper running lure on the outside rod (furthest away from the bank) and a shallower one of the inside rod (closest the bank) so that you are working different depths along the contour. Keep both lures close to the bottom. When travelling around the estuaries towards low tide, check out likely spots to return at a different tidal stage. Over the next few months, flathead numbers will increase remarkably, so stay tuned.

MULLOWAY

Numbers of 70-90cm fish have been good so far and plenty of anglers cracked their first metre plus mulloway this season. The Brisbane River has been a healthy fishery for this fish as have other rivers such as the Caboolture, Logan and Pine. Estuarine areas such as Jumpinpin and the Pumicestone Passage contain myriad deep holes and creeks where mulloway can be found. Within Moreton Bay, the artificial reefs, ledges and wrecks are all likely to produce.

Live baits such as pike, mullet, yakkas, squid and slimy mackerel are popular and productive. A mulloway will rarely ignore a healthy, live offering within their vicinity. Live offerings are especially good for the larger mulloway in excess of 15kg, however only a few large specimens like these tend to show up in our neck of the woods. If a large, trophy class mulloway is on your radar then you would be better off trying one of the deep channels or rivers coming in from the open ocean such as the Gold Coast Seaway or Tweed River.

The Brisbane River is easily accessible to most anglers and mulloway can be caught along much of its length from the mouth all the way past Saint Lucia campus. However, most of the mulloway fishing effort takes place in the lower reaches below the Gateway Bridge. Here, as well as in the bay, anglers use lures such as vibration baits, soft plastics (especially shad, curl-tail and prawn profiles), micro jigs, along with others.

Often the mulloway are located using good sounder techniques to pinpoint individual fish or find baitfish concentrations. Vibration baits are commonly cast to fish located with side-scan and micro-jigs can be dropped to fish directly beneath the boat. Putting your offering in front of mulloway and fishing it well is more important than the type of offering or hue.

TAILOR

Tailor numbers have been fairly good in recent weeks with anglers locating and catching these voracious predators in a wide array of locations along the coast. Locally, fish have been taken around the Jumpinpin Bar, eastern facing beaches of Stradbroke, Bribie and Moreton, the Brisbane River and numerous locations throughout the bay, especially in the Sand Hills area, Browns Gutter, Rainbow Channel and the artificial reefs.

Pilchards have predominately been the downfall of better fish. However, savvy anglers have been scoring on metal slices, plastics, blades and all manner of surface lures. Cast poppers, small stickbaits, wake baits and other topwater offerings for an exciting way to catch tailor with several fish often chasing and striking at the lure until one hooks up.

Schools are often located around the shallows of Mud and Peel islands and more than one angler targeting bream has had their small minnow lure or blade engulfed by a tailor. A limp line is often the result due to sharp teeth. Land-based anglers have been scoring under the Gateway Bridge, the Woody Point Jetty, Hornibrook Bridge (mainly at night), Manly Rock Wall, Amity Wall, Dunwich Harbour and occasionally at the Boat Passage Bridge.

SQUID

Plenty of squid have been caught recently and should continue to be for a month or two yet. The bay has produced some absolute thumpers with specimens well over a kilo reported. These larger squid are great to catch and spectacular to look at, but the smaller models are often the sweetest to the palate. Most squid are caught by anglers using egi (prawn profiled squid lures), but baitfish, like pilchard, pinned on a skewer and suspended beneath a float is a lazy yet productive way to score a few. This works especially well when fishing around the bay islands or in the sand hills area.

Those targeting whiting will often be rewarded with several tasty tiger squid if they drift a skewered pilly behind the boat. Land-based anglers have been spotting and catching squid around areas such as the harbour, rock walls and the jetties at Manly, Wellington Point or Scarborough and Victoria Point foreshores. High-powered head torches can be used to locate the squid in some of the shallows, however, blind casting is also very productive in the deeper areas. Out in the bay, egi between 2.5 and 4.0 are usually used. Inshore, anglers commonly use smaller offerings between 1.2 and 2.5. Colours can vary for both scenarios with squid in heavily worked areas often requiring several egi changes before a take is received, if at all.

Conclusion

As winter tapers off, anglers will find the prominence of some cool water species waning. They should be around for a month or two yet. Although strong westerly winds can play havoc with the boaties’ chances to get out on the water during August, they are often a bonus for land-based anglers. You will still need to rug up for those early morning starts or night time sojourns, however the quality of fish that can be caught during August will quickly make you glad you made the effort. Whether it’s snapper, mulloway, bream, squid or one of the other quality species that is on your wish list, August is a great month to brave the elements to achieve your piscatorial prize.

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