The tide was all wrong but the fish were around, so I decided on Bribie again. We would have a 2.2m high tide at 8.05 am. This would mean the tide would be just over half way in, at first light.
I arrived just before sunrise and wandered south along the shoreline, on the mainland side of the bridge. I passed the oyster jetty, casting soft plastics on the flats on either side. I felt a few tugs in the area just south of the oyster jetty, but I could not hook up with anything. I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader.
I find the last of the run-in tide the hardest to fish, land-based, at Bribie. You can no longer reach the various drop offs on either side of the Pumicestone Passage. The fish move up quickly but suddenly there is no obvious structure for them to hide in; they spread out over the open expanse of flats and it is difficult to know where to concentrate your efforts.
As I thought about where to fish a huge flock of cormorants came into land. I have never seen a group as big as this before. They settled on the water for a few minutes then took off again.
In this area the only obvious structure is the slight drain that runs round the corner from Sandstone Point. Even this seems to be gradually silting up at the moment. This is where I decided to focus my efforts. The water was flowing round the corner from the south. I stood beside the mangroves and cast to the south, in the direction of the long, now submerged, sandbar.
It was now about 7.00 am. After a couple of casts, a fish grabbed the plastic, made a short run then it let it go. This also happened on the next cast and I saw the familiar snout of a long tom, following my lure in. I cast a little more towards the south east and when I took up the slack I had a fish on the line. I set the hook and it took off with the current. I soon had it under control and waded back to a gap in the mangroves. It was a good flathead, about 50cm long. I let it go.
I waded back to the same spot and cast out again. I continued fishing this area as the tide came up. I swapped to GULP Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. After a few casts the line pulled tight again and I had another flathead, about the same size. It was about 7.30 am. In the next twenty minutes I dropped two more fish and caught one smaller one.
Things went quiet around the tide change so I decided to wait out the slack water over breakfast and coffee. I waded back to the car and went off for breakfast. The wind was picking up from the south-east, but it was a beautiful morning.
By 10.00 am I had waded back to almost the same spot that I had been fishing earlier. The water level was much lower but I put in a few casts anyway. After about 10 casts, I caught another 45+ cm flathead, on a GULP Jerkshad, in the Satay Chicken colour.
The tide was now running out strongly and the big sand bar, down by the green channel marker, was clearly in view. With the wind behind me, I could reach the edge of the main channel and the sea grass beds, with some long casts. I started to make my way towards the green channel marker, casting as I went. I hooked a stingray which towed me around for a while and then broke me off. I also connected with an spiky puffer fish which grunted, spat jets of water at me and fluttered round in circles for a while before cut the line and got rid of it.
I re-rigged with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. The water was now really running and lifting more and more sediment as the tide got lower. This did not seem to bother the fish. I averaged one every 15 minutes or so, for about the next three hours. The colour of plastic did not seem to matter. Most were around the 40 to 45 cm size, but there were several more 50+ cm models amongst them.
At about 1.30 pm, I had to tear myself away – always hard to do when you are catching fish. I had caught more than 15 flathead through the morning and it does not get much better than that!