Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 16 April 2014

Wednesday

On Wednesday I drove up to Bribie and arrived just before first light at about 5.30 am. On Tuesday night we had a lunar eclipse and the full moon was huge and bright in the west. There was a surprisingly cool south-westerly wind blowing. Low tide had passed just after 4.00 am so by the time I waded out on to the flats, the tide was really running in.

Just before dawn there was some surface action under the bridge lights so I cast a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour around the pylons. This soon produced a couple of small Pike. I witnessed another beautiful sunrise and then continued wading south.

The big moon and meant a fairly big tide. The big tide had lifted all the storm debris from the previous week and it was soon clear that this would be the major obstacle to fishing the incoming tide. Seagrass, weed clumps, bait bags, floats and plastic bottles all started to passed by.

The only advantage of all the floating debris was that it allowed me to examine the water currents in the area. There is obviously a slightly sheltered area just to the south of the old oyster jetty and this is often where you find fish. It is protected by a couple of patches of rocky reef to the east and the tree line, on shore, to the west. At certain points in the tide cycle the water in this area slows right down and the debris gathers in a big clump.

I cast around the edges of this slow moving water looking for fish but I got virtually no bites. Just before 8.00 am it was getting too hard to fish into the strike zone, so I started back for the car. I was casting a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce , size 1/0 hook jighead. Suddenly the line went tight and the rod tip started to wriggle. I set the hook but the fish took a while to register – this often means it’s a big one. It swam towards me for a few seconds and then realised something was amiss. It took off with a long, blistering run towards the jetty. I let it take line and then gradually started to get some back. There were a couple more long runs but after a few more minutes I caught site of a very decent flathead. I steered her up to the beach and took a few photos.  She was just under 70 cm but I let her go. They really can be a bit tough to eat at this size and if I want to still be catching plenty of fish in future seasons, it makes sense to let these big breeding females go.

This final fish rescued what would have been a pretty dismal session. They seem to be far easier to find on the run out tide in this area. The sudden cool south westerly wind may also have put them off their food.

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Bribie – the oyster jetty to the channel marker – 10 April 2014

Thursday

I only had time to fish the afternoon run-in tide on Thursday. I arrived at the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at about 12.30 pm. It was a hot, humid day.  It had rained again, in the morning and there was a light northerly wind. Low tide had passed at 12.20 pm. It was a hot still afternoon.




Clumps of weed everywhere

I waded south past the oyster jetty. The water was hardly moving but it was very dirty. As the tide started to run in, it became difficult to fish as the jighead caught on clumps of black, rotting weed. I swapped through a few different soft plastic lures and decided to stick with the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken (black & pink) colour.

Just one keeper

It was hard work and I waded further south. As the tide picked up pace, I caught a 45 cm flathead, about 50 metres to the south of the jetty. It was now about 1.30 pm. I carried on towards the green channel marker and caught another 30 cm flathead at about 2.00 pm.

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I swapped to the Mad Scientist Optishad paddletail soft plastic and I got a few bites on this but could not stay connected with anything. Just to the north of the big exposed sand bar I felt a bite. I hooked the fish but it was a slurping, spitting spiny puffer fish. This reminded me why I wear waders. I carefully retrieved my lure with the aid of my pliers.

Porcupine puffer

By about 2.30 pm the incoming tide was pushing me off the edge of the weed beds so I gave up and waded back to the car. It had been a tough session in the middle of the day.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 8 April 2014

Tuesday

Stormy weather

Stormy weather

A massive storm hit Bribie Island on Sunday – dumping significant rain and really stirring things up. So I left it until Tuesday to go fishing again. It was now about half way between the new moon and the full moon. The wind was forecast to be a light south-westerly. It felt noticeably cooler as I got out of the car, by the bridge at about 5.30 am. The water was definitely cooler, as I waded out on to the flats beside the old oyster jetty. Low tide would be at about 10.30 am.

Just to the south of the jetty I concentrated on a patch of weed that has produced a few flathead in the past. I was fishing with a Gulp 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I had it rigged on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. As it is now possible that there are a few Tailor around, I am consistently fishing with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. This won’t stop big fish but it might give me a chance with some good sized choppers.

At about 6.00 am, I felt a few very aggressive bites but did not hook up. I persisted in the same spot and after about 10 minutes, I felt a solid yank and line started peeling. I had hooked a big Long Tom and it promptly leapt out of the water for the camera. I let it get rid of some energy then released it, recovered my jighead and chewed soft plastic. The leader was completely lacerated. So I cut off the last 10 cm and tied my jighead back on. I straightened the soft plastic and carried on casting.

The fishing was very tough. I tried a couple of small hard bodies and jerkshads with no success. By about 7.15am I had dropped down to a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. I managed to catch a couple of very small flathead on this plastic.

I waded all the way down to the big sand bar beside the green channel marker, but the fish were elusive.  I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour and this enticed another 30 cm flathead, but it was a long time between bites.

As the tide continued to run out I waded back closer to the oyster jetty and decided to swap to a Z Man Minnowz soft plastic in the Red Bone colour. As I have mentioned before I am no longer a fan of the Headlockz Jigheads. They hold the lure in place but I think they are a bit clunky for this type of estuary fishing. I therefore chose to put the plastic on a Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I hoped the vibration of the paddletail might be more obvious to the fish. It took a while, but after about 30 minutes I did finally catch a 45cm flathead. I swapped to a Minnowz in the Opening Night colour and after about another 30 minutes I caught another, about the same size.

By 10.00 am I had had enough and the wind had picked up. As I waded back towards the bridge a came across plenty of flathead lies – so the fish are around, somewhere. It had been another tough session.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 4 April 2014

Friday

There had been a few showers and more were forecast. There was also a cyclone forming, up north. The new moon, four days earlier had not really made any difference to the fishing but it had coincided with some heavy rain, which may have limited its effect.

I set off back to Bribie Island. For the last two months I have fished here, exclusively. I apologise to readers who would like a change. But it has been good to fish through a few moon cycles and big weather changes and notice how they the effect what I catch.

Since the first week in March, I have been catching a lot of flathead from the sand flats, on the mainland size of the Pumicestone Passage, to the south of the Bribie Island Bridge. The fish were probably most numerous and at their most aggressive, in the run up to the full moon on the 16th March. The size of the fish and the numbers then gradually dropped off, after the full moon.  We then had some heavy rain which may have pushed them out to saltier water.

Looking back over my archive of fishing reports, I see I have had a number of excellent flathead sessions at this time of the year, in this particular spot.  The large numbers, the aggressive feeding and the fact that a good proportion of the legal size fish I have kept are full of roe, suggests they had gathered to spawn. It seems unlikely that the flathead only schooled up in this one location and I have seen many reports of good flathead catches, through early March, in the fishing press.

According to the sparse research that has been undertaken on flathead (principally in New South Wales – see ‘Reproduction and growth of dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) in NSW estuaries’ – July 2008. NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries Final Report Series No.101 ), they spawn between – September and March.

This would put this particular spawning session right at the end of the window. This is interesting because most fishing pundits will suggest the end of the cooler months – September / November is when you more reliably catch large numbers of spawning flathead. Hopefully I will have time to fish then, as well and I will compare the results.

Back to Friday – low tide would be at 6.28 am and it would be a fairly high low tide, at 0.7 m. I arrived just before first light, at about 5.15 am. It was still warm and I had driven through a couple of showers on the way up from Brisbane. The wind, if there was any, was form the south east.

I waded out into the shallows beside the bridge and cast around with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. It was still dark and a few fish were feeding under the bridge lights. On my second or third cast I felt a solid bite, paused and hooked a good fish. I steered it out of the rocks, which dot the area and dragged it to the shore. It was a solid 50 cm flathead.

The next fish came about twenty minutes later, just to the north of the oyster jetty. I was then treated to a really fantastic sunrise which lit up a rain squall that was coming my way. It was now about 6.00 am. I caught a few more flathead in this spot, but they were all under 40 cm.

I moved to the south of the jetty and pulled out another new favourite of mine. The Lucky Craft 4” Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic lure, in the Pearl Vairon colour. This is the ultimate shape for a flathead soft plastic. It is a Jerkshad with a huge paddle tail. The slim body accentuates the paddle tail and you can really feel the lure moving as you hop it along the bottom. Thanks to the guys at Jones Tackle for introducing me to these – http://jonestackle.com.au/.  It did not take long to find the fish. Between 6.30 am and 8.15 am, I caught 8 more flathead on this soft plastic. However, only two of these fish were over 40 cm.

At about 8.30 am I was soaked by a rain squall and decided to give up.  There are still plenty of fish out there, but the bigger ones are getting harder to find.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats and the Seaside Museum drain – 2 April 2014

Wednesday

Wednesday was an almost exact re-run of Tuesday, – except I arrived slightly earlier in the run out tide. It was another bright, sunny day with a light northerly wind. The water is still fairly murky on the bottom of the tide.

I waded around the area to the south of the old oyster jetty and caught fish on the Powerbait Rippleshad in a black and gold sparkle colour, the GULP Jerkshad in Pink Shine, The GULP 2″ Shrimp in the Natural colour and the GULP 3″ Minnow in the Smelt colour. I fished everything on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead on 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I fished for about three hours and caught eight fish (all flathead), of which only two were over 40cm long.

At about 4.00 I waded back to the car and drove over the bridge to Bongaree to look at the creek drain in front of the Seaside Museum again. I fished along the drop off for an hour, gradually working my way to the south. I caught nothing.

Fishing in the middle of the day, northerly winds and not much bait around may all have been reasons for not finding many keepers. I released  all the fish, as the family will shoot me if I put another flathead on the table.

 

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats and the Seaside Museum drain – 1 April 2014

Tuesday

New moon had been on Sunday and there had also been another big downpour at Bribie. By Tuesday the sun was out again but the wind was a strong northerly, in the morning. It was forecast to drop off later in the day and turn in to a south easterly.  I would have preferred to fish the dawn but I had been cursed with some paid work that had to be finished, so I decided to fish the afternoon run out tide, which would be low at 4.35 pm.

The burst of northerlies meant the hot day time temperatures were back, but the cool nights and the influx of fresh water had pushed the water temperature down a little. I arrived at the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at about 1.30 pm.

I waded south, past the old oyster jetty and soon found my first fish. I had started with a GULP Jerkshad in the yellow and pumpkinseed Satay Chicken colour.  It was a flathead about 45cm long. I was fishing with Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook, jigheads. These are built on finewire Owner hooks and are just about the perfect size for GULP Jerkshads. The hooks will bend if you try to muscle a size-able snapper or jewfish, but they are very sharp and are good at lodging in the tough mouths of flathead.

People often ask me about jigheads and what to use. The answer, as always is ‘that depends’.  There are lots of drivers – price, hook quality, size, shape. What is right for a bream, whiting or bass is not right for a kingfish, tuna or big snapper. How easy or difficult it is to put on a soft plastic and how long it stays on, are also important. Trial and error is the only way to test them out. It is also important to understand that one manufacturers 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead may be very different in size and weight to another. Some use the lead weight only. Some include the hook and the lead weight. This means the total weight maybe up to 30% different to the numbers on the packet.  They also all have slightly different hook sizes. Some manufacturer’s size 1 hooks are almost twice the length of others.

 

The water was still dirty from all the rain and as we reached the bottom half of the tide, it got dirtier. I persisted with the Jerkshad and caught two more flathead – one about 50cm and one about 55cm.

My old friend the cormorant turned up again looking for a free fish. The bird only got the message that I was not there to provide a lunch, after a well-placed tap on the behind, from the end of my rod. Then it flew off, probably with the intention of mugging some other fisherman.

I dropped a couple of fish and slowly moved further and further south of the jetty. The fish were certainly not as numerous as they had been a week or so before. I walked all the way down to the green channel marker and back. Eventually I had five fish over 40cm to take home, but it had been hard work. I caught about 10 fish in total, over 2 1/2 hours.

At about 4.00 I walked back to the car and drove over the bridge to Bongaree to look at the creek drain in front of the Seaside Museum. They are still reconstructing the seawall along here. But at low tide you could see where the creek water runs over the edge in to the Passage and it looks very fishy. It was a beautiful evening and the wind had completely dropped away. Unfortunately this brought the biting midges out in huge numbers. It was now low tide and the water was almost still.

I wandered along the edge of the drop off for about an hour but I could not find any fish. The midges were so thick by 5.30 pm, that I gave up.

Bribie – the channel marker to the bridge – 31 March 2014

Monday

With massive downpours all along the Sunshine Coast on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was concerned that the recent flathead bonanza might come to an end. On Monday, I found myself driving up to Bribie to see how the big flush of freshwater had affected things.

I have been doing well fishing the last few hours of the run out tide, over the last few weeks. But after a major rain event this is not ideal. The water is at its freshest and cloudiest in the estuaries, as the tide runs out. All of the water that is running off the surrounding land changes the salt levels quite dramatically and this can force the fish or what they are eating, out to sea.

The trouble is the best drains and hiding spots around Bribie are hard to reach at high tide. So even though the incoming tide makes the water saltier and more comfortable for the fish, you cannot get at them from the shore.

I decided to fish as close as I could to the mouth of the Passage, next to the green channel marker, on the mainland side. This involved a long walk from the Bribie Bridge. I arrived at the sand spit, beside the channel marker at about 1.30 pm. Low tide would be at 4.00 pm. It would be a very low low tide at 0.3m, as we were only a couple of days off the new moon.

I tried a few GULP soft plastics – the 4” Minnow in Pearl Watermelon and the 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour, with no luck. The water was running out quickly, but it was very dirty. I swapped to a 5” Powerbait Minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour and started casting close to the green channel marker pole. This worked and just before 2 pm, I got my first flathead of the day. It was a decent 55cm fish.

I slowly moved back towards the bridge, casting into the run out tide and following the fringing weed beds. It took almost an hour to find the next fish. By this time, I had swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. It was another flathead, just over 40cm.

As the tide ran out, the fishing got harder and harder and the water got dirtier and dirtier. I dropped another fish, closer to the old oyster jetty but, by low tide I had really only had three serious bites in 3 hours.

Finally, I picked up a few tiny (under 30cm) flathead near the bridge, but overall it was a disappointing session. It is too soon to say that the fish are gone for good. I suspect that if there is no more rain, we may well see them build up again after the new moon.