This year the water temperatures have remained quite high for a long time and in late May the water on the continental shelf off the Gold Coast was still around 25 degrees. For this reason, the season transition between summer and winter species has been quite slow.
The current on the wider grounds has slowed significantly and there have been good catches of pearl perch and some squire on the 50-fathom line, although the 36-fathom area has been quiet. This month a lot of snapper will start to move in onto the inshore reefs as the water finally cools down.
For game fishermen, July is a good month to chase striped marlin and yellowfin. Trolling the 36- and 50-fathom line and venturing wider off the shelf can be very productive at times. The big schools of slimies have finally showed up on the wider reefs and there has been plenty of dolphin activity in this area. If the water is blue and around 21 or 22 degrees, it could be a good month to troll a few lures or teasers around the bait schools. In more southern ports there has been a bit of a resurgence of yellowfin numbers this year, and a few good tuna should soon start to show on the wider grounds.
Most of the offshore activity will focus on chasing bottom fish and jigging this month. Light winds and calm seas make for ideal conditions on the wider grounds. Kingfish, amberjacks and samsonfish should be around the high reefs on the 36- and 50-fathom line and deep water jigging with 200-400g metal jigs is generally a very productive method. In the same area bait will produce pearl perch, squire and pigfish with a few cod and rosy jobfish.
On the more inshore reefs a few big cobia should be around the 18 and 24 Fathom reefs as well as Mermaid Reef. A berley trail and some big live baitfish is the best method. In the past few seasons a lot of good cobia have also been caught on big Bozo soft plastics. These have enough weight to get down deep and are very effective when worked slowly over the top of a deep reef.
In most seasons the mackerel have all but finished by July. This year there may be a late run of spotted mackerel as the water has remained warm in northern NSW for some time and the cool currents that chase the mackerel back into Queensland have not arrived yet.
Overall, this month should see plenty of action off the Gold Coast. A bit of experimentation is the key, and if you are going out for a day’s bottom fishing, pack a few trolling outfits as well because there may be a good run of striped marlin on the 50-fathom line.
When the water finally cools down we should have some excellent fishing. Flathead have started to move throughout the system and with a lack of rain plenty of good lizards have pushed far up into the creeks. With cool mornings and short days the flathead fishing should be excellent this month. Soft plastic lures such as the Berkley Gulp 3” Pogy or the nuclear chicken Shrimp pattern are both excellent producers in the main Broadwater area.
Most of the flathead at this time of year are around 40-50cm and usually you can get away with 6kg leader. Smaller soft plastics also increase the number of quality bream caught as a by-catch. Ultra-light braid and a small threadline outfit is all that is required. Work the top of the weed beds and sand flats at high tide and the draining channels as the water runs up or off the flats. Go for a walk at low tide to get a better idea of the spots, looking for flathead ‘lies’ in the mud, and finding those small muddy depressions adjacent to weed beds.
In the Seaway the bream, mullet and luderick spawning run should be in full swing, and with this fish movement in a small area expect big mulloway to show. High tide at night is often very productive for bigger jewies. There are some excellent big River2Sea bibbed soft plastics with a lot of potential for large jewies. These lures work very well in NSW estuaries and should be a big hit here this winter. Live mullet are a very reliable alternative.
Bream fishing should be excellent this month through the entire system with plenty of big fish over 800g in the Seaway area. Live herrings are great bait for the bigger fish. Soft plastics like the Berkley Gulp! 3” Swim Minnow are also very reliable on a 3/16oz jighead fished in deep water.
At Jumpinpin there should be quite a few tailor around the entrance on the run-in tide, and we may even see a few Australian salmon show again this month. When schools of white pilchards are in the Jumpinpin area, flathead and tailor are never far away. A slow drift along Kalinga Bank on the run-in tide fishing baits or flicking soft plastics is a good method this month.
Overall, July is a great month for fishing the Gold Coast and the cool days and general lack of wind (and rain in most years) make for ideal conditions.
Kevin Smith and a kingfish jigged from 50 Fathoms.
A nice winter snapper by Kane Barclay on a cold day.
A pearl perch – one of the most delicious fish in the sea.
Dave Lynch with a typical winter flathead.Reads: 1011