In July the water cools down to around 20 and most of the pelagic action will be out on the wider grounds where cool water species such as striped marlin and yellowfin tuna become active. There may still be a few blue marlin around, and even the odd black on the 50-fathom line.
July is a excellent time to fish the wider reefs targeting snapper, pearl perch, samsonfish and amberjacks. Big yellowtail kingfish should also be around in good numbers. The 36-fathom line is a great spot to start the day’s fishing this month. Avoid heading out wide in strong westerlies, as the sea stands up wildly the further you get out.
Jigging should be very productive this month. The kingie reef on the 50-fathom line northeast of the Seaway should produce plenty of small to medium kingfish, and out wider on the hard reef and wireweed expect to find samsonfish and amberjacks.
The locally made Chaos jigs have been working well with long jigs getting plenty of bites, even from relatively small kings and amberjacks. Pearl perch are also avid jig eaters, but respond best to smaller jigs around 150g. They also eat soft plastics with a passion. The 4” Atomic shads fished off a drop shot rig work very well on big pearlies.
The mackerel will probably be just about finished this month, but there will be the odd big Spaniard and a few doggies around. There should still be a few mack tuna around, and the occasional wahoo will still show up at the Nine Mile off the Tweed River when the last patches of warm current come through.
As the westerlies pick up a lot of fish will be moving along the beaches. July is a great month to spin for tailor, and if last year is anything to go by, we may also see a few Australian salmon. Working the back of the surf line from a boat by casting metal lures into the back of the break is a good way to catch tailor. Bigger fish tend to be found towards Jumpinpin.
Snapper will be active on the close reefs this month. The 24-fathom area will produce some big ones early in the morning or at dusk by fishing lightly weighted baits with plenty of berley. Calm, quiet conditions are best, and a berley trail of chopped tuna or pilchards will soon get any snapper in the area active.
Slowly twitched soft plastics are also quite effective. Try to keep your leader light; 10kg is all you need for snapper. The lighter the line and lead, the more bites you generally get. Out on 36-fathoms a bit more lead is generally required, and drifting is often the best option. Once you have your drift sorted out, turn off your sounder. We always seem to have our best results with the sounder turned off. This is a distinct disadvantage of those combined GPS/sounder units. In most of these the sounder cannot be turned off in isolation.
As the westerlies blow a lot of the common species begin their spawning runs. Bream, mullet and blackfish all move into the river mouths, and as the water cools a lot of big predators move in to hunt the big schools of tiger mullet in the Seaway area.
July is the best month to chase big jew at night in the Seaway. Several years ago I used to chase mulloway 2-3 nights a week near Wavebreak Island, and although the catch rate has dropped of a bit in our boat, the fish at this time of year average around 14kg. The secret is having a big active live mullet in the right spot at the top of the tide. Light 15kg leader definitely gets more bites, and when the water is very clear these jewies are a very shy fish. On a good night they hammer the mullet like big barras, chopping them off the top.
Bream are another major target this month. A lot of big fish will be around the Seaway entrance and on the beaches and there will be big schools of quality fish around the Seaway pipeline and the hole at the end of the North Wall in the week leading up to the full moon. Soft plastics, strip baits and small livebaits are all good methods for the bigger fish. A lot of 1kg+ bream turn up this month. Bream will also be active up the canals and there is a lot of fish movement this month thanks to the moon.
It is also a great month to chase lizards on the flats. While the big crocodiles of spring are uncommon, July is a great month for flathead between 40-60cm, the ideal eating size. Try the Berkley 3” Pogy in lumo colour on a 1/2oz jighead; this was a deadly lure during our initial trials. As well as flathead, lure casting the flats and weedbeds produces bream, pike, squid and trevally. We always carry a squid jig rigged ready to go, and the area around Tipplers Passage will produce plenty of squid on the top of the tide on calm, windless days.
Live pike drifted around Kalinga Bank and near the Jumpinpin Bar is worth trying this month. Fish the top of the tide and drift slowly as the flow eases off. There are a lot of big jew in this area at times and also big tailor. I always use a stinger hook with pike and generally rig them up on 2 x 7/0 Gamakatsus. This is a very productive method at dawn, dusk or into the night.
Overall, July is a very reliable month in the estuaries with plenty of fish activity, and is also a great month to fish the wider reefs targeting snapper and pearl perch, or trying deep water jigging.Reads: 639