Bribie Island – Sandstone Point flats – 26 March 2013


A good run of predominantly south-easterly winds and not much rain had me feeling confident on Tuesday morning. It was also full moon which meant plenty of tidal flow. It would be a 2.3m high tide at 8.46 am, at Sandstone Point, on the mainland, opposite Bribie Island. The wind was forecast to switch from east-south-east to north easterly in the middle of the middle of the morning.

I arrived at about 4.45 am and found the water lapping around the feet of the third set of bridge pylons and just covering the patch of reef to the south of the fifth set. The pylons are smooth and polished and the cleaning / survey process has created a few new holes around the footings.

I started with soft plastics – the GULP 2” Shrimp in the peppered prawn colour on a 1/8th, size 1 hook jighead. I cast around north and south of the bridge without result. There was not really enough water here yet.

I moved south, past the old oyster jetty and stuck with the shrimp soft plastic. The tide was not moving very fast so I dropped back to 1/16th oz , size 1 hook jighead. I aimed at the sandy drain area, just south of the jetty. I was casting at around in just less than a meter of water. The sun came over the horizon at about 6.00 am and I immediately started to get a few hits. I caught a small bream about 25cm and then another two. The peppered prawn shrimp was hanging off the jighead, so I swapped to a banana prawn coloured version.

After a few casts, this produced a big Pike – perhaps 35cm long. Then, at about 6.45 am I felt a bigger fish attack the shrimp, as it sank. It took a little bit of line and then settled down. It had a strange tail beat and I could not figure out what it might be. After a few lunges I pulled it in closer and could see it was a nice tarwhine – about 35 cm long. It’s strange action in the water was probably due to the fact that it only had half a tail. I kept the tarwhine and caught a few more bream, all in the same spot, before the incoming tide pushed me back towards the mangrove line.

On a full moon the flats towards Sandstone Point are covered in a metre of water for a solid couple of hours around the high tide. This gives the fish plenty of time to move up in to the area looking for bait. I decided to wade along the mangrove line, in the direction of Sandstone Point and see if I could find them. I stuck with small GULP soft plastics in the natural colours, smelt, pearl watermelon, peppered prawn and banana prawn. There were plenty of long toms cruising around and they were the first takers. They are hard to hook but once they are solidly connected they put on an impressive aerial display – thrashing and leaping around. More often than not their sharp teeth just sliced through my 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

By about 8.00 am I had waded all the way round to Sandstone Point and the water was so deep that it was only just possible to continue fishing along the mangrove line. I turned around and started wading back to the north east. I pulled up one small (less than 35cm) flathead, who was lying close to the edge of the mangroves but the rest of the fish interaction was with the long toms. By the time the tide turned at 8.45 am I was back on the corner at the sandy drain.

As the tide started to run out I focused on this area. I tried a few brightly coloured GULP jerkshads but these did not produce anything so I swapped back to a natural coloured offering – the GULP 2” shrimp in the banana prawn colour. I also swapped to a heavier 1/8th 1 jighead, as the tide started to run out. This did the trick and after a few long tom hits, I connected with a sold fish that turned out to be a 55cm flathead. I kept casting around this area and after another ten minutes, I found two more 45cm versions.

By about 9.45 am I was close to the old oyster jetty again. I was now using a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The water is still full of sediment on these big tides and the bridge cleaning barge was out again, further stirring things up. I was fishing from memory, aiming my casts at areas where I thought the weed beds thinned out and dropped off to sandy bottom. I pulled up another good flathead, about 60cm.

As I reached the bridge area I put in a few final casts with the same soft plastic and found my fifth keeper – a flathead – about 50cm long. My apologies, I did not have my camera with my while I was fishing today. You will have to make do with a couple of pictures of the bagful that I took with my phone, when I got back to the car.

It looks like the south-easterlies are gradually bringing the water temperature down which is firing up the traditional winter species. If the weather behaves there should be some great fishing over Easter.


Bribie – Under the bridge and on the flats – 19 March 2013


The wind has now been persistent from the south for some time. This is usually a good sign. Although it can push the swell up, in my experience, it makes fish a little easier to find. The problem on Tuesday was that it was forecast to blow up to about 20 – 30 knots, which would make fishing almost impossible.

So I was limited to fishing in the calmest period – the very early morning and decided to go back to the flats, by the Bribie Island Bridge. There is a bridge survey or cleaning process going on at the moment. Divers are spraying the barnacles/ oysters off all the pylons during the daylight hours. This would either scare the fish off or create a great berley mix to bring them in.

I arrived just before 5.00 am. Low tide would be at 0.9 m at 8.24 am. The moon was about 60% full and so the tide flow would not be very strong. The wind was a south-easterly, blowing about 10 knots.

There was still plenty of water lapping at the mangroves. I stood in the shadows and rigged up with a small GULP Alive split tailed grub, in the Smelt colour. I found a few tubs of these in a NSW fishing shop a couple of years ago, but I can no longer remember what they are called. They are probably about 2” long and have proved pretty useful when the fish are fussy.

I cast to the north, into the darkness and let the lure sink to the bottom. I got a few hits and pulls, but did not hook up. I kept casting and after a while I caught a couple of small Moses Perch. Ten minutes later, the same soft plastic attracted a small Flathead. I was now sure I was fishing in the right place and I think the previous days pylon blasting had created some good berley.

I kept casting around the same area and at about 5.40 am I connected with a solid fish. It took some line and I tightened the drag a little, to keep it away from the pylons and then the mangrove roots. When it was worn out I towed it up, onto the oyster covered area of beach, under the bridge. It was a good-size flathead, about 55cm long.

I fished on and caught a couple of bream (both about 30cm) and a couple more much smaller moses perch. I swapped over to a 2” GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the banana prawn colour. I was still fishing with a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The thick dark clouds obscured the sunrise and just after 6.00 am, I found another small flathead lying at the base of one of the bridge pylons.

I moved south towards the oyster jetty and got rained on by a passing shower. By 8.15 am I was about half way between the oyster jetty and the channel marker. I had had a few grabs from fish that I thought were long toms, but could have been pike or small tailor.

I was now fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour, which has proved effective recently. Suddenly my jighead caught on something. It made a very slow run. It was not very heavy and I slowly pulled it to the surface. It was a very ugly spiny puffer fish, hooked through its eyebrow. It kept spitting jets of water at me, but after a while I shook it free.

Another massive rain cloud was now headed in my direction so I decided to wade back to the car. I had caught a few fish but had only really secured one keeper – the 55cm flathead. Still, on balance I would say the fishing is getting better.

Bribie – The oyster jetty flats – 14 March 2013


The wind had finally blown the rain away. It had turned round to a south-westerly and was quite cool on Thursday morning. It had been forecast to drop right off but was still pretty persistent in the trees as I drove up to the Pumicestone Passage. I arrived at the small car park, on the mainland side of the Bribie Bridge at about 4.30 am. The sky was clear for a change.
The tide was still running out but had slowed right down. Low tide would be at 4.52 am. I waded out under the bridge lights to find Colin (a local Bribie fishing expert) in position again – there are some big advantages to living 5 minutes away.

He was fishing to the north of the bridge so I took the south side. The water was murky and still and there was no sign of any bait. At this time, there is usually a fair amount jumping around, but there was not much water under the bridge lights and it was now almost still. The water was very dirty – as you would expect it to be on the bottom of the tide. I realised that I have not seen a dolphin in the area for a few weeks which may mean there is no bait for them to chase, but it could also be that the water is still a little too fresh for their liking.

I tried a white coloured GULP Jerkshad and then a more natural coloured smaller, 3” Smelt Minnow soft plastic. I rigged both on 1/8th, 1/0 jigheads and I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader down to 6lb Fireline in the luminous green colour. There are now a number of different colours available in Fireline but this green colour is the easiest to see in low light. I got snagged a couple of times and re-rigged with various soft plastics.

I did not get a touch from any fish but for the first time in weeks, I was treated to a magnificent sunrise. This is a great time of the day to be out and about. I waded south and fished along the edge of where I thought the weed beds would be. It was hard to see where I should put the lure with the sun low on the horizon and the water so murky. The tide started to run in and gradually picked up pace. As it did so it lifted bits of loose weed and debris so I could not swap to fishing with small hard bodies. I thought these might have a more success in the shallow dirty water.

Just after 7.00 am, I was half way between the end of the old oyster jetty and the green channel marker, in about waist deep water. Having tried a few brightly coloured plastics and few natural coloured plastics, I had swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. This is a black colour with a bright pink underside. The tide was running in so quickly that I had put on a heavier 1/6th oz, 1/0 jighead. This also helped me figure out quickly where the edge of the weed bed was. I carried on casting up, into the incoming tide and bouncing the lure along the bottom, with lots of long pauses. At about 7.20 am I felt a pretty solid hit and saw some bait fish go flying. I cast back in the same spot about 6 or seven times – nothing. On cast number eight, there was a surge and splash and the fish took the lure, almost on the surface. It was a small flathead – under 40cm. I was relieved to find it. I took a few pictures and released it.

I continued south and stuck with the same soft plastic. Perhaps the dark silhouette was the only thing that was working in the sediment filled water. It was a big tide and now it was a little short of half way in to the run in and the water was getting too deep to stay close to the edge of the weed. Just short of the green channel marker, there is an exposed sand bank and just to the north-west, there is a drain where water from the bay floods in. This must be why the fish congregate here. Without looking, I knew I had reached it because the water temperature dropped a few degrees and I instantly felt the change, through my waders. I turned back towards the oyster jetty and kept moving. After about another 15 minutes I found another flathead of about the same size. It did not put up much of a fight. I photographed and released it.

I waded slowly back to the bridge, casting as I went, but I did not catch any more fish. I arrived at the bridge at about 8.45 am and the wind had picked up again. A tough session – the fish may be reluctant, but they are there.

Brisbane River – Pinkenba – Boggy Creek – 13 March, 2013


I did not have time for a real fishing session but I wanted to do a recce of some local spots. You have to keep your eye on things so that when the weather is difficult, or you only have limited time, you still have a few locations to try.

Boggy Creek, at Pinkenba, is a shallow muddy water way that runs along next to the oil refinery, near the mouth of the Brisbane River. It is not a particularly picturesque spot, but it has produced some great fish for me and it is always fun to catch stuff so close to the city. I have caught bream, tailor, pike, flathead, cod and even a 6 kg jewfish. I have also seen a few good size mangrove jacks pulled out of the water.

I had a couple of hours around lunch time so went down to have a look. I arrived about 11.00 am, just after a big high tide. I started by casting soft plastics under the bridge. The water was very murky, as it often is here. After a few minutes, a big school of bait (looked like small mullet) passed under the bridge. They were being harassed by something from underneath. A few minutes later a big school of bigger mullet passed through.

The bait came and went and there was plenty of it. The occasional prawn skittered past. I lost a few jigheads to the rocks, shopping trolleys and car tyres under the bridge and did not get any strikes, so I move towards the mouth of the creek and cast around from a gap in the mangroves. I had a few double tap strikes from small bream or perhaps tiny tailor, but I did not hook anything.

The GULP minnow range matches the bait profile

The GULP minnow range matches the bait profile

The GULP minnow profile is a pretty good replica of the real thing

The GULP minnow profile is a pretty good replica of the real thing

Boggy Creek bait - a good copy of the GULP minnow

Boggy Creek bait – a good copy of the GULP minnow

Boggy Creek - a great Brisbane River fishing spot

Boggy Creek – a great Brisbane River fishing spot

The mosquitos where thick and were pretty successful at biting through my long sleeved fishing shirt. After all the rain, don’t come down here without a head to toe covering in Aerogard. After a couple of hours, I gave up. By now there were a few keen anglers using their lunch break to chase a few.

The bait was everywhere and I would think this spot is definitely worth a fish at dawn and dusk when the bigger predators will be around. I’ll be back.

Bribie – Under the bridge/ The Seaside Museum creek drain – 11 March 2013


There is still a strong south-easterly blowing and it is still dumping rain on us. New moon is Tuesday and with all the recent rain the Bream should be around. With the big tides and the top up showers that water is not clearing up as fast as I thought it would.

I went for an early start again, as the hour before dawn has produced the best fishing recently. The wind was forecast to get stronger through the day, so I had a very limited choice of locations. I decided I would rely on the bridge lights at Bribie again.

I arrived just after 4.00 am. Low tide had passed at 2.50 am. The water was already running in fast and it was very muddy and weedy. I started with a GULP 4” minnow in the smelt colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I started on the south side of the bridge. I cast into the shadows and slowly hopped the plastic along the bottom, under the lights.

I spent 30 minutes methodically covering the ground to the south of the bridge. I did not get a touch and I did not see much bait moving around. At about 4.30 am, I moved round to the north side of the bridge. There is a good channel here, between two rocky patches. It is very difficult to get your lure to move along the bottom without getting snagged, but if you can leave it in the strike zone long enough, you are in with a chance.

On my first cast I got snagged. The water is shallow enough in this area to wade over and retrieve the lure, but if I did that, I would spook any fish in the vicinity, so I had to break it off and re-rig. I tied on the same lure again. But this time I put it on a 1/6th oz, 2/0 jighead. The water was running fast and even though I was more likely to get snagged, I wanted the lure on, or near the bottom, all the time.

I stayed in the shadows under the bridge and after a few casts, a flathead grabbed the plastic, just over a metre away from me and took off. It hooked itself and I steered it over the rocky bottom to the shoreline. It was just over 50cm and it was 4.57 am.

I swapped to a GULP 4” shrimp in the banana prawn colour (gold). I kept casting around the area and after about 5 minutes, I caught another flathead, just a little smaller than the first.

GULP Shrimp in Banana Prawn for the second one

GULP Shrimp in Banana Prawn for the second one

At about 5.15 am, I crossed the bridge to the other side of the Passage, to see if the bridge lights on that side offered any fishing opportunities. The weed banks in this area seem to have either been washed away or covered in sediment. There is a storm water drain that empties fresh water into the Passage just under the bridge – this will have been flowing pretty constantly recently. I waded up and down but did not get a touch. A big rain shower passed over just when the sun should have been coming up and all the time the wind was building.

I swapped locations again and had a quick cast around by the Seaside Museum creek drain. I spent about 40 minutes here but did not get a bite. By 8.00 am it was too blowy to carry on so I packed up. I had caught a couple of fish but would kill for some flat, clean water to fish in!

Bribie – Under the bridge – again – 7 March 2013


The rain is moving off but the strong south-easterly winds are persisting. The brief lull in the wind around dawn is the only time to fish. Back to Bribie and the same area as Tuesday. The tide was bigger and higher as we moved towards the new moon. It would be a 2.2 m high, at 5.44 am.

I arrived at about 4.30 am and found local expert – Colin, rigging up with the same idea. We both thought we would get a bit of shelter from the wind in this area and take advantage of the bait that is drawn to the bridge lights. I started on the north side but after 20 minutes, I had not had a bite so I moved to the south.

There was more bait jumping around on the south side, but nowhere near as much as there had been on Tuesday – no idea why. We both cast around for about 40 minutes but neither of us got a bite.

Colin decided to go off and try another spot. I moved a little further to the south. I swapped to a DUO Realis Shad 59 MR – a small suspending hard bodied minnow lure. I chose one with a white belly and blue back. I put in a couple of casts close to the bridge pylons, working the lure back against the wind. On about the third cast, a fish hit the lure on the pause, but did not connect. Three casts later, with the same lure in the same spot, the trebles lodged and I had the fish. It was a small Flathead, a little under 40cm.

I hoped there were more but I could not find them. I waded a long way south, past the oyster jetty, casting all the time. I swapped back to soft plastics, as the floating weed kept clogging the hard body. I fished for another hour before the wind became too annoying.

It was a pretty disappointing session but DUO had at least saved me from scoring a duck!

Bribie – Under the bridge – 5 March 2013


The rain is easing but it is just being replaced by howling south-easterly winds. The only real option would be to fish the couple of hours either side of dawn, in a fairly sheltered location. So it was off to Bribie again, to fish the area under the bridge, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, as the tide fell.

I arrived at about 4-45 am to find I was not the only mad angler wetting a line. A couple of fishos were on the bridge casting to the north – a few pylons out. A couple of good jewfish have been landed from the middle of the bridge, at night, recently. The favoured technique is to fish with very heavy gear then drop a grappling hook down once the fish is worn out. This strikes me as a pretty tough proposition – but it does work.

I rigged up and waded along the edge of the mangroves, to the south of the bridge. The wind was from the south east and was blowing around 15 knots. The water was dirty and running out, against the wind. High tide had been at about 3.00 am.

I started by fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour, on a 1/8th oz, 2/0 jighead. There was a bit of surface action on the edge of the pools of light, cast by the bridge lights. Every so often, I could trace the path of a cruising predator by the scattering bait fish. There were some pretty big surges and splashes which made me reluctant to wade out further.

I had no luck with the brightly coloured Jerkshad, so I made a counter-intuitive switch to a 3” GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. This is a gold colour that would not really stand out at all in the sediment rich, murky water. After about ten minutes of casting without result, I switched my attention to the deeper water, just out of reach of the bridge lights. I carried on peppering the area and was about to swap soft plastics again when I felt a solid bite and a few moments later, I set the hook on a good fish. As I pulled it in between the mangroves, bait went flying everywhere. There is plenty of food around. It was a good flathead, about 55cm long and I kept it for dinner. It was 5.10 am and its possible that the sun was trying brighten the sky but the clouds were too thick.

The heavens opened and I retired under the bridge. The fishos on the bridge had disappeared – probably washed away by the relentless rain. I started casting to the north and gradually moved along between the pylons. It was now a little lighter and the rain had stopped. The water was getting dirtier as the tide ran out. As I cast out, around the base of the third bridge pylon, I felt a good bite, but did not connect. I cast back in exactly the same spot and got hit again, still no hook up. I cast another ten times in the same spot gradually slowing the retrieve right down and increasing the length of my pauses. On the eleventh cast I felt the solid bite of a committed fish. I dropped the rod tip and slowly counted to ten. After what seemed like an eternity, I lifted it and felt the lure lodge in the mouth of the fish. The rod bent over, I felt the resistance and the tip started wobbling. I waded back to the shoreline and safely landed my second flathead. It was a little smaller than the first, just under 50 cm. It was 5.23 am. I also kept this one for dinner.

I swapped to a 4” GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I concentrated in the same area, around the third pylon. At 5.34 am I caught another flathead, almost exactly the same size. Three fish is about right to feed my mob for dinner.

It was now light but the sun could not break out above the clouds and the rain showers just kept coming. I persisted in the same area but things seemed to go a bit quiet, as the traffic on the bridge built up and the water receded. I swapped down to 3” GULP Minnow in the Smelt colour and moved a bit further out, to the south of the bridge. I felt a couple of taps and then hooked a small Bream. It was now just after 6.00 am. A few casts later the same plastic produced flathead number four. The smallest of the morning, but it was still a healthy fish, at 47cm.

I waded south, past the oyster jetty and on to the windy flats. The sun almost emerged above the clouds but the now howling south-easterly immediately blew some more rain clouds in, to block it out. One of these gave me a thorough soaking and despite casting around for more than an hour, I did not get a bite out here.

Just before 8.00 am another nasty black cloud opened above me and I decided to call it quits. It had been a successful morning but the wild weather had made it a challenge.

Bribie – under the bridge – 28 February 2013


Midweek, the rain was easing off, but we have had so much that the estuaries and Moreton Bay are a muddy mess. Thursday morning looked like it might be worth a fish.

Full moon had passed on Tuesday and I expect the jewfish would be cruising around in the dirty water. Unfortunately, it would be a low tide around dawn. This would mean the water would be at its dirtiest at the optimum fishing time.

I decided to return to where I had caught fish last week – the flats around the old oyster jetty, just south of the Bribie Island bridge, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. I know I fish here a lot but it has been one of the most consistent fish producing spots for me over the years.

As I left Brisbane just after 4.00 am, it was drizzling. Then as I got on to the highway it really started chucking it down. Fortunately it was just a passing shower and I arrived at Bribie at about 5.00 am, just after low tide. I rigged up, pulled on the waders and wandered out under the bridge, in the dark.

The tide was a low low – about 0.4 m, because of the moon phase. The water’s edge was a long way from the mangroves. It was cloudy but the black sky was just beginning to turn grey in an attempt to signal dawn. The water was like milky tea in the shallows, but there was a bit of bait jumping around and the occasional prawn skittering across the surface.

When the water is as dirty as this I have no idea which colour soft plastic to go with. A hard bodied lure with a rattle or vibe would probably be best, but this area is very rocky, so that would have to wait. I decided to try a GULP jerkshad in the white colour on a 1/8 th oz, 1/0 jighead. It was tied on with 10 lb fluorocarbon leader.

On the first cast I felt a bump and saw a bit of movement behind the lure, in the water. I cast back in the same location and on the first hop, I had a fish. I could not figure out what it was. It was quite heavy and slow but made a few quite powerful quick runs – maybe it was a soapie jewfish or a ray. There are a number of oyster covered boulders in this spot so I took my time. It tired pretty quickly and I dragged it safely on to the mud. I was fairly surprised to see a stonker Luderick at my feet.

As most fisho’s will know Luderick are a largely vegetarian fish who prefer to eat green string and other weeds. They will also sometimes take live yabbies. They have tiny mouths and are usually targeted using weed, tiny hooks and very light leaders, under floats. This one was very hungry or perhaps, very confused by all the rain. It was a good fish and it later weighed in at a little over 1.5 kg.

I cast around this area in the shallows with a variety of soft plastics – big and small. I felt a few more touches as the sun poked over the horizon, but I did not hook up. I waded further south, casting as I went. There were more attacks, probably from the small moses perch or bream that hang around here. I passed under the jetty as the tide started to run in.

The hardest thing about wading in such dirty water is that you cannot see any contours on the bottom. I am always looking for the edge of weed beds or the small humps and channels that are dotted around this area. In these conditions you are just casting at where you think they are. Sometimes the surface movement of the water will help you but really, you just have to keep prospecting with long casts and slow retrieves.

The tide was now running in strongly but there was not much debris or weed floating by. I swapped to my DUO Ryuki Spearhead 45s. It’s a small sinking hard body that has been catching plenty of fish for me lately. I particularly like this gold/ green coloured one. It is looking a bit battered as it is rapidly becoming my favourite – that usually means its days are numbered! I was now casting over the sea grass so I had to keep the lure moving. I could only pause momentarily, to allow the fish to strike, every few seconds. The lure kept catching clumps of sea-grass on the bottom, but that just proved I was at the right depth – just off the bottom. At about 6.45 am the skies had clouded over again and it looked like it would rain yet again. I persisted with the hard body and thought I had a few knocks. I was about to swap back to a soft plastic when I felt some resistance and saw a splash. I lifted the rod tip and the lure caught in the mouth of a small flathead – just under 40 cm long.

I released the fish and decided to swap back to a soft plastic lure. I tied on a GULP jerkshad in the orange tiger colour. A paddle tail soft plastic might have been better in these conditions but I did not have one with me. I continued south, wading against the incoming tide, towards the green channel marker. I was soaked by another shower. The water was running in fast but it was no cleaner. I was casting towards the middle of the Passage and bouncing the soft plastic along the bottom until I felt it hit the edge of the weed beds. At about 7.10 am I felt a fish snatch the plastic and take off on a short run before dropping it. I stayed put and spent the next five minutes peppering the same area with casts. As I paused on one of the retrieves I felt a small hit, then a proper bite. I dropped the rod tip, then struck. It was another flathead. When it emerged from the cloudy water I could see it was only about 35cm long.

I was wet through and there was clearly more rain on the way. I trudged back to the car, dreaming of crystal clear waters and sunny skies. If you are prepared to get wet and fish blind there are things to catch – but it is not much fun at the moment.

Watch “Tips: Soft Plastics for Big Lizards – Warren Keelan” – 28 February 2013

I am quite often asked if I have seen any good videos on catching flathead on soft plastics. I like this one. I don’t raise my rod quite as quickly or aggressively on the retrieve and I tend to fish with lighter jigheads, but this is a very good example of the general technique. I hope it helps.