Seeing Red
  |  First Published: July 2010

Anglers will be seeing plenty of red this August as it’s a great month to target big snapper in our local waters.

While I’ve had great success on soft plastics for snapper, I really enjoy fishing a bait down a berley trail and waiting for that anticipated bite.

Snapper will take a wide variety of baits but it’s pretty hard to go past a good quality pilchard. I’ve caught plenty of snapper on strip and butterfly baits, but pillies will catch all classes of fish.

When I’m bait fishing, I use a method known as floatlining. This consists of a small ball sinker (as small as possible) running on to my hooks.

This rig is fished best by free spooling the bait very slowly towards the bottom. When the snapper grabs the bait, which is generally as it is descending, the fish won’t feel resistance. Once I feel the run I give it a second or so before firmly setting the hook.

This is one of the most effective methods of fishing, particularly for big snapper.

Snapper can be found at just about any reef offshore of the Gold Coast but I particularly like the 24 fathom reefs off Surfers Paradise, Fidos and the Mud Hole. Deep Southern will hold good numbers at times too.

Without a doubt soft plastic fishing for snapper is a very effective method, and most times they will take a plastic rather than a fresh bait.

Plastics can be extremely easy to fish. Often just making a long cast up current, stripping a bit of line out and forgetting about it in the rod holder can be as effective as anything.

I like to let my plastic to the bottom slowly, trying to attract a bite as the lure drops. Once the plastic has reached the bottom, I give it a few sharp jerks and allow it to sink again.

Snapper will take a wide range of plastics but Gulp, Guzzler or Bass Assassin are proven winners for me. I constantly vary my jigheads and by having a selection from 1/4oz to 1oz with different hook sizes will do the deed most of the time.

Cobia will start to become more prevalent in August. These hard fighting fish are not only great sport but make fantastic table fair. They are also quite partial to a soft plastic, but if you want to target cobia effectively, live bait is the way to go.

I like to use fairly hefty live bait; tailor, small (legal sized) snapper or slimey mackerel are all suitable. A running sinker to a heavy swivel and about 1m of 80lb leader, to either a single or double hook rig depending on the size of the bait is my preferred rig.

Lately I have had success fishing my livies on a circle hook but two 8/0 J-style hooks are probably more suitable, particularly if the bait is quite large.

Cobia can be found on any reef in our area, but they don’t seem to venture too wide so around the 18 to 24 fathom lines, Palm Beach Reef and Fidos are all good places to kick off your cobia season.

If the weather is fine you may be keen to head a little bit wider from the coast. The 42 and 50 fathom lines are the perfect places to target reef species like pearl perch, pigfish and morwong, as well as numerous other species that live out there.

When fishing these deep reefs I prefer to use a paternoster or dropper rig. I think because these fish mainly live close down to the bottom your bait spends more time in the bite zone.

Jigging metal knife style jigs is a good way to get your arms stretched by some hard fighting fish. Kingfish, samsonfish, amberjack and bonito are all target species while jigging. These fish will live anywhere there is reef so it’s worth giving them a go next time you’re out.

Jigs from 200-400g will cover most bases. Jigging and winding at a fairly vigorous pace can also spark the attention of a passing predator.


August is a good month to really kick off your annual flathead onslaught. The big breeders will be showing up regularly and following them will be good numbers of smaller school fish.

Along the break walls of the Southport seaway and the Tweed bar are prime locations for big flathead. By far my number one lure to tempt a big lizard is a 6” Atomic Guzzler jerk minnow in white, but I don’t think colour makes a huge difference.

I’ve also had good results on Gulp jerk shads and curl tail grubs. A 1oz jighead will do most of your deep water flathead work around the tide changes but anywhere around mid-tide you may need to go heavier to ensure you are making regular contact with the bottom.

When you are chasing smaller flathead, a smaller profile lure is required; bait between 3-5” long matches the hatch. There are also plenty of lures to consider, such as, Squidgy, Atomic and Berkley Gulp, which are all proven winners for me, so I like to chop and change between.

I will generally only use two head weights, 1/4oz and 3/8oz, when fishing shallower water and I alter between them depending on water depth and how strong the wind is.

In August spots to try are Crab Island, the pylons around the Sundale Bridge and the Kennedy Drive boat harbour in the Tweed River.

School jew will be showing themselves in August and they too love soft plastics. Plastics between 4-6” are best for jew as this is generally the size of the bait jews feed on.

Jewfish are mainly found around deep holes, drop-offs and break walls. These sorts of places are generally targeted most effectively around an hour or so either side of the change of tide.

For jew I try to fish about a 20lb line and a leader of around 30lb, this will allow a smaller jew to still put up a fight but you have the stopping power in case you hook a big fish.

August is also a good month to target some stonker bream. These fish will take bait or lures and provide great sport throughout our estuaries.

By casting hardbodies and soft plastics around the canals or shallow running crank baits and poppers over the flats you will be sure to nail a few. Bream can be quite finicky on lures so be sure to use a light leader, 6-8lb at the most.

Tailor and trevally will be readily available around the Southport seaway, and if you can time a run-in tide around dawn or dusk it won’t take you long to come across some action. Casting surface lures and metal slugs around 20-40g is generally best, though a live herring or poddy mullet will do the trick as well.

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