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!