A quick fish in the Hunter River – Newcastle – 19 February 2012


Unfortunately paid work has been interfering with my fishing again. Last Sunday night I found myself in Newcastle and luckily enough, I packed the travel rod. I have been using a Berkley Nomadic Spin rod when I am on the road. It fits in the travel bag and although the tip is a bit too soft, it works pretty well.

I wandered down to the rock wall at the mouth of the Hunter River at about 6.30pm. I walked out onto the rockwall, but it was a bit too breezy to fish out the front. I moved around to a more sheltered patch, on the south bank of the Hunter River and rigged up. I was using 3.8kg Fireline, 10lb fluorocarbon leader, a 1/8th 1/0 jighead, loaded with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour.

There were a few Pelicans chasing some bait and as the sun went down, there were a few surface bust ups. It was a fairly rocky bottom but there was a drop off a few metres out and I concentrated my casts in this area. I got snagged a few times and then had a few bites. After about 20 minutes I felt a bite and struck. I had a small fish on, that turned out to be a Tailor. I caught a few more as the sun dropped.

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I moved further towards the mouth of the river but still kept losing gear to the rocks. I caught another small Tailor and then just on the edge of the rock line I caught another fish. I am not sure what it was (see picture) but it was spotted like a cod and I think I have caught similar around Iluka. I let it go and fished on for a while until it was dark.

It was fun to fish a different location and I would love to try the rockwall on a calm morning.


Bribie Island – Under the Bridge – 9 February 2012


I drove up to Bribie Island for an early morning session, arriving just before 5.00 am. Low tide had been at about 4.00am, the moon was just off full and the water was still very dirty from all the rain. The tide was not running very fast. I decided to fish under the bridge on the Island side.

The recent big flows have created a nice drop off that runs along parallel with the shore, about level with the first bridge pylon. There are thick weed beds along this edge and there are nearly always bait schools holding above them.

I started with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was still fishing with 8lb fluorocarbon leader. Every so often, I could hear the loud echoing ‘boof’ of something feeding near the surface in the middle of the channel, under the bridge. It was not the Dolphins – so I am assuming it was a school of good size Jewfish.

Flathead near the Bribie Island bridge

I cast along the edge of the bank and after walking north of the bridge for a few metres, I caught a 40cm Flathead. It had been sitting in the weed. As the sun came up I waded further north. There was plenty of bait, and something was attacking. I cast parallel with the shoreline, towards the bridge and hopped the plastic along the bottom. About 15 minutes later I had another Flathead. This one was about 45cm long.

40cm Flathead on a soft plastic minnow

As the sun got higher the tide really started racing in. It was picking up lots of loose weed and it soon proved impossible to fish this area. The wind had now picked up so I decided to give up.

Caloundra – Bulcock Beach, Golden Beach and Diamond Head – 7 February 2012


Caloundra was my destination. I drove up from Brisbane, leaving just before 4.00 am and arriving at the northern end of the Pumicestone Passage, just before 5.00am. The moon was full and it would be a very big high tide – 1.9m, just before 8.00am.

The tide was running in strongly and the sea was fairly choppy – there was a lot more breeze than the forecast 10 knots west south-west. It was too wild to fish the mouth of the Passage so I walked Bulcock Beach, flicking a soft plastic lure along the edge. About half way along the beach, I felt a solid bite – but did not connect. I was using the 4” Gulp Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and still using the 8lb leader. I cast out in the same spot and this time the fish hit the lure on the drop. After a brief fight I pulled it on to the sand – a 40cm Grunter Bream – snorting away. I looked for more but could not find any, so at about 6.00 am, I moved on.

I drove down to the sand bank in front of the Power Boat Club at Golden Beach. The tide was really moving now and the water was really stirred up. There was a very obvious line were the clearer, incoming saltier water met the brown-stained fresher water. The big tides have also started to spread the loose sea grass around, making fishing with the hard bodied lures trickier. I flicked around with a small bibless vibe lure but it kept getting clogged, so I swapped back to a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I fished for about an hour without a bite and covered a lot of ground. Eventually I caught a 36cm Flathead on the edge of a weed bed. As I was wading back out, the bait scattered and a good-sized Queenfish lept clear of the water. I cast all around the area but it did not come back. This was turning into hard work, so I decided to move again.

I drove down to Diamond Head and waded out onto the sand flats just to the north of the creek mouth. I swapped to a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. I cast at the weed beds, using a slow ‘lift and drop’ retrieve. I felt a few bumps and nudges on the first few casts, in each location. I kept moving and after a few minutes I connected with a fish. It hit the lure hard, but it was a Bream – about 25cm long. I caught 3 more, around this size, over the next 30 minutes, then it all went very quiet.

I carried on until about 10.00 am and then gave up. The rain has obviously brought the Bream out to feed, but the big tides and dirty water are still making the fishing difficult.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – 3 February 2012


Bribie Island - more wild weather

Gentlemen’s hours today – arrived at Bongaree at 7.30 am. Sometimes it is great to focus on the same area over a few consecutive fishing sessions. It enables you to really understand the food chain, water quality, influence of the tides and wind, etc.

The contours of the sand flats and tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole at Bongaree, on Bribie Island, have changed dramatically over the last 3 or 4 years. When I started fishing this area, back in 2007, the tidal lagoon used to empty into the Passage about 200 metres further south of its current position. There was a well-defined coffee rock ledge that ran for about 100 metres on either side of the lagoon mouth.

Now the lagoon empties into the Passage further north. It is gradually creeping up towards the fresh water creek that drains out by the new Seaside Museum. Over recent years there has also been a build-up of sand along the coffee rock ledge, so that it is less well-defined. I think the wild storms and floods we have had in the last couple of summers have caused this. In the dry years that preceded them, the natural flow of the Passage carved out a more obvious ledge along this stretch and gradually washed the sand south into the bay.

Overall I think this ever-changing landscape is great for fishing, different species come and go as a different mix of bait turns up. As the holes and ledges keep moving around they are not so easy to find and don’t get over fished.

This creek mouth is an ambush spot for Flathead

This morning I focused on the north end of this area – the drain by the Seaside Museum. There is often a Flathead or two here. There is always plenty of bait around the drain on a high tide. Small Bream, Whiting, Herring and Pike, with occasional small schools of Tailor, that pass through.

Bribie - Bongaree Flathead - just under 50cm

The water was Tea Tree stained but quite clear. It was just after high tide so I could only wade a few metres out from the base of the rock wall and cast at the sand bank along the southern edge of the creek outlet. I was fishing with a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. The 8lb leader had been working well for me this week so I stuck with it. After a few casts I felt a bite, paused and struck – to quick, I missed it. Then it grabbed again and this time I did the full count to ten. When I lifted the rod, the fish was on. I pulled it back to shore, a 48cm Flathead. As I was measuring it, it gave me a good spiking then, wriggled off the rock wall, down to the water and won its freedom.

I waded south, almost all the way to Red Beach, slowly casting plastics and hard bodies in all directions. Over the next three hours, I had a few very small bites and caught a couple of Pike but could not find another fish to take home. As the tide started to run out strongly, the water quality deteriorated and by the time it reached about 11.30 am, it was very dirty again. I couldn’t see any evidence of the weed beds that used to dot this area and I presume that they have been washed out by the big rains and high seas. As low tide approached there were plenty of soldier crabs around so I would think the Whiting and Flathead would be somewhere nearby.

Plenty of soldier crabs - near Red Beach

At about noon I gave up – it had been another disappointing fishing session and land-based fishing this summer is proving hard work.

A big Bribie Mother – the old Oyster Farm Jetty and Bongaree – 2 February 2012


I could start early on Thursday morning and be fishing on the top of the incoming tide which coincided with dawn, at about 5.30 am at Bribie Island. I started on the mainland side of the Bribie Bridge at about 4.45am.

Just as I waded out into the shallows it started raining. I sheltered under the bridge. The water was not really running in either direction. I started with a 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The fishing had been tough the day before so I stuck with the very light, 8lb fluorocarbon leader. I rigged the plastic on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I cast around under the bridge lights for about 15 minutes. There were a few surface bust ups and every so often a Pike would jump out of the water.
The rain stopped and I moved a few metres south of the bridge and cast underneath it. I felt a good solid crunch and paused – then lifted the rod and I had a good Flathead. I walked it back to shore – a 55cm fish – good start.

I waded down toward the old Oyster Jetty, casting all around as I went. I passed under the jetty and just south of it I paused to have a few casts, close to the Mangroves. I have often seen some big Flathead ‘lies’ in this area, surprisingly close to the tree line. They must come up to very shallow water on the bigger high tides. It is tricky to fish this area. There is a big rocky patch next to the jetty, that starts about five metres from the high water mark so you can easily get snagged.

I cast out beyond the rocks and slowly retrieved the soft plastic. It stopped abruptly and felt like it had hit a rock. Then it slowly started moving again, but there was tension on the line. Then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz pause zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz pause zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I did not have the drag very tight but this was clearly a big fish. I was only fishing 8lb leader so patience would be the key. First I waded out over the rocks, so that they would not pose a problem. Then I tightened the drag a little. There was another long run and by now the fish was about 50 to 60 metres away heading for the rocks, opposite the end of the Oyster Jetty. I tightened the drag again and started winding faster. The fish slowed and I turned its head and started pulling it towards me. I moved south, away from the rocks near the shore and looked for a gap in the Mangroves. There were a few more runs as the fish came into shallow water. I dropped the rod tip down under the water to make sure I did not pull the fishes head up. A couple of headshakes would probably snap the leader at this stage. Then I slowed everything down. I did not want to pull this fish up on to the shore until it was played out. I kept the tension on but I let it cruise around while I found a nice sandy run up to the shore. Then I tightened the drag once more and slowly moved towards the shore. When I was a couple of metres away I reached down and grabbed the leader. With one long slow pull I pulled the fish onto the shore.

The leader snapped as soon as it had to move the whole weight of the fish, but by then she was on the shore. A beautiful Flathead, just on 75 cm long. I released her after a quick measure and a few snaps and she swam away, ok. A great fish.

It started to rain again, I went and had a cup of coffee to settle my shaking hands. When the sun came out again, I drove down Bongaree and decided to fish the mouth of the drain opposite the new museum. The Japanese lure company DUO have sent me another box of goodies to try out and I picked out one that has been very successful on Flathead – the TETRAWORKS BIVI. It is a 3.8g bibless sinking vibe lure with a very tight vibration action. I chose the orange/ bronze colour. I stuck with the 8lb leader and started working the lure over the sand bank that is on the south side of the drain. I work this lure so that it moves along for about a metre then drops to the bottom. Then I pause for a few seconds and do the same again. After a few casts I caught a really tiny Tarwhine ( 10cm). I moved a bit further out and started casting at the area where the drain runs out over the coffe rock ledge, which forms the edge of the main channel. A fish struck just after a pause in the retrieve. It immediately broke the surface and started shaking its head – it was another Flathead. It was safely hooked and I got it to the shore. It was another good sized fish – just under 60cm.

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That was enough for one day and I headed home. It had been the best fishing session for some time. If you are interested in knowing more about the DUO range and where you can find them, please contact sales@swldistributions.com.au.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – 31 January 2012


Back up to Bribie Island and Bongaree – but early in the morning this time. Unfortunately, I would be fishing the dirty water on the bottom of the run out tide. Low tide was at 8.30 am. I arrived on the Island side of the bridge just before dawn, at about 4.45am. The last bridge light is out at present – so I could not see much action but I could hear plenty of surface activity.

I started with a small popper but this just kept collecting weed, so I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour. This did not produce a bite so I swapped to a bigger 4”Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. As the sun came up, the surface action slackened off and I decided to move down to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole.

The water was still stained a dark brown and was very murky but it was already much clearer than the day before. I put on a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour, on a 1/8th1/0 jighead. I was fishing my light spin outfit with a rod length of 8lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader, tied on to 8lb braid. The plastic got a few hits and then connected with a fish. It was a Pike, which I had hooked through the back. I released it and felt a few more bites on the next few retrieves. Then I caught another fish – a very small Chopper Tailor. I swapped to the same soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and this time, I caught a small Moses Perch.

There were obviously plenty of small fish around so there should also have been some big ones nearby, but I was having trouble finding them. I waded up and down, casting over the edge of the ledge that runs along here. The dirty water meant it was hard to see where the drop off was, so I prodded in front of me with my rod.

At about 6.30 am I was wading north and I had almost reached the drain that empties into the Passage, just south of the new museum. By now I had swapped again to the GULP 4” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour – I thought the silver fleck might help in the murky water. I felt a tug, but I struck too soon and pulled the lure out of the fish’s mouth. I cast back in the same place and slowed it all down. After a few twitches – bang, another bite. This time I did the full slow count to ten and then set the hook – the fish was there and I had it. I kept the drag loose and waded slowly back to shore. It was a Flathead – 52cm, no monster but at least I had one fish towards dinner.

I carried on wading south. When I was about level with Buckley’s Hole, I lost a few tails from the soft plastics and then caught another small Tailor. Every now and then something would send the schools of small Tailor flying up towards the beach – but whatever it was did not show itself. As I could not see my own feet in the water, I decided to remain in the shallows. Could have been Mackerel and then again could have been something nastier!

By about 10.30 am I was no closer to finding another Flathead and the northerly breeze was stirring up the water, so I gave up.