At last the cooler (and hopefully drier) weather is beginning to show itself. I love this time of year. Dawn is later so I become slightly less nocturnal and the fishing improves exponentially with the cooling water temperatures and the more consistent south-easterly winds.
It was back to Bribie Island – my home fishing territory. I was in position under the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at 5.00 am, about an hour before dawn. Low tide would be just before 9.00 am. This is the ideal tide situation for fishing these flats. The tide is about halfway out and running nicely. The fish have moved up into the shallows during the night with the high tide and are now gradually retreating. They stay in shallower water in the pre-dawn light, as they still feel fairly safe.
I cast around but the water was already too shallow directly under the bridge lights, to warrant fishing that area, so I gradually moved up, past the old oyster jetty and concentrated on an area of weed banks, about level with the end of the jetty. There are sandy hollows in the weed and when the water depth is just right the flathead like this spot.
I started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and my Loomis GL2/ Shimano Stella 2500 spinning outfit. It was still dark. It was now just before 6.00 am. There was just a faint glow on the horizon. I put a few casts out into the shallows and the fun started. The first fish was a good one – a flathead, just over 55cm long. I was going to release them all today but this one had half a tackle shop hanging out of its mouth, so I put it in the keeper bag. It looked like it had swallowed at least one hook and had some pretty heavy trace with another broken hook hanging off it.
I cast out again and felt another bite, but did not connect. On the next cast, I caught it – another Flathead – but this one was just a baby – about 30cm long. I kept going in the same spot and about 5 minutes later, I felt a good fish connect. This was another good fish, a little over 60 cm.
The sun was now up and I gradually moved further to the south. There were a few long toms around and these would occasionally attack the soft plastic. I caught another undersized flathead at about 6.30 am and then things went quite for about an hour.
By 7.30 am I was about half way to the green channel marker. I had swapped to a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour. The water had started fairly clear but as we got closer to low tide it became murkier. Suddenly I felt a solid bite and I was on to another fish. I pulled it on to the sand. It was about 45cm. I then caught a couple more, of about the same size, on the same soft plastic.
I was sure there were more fish in the area but after another 20 minutes of casting, they seemed to have calmed down or perhaps, grown wary of the soft plastic. I swapped over to a small hard-bodied lure – the DUO Realis Shad 59MR. I have had success with the lure in this area before, but today I was using a new colour – purple/ silver called HD Gill. It is a 4.7 gram, 59mm suspending minnow with a great action. It will hover for a few seconds at the end of a swim and maintain its depth, to about 1.5 metres below the surface.
This soon stirred the fish up. I worked it along the edge of the weed beds, out by the channel marker and soon started hooking up. The first couple of fish were small. I turned back and covered the same ground I had been over with the soft plastic jerkshad and after an hour and half, I had caught six more flathead. They were all over 45cm and had all attacked the Realis Shad 59MR.
By about 9.45 am I was back at the bridge. I had three of the better fish in the keeper bag for a meal and I had really enjoyed the session. Early in the tide the water had been very clear and there had been no rain – let’s hope the fishing and weather stays this good.