A fish highway
  |  First Published: June 2004

IN JUNE the water temperatures inside the estuaries of Southern Queensland drop markedly. This changes the activity of the resident fish species, and the onset of cool westerly winds triggers the spawning runs of bream, mullet and tailor.

For estuary anglers there are plenty of fish to target. The Seaway area becomes a fish highway at this time, and vast schools of mullet start to mill around the entrance before their seaward spawning run. These mullet attract a range of predators, from sharks to big mulloway. June is the first good month of the year to target big mulloway around Wavebreak Island and the Seaway walls at night. A live mullet fished on a high tide change from about 8pm until midnight is a good option. Mulloway over 20kg are caught in this area every winter from June until late August. It requires a lot of effort, and experience only comes from failed trips so don’t be put off if you miss out a few times before your first big jewie.

Bream also move in numbers throughout the Seaway area. Big fish over a kilo are common this month on both lures and livebaits. The pipeline that stretches across the Seaway near the Seaway Tower holds plenty of big bream. Lure anglers fishing the Nerang should catch plenty on soft plastics fished on the bends and deeper holes or around the many jetties and pontoons. The small reef directly south of the mouth of Biggera Creek is also worth a look.

Flathead become increasingly active as the water cools, and plenty of 40-60cm fish can be caught up on top of the flats casting soft plastics or trolling small, deep diving hard-bodied lures. Not a lot of monster flathead are caught in June, but there are plenty of smaller fish ideal for the table. As well as flathead, soft plastics will catch pike, bream, trevally, flounder and even tasty squid. The central Broadwater from Crab Island up to Wally’s Gutter generally fishes well for flathead in June.

Whiting numbers tend to decrease as the water gets colder, and sand crabs and mud crabs become far less active, although there will still be quite a few sandies around in the deeper sections of the Broadwater. Last June we had some very good late season crabbing, and hopefully this pattern will repeat itself. Garfish are also worth targeting on the last half of the run-in tide. The southern end of Crab Island is a very productive spot.

Tailor are another great fish to target this month. The entrance to the Jumpinpin Bar is a great place to try – just look for diving birds. Casting small metal lures such as Lazers and Raiders on light tackle is generally quite effective, and at times the tailor schools move as far up as Short Island. At the other end of South Stradbroke the Seaway is worth a spin early in the morning, particularly around the North Wall. Some big tailor over 3kg are caught here in June.


The water temperature drops and the current generally slows down to a trickle at this time of year. On the wider grounds it has been a great season for blue marlin, and this will probably continue into June. In winter a lot of bigger blue marlin start to show up, with quite a few over 200kg likely to be encountered on grounds such as the Tweed Canyons and Jim’s Mountain. Striped marlin and yellowfin tuna should increase in numbers as the water cools down a little. Most boats troll large skirted lures on heavy tackle out wide. For the smaller craft, there are a few striped marlin and blacks to be caught on the 50 fathom line with the occasional yellowfin tuna. The odd blue marlin can be caught here as well, although not many stray inside of about 70 fathoms.

Snapper fishing should improve markedly this month, and plenty of fish should start to show up on the 36 fathom line. If you kept a few mackerel tuna from earlier in the year, now is the time to use them to catch snapper. Mack tuna are superb as both berley and strip bait.

The 36 fathom line has copped a flogging from both charter boats and recreational vessels in recent years. Hopefully bag limits and increased size limits will make a difference with snapper catches in coming seasons, but they are a slow-growing fish and stocks will take a long time to recover.

On the 50 fathom reef expect snapper, pearl perch, amberjack and pigfish. Pearl perch have been caught all through autumn on these grounds and should improve with the onset of winter. The biggest pearlies fall to floaters. For deepwater jigging targeting amberjacks and yellowtail kings, try the traps, 50 fathoms northeast or the Tweed Nine Mile. Jigging has become very popular in recent years, partly because of the new Japanese tackle that’s becoming readily available.

Wahoo and Spanish and spotted mackerel will persist into June, and these end-of-season fish are often the biggest of the season, with a few monster Spaniards over 30kg turning up at times. The Tweed Nine Mile is worth a look for wahoo, and the area directly in front of the Seaway sometimes holds the biggest mackerel. There is often a ‘return run’ of spotties on Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef in June as fish move back from the southern part of their migration as the water cools. Some of these spotties are over 6kg.

Overall, June is a great month on the water. The weather is usually kind, and there are plenty of good options right throughout the month. From bream to blue marlin, the chances of success are good.

1) This solid bream was caught on a Deception Paleomon.

2) A brace of pearl perch caught by Tony Crowe.

3) Franco Martinese with a Mermaid Spaniard.

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