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!

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