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 – 16 April 2014


On Wednesday I drove up to Bribie and arrived just before first light at about 5.30 am. On Tuesday night we had a lunar eclipse and the full moon was huge and bright in the west. There was a surprisingly cool south-westerly wind blowing. Low tide had passed just after 4.00 am so by the time I waded out on to the flats, the tide was really running in.

Just before dawn there was some surface action under the bridge lights so I cast a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour around the pylons. This soon produced a couple of small Pike. I witnessed another beautiful sunrise and then continued wading south.

The big moon and meant a fairly big tide. The big tide had lifted all the storm debris from the previous week and it was soon clear that this would be the major obstacle to fishing the incoming tide. Seagrass, weed clumps, bait bags, floats and plastic bottles all started to passed by.

The only advantage of all the floating debris was that it allowed me to examine the water currents in the area. There is obviously a slightly sheltered area just to the south of the old oyster jetty and this is often where you find fish. It is protected by a couple of patches of rocky reef to the east and the tree line, on shore, to the west. At certain points in the tide cycle the water in this area slows right down and the debris gathers in a big clump.

I cast around the edges of this slow moving water looking for fish but I got virtually no bites. Just before 8.00 am it was getting too hard to fish into the strike zone, so I started back for the car. I was casting a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce , size 1/0 hook jighead. Suddenly the line went tight and the rod tip started to wriggle. I set the hook but the fish took a while to register – this often means it’s a big one. It swam towards me for a few seconds and then realised something was amiss. It took off with a long, blistering run towards the jetty. I let it take line and then gradually started to get some back. There were a couple more long runs but after a few more minutes I caught site of a very decent flathead. I steered her up to the beach and took a few photos.  She was just under 70 cm but I let her go. They really can be a bit tough to eat at this size and if I want to still be catching plenty of fish in future seasons, it makes sense to let these big breeding females go.

This final fish rescued what would have been a pretty dismal session. They seem to be far easier to find on the run out tide in this area. The sudden cool south westerly wind may also have put them off their food.

Bribie Island – More Flathead from Bongaree – 25 October 2012


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.

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


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


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


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


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.