I always love August. Apart from the fact that we are approaching the end of the cooler weather, the fishing in August is usually exceptional and varied. Most of the winter species are still around in numbers but we should also start to see an increase in warmer weather species such as cobia, flathead, school mackerel and others.
Personally, I think the fishing for many of the cool weather species such as bream, snapper and tailor is at a premium during August, maybe not in quantity but definitely for quality specimens. Weather patterns are usually a little more stable and the mornings are not so cold, which makes rising in the early morning more enjoyable.
Although the numbers of this prime winter species will be tapering off during August, anglers often account for some of the better quality fish at this time of the year. Fishing the eastern facing beaches with baits such as gar and bonito strips will often produce much better quality fish than the humble and favoured pilchard.
While the numbers of school tailor to 2kg are fewer than in previous months, specimens to over 5kg are encountered by keen anglers, especially those willing to fish the darkened and twilight hours when greenbacks are found within casting reach on most beaches. Many of the larger fish are encountered further out in the back gutters and long casts are often required to put the offering in the strike zone.
Anglers launching kayaks from the beach and trolling small minnow lures, spoons and rigged gar and pillies during the early morning often account for these larger fish, which usually feed further out during the daylight hours. The eastern facing beaches of North Stradbroke and Moreton Islands and the Jumpinpin Bar area are some of the more popular locations. Those willing to make the effort to fish from the rocks at Point Lookout and Cape Moreton will get good results on tailor as well as trevally, tuna, bonito and a few mackerel at times.
I usually get some of my better quality snapper during August from around the bay islands. Peel, Mud and St. Helena can all produce good results with snapper to over 7kg encountered at times. If the water is very clear due to the westerly winds, the better fishing will be confined to the darkened hours and the extremities of the day: dawn and dusk.
During the larger tides, daylight action can be quite good around deeper ledges a little wider of the islands as the shallows rarely produce decent results when water clarity is high. Apart from snapper, there are sweetlip, tuskfish, cod, morwong and the occasional XOS mulloway to be caught.
Fishing the various wrecks and artificial reefs will usually provide good opportunity for success with the Captain Nelson, Bulldozer, Harry Atkinson and Curtin Artificial being popular areas to try. Mid-week trips will generally see decreased boat traffic, which equates to better results. But even the best spot will shut down when not fished with a stealthy approach.
Positioning up current from wrecks and jigging plastics as you drift over them with the motor off will entice snapper as well as trevally, cobia, cod and others. If you wish to fish these spots at anchor then drop the pick up current and let out anchor rope until you are positioned just up current of the spot so you can drift your bait back onto it. Thoughtful approaches like this will definitely result in better captures.
With the water clarity around the bay islands often high throughout August, the mouth of the Brisbane River and sometimes areas further upstream often fish exceptionally well. Baitfish species and prawns regularly congregate in the coloured water and this in turn attracts many predatory species. Threadfin, snapper, mulloway, trevally, tarpon, bream, flathead, sharks and other species are regularly caught in the stretch up to the Gateway Bridge.
The entire stretch of the Brisbane River from the mouth to Mount Crosby can produce exceptional fishing. Threadfin are probably the main fare in the upper reaches however sharks, flathead, cod, tarpon and others are also regularly caught anywhere along its length. Live mullet, prawns and herring are prime fare for these species however savvy anglers also achieve surprising results on lures.
One of my favourite bay species, the mighty cobia, is usually prevalent during August and the coming months. This time of the year produces some of the better quality specimens with fish to 40kg to be expected at times. Live baiting is definitely the most productive approach for many anglers targeting cobia and is also a fairly relaxing way to fish. Live offerings such as yakkas and slimey mackerel will produce their fair share of fish, however others such as fusiliers (whiptails), pike, sand crabs and demersal species (ensure to adhere to size regulations) will all work exceptionally well. Even the pesky grinner will entice a cobia strike if other live baits are hard to acquire.
Good areas to try include around any of the wrecks and artificial reefs, the shipping channel beacons in the northern bay, Western Rocks area and any wrecks. One technique that works well is to drop live baits adjacent to a beacon and then drift away 100m or more. Repeat this at least three times at each beacon and then move on to the next. If there is a cobia around you will generally entice them with this approach.
Other species encountered on live baits during August around the beacons, artificial reefs and wrecks include longtail tuna, mackerel, trevally, XOS shovelnose rays and snapper.
Estuary anglers are in luck during August as flathead numbers usually explode, making this great sport and table species a prolific catch. Flathead are one of the easiest species to catch and will accept most offerings put in front of them. Understanding their habits will shorten the learning curve and will increase your chances of getting connected.
Flathead will move into the shallowest of water to ambush baitfish on the rising tide and can be found up on top of the banks, in shallow creeks and gutters. As the tide turns and starts to fall, the flathead will move into ambush spots at the mouths of creeks and gutters, and also along the edges of banks, as they instinctively know the falling tide will force baitfish and prawns out of the shallows as the water recedes. This gives anglers the perfect opportunity to target these fish by casting lures, flies or baits in these areas.
Trolling the edges of banks on the falling tide with minnow lures will produce multiple numbers of fish at times. Most lures will work providing they swim close to the bottom where they can be seen by these bottom dwellers. Bright colours, such as pink, chartreuse green or orange are generally favoured by successful anglers.
The flathead’s lateral line is its ear, picking up any movement or vibration, as it lies motionless in ambush mode on the bottom. Therefore, lures that bang on the bottom, possess rattles or have vibrant actions are much more likely to solicit strikes. Live baits also emit vibrations which can attract flathead from a short distance away.
Drifting deeper channels possessing good water flow with dead baits such as frogmouth pilchards, whitebait, hardiheads, fillet strips and blue pilchards will also regularly produce flathead. These baits are best rigged on a snelled-hook rig and running ball sinker so that they bang across the bottom as you drift. The Jumpinpin area, especially the channel leading up to the bar, Kalinga Bank, Tiger Mullet Channel, Whalleys Gutter, Slipping Sands, Mckenzies Channel and the bottom end of Short Island are all good places to try.
Pumicestone Passage also holds good numbers of flathead. Try areas such as the mouth of Elimbah Creek, The Ws, Bells Creek, The Narrows, Coochin Creek mouth and Ningi Creek, just to name a few. Many good areas to target flathead are accessible to anglers with only Shank’s Pony. Walking and wading can provide a good day of fishing and only requires a spin rod, a few lures, wading boots and a little energy. I like the area between Bald Hills Creek and the Hornibrook Bridge, the mouth of Tingalpa Creek, Jacksons Creek, Banksia Beach, Caboolture River mouth and Cabbage Tree Creek mouth, although there are a myriad of places worth trying.
Apart from flathead, the estuaries will be fishing well for many other species. The Pumicestone Passage has a lot of varied water to fish for many different species. Try for whiting around the mouth of Elimbah Creek, Avon Wreck and the Ws. The mouth of Pacific Harbour regularly produces quality fish such as flathead, bream, grunter, school mulloway, trevally and at times tailor, especially on an early morning falling tide.
Mangrove jack and estuary cod will regularly take lures and live baits around in Pacific Harbour Canals, the snags in Elimbah, Bells, Glasshouse Mountain and Coochin creeks. Fishing baits and lures around the Bribie Bridge will entice trevally, tailor, bream, snapper, tarpon and many other species throughout August. Night sessions are often very productive with a rising tide.
Throughout the bay there are many channels and gutters that provide good habitats for both winter and summer whiting, both of which can be caught throughout August. The winter (diver) whiting are the most prolific and what they generally lack in size they definitely make up for in number. The summer whiting are a little harder to find but their larger average size makes the effort worthwhile.
Double figures of both can be caught in a session, especially when fresh baits such as worms, peeled green prawns and squid strips are used on long shank hooks, with minimum lead and light line. Try the Small Ships Channel, Rous Channel, Dialba Passage, Browns Gutter and Blacks Gutter; although there are many shallow bank and channel areas worth a try. Be careful of speed restrictions in many of these areas and check for Green Zones on an official map as there is still no on-water marking of green zones, although the EPA had assured me this was going to be accomplished before the new zones came into effect.
August is usually a good month for chasing school mackerel. Typical surface feeding schools are rare, however that doesn’t mean there is not plenty around. As mentioned last month, the eastern end of the Rous Channel is a great spot to look, especially between the last two red buoys and first green buoy. But schoolies are often located right throughout the Rous, as well as Browns Gutter, Blacks Gutter and the Rainbow Channel.
On a rising tide try trolling a Halco #3 Drone or similar spoon behind a paravane in the main channel. Drifting pillies also works well and tailor, northern bar-tailed flathead and other species are also encountered. Most of the school mackerel will be under 2kg but the odd larger specimen and even an occasional Spanish mackerel is caught.
On falling tides the mackerel tend to hang close to the edges of the channel as they prey on baitfish and other species flushed from the banks with the last of the falling tide.
While the aforementioned methods still work, chrome lures such as Spanyid Raiders and Maniacs, Lazers, Flasha’s, Toby’s and others can also work a treat when cast out and jigged back to the boat. Stickbait plastics work well also when fished lightly weighted. Cast up onto the bank and work the plastic back into the channel.
Snap-Backs can withstand repeated strikes from the razor sharp teeth of mackerel with minimal loss, unlike many other plastics. Other spots where mackerel often congregate are around the edges of the bay islands (St. Helena was usually a sure bet before the Green Closures), the edges of the shipping channel and flanking beacons between The Four Beacons and Caloundra, and sometimes at the Curtin Artificial.
One of the best things about August, apart from the great fishing on offer in Moreton Bay and surrounding waters, is that the weather gets warmer every single day. Although it will be a few months before we experience some sweltering temperatures, the fishing action is already hot. Get out and enjoy it now while you have still have abundant winter species plus plenty of eager summer species to get your adrenalin pumping.Reads: 180