It is a great time to explore the wider reefs off the Gold Coast, with plenty of days with light winds and clear skies this month.
Target species include kingfish, amberjacks, Samson fish, pearl perch and snapper. The 50-fathom line is usually very productive in July and there is generally minimal current. Deep water jigging is an effective method of fishing this area. Kingies and amberjacks generally prefer high pinnacles full of rock and wire weed. The northeast fifties has some great spots and this long ridge of rock runs from east of the Seaway to Point Lookout.
Deep water jigging is great exercise and once you hook up, the workout gets even tougher. There have been some great amberjack caught in this area in recent weeks with Doug Burt from Doug Burt’s Tackle catching a 36kg bruiser on a pilchard while chasing pearl perch. He also bagged out on pearlies.
On the Gold Coast reefs around the 50-fathom line, the locally made Chaos jigs work quite well on kingies and amberjacks. A single hook on Kevlar leader seems to work better than two hooks on separate leaders without a decrease in hook up rate. If you don’t like all the exercise of vigorous jigging then send down a live bait.
Snapper should be on the chew this month on the 24-, 18- and 36-fathom line as well as the Cotton Reef. At this time of year snapper move inshore to spawn and in turn feed very actively. If you are in a small boat, choose a day with less than 15 knots of breeze and watch out for those deceptive westerlies. It might look good close to shore but by the time you get to 36-fathoms it can be very nasty.
Anchoring and berleying is the best method to catch big snapper in July. Soft plastics such as the 7” Gulp jerk shad are also increasingly popular and very effective, especially on the shallower reefs. It has been quite surprising how many big snapper seem to be falling to soft plastics even in the warmer months. The snapper usually come on the chew just on dusk. On a recent trip we caught our bag limit of 10 fish (two anglers) in less than an hour with the biggest at 85cm.
Tailor should be in numbers close to the beach, and a spin session with metal lures can be productive early in the morning. A few doggy mackerel can also be caught on the inshore wrecks in July. Out on the wide grounds there should still be a few blue marlin as well as increasing numbers of striped marlin and yellowfin tuna.
This year was fairly good for blue marlin, a distinct contrast to the terrible season we had for black marlin. Hopefully by the end of this month we will have some good reports of small black marlin off Townsville to get next season rolling.
As the water cools down the fishing activity increases. The migrating spawning run of mullet should be in full swing and the entrances will be fish highways as schooling mullet, bream and luderick move onto the beaches. This brings plenty of predators into the system as well, including mulloway, yellowtail kingies and sharks.
July is the best month to catch a big jewie in the Seaway or Jumpinpin areas. Live mullet, tailor, squid or fresh tailor fillets make good baits, and big soft plastics are also very effective when fished in the deeper holes. Fishing changes of high tide in the middle of the night is a time proven way to catch the bigger fish but you’ll need plenty of warm clothes. These days I tend to concentrate on fishing daylight hours with soft plastics, as I can’t stand the cold any more.
Also on the menu for July is chasing flathead on soft plastics. Areas from Crab Island to Jumpinpin will produce plenty of good lizards this month, and clear water seems to help when chasing lizards. Most of the fish will be between 40-60cm in the main central part of the Broadwater. Small soft plastics, such as the 3” Gulp Pogy and minnow, small neon Squidgy fish, 3” Atomic shads or the Gulp Shrimp are all deadly on lizards.
Bream should be at their peak, with big fish from 800g to 1.2kg being fairly frequent captures in the Seaway area. If you want monster bream try live herrings on 2/0 hooks either on the pipeline or around the end of the north wall. It is surprising how many monster bream are in these spots and small live baits find the biggest ones.
July is one of the busiest months of the year for anglers in this region. The activity in the entrances make it a great month to fish and it is also worth remembering that last year the Hinze Dam produced some of its best bass fishing ever, with fish over 50cm turning up on a fairly frequent basis. Most of these were caught on deeply fished soft plastics and rattlers in the deeper water in the eastern arm of the dam. I’ll definitely be having a good look at the Hinze Dam this winter.Reads: 3645