August’s full of options
  |  First Published: August 2004

AUGUST is a good month on the wider reefs with plenty of options. The water temperature runs between 19 and 20.5 degrees most of the time, and there can be surprisingly good gamefishing for striped marlin this month. Although many of these are caught by big gameboats out wide, stripies are well within reach of trailerboats as well. If the bait is around and the water is clean they can be caught on the Cotton Reef, Sullies, 36 Fathoms NE, and around the 50 Fathom line.

A few yellowfin also turn up at this time of year as the cool currents move off the shelf. When targeting these fish you generally need to cover a lot of water, so lure trolling is often the preferred method. Striped marlin average around 80kg at this time of year and are well worth targeting if you get good weather.

Jigging the wide grounds for yellowtail kings, amberjack and samsons is also well worth a look this month. Some of the biggest amberjack turn up every August. The recent increase in the sale of expensive jigging gear gives an idea of the popularity of this method, and long thin rapid-sink 300g jigs work extremely well on the Gold Coast wide grounds. This method often outfishes livebaits, and also catches plenty of pearl perch.

There should be plenty of snapper around on the 36 Fathom line this month. Drifting pilchards with just enough weight to get to the bottom is the preferred method for the bigger fish. In closer, around the 24 Fathom line, anchoring and berleying is often the best method. Big snapper are wary of heavy leader, and it pays to fish as light as possible. Mack tuna, whole small mullet and slimies all work well. The oilier the bait, the more bites you’ll get.

Pearl perch will be schooling up in big clusters on the 50 Fathom line this month. Pearlies seem to hang in distinctive diamond-shaped schools about 5m off the bottom, and they like areas of hard reef and wireweed. They are probably the best eating fish caught off the Gold Coast, and although they lack fight they are number one tucker.

On the close grounds there should be a few cobia, tailor and mackerel tuna. Livebaiting is usually the most productive method, particularly if you catch a few slimy mackerel. If the mack tuna become a pest, try a bigger bait like a tailor or teraglin. Cobia wolf these down and they have less appeal to annoying mack tuna. For those who know the spots there should also be a few mulloway around during August.

The run-out tide line just off the Seaway is worth drifting a few livebaits or pilchards around this month. It can produce yellowtail kings, mulloway, GTs and even cobia. At times there are also plenty of sharks and some monster shovelnose rays.

Overall, despite the cold and often windy weather, August is a good month for fishing offshore from the Gold Coast. It is one of those months where surprises are quite common, and you can catch everything from marlin to snapper.

Estuary and Gold Coast Rivers

August is a great month to fish for flathead with lures. Most of the fish are currently in the central broadwater, and the section from Crab Island through to Tippler’s Passage fishes very well at this time of year. My most successful strategy in recent seasons has been casting soft plastics around the edges of weedbeds and channels. An average session last August produced between 20 and 40 fish to around 65cm. The odd bigger flathead turns up in August, with a few over 80cm in the recognised big fish spots.

Good soft plastics to try include the Squidgy Fish in 65mm length, Atomic shads, Berkley 4-inch Power Baits, Storm shads and Renoskys. In clear water stick to natural colours like silver and gold, and use brighter colours like chartreuse or pink in dirty water. A jighead size of 3/16oz to 3/8oz on a 3/0-4/0 chemically sharpened hook covers most of the options.

Fish can be caught throughout the tide cycle. When the water is full on the top of the tide, concentrate casting to the top of the flats, especially if you see bait schools or active pelicans. Work the feeder channels when the water runs off, and on the first of the run-in look for spots where fish will hold while they wait to get to the top of the flats again. If you fish the same spots over the entire tide cycle you should be able to work it out quite quickly.

There are still plenty of bream in August, although most have now spawned. They often feed quite hard as the days warm up and they need to put on condition. All the rock walls and rocky patches in the Seaway will still hold plenty of big bream this month.

There should be a few big jewies in the Seaway this month, although this season it has been fairly quiet for most anglers so far. Live mullet on the top of the tide is your best bet.

As well as jewies, a big livebait can produce yellowtail kings. The kingies have made a bit of a comeback in recent months, responding to both livebait and metal jigs. They are most active on the last of a run-in tide.

As the days warm up a bit it’s time to think about a few early season mangrove jacks. In dry years I’ve caught quite a few in late August in the Nerang and Coomera rivers. Most of these fish were taken on trolled lures. If the afternoon is warm and you have a low tide at about dusk, a jack is definitely on the cards this month.

August is a great month, especially for snapper and flathead – two of my favourite species both on a line and on the plate. The days get a bit longer and there are plenty of options both offshore and in the rivers.

1) Mac tuna are a great target for sportfishers and make great bait for a host of reef species.

2) Tailor fillet is one of the better jew baits and when fish like this come over the side it makes all the effort worth while.

3) At over 70cm this flathead is about to be released, but it shows the quality of the fish that will be available in August.

4) A range of plastics used to target flathead. A good, fun and productive way to catch this popular estuary species.

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