Bribie Island – One Flathead at a time – 19 Nov 2010

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Friday

I was glad to see that the wind was forecast to turn around to a Southerly over the weekend, but less excited to see it would be blowing 20+ Knots. I decided to get one more fishing session in before that happened, on Friday.

I could not get out there for dawn, but managed to get up to Bribie Island around 9.00 am. There had been a far bit of rain over night and again, the water was fairly murky close to the shore. I only had a few hours available and I was fishing the back half of the run out tide. I tried Whitepatch for a while but I could not raise anything, so I moved down to the muddy/ weedy flats on either side of the old Oyster Jetty, on the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge.

I walked south down to the corner, around which sits Sandstone Point. I then turned and started wading north, about waist deep in water, putting in long casts ahead of me. There were lots of small baitschools around and plenty of small sand crabs. I was fishing my favourite GULP 3″ Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/6th 1 jighead. In this area there is weed everywhere and you have to pull you lure through it from time to time. Your jighead is constantly snagging on the weedy bottom but when you get a solid single thud – you know you are onto a fish. This happened just to the south of the old Oyster Jetty, after about an hour and half. In fact I was just about to give up. The fish took a bit of line in a good, solid initial run. It felt like a reasonable sized fish but as it was swimming with the current, I was not sure. The beach was 40 metres away, but I opted to walk the fish back there, rather than try to grab it in the water. After a slow tow and few more good runs I had it on the muddy sand. It was a healthy 54cm Flathead. As you can see from the pictures – it was only just hooked.

That completed another single fish session. Hopefully, the wind change may make things easier next week.

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Bribie Island – The Old Oyster Jetty – 17 Nov 2010

Wednesday
I started fishing at about 9.15 am – not ideal, but sometimes life gets in the way of my true calling. It was a fantastic Queensland day with bright sunshine and light breeze from the North West. I was at my usual haunt – Bribie Island. I headed up to Whitepatch where I had caught a few fish on Sunday. The tide was about half way out with low tide forecast for around 12.45pm.
I rigged up with a very light 1/32 oz jig head and put on a Gulp Sandworm in the Camo colour. I was trying for a few whiting. There were plenty around – I suspect their favourite food is the soldier crabs that come out on to the flats, in huge numbers, at low tide.
I caught a couple of very small Whiting and then decided to look for something bigger. There was plenty of bait in the water – whiting, garfish etc. I upgraded to a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and put on a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered prawn colour. I walked up and down the ledge that runs all along this section of the Passage and cast alternately; one over the edge and one out in front of me, into the shallow water on top of the ledge. I did this for well over an hour without success. At one point a hungry Pike made a great lunge at the lure just as I lifted it out of the water, but I did not get it.
At this stage I think it is fair to point out that I usually find November, December, January and February by far the toughest months to fish the Queensland estuaries from the shore. If I look back through my diaries there is a dramatic drop off in my catch rate after the Flathead finish spawning and the water warms up. However, summer brings the possibility of rarer, but exciting species such as Mangrove Jack and Sweetlip and even the occasional pelagic, like Tuna or Mackerel. It is a different style of fishing and requires a bit more work. You have to find them and this means lots of long casts and long walks/ wades.
I decided to switch spots and drove over to the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge. I waded out onto the muddy weed banks just to the south of the old oyster jetty. By now these were only covered with about 60cm of water. I put on the Gulp 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – I stuck with the 1/6th 1/0 weight jighead. I was aiming at the sandy patches in between the weed and the edge of the rubble piles that dot the area. There was a bit of weed floating around but not enough to make the fishing difficult. About 40 metres to the south of the jetty I cast into a piece of clear sandy bottom and just as the plastic hit the edge of the weed, I felt a dull thud. Finally, after three hours of fishing I was on to a reasonable fish. I gave it plenty of line and gradually towed it back to the shore to unhook. It was too valuable to try to risk grabbing while wading around in the water. When I got it up and away from the water it was a respectable 46cm Flathead. It was now right on low tide and after a few more casts to see if the fish had any friends around, I gave up.
The fishing is getting harder but the harder they are to find, the sweeter they taste!

Bribie Island – Bridge, Buckleys Hole and Whitepatch – 14 Nov 2010

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Sunday

After a month away from fishing, I was keen to get a line in the water as soon as possible. I decided to head up to Bribie Island and was on the road from Brisbane at 3.30 am. A lot changes in 4 weeks – the water has warmed up, sunrise is a good deal earlier and there has been plenty of rain. As I waded out under the bridge, on the island side, the first thing that struck me was the murky water and the lack of surface activity. Then I gradually realised that the plus side of all the rain and the northerly winds, was distinct lack of weed floating around.
I started by casting my old favourite soft plastic – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – in close to the Bribie Island bridge pylons. Not much happened for half an hour or so. I had a few nudges and bumps, but no hook ups. Finally, I put a cast right into the foot of the second pylon and it scraped the barnacles as it went into the water. Next thing the line went taught but with not much weight on it. I wound in the line and had my first fish of the morning a 10cm Moses Perch! As the sky lightened I caught a couple of small Pike. At about 5.30 am I decided to move on.
I drove down to the sand flats at Buckley’s Hole, at the southern tip of Bribie Island. High tide had been at 3.30 am and now the tide was running out strongly. The water here was very cloudy. I think this is due to the hollowing out of the banks at the mouth of the tidal lagoon. You can see where the current has washed the sand away and revealed the mud underneath. During the run out tide this further clouds the water. Despite the discolouration there was plenty of surface activity and there were Whiting everywhere. On many casts my plastic would land in the middle of a school and send them jumping in all directions. There were also plenty of herring and other small bait fish around. Perhaps because there was so much bait in the water, I was still casting around after an hour or so with no fish. There were plenty of jellyfish around, no doubt blown in on the northerly winds. The turtles were also out in force and at about 6.30 am a Dugong swam past.
I changed plastic to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour which I was fishing on a 1/6th 1/0 hook jighead. I was using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied to 2.8kg Fireline. I had my favourite Loomis GL2 Light spin rod with a Stradic 3000 reel. About 300 metres south of the mouth of the tidal lagoon I got a couple of hits that I took for a Pike or Bream. I cast back again into the same spot and almost instantly felt the solid bite of a Flathead. I was so excited I nearly catapulted him out of the water on to the shore. He was just under the legal size limit so I snapped him and put him back. In the attached pictures you can see just how cloudy the water was. I carried on for another 30 mins without success and then decided to change spots.
I drove up to Whitepatch beach, further up on the inside of Bribie Island. It was now almost low tide, so I stayed out of the water, initially. I cast out the same soft plastic shrimp on to the ledge that forms the edge of the Pumicestone Passage, all along this beach. There was only about 50cm of water covering the ledge and again, the water was very murky. On the third or fourth cast, a fish slammed the soft plastic shrimp and took off over the ledge. I let it have some line then moved down to the edge, tightened the drag a little and pulled it up and over. I then dragged it up on to the sand. It was a nice 52cm Flathead and it went straight into the bag for dinner.
As the tide started to run in, I decided to try my Snapper theory for this spot. My experience suggests that they often feed in this area during the first half hour of the run in tide. This seems to be especially true when these are the conditions just after dawn. I prefer a plastic with a curly tail for Snapper but I didn’t have one, so it was back to the trusty GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The fish are usually in close to the ledge but I cast a fair way out, let the plastic sink then skip it across the bottom fairly slowly, increasing the pause to five seconds or so, as the plastic comes close to the ledge. Right on cue, on the third cast the rod bends over and I am losing line to something that can only be a Snapper. After a quick tussle and a slight tightening of the drag I successfully pulled it up on to the sand. It was just under legal size at around 34cm but this is a good fish for this spot. As I photographed it, I noticed it had lost one of its fins – it’s a tough ocean out there! I let it go and decided to pack up for the day.
It was 9.00 am and I had fed my craving – watch this space – I will be back out there again soon.

Singapore Fishing – 1 Nov 2010

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Monday – Singapore

I needed to get out fishing – but as I was stuck in Singapore, the options were limited. The concierge at the Hotel could not really help but suggested I visit the Kenko Fish Spa. I found the place just a few escalators away from our hotel and thought it looked interesting.

I walked in, paid my S$20 for a fish spa treatment. My feet and lower legs were rinsed off and then I was led into a room full of large glass tropical fish tanks with wooden benches above each. I sat on one and dangled my feet in the water, as instructed. Within ten seconds the fish were all over my feet, nibbling, sucking and apparently carrying out an efficient exfoliation service.

It certainly felt a little strange and initially it was very hard get through the tickling stage. But, after 30 seconds or so, it really was quite relaxing. At last I got some indication of what it might be like to be a soft plastic lure. In fact, I started to consider how I could reform the toe jam from my pretty disgusting feet, in the shape of a minnow, and put it on a jighead. I remembered the GULP Moldy Cheese coloured lures – perhaps ‘Flaky Feet’ would sell well?

It was not quite fishing but it did, at least, feed my craving. I am looking forward to pulling the waders on again in a week or so.