Reefies run wild
  |  First Published: August 2005

August is a great time to fish the wider reefs off the Gold Coast. Anglers can chase snapper, pearl perch, kingfish, samsonfish and amberjacks, and jigging the pinnacles around the 50-fathom line will be very effective. Deep water jigging is becoming very popular off the Gold Coast and the secret seems to be in braided line and jigs around 300g in weight. A good cheap jig is the River to Sea Knife jig in the 300g size. With a single 7/0 jighook on a length of Kevlar braid this works extremely well on kingies and amberjacks.

This winter has been a good one for pearl perch. Pearlies have been turning up with increasing frequency on the close in reefs with quite a few good ones caught on the 24-fathom line. Out on the 50-fathom reef it has been very easy to catch a bag limit of five pearlies in quick time. Find them on the sounder, drop a bait down and pull them in. They certainly aren’t a fighting fish – once they open their mouths they are a bit like pulling up a small bucket – but few things beat them on a plate.

There should be some good snapper on the 36-fathom reef off Jumpinpin this month. Many of the biggest snapper turn up in August and fish over 7kg should be relatively common. Nearly every big snapper is caught by float lining, where the bait is presented in natural fashion and slowly drifts down to the fish. Not many big snapper are caught on paternoster rigs these days. Early morning or evening is generally the best time.

A few mulloway will be caught on the close reefs and wrecks and there will probably be the odd big cobia as well. Plenty of berley and patience is the key. When berleying for these species, fish cubes and chunks are more effective than mashed up slop from a berley bucket; use fresh strip baits, pilchards and live baits for best results. Unfortunately, I don’t think the cobia run of 2004 will repeat itself this year.

For game fishermen, striped marlin are a good target this month, and there may also be a few big yellowfin tuna out wide. Trolling the 36- and 50-fathom lines can produce reasonable fishing in August and some stripies are usually caught at this time of year on the Cotton Reef as well.

The Tweed Nine Mile is worth a look for kingies and snapper. Slow drifting livebaits or jigging is the best way to find a kingfish, while snapper like small slimies or fresh WA pillies slowly drifted across the back ledge of the reef.

Overall, August is a good month to hit the wider grounds and is often very productive. The current is generally minimal and there are plenty of fishable days as the westerlies start to drop back a bit. The biggest amberjack caught off the Gold Coast are generally taken in August.

Gold Coast Estuaries

Flathead are the major target species this month and many anglers will be pre-fishing for the upcoming Flathead Classic. A number of bigger fish over 70cm will turn up this month as things warm up and the fish get ready to spawn. Good areas to try include Kalinga bank, Tippler’s Passage, the mouth of the Pimpama and the eastern channel in front of Crab Island. Remember the bag limit is five flathead per person between 40 and 70cm in length. Already the effects of this legislation have saved a lot of big, breeding females.

Flathead are a great fish to chase on soft plastic lures. Shad style tails work very well, as do 2” and 3” Atomics, Squidgy fish, Squidgy Shads and Renosky Shads. Jigheads around 1/4 to 3/8oz cover most waters, on a 3/0 or 4/0 hook. Cast the shad up into the shallows and work it back with a jerky lifting retrieve and plenty of pauses.

Trolling is another effective method and small deep-diving minnow-style lures that shuffle along the bottom work the best. The Lively Lures Micro Mullet has been the best performer in recent Flathead Classics. Pink is the most popular colour with both anglers and flathead, followed by green. For bigger fish, try trolling a deep diving green bomber – even in the largest size these lures are very effective at producing quality fish.

Mulloway should be in the Seaway area and around Jumpinpin Bar. Livebait at night or on tide changes is the most successful method, but good jewie are also turning up consistently on soft plastic shads. A lot of the biggest mulloway of the season are caught in August, which generally marks the end of the winter run. Fish over 20kg can be caught in the Seaway, around Wavebreak Island, on the Pipeline and around the end of the north wall.

Tailor will move into the estuaries on the bigger tides this month around the full moon. Pilchards floated out on a run-in tide at night can work well, and spinning around the ‘Pin bar and the wash at the end of the north wall of the Seaway also produces some good fish. Always pack a few metal lures so when a tailor school erupts in front of the boat you can clip one on and get into the action. 40g Raiders and Snipers and small Lazers are deadly weapons on tailor.

Towards the end of this month, a few jacks will start to show as things warm up a bit. The rock bars in the Nerang can be definitely worth a look in August. Even though it is very early in the season, we have caught some great jacks in the Nerang this month. Most of these have taken trolled deep-diving lures fished at sunset on a run-out tide.

August is a pretty lively month on Gold Coast waters, and the fishing is generally good for a wide range of nice eating fish.

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