Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 23 May 2013

Thursday

I was back in Brisbane and keen to fish at Bribie Island again. I wanted to see if the Flathead were still around, so I drove up, just after dawn on Thursday morning. The wind was light, but cold from the southwest. I had come through lots of fog on the drive up but by the time I reached the Bribie Bridge, the sky was clear.

I started on the island side of the bridge, fishing from the bank, without my waders on. The water was very clear and the tide was slacking off. It was about 6.30am and it would be high tide at 7.32 am. I tried a few plastics here and felt a few bites, then lost a few tails form various soft plastic lures. Small Tailor or Pike are usually the culprits in this location.

At 7.30 am I decided to warm up with a coffee while the tide turned. This period of slack water does not produce many fish for me so I decided to wait 30 minutes. Then, I drove back over the bridge, to the mainland side and pulled on my waders.

It was now about 8.15 am and there was still plenty of water at the mangrove line. As I waded out into the clear water I was shocked at how cold it had turned in just a few weeks. Unfortunately, the bright sunshine and clear days have triggered the algal bloom (snot weed) in the weed beds and this will soon be a pain in the neck.

There was plenty of bait in the shallows and I waded south to the oyster jetty. I started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. My legs were already cold after ten minutes in the water and I backed out on to the shoreline to warm up.

In the crystal clear water I could see a very fresh looking flathead lie. I paused at the jetty and put in a few casts just south of it in the shallows. On the second cast a fish hit the plastic hard and then dropped it. I dropped the rod tip hoping it would have another go – and it did. It took off but was nicely hooked. When I subdued it and pulled it closer I could see a nice, 60cm flathead in the clear water. I pulled it up on to the shoreline and put it in the bag for supper.

I moved to the south and swapped over to a Zman Minnowz in the Rednone colour and fished around the base of the mangroves, near the drain that empties off the flats. After a few casts I had another good flathead – this on measured just over 50cm.

As the tide receded I moved further south, towards the channel marker. Over the next three hours I fished with both the Zmen and the Gulps and caught another 9 flathead. I kept 3 more, all around 45cm, to fill my bag for a good family fish feed. Of the 9 only two were undersize.

The fish had been quite spread out but they kept coming. It was a couple of days before the full moon and the tide I was fishing had been the smaller of the two on that 24 hour period. This moon and tide combination seems to be proving pretty a pretty successful fishing period for me.

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Yeppoon – Byfield National Park – Corio Bay – 12 May 2013

Saturday

Paid work had left me in Rockhampton on Friday, so I decided to have a go at fishing in Byfield National Park, over the weekend. I have a new car – an FJ Cruiser – the perfect fishing car. I love it – great clearance, plenty of power and a hose out interior. I needed to give it a workout and to get it dirty and Byfield, with its many creek crossings and sandy hills, looked like the perfect spot. There had been plenty of rain, so there would be water in the creeks, but the sand tracks would have firmed up.

I set out before first light on Saturday and drove from Rockhampton to Byfield. I grabbed a cup of coffee and breakfast in Yeppoon and arrived at the Waterpark Creek causeway, that leads into the park, at about 7.30 am. Water was flooding over the causeway. According to the depth markers it was about 400 mm deep – no problem for the new motor. You have to watch this spot when there are showers around, as a lot of rain runs off into this creek. The water level can rise very quickly and leave you stuck on the wrong side.

I had wanted to visit Five Rocks Beach but due to the recent wet weather, the tracks in that direction were closed. I headed for Nine Mile Beach, instead. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the beach from the causeway. The biggest obstacle is a climb up a big sand hill. The track was a bit churned up towards the top but it was fairly firm. I am not sure that the old Suzuki Grand Vitara would have had the clearance to make it, but the FJ rolled over the top.

Nine Mile Beach is spectacular and looked particularly wild with the grey clouds rolling in. The wind was howling so I decided to drive down the beach to find some shelter and fish in Corio Bay. At the end of the beach there is a small track that leads across the back of the headland. I took this and found some sheltered water. I believe this area is Corio Bay. The rain kept coming over in squally showers.

I took out my light spin rod and reel and wandered along the mangrove fringed banks of a sandy channel. In between the mangroves, rock bars protruded into the channel at regular intervals, forming a couple of small bays. The tidal variation is huge here, often rising 5 metres from low to high. By the time I started fishing it was about 11.15 am – low tide had passed at about 10.30 am. The water was dark grey and very muddy. The area looked very fishy and I heard a few big gulps, in the eddies around the edges of the rock bars – could have been cod or even a barra – who knows?

I started with a Zman Minnowz in the Houdini colour, on 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I lost a few soft plastics and jigheads to the rocks. I re-rigged with the same plastic and cast out and suddenly a fish connected, tight against the rocks. It pulled hard and kept taking short determined runs. I thought it might be a cod but it did not stop still, like a cod would. I got some line back, but it was now under an overhanging rock and I could feel the line rubbing. I did not have the power to pull it out with the light rod. I saw a flash of silver but could not identify it and then it must have loosened the jighead against the rocks, and it was gone.

I decided to try something a little more colourful and tied on a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour – a mixture of yellow and pumpkinseed. I stayed with the 1/8th 1/0 jighead and light leader. I cast it into the fast flowing water, in the middle of channel and let it sink. It was hit on the drop by something very fast and powerful. The fish ran with the fast current and took plenty of line very quickly. Then it jumped clear of the water and I could see it was Queenfish. Every time I got it close to shore it took off again, but eventually I pulled it clear of the water. I am sure it would only be considered a baby in local circles – but it was the biggest Queenfish I have ever caught. I took a few pictures and let it go.

I tried more and swapped through hard bodied lures, vibes and a few more soft plastics. I ended up fishing with the Zman Minnowz again. I fished around the rockbars and felt a few bites. I left the lure on the bottom for long pauses. About an hour after the Queenfish capture, I hooked something else. It pulled hard and hugged the rocks. In the end I pulled up another fish I have never caught before. Not sure what it was – see pictures. I released it and decided to give up, as another shower was coming over the headland.

I drove back through the rain, safely crossed the causeway and drove back to Yeppoon. This is a fantastic spot. I will be back!

1770 – Eurimbula Creek – 8 May 2013

Wednesday

With the weather showing no signs of improving, I decided it was futile to keep trying on the rocks, so on Wednesday, I drove back out to Eurimbula Creek. I arrived a little after first light and the tide was running in. The water was not quite so dirty here. I went back to basics and started by fishing with small, lightly weighted soft plastics, first a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger and then a 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. After an hour with no luck I switched to a DUO Tetraworks Bivi, small, hard bodied vibe lure. This did not stir anything up either.

I decided to try a slightly bigger soft plastic and put on a GULP 4” Minnow, in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The tide was running in fast, so I also upped the weight to a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. The water had now come over the sandy edge of the main channel. I dropped the lure over the edge and then retrieved it, pausing for as long as I could, right at the edge. I felt the small bait fish attack the lure on each retrieve and then, after about 10 casts, a bigger fish grabbed it. It was a dusky Flathead – just over 40 cm. After a few pictures it went back.

I moved nearer to the mouth of the creek and put on a GULP 3” Jigging Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour. I lost a few of these to the fast flowing current and the fallen trees. I rigged up for the third time and aimed the soft plastic at eddies around one of the snags. It was hit on the drop and the fish went straight into the tangle of roots. With the Loomis GL2 light spin rod and 10lb fluorocarbon leader, I really did not have the power to fight a determined fish in heavy current – the fish was in charge. I backed off the drag a little and it swam out. I let it move about a metre away from the snag, tightened the drag and then increased the pressure again. It headed straight back in. We repeated this process 3 times until I eventually pulled out a 45 cm estuary cod. It was perfect cod terrain with overhanging mangrove roots and plenty of snags.

The rain showers kept coming. At about 10.00 am, I caught a couple of small grunter bream (javelin fish) – about 30 cm long. I had swapped back to the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I have caught plenty of these in the creeks around here, especially after heavy rain. I put them back and carried on fishing, up and down the creek bank, as high tide came and went.

By about 11.00 am I had had enough and drove back to Agnes Water.

1770 – Workmans Beach – 7 May 2013

Tuesday

The wild weather continued; strong south-easterly winds and plenty of rain. On Tuesday morning I braved the rocks at the southern end of Workman’s Beach, near Agnes Water. This area is sheltered from a southerly and south-easterly and there is plenty of fishy looking territory.

After a few days of big seas, the water was all stirred up and a milky brown colour. I started with soft plastics and then switched to slugs and hard bodies, but nothing yielded results. The sun came out mid-morning, but not for long. As the day wore on, the wind picked up. It then brought the clouds back in. Just after lunch, there was another downpour, so I gave up. Tuesday had been my first zero fish session for quite some time!

Nothing seemed to work today

Nothing seemed to work today

1770 – Eurimbula Creek – 6 May 2013

Monday

Where did the weather come from? I had checked the forecast before I left Brisbane and apart from a bit of south-easterly wind there was virtually no rain forecast for the week. I woke up on Sunday night to a massive rain storm at 1770. By dawn on Monday the rain was pouring down and the wind was blowing 20 knots from the south-east.

At about 10.00 am I went for a drive down towards 1770 to try and fish the north, sheltered side of the headland. I parked by the Captain Cook monument and walked down the water’s edge. The water was already brown and muddy after all the rain and the tide was about half way through the run out. I fished for 30 minutes and then another heavy shower came over and soaked me so I gave up.

I dried off and drove back out of Agnes Water and down the track to the mouth Eurimbula Creek. This area is pretty flat and there was plenty of water over the road at various spots along the route. A few hours of solid rain and the drains and creeks soon fill up. I got through alright and parked at the edge of the camp ground. Unsurprisingly there were no campers around.

The sky looked ominous but it had briefly stopped raining. Eurimbula Creek mouth is also a bit sheltered from a south-easterly. The water was just as dirty as Round Hill Creek and the tide was still running out. As the tide drops it reveals a steep mangrove lined bank on the south side of the creek mouth. This is great fish holding structure but it is a little difficult to get to and fish from. The tide runs out fast creating some good eddies around the fallen trees and mangrove roots.

I fished with a few different soft plastics – bright colours, natural colours, paddle tails, shrimps and minnows. I had a few bites and whenever I pulled a lure in, it was surrounded by bait but I did not catch anything.

I swapped to a DUO Tetraworks Bivi, a small sinking vibe lure and hoped the vibrations might stir the fish up. There had been a few surface bust ups, so there were some fish around. The DUO Bivi weighs 3.8 grams and 40mm long. It casts like a bullet and has a great action. I cast it out, up-stream towards the far bank and let it sink. I then hopped it along the bottom with the current and tried to swim it as close to the snags as I could. I repeated this a few times and felt a few bumps. After about 20 minutes of fishing this lure, it was smashed close to the snags. Fortunately the fish took off towards the middle of the stream. I was fishing with the light spin rod so I did not have much power. The fish used the current and felt decent. After a little bit of back and forth, I pulled a trevally up the sandy bank. It was hooked through the tail.

That was it for the day – the rain came pouring down again and I headed home.

1770 – Getaway Beach – Jewfish – 5 May 2013

Monday

A friendly tackle supplier is fed up with reading about my exploits with the very capable Shimano Catana and decided to give me an alternative rod to try out. It arrived on Saturday – a N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod. It is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. It will throw up to a 30g lure or ½ oz jighead, for a soft plastic. It is designed for throwing small lures in the surf or off the rocks. NS Black Hole rods are made in Korea and have forged a strong reputation for durability, mainly in the US. It seemed like a good idea to put it to work. So on Sunday I decided to head for Agnes Water and 1770 for a few days.

I arrived in the late afternoon and went straight down to the beach opposite the 1770 Getaway resort, where I like to stay – http://www.1770getaway.com.au . They have great stand-alone cottages and an on-site restaurant / coffee shop which produces a magnificent lamb spit roast, twice a week. The best thing about the resort is that Michael, the owner, is a mad keen fisherman. He has good information on where to fish when the wind is blowing from almost any direction. He is always very willing to share his knowledge, just sit him down over a coffee and pick his brains.
I had matched the new N.S Black Hole Cabin II with my Shimano Sustain 4000 reel. I had it loaded with 15lb Super PE braid and decided on a 16lb fluorocarbon leader, to start with. The beach is about a 10 minute walk from the resort and has a number of rocky out crops. It is just round the corner from Workman’s Beach, which is a little more sheltered, if there is a strong south-easterly blowing.

It was about 3.30 pm by the time I was ready to fish. The water was pretty stirred up and the swell was building. The wind was on shore at about 10 to 15 knots and it was bright and sunny. High tide would be at about 5.45 pm and the moon was about three days off new. I walked out on to one of the rocky out crops and loaded up with a Powerbait 4” Ripple Shad on the gold and black colour on a ¼ 2/0 jighead. I fished the lure along the edges of the rocks but after about 15 minutes, I had not had a bite. I decided to change to a heavier 3/8th 2/0 jighead, to make sure my lure was on the bottom. I also swapped soft plastics to a 5” GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I fished around the rocks for another 20 minutes or so and felt a few bumps. The swell was up, I had a new rod and I did not know the terrain, so it was hard to tell if I was bumping into fish or the bottom.

Just before 4.00 pm, I lifted the lure from the bottom and felt a bit of resistance. I dropped it back down for a few moments, then struck. The rod tip started to wiggle and bent over. The new rod behaved well and soaked up the lunges and the Shimano Sustain drag took care of the hard initial runs. The tricky bit was the swell and the rocks – 16lb leader will withstand a Jewfish mouth for a while but it won’t last long if it rubs against the barnacles.

Fortunately the swell was pushing the fish in and there was a nice ledge at water level. I took my time and left the drag alone. The swell pushed the fish on to the ledge and I jumped down and grabbed it.

It was a great looking Jewfish – 77cm long and in fantastic condition. It had completely swallowed the jighead, which was now very obviously lodged in its throat. It had little chance of survival, so I decided to keep it and share it with my hosts at the 1770 Getaway resort.

I continued fishing until dusk but did not find any more. It had been a great opening session and I had successfully christened the new rod which had performed well.

Bribie – flathead bonanza on the oyster jetty flats – 2 May 2013

Thursday

The moon was waning, the winds had dropped and the tides looked perfect. Low tide would be at 9.16 am, at 0.6 m. There had been a strong south-easterly wind the day before, but this would ease off in the morning and pick up as a pure southerly, later.

I was confident that the fish would be in my favourite spots – so I drove back up to Bribie at about 4.30 am. I was hopeful that I would find some flathead under the bridge lights. I waded out just after 5.00 am. The sky was clear and the moon was about 40% full.

There has not been much surface activity under the lights in recent weeks and today was no exception. I cast around the drains and weed beds on the edges of the illuminated pools created by the lights. I caught one very small flathead on a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour.

After about 30 minutes, I waded south, past the oyster jetty and started casting around the Sandstone Point corner drain. The water over this area was already pretty shallow – only about 50 cm, in most places. I moved to the edge of the sand bank and launched a few casts directly into the main drain. After three or four – I felt the lure stop dead. I thought it had snagged on the tufty seagrass at the edge of the drain. Then there was a tug and powerful, long, initial run. This was a good fish and it towed me around for a bit. I wanted to tire it out, as there were a few boulders and abandoned crab pots between and a gap in the mangroves, where I planned to land it. It soon tired and I pulled it up, on to the mangrove roots. It was a great start to the day – a good flathead – 66cm. I was still using the GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour.

I stopped for a chat with a keen local angler who had also waded out along the mangrove line – very keen – he is in his mid-eighties! He took to soft plastics after many years of fishing with an Alvey and bait, and now loves them. I hope I am still embracing change at his age – fantastic!

I wandered out a bit deeper, in front of the long sand bank and put in a few casts back towards the oyster jetty. The sun was up now. I hooked a couple of fish but dropped both. I was still fishing with the GULP 2” Shrimp. I stayed put and methodically sprayed the areas, where I had dropped the fish, with casts. I soon found one again and it was just under 40 cm, so I shook it free. A couple of casts later I had a better fish on and after a few solid runs, I decided to walk it back to the sand bank. It was just under 60cm.

As the tide dropped, I waded down towards the green channel marker and back again. The fishing got better and better. I caught another nine fish between 7.00 am and 8.20 am on GULP Jerkshads in the Cajun Chicken and Satay Chicken colours.

It was my turn to try something new. Many readers have been asking why I don’t use the Z-Man soft plastic lures. Steve, at Jones Tackle – http://jonestackle.com.au/ (and many others) have been trying hard to persuade me of their brilliance. I recognise they are cheaper and more durable than the GULP range but I have not really got used to their colours and I find their texture a lit too ‘rubbery’. I think the colours look very good in the water, but not very good on the packets. Steve insisted I buy a packet of Minnowz in the Houdini colour and try them out. I chose this moment to give them a work out. The Minnowz have a standard minnow shape with an additional paddle tail.

Well you can probably guess what happened. On the first cast, a fish hit the lure on the drop and I pulled in a tiny, 25cm flathead. On the second cast, I pulled up a 40cm flathead and from then on the Z-Man Minnowz caught a flathead about once every 10 minutes, until I gave up at about 10.00 am. At first they appeared to be catching smaller fish than the GULP Jerkshads but then I caught two 50cm+ specimens towards the end of the session.

So Steve, and everybody else – you are right, they do catch fish. Could this be the end of Landangler’s exclusive love affair with GULP? Well, one swallow does not make a summer. I have a feeling anything would have caught fish today. But I was impressed enough to buy a few more packets!