Those fishing Moreton Bay and the various systems feeding into it, will find plenty to chase this month.
Species such as snapper, squid, tailor, mulloway and bream will be in full swing, and towards the end of the month we should also see increased numbers of flathead, school mackerel and a few other species.
July is one of those months when you find it difficult to decide what to target next, but here are a few options:
The past two months have seen some awesome fishing for these tasty cephalods, with land-based anglers and boaties getting into the action at a variety of locales. For shore-based egi (squid) fishos, tiger squid have been the most prolific species, but a few arrows and bottle squid have also been showing up.
Easily accessible spots such as the Scarborough Foreshore, Manly Public Jetty, Manly Point, Manly Harbour Rock Wall, shallows around King Island, Amity Rock Wall, Cleveland Point, Raby Bay Canals and many other areas have been worth a few casts.
Generally if you can find a spot with clean water and some structure in the form of weed beds, rubble or reef then there is a good chance there will be a few squid in residence.
Current also seems to be a key factor for quality captures at many locations.
Sometimes catching squid can be as easy as casting out a jig and winding it in slowly. There is no denying that making the squid jig dance like a real prawn will generally solicit more strikes, however their moods and likes can change quickly.
I generally find that changing squid jigs at regular intervals will often result in a take on the first cast with the new jig. Changing the jig profile and retrieve style can also produce results on a particular spot after the last fifty casts have been ignored.
Squid jigs come in many different colours, finishes, sizes and qualities. There is no denying that the better quality Japanese-made jigs swim better, solicit more strikes and last longer than cheaper models.
Some of these only have jags on the upper side of the jig, which greatly reduces the chance of fouling when worked over rugged terrain. This also gives you the confidence to work the jig slower and closer to the bottom, which is often where the squid are lurking.
Boaties are also blessed with many great areas in which to target squid. There are plenty of shallow reefy areas around all of the bay islands where squid like to hunt for small baitfish and the like.
The upper reaches of the Rous Channel, Browns Gutter, Rainbow Channel, Blue Hole, Sand Hills area, scattered weed beds on the western side of Moreton, Goat Island and Bird Island are all worth a look.
Often when fishing with plastics around the bay islands we get squid attacking our offerings. Floating out a pillie on a squid jag, or a squid jig under a small float, will often yield squid as well as cuttlefish.
The reward at the end of the day will be a tasty calamari entrée or main meal.
Squid should be cooked quickly on a high heat to keep them succulent and tender. I usually cut them into rings, roll them in flour, egg and crumbs before flash frying. Or just split the tubes lengths ways and quickly sear over the barbeque grill before dipping them in a mix of olive oil, crushed garlic, lime juice and dash of soy.
Consume immediately with a nice Chablis or sauvignon blanc and you are in heaven.
Snapper numbers have been relatively good over recent months although many anglers have found the fishing fairly sporadic at times.
Working plastics around the various structure skirting the bay islands is a popular and productive way to get into a few quality fish, however stealth is highly important at times for the better quality specimens.
Periods of low boat traffic are definitely more productive times to be on the water and mid week or night sessions will generally achieve better results.
Usually only 1/6oz to 1/4oz jigheads are required to fish around Mud, Peel and Green islands. Popular plastics include Gulp Jerk Shads, Atomic Prongs, Zoom Flukes, Castaic 3.5” Boot-tails, Slams and many brands of curl-tail plastics.
These should be worked exceptionally slow, with a lift and wind or slow jerky retrieve. The extremities of the day, dawn and dusk, seem to work best and I find the larger tides are good times to be plying your trade.
Quality fresh baits such as fillets of pike, gar or mullet; whole large green prawns; pilchards; fresh squid; small yakkas or slimey mackerel make great offerings.
Use a minimum of length lead with either a running ball sinker rig or paternoster rig. Flourocarbon leader neither attracts nor reflects light and is almost invisible in the water so it’s definitely worth using over monofilament leader in these shallow waters. Berley can be used successfully as an attractant when there is minimal current flow.
Towards the end of July we should expect an increase of school mackerel, especially in areas such as the upper end of the Rous Channel, Browns Gutter and the northern end of the Rainbow Channel.
Trolling spoons behind paravanes or drifting with pilchards is a good way to get amongst a few quality schoolies. The rising tide is usually the best but at times the last of the falling tide will fish well when the mackerel patrol the edges of the channel to target the baitfish flushed from the flats with the receding waters.
Drifting out a pilchard behind the boat when fishing around the bay islands or at locations such as the Harry Atkinson or Curtin Artificial Reef will also produce the occasional school mackerel.
There may be a few schoolies around towards the end of July but the best is yet to come over the coming months.
There has been some awesome tailor around over the last few months and these will continue for at least a month or so yet.
Surface feeding schools are often located on the northern end of Mud Island, Sand Hills area, just inside the South Passage Bar, around the Jumpinpin Bar, Kalinga Bank and along the edges of the Reef at Mud Island.
Coincidental captures can happen anywhere, but the Manly Rock wall, Woody Point Jetty, Scarborough Jetty, Amity Rock Wall and many other locations often produce a few fish in the early mornings and evenings.
Even the mouth of the Brisbane River holds a few decent schools of tailor.
These fish can be targeted with chrome slices and many stickbait style plastics. I like using small surface poppers and walk-the-dog style stickbaits as the surface strikes are awesome.
Casting around the shallows on the northern end of Mud with a white fly popper can provide awesome action on the many smaller tailor that patrol this precinct early in the morning.
The shallows around Green are another spot worth trying, as the occasional larger tailor to 3kg will ambush baitfish in this zone.
The eastern facing beaches are also worth a try, especially in the more prominent gutters and around the headlands. Moreton and Stradbroke are great for a weekend or day trip. Often the tailor can be seen in the face of the waves and a cast with a pilchard or chrome slice will generally see you hooking up.
Many anglers park their boats at The Bedrooms on South Stradbroke and walk over to the beach for an evening or early morning tailor fishing session. There is usually a good gutter close by and catches of tailor are fairly consistent in this area.
Most anglers use pilchards on ganged hooks for beach fishing for tailor but a whole pencil gar or bonito fillet will also work exceptionally well and will often produce better quality fish.
Skirmish Point is worth a fish in the early morning and late afternoon.
Night sessions around the Bribie Island Bridge and Dunwich Jetty will often produce a few quality tailor that prey on the baitfish attracted by the lights. Large tarpon are also often caught around the Bribie Bridge along with a few snapper, cod, trevally and bream.
Bream numbers have been fairly good throughout winter with decent catches being made.
As bream are scavengers, they will eat a wide variety of baits and lures. They are probably one of the most common captures for estuarine and beach anglers and will show up in many different spots, including most of the land-locked freshwater lakes throughout the suburbs.
For a change of pace, I sometimes use berley consisting of small pieces of stale bread in these lakes.
Once this is being sucked off the surface, I present bread flies to the area on my #3 weight. Usually I manage to land some quality bream along with mullet, tilapia, gar and carp.
The estuaries are fishing fairly well at present with plenty of decent bream to be caught on lures and baits.
Bream can be located anywhere at any time. Obviously, areas that hold food sources, such as rock walls, prominent snags, weed beds and channels are the best places to try.
These scavengers will eat all manner of baits: mullet gut, green prawns, fowl gut, mullet fillets, bonito cubes, worms and many others are worth using.
Thin strips of raw chicken fillets are also very good and work well in most situations. Soaking these in a little tuna oil overnight will enhance their appeal.
Keep your rigs lightly weighted and be prepared to allow the fish a little line as they mouth the bait.
Lures are also highly effective for bream in experienced hands and they make a great first time target for anglers getting into fishing with artificials.
Being scavengers, bream will eat a broad array of offerings, with minnow lures, surface stickbaits, poppers, soft plastics, blades and many others coming to the fore as reliable producers.
Bream can be exceptionally easy to catch at times, yet extremely finicky on other occasions.
If you have never targeted bream on lures before, try a 2” soft plastic on a 1/16oz to 1/8oz jighead along the rock walls, pylons and other man-made structure lining the canals, rivers and harbours. This will put you in with a great chance of catching your first bream on artificials.
These ghosts of the estuary have been fairly common catches for many anglers in the Brisbane River, Jumpinpin Bar and other systems over the last few months, but most have not eclipsed the 75cm minimum size limit.
A few decent fish have been taken on baits and plastics during this period. Throughout July and August we should expect more trophy class specimens will be caught in these areas.
For those with insomnia and an obvious disregard for the cold weather, live baiting at night in areas such as the Jumpinpin Channel, Brisbane River and Bribie Passage (especially around the bridge) will heighten your chances of encountering a quality jewie.
Any specimen more than 10kg is brag worthy but a specimen eclipsing 50lb (approx 23kg) will definitely put you in an elite group amongst your peers.
Live mullet, prawn, pike and herring make great offerings in these areas, however quality fish are also taken on pilchards, fresh mullet fillets and bonito strips at times. Species such as rays, sharks, pike eels, catfish and others are also likely to take a liking to your offerings.
Jigging with plastic shads, jerkbaits, blades and lipless crankbaits in the major channels, deeper holes, ledges and lighted areas will also prove productive.
Many anglers will fluke a quality fish on their first or second trip but may then go for dozens of outings before nailing another quality fish. I have never caught a large mulloway but they are one species that seem to hold a place in angler’s hearts.
Try jigging in the Jumpinpin Channel at first light or during the darkened hours, around the pylons of the Bribie Island Bridge, and along the edges of the riverbed and wharves in the Brisbane River. Anywhere there are lights shining on the water that will attract baitfish is also worth a few casts.
Most offshore fishing throughout July centers around demersal species such as snapper, pearl perch, trag, sweetlip and cod. Pelagics such as amberjack, cobia and yellowtail kingfish will also be caught.
All the usual grounds such as Square patch, Deep Tempest, Shallow Tempest, Hutchinson Shoals, Brennans Shoals and Roberts Shoals are worth a visit along with any secret spot an angler may have.
Deep dropping with baits on paternoster rigs is considered the standard however savvy anglers regularly use soft plastics, knife jigs, swing jigs, octo jigs and other artificials with astounding success in depths up to 160m. These offerings regularly produce the best fish of the day.
Using berley in the shallower areas and slowly floating baits down the berley trail is also a highly successful technique for quality fish.
The quality and numbers of pearl perch just seem to get better every year. Most consider them a great table fish but give me a succulent slice of cobia any time. Snapper are generally the target of most offshore anglers during July, yet there is also plenty of desirable by-catch.
Throughout the month of July, anglers are presented with plenty of angling options if they are willing to take up the challenge.
I detest the cold weather but the piscatorial prominence and productivity is usually enough to entice me out of bed in the early mornings (occasionally) to brave the conditions.
Apart from the aforementioned species, there’s good numbers of blackfish, flathead, sweetlip, cuttlefish, tuna and many other species to be tempted.
There is plenty to try in July, so slip on a jumper, slop some coffee into the thermos, slap on a beanie and get into it.Reads: 257