Once in a blue moon
  |  First Published: August 2004

CELESTIAL watchers will know that August is a true ‘blue moon’, with two full moons in the calendar month. The first is on the 1st and the second on the 30th. The full moon period is a great time for fishing, and we get two cracks at it this month so make the most of it.

The action out wide in August is usually red hot, but the only problem is the wind. Last August saw lots of blown out conditions, but when boats could get out wide the Spanish mackerel and the reef fishing were on fire.

Coral trout are the main target species in August, as they fatten up for spawning, but large- and small-mouth nannygai and red emperor are also on the chew. The trout are a little easier to target, as small boats can fish in close behind the reefs, while the deeper water, where reds spend most of their time, is often a bit more rocky-rolly due to the prevailing sou-easters.

The trout are best targeted around the 30m mark and the new moon period in mid August will be the best time to chase them. The bigger trout can often be found in deeper water, especially if the live trout boats have been through the area, which is pretty common around now.

With luck, the reds will be in the shallows as well. If not, try the rubble ground in about 50m+ of water. Really big reds moved onto the rubble grounds in late August last year, providing sensational fishing in the few calm periods after persistent strong winds. When there are windows of flat calm, overnighters are very productive in August. Nannygai and red emperor are the main target species.

Spaniards are suckers for trolled gar during August, while bottom bashers should always have a livie out under a float or at least an old faithful floating pillie. Any small bottom fish, like a stripy or hussar, will do for a livie, but yakkas and fusiliers are irresistible to a Spaniard, if you can get your hands on them. Generally speaking, the bigger Spanos are taken on livebaits.

Game fishers will be targeting small black marlin this month as they prepare for the upcoming big game season, which kicks off in September. The Wide Grounds should be holding big balls of bait, and the bills will be in escort, if past years are any indication. The Wide Grounds were alive with bills this time last year and it proved to be an excellent indicator to yet another bumper big game season. Most boats were averaging five shots a day during this period last year and the Cairns Tackle & Bait Light Tackle Tournament, held in mid-August, saw 61 billfish raised, with 16 fish tagged and released.


The water is still a bit cold for the estuaries to fire for barra, jacks and fingermark, but a few warm, still days can soon turn that around.

Queenfish and huge GTs may still be hanging around the river mouths this month. Last year there were some monster GTs caught using Bumpa Bar lures, with two fish going over 20kg.

The deeper holes in Trinity Inlet will be holding a few fingermark and the odd barra for the livebaiter. They are a bit harder to tempt using lures. Other than that, southern bread-and-butter species will be providing most of the action in the inlet.

August usually sees the river levels dropping, and the mangrove jack move down into the tidal areas in bigger numbers. The warmer weather helps, but a super fresh bait or a good old half pillie are irresistible to a hungry jack. The skills of the more experienced lure tossers come to the fore at this time. The jacks usually hold tight to structure, so put the lure right in the timber or rocks for best results.

Sunny afternoons are a good time to target barra in the freshwater, especially in shallow areas close to deep snags, where the water can be warmed a few degrees by the sun. The lead-up to the full moon on 30th will be the best time to target barra in the fresh, especially if it coincides with a period of warmer weather.


This month the inshore reefs will be holding mackerel, with the majority of the catch being made up of Spaniards and doggies. Spotties should be more plentiful this year, now that ring netting has been banned, and the inshore wrecks are a favourite drawcard for this species. Livebait was the big performer for spotties last year, but when these predators are on the bite any standard mackerel presentation, from a pillie to a metal slice, will produce.

This time last year I was nailing XOS fingermark, trolling the inshore reefs with super deep diving lures such as the River2Sea Down Sider and the Mann’s Stretch 30+. When working the inshore reefs, have a spread of lures from the top to the bottom. If the mackerel are scarce, a fingermark or trout off the bottom is a welcome bonus.

1) Queensland Fishing Monthly writer Dave Powell is hoping a warm spell in August will bring the freshwater barra on the bite like last year.

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