Bribie Island – Bongaree – 22 September 2015


Its school holidays and it already feels like a chore reminding my teenagers that fresh air and limb movement are essential elements of a healthy lifestyle. So kicking and screaming, I confiscated their phones and forced them into the car on Tuesday morning, to drive them up to Bribie Island. Obviously, a pre-dawn start was out of the question and we rolled into Bongaree, at the southern tip of the island, just after 8.00 am.

I have not fished here for quite a while. The shifting sands are the only constant feature. The new stepped sea wall on either side of the Seaside Museum creek drain is the latest feature. This has already had quite an effect. The coffee rock ledge that runs along the whole edge of the Pumicestone Passage has been covered in sand in some parts and stripped down to rock in others.

My children wandered off to Scoopy’s to find lattes and a nutritious breakfast that probably comprised mainly of hot chips – well at least I had succeeded in getting them to leave the house! I wandered south towards Buckley’s Hole. The sky was clear the breeze was light and low tide would be at 9.07am . I wandered passed a couple who had a few baits out and were in the process of reeling in a small bream.

I waded out slowly and quietly towards the edge of the coffee rock ledge. I was casting a small soft plastic GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with my light spin rod and reel combination and there were plenty of small schools of similair sized bait fish, hovering over the edge of the ledge.

The first taker was a small pike. It slammed the soft plastic, just as I pulled it over the ledge. It was followed by another, on the next cast. A few casts, later I caught another. Pike are often look very striped when they are caught and displaying their distress colours.  I moved a little further south and, about 10 minutes later, I found another patch of pike. I tried a few different soft plastics but I could not find any fish other than the pike.

The tide had slowed, turned and started to run in. The beach had started to fill with families, kayaks, inflatables and fisherman and of all ages. It was now about 10.30 am. I waded back towards the Seaside Museum. I was back fishing with the 3” Minnow soft plastic. I saw a two large amber speckled shapes moving slowly just beneath the surface, parallel with the ledge. I cast my soft plastic just in front of them and one diverted to miss it. I quickly wound in and cast again. This time I retrieved the plastic quickly across the surface and jagged the creature. It was a squid and I had sunk the jig head in to one of its wings. I slowly wound it in, keeping up the pressure but being careful not to pull the hook out. As it got close to shore it started pumping out black ink in big bursts. I carefully picked it up and let it empty its ink.

I fished on for a while but could not find anymore and by 11.00 am my children were threatening to report me to social services for child abuse, if I did not get them back to their mobile phones. I was happy – mission ‘fresh air’ had been accomplished and we would be having calamari for dinner.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – 9 September 2015


On Wednesday the forecast was for light winds and a clear day. I could not resist another spell at Bribie on the sand/ mud flats, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. Low tide would be in the middle of the day at 12.36pm.

The wind had dropped off significantly from the day before but it was now cooler and coming from the south west, at about 10 knots. The sky was clear and so was the water. As I walked out under the bridge a couple of Kiwis arrived, one with a fly rod. I politely explained that there were no trout to be had here. I reckon it’s hard enough catching a fish with a regular rod but it seems there is always someone looking for an additional challenge. At least with the wind behind them they were in with a chance.

It was about 9.45am and I started off casting into about 60cm of water, just to the north of the bridge. The tide was running out fast over the weed covered boulders that dot the gravel bottom, in this area. I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour loaded onto a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using my light spin rod with 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied on to 12lb braid. The first flathead was lying amongst the boulders about 10 metres north of the bridge. It grabbed the plastic and I landed it safely. It was about 44cm long.

I moved south under the bridge and waded under the old oyster jetty, casting as I went. The jetty now has a selection of fairy lights hung along it and a railing down one side. I hope the fairy lights will attract more bait.

I fished around fairly thoroughly in the area just north of the jetty but did not get any bites. It was about an hour before I found another flathead. Just to the north of where the big drain empties out into the main channel. By now I had swapped to the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. This soft plastic is a Jerkshad with a prong shaped split tail which flutters as it hops and sinks. It is a great lure. Its only problem is that dart, bream and other small fish often bite the tails off. I cast it out beyond the dark edge of the weed beds and paused for 10 seconds. I slowly hopped it back along the bottom. After a few hops a felt the solid thud as the fish hit it. I dropped the tip and counted slowly to 10. I lifted again and hooked the fish. It was another 45 cm flathead.

I carried on wading the south and fishing with the big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad. I soon found a couple more under sized flathead and released them. At about 11.00 am I was halfway between the jetty and the green channel marker, standing about 3 metre back from edge of the weed beds. I had hooked another flathead and was taking a few photographs of it, as I reeled it in. It suddenly got very animated and started leaping out of the water. As I pulled it closer a sanding coloured shape loomed up on its tale and I understood its concern. It looked like a big wobbegong, about 1.5m long, but its more pointed nose and uniform colour suggested it was some other kind of shark. When it saw me it turned away and decided not to pursue its lunch.

I carried on towards the channel marker and caught 3 more keeper sized flathead and another 4 undersized fish, which were all released. At about noon the tide had slowed and I decided to give up. Another bagful of flathead and a great morning of fishing.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 8 September 2015


It looks like winter maybe behind us and we are in to the sub-tropical spring which usually lasts all of two weeks. I was back in Brisbane and decided to drive up to Bribie Island on Tuesday, to look for some flathead.

I chose to fish the flats in front of the old oyster jetty at the newly opened Sandstone Point Hotel. I thought it would be easy but initially at least, the fish were quite hard to find. I started at about 8.45am with low tide set for about 11.30 am. The wind was forecast to be light at first rising quickly to 15 knot north easterly. However, within 20 minutes of my arrival the wind was gusting 15 to 20 knots and the water was weedy and very stirred up.

I moved south from the bridge fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce size 1 hook jighead with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. This yielded absolutely no bites. After an hour, I was south of the old oyster jetty battling the weed and wind. I decided to swap to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. After a few casts, I felt a solid bite but pulled the rod tip up too quickly and did not connect with the fish. I slowed things down and cast out to the same spot. I paused and let the plastic stop for a while, just where I thought the fish was. This time it worked. I lifted the rod tip and the fish was there. It was a small flathead just over 40cm long.

It was now 10.10 am and I was wading steadily to the south as the tide ran out. I followed the edge of the weed beds but as the water got shallower and murkier it became difficult to see where to cast. Gradually I started to find the fish. I caught a couple more small flathead at about 10.30 am and then a 50cm fish just before 11.00 am.

I had now reached the green channel marker. I swapped to a GULP Mantis Shrimp soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and this almost instantly got a bite. It was another smaller flathead. I waded slowly back to the bridge and caught another six flathead on the journey. They were fairly spread out but seemed easier to tempt at the bottom of the tide.

I ended up with 4 fish over 40cm which is a good dinner. But the wind and weed had made it hard.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – A bagful of flathead – 28 July 2015


I could not get away for dawn and it has been so cold lately that I was glad I did not have to. But I could make it to Bribie to fish my favourite spot, for a few hours, mid-morning. High tide had passed at about 6.30 am and it would be low at 12.30 pm. The wind was a light south-westerly.

I arrived at about 9.00 am, pulled on my waders and wandered out under the bridge. The full moon was three days away, but the bigger of the daily high tides had been in the morning. This sometimes helps the fishing. On the bigger overnight high tides the fish have deeper water, to follow the bait up into the shallows and feed. Flathead will often remain in the shallows until they are only covered by 10 cm of water as the tide runs out.

I was fishing with my NS Blackhole light spin rod and Shimano Stradic 2500 reel. I was using 10lb braid and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I was trying out my new favourite GULP soft plastic – the 5 inch Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour. I had it rigged on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead.

I soon found a flathead just to the north of the jetty on the edge of the weed. It was about 45cm long. I then found the pike who seemed to also like the jerkshad. They were clustered around the larger weed clumps.

I moved south and kept catching flathead. I caught 8 more fish over 45cm in the next three hours and a few that were too small. I kept the bag limit of five and released the rest. They were spread all along the edge of the weed beds and the pike were everywhere. As the run out tide slackened towards low, the bite dropped off a little. I finished up at 12.30 pm after another great session.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 20 July 2015


On Monday the weather looked windy and unsettled but it was forecast to get worse through the week, so I thought I would try an early morning session on the Bribie oyster jetty flats, in front of the new Sandstone Point Hotel.

The wind was a cold south-westerly forecast to turn northerly around lunch time. In a south-westerly it is better to fish the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, as the land gives you some shelter.

Low tide would be at 6.00 am. So I could probably stay fishing the best areas until about 9.00 am. By then the incoming tide would push me back away from the edge of the weed beds, where the flathead seem to congregate.

I waded out just after 6.30 am and the sky was very cloudy. The water was fairly dirty and not really running in yet. The sun came up at about 6.45 am and briefly showed beneath the clouds. I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour rigged on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using 12lb leader.

I found the pike first, just to the south of the old oyster jetty. They were actually pretty hard to get past. They were also big and aggressive – several were over 40cm long. They finally seemed to leave the lures alone as I moved further south.

I found the first flathead of the day at about 7.10 am. It was a solid fish about 55cm long. I carried on wading south and found a steady stream of fish. The pike kept up turning up and a couple of times I was bitten off clean (could have been tailor or perhaps just really big toothy pike).

At 7.30 am I found another slightly smaller flathead. Then I came across several more. I soon had 4 keeper size flathead in the bag all form the same soft plastic. Then a big nasty grey cloud came over and gave me a good soaking.

The wind picked up and I was cold so I turned around and waded back towards the bridge. I kept casting and found a couple more undersized flathead. Fortunately I found one more 45cm fish just short of the end of the jetty, so I managed a full bag.

The weather was dodgy but the fish are definitely there at the moment.

Bribie – A few flathead from the oyster jetty flats – 12 May 2015


Up to Bribie Island again to find some more flathead. The cooler months – from March through to September – are traditionally a very good time to fish on south east Queensland. The pike, bream and flathead all fire up and occasionally the mulloway also arrive.

On Tuesday morning I was up early and wading out under the bridge at about 5.30 am. It was before first light so I decided to have a cast around under the bridge lights on the mainland side. There is always plenty of bait in this location and this morning was no exception. The water was cool and the Pike were surging around having a snap at the smaller fish.

The tide had been high at about 3.45 am and was running out. I cast at the areas of dark water just on the edge of the halo from the lights. I was working the area just north of the bridge around eth mangrove roots. I was fishing with the new Loomis light sin rig and a10lb fluorocarbon leader. I had loaded it with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook, jighead. The first taker was a small flathead, about 35cm long, who was sitting in the shallows. I released it and a few minutes later connected with a series of hungry pike.

As the sky turned red I moved south. The sun came over the horizon at about 6.20 am and soon afterwards I found another flathead. This one was big enough to keep at about 43 cm long. I released it and moved under the jetty.

I could see something moving in the water a little beyond the end of the jetty and heard a blow a little like the sound the turtles sometimes make when they surface. About a minute later I heard it again and turned to see a swirl in the same spot. I realised it was a dugong sitting in the 2.5m deep channel that runs through the rocky/reefy area in front of the jetty. I stopped and watched it surface and sink for about 10 minutes. I have never seen one moving along these sea grass beds but I am sure they come and go fairly regularly.

I moved south and left the dugong to its business. There were lots of swirls on the surface and I realised there was a big school of mullet swimming around over the weed. I waded round the corner towards Sandstone Point and watched as the resident long toms harassed my soft plastic lure. There were mullet schools everywhere here but I could not find anything lurking beneath them. I waded around following them for the next ninety minutes with no luck.

I moved back towards the big sandbank and started casting along its edge. I had now swapped to a GULP 5” Jerkshad soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour.  At about 8.20 am I felt a grab but did not hook up. I cast back in the same spot and this time I hooked another just legal flathead. I released it and peppered the area with casts but there were no more takers in the area.

I moved down to the edge of the major weed banks that line the main channel, in the direction of the green channel marker. At about 8.40 am I found another flathead, also about 45cm long. Once more, I could not find any others in close proximity. I turned back towards the jetty and waded along the edge of the sandbanks, casting as I went. At 9.00 am I caught my final flathead of the session just short of the jetty.

I waded back to the car. I had caught a few fish but it had been fairly hard work and they had been very spread out. The amount of bait in the water was very encouraging but I could not find the flathead bunched up anywhere – maybe next time.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty – a bagful of flathead – 10 May 2015


In to May and time to get back on to the flathead at Bribie. Big wind and rain were forecast for later in the week so I decided I had to get out on Sunday morning. It was going to be bright and cool with light south westerly winds.

I waded out under the bridge at Bribie Island just before dawn and despite the cooler nights the water remains surprisingly warm. I cast around in the shallows under the bridge but there was not much going on so I moved slowly to the south.

I was fishing with a GULP 4“Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour, initially. This did not seem to stir any interest so I swapped to a similair sized Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was fishing with my new light rod – a G.Loomis SJR6400. This is a very short, very fast action, light spinning rod. It is only 5’ 4” long which should make it easier to use in the smaller creeks that I hope to fish later in the year, up north. Loomis describe it as a ‘magnum ultralight’ rod which sounds more like a diet ice cream to me.  It is designed to have slightly more strength than their ultra-light series, while retaining its sensitivity. I was using it with my Shimano Stella 2500 loaded with 12lb braid and about a metre of 10lb fluorocarbon. The tide was slowly running out so I was using a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and aiming it at any spot where the sand met the weed.

It was hard work. I disturbed a few sting rays and eventually hooked one, which dragged me around for a while before breaking the light leader. I had now been fishing for 2 hours without connecting with a flathead. The water was getting dirtier as we approached low tide, which would be just after 8.00 am.

I move along towards the green channel marker. It was now right on low tide. I had been joined by a few more keen fishermen on the edge of the sand bank. Just as I was beginning to think the new rod was cursed, I felt the tell-tale thud of the flathead bite. I was now using the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. I paused then struck. It is always a little tricky catching your first fish on a new rod. You have to calibrate the drag setting to the rod bend and this can take a while. The fish hardly managed to take any line, which meant I had it too tight. It was a flathead about 42cm long and I soon had it in the keeper bag. I loosened the drag a little and carried on casting. A few minutes later I caught a small Pike then things went quiet for about 20 minutes.

The water was still and dirty. I moved slightly north, back towards the old oyster jetty. I felt a bite but did not hook up. This happened twice and each time the fish was a little nearer to me. I moved back a few paces and tried again with a short cast and a long pause. When I lifted the rod the fish was on the soft plastic. It was another flathead about the same size as the first. Over the next 30 minutes I caught two more – one more over 40cm and one just under.

I carried on moving south. The tide was starting to turn and flow in. I kept casting at the edge of the weed beds and was rewarded with another flathead. This time it was a bigger one at about 55 cm. I now had a family dinner in the keeper bag.

I kept casting as I waded back towards the car and I was rewarded with another flathead, just before I passed the jetty. After a slow start it had turned into a great morning. The new rod had proved itself and I had my bag limit for the day.