Bribie Island – the Seaside Museum drain – Big Flathead – 26 October 2012

Friday

Back to Bribie Island on Friday morning, but I decided I would miss dawn and arrive closer to the bottom half of the run out tide. It was a perfect morning with a light northerly wind and a clear blue sky. High tide had passed at 7.00 am and I arrived at about 8.30 am.

I waded out just south of the main Jetty and cast around in the sand flats. As I drew level with the Seaside Museum a solid fish grabbed my soft plastic lure. I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead with about 1.5m of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The fish made a couple of runs but was soon safe on the sand. It was a good size – just under 60cm. I released it and cast out again and, after a few hops I felt another solid fish bite. I brought it in and even got a look at it, but when it realised it was headed for the shore it shook itself free.

I carried on casting in the same area and after about 15 minutes, I felt a good hit and I had another Flathead. This one was a little smaller, about 48cm. I photographed it and released it. Things went quiet for a while so I waded to the south. I caught two more undersized Flathead and one keeper (about 45cm), as I waded along, casting over the ledge. Each time, the fish were sitting on the sand above the ledge.

After about an hour and a half, I had walked down to the south end of the tidal lagoon and back up to where I had started catching fish in the morning, by the museum. It was now about 11.30 am and the tide was much lower. This made it easier to see the ledge and cast the plastic just over it and hop it back in. I was now using a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour.

I was about to give up for the day when I felt a tug, paused and then struck. There was plenty of weight and at first I thought I was snagged on the edge. The rod tip started wiggling and there was a slow steady run. I tightened the drag a little and tried to pull it over the ledge. At this point the fish woke up and put in three blistering runs out towards the middle of the Passage. I slowly got my line back and then tightened the drag some more to make sure I could get the fish over the ledge. I pulled it over and got my first look at a very big Flathead.

By now the fish was pretty tired but it still tried to change direction several times before I grabbed the leader and pulled it gently up onto the sand. It was a Monster. I have a 40, 50, 60 and 70 cm marked on my rod and it was much bigger than these – somewhere between 70 and 80 cm. It was also an unlucky fish because it had my jighead through the left side of its mouth and recent hook wound from what must have been a much bigger hook, on the right side of its mouth. I took a few photos and then released it. It paused in the shallows for a while and then took off at a healthy speed, when I waded closer.

That was it for the day. It has been a while since I have tangled with a really big Flathead and it had been another very successful fishing session. If you want to catch a Flathead on soft plastics, now is the time!

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Bribie Island – More Flathead from Bongaree – 25 October 2012

Thursday

I was stuck with my usual problem at Bribie Island. High tide would be an hour or so after dawn at about 6.00 am. I never know where to fish on the first few hours of the run out tide. Once the water comes flooding over the ledge (that runs almost the entire edge of the Pumicestone Passage) it quickly floods on to the sand flats. It brings plenty of hungry fish with it and I have caught big Flathead and other species in this shallow water, but it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start the search. It feels like there is just too much ground to cover.
The low tide was also getting higher and the tidal flow was slowing, as we moved away from the new moon. The wind was swapping around between northerly and south-easterly but it had been a fairly strong south easterly on most early mornings through the week.

By Thursday the wind was forecast to ease off a little around dawn so I started on the flats in front of the creek drain, which comes out under the bridge, by the Seaside Museum. At high tide all of the rocky structure is submerged and the Flathead move right up to the creek mouth to feed on what is being washed out. They like to tuck themselves in in the grooves in the rocks or bury themselves in the sand just beside them.

The wind was a strong south easterly and there where soon a few white caps on the surface. It was a stark contrast to the still waters of the week before. I fished around the rocky ground but did not get any hits so I waded south, to the new opening at the south end of the tidal lagoon. I cast around, but it was very windy. The bait was certainly not so thick and the big schools of Mullet had moved on.

I moved back to the south. Just passed the museum I felt a tug at my soft plastic – a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I paused but there was no fish there when I struck. Two casts later, in the same spot, the fish grabbed it again. I paused again and this time, when I lifted the rod tip, the fish was hooked. It was a good Flathead and it used the run out tide to make some good runs, but after a short fight it was on the beach. You have to be patient and wear them out when you are fishing with 10lb leader. The last drag up on to the sand can often be the point when the leader snaps. Everything held and this was a handsome fish, measuring just over 64cm. It was just after 8.30am.

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As the tide ran out, I continued south and found another three Flathead – between 45cm and 50 cm. I caught three on the Cajun Chicken Jerkshad and the last on a bigger Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Pumpkinseed colour. All the fish were caught on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I did not get a bite from the Pike or small Tailor so the bait really does seem to have thinned out.

Bribie Island – Bongaree Flats – 21 October 2012

Sunday

Sunday saw me back at Bongaree on Bribie Island, again. It was another morning low tide at about 7.00 am. I arrived at about 4.45 am and started fishing on the flats in front of Buckley’s Hole. The water was almost completely still and the midges were everywhere. The sun came up behind me and lit up the school of Mullet, that were finning around on the flats.

The first fish came just after the sun rose

I put on another small DUO hard bodied lure – the Spearhead Ryuki 50s. This is designed as a freshwater trout lure but it will catch just about anything. It is a 50mm long, sinking minnow and weighs 4.5 grams. It has a great wiggling action and is perfect when there is no weed floating around. I cast it towards the drop off and hopped it back along the sandy bottom. After about three casts I connected with a fish. The start of the fight is often very lively with the hard bodied lure – I think the trebles are more painful when they first get lodged and the fish reacts accordingly. It settled down and after a few runs, I had it on the beach. It was a 55cm Flathead. It was just before 6.00 am.

A 55cm Flathead on the DUO Spearhead Ryuki

Kenny arrived and explained that the Jewfish had been breaking the surface to lunge into the Mullet on Saturday morning. The fish were clearly listening because about ten minutes later there was a huge surge about a metre in front of us and loud boof, as a big Jew tried to engulf a Mullet or Pike. It must have missed, as it chased the bait over the ledge and up towards the beach before turning away.

DUO Spearhead Ryuki 50S – annoys the Flathead into striking

Kenny caught some Pike on a bait jig and put one out. We saw the Jewfish repeat its bait attack about 30 metres further north. I decided to wade north and fish around the drain in front of the Seaside Museum. I picked up another small Flathead – just under 40cm. A couple of guys had landed three good ones, a little further north. There were bust ups every 15 minutes or so at various points along the ledge. The bait was everywhere and the bigger fish were making the most it.

Plenty of rods in the water by 9.30 am

By 9.00 am there were rods everywhere and boats, kayaks and jet skis humming up and down. I decided to give up for the day.

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole Flats Jewfish – 19 October 2012

Friday

Friday was a very fishy day. I drove up to Bribie and headed straight for Bongaree and the sand flats in front of Buckley’s Hole. The large amount of bait that had been hovering over the flats on Monday and Wednesday had convinced me this was the place to fish.

I arrived just before 4.40 am and it was already light enough. The tide would be a very low one again, at about 5.40am. There was no wind, although it was forecast to pick up from the north, later.

I started at the drain in front of the museum. The water was completely still and the midges were thick. I started the day with another of my favorite DUO finesse lures. A small brightly colored hard bodied bibless lure – the Tetraworks Yurameki. It weighs about 7 grams which makes it about 1/5th of an ounce and DUO describes it as a ‘sinking pencil’. I like to retrieve it with a series of hops just above the bottom, with lots of pauses.

On such a low tide the surface of the ledge was covered by only 30cm of water. At the mouth of the drain this water was very muddy, where the run out from the creek was lifting the sediment. It was in this shallow water that I got the first fish of the day on the Yurameki lure. It was a Flathead – it was just about legal size but I threw it back in hope of a bigger one.

I fished this area for a while. There were several surface bust ups and each time herring or mullet would go flying in all directions. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken color on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and started to move south along the edge. I caught a few Pike in front of the car park, by the tidal lagoon but things went pretty quiet, as the tide slowed and turned in.

By about 7.00am I had reached the new opening at the southern end of the tidal lagoon. I was sure there would be Flathead around the drop off here. The water was clearer so I decided to swap to a 2” GULP Shrimp in the Banana Prawn color. I caught a good size Pike and offered it to a fisherman soaking a Pilchard nearby named Kenny. He put it out on three good sized hooks and we swapped a few fishing yarns.

I cast along the top of the ledge, into the run in tide and hopped the lure across the bottom, back towards me. On the third cast the line came up tight on a Flathead. It was just too small to keep – a little under 40 cm, so I let it go. A few minutes later I caught another in the same spot – this one was about 43cm, so it went in the bag. I swapped to a bigger GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour and caught three more Flathead about the same size, from the same location.

I swapped to a brighter coloured Satay Chicken Jerkshad and immediately lost the tail to what I think was a small Tailor. I cast out another and this time I landed a keeper size Tailor. Kenny had just pulled in the Pike. It had a chunk out of its tail and had been sucked clean of scales, like a lollipop. We decided the small Tailor would make a good replacement. Hooked through the nose, back and tail, out went the Tailor.

I carried on fishing with the Jerkshad and caught three more Flathead. I added the first to the keeper bag and released the others. A big mullet school was finning around, sometimes just on top of the ledge and sometimes out over the deeper water. Every now and then there would be a swirl and thrash, as something attacked from below.

The Tailor was still kicking then Kenny pointed to his rod tip which was slowly bending over. There were a couple of slow lunges as the fish mouthed the bait. Kenny waited patiently for a few moments. The fish started to pull and he let it have a bit of line, then he struck. The initial run was slow. Perhaps the fish had not realised it was hooked. Then, as it noticed there was a problem with its latest meal, it powered up and started a serious run. This was a big fish but Kenny’s gear was a match for it – good hooks, good knots, a big spool of solid braid and a 50lb leader. He tightened the drag slightly and settled in. Every time he applied pressure the fish did the same and initially it looked like stalemate. Then he started to get back some line and slowly, moved further north, where the drop off is smoother and sandier.

All this had happened in the space of about 4 minutes but it felt much, much longer. Now Kenny was making steady progress but as soon as the fish saw the ledge it put in another blistering run. We still had no idea what it was. It had been so slow initially that I had thought it might be a ray or shark but its subsequent runs had convinced me otherwise.

Kenny stayed calm and got the fish back to the ledge but it was not interested in coming over the top. On the third attempt we saw a great flash of silver and realised it was a big Jewfish. Kenny kept the pressure on. He got it over the ledge and walked slowly backwards towards the beach. The fish still had plenty of kick in it and there was some serious thrashing as it was pulled through the shallows to the sand. The whole process had taken about 8 minutes from start to finish.

It was a beautiful Jewfish that later weighed in at 13kg but looked a good deal fatter than that, lying on the beach. Kenny was stoked and I was delighted to have witnessed the capture. Hands shaking and hearts racing we took photos and then he set out to show the beast off. There is nothing better than converting small fish into big ones.

I had my bag of five Flathead but I carried on fishing for a while. I found a couple more small Flathead. As I was wading back north to the car I saw Pike flying everywhere then clearly saw a good sized green backed Mackerel chasing them up into the shallows. Before I could cast at it, it was gone. It made several more passes causing chaos amongst the bait schools, but it was moving too fast to target.

At about 9.00 am I decided to get the Flathead to the esky. It had been a very fishy day!

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole Flats – Whitepatch – 17 October 2012

Wednesday

Whilst fishing definitely delivers the joy in my life, unfortunately, it can’t seem to deliver the cash. Paid work has many evil consequences – less fishing and no time for a midday hammock session, to name a couple. But perhaps the most evil is the exquisite torture devised by the ATO – the tax return.

I have been fortunate to live in a few countries over the years and unfortunate enough to pay tax in most of them. Nowhere is the process more excruciating than Oz. I admit I have not tried North Korea – which is about the only place where I think they could make it more painful. I like the idea of the Greek tax system where 95% of doctors reported an annual income of less than A$ 9,000, last year – but then again, their economy has ended up a few chickpeas short of a bowl of Hummus. When I was in Indonesia we had to pay our income tax, in person, every year, with a sack load of cash. It seemed the tax collectors did not trust the banks to honor cheques, but it did not seem a particularly good idea from a corruption prevention point of view. In Hong Kong – I thought I had earned a fortune one year and was dreading the bill. I filled in the two page return (yes – just two pages) and got a letter back about three days later explaining that my paltry income did not exceed the tax free threshold and there was no need to submit further annual returns, until it did. You could almost sense their pity!

My other problem was that I took so long to do last year’s tax return that, in the blink of an eye, I received a ‘friendly’ e-mail reminder that this year’s is due. No wonder the unemployment rate is rising – much easier to pop down to the community bank – known as Centrelink and collect your ‘pay’. They will even do the tax return for you.

Spleen vented – on to fishing. I decided on Bribie Island on Wednesday morning. New moon had been on Tuesday and it would be a very low tide (0.1m) at about 4.00 am. These really low tides are great as they enable you to see the terrain you have been fishing, when there is more water around.

I started at the mouth of the drain, in front of the sea side museum at Bongaree. It was just after first light at about 5.00 am. Having seen the marauding Tuna on Monday I decided to start with a big DUO Beachwalker hard bodied lure on my heavy rod. I soon got worn out by that process and there was no sign of marauders, so I swapped back to my Loomis light spin combination.

I put a GULP 2” Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th, 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with about 1.5m of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. There was a school of mullet finning around on the surface, right by the edge of the drop off. I cast in to it and it was so thick that I jagged one through the eye. I threw it back and continued to walk south along the edge, casting parallel with the shore into the tide, that was now racing in.

It walked and then waded for an hour and caught a couple of Pike. By now I had reached the flats at the south end of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole. I was now fishing with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. The incoming tide had pushed me away from the drop off. As I was about to lift the plastic for another cast something grabbed it. I struck a bit too hard and pulled the fish quickly up to the surface, where it shook its head maniacally and spat the lure out. It was a keeper size Flathead.

I swapped to a bigger soft plastic – a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – black and pink. There is now a new opening in the sand bank at this end of the lagoon – which means there is a new drain as the tide runs out. I was right in front of this opening, standing in about 30cm of water, when I felt another solid thud. This time I was more gentle – but the fish was smaller – another Flathead just on 40cm. I took it to the sand, photographed and released it.

There was now too much water over the ledge so I decided to drive up to Whitepatch and fish the high tide. I drove down to the north end of the beach and waded back, to the south, casting in to the last of the incoming current. I caught a few more Pike.

As I reached the point where the black coffee rock is visible along the shore line I paused and concentrated a few casts in close to edge. On high tides the Flathead will sometimes move up close to these rocks. I was now fishing with the GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour – yellow and pumpkinseed. After a few casts I found a fish – another Flathead that was just over 40cm. I took a few snaps and flicked it off the hook.

It was now 11.00 am and time to give up. I had only caught two keeper fish but I had surveyed a lot of ground. There is still plenty of bait around so prospects look pretty good for the next week or so.

Bribie Island – The Oyster Jetty flats – 15 October 2012

Monday

A week away from fishing is far too long. I had time for a quick fish on Monday morning, so I drove up to Bribie at about 4.00 am and arrived just after first light at about 4.50 am. The tide was coming in. It would be a 2.3m high at about 9.00 am. The wind was forecast to be a southerly but it seemed to be a cool south-westerly.

A quick look at the flats on the mainland side of the bridge showed that I would be able to fish along the edge of the weed banks, to the south of the (newly repaired) Oyster Jetty, for an hour or so, as the tide came in. It is nearly new moon so it would be coming in fast.

The tide would run in fast


I was fishing with my Loomis GL2 light spin rod again. Unfortunately there was plenty of snot weed around, especially close to the jetty. I started with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour (red and yellow). I had a 12lb leader on, in case I came across any Tailor. The water was warm but the wind was cold.

The grey cloud masked the sunrise


The Loomis lets you feel everything the jighead touches and it took some time to get used to it. After a while, I could tell that the difference between a nibble and a jighead stuck in the weed again. Then, about 50 metres south of the jetty, just before 6.00 am, I had a solid bite and the line pulled tight. I was too eager and wrenched up the rod tip, pulling the jighead out of the fish’s mouth. Patience, patience – sometimes you have to go back to the beginning and slow everything down. If it was a Flathead, it was probably still there, or one of its friends was. I cast back in the same spot and after two hops I felt the faintest of bites. I dropped the rod tip and counted slowly to 10, then lifted it sharply. I had it this time. It was a small Dusky Flathead – just about 40 cm long. I let it go, hoping the fishing Gods would reward me with a better fish.

Back amongst the Flathead


Suddenly, there was a big surge about 10 metres away to the north and the baitfish went flying everywhere. Then there was another, about 5 metres further away. I wound in furiously and hurled the plastic in the direction of the splashes. It went quiet for a few minutes and then the same thing happened to the south of me. This time I saw the broad shoulders of a good size Tuna as it smashed into some Herring. I cast where I thought they were travelling but again I could not tempt them – they were moving too fast.

Swallowed that

I carried on casting around for Flathead, walking gradually further south. At about 7.30 am I was considering giving up when there was a swirl a few meters in front of me and another bait spray. Then I saw a good size Tuna coming right for me. I thought it would hit me but it swerved at the last minute and the small school flashed by, on either side of me. I was wading in just over a metre of water.

I have hooked Tuna from the rocks and beach but I have never landed one – so this got me really fired up. I have to get back out again soon with some heavy gear and bigger lures! Watch this space

Brooms Head Tailor – 29 September 2012

Thursday / Friday / Saturday

On Thursday I was still at Brooms Head and the northerly wind was forecast to blow hard. This had the advantage of flattening out the sea and, on the southern tip of the headland, you could still fish in the morning.

I started at about 5.15 am, just after first light. I had a look at the Bream spot. The water was not washing over it but with high tide just after dawn it was a bit too dangerous – a rogue wave could easily turn up and leave me soaked, if not worse. I cast a few soft plastics on the inside of the razor back but and lost a few tails but did not hook up with a fish.

The difference however, was the bait. Everytime the lure hit the water, in close to the rocks, bait would go flying everywhere. I thought there might be some Tailor around and another guy confirmed it by catching a 40cm Tailor, on a 65g Raider, on his first cast of the day.

I quickly swapped over to a DUO Tide Minnow in the purple colour, which has caught plenty of fish for me. After a few casts, I came up tight on a small Tailor – around 40 cm. I brought it into the rocks, but I was too keen, with the Catana light rod and I pulled the treble out of its mouth, just as I was about to lift it up.

I carried on casting and the bait kept scattering. A couple of times I even speared a baitfish with the DUO Tide Minnow. I carried on until about 8.30 am when I lost my beloved purple Tide Minnow to a rock. I gave up and vowed to come back the next day.

The northerly had been blowing powerfully all night on Thursday and it was still going on Friday morning but the south side of the Brooms Head platform remained sheltered and if anything, the swell had eased a little. I put on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and cast out next to the ‘razorback’. There was still plenty of push around the rocks so I swapped from a 1/8th 1/0 jighead to a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and cast out again. This did the trick and I soon had another good 32cm+ Bream at my feet. The tide was coming in so I decided to retreat and try casting a few slugs around. I had heard that someone had caught a couple of Kingfish the day before so I was keen to try for one.

I cast a few forty gram slugs and hard bodies and felt a few hits but I could not hook up. The bait was still there, but it was more patchy, hanging around close to the bommies. I think a forty gram slug is about the limit of the Catana’s casting capability and I doubt it would be able to subdue a Tailor or Salmon over about 45cm.

Saturday was my last morning and I was hopeful that the bait would bring in some bigger predators. I decided to try bigger slugs and use the heavy rig, 9’6” the Daiwa Demon Blood with the Shimano Stradic 8000. I found the Tailor but unfortunately they were all about 25cm long. I caught fish after fish on a whole range of slugs but they never got any bigger. Finally I threw out a GULP Jerkshad on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and it was monstered close to the rocks. The fish took off on a solid run but then suddenly it was gone – it had spat the hook. That was it for the day.

I feel I am gradually getting to know this spot. Who knows, in 20 years I may have mastered it.