Setting the alarm clock for 5am is a bit of a challenge this month! Westerly winds and clear skies make for cold mornings, but the number of days with light winds this month means it is a great time to explore the wider reefs off the Gold Coast.
Target species include kingfish, amberjacks, samsonfish, pearl perch and snapper. The 50-fathom line is usually very productive in July and there is generally minimal current. Deep water jigging is a very productive method for fishing this area. Kingies and amberjacks generally prefer high pinnacles full of rock and wire weed. The northeast 50-fathom line has some great spots, although GPS marks are not provided. To find your pinnacles, go trolling the area for a day or two and record them on your GPS. There are a few striped marlin around the 50-fathom line in July and you may well hook one while searching for your jigging spots.
Deep water jigging is great exercise and once you hook up, the work out gets even tougher. One rod that we’ve given a real test is the Shimano T Curve 400. These sticks are great value and when fished with 80-pound braid, are formidable weapons for big fish. The T Curve 400 rods are less than half the price of some of the more expensive imports but in my opinion are just as efficient and strong.
On the Gold Coast reefs around the 50-fathom line, we use River to Sea 300g pink knife jigs quite a bit and have had excellent results with these reasonably cheap lures. They work very 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.
Snapper should be on the chew this month on the 36-fathom line. Snapper move inshore to spawn and feed very actively at this time of year. However, westerly winds make the 36-fathom area particularly choppy, so if you are in a small boat, choose a day with less than 15 knots of breeze. Anchoring and berleying is the best method to catch big snapper this month, but drifting and feeding down a slow sinking pilchard or tuna strip is also effective. On a recent snapper expedition in 42m of water east of Surfer’s Paradise, I hooked a beauty on light threadline tackle and 10kg leader on a tuna strip. After another 20 minutes, I landed an 18.5kg samsonfish, which proves that you can occasionally get lucky on light gear, even with a fish renowned for crash-diving into the snags!
Tailor and mackerel tuna should be schooling up this month at the back of the surf line, and a spin session with metal lures can be productive early in the morning. A few doggy mackerel are also sometimes caught on the inshore wrecks in July. Game fishing options are mostly restricted to the wider grounds where there will be a few striped and the odd blue marlin.
As the water cools down, the fishing activity increases. At the moment, the seaway is full of schooling mullet, with huge schools milling along the rock walls. This brings plenty of predators into the system as well, including mulloway, yellowtail kingies and sharks.
July is the best month of the year to catch a big jewie in the Seaway area. Although there has been plenty of ink given to catching mulloway on soft plastics, live baiting has a much better success rate. Like most things on the Gold Coast, the Seaway is getting to be bloody crowded most of the time. The boating traffic seems to have doubled in the past two years, and this makes fishing for shy fish like mulloway difficult. The secret is to get out on the water on a freezing cold night when sensible people are rugged up inside and fish a high tide change with live mullet, hoping the mulloway are hungry. Persistence brings rewards in the jewie game – the more you go, the more you will catch. Quite a few fish this month will be over 15kg.
For the more sensible types, July is a great month to start 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 them. Most of the fish will be from 40-60cm at this time of year in the main central part of the Broadwater.
If you require advice on jigheads and what the local lizards are eating this month, most of the local tackle stores will point you to the right lures. 3-inch shad tails like Squidgy Fish, Renosky and Atomics all work well. I generally use a 1/4oz or 3/8oz jighead and 12-20lb leader.
Bream are in large schools this month in the Seaway and around Jumpinpin. All these areas will produce big catches on bait. The one perplexing thing about Queensland bream is how they seem to be regulated. With a minimum size of 23cm and no bag limit the species is easily open to exploitation. If we have a slot limit for flathead of five fish between 40 and 70cm, why not have a minimum size of 27cm for bream and a bag limit of 10 fish per person. In the Seaway in July, some boats catch many times this amount. Bream are a slow growing fish and need more protection than they get.
Most of the summer species such as mangrove jacks, whiting and trevally will be quiet this month. As the water cools, the bread and butter species like bream, flathead and mulloway will dominate catches. It’s a great month to spend time on the Broadwater, and if you want to fish the Gold Coast Sportfishing Club’s Flathead Classic in mid September, now is the time to start practising.
1) A hard-fighting yellowtail kingfish from the 50 fathom line.
2) July is a great time to start chasing flathead on soft plastics.
3) A popper was the undoing of this Nerang River tailor.Reads: 9012