Bribie Island – More Flathead from Bongaree – 25 October 2012

Thursday

I was stuck with my usual problem at Bribie Island. High tide would be an hour or so after dawn at about 6.00 am. I never know where to fish on the first few hours of the run out tide. Once the water comes flooding over the ledge (that runs almost the entire edge of the Pumicestone Passage) it quickly floods on to the sand flats. It brings plenty of hungry fish with it and I have caught big Flathead and other species in this shallow water, but it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start the search. It feels like there is just too much ground to cover.
The low tide was also getting higher and the tidal flow was slowing, as we moved away from the new moon. The wind was swapping around between northerly and south-easterly but it had been a fairly strong south easterly on most early mornings through the week.

By Thursday the wind was forecast to ease off a little around dawn so I started on the flats in front of the creek drain, which comes out under the bridge, by the Seaside Museum. At high tide all of the rocky structure is submerged and the Flathead move right up to the creek mouth to feed on what is being washed out. They like to tuck themselves in in the grooves in the rocks or bury themselves in the sand just beside them.

The wind was a strong south easterly and there where soon a few white caps on the surface. It was a stark contrast to the still waters of the week before. I fished around the rocky ground but did not get any hits so I waded south, to the new opening at the south end of the tidal lagoon. I cast around, but it was very windy. The bait was certainly not so thick and the big schools of Mullet had moved on.

I moved back to the south. Just passed the museum I felt a tug at my soft plastic – a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I paused but there was no fish there when I struck. Two casts later, in the same spot, the fish grabbed it again. I paused again and this time, when I lifted the rod tip, the fish was hooked. It was a good Flathead and it used the run out tide to make some good runs, but after a short fight it was on the beach. You have to be patient and wear them out when you are fishing with 10lb leader. The last drag up on to the sand can often be the point when the leader snaps. Everything held and this was a handsome fish, measuring just over 64cm. It was just after 8.30am.

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As the tide ran out, I continued south and found another three Flathead – between 45cm and 50 cm. I caught three on the Cajun Chicken Jerkshad and the last on a bigger Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Pumpkinseed colour. All the fish were caught on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I did not get a bite from the Pike or small Tailor so the bait really does seem to have thinned out.

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Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole Flats – Whitepatch – 17 October 2012

Wednesday

Whilst fishing definitely delivers the joy in my life, unfortunately, it can’t seem to deliver the cash. Paid work has many evil consequences – less fishing and no time for a midday hammock session, to name a couple. But perhaps the most evil is the exquisite torture devised by the ATO – the tax return.

I have been fortunate to live in a few countries over the years and unfortunate enough to pay tax in most of them. Nowhere is the process more excruciating than Oz. I admit I have not tried North Korea – which is about the only place where I think they could make it more painful. I like the idea of the Greek tax system where 95% of doctors reported an annual income of less than A$ 9,000, last year – but then again, their economy has ended up a few chickpeas short of a bowl of Hummus. When I was in Indonesia we had to pay our income tax, in person, every year, with a sack load of cash. It seemed the tax collectors did not trust the banks to honor cheques, but it did not seem a particularly good idea from a corruption prevention point of view. In Hong Kong – I thought I had earned a fortune one year and was dreading the bill. I filled in the two page return (yes – just two pages) and got a letter back about three days later explaining that my paltry income did not exceed the tax free threshold and there was no need to submit further annual returns, until it did. You could almost sense their pity!

My other problem was that I took so long to do last year’s tax return that, in the blink of an eye, I received a ‘friendly’ e-mail reminder that this year’s is due. No wonder the unemployment rate is rising – much easier to pop down to the community bank – known as Centrelink and collect your ‘pay’. They will even do the tax return for you.

Spleen vented – on to fishing. I decided on Bribie Island on Wednesday morning. New moon had been on Tuesday and it would be a very low tide (0.1m) at about 4.00 am. These really low tides are great as they enable you to see the terrain you have been fishing, when there is more water around.

I started at the mouth of the drain, in front of the sea side museum at Bongaree. It was just after first light at about 5.00 am. Having seen the marauding Tuna on Monday I decided to start with a big DUO Beachwalker hard bodied lure on my heavy rod. I soon got worn out by that process and there was no sign of marauders, so I swapped back to my Loomis light spin combination.

I put a GULP 2” Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th, 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with about 1.5m of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. There was a school of mullet finning around on the surface, right by the edge of the drop off. I cast in to it and it was so thick that I jagged one through the eye. I threw it back and continued to walk south along the edge, casting parallel with the shore into the tide, that was now racing in.

It walked and then waded for an hour and caught a couple of Pike. By now I had reached the flats at the south end of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole. I was now fishing with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. The incoming tide had pushed me away from the drop off. As I was about to lift the plastic for another cast something grabbed it. I struck a bit too hard and pulled the fish quickly up to the surface, where it shook its head maniacally and spat the lure out. It was a keeper size Flathead.

I swapped to a bigger soft plastic – a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – black and pink. There is now a new opening in the sand bank at this end of the lagoon – which means there is a new drain as the tide runs out. I was right in front of this opening, standing in about 30cm of water, when I felt another solid thud. This time I was more gentle – but the fish was smaller – another Flathead just on 40cm. I took it to the sand, photographed and released it.

There was now too much water over the ledge so I decided to drive up to Whitepatch and fish the high tide. I drove down to the north end of the beach and waded back, to the south, casting in to the last of the incoming current. I caught a few more Pike.

As I reached the point where the black coffee rock is visible along the shore line I paused and concentrated a few casts in close to edge. On high tides the Flathead will sometimes move up close to these rocks. I was now fishing with the GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour – yellow and pumpkinseed. After a few casts I found a fish – another Flathead that was just over 40cm. I took a few snaps and flicked it off the hook.

It was now 11.00 am and time to give up. I had only caught two keeper fish but I had surveyed a lot of ground. There is still plenty of bait around so prospects look pretty good for the next week or so.

Bribie Island – Sandstone Point Flats – 20 June 2012

Wednesday

Unfortunately, the tax return has had to be re-prioritized again. I am sure the ATO will understand. On Wednesday, the weather was just too good and after a great session on Monday, I had to get out there again. I could not start early, so I arrived at Bribie at about 8.45 am and decided to head out to the same general area I had fished on Monday.

High tide was at 9.45 am. I had done well on Monday for the first few hours of the run out tide. I decided to head round the corner from the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, towards Sandstone Point and fish the areas around the mangrove islands. This is quite a good spot if there is enough water over it.

I slowly waded across the flats, casting as I went. I tried a few plastics without success. This couple of hours around the tide change can be a bit slow with the Flathead. I certainly think they are more likely to feed when the tide is running over them with a bit of pace. I switched to the DUO Bivi Tetraworks hard body vibe lure, in a red/ purple colour, to see if I could stir things up. This worked almost immediately – but it was the Pike again. I caught some small ones and then there was pause and a selection of bigger ones arrived. The last one was well over 40cm long. I decided I could not get this lure passed them to the Flathead, down below, so I swapped back to a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour.

It was about 10.15 am and the tide was just beginning to get going. I was beside the mangrove island (see picture). I found some sea grass beds and started casting along the edges. Suddenly I felt the solid thud of a Flathead bite. I paused and then struck, the fish did not do much – in fact, I thought I was snagged. After a few seconds, it woke up and took off. There was nowhere to land it, and I have plenty of fish in the fridge, so I pulled it in and took a couple of pictures and released it. It was a Flathead, a bit over 50cm long. I moved further around the island and caught a few more, all about the same size.
Then I hit a quiet spell and I swapped to the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I had been fishing with the 1/8th 1/0 jighead all morning. Not sure if it was the change of soft plastic or just changing my position, but as I turned back out towards the green channel marker, I found more fish. Over the next couple of hours, I caught four more, all between 45cm and 55cm and released them all.

At about 12.30 pm I headed back, past the oyster jetty, to the car. It had been another great session in perfect weather.

Bribie Island – Pacific Harbour Flats – 7 November 2011

Monday

I wasn’t planning to fish today. I couldn’t get away until 8.00 am and thought that might be too late. But it was such a beautiful day that I decided I would go anyway. I drove up to Bribie and dropped in on Nigel at the tackle shop, in Ningi. As usual, he provided some good local knowledge and told me who was catching what, where and when.

I took his advice and decided to fish some new ground, to the north of the mouth of the Pacific Harbour canal development, on Bribie Island. High tide had passed at around 7.00 am and it was now about 9.00 am. This is a great fishing spot. It has everything – weed beds, sand banks and the coffee rock ledge that runs the length of the Pumicestone Passage.

I started just north of the wading bird sanctuary and started casting around with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour. I had been fishing the longer Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastics at the end of the previous session and had left the slightly heavier and wider gape 1/6th oz, 2/0 jighead on. I have begun to conclude that anything bigger than a 1/0 hook jighead, can reduce you hook up rate with the Flathead. I don’t think it affects their eagerness to eat the lure but I think the bigger hook does not lodge so effectively in the jaw of the very flat mouth.

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After about ten minutes I felt a bite, paused and struck, I had a good size fish on, but after about twenty seconds, it wriggled off the jighead. I waded a little further south, towards the mouth of the Pacific Harbour development. Just short of the entrance, I was retrieving my lure and about to lift it from the water to cast again. A Flathead launched itself at the lure and grabbed it, just as it came out of the water. I nearly jumped out of my skin. It turned and ran and I tried to set the hook but failed again and it was gone.

I changed down to a lighter and smaller gauge jighead, a 1/8th 1/0 hook, and moved back north, wading and casting, wading and casting. I tripped over an unmarked crab pot and then another. The water is still quite muddy and murky in places, even though there has been no rain for a while. Finally, after more than one hour, I hooked up with a 25cm Flathead. I released it and decided to switch locations.

I drove down to Bongaree, to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole. It was just about low tide by the time I got there. I cast over the edge of the coffee rock ledge and moved south from a spot just in front of the new museum. After a couple of casts, bait started skipping around and I caught a small Chopper Tailor – about 25cm long.

I decided I had missed my chance of catching a good fish earlier in the day and so, at about 12.30 pm, I gave up and went home.

Bribie – The Bridge and from the old Oyster Jetty to the channel marker – 21 June 2011

Tuesday

I managed to persuade myself to brave the cold on Tuesday for another morning of Flathead fishing. As usual I arrived in the dark around 5.30 am, at Bribie Island. I started by fishing soft plastic lures under the bridge lights on the mainland side. The tide would be running out until low at about 8.00 am. There was virtually no wind but it was forecast to become south-westerly at 10 knots, later. I soon found a few small Tailor and numerous Pike. It was a fish a cast, with the Pike, for about the last ten minutes before first light. I could not find any keeper size fish, so I moved back across the bridge and waded out beside the old oyster jetty, just after dawn.

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I waded along the sand banks, casting along the edge of the weed. I fished right through the bottom of the tide with only some monster Pike to show for my efforts. Finally, well into the run in tide I caught a 30 cm Flathead on a GULP 4″ Minnow, in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I caught another, similar sized fish, from the same spot a minute later. After what seemed like several more hours of wading, I ended up with two legal sized Flathead – at 42cm and 51cm – I caught them using the 5″ Jerkshad in the Pumpkinseed colour rigged on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead.

After some great sessions recently, the fishing was tough. I presume the Flathead have now moved further up the Passage – they must be around somewhere – so get out there and catch a few.

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole lagoon and south of the oyster jetty – 16 June 2011

Thursday

I could not resist another Flathead session – so I set off for Bribie Island bright and early around 4.45 am. I had checked the lunar phase and saw that the moon was full on Wednesday. When I walked out to the car it looked like a half-moon in the sky. As I drove up to Bribie, I switched on the radio and heard that we were in the midst of a lunar eclipse. By the time I arrived at the car park by Buckley’s Hole, the moon was almost completely in shadow, with just a faint red glow marking its outline. It was now about 5.45 am and the tide was a couple of hours into the run-in phase.

At first light I waded around the mouth of the lagoon, casting out, over the drop off into the Pumicestone Passage. Small bait fish schools kept breaking the surface – running away from something. I was fishing with the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead, with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Every time there was a surface break, I cast at it and just on dawn, I caught a small Bream. I carried on for another hour and got a couple more good bites from Bream or Tailor but then the marauding Dolphins arrived and had a good rummage around in my fishing spot.

There was now too much water to fish over the drop off so I decided to move over to the other side of the Passage where I could also get out of the wind, which was building up from the west. So I parked beside the bridge on the mainland side and waded along south past the old oyster jetty. Things were very quiet through to high water at around 10.00am. I didn’t register a bite for about four hours. I waded all around the area trying different soft plastic lures and experimenting with different jighead weights.

Finally as the tide turned and really started running out I caught a few Pike and then at noon I caught a decent Flathead on a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Curry Chicken colour, rigged on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. It was around 54cm – Flathead number one. I carried on wading south along the big sandbank to the south of the jetty. Ten minutes later, I caught a smaller, just legal Flathead on the same lure – Flathead number two. I was casting along the edge of the weed beds into the clear sand and jogging the lure back along the bottom.

I switched to a GULP 5” Jerkshad on the Orange Tiger colour. After a couple of casts there was a good solid bite and a fish slowly swam off with the lure. I counted to ten and then set the hook and at that point – it took off with around ten or twelve metres of line. I slowly walked back towards the sandbank, maintaining the bend in the rod and getting line back as it swam towards me. It was a really solid fish and it made about four more big runs. Eventually it started to tire and I tightened the drag a little, to pull it up on to the sand bank. The leader snapped as I pulled it clear of the water but it was safely on the sand. It was a good size female at around 68cm – Flathead number three.

I waded back out to the same area and after a few more casts I was on to another fish. Again it did not initially realise it was hooked. It made a few small runs and then really went crazy with head shakes and tail slaps and solid long runs. It was safely hooked through the jaw and after another long slow walk back to the sand bank; I pulled it up on to the shore. This was another quality fish at about 73cm long – Flathead number four.

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As the tide ran out further I moved even further south, over the weed beds. I was still using the Orange Tiger Jerkshad. It did not take long, less than ten minutes, in fact, before I had another good fish. This time it was another very respectable Flathead at 62cm – Flathead number 5.

It had ended as a fantastic session but from 5.30 am through to noon all I had caught were a ‘just legal’ Bream and a couple of Pike. I am not sure if the fish were only biting on the run out tide or whether it just took a long time to find them. It was a good feeling to head back to the car with a heavy keeper bag. I was completely knackered but as always, it was worth it!

Bribie Island – Bridge to Boat Hire Jetty – 2 June 2010

Thursday

The weather forecast was not great, but a fishing day should never be given up on! I started on the island side of the Bribie Bridge, just after 5.00 am. It was cold but the south-westerly breeze was light and the tide was about half way out. There were prawns jumping everywhere. They were under the bridge lights, in close to the pylons, but the first couple of soft plastic lures I tried – the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and the 4” Minnow in the Vader colour – did not get any bites.

Big Pike lurk around the Bribie Bridge lights

I switched to a 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. I was fishing it on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and using a metre of 12lb fluorocarbon leader, tied on to 10lb Fireline mainline. It was almost first light now and I am not sure if it was the light or the colour change, but I immediately started catching fish. The first was a monster Pike – around 40 cm, then an undersized Flathead and then a small Chopper Tailor, then more Pike. After a fish a cast for about 20 minutes, I finally found a 42cm Flathead that I could keep for dinner.

A 42 cm Flathead

As the sun came up I waded north, towards the boat hire spot and after plenty of casts and plenty of Pike, finally got another Flathead that was just over 40 cm. By 8.30am the wind was a solid south-westerly and I had had enough.

Bribie Island – From the Bridge to Sandstone Point – 29 May 2011

Sunday

I decided on Bribie Island again today. If you fish the flats on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage you are fairly sheltered from a cold south-westerly wind. The wind was forecast to be a 10 -12 knot south-westerly, but it was a good deal lighter than at 5.00 am, when I arrived by the bridge across to Bribie Island. I pulled on the waders and beanie and wandered out under the bridge lights, on the island side. There were a few lightning flashes over towards Moreton Island and the stars were blocked out by low cloud.

I fished around the bridge pylons and almost immediately, caught a few Pike, but there was not much surface action. The tide was running in and high water would be just before seven. There was now plenty of water close to the Mangrove roots and I concentrated on the area just to the south of the bridge, where I often see Flathead ‘lies’ at low tide. After a few casts with a GULP 3” Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead, I was on to a fish. It struck hard, but it was only small – just under 40 cm. In the process of releasing it, it gave me a good spiking in the side of the thumb. I don’t know what’s on the Flathead spike, but there must be some kind of anti-coagulant, because whenever I get spiked, the blood just pours out – not ideal when standing waist deep in water in the pre-dawn light.

I moved gradually south, about 20 metres from the shore, casting all around. I continued to get the odd Pike but as the water slowed on the high tide, everything went very quiet and I had no bites for about 90 minutes. Then as the tide really started to run out I switched to a heavier 1/6th 1/0 jighead and a bigger GULP 4” Minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour. I was standing to the south-west of the long sandbar at the Sandstone Point corner and casting my lure over it and hopping it back with the run out tide. Suddenly the line went tight and I had a fish. I towed it back to a gap in the Mangroves – it was a nice Flathead at around 61cm. Plenty of fish in our fridge, so I let it go.

61cm Flathead caught on a GULP Pumpkinseed Minnow

The wind was getting up now and as this was a fairly sheltered spot, so was the boat traffic. I caught a couple more fish around the 40 cm size and then finally, just to the north of the oyster jetty, I got a 51cm Flathead. I had caught 4 of the 5 Flathead on the Pumpkinseed coloured soft plastics and the session was a good reminder of how useful this colour can be. At around 9.30 am I gave up and headed home for a warm shower.

51 cm Flathead - Caught on a GULP Pumpkinseed Jerkshad

Bribie Island – A bagful of Flathead – 27 May 2011

Thursday

Back up to Bribie Island, in search of Flathead. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived around 5.00 am. It really was not too cold and the south westerly wind was far lighter than the predicted 15 knots. High tide had been at about 4.00 am so there was still plenty of water around the bridge pylons. I decide to start on the island side and as soon as arrived I could see and hear the Pike and Chopper Tailor breaking the surface as they grabbed smaller baitfish/ shrimps.

Small Flathead - under the bridge on Bribie Island side

I started with the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour, rigged on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I was using a 12lb leader and fishing with my Loomis GL2 light spin rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel. After a couple of casts I caught a small Flathead – just about 40cm. It must have been lying in the shadows beside the first pylon, in no more than 40cm of water. I released it. The next cast gave me a Pike that was bigger than the Flathead and then, a few casts later, a 25cm Chopper Tailor.

Choppers - Juvenile Tailor under the Bribie Island bridge lights

Before the tide got too low I decided to go back over to the mainland side and fish around the pylons under the bridge lights. I stuck with the same soft plastic and jighead and worked my way around the pylons. I waded quietly, stopping frequently to pepper the spots where I have caught fish before. This soon paid off and just south of the bridge, about 6 metres from the mangrove line, I caught another Flathead. It was around 50cm long so it went in the keeper bag.

A Flathead from the mainland side about 50 cm

There was the glow of dawn on the horizon but the sun was still not up. It was cold now, but this area is shielded from the westerly breeze. The water looked fairly clear so I switched to a bigger GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour – basically a flecked combination of pink and yellow with a forked curly tail. After a couple more casts I caught another fish – despite the bigger lure it was a much smaller Flathead at around 42cm – Keeper No.2.

Bigger lure but a smaller fish! around 42cm

The sun came up and I continued wading south, past the old oyster farm jetty. I walked right along the big sand bar – that is exposed at low tide, casting on either side. I reached the pole that warns boats about the remains of the old oyster racks and then turned north again and started wading back, alongside the sandbar, in waist deep water. I swapped back to the Pearl Watermelon Minnow. I was casting back at the sand bar and after about 50 metres I hooked another fish. It was another Flathead, about 48cm long –Keeper No.3. I dragged it up onto the sand and then resumed my course towards the oyster jetty. Over the next half an hour I got two more slightly bigger Flathead (Keepers 4 & 5) and a monster Pike – well over 45cm – which I kept for the cat.

When water covers this spot the Flathead sit along this lip

A bag of five Bribie Flathead and a big Pike for the cat

I now had my bagful of fish and so I decided to call it quits. The forecast wind was really arrived and was starting to blow so I headed back to the car and then the gutting table. It had been another good fishing session in the Pumicestone Passage.

Bribie Island – Sandstone Point Drain – 26 Feb 2011

Saturday

After a good session on Thursday, I headed back up to Bribie Island early on Saturday morning. I was wading out under the bridge, on the mainland side, just after high tide, at about 4.30 am. I decided to try some big GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshads, to see if I could find some bigger fish, under the bridge lights. I rigged a pink shine version on a 1/8th 2/0 jig head and cast out to the north side of the bridge. After a few casts, nothing was happening so I moved to the south side. The first cast came up taught as soon as I flicked the reel bail arm over. The fish held on until it was only a couple of metres away and then let the lure go. The same thing happened, a couple of casts later. I could not see what was biting, but I think they were probably Pike or Moses Perch.

As the sun came up I moved south, past the old oyster jetty to the big drain that empties round the corner from the direction of Sandstone Point. The tide was really running out now and I decided to try a 1/5th of an ounce Berkley Big Eye Blade lure. I cast it out let it sink briefly, and jerked it back towards me fairly quickly. To get the right action you really need to keep these lures moving fast. After a few cast, I had a fish. The small, soft hooks on these blades mean I often lose the fish before I can get it back to shore. There was no problem this time. I had a nice Flathead around 48cm.

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After a 15 minutes more fishing with the blade lure, it got snagged and I lost it. I switched to a GULP 3” Minnow Grub soft plastic in the pepper prawn colour and rigged it on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was now fishing along the edge of the big sand bank that channels the water down through the drain. After a couple of hits I cast back in the same spot about 6 times before I finally connected with the fish. It was another, bigger Flathead at 52cm. I wandered around this area for another hour or so. I hooked up with a couple more fish but dropped them or they spat out the lure. Finally I connected with a good size Long Tom who jumped clean out of the water when it realised it was hooked. These really are ugly fish.

Another great morning fishing and as we have plenty of fish in the fridge, they were all released today, some unintentionally!