Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole – 29 July 2010

It was early Thursday morning and although it had been raining most of the night, the wind had died down so I decided to pack the waders and waterproofs and head up to Bribie to see what I could find. At about five o’clock. I had a quick cast under the bridge lights on the island side but there was nothing happening. It was slack water; just on low tide and the rain had stopped. The water was very calm, still and fairly clear.
At about 6.00 am I moved down to fish the mouth of the tidal lagoon at Buckley’s Hole. The Bream still appear to be spawning and this is a spot where they traditionally like to school up. It was now a couple of hours into the run in tide and I think this is often the best time to fish this area. I was looking for Bream but the first taker was a 30 cm Tailor. It hit the lure as soon as it dropped on the first cast. I was fishing the GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th 2/0 jighead with 12lb leader. As I dragged it back to the beach you could see it munching its way up the plastic. It looked solidly hooked in the jaw but while I was photographing it, it managed to shake the hook and lure out – Tailor just never give up. I sent it on its way.
As dawn broke the Bream started to bite. I caught a 28cm fish then a couple of throw backs and then a good 32cm fish. I switched down to the 3” Minnow in the same colour and also used a 2” Peppered Prawn Shrimp. I caught about 6 more keeper size fish over the next hour or so and plenty of smaller ones. By about 8.00 am there was too much water to fish over the edge of the coffee rock ledge that runs along there, so I retreated. I had kept three better size fish for dinner and released the rest.

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Bribie Island – Oyster Jetty to Sandstone Point – 26 July 2010

On Monday morning I looked at the forecast for the week and realised things were going downhill with showers set to increase as the days went on. I decided to go for a quick mid morning session wading the flats at Bribie, hopefully before the rain set in. I opted for the sand flats and weed beds to the south of the old oyster jetty in the direction of Sandstone Point, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage.

I arrived at around 9.45 am just as the tide was beginning to run out. It was dull and overcast and the wind was getting up from the south west. I walked along the shore as far as the large sand bank to the south of the old oyster jetty. Then I waded out into about a metre of water and started with long casts northwards. With the wind behind me from the south west, I was able to put in long casts and retrieve my plastic with the outgoing tide. There are lots of gaps in the weed beds in that area and this is where the Flathead wait. I was fishing my favourite flathead lure – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/6th 2/0 jighead. I had the rod spooled with 6lb Fireline and 10lb fluoro carbon leader.

The only problem fishing that area is the loose weed and the horrible slimy algae that seem to coat it in places. You have to be persistent as the plastic is constantly getting clogged. After twenty minutes or so of casting, I hooked a small flathead but dropped it as I tried to get it into the keeper bag without towing it all the way back to shore. I cast back in the same place and one of its friends took the plastic. This time I walked it all the way back to the shore – he was just on 42cm. I now had to try and remember where to go back to. When the water is clear you can follow your wader boot marks but the overnight rain had stirred it up a little, so I just had to guess where I had been. I waded back out and carried on moving to the north and just short of the oyster jetty; I got a very solid bite. I dropped the rod tip and counted to five – this is my favourite technique for Flathead – then struck hard. The fish took off and did a couple of good runs, then it calmed down a bit and so I gradually walked it back to the shore. Some wise old fisherman once told me that Flathead often snap at the lure or bait to stun it, then open their mouths and change the angle, to swallow it. If you strike as soon as you feel the bite you might just pull it out of their mouths. Not sure how true this is but my system certainly works. It gave me a few head shakes in the last few metres and then I had it. Once I got it up to the muddy shoreline it measured in at 62cm. Buy now the clouds were looking ominous so I beat a hasty retreat to the car and called it a day. I hope the weather does not ruin the rest of the week.

Landangler’s Tailor on Soft Plastics

I am sure you have all heard it said a million times – if you want to catch some Tailor you can’t go past a lightly weighted, West Australian Pilchard floating down off the back of the boat or a well place chrome slug cast from the rocks. Don’t get me wrong – it’s sound advice and it definitely will get you some fish, but I thought I would offer my experience of catching Tailor on soft plastic lures.
As you may have worked out, I love to fish with soft plastics and I almost only fish from the shore. So my experience of catching Tailor is based on those parameters. Firstly, most of the time when I get a good (keeper size – 35cm + QLD or 30cm + NSW) ‘chopper’, it is an accident. I am usually not targeting them; they just wallop whatever I am fishing with. I am usually prospecting on some sand flats, beside a bridge or rock wall and suddenly the line starts peeling and the rod starts shaking and I realise that I either have a Flathead on steroids or it’s a Tailor. This usually results in a bite off as I fish pretty light (10 to 12lb leader), but occasionally, if the fish is nicely hooked, I will get it safely to the bank. The plastic is usually pretty smashed up but if I cast it straight back out, I often get another. Then they are gone.
So this year, as the weather cooled, I decided I would actually try to catch some tailor with plastics. The first thing I did was switch to heavier tackle. I decided on a 6000 size spinning reel, loaded with 12lb Fireline down to a 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I also made sure I had the toughest jigheads that I could find, from 1/6th to ½ ounce. Then I thought about my rod. The problem, when choosing a rod for plastics in these circumstances, is the immediate compromise between strength and sensitivity. A ‘medium’ weight estuary spinning rod (something like a 7’6 3-6kg Berkeley Dropshot) gives you a good, sensitive connection to the soft plastic and so you can fish fairly light weight jigheads (1/8 to ¼ ounce) and still cast them out effectively. However if you hook up to a decent fish (in my book that is anything over 2kg) you are really going to struggle, especially if you need to pull it up a rock wall or onto a ledge. The alternative is to go heavier but then, inevitably, you lose a bit of the sensitivity. My ‘heavy’ plastics rod is the 11 Ft 6-15kg Rovex BARIO. This rod still has some feel in the tip but it is strong enough to heave some decent fish up the rocks. The downside is that it is very difficult to fish with much less than a 3/8 ounce jighead, as the rod is really too stiff to feel anything lighter. I have landed plenty of 2 to 5 kg fish with this rod – if you hook up with anything much heavier then you really need a mate with long handled gaff.
Once I had decided on the set up I looked for likely locations. This was tricky as I have caught Tailor from Yamba in Northern NSW right up to 1770 in Queensland, but I have usually caught the bigger ones when chasing jewfish from the rocks.
So my first experimental Tailor plastics session was fishing the end of the rock wall at the mouth of the Tweed River, about a month ago (in mid June). I find that the north side of the north rock wall is a good fishing spot, so I arrived an hour before dawn and found a large flat boulder near the end of the wall. I rigged up the ‘heavy’ rod. So which plastic to choose? Working on the principle that Tailor love Pilchards – I chose the GULP 4” Minnow in Pearl Watermelon – as it looks quite like one. It is basically a dark green on top with silver coloured under body and v shaped tail. It is an excellent all rounder that I often start with it. I rigged it on a 3/8 2/0 jighead. The first few casts – in the dark – produced nothing. Fishing from the rocks in the dark is pretty hit and miss, not to mention dangerous, so I usually wait for the pre-dawn light to see what I am doing. Yes – I have a headlamp but it is pretty easy to spook the fish by shining a few high powered LEDs down at them. Sure enough just as the horizon started to glow I got a couple of solid hits and then a good fish took the plastic right at the foot of the wall, on a fairly quick retrieve. A bit too big for a Bream and a bit too frenetic for a trevally, sure enough it was a good ‘chopper’, probably around 40cm. Once I turned it around, it broke the surface, in the foam, by the rocks, but as soon as I lifted it clear of the water, it started wriggling and wriggled off the jighead. In the space of half an hour, I had four more fish of a similair size. I landed two and lost two in a similair manner to the first. They have very soft mouths and once they are out of the water it is very difficult to stop yourself pulling the hook out. Then all went quiet for about forty minutes and they were back again. They were obviously chasing the bait schools up and down the rock wall. This time round (using the same plastic) I dropped the first fish and was bitten off by the second. By the time I had re-rigged they were gone. I stayed the rest of the morning and caught a few bream but the Tailor did not come back. The plastics had certainly taken a beating – I had to put a new one on after every successful hook up – but it seemed like a reasonable trade off.
The next trip was down to Iluka Bluff in Northern New South Wales. I had a couple of days there but due to the weather I could only manage two fishing sessions – the morning and evening of the first day. Conditions on that morning were perfect with only a light swell and virtually no wind. The Bluff is a large flat ledge at the end of a headland and there are tailor here all year round although they improve in size and numbers in the cooler months. Again I arrived in position pre-dawn on the southern side of the Bluff. I started with the same rig except I ran a 40lb leader and switched to the same shaped plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour. About 30 mins after dawn I was bitten off, then after re-rigging, I landed a nice 50cm Tailor and dropped two more in quick succession. Things slowed for an hour or so and then I down sized to a twenty pound leader. Third cast with the lighter leader and I was onto a decent fish which rubbed me off, but after a quick re-rig I got another 45cm fish which I landed. Downsizing the leader as the sun gets higher in the sky often works for me in this way, as does matching the size of the plastic, as closely as possible, to the bait that’s already in the water.
That evening the wind was up and so was the swell. Again the fish appeared to come on and off every 20 to 30 minutes. It certainly seemed like they were cruising up and down in front of the headland, chasing the bait. Each time they came by I would get a couple of knocks and nudges and sometimes a hook up. I like to use a pretty standard retrieve – it is always a tricky balance between getting the fairly heavy jigheads (3/8 ounce) down low in the water column and not getting snagged on the bottom. I usually cast out and count slowly to ten. On ten, I jerk the rod tip up, and pause while the plastic sinks again. Then I wind in some line and repeat the process. Finally, just on dusk I got the best fish of the trip – a 65cm Tailor and fortunately the rising swell more or less landed it for me, by washing it up over a ledge right at my feet. This time I had switched to the 5” Jerkshad plastic also in the pumpkinseed colour.
Although two trips hardly make a definitive study, I have had many rock fishing sessions which have produced Tailor on soft plastic lures and I think I can draw the following key conclusions.
There are a few disadvantages to using plastics. Firstly, they are expensive – the Tailor destroy them and you will rarely get two fish out of one plastic, often they will get munched before you even get a fish to the shore. Secondly, you certainly cannot cast them as far as a heavily weighted bait or slug. Thirdly, jigheads often do not hook up as solidly as a treble right in the mouth – so slugs can make it easy to lift the fish to safety without pulling the hook.
However, the single biggest advantage of using soft plastics for Tailor is the ability to fish a moving lure through the lower part of the water column, more consistently, than you could a bait or a slug. You simply cannot move bait along the bottom with the action of a plastic and a slug is almost always on an upward trajectory once it gets up to speed. So if the fish are travelling along, or close to the bottom, I think you will get more hooks ups with a soft plastic, than with a slug or bait. Of course, if they are feeding on the surface they will still take the plastic on the drop, but maybe they will be more interested in a surface popper, fast moving slug or lightly weighted pilchard.
Of course, none of the above applies in the weeks that lead up to spawning off Fraser Island. If you can locate the fish at that time – they are usually so thick and so competitive that you can catch them with almost any type of bait, lure or even an old sock!
I hope you found this useful and, as always I would welcome any comments – questions or experiences that you may wish to share.

Brisbane River – Boggy Creek – 23 July 2010

If you have children of school age you will know that most officially classified biological weapons are far less toxic than the coughs and colds they bring home. I succumbed this week and I have been feeling like crap. I missed my usual fishing session on Thursday, so I decided to put in a couple of hours this morning, close to home, at Boggy Creek, on the Brisbane River.
For those of you who don’t know it, Boggy Creek is a small arm off the Brisbane River on the north side of the Pinkenba Shell oil terminal. You can fish all along the northern bank, but I usually start by the small pedestrian bridge that leads across to the refinery. You cannot fish on the bridge as it has a security gate and belongs to the refinery.
I find this creek fishes best for a couple of hours on either side of the high tide and it is a great spot pre-dawn. There is a small rock wall on either side of the bridge and the channel narrows significantly at this point. This has cut a fairly deep channel under the bridge. There is always plenty of bait under the lights and once the tide is running there are large swirls, eddies and sections of slack water where the big fish lurk.
I started around 9.00 am – the wind (from the southwest) was getting up and the run out tide was really moving. The water was fairly clear so I started with a 3” GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th 1 jighead on 10lb leader. My strategy was to cast out, upstream and let the plastic float with the current down under the bridge. I would jig it every 5 seconds or so to stop it getting snagged. There is plenty of manmade structure under that bridge ranging from tyres to shopping trolleys. After a few prospecting casts I switched to the GULP Pumpkinseed Minnow Grub. I find the paddle tail pattern is good when there is a strong current. The tail moves realistically even when the plastic is at rest on the bottom and it is almost irresistible as it sinks. Sure enough – second cast a hungry Pike wallops the plastic. This scenario played out a few more times and then I cast over towards the far rock wall. On the retrieve there were a few nudges and tickles and then a solid hit and hook up. As I brought the fish in, a great school of Pike scattered before it. It turned out to be a 28cm Bream with a Mohican fin! I released him after a picture or two and then decided to move up the bank towards the Brisbane River.
There are a number of openings all along the bank from which you can fish. I stopped at each one and did a semicircle of casts in each location. When I reached the mouth of a small drain I was a bit more thorough with my coverage and on about the 6th cast I pulled up a 35cm Flathead. I let him go and got another smaller one from exactly the same spot. The water was getting very shallow now and it was blowing a gale so decided to give up for the day.
It was good to get the rod in the water and find a few fish – even if there was nothing for dinner.

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole – 15 July 2010

Thursday morning – I got up at 4.15 am and drove from Brisbane up to Bribie looking forward to a good fishing session. Low tide would be around 6.40 am and although the forecast was for moderate West to Southwest wind, it was pretty flat when I arrived.

I decided to start off under the Bridge lights on the island side. I find the bridge lights attract the bait and there is often something waiting to pounce on your lure/ bait from the dark water around the pylons. I loaded a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead with Gulp 3” minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour and sure enough, first cast I pulled up a Pike and next cast 15cm Tailor. I moved up and down the weed banks, along the edge of the Passage, on either side of the bridge. After about half an hour I picked up a 45cm Flathead about 15 metres north of the bridge., right on the edge of the weed.

The first glow of dawn was showing so I decided to move down to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole. This is an excellent Bream spot especially when they are schooling up to spawn. Using the same plastic and weight I cast up into the last of the run out tide and let it sink down along the coffee rock ledge – jigging every 5 seconds or so. After a few casts I caught an undersized Bream, followed by a few Pike and gradually I started to catch a few keeper Bream. Every third fish or so, was legal and after an hour I had 5 keepers between 25cm and 30cm.

At about 8.30am I called it quits and went to find a hot drink.

PASSAGE BREAM ARE BEGINNING TO FIRE
BREAM FROM BUCKLEY’S HOLE – BRIBIE ISLAND

Bribie Island – Oyster Jetty & White Patch – 11 July 2010

 Sunday morning and finally a good forecast – 4 knots SE wind and only a chance of a shower. I was out on the Bribie sand flats at 5.15 am wading in the dark. I moved down to the old oyster banks on either side of the jetty, on the mainland side of the Passage. I flicked soft plastics – 2” Gulp  Shrimps in the Peppered Prawn colour  and 4” Gulp Minnows in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. As the sun came up I was constantly dragging up the slimy algae. This now seems to be covering the regular sea grass in that area. I caught a pike and the plastics kept getting tugged and bashed by Long Toms. The sky reddened and suddenly I could see what I was doing but then, after 10 minutes, it was grey and overcast as the sun moved up behind the clouds.

I decided to change locations and drove up to White Patch to a spot at the foot of one of the staircases, which I have named Pike Rocks. Sure enough, on the first cast I caught a 40cm Pike and then got a fish a cast for about twenty minutes – all Pike except for a  small Bream and a Moses Perch. I kept the big Pike for the cat and wandered south casting out over the coffee rock ledge that runs the length of the shore. I caught more Pike and then a 25cm Flathead. Finally I got slammed by a 30 cm Tailor which jumped and dived and shook as only Tailor can. I put him back after pulling the mangled GULP 3”  Minnow from his jaw. I cast all around but could not find any more so at 8.45 am – almost the top of the tide – I gave up and headed for a hot shower and breakfast. Only the cat got to eat fish today.

PIKE

Bribie Island – White Patch – 9 July 2010

It was hard to get out of bed at 4.15 am yesterday but I managed it – just. The outside temp was not too bad but as I put on my waders and wandered out under the Bribie Bridge but I noticed how much the water temp has dropped in the last couple of weeks. I usually find this is good news for estuary fishos like me.  Just before dawn I cast around under the bridge, on either side, but only manage a few pike on the Gulp Shrimp (2 inch Banana Prawn). There was plenty of evidence of school holidays with an abandoned cast net, plenty of terminal tackle with 50kg + breaking strain line, sinkers and enormous hooks stuck in the weed and shallow snags. Maybe they were trying for a Dugong!!

I sat out a rain shower and then moved up to White Patch. My first cast produced a tiny Flathead followed by more Pike. I walked up and down the flats flicking various plastics around. I generally target the sandy patches in between the weed. As the plastic comes over the edge of the weed that is when you get the dull thud of the Flathead attack – I then try to count to five (to let the fish get a good mouthful) then strike. The tide was running out and floating weed made things a bit tricky but after covering a bit of ground I got two keepers around 45cm.

As the tide got low enough I fished out over the coffee rock ledge and got a couple more Pike and then a solid hit and run that turned out to be a Trevally – I was using a 10lb leader,  1/6th 2/0 jighead and a 3” Gulp Minnow in Pearl Watermelon. I moved up and down the ledge and after a quiet period the tide started to run out  a bit faster and I caught a couple of undersize Snapper on the same rig. I am yet to find a keeper Snapper from the shore this season – but it will happen.

Miserable weather but reasonable fishing and I caught enough to feed the family!!

FLATHEAD & TREVALLY

BRIBIE FLATHEAD & TREVALLY