Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – 30 January 2012

Monday

The rain stopped – briefly, on Sunday night. It stopped long enough for me to convince myself Monday morning might be worth a fish. So I jumped in the car and drove up to Bribie Island on Monday at about 8.30 am. I drove through several heavy showers but fortunately, when I arrived at Bongaree, the sun was just peeking through the clouds.

The tide was running in and would by high around noon. There was no breeze. The water was a brownish colour but not too murky. There was also not much weed floating around. I suspect it has all been washed out into the bay.

I started with a GULP 3” soft plastic Minnow in the Lime tiger colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I assumed the fish would be fussy, so I started with an 8lb fluorocarbon leader. I waded around on the sand spit in front of the saltwater tidal lagoon, casting over the flats. On about my fifth cast something took off on a blistering run with the plastic. I tightened the drag a little and turned its head, but there were no head shakes – just a dead weight gradually coming towards me. It was a ray and after a few pulls it snapped the 8lb leader. I tied on a new leader and felt a few more nibbles but could not hook anything. I switched to a bibless vibe hard bodied lure – a silver Berkley Frenzy, but this didn’t produce any fish.

I swapped back to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic, in the Peppered Prawn colour. I noticed some gulls swooping a few hundred metres to the south. They gradually flew closer and were obviously following something. I kept casting but increased the speed of my retrieve. I felt a solid bite and lost the tail of the plastic to the fish. I quickly re-rigged and this time the lure was grabbed, as soon as it hit the water. There was a brief tug and then, snap – the lure was bitten off.

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I moved further south, casting in all directions. I fished for a couple of hours with only a few small bites. Then the birds appeared again and I cast into their path. I felt a bite and struck hard. This time I had the fish hooked but it jumped free, before I could pull it up the beach. It was a small Tailor, no more than 25cm long. I cast out again in the same spot and started a faster retrieve. A few cranks into it and I felt the attack and then the hook up. This time I got it to the sand – another tiny Tailor.

It was encouraging to catch a few fish but I could not find dinner. It should not take long for the water to clear if the rain holds off. I will be back out here again soon.

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Rain, rain, rain, rain….. 29 January 2011

No I haven’t drowned – but I have not found anywhere to fish for ten days. Every time I think it might be easing off, the monsoonal low dumps another load. All the rivers are a mess so I will try fishing the surf next week, while things clear up. May be a few Jewfish on the prowl. Watch this space!

Brisbane River - rain, rain,rain

The Tweed River Estuary – Boyds Island – 19 January 2012

Thursday

Fortunately the worst of the rain went somewhere else, but it had dumped plenty into our estuaries, so the options for fishing were not that good on Thursday morning. I decided to head south, for the Tweed River mouth. The tide would be high at about 6.00am (NSW) and would be running out all morning.

I started out on the north rock wall, at the river mouth. I was fishing with my heavy rig and from dawn through until about 6.45 am, I threw slugs and big soft plastics lures in all directions. I did not get a touch, so I decided to change tactics.

I went back to the car and drove around to Dry Dock Road to fish around the Mangroves and weed beds by Boyds and Turners Islands. I got out the light spin rod and reel and pulled on my waders. This area is fairy shallow but with a few deeper channels and gutters. It is good to explore on a falling tide, so that you don’t end up swimming back to the car. I waded along the edge of the Mangroves, casting soft plastics and small hard bodied lures. Despite the recent rain, the water was still clear and there was no shortage of small fish. Mullet, Whiting, Bream and small Herring were everywhere. Every now and then, I would come across a decent Bream, hovering beside a weed bed, but by then, I was too close to cast at them. I had a couple of bites and runs but after a few hours, I had covered plenty of ground and still not landed a fish.

The weather was perfect. The sun had come out and there was now a light breeze. I reached a point to the south where the water runs out of this area, back in to the Tweed River. It runs over a long sand bank in to the main channel. I loaded a fresh 3” GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and start to cast and retrieve it along the edge of the sand bank. First cast, I felt a decent bite, but I struck too soon and pulled the lure from the fish’s mouth. I cast back in the same spot and slowed everything down. Two jerks of the soft plastic and I felt another bite – I paused, counted to 10 and when I lifted the rod there was a fish on it. Nothing spectacular – a 43cm Flathead, but after about 3 ½ hours of fishing I was pleased to see it.

I then caught a few more, smaller Flathead. I moved along the bank stopping every few metres and casting into the shallows. There were plenty of fish here. Over the next 40 minutes I caught another six, but only two were big enough to add to the keeper bag.
It was now about 10.30 am and I made my way back to the car. Sometimes you need to cover a lot of ground to find them, but this is such a pleasant spot that it really was no hardship. I will be back here again soon.

The Jetty to Diamond Head – Caloundra – 17 January 2012

Tuesday

Finally, time for a fishing session and then the heavens opened. The rain just kept coming on Monday and more was forecast for Tuesday. It had to be Tuesday morning, so I drove up to Caloundra. High tide would be about 4.00 am, so I would have a few hours of fishing in the salty water, around dawn, before the run out tide, mixed with rain run-off, turned the water dirty and fresh.

It would be a big high tide for Caloundra at 1.8m. I decided to head straight for Diamond Head and to try my luck wading on the flats. I arrived, just after 5.00 am and watched the sun rise. The passage was lit up briefly but then the sun disappeared again behind some angry looking clouds.

The water was already a dirty brown colour and pretty murky. I decided to use a hard body, as I thought a soft plastic would be hard to distinguish. I picked out a 14g Strikepro Vibe that looks like a Herring. It’s the loudest lure I own and it is far from subtle but it usually annoys the fish into biting.
The tide was running out so I decided wade from the Jetty back towards Diamond Head, casting into the run out tide and pulling the lure back along the bottom in jumps and jerks. It was hard work as the big tide had picked up plenty of sea grass. It is also harder to know when you get a bite on a hard bodied lure, as the way it sticks in the sea grass feels just like a fish.

After about 40 minutes of slow wading and casting, I caught a Flathead on the Strikepro – just legal at 42cm – so it went in the bag for supper. I have been whacking on the kilos over Christmas – so a diet of steamed fish and vegetables is on the cards for a few weeks. Fortunately, catching them uses plenty of calories when it’s this hard.

I swapped to a 7g Berkly Frenzy Sinking Rattler in the Chrome Black colour. These lures look good but, so far they have not really produced the goods for me. I think their action is a little limited – which is often a problem with cheaper lures. They cast a good distance but seem to take a long time to find their rhythm on the retrieve. After a few casts, I felt a definite hit, so I persisted in the same area, on the edge of a weed bed. After about five casts in the same spot – I had a fish. It felt bigger than it was – a small bream, foul hooked through the back and above the eye. I released it and carried on.

I tried a 3″ Gulp Lime Tiger minnow soft plastic for half an hour and caught an undersized Flathead then switched back to the Strikepro, just as I reached the big drain at the mouth of the creek, by Diamond Head. The water was now a very dirty brown and getting cloudier as the tide got lower. I peppered the area with long, loud casts and eventually, after covering every inch of the area, the rod tip started wiggling. It certainly was not a trophy fish but it felt like it – another Flathead – this time a little bigger at 45cm.

I had dinner but it had been very, very hard work.

Caloundra – Golden Beach and Diamond Head – 9 January 2012

Monday

I was back in Brisbane and decided I needed to give the new Shimano Stella 2500 reel a saltwater workout. A warm northerly wind was forecast and it would be a big morning high tide. I decided to go for the top end of the Pumicestone Passage at Caloundra.

Start of another hot day at Caloundra

I waded out on to the sandbank in front of the Power Boat Club, just after dawn and fished a soft plastic all the away along it. I was using a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, on a 1/8th, 1/0 jighead. After about 30 minutes, I caught a very small Flathead.

I carried on wading north, towards the Gemini Towers apartments. There was plenty of bait around, small schools of Garfish and bigger schools of Mullet. I swapped to a Halco Scorpion 35 hard bodied lure. I have a few of these left over from my recent Tasmanian Trout fishing adventure and they have a great action in about 1 metre of water. As the soft plastics were not proving very successful, I thought I would see what the Flathead made of them.

As I moved away from the edge of the sand bank and into the shallows I could see the Whiting following the Scorpion in on almost every cast. After a few minutes an angry splash broke the surface and another tiny Flathead latched on to the Scorpion. On the next cast, an even smaller Whiting grabbed it. I thought I had invented a new sport – micro-fishing!

It was now about 7.30am and already stinking hot – fortunately the northerly was beginning to pick up and it provided some relief. The top of the tide would be at about 8.15 am so I decided to move to another spot.

Pike are always suckers for the Halco Scorpion

I drove down to Diamond Head and walked along the shore, casting along the edge of the weed banks with the Halco Scorpion. The big tide had thrown quite a bit of weed and the lure kept snagging. Then I started casting over the weed into the channel and on the second or third cast there was a tug and I caught a Pike.
I swapped back to a Lime Tiger Jerkshad soft plastic on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with the 8lb Nanofil line and a 10lb Fluorocarbon leader. I waded out on to the big sand bar and cast into the lumps and bumps on its southern side. After about twenty minutes, I finally felt the solid crunch of a Flathead bite. It took some line and but there were no obstacles for it to swim at. It made a few good runs and as it came into the shallows, it shook its head in a last attempt to escape. I pulled it up onto the sand – it was 56cm long.

55cm Caloundra Flathead

It was now about 9.30 am and I was cooking in my waders so I took them off, had a swim and then drove home. It was good to catch something and see so much bait around. I think the key to catching a feed at this time of year is to get out early and keep moving. By 10.00 am the Passage looked like Pearl Harbour – with boats, skis, kayaks, windsurfers, paddlers and swimmers all over the place.

Tasmania – Mossie Swamp Lagoon – 4 January 2012

Wednesday

It would be my last day in Tasmania. It had taken me the best part of a week to get the hang of a new style of fishing and just as I was beginning to work it out, it was time to go. That’s fishing – it just means you have to come back again – soon.
I had looked over the map and had found a canal that links the Pump Pond to Mossie Swamp Lagoon – another dam, near Taraleah. I had been having success fishing in the faster moving water at the mouths of the lagoons and canals, so I decided to go and have a look.

The weather was windy and had cooled off dramatically overnight, as a front was moving through. It had rained in the morning but, by the time I set off to fish, at about 3.00 pm the wind was dropping and the sun was out again.

I headed up the road to Lake King William, then parked and walked for 15 minutes, along a track to Mossie Swamp Lagoon. This was another beautiful spot and I stopped well short of the edge, to observe what was going on. Predictably, I could see two Brown Trout rising in the shallows, at either end of the dam wall. I cast out a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Rainbow colour on a 1/12th oz jighead and watched through my Polaroid glasses, as one of the Trout followed my slow retrieve all the way into the bank. I stopped the lure right at the edge and the Trout just sat 10cm away, staring at it – but it would not strike. I switched to a grub tail soft plastic and the same thing happened.

I decided to move on. I walked along another track through the forest that brought me out next to a broad, fast flowing canal with a couple of weirs on it. The bottom was weedy and the wall lining had broken away in places, so that it looked more like a natural river bank. The water was fast moving but there were lots of eddies in the shallows, at the sides.

I had run out of the Peppered Prawn coloured Jigging Grub soft plastics, so I reverted to an old favorite – the GULP 3” Minnow Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour. I cast it forward, up stream into the canal and gave it a couple of jumps as it sped back in my direction. The response was instant. A small Brown Trout raced out from the darkness and attacked the lure. It took two bites and then fled. I reeled the soft plastic back in, less its tail. I put another on and moved another ten metres up the canal. I repeated the process and after a few more casts, came up tight on a fish. It was another nice Brown Trout, about 30cm long. I photographed and released it.

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I walked along the river bank and past a weir. I kept casting and got plenty of bites from smaller fish and lost a few jigheads to the rubble and weed on the bottom. I worked my way through my soft plastics – the 3” Jigging Grub in the Camo colour, the 3” Fry on the Banana Prawn colour, the 3” Powerbait Minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour. They all got bites but the GULP Pumpkinseed Minnow Grub with its paddle tail, seemed to be the most attractive and I caught three more small Browns on this one and dropped two more, close to the bank.

I fished up and down this stretch of water until about 6.30 pm, when I simply had to leave. It had been a great afternoon and a suitable finale to a great week. I had spent a lot of time fishing for relatively few fish, but I learned a lot about the wily Tasmanian Brown Trout and I am already planning my next visit.

Tasmania – the Pump Pond Reservoir – 3 January 2011

Tuesday

Tuesday was a clear, still, hot morning. At about 7.00 am I drove back up to the Pump Pond and fished around the shore. The fish were there but they were not interested in the soft plastics in such clear, still water. I moved back down along the canal to the reservoir and fished the spot where I had found the fish the day before. I was now using the GULP 3” Jigging Grub soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour, I got a bite and a short run but the fish spat it out.

Swirling water in the Pump Pond Reservoir

I decided to try the other side of the mouth of the canal and moved around to a clear spot on the bank. I saw a fish rise and cast just up river of it. Before the soft plastic reached the bottom I felt the bite and then the line started peeling. This was a better fish than the day before and again it tried to get down into the weed.

The best Brown Trout of the trip - 42cm

I already had the drag set reasonably tight and the 6lb leader had been strong enough the day before, so I was confident enough to pull the fish free of the weed and up the bank. It was my best fish of the trip so far at just over 2lbs.

I fished on in a few other spots around the reservoir but could not find any more Trout, so I gave up at around 9.00 am.