Bribie Island – Sandstone Point – Monster Flathead – 2 May 2011

Monday – Labour Day

10 to 12 knot winds forecast and even though there would be a big swell offshore, the estuaries would be good for fishing. Back up to Bribie, to the Sandstone Point flats where I have been getting some good Flathead.

At about 5.00 am I waded out under the bridge – on the mainland side, to cast around under the lights. The tide was running in, so I was casting from the north side of the bridge, under the bridge, into the shadows and hopping my lure across the bottom, along with the current, back towards me. Theoretically, the Flathead will be lying facing the current flow, waiting for their prey to be washed towards them. After a couple of casts with the GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon soft plastic, I had a fish. This area can be tricky, as there are loads of prominent rocks to trip over and lose the fish on. Unfortunately just as I got a look at a decent 50cm + Flathead, it lunged down behind one, bumped the jighead out of its mouth and slowly swam away.

As the horizon started to glow I walked south and then around the corner onto the Sandstone Point flats. On my way, I caught a small Flathead in the weed beds, about 20 metres from the shore. It was only just 40cm long, so I released it.

I moved past the jetty to the point where the shoreline turns right, casting as I went. I waded over the big sandbar that runs roughly north to south; onto the area I call the Sandstone Point flats. This area is very rocky initially and then softens to sandy weed beds with some central channels and drains. It holds plenty of fish, especially at the top of the tide. The Flathead lie between the rubble and the weed beds waiting to pounce, while the Bream cruise over the top.

I was still fishing with the same soft plastic, but as the water was less than a metre deep, I was only using a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. The tide was still running in and this meant I was casting directly in front of me, as I waded across the flats. Because I had missed a fish on the rocks earlier, I had switched up from a 10lb to a 16lb leader. I was retrieving the lure fairly quickly with very short pauses to avoid getting snagged. I felt a bit of resistance and thought I was snagged. I jerked the jighead up and what felt like a rock, rolled towards me a little and then felt like it was free. I wound in my line and as I was about to lift the plastic from the water, the line went tight again and the ‘rock’, which I now realise was a fish, swam straight past me. Line started peeling at a steady pace and then, as the fish realised it had eaten something sharp, it took off on a powerful initial run, with the current.

My Loomis GL2 6’6 Light spin rod is very sensitive and amazingly flexible but it is not designed for power. If you get a big fish on, patience is the key. I let it run. Then I recovered some line and let it run again. It was obviously nicely hooked, but at the beginning of each run, it would put in a series of angry headshakes. I realised now it was a very big Flathead. I identified a break in the Mangroves and started to steer the fish in that direction. It must have made five or six long, determined runs for freedom and after each one, I had tightened the drag slightly, with little effect. Even 16lb leader will not last forever and the longer the fight goes on, the more likely the fish is to find a conveniently placed rock or snag. I tightened the drag and got the fish into the slacker water close to the shore. There was another short run but it was tired now and had no current to help it. With one long last heave I pulled it up onto the sand. The leader snapped as soon as its weight hit the sand but it was clear of the water.

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It was a monster female Flathead – well over 75cm. I measured it as best I could with my tape, took a few pictures and released it. I am settling on 75cm for the length, which makes it this year’s ‘personal best ‘Flathead for me.
Ironically, I still had no fish to eat, so I waded on. I caught a few undersize bream cruising over the weed and then in a small sandy depression, I finally picked up a 42cm Flathead. It was a good end to a great mornings fishing.

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