Reliably cool fishing
  |  First Published: July 2010

August is the best month of the year to target big snapper on the 36 fathom line.

At this time most of the fish are actively spawning, and there is a lot of migration onto the 36 fathom line and inshore grounds from deeper water.

Over the last five years the snapper fishery has become very highly regulated with bag and size limits and the fishing seems to have become more reliable.

This is a great month to head out to the 36 fathom line with soft plastics or floating baits and fish all the productive pinnacles. Snapper tend to bite best early in the morning or on dusk, and a bit of finesse is required to get your bag limit.

In the old days there were huge populations of snapper on these grounds and big fish up to 10kg were regularly caught on paternoster rigs crudely sent to the bottom on heavy line.

These days you need to be a bit smarter. In the 1980s the biggest problem was the plagues of tiger sharks that would often demolish every fish hooked, but now tiger shark encounters are rare, probably as a result of fewer snapper and pearlies on these grounds.

To successfully fish the 36 fathom line this month use light line and only as much lead as you need to get down to the bottom.

Soft plastics and octopus style jigs can also be effective, but it is harder to work a plastic well in this deep water compared to the inshore grounds.

If you anchor up, turn off your sounder and berley hard. This can really bring the fish on, particularly if you get out early before light.

On the closer grounds this is a great month to live bait for mulloway and cobia, and the reefs have been stacked up with bait since early July. On the first weekend of July there was a massive school of slimies and yakkas that stretched for more than 500m just north of the 24 fathom reef.

Out on the 50 fathom line the pearlies, samson, amberjack and kingies should be in full swing this month, and it is a good time to fish both deep livies and jigs.

There are also some good snapper on the 50s at times making floatlining definitely worth trying this month. The current has been running to the north for the past month now, which is very unusual. August also usually coincides with the coolest currents of the year and water temperatures may drop to around 18 degrees.

For the game fishers, the persistent troller may get a few striped marlin, medium black marlin and the odd yellowfin tuna but fishing is erratic. The 50 fathom line is as good a place as any to start.

In some previous seasons August has produced some very good striped marlin action in as close as the Cotton Reef off the ‘Pin, but it is very bait dependent. If the gannets are around in numbers it is definitely worth a go.


Flathead dominate catches this month and both numbers and size should improve as the fish begin to migrate towards the estuary mouths in preparation for the annual spawning run.

With all the rain over summer and autumn, the estuary has plenty of bait and is in prime condition at present.

The flathead have been patchy so far and they definitely slow down on really cold mornings. When things have warmed up we have found patches of good activity at most of the recognised spots. Some spots have been slow, and then you find a good patch that produces a dozen fish an hour.

Most of the fish have been in the 35-55cm bracket so far, but in August we generally start to pin a lot more in the 70-80cm range.

We tend to use soft plastics most of the time but in areas of clear bottom the excellent TT Blades have been very good producers, particularly in yellow and chartreuse. These little lures get swallowed a fair bit so it pays to use at least 6kg fluorocarbon.

In August we change up to 10kg leader as the bigger fish become much more common. It is also a great month to start practicing for the upcoming Flathead Classic.

As the days start to warm up a bit towards the end of the month it is worth chasing some early season mangrove jacks. While many people are surprised to see jacks in August, there are a lot more of them around than most give credit for, and the Nerang River in particular can provide some great fishing just on dusk or dawn.

Big bream are always a good bet as well and a few trevally also start to move into the system as spring approaches.

This season has also been an excellent one to chase squid in the Broadwater. Fishing squid jigs on still days around the weed beds on high tide can be very productive.

The new Yamashita squid jigs work very well and there have been some monster calamari squid around this year when conditions are right.

The seaway will also produce quite a few nice jewies this month. There are quite a few in the 60-70cm range that are undersized and need to be returned, but there are a few good ones well over 1m turning up on a regular basis at Jumpinpin entrance and the Seaway.

Overall, snapper and flathead are the main targets this month, and with all the rain earlier in the year the fishing should be pretty good.

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