Tweed River – The North wall and upstream – 29 November 2011

Tuesday

I decided on a trip down to the north wall of the Tweed River. This spot is another one that only really seems to fire for me on dawn or dusk, so it was another early start. I walked out along the north wall just after first light at about 4.15 am. It was another warm morning with virtually no breeze and a cloudy sky. Low tide would be at about 4.30am (QLD Time).

I was using the Daiwa Demon Blood rod (2.4m) with a Stradic 800 reel, 30lb braid and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I started by casting big soft plastics on 3/8th 3/0 jigheads, all around the end of the rock wall. This produced nothing so I switched to a 110mm Popper – nothing again. I put on a 75g slug – nothing. I tried a few hard bodied shallow running minnows – also nothing. By 6.30 am, the sun was beating down and it felt like lunchtime. I decided to swap locations and techniques; put on the waders and try to find some fish in the Tweed River.

I drove down to the Tweed Heads Rowing Club and parked beside the boat hire place, just by the bridge. I wanted to fish the sand banks and weed beds around the north end of Boyds Island. You can wade out to this area, for a few hours, either side of low tide. The rest of the time the creek mouth gets too deep to cross – so keep an eye on the tide.

Tweed Heads - Rowing Club - Flathead Patch

Even with less than a metre of water in the creek mouth there were plenty of small Flathead hanging around. I was back down to my light spin rod – the Loomis GL2 with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel, 8lb braid and about 1.5 metres of 10lb fluorocarbon, for a leader. I started with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic lure in the Pearl Watermelon colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. On the first cast I felt a grab but there was no hook up. I slowed it all down and pulled the plastic back past the same spot. This time I felt the bite and paused. A few moments later, as I struck, I saw the white belly of the Flathead roll over under the water but it wasn’t hooked. I moved south west across the mouth of the creek to the weed banks which were now under about 60cm of water.
Over the next hour I caught 11 Flathead from the edges of the weed banks. Unfortunately not one of them was big enough to keep. I move slowly along the shore, casting just over the edge into the main channel and letting the lure pause, in close to the weed.

Another small Flathead snaffles a soft plastic

The Flathead usually find the soft plastic minnow hard to resist

Looking towards Boyds Island

There must be some bigger Flathead close by

I decided to try something different and put on one of the DUO lures – which I have been sent to try out by the manufacturers in Japan. They are beautifully crafted and so far they have proved deadly on the Flathead. I tied on a DUO Tetraworks Yurameki – a small bibless sinking pencil lure that weighs about 7 grams and is just under 5 cm long. I had the Redhead colour. This lure casts like a bullet but also keeps its head down on a long retrieve – this is great when you don’t want to get too close to the area you are fishing.

DUO Tetraworks Yurameki in the Redhead colour

After a couple of casts it was hit, but the angry fish shook the trebles free after a couple of lunges. A few metres further upstream, I caught another and this time it stayed hooked. It was only a small fish but the DUO lure had proved itself again. If you are interested in these lures, they are distributed by http://www.swldistributions.com.au – visit the website for more information. I Caught a few more undersized Flathead on the Yurameki.

Flathead on a DUO Tetraworks Yurameki lure

Only just hooked - the Tetraworks Yurameki lure from DUO

I then decided to try another of my recent favourites – the CULTIVA Miravibe. This lure is made by Owner and is another great sinking bibless vibe. It has a tight action, but does tend to rise up if worked too fast. It also has no action if worked too slow. It can often provoke a strike when the plastics are not working and after about five casts, I was onto a fish. It was the best of the day – after more than 20 fish, I finally had a Flathead over 40cm long. Given how long it had taken to find it, I did not fancy my chances of getting another, so I released it.
There had been no big fish but as long as you are catching something, you can’t complain. I had explored a new spot and I am sure that the bigger Flathead will be lurking round there somewhere. I will definitely be back.

The CULTIVA Miravibe also caught a few fish today

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Caloundra – Dirty water, a big tide & elusive fish – 27 November 2011

Saturday

After a rubbish session at Bribie Island on Thursday morning, I decided to go back to Caloundra again on Saturday. It would be the usual wind pattern – virtually no breeze pre-dawn, building to a solid 15 to 20 knot north-easterly by about 11.00 am.

The view from Bulcock Beach - just after dawn


The new moon had risen on Friday, so it would be a big, fast running tide. High was due at 8.40 am and would be 2.1 metres. I arrived at Bulcock Beach at about 4.00 am to find the water just starting the run in, with some force. The blowy weather and rain of the previous few days has stirred the water up and visibility is very poor. There is also a bit of sediment and floating around. I started off fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was walking along the shore, under the board walk, casting close in to the shore. Just on first light, I caught a small Flathead – about 35 cm long. I carried on up to the rocks at the mouth of the Passage and caught nothing else.

Bulcock Beach - Small Flathead by the boardwalk


I moved down to the flats and weed beds in front of the Power Boat Club, just south of Golden Beach. The water was flooding over the flats when I arrived. I tried a Strikepro hard bodied, bibless vibe lure for a while, but there was a lot of sea grass floating around and the lure was getting fouled up on every cast, so I switched back to a soft plastic lure. I chose the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I hoped the fluttering tail might draw a strike.

I moved further north across the flats in ankle deep water. I cast along the edge of the channel, bouncing the soft plastic along the bottom. The water was still very murky, with the strong tidal flow washing around a lot of debris as it approached high.

Flathead grabs a Crazylegs soft plastic - Caloundra

After about an hour of fishing this area with the hard bodied lure, I had not found a fish. Three casts with the soft plastic – and I had one. It was no monster – a Flathead, about 45cm long. I released it and spent the next few hours trying, in vain, to find another.

A bit of a frustrating session – but the fish are there.

Bribie Island – North of Pacific Harbour – 24 November 2011

Thursday

Not much to say – drove up to Bribie Island for a late morning fish – caught nothing. I used both small hard-bodied bibless vibes and soft plastic lures. I waded the flats to the north of the entrance to Pacific Harbour, from about 9.30 am through to 1.00pm. The tide was running out the whole time. Despite forecast heavy rain it stayed dry and the wind was from the south-east – turning north-east, part way through the session. The water was very murky.

I guess you have to come home empty handed every now then!

Caloundra – Lots more Flathead but not quite a bagful – 22 November 2011

Tuesday

Caloundra again – an early morning high tide at about 5.00 am. The wind was forecast to be from the north – but starting off light and then building up to 15 knots, by about 10.00 am. It looks like a south-easterly wind change will bring some heavy rain and big seas on Thursday or Friday.

My level of excitement before a fishing day is just like the excitement before Christmas day, when I was a small boy. You get all you gear ready and load the car and then try to force yourself to sleep at 8.00 pm – you can’t sleep because instead of “visions of sugar plums”, etc – you are imagining huge fish or thinking about where to throw that first cast. By the time 2.45 am comes I am usually awake before the alarm goes off. I know, I know – it sounds ridiculous but it’s a powerful addiction.

I arrived just before 4.00am while it was still dark at Bulcock Beach and decided to target the areas under the lights, by the boardwalk. The tide was almost high and the water was close to the sea walls. Sure enough, the bait had come to the lights and the bigger fish had followed. It is fairly snaggy along here, so you have to keep the lure moving. I rigged a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – black on top and pink underneath. I was using a 1/8th/1/0 jighead and 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied on to a reel of 8lb braid. I caught a few small Flathead and then eventually one that was big enough to keep.

The GULP Cajun Chicken coloured soft plastic lure works well in the dark

The rocks near the mouth of the Passage were almost covered and there was a bit too much swell washing around them, so just after first light, I decided to move down to the flats at Diamond Head. I waded along to the edge of the channel. I decided to start with a hard bodied bibless lure – the Cultiva MIRAVIBE which looks very like the small leatherjacket and herring that are floating around at the moment. As I waded along the channel, I skipped the hard body along the edge of the weed banks and soon caught a few small Flathead – between 25 and 35cm long. Then right at the point where the sand flats drop into the Diamond Head channel, a better fish grabbed it, just as it came over the bank. This one was around 44cm so I kept it.

A Flathead takes the lure from the sea grass beds at Diamond Head

By about 6.30 am the tide had properly turned and I waded to the shallow drains and weed banks that lie just north of Diamond Head. These were now covered by less than a metre of water in most places. I swapped over to a soft plastic lure as there was too much sea grass floating around to continue with the hard body. I put on the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead. After a couple of casts I found a fish – another small Flathead. I carried on wading north as the tide started to run out. Just short of another weed bed, a Flathead grabbed the plastic and took off. It was only about 30 cm long. I wound it in and released it. I cast back in the same spot and this time caught a bigger one – big enough to keep at about 42cm.
The water was now too shallow to fish so I moved up to the flats and channels at Golden Beach. I swapped back to the hard bodied MIRAVIBE. This lure is effective but suffers from the same problem as many of its competitors in this category – a poor action when retrieved at a low speed. It is ok in very shallow water but becomes a problem in anything more than about 50cm. To get the right action, you need to pull it quite quickly and inevitably; it then rises too high in the water column. It is perfect in about 40cm of water over a sandy bottom and that is where my next Flathead nailed it. This was another fish for the bag at about 45cm.

This one went for the GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic

The Flathead are often in the shallowest water

A few casts later the lure was slammed at the edge of a weed bed by a heftier fish. There was a flash of silver – and then a strange looking fish came into view. I towed it to shore photographed it and carefully released it. The helpful folk on http://www.ausfish.com.au identified it as a Striped or Silver Scat – which has a nasty set of spikes but tastes pretty good, so it was a lucky escape for both of us.

A Silver / Striped Scat

I carried on for a little while longer and caught another couple of undersized Flathead. I ended the day with four keeper fish – two on the hard bodied lure and two on the soft plastic lures. I could not find five legal fish for a full bag – but there were plenty of smaller ones around. The Whiting are everywhere and so are the Garfish. When I filleted the Flathead later, only one had food in its stomach – the remains of Whiting and a recently swallowed Leatherjacket. This was the first fish I have opened in the last few weeks, that has had anything in it.

Contents of a Flathead's stomach - Whiting and Leatherjacket

We will see what a burst of south-easterly breeze brings, later in the week.

Caloundra – Lizards and Lures – 19 November 2011

Saturday

The pattern of wind has been the same now for nearly three weeks – a calm morning followed by a gradually rising north, or north-easterly breeze. We have had no rain or big weather events and there is plenty of bait around. The fish should therefore settle into some regular habits and spots and that seems to be the case. The Flathead are where you would expect them to be, on the edges of sand bars and weed beds, moving up and back with the tides.

Caloundra - the rocks and drains around Bulcock Beach

On Saturday I went back to Caloundra to see if I could find the Trevally again, but with low tide at about 8.00 am, there was a bit to much water for me too cast over, to get to the main channel. The Flathead where still around though, and I caught three in amongst the rocks at Bulcock Beach between first light and just after 6.00 am. I dropped a couple more as I tried to steer them to the beach. I was using the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Pink Shine and Black Shad colours, on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. Three of the Flathead were over 40cm and a couple where a bit smaller. It was Saturday morning and the Jetskis, boats, swimmers and boarders were stirring things up a bit, so I decided to move down to Golden Beach.

Bulcock Beach Flathead

It was time to feed my new hard bodied lure addiction. I pulled out the latest try out – the CULTIVA MV 60S-06 Miravibe, 9.5g, 60 mm long – a bibless sinking vibe lure. CULTIVA is and Owner brand, so not surprisingly, the treble hooks are tough, sharp and a bit larger than the lures I have been trying out recently. There is no rattle in this one, but the vibe action is so tight that it almost sounds like there is, as it travels through the water. It looks very like a small Herring and I chose a yellow/bronze colour that seems to work well in the Pumicestone Passage.

CULTIVA Miravibe lure from Owner

I walked out in front of the Gemini Towers apartment complex and found the edge of a small channel. I cast the lure parallel with the bank, hopping it along the bottom in short bursts. The problem with this lure is that you have to move it slightly faster than I would like, to keep up the wobble. As they often say ‘no wobble, no gobble’ – so you have to keep it moving all the time.
I covered a fair bit of ground, travelling south and casting along the edge of the channel. Suddenly I felt a bite and short run but then the fish was off. I stopped and cast back in the same spot, pulling the lure across the bottom in shot sharp jerks – to get the maximum vibration. This worked and the fish (or another fish) grabbed it. It was another Flathead about 45cm long and it had thoroughly inhaled the lure. After a pretty complex extraction I released it. Another lure had passed the test and caught another fish. I suppose they all work in the right circumstances but I found this one a bit difficult to fish with. It seemed to take a while to find its rhythm in the water and I am not sure if bigger trebles help or hinder the hook up. More tests required.

Caloundra Flathead swallows a CULTIVA Miravibe lure

At about 9.30 am I gave up and went for a dip on Kings Beach. A few fish, a swim in the ocean and a fresh cup of coffee overlooking the surf – life’s good!

Caloundra – Trevally, Flathead and a few more old lures – 17 November 2011

Thursday

Back up to Caloundra for another very early start. The same wind pattern, early morning calm followed by a building northerly. The best thing was that the low tide would be after first light, at about 5.45 am.

I walked down onto Bulcock beach at about 4.15 am as the horizon started to glow. After a few casts with a soft plastic – a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, I had a 40 cm Flathead. It was lying close to the rocks waiting for breakfast to wash by on the outgoing tide. I carried on in the shallow for a while and then turned my attention to the deeper water in the main channel. I swapped to a heavier 1/6th 1/0 jighead – to get a better cast and faster sink rate in the strong current. I had to keep the retrieve fast, so as not to get snagged in the rocks.

I was back to the 7’6” 2-4kg Nitro rod and fishing with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader – so I would have a little bit more power to play a bigger fish, if I found one. I cast out into the main channel with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Pink Shine colour. Not long after it hit the water I felt a bump and then a solid bite. It was not a Flathead out there, so I struck after a short pause. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz – I was on to a fish. After catching only Flathead for a week or two, I was blown away by the pace. It was a Trevally and not a particularly big one, but it charged around, all over the place and I had to tighten the drag several times to subdue it. I towed it back to the beach. It was a Big Eye, a bit less than 40cm long but in the current, it had felt much bigger.

I cast back in the same spot and a few seconds later I was on again. I caught about 8 more over the next 30 minutes, all in the same spot and then as the tide turned, they were gone. They were not fussy about colors and had eaten all of the soft plastics that I threw at them – Pumpkinseed, Pearl Watermelon, Camo, Pink Shine, Vader, Satay Chicken.

I decided to head down to Golden Beach to try out some more hard bodied lures. Inspired by the DUO range I have been trying out, I rummaged through my lure boxes to see what else might catch fish. With these northerly winds I think the Flathead are not feeding very aggressively and the vibes and rattles can stir them into a strike, even when they are not really feeding. I found an old, small shallow diving minnow with a good rattle in it and I decided to give it a try. I walked on to the sand banks in front of Gemini Towers and waded out, casting along the edge of the channels and drains, after 5 minutes, I felt a bite but no hook up and after 10 minutes, I was on. It was a small Flathead, just over 40cm but perhaps my theory was right. I released it and a few minutes later I was on to a much bigger one. Unfortunately, I was now about 80 metres from the nearest sand bar and on the walk back it wriggled free. The problem with a lot of hard bodied lures, is the small, puny treble hooks.

I decided to switch to a Strikepro Vibe lure that looked very like the Herring that were floating around the weed beds. It was a 14g, 70mm bibless sinking lure with a decent rattle and good action. Not as refined as the DUO REALIS that I had lost on Tuesday, but pretty close. The first cast travelled 20 metres and sploshed above the weed, on the edge of the channel. A few metres into the retrieve it was rattling along nicely and I could feel the vibrations in the rod tip. Suddenly, it stopped there was splash and I had another Flathead on the line. This was another fish around 40cm long.

It was now around 11 am and as predicted, the northerly was picking up. I decided to give up for the day. I was impressed that both of the ‘noisy’ hard bodies, I had selected had caught fish. The trouble is, I may be about to swap a soft plastic lure addiction for a much more expensive, hard bodied lure addiction!

Caloundra – Bulcock & Golden Beaches – a big Flathead and a runaway – 15 November 2011

Tuesday

Ok – forget about the wind, I told myself. Yes it would be from the north – but the fish must still be there – somewhere, and it was not forecast to pick up until about 9.00 am. Low tide would be at 4.00 am at Caloundra and the top end of the Pumicestone Passage is a little more sheltered than the bottom end, in a Northerly – so that was my destination.

It would have to be an early start – first light would officially be at about 4.15 am , but over the last few weeks, the fish appear to be out hunting for their breakfast as soon as the horizon starts to glow – from about 3.45am. So I set out from Brisbane at 2.45am and reached the rocks on Bulcock Beach at about 3.50 am.

There was no wind and the tide was still running out, but beginning to slow. I started with a GULP 5” Lime Tiger Jerkshad on a 1/6th 2/0 jighead. I cast around the base of the rocks and then waded a fair way out into the shallows. The sand gives way under foot and is constantly moving so you have to watch your step. I was casting just on the edge of the rock bar, which skirts the bank beneath the boardwalk and the car park. I got snagged and re-rigged.

A couple of seconds after the soft plastic hit the water a fish hit it. It must have been slowly sinking down the water column. Unfortunately, after a few days fishing with my heavier spin rod (Nitro 2-4kg) I had swapped back to the light one – the Loomis GL2. It was bent over and the reel was screaming. I had a 12lb leader and the knots would probably hold but I could not exert any pressure on the fish, through the rod. It was running all over the place, out in the middle of the channel. I tightened the drag but it made little difference. It went where it wanted. After about a minute and a half, it changed tactics and headed back in towards the rock bar. As soon as it got next to the rocks, the line went slack and it was gone. I think it had just knocked the jighead and plastic loose on the rocks. Given the powerful runs and its speed, I would think it was a Trevally – who knows?

I cast around hoping there might be a school of them but there were no more takers. I moved into the shallows and decided to try another of the DUO lures I have been sent from Japan. This time I would be using the REALIS VIBRATION 62. It is another beautifully crafted lure. It is a blade shaped vibe lure made of resin with a clever weighting system that means a really consistent swimming action, even when retrieved quickly. The rattle is loud and effective – I think it annoys the hell out of the Flathead – and can stimulate a strike from a fish that would not otherwise be feeding. It weighs 11 grams and is 62mm long, so it can be cast a fair distance and hugs the bottom, even on a fairly fast retrieve.

I carefully worked the REALIS lure over the sandy patches, I could hear the rattle from several metres away. I felt a bite – or was it a snag? I kept it moving pretty fast as I did not want to lose it. The next cast, across the same piece of sand was definitely grabbed and then dropped. Third time lucky – I cast back out and this time the fish made no mistake. There was a splash and head shake as it realized it had eaten something prickly, but it was solidly hooked. I pulled it up on the sand, it was a 52cm Flathead.

I went back to the same area and worked the lure closer and closer to the rocks until, inevitably, it got caught amongst the rocks and that was that. This seems to happen to a lot of my lures!

I took the hint and moved down the Passage to fish amongst the weed beds and sandbanks around Diamond Head. The water had just started to cover the weed along the edge of the channel. I walked across the sand bar to the green channel marker that marks the deeper water in the main channel. There were small flathead lies all over the sand bar, clustered in little groups. I cast around and caught a few small Flathead on a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour – between 25 and 35 cm.

After an hour of wading along the edge of the main channel, I decided to drive back up to Golden Beach and try my luck there. The tide was now almost high and the weed banks in front of the Powerboat Club looked like a good target. I waded north from the club, casting along the edge of the sand banks. It was now about 10.30 am and the Northerly wind was starting to pick up, roughening the surface of the water. I waded slowly, changing the soft plastic lure regularly and making sure I moved carefully and quietly. It may be choppy on the surface but it is calm down below. After 45 minutes of this I felt a nice solid bite close in to a clump of weed. I paused, counted to ten, then struck. There was a long slow pull, then a pause, then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I checked the drag, it was set right with a fair bit of pressure – this was a decent fish. I started to get some line back and moved towards the shore. There were plenty more solid runs but eventually I got a look at a very good Flathead. I kept the rod tip bent and slowly dragged the fish up on to the sandy beach. It was a big female that measured in at just under 75cm. I thought about it, but she was too good-looking to keep for dinner. The lure was now a long way down her throat so I decided to cut the line and leave it to be digested. After a few snaps, she swam away. She had been caught on GULP Lime Tiger coloured 5″ Jerkshad on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

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Despite the northerly wind it had been a good session with a cracker of a fish to finish up. I’ll be back!