Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 22 March 2014

Saturday

Back to early morning low tides for the weekend. On Saturday it would be at about 7.00 am. There was a bit of rain around. The northerly winds had been coming and going. The temperatures were warm again but the water is continuing to gradually cool down.

I arrived at the Bribie Bridge a little after 5.00 am. First light would be at about 5.30 am and there was no breeze. I had selected a variety of soft plastics lures to run through. I started with a 3“ Zman Minnowz in the Opening Night colour, on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook Headlockz Jighead. I chose 12lb fluorocarbon leader and started fishing from the shadows cast by the bridge lights.

At 5.18 am I caught the first fish of the day – a 43cm flathead. It was sitting just to the south of the patch of reef near pylon number five. The tide was running pretty quickly. This can work against the Zmen as they are definitely more buoyant than most other soft plastic lures. After five minutes, I caught another, bigger flathead about 10 metres further south.

There were prawns jumping everywhere and a bit of surface feeding going on, so I swapped to a slightly thinner profile 3.75“ Zman Streakz, in the Redbone (glow) colour.  I cast around and got plenty of hits from something a bit more agile than a flathead. I assumed it was the small Moses perch that are often around, or perhaps some bream. Either way, eventually it was a flathead that I caught with it – about 10 minutes later.

The sun was now up and I moved south, past the old oyster jetty. I swapped to a different colour in the 3.75” Zman Streakz  – Shine. I thought I might find a few more bream and I think I had a few bream bites before I caught yet another flathead at 5.47am. I swapped to a 4 inch Zman Streakz Curltailz in the Bloodworm colour and after a few casts, this caught another flathead. This was a very good size fish – somewhere between 65cm and 70 cm. I worked through the Zmans, catching a couple more fish on the 3“ Minnowz in the Redbone colour.

 

 

It was now about 6.30 am and the sky was looking ominous. A soaking looked like a certainty but at least there was still no real wind blowing. I swapped to my last remaining Rio Prawn lure – the biggest one in their range – the 19 gram. I thought the colour I had was the original or ‘Natural’ but I see it’s actually called ‘Night Glow’. This soon did the trick and I pulled in three or four more flathead over the next 30 minutes. The bigger lure seemed to attract some slightly bigger fish, but after a few tussles the worn leader snapped and I lost my lure to a particularly aggressive, headshaking flathead.

Size of lure did not seem to be an issue so I pulled out the DUO Jerkbait 120 SP. This is a suspending, flat sided, hard bodied minnow that seems to drive the tailor nuts. At 120 mm long it is bit larger than the usual flathead favorites but I thought I would give it a try. I did not have to wait long. The first taker was a fairly small flathead – just over 40cm. The next, a few casts later was a very decent fish – nudging 60 cm. The Duo Jerkbait kept catching fish through the bottom of the tide.

As the tide started its run in I decided to switch to a small lure and see if the fish were still interested. I pulled out the DUO Tetra Works Pocopoco sinking popper. This is a light (4.7 gram) popper that can still be worked quickly on the surface. I had it in the Pink Clown colour. It did not take long to find the fish. Unfortunately it did not last long. I had not upgraded the factory treble hooks. These are too soft for wrestling with hard mouthed flathead and so after a few captures one had broken off and the other was all bent out of shape. On to the next lure – the DUO Ebikko hard bodied, sinking shrimp imitation. This time I had it in a pearly white colour. Once more, I did not have to wait long and after three or four casts I found a fish – another 45cm+ flathead.

It was now about 8.00 am. The stormy skies seemed to have fired the fish up even more than usual. I carried on working my way through the tackle bag. Next I offered a Sebile ¼ ounce Spin Shad – I have never caught much with this lure although I think it should catch plenty of fish. It did not have much trouble today and after a couple of hits the treble hook bit and pulled in another flathead. The last hard body in the bag was a tiny orange and purple Japanese-made bug. This performed like all the others and soon caught a fish.

I finished up the session catching a few more flathead on the Powerbait Rippleshad – first the 5” in the Cola colour and then the 3” in the Perch colour. The fish were very aggressive which might have been because of the barometric pressure drop caused by the big storm that was approaching. At 9.00 am I was back at the car after another great session.

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Bribie – from the oyster jetty to the channel marker – 17 – 19 March 2014

Monday & Wednesday

As the low tide progressed through the day, I timed my fishing sessions to coincide with it. So on Monday, I found myself driving up to Bribie Island, at lunch time to fish for a few hours, through to the low tide at 1.50 pm.

There had been a big northerly blow on Sunday and temperatures had risen again. As I arrived, just before 1.00 pm, the wind was moving round to blow for the east again. The tide was running out and I went off to fish to the south of the jetty, towards the green channel marker.

The fishing was initially a little tougher than it had been but once I found the flathead, they kept coming.  I only had a few hours but again I caught more than 20 fish, the majority of which were over 40cm long. I stuck with the Gulp Jerkshads in various colours; Pink Shine, Satay Chicken, Lime Tiger and Cajun Chicken – they all caught fish.

On Wednesday I was back to fishing the early morning. I could not resist a return to the same area. I arrived at 5.15 am and waded out, under the bridge. Low tide had passed at 4.55 am. I would be fishing the beginning of the run in tide but the water was more or less still, at first light.

I waded to the south of the jetty and started casting around with a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour. At about 5.30 am I caught a 45cm flathead that was sitting in no more than 20 cm of water. I caught a few more, similar sized fish in this area and then moved south, as the sun came over the horizon.

I decided to try a small DUO hard bodied Shrimp imitation called the DUO Tetra Works Ebikko. I had it in the ‘Terminator’ colour – chrome with a white belly. This is a 47 mm, 3.3 gram sinking lure with a simple fluttering motion. I just hop it along the sandy stretches of bottom, hoping to entice a bite. It is pretty light so you need fairly calm conditions to keep in touch with it.

I had a couple of bites. The first taker was a pike. At present, I am only fishing it with one rear treble as I think the two trebles on such a light lure are overkill.  The pike followed behind the lure, snapping, until it connected with the treble. I had a couple of solid bites which I think where flathead but I could not hook up so I swapped back to soft plastics.

I was now about half way between the end of the oyster jetty and the channel marker and decided to work my way through all the remaining soft plastics to see what did and didn’t work.

 

It was now just after 7.00 am. I pulled out a packet of Japanese soft plastics – an Ikajako 3 ½ “ Powerworm in an orange flecked colour with a twin prong tail. On the first cast, the plastic sank and then a fish grabbed it, as soon as I lifted it off the bottom. I released the fish and swapped to a Slider 3” Bass Grub soft plastic. A couple of casts later this one caught a fish. I swapped to an Atomic Ripperz 2.5” Paddle Tail soft plastic , same thing happened, a Powerbait 3” red tailed  Rippleshad, same again. I ran through eight more different Gulps, Zman and no name soft plastics and they all caught fish within a couple of casts. They are not fussy at the moment.

At about 8.30 am the incoming tide forced me from the main edge of the weed beds and I waded back to the car. I caught a couple more fish by casting at the sandy patches, as I waded back towads the bridge.

It is clear that there are plenty of fish around and once you locate them they will eat just about anything. If you want to catch a flathead now is the time.

Bribie -still at the oyster jetty flats – 13/14 March 2014

Thursday – Friday

I accept that these reports are getting predictable but it is very hard to stay away when the fish are so prolific. So on both Thursday and Friday, I returned to Bribie to fish the last few hours of the run out tide.

The tides would be low at 1.50 pm on Thursday and 2.36 pm on Friday.  The tides were getting bigger, as we headed for the full moon on Saturday. The water was therefore running in and out faster. It was the same wind pattern – east-south-easterly, building through the day. A northerly change was forecast to raise temperatures and blow up on Sunday.

On Thursday, I started at about 10.15 am. There was plenty of water at the base of the mangrove roots, so I started off by casting in to the shallows, just north of the bridge. There is a nice weed bed here and a few sand banks. I started with the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. I was fishing with 12lb leader and my light spin rod. After a couple of casts, I found my first flathead at about 10.20 am. It was just about 40cm long. I released it and five minutes later I had a much more aggressive bite. I reeled in a tiny moses perch, which had been hovering close to the first bridge pylon.

I moved south past the old oyster jetty and at about 10.45 am, I caught a bigger flathead – about 50 cm long,  on a Gulp 3” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. It was about three hours from low tide and the band of sandy hollows and weed beds, where I have been catching most of the fish in recent sessions, was now within casting range.

I caught a few more fish on the Gulp 4” Minnow and Jerkshad soft plastics and at about 11.30 am, I decided to give the DUO Tetraworks Toto a work out. This is a 2.8 gram, 42mm sinking minnow. It has a tight rolling action. You just cast it – count to five to let it sink, then start a slow and steady retrieve, hop it along the bottom in short bursts like a soft plastic.

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My first cast with the Toto connected with a fish. This lure caught 5 more flathead over the next 30 minutes. The largest was just over 60 cm. At about noon, I swapped to the DUO Realis Shad 59 MR – a slightly larger, suspending minnow. This really is a great flathead lure and will also catch bream, if they are around. It has a good rattle and the buoyancy balance is perfect. It will suspend in the water column for about 5 seconds, before slowly floating upwards – giving a bottom dwelling predator plenty of time to strike.

First cast with the Realis Shad also produced a fish and over the next hour it produced a fish every 3 or four minutes. On average the hard bodies seemed to attract slightly bigger fish than the soft plastics had done.

Just before 1.00 pm, I was playing a decent flathead that had locked on to the DUO Realis Shad. It was a big fish – well over 60cm, so I decided to pull it in to the shoreline to unhook and photograph. I was a bit impatient and had the drag set a little too tight. When it saw that we were heading for the mangroves, it turned, shook its head and snapped the leader. When you are catching plenty of fish the leader gets worn very quickly, so it pays to keep checking it. At this point I gave up for the day.

On Friday it was a similar story. The fish were a little less plentiful, but the wind was far stronger, which may have made them a little harder to catch. I focused my efforts on an area further to the south of the oyster jetty and again found that the hard bodies – particularly the Rio Prawn lure, found the bigger flathead of the day.

I must go and explore if the fish are everywhere or just clustered over on this side of the Passage. Maybe next time.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – again – 12 March 2014

Wednesday 12th

I paused, reluctantly, to dry out the fishing bag and finish filleting and skinning a few flathead, on Tuesday. By Wednesday I had spotted an opening for another fishing session. I was working around the low tide on the flats at Bribie.

I drove up to arrive at about 10.00am – very civilised. We had the same wind pattern as we have now had for about ten days – a 10 to 15 knot east-south easterly wind. It was a bright, sunny day and the wind was building. The water was clear and running out and the full moon would be on Saturday. Low tide would be at 1.10 pm.

I started to fish the small patch of reef just south of the Bribie Island Bridge, on the mainland side. The rocks were just visible above the receding tide. I started the day with a soft plastic. As you will have noticed I prefer to prospect with a soft plastic lure – once I find the fish I will then start to experiment. Today I chose the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I was fishing with 12lb fluorocarbon leader and using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook, jighead.

I soon found a fish, just to the south of the bridge. This flathead was just below 40cm long. I would release everything I caught today – there is plenty of fish in the fridge. I cast back in the same area and found another, smaller fish.  I moved closer to the jetty and caught 3 more, before wading under the jetty.

As with the previous sessions, the fish kept coming. I swapped from soft plastics to hard bodies and these were even more successful. I caught a 60cm flathead on the MARIA 90 mm MJ Twitch suspending minnow and a 66 cm fish on a RIO Prawn lure, in the 13 g size. The DUO range chipped in with some good flathead on the DUO Tetraworks Toto and, my current favourite – the suspending DUO Realis Shad 59 MR. This one really is a flathead slayer – the action and rattle seems to drive them wild.

I fished from 10.30 am to about 1.30 pm and I rarely went 5 minutes without a fish. I finished the session with some good sized flathead on the Powerbait 5” Rippleshad paddle tail soft plastic, in the black and gold colour (which I usually reserve for chasing Jewfish).

For the fish to be here in such numbers I can only conclude that they are feeding up to spawn. A few of the fish I kept last week were full of roe. It is early but apparently flathead can choose to spawn at any time and do not do it on mass, like bream.

Whatever the reason, I hope they stay for a while –  it’s a great time to be out there fishing.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – 10 March 2013

Monday

I managed to stay away for Sunday, but by Monday the fish were calling again. It’s very hard to resist going back when you have had some great sessions. Fish don’t generally school up in one spot forever, so having found the Flathead, on the flats opposite Bribie Island – I wanted to make the most of it.

The productive spots I have been fishing can only be reached during the lower half of the tide.  This meant I had the luxury of starting fishing a bit later than usual. The wind was going to be a solid 10-15 knot south-easterly, and low tide would 0.9 m at 11.21 am, at Bongaree. I arrived on the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at about 9.15 am.

I waded out to the old oyster jetty. The wind was blowing hard and it was quite cloudy. The area just to the south of the jetty is sheltered from the full thrust of the wind so this was where I started. To locate the fish, I decided to prospect with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I upped my leader to about a 1.5m length of 12lb fluorocarbon.  The 10lb leader is usually adequate, but I had had such a good catch rate in recent sessions that It was getting worn too quickly.

Once again I soon found the fish. I caught the first flathead at 9.24 am – it was about 50 cm and then another, about the same size, a few minutes later. The wind was creating quite a chop now and it was still a little too deep to reach the ideal target area – along the edge of the weed beds. I waded a little further south to the mouth of the drain that runs off the flats, in front of Sandstone Point.

When I first started fishing about 12 years ago, I went out with a guide on the Noosa River. This was the first time I had used lures.  One of the lures we used was the RIO Prawn. This lure is a very lifelike resin imitation of the typical Noosa river system prawn. It is Australian made, near Noosa. The guide positioned us over some likely looking hollows and weed beds and cast the lure out, into one of the sandy bottomed areas. He let it sink, raised it up in a long fluid movement then let it sink back down, to the sand. He counted to ten then repeated the process. He did this perhaps three times before the lure pulled up a flathead. I then had a go and managed to catch one, as well. I, like the fish was hooked!

I have caught plenty of fish on RIO lures since, but I rarely use them at Bribie – because of the weedy and rocky bottom. Today I decided I would give them an outing. I chose the 13 gram size RIO Prawn in the red colour. The water was clear and I could see the sandy patches. I repeated the process that I had been taught all those years ago and after a few tries, I was on to a fish. The first was a small Flathead about 45cm. On the next cast I caught another and on the third, I hooked up to another. The RIO Prawn caught about five more flathead over the next 30 minutes. Then I lost it to a 60cm + fish. The leader must have been damaged in some of the previous fights and it snapped just as I was walking the fish to shore.

Next I went down in size to the small DUO Tetraworks Bivi – a sinking bibless vibe lure, in a black /rainbow colour. This small vibe is always good for Flathead. It casts a long way and quickly falls into a tight action. The only problem with these smaller vibes is stopping the fish from swallowing them. This one also produced on its first cast. The fish were clearly not fussy today. I swapped again, this time to the DUO Koikakko tiny squid imitation. Once again this tiny lure caught the biggest fish of the day – a 63 cm flathead.

As we reached the bottom of the tide I pulled out another Charles Talmans soft plastics, which I called a ‘prong’. It is a split tail in a clear/ white colour. It is quite a chunky plastic so I put it on a 1/8th ounce 2/0 jighead and cast it out. After a few casts the fish found it and it pulled in another three or four fish to end the session. If you want to know more about Charles’ plastics drop him an email on ctalman@hotmail.com.

With the wind howling at noon, I walked back to the car. Another great session fishing the flats at Bribie.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 8 March 2014

Saturday

After an extraordinary session on Friday, I had to get back up to Bribie again to fish the low tide. Fortunately, I could squeeze in a session on Saturday morning. The wind was forecast to be pretty lively again, with a couple of tropical cyclones hovering off the coast, up north. Low tide would be at 8.40 am. The moon was a week away from full.

I arrived just after first light at about 5.30 am. I ran into Matt, another keen fisho who had had the same idea. We walked out towards the old oyster jetty and swapped a few fishing stories. He headed south along the sandbank towards the channel marker and I settled on a spot just to the south of the jetty.

It took a while to find the fish. The sun came over the horizon and the wind started to pick up. The tide was running out quickly. I started by fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken on a 1/8th 2/0 jighead. I was using my G.Loomis TJR fast action, light spin rod and a 15lb Super PE braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. At about 6.20 am I dropped a small flathead, but on the next cast, I felt the bite and paused. When I lifted, the fish was attached.

Now I had found the fish and I caught a fish on almost every cast for the next 30 minutes.  A hot bite is a great time to experiment. A gent named Charles Talman from Mount Gambier in South Australia makes his own soft plastics and recently was kind enough to send me some to try out. There were plenty of prawns jumping so I decided to start by rigging up one of his 4” Shrimp soft plastics. These plastics do not quite have the finesse of the major brands, but as you will see from the pictures, they are cleverly designed and have good actions and texture – both essential characteristics. I rigged the first one on a 1/8th ounce, 2/0 jighead and cast it out. I knew the fish were here but I wasn’t sure they would go for it. There was no need to worry – half way into the retrieve a fish hit it. I dropped the rod tip and paused. About five seconds later, I struck and I pulled up a flathead, about 45cm long. A few casts later, I caught another. Over the next hour, they kept coming. I cycled through a couple more of Charles’ lures and then put in a GULP 4” Shrimp in the Natural colour. There was no difference in the catch rate between the two types of shrimp soft plastic.

I now decided to try the DUO Tetraworks Koikakko tiny hard bodied squid imitations. These are made with the usual DUO care and attention to detail. They can be used in deep water as a jig or hopped across the bottom like a traditional sinking hard body. They are only 34mm long and weigh 4.6g. They are ideal to cast across the flats in crystal clear water, on light leaders and will tempt almost any species.  I knew there had been a lot of small squid around this area so I thought they would be perfect. My only concern was that perhaps they would be too small for the flathead to notice. I checked my knots and decided to slow everything down and increase the pauses on the bottom.

Success was not immediate, but after about 15 minutes I saw a flathead come up behind the lure and then turn away at the last minute. I cast back in the same spot and left the lure on the bottom for about 20 seconds. On the second hop, I felt the violent thud of a flathead mouth crunch down on my lure. The fish took the lure and slowly swam away with it. It took a while for it to register that this was not an ordinary squid and when I lifted the rod tip to ensure the tiny treble was lodged, it took off.

It was obviously bigger than the small flathead that had swiped at the lure on the previous retrieve and it made couple of blistering runs out towards open water. You cannot muscle a fish with the fast and flexible G.Loomis TJR rod. It absorbs the lunges beautifully but you have to be patient and let the reel’s drag do the rest. I have traded up the single tiny treble hook on the DUO Tetraworks Koikakko for a slightly tougher Gamakatsu version. I waded back to the shoreline with the fish. It was tired now, but as we reached the shallows, it continued to try and turn and then shake its head. I pulled it across the weed in the shallows and on to the sandbank. It was the biggest fish of the day – a 68cm flathead. I released this one and carried on fishing.

The Koikakko lure caught plenty more flathead and its tiny size did not seem to have much bearing on the size of fish it attracted.  By low tide I had five good fish in the keeper bag – all between 50 cm. and 60cm.

By 9.00 am, the wind was howling and making it pretty hard to fish. I decided to finish the session with a couple more of Mr Talman’s soft plastics. I particularly like his small, three legged monster – not sure what it is but the flathead love it. I lost the green version to a fish that wrapped itself around an abandoned crab pot.  Fortunately, there was also a fluorescent gold/creamy coloured one, so I re-rigged with this. The flathead could not resist and I caught about 5 more, all good sized fish, on this soft plastic lure. I finished up with a 5” worm in a green colour. This also delivered and after a few casts it connected with a 50cm flathead.

 

I am not really sure why the fish have suddenly appeared but I hope they hang around for a while. I’ll be back.

Bribie – The old oyster jetty flats – 7 March 2014

Friday

On Friday the wind situation was not promising with a 10-15 knot easterly forecast for mid – morning.  But it has been a long time since I wet a line so I had to go for it and I was very glad that I did.

I have been struggling to wake up recently and I managed to sleep through the 4.00 am alarm. I woke at about 4.45 am and rushed up to Bribie, arriving just after 5.30 am.  It was very cloudy and I passed through a few showers on my way up from Brisbane.  They had cleared by the time I reached the Bribie Bridge. I pulled on my waders and walked out under the bridge towards the old oyster jetty. There was plenty of light but the sun had not yet come over the horizon. The wind was much lighter than forecast – as it often is, for the hour either side of first light.

Low tide would be a fairly high low at 0.8 m, at 7.40 am. The moon was about half way to full. I waded out to the south of the old oyster jetty and loaded up the light spin rod with a GULP Jerkshad on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead. I was using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. It was now just before 6.00 am.

On the first cast, I felt the lure drag a little and I thought it was stuck in the weed. I yanked the rod tip up to free it and a small angry flathead (about 35cm long) came flying out of the water towards me. It managed to catapult itself off the jighead so I did not have to release it. The next cast produced another bite but no hook up. On the third cast, I paused and connected with a fish, as soon as I lifted the plastic off the bottom. This was a decent sized flathead so I decided to wade with the fish, back to the beach. It turned out to be about 55cm.

At this point I realised I did not have my camera. This was a shame because it turned into an extraordinary session. I was joined by Lee – another keen plastics fisherman. We had a chat and as we were talking and casting, we realised this was going to be one of those fantastic fishing sessions. Almost every cast produced a fish and the majority of those fish were between 45cm and 55cm long.

As the sun rose and the wind picked up the fish carried on biting and even the tide change did not seem to slow them down. I swapped through various Gulp soft plastics – Minnows, Jerkshads and Shrimps, which all caught fish. I put on a Z Man Minnowz with a paddle tail and this caught a few.  Lee was fishing with a Gulp minnow grub in the Banana Prawn colour that was catching a fish on almost every cast.

I decided to experiment with some hard bodies. I started with the DUO Realis Shad 59 MR suspending minnow. This caught a couple of nice flathead but their violent head shakes soon reduced the small trebles to one remaining hook. I took it off and decided to test just how hungry these fish were. I tied on a MARIA MJ Twitch 90mm Suspending hard body. This is a great lure but I would generally consider it a bit of a mouthful for flathead. It has a great action but usually gets clogged in the weed before a fish gets to it. Not today – I cast it into the strike zone and after a couple of twitches, a flathead smashed it. It was a decent fish and the trebles struck home. I waded back to the shore with it and pulled out the trebles. It was about 65cm and one of the best fish of the day.

It was now low tide and the weed was everywhere so I swapped back to soft plastics. Every size and colour caught fish. Lee was equally successful. In three hours, between us we must have caught upwards of 60 flathead. We kept five each and released the rest.

It is difficult to know what fired them up or how long they have been there. There were lots of small squid and prawns around, but no massive bait schools. The terrain of sandy hollows and weed beds is ideal flathead country but I don’t ever remember a session were the fish were so easy to catch. Something must have drawn the fish to this area but it is not immediately obvious what.

At about 9.00 am I decided to take my catch home and Lee also gave up. We are in for some wild weather over the weekend. Let’s hope it does not blow the fish away.