Bribie Island – Under the Bridge – 26 June 2012

Tuesday

The wind was forecast to start blowing but not until about lunchtime. There was also rain forecast, but unlike the summer downpours, the steady drizzle does not really put the fish off. In fact, I think it can work in you favour, by breaking up the surface of the water and disguising your approach.

You will all be relieved to find out that the tax return is finally done – much more painful than having a tooth pulled and far more expensive!

So I wrapped up warm and set out early. I arrived at Bribie at about 5.30 am and decided to start fishing on the island side, under the bridge lights. There are some good weed covered sandbanks forming just north of the bridge and also a couple of holes, just to the south. This area gets fished a lot and it is also a favourite spot to cast a net for some live-bait. You therefore need to get here early to stand a chance of finding it undisturbed. The fish renew with each tide so a run out tide around dawn is a good time to fish here. Low tide would be at 8.00 am so this morning looked good.

I started fishing with the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead with 12lb fluorocarbon leader, tied on to 8lb braid. Unusually there was not much surface action. There was plenty of bait in the water but the Pike did not seem to be present. I cast around to the north of the bridge for about 20 minutes with no luck, so moved to the south side.

One just before dawn

Just on first light I felt a good hit as I pulled the soft plastic cover a weed bed. I dropped the rod tip, paused and counted to 10. I count to 10 pretty fast on the first fish of the day. I lifted the rod tip and set the hook. After a brief fight, I had the first fish of the day up on the sand – a nice Flathead about 50cm long. I released it – the family are in revolt, demanding red meat for a few days. I cast back in the same spot. My lure was hit again, as it sank but this time I was too quick and failed to pause, I struck to soon and did not hook the fish – just pulled the soft plastic out of its mouth.

Just after dawn

There were a few smaller Flathead today

I tried but I could not persuade that fish to try again, so I moved to the north of the bridge. It was getting lighter now and raining, but not heavily. I waded along the edge of the weed bank, casting back, up into the tide, which was still running out. I soon found another Flathead – this one was about 35cm – I let it go and moved on.

I paused in front of the rocky patch, beside the boat hire place and concentrated on this area for a while. This paid off and after a few casts, I caught another 50+cm Flathead. As the tide slowed, things went quiet so I drove back across the bridge and waded out to the flats beside the old oyster jetty.

A pretty dismal morning weather wise

I spent another hour wading in this area with the same soft plastic lure. I caught 4 more Flathead, of which two would have been big enough to keep, at about the 50 cm size. It was now about 8.45 am and the rain started to get serious. It was now too cold and wet for me so I gave up.

Another Bribie Flathead

Unfortunately, it is rubbish weather for the school holidays. But this means there are less boats about and the fish are out there – if you can stay warm and dry long enough to find them.

Perfectly hooked

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Bribie Island – The oyster jetty to the channel marker – 23 June 2012

Saturday

Now there are a whole host of reasons why it would be inappropriate to do your tax return at the weekend – so it will just have to wait until Monday.

The weather looked like it might be on the turn and you have to fish when you can. It was not quite so cold on Saturday morning but the wind was forecast to pick up. I drove back up to Bribie Island and arrived on the mainland side of the bridge at around 6.00 am.

It was still dark and the tide was out. I had a few casts by the bridge but could not raise a bite. I walked along the water line until I had passed the old oyster jetty. Low tide had passed just before six. Here at the edge of the Passage, the water was still slowly running out over the exposed seagrass beds.
I was back to the soft plastics and started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I cast out and slowly retrieved the soft plastic along the bottom with plenty of pauses. I felt a few small bites and lost a bit of the tail on the soft plastic – probably the Pike.

I moved a bit further south, casting along the edge of the weed beds. The sun was trying to get over the horizon but the scattered low cloud ensured a gloomy, cold start to the day. As it gradually got lighter, I could see where I wanted to cast and not long afterwards I had my first fish on the line. I dragged it up to the sand – it was a Flathead just under 50cm long.

I carried on casting in the same area and had a couple of solid bites and then hooked another Flathead who spat the lure just a few feet from me. I carried on south and swapped to the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. About ten metres further south, I found another Flathead but it was only just 40 cm, so I put it back. On the next cast – in exactly the same spot, I was rewarded with a bigger one, about 45cm so I kept that one.

The fish in the fridge has all been consumed so I needed to re-stock. I think the 45cm to 55cm fish really taste the best. At this size, you get reasonable size fillets and the flesh is still very tender. Flathead is definitely a favorite in our house – which is fortunate!

I kept moving in the direction of the channel marker and over the next hour, I caught 5 more Flathead – only two of which were too small. With my bag full it was now time to experiment.

I tried a small popper – with no luck. I switched to a regular ¼ oz blade lure and this caught a Pike. Then I tied on the DUO Tetraworks Bivi again. Predictably the Pike got stuck in and I caught three or four. I then slowed the retrieve down and shortened the lure hops. I kept pulling up weed but I persisted. I felt a bit of resistance and then the line started peeling – this was a big fish and it was heading for the main channel. But it was moving very slowly and something did not feel right. I tightened the drag and it started to come towards me. After about three or four minutes I saw a great flap come out of the water and realized it was just a big stingray. Eventually the lure pulled free and of it went.

I now turned back towards the bridge. On the way to the car I kept casting the small DUO Bivi. Just short of the jetty I felt a solid bite and saw a Flathead come to the surface, angrily trying to spit the lure out. It may have succeeded because the line went slack for a moment but then came up tight again. I set the hooks hard and let the fish have some line. It was not too big but there was plenty of structure nearby, so I dragged it back towards the muddy shore and away from the rocky patches. I pulled it up on a sandy patch. The DUO Tetraworks Bivi had finally managed to catch a Flathead. I had my five so I removed the trebles (with my pliers) and sent it on its way.

The keeper bag was heavy and I needed a hot drink so at about 8.45 am, I gave up and headed for the car. It had been another good land-based fishing session.

Bribie Island – the Seaside Museum Drain – 22 June 2012

Friday

Bugger the tax return – back up to Bribie. I arrived at about 8.30 am. High tide would be at about 11.00 am, so I was fishing the run in tide. There was not enough water over the flats around Sandstone Point, so I decided to try fishing on the Bribie Island side of the Pumicestone Passage at Bongaree.

I started in front of the Seaside Museum. I waded along the sand bank at the mouth of the drain and cast over the edge of the drop off that runs along here. There was plenty of bait around and every now and then it would scatter, as a predator came up from below. These bust ups would happen at the edge of the drop off. Probably the passing schools of chopper Tailor or the resident Pike.

The tide was not ideal. There was too much water and I could not really make out where the drop off started. I got snagged plenty of times on the edge. I moved further north, towards the jetty but could not find anything here. I tried big and small soft plastics, hard bodies and even a tiny popper – but I could not find a fish.

Friday's wading route

Friday’s wading route

I drove down to Woorim and round to Skirmish Point for a reconnaissance. There should be some Tailor hanging around here by now. And I have also heard about a few Tuna captures. I walked out to the beach and wandered up and down, prospecting with a big soft plastic and spooked plenty of bait. I will have to come back just before dawn one day.

After a good run, I could not find the fish today. Tide? Location?, Wind? Lures? – too many variables in fishing – that’s what keeps it interesting!

Bribie Island – Sandstone Point Flats – 20 June 2012

Wednesday

Unfortunately, the tax return has had to be re-prioritized again. I am sure the ATO will understand. On Wednesday, the weather was just too good and after a great session on Monday, I had to get out there again. I could not start early, so I arrived at Bribie at about 8.45 am and decided to head out to the same general area I had fished on Monday.

High tide was at 9.45 am. I had done well on Monday for the first few hours of the run out tide. I decided to head round the corner from the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, towards Sandstone Point and fish the areas around the mangrove islands. This is quite a good spot if there is enough water over it.

I slowly waded across the flats, casting as I went. I tried a few plastics without success. This couple of hours around the tide change can be a bit slow with the Flathead. I certainly think they are more likely to feed when the tide is running over them with a bit of pace. I switched to the DUO Bivi Tetraworks hard body vibe lure, in a red/ purple colour, to see if I could stir things up. This worked almost immediately – but it was the Pike again. I caught some small ones and then there was pause and a selection of bigger ones arrived. The last one was well over 40cm long. I decided I could not get this lure passed them to the Flathead, down below, so I swapped back to a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour.

It was about 10.15 am and the tide was just beginning to get going. I was beside the mangrove island (see picture). I found some sea grass beds and started casting along the edges. Suddenly I felt the solid thud of a Flathead bite. I paused and then struck, the fish did not do much – in fact, I thought I was snagged. After a few seconds, it woke up and took off. There was nowhere to land it, and I have plenty of fish in the fridge, so I pulled it in and took a couple of pictures and released it. It was a Flathead, a bit over 50cm long. I moved further around the island and caught a few more, all about the same size.
Then I hit a quiet spell and I swapped to the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I had been fishing with the 1/8th 1/0 jighead all morning. Not sure if it was the change of soft plastic or just changing my position, but as I turned back out towards the green channel marker, I found more fish. Over the next couple of hours, I caught four more, all between 45cm and 55cm and released them all.

At about 12.30 pm I headed back, past the oyster jetty, to the car. It had been another great session in perfect weather.

Bribie Island – The Oyster Jetty to the channel marker – 17 June 2012

Monday

I had to do the tax return on Monday. But one look at the weather and I decided that Wayne Swan would have to wait another few days. Fishing conditions were perfect. I could not start early so I arrived at the Bribie Bridge just after 8.30am. It was just after high tide. There was no real wind and the new moon was due on Tuesday. The water was very clear despite the recent high winds.

I got straight down to business with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jig head. I was using my light spin rod and had it loaded with 8lb braid and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I waded out to the north of the bridge, on the mainland side. The Flathead come right up to the edge of the mangroves on a high tide and this was what I was looking for.

It started with Smelt

It was a 1.8 m high tide which is a fairly ‘low’ high tide for this area. I waded out a bit further on the north side of the bridge to cast at the rocky area, just in front of the third set of bridge legs. The lure bumped on a few rocks and then the line went tight and started wiggling. It was a 44cm Flathead and my first decent fish for a while.

Under the Bribie Bridge

The first decent fish for a while

I moved south towards the oyster jetty. The tide was just starting to run out. I cast all around the rocky reef just south of the bridge, with no luck. As I got a bit closer to the jetty I felt a solid bite. I paused, counted to ten, then struck. This one was a bigger Flathead – just under 50 cm. It tried a few headshakes, as I waded up into the shallows, but I soon had it landed by the mangroves.

Also took the Smelt colour

Then came a bigger one

I moved under the oyster jetty and continued to cast out into the Passage. I was casting into the run out tide and working my lure back along the bottom with the flow. I felt a good bite and cast back in the same spot. This time I saw the Flathead follow the plastic but it turned away at the last minute. I kept casting at the same spot and felt another bite, but I just could not hook it.

I swapped soft plastics to a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I moved further south, over the sand flats towards the green channel markers. At about 10.30 am I felt a solid hit and the line started peeling. This was a bigger fish and it had grabbed the lure on the drop, so it was a long way away from me. The tide was running out but there was still no nearby sand bank to land the fish on. I decided to play it out and try and grab it – this usually ends in tears – with me getting a quick spike and then dropping the fish. This time, I let the fish make lots of runs and then maneuvered my keeper bag, like a landing net, under the fish. I shortened the line and pulled the fish into the bag. I then took out the hook in the bag. This was the best fish of the day at just under 60cm.

This one took a Cajun Chicken

I continued wading across the flats and soon caught two more Flathead on the same soft plastic, about 50cm long. With a full bag it was now catch and release for the rest of the day.

A bag of Bribie Flathead

A bag of Bribie Flathead

I had reached a sandy patch by the green channel marker and decided to try the DUO Tetraworks Bivi small hard body vibe lure. After a couple of casts I found some Pike. The lure may have worked on the Flathead but the problem was getting passed the Pike. I caught seven Pike in ten casts and realized that I was not going to beat them.

The DUO Bivi could net get past the Pike

I swapped back to a GULP Jerkshad – this time in the Satay Chicken colour. The Pike left this alone so I turned around and started to wade back in the direction of the old oyster jetty. At the edge of the weed banks I found the Flathead again. I caught another six on the way back to the bridge – all were legal size, from about 50 to 60 cm. They all went back for someone else to catch.

Satay Chicken for this one

The weather was perfect and the fishing matched the weather – shame about the tax return!

Conditions were perfect

The spectators were unimpressed

Bribie Island – The bridge and surrounds – 5 June 2012

Tuesday

I was back on local turf and although the wind did not look promising at least the rain was holding off. At 4.30 am I set off for Bribie Island to see if I could find some Flathead. Looking back over the blog and my fishing diaries, May to October have produced by far the best catches of Flathead for me. I have been busy with other things this year, so I hardly fished in April and May and I am planning to make up for it in June / July.

I started under the bridge on the mainland side with my light spin rod and reel: Loomis GL2 and Shimano Stella 2500. I was using 6lb braid and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I started with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour.

It was about 5.15 am and the tide was just starting to build up momentum for the run out. There were a few jumps on the surface under the lights. I cast at them and felt the odd bump and grab, as the smaller fish made their inquiries. I caught a small pike that jumped clear of the water to grab the plastic. Then I got snagged on the small piece of reef just south of the bridge, so I decided to give the small DUO Tetraworks Bivi vibe lure a try. I picked an orange coloured model and tied it on. I love this lure. It has a great action at low speed and a good profile. Fish will often grab it as it is paused on the bottom. In this terrain I had to keep it moving or I would lose it to the rocks. After a few casts, it did the trick – a tiny Flathead grabbed it, just to the north of the bridge. I got rid of the fish and carried on. I caught a few more Pike but could not find a better fish.

After about 30 minutes of peppering the area with casts, I moved across to the other side of the bridge and had a fish around the lights. The tide was running in now but the wind was blowing all the weed and debris across into this area, so it was difficult to fish with the Bivi lure. There is now a nice ridge in the sandbank along here and some good weedy patches. There are nearly always Pike along here and I caught a couple. Then a small Whiting grabbed the Bivi lure – there was no shortage of variety.

As the sun came up I moved down to the sandy drain in front of the Seaside Museum, towards Bongaree. I fished along the edge of the tea tree stained water that was running out of the drain. I had been monstered by a big fish here, a few weeks ago. It had grabbed a big plastic (Jerkshad) and taken off. I only had the light rod and could not subdue it. Today, I started with the DUO Tetraworks Bivi and, after a few casts it produced another fish. Unfortunately, it was another tiny Flathead. I swapped back to a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Satay Chicken colour. I cast around, gradually moving to the south, along the drop off. I felt a few bites and lost the tail from the Jerkshad. I swapped down to a GULP3” Minnow in the Nuclear Chicken colour and something grabbed it on the first cast. It was another small fish and I could tell by the mad headshakes it was a Tailor.

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The water was now too deep to fish along here. I stopped for a chat with Colin – who always has his finger on the Bribie fishing pulse and he brought me up to date on what is biting where. It is good to know someone is keeping the Flathead on their toes. There have also been a few bigger Tailor and the occasional Jewfish around. As the water temperature drops there should be a few more Tailor.

By now, the wind was up but I was too cold. I went off to find a hot cup of coffee. It was a beautiful, if breezy day and the massive full moon had been clearly visible all morning. Nothing for dinner though! I think I am paying the price for not putting in the hours – fishing can be a hard taskmaster.

Yeppoon – Double Head – 27 May 2012

Sunday

On Sunday lunchtime I had to fly home from Rockhampton. In Yeppoon, it had rained all night and was very cold but by Sunday morning the weather was perfect.

I did not have much time so I decided to return to the rocks at Double Head. I arrived just before dawn and followed the path out to fishing ledges. It was about 5.45 am and low tide would be around 8.00 am. I set up with a small 20g metal slug. I was fishing with my Berkley Nomadic 1-4 kg travel rod and a 20g slug is about as big as you can throw. As the sky started to change colour, I cast the slug in all directions but could not raise a bite.

At about 6.15am, the sun was just coming over the horizon and suddenly the bait fish started leaping around, in close to the shore. I was now fishing with a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the purple and black colour. I felt a few solid bites, but could not hook up. I down-sized to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Nuclear Chicken colour, on a 1/8th 1 hook, jighead and carried on casting. I was now using only 10lb leader in my desperation to land a fish.

Once the sun was up the bait activity died away. The water was a milky mess with all the fresh water from the night before pouring out of the creeks. I moved around the headland casting in all directions but the water was now very dirty on the bottom of the tide. Finally I hooked up with a small Bream but I failed to find the monsters this spot is famous for.

By noon I was on the plane heading for Brisbane and already planning my next trip to this part of the world. Hopefully the weather will be kinder next time.