It’s hard to fail in July
  |  First Published: July 2004

WINTER fishing should be good this year. Summer rains and plenty of bait generally mean that both the inshore and wider reefs hold plenty of tucker for migrating fish. There are still quite a few gamefish around, and even when the water temperature drops to below 20 degrees there are still some good big fish options.

Quite a few striped marlin are caught in July. This is thought to be part of a northern migration of this species as the water temperatures off the NSW coast drop, and the fish follow the last tongues of warmer water north. Good areas to target stripies include the wide grounds such as Jim’s mountain and the Tweed Canyons, inshore area such as the Cotton Reef and Sullies, and the 50 Fathom Line. If the water is blue, above 20 degrees and there is bait about, trolling is a very worthwhile option. Medium sized skirted lures, trolled live baits and ‘troll and switch’ are all good methods. When many boats put their bluewater gear away for the winter, a few keen skippers still keep their lures in the water, often with excellent results.

As well as striped marlin there is a good chance of school yellowfin with the odd blue marlin still present on the wider grounds. The winter blue marlin are often bigger fish, commonly over 200kg.

Current on the wide reefs around the 50 Fathom Line drops a lot in the winter. This is a good month for deepwater jigging, and amberjack, yellowtail kings and samsonfish are quite common. Bottom fishing for snapper and pearl perch on the 50 Fathom Line is also quite productive this month, and in late autumn there have been excellent catches of pearlies out on the 50s.

For big snapper try the 36 Fathom Line northeast of the Seaway. Mullet, whole squid and floating pillies are all good bait in this area. Berley can be a great help if the current is minimal. A lot of fish over 7kg turn up in these areas. Light tackle and minimal lead combined with good bait is the key to success.

On the inshore grounds there can be excellent fishing for cobia with livebaits. 24 Fathoms, the reefs east of the Casino and the drop-off just north of the Seaway entrance are all great spots to anchor up and berley with a few livies out. I like to have one livebait on the bottom, one midwater and a third under a balloon on the surface. Big livies such as tailor, bonito, large slimies and tarwhine are all great bait and minimise the bites from grinners and mack tuna. As well as cobia expect the odd mulloway, big mack tuna and sharks.

In the runout tide water from the Seaway there are often plenty of tailor. This year there have been some monsters caught already, with a couple of 8kg fish coming from the bottom end of North Stradbroke in late May. To spin for tailor from the boat, pick a day with minimal swell and spin into the back of the surf from your boat along South Stradbroke. The longer you can cast, the better. Look for birds and showering baitfish.

July is a great month offshore, and is certainly one of the most reliable months on the calendar when it comes to catching a feed.

Estuary Options

Target species this month include mulloway, flathead, bream and kingies. Yellowtail kingfish have made a return to the Seaway area in recent times, and jigging around the pipeline and channel markers can be quite productive. Fish are generally in the 2-4kg range, although a few bigger ones over 6kg turn up at times. The odd amberjack is also mixed in with the kingie schools.

As the water cools down mulloway move into the Seaway and Jumpinpin channels chasing schools of tiger mullet. Some big fish over 20kg turn up in July. A live mullet fished around the top of the tide at night is usually the best option, and a patient approach pays off in the end. You shouldn’t expect to catch a big one on your first attempt, but if you put in a few trips on good tides you should be rewarded.

Big bream are probably the most popular target species in July, with fish over 800g being reasonably common. A lot of the bigger fish are caught in the Seaway on small livebaits such as live herring. This method also often produces a few school mulloway and trevally. Big tailor commonly bite through the mono in this area.

July is a great month to fish soft plastics in the Nerang River targeting schooling bream. This style of fishing has become increasingly popular in recent years. Berkley Power Baits have been the most popular lures for the past few seasons. The 3” model seems to work the best.

Flathead are around in good numbers all through winter, and most of the fish are in the central Broadwater. Casting baits, soft plastics or hard-bodied lures over the weed beds and sandy drop-offs is very reliable. Without a doubt, soft plastics are the preferred method in my boat. Although most of the flathead in winter are smaller fish there is still the odd monster about. My son caught one a few weeks back that went 91cm. It was caught on a Holy Mackerel shad in a shallow gutter near Crab Island, and took quite a while to land on 2kg line.

Winter is a time of plenty on Gold Coast estuaries. Tailor should also be in good numbers, especially around the time of the full moon. Clear windless days and cool nights mean the water over the flats is at an ideal temperature for all the bread and butter species. With a light spin rod and a bunch of soft plastics it is hard to fail this month.

1) This jewie was caught on a big-eyed pillie.

2) Pearl perch love jigs. Bottom fishing for these fish on the 50 Fathom Line should be productive in July.

3) Franco Martinese with a quality bream caught on a yabby.

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