Bribie – the old oyster jetty – a bagful of flathead – 10 May 2015

Sunday

In to May and time to get back on to the flathead at Bribie. Big wind and rain were forecast for later in the week so I decided I had to get out on Sunday morning. It was going to be bright and cool with light south westerly winds.

I waded out under the bridge at Bribie Island just before dawn and despite the cooler nights the water remains surprisingly warm. I cast around in the shallows under the bridge but there was not much going on so I moved slowly to the south.

I was fishing with a GULP 4“Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour, initially. This did not seem to stir any interest so I swapped to a similair sized Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was fishing with my new light rod – a G.Loomis SJR6400. This is a very short, very fast action, light spinning rod. It is only 5’ 4” long which should make it easier to use in the smaller creeks that I hope to fish later in the year, up north. Loomis describe it as a ‘magnum ultralight’ rod which sounds more like a diet ice cream to me.  It is designed to have slightly more strength than their ultra-light series, while retaining its sensitivity. I was using it with my Shimano Stella 2500 loaded with 12lb braid and about a metre of 10lb fluorocarbon. The tide was slowly running out so I was using a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and aiming it at any spot where the sand met the weed.

It was hard work. I disturbed a few sting rays and eventually hooked one, which dragged me around for a while before breaking the light leader. I had now been fishing for 2 hours without connecting with a flathead. The water was getting dirtier as we approached low tide, which would be just after 8.00 am.

I move along towards the green channel marker. It was now right on low tide. I had been joined by a few more keen fishermen on the edge of the sand bank. Just as I was beginning to think the new rod was cursed, I felt the tell-tale thud of the flathead bite. I was now using the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. I paused then struck. It is always a little tricky catching your first fish on a new rod. You have to calibrate the drag setting to the rod bend and this can take a while. The fish hardly managed to take any line, which meant I had it too tight. It was a flathead about 42cm long and I soon had it in the keeper bag. I loosened the drag a little and carried on casting. A few minutes later I caught a small Pike then things went quiet for about 20 minutes.

The water was still and dirty. I moved slightly north, back towards the old oyster jetty. I felt a bite but did not hook up. This happened twice and each time the fish was a little nearer to me. I moved back a few paces and tried again with a short cast and a long pause. When I lifted the rod the fish was on the soft plastic. It was another flathead about the same size as the first. Over the next 30 minutes I caught two more – one more over 40cm and one just under.

I carried on moving south. The tide was starting to turn and flow in. I kept casting at the edge of the weed beds and was rewarded with another flathead. This time it was a bigger one at about 55 cm. I now had a family dinner in the keeper bag.

I kept casting as I waded back towards the car and I was rewarded with another flathead, just before I passed the jetty. After a slow start it had turned into a great morning. The new rod had proved itself and I had my bag limit for the day.

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Bribie Island – the oyster jetty flats – 27 April 2015

Monday

Another big gap between fishing sessions but by the end of April I was back in Brisbane for a few days and the weather was calm, cool and bright. As soon as I had time, I drove up to Bribie Island to see if the flathead where around. March and April always seem to produce plenty of good flathead from the flats around the island.

I hit my favourite spot – the muddy, weedy, sand flats to the south of the old oyster jetty, in front of the Sandstone Point Hotel, which is currently under development. This will be a huge pub when it is finished. I think it is great to see a development that seems to fit in with the natural landscape. My only disappointment was the wholesale removal of the native gum trees behind the mangrove line, to make way for the project. These used to provide a good break when the cold south-westerly winds blow.

I started a little after first light and a bit before dawn at about 6.00 am. I think this short window between getting light and the sun coming over the horizon is an excellent time to fish. The change in light triggers the feeding response and the low intensity means they are bold enough to chase lures and baits into the shallows.

A 2.0m high tide had passed at 4.09 am, so I was fishing the run out tide. The moon was about half full which meant that the tidal flow would not be that significant. There was about 50cm of water at the base of the mangroves, as I waded towards the old oyster jetty.

I was fishing with my very light spin rod – NS Blackhole 6’ SGII 602L Trout rod I picked up in Tumut last year. It is rated for 2 to 8lb line and 2 to 10 gram lures. My beloved Loomis GL2 had a fatal accident in 1770 and the gang at Jones Tackle are seeking out a replacement for me. In the meantime this light, fast action rod is great for flathead, bream and other estuary targets.

It was now about 6.45 am, I had rigged a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead and I was using just over a metre of 10lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader.  I was casting ahead of me in to the shallows. The water was clear but a little cooler than it had been fishing at 1770, a few weeks before. I had just passed the cable crossing warning sign when I felt a faint grab at the soft plastic. I dropped the rod tip and paused but did not entice a strike. I cast back at the same spot and felt the same slight grab. I cast to the right – nothing. I cast to the left – nothing. Then I cast back along the original trajectory and paused with the soft plastic on the bottom, for a good ten seconds. When I lifted it the fish struck. It was a flathead – a little over 50cm. It was good to know persistence pays off.

I waded under the jetty and slowly fished my way to the point where the shoreline turns the corner towards Sandstone Point. I paused here and threw a few casts along the drain that channels the run out tide round the corner and over the flats. I felt a couple mad grabs and swipes and realised that the Long Toms must be snapping at the soft plastic. I could not find a flathead in the drain so I moved on.

I waded along the gradually emerging sand bank until I was almost at the green channel marker. I stuck with the same soft plastic all the way. I then turned back to walk along the edge of the weed beds, in the direction of the jetty.

About half way back to the jetty, I felt a solid hit and paused. When I lifted it, the fish was hooked. It was another, slightly smaller 45cm flathead. I now had two in the bag, but would need at least one more to feed my mob.

I slowly moved north, casting and casting. After another 1 hour I still only had two fish. I was back at the jetty and the water was clear and almost still. It was now about 9.30 am and nearly low tide. I out in a few casts alongside the jetty. On about the third cast a very angry flathead slammed my soft plastic.  I subdued it and carefully pulled it ashore.

That was enough for me. Three fish, four nice fillets from each, that’s twelve good pieces of fish – which makes a very decent family meal. It took 3 hours to catch and about 12 minutes to eat. Good to be back on my home turf.

1770 – Wreck Rock – More Dart & Slatey Bream – 10 April 2015

Friday

The wind had been blowing all day on Thursday, from the south-east. So on Friday morning the swell was up. Low tide would be just after dawn at about 6.30 am. The fish had been around at Wreck Rock and after a run in with something big the day before, I had to go back. I arrived about 5.45 am, just after first light but before sunrise.

The wind was cool but the water was warm. It was washing over the rocks where I wanted to fish so I had to stop on high rock, some way back from the end of the rocky outcrop runs out from the north end of the small bay.

I started with heavier, 20lb fluorocarbon leader and bigger GULP 5” Jerkshads in various colours. These did not stir any interest and as the surf and swell picked up I re-rigged with lighter 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I decided to choose a smaller Gulp 3” Minnow in the Sardine colour and stuck with the 1/6th ounce, size 2 hook jighead. This instantly attracted a few bites and after a few casts, I started catching dart.

Perhaps it was the rough seas but the dart seemed more aggressive than they had been in previous days and they were bigger too. I swapped through a few soft plastics, and they seemed to like the GULP Swimmow and the GULP 2” Shrimp, both in the Peppered Prawn colour.

The swell was picking up so I was now casting into the calmer water behind the rocks. I was using the GULP 2” Shrimp, letting it sink slowly in the wash and suddenly something swallowed it. Once again the slow but powerful run told me it was not a dart. It was another painted sweetlip / slatey bream. I released it, as this was my last session for the week and we would be heading for Brisbane later in the day.

By 7.45 am the swell had pushed me off the rocks so I gave up. It had been another great week in this beautiful part of the world. Cleary the fish species come and go with the seasons here, just like anywhere else. This week it was dart and slatey bream. I am hoping to come back up in the cooler months to see if the jewfish and tailor are around.

1770 – Wreck Rock – Dart & Slatey Bream – 9 April 2015

By Thursday, the rain had passed over but the wind had picked up considerably. I was up early and decided to try fishing at Wreck Rock. The tide would only be low enough to reach the rocks I wanted to fish from, for about 90 minutes.  The incoming tide would then force me back.

I arrived in the pre-dawn light and walked out to the beach. The sky was gradually turning orange and the wind had dropped right off. It was very light and cool, from the south-west.I walked out on to the rocks on the north edge and picked my way out as far as I could go. The wind had dropped but the swell was up and although the water was warm the cold breeze was nasty.

I knew there would be dart around and predictably, my first cast with a 3” GULP Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic was just what they wanted. I pulled the first small dart out of the water just after 6.00am.I was sticking with a light 12lb fluorocarbon leader but went with the slightly heavier 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead to counteract the swell.

The dart kept coming but I was hoping for something more significant so I put on the GULP Mantis Shrimp that had caught the slatey bream on Monday. I fished this around for 20 minutes with only a few small hits from the dart. I swapped back to a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. This instantly caught the dart again.

I decided to change up to a bigger profile again and tied on a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I cast this one a fair way out towards some a nearby bommie. On its way back to me it was swiped at by a couple of Long Toms, but I did not hook them.

I hit the same area with a few more casts and suddenly there was a quick tug and the reel started screaming. The rod bent over and the fish took plenty of line in a blistering initial run. As soon as it paused I checked the drag tension and realised it was actually quite tight. I tried to get some line back but the fish immediately set off again and snapped the leader. Trevally or maybe a Mackerel, either way a 12lb leader was not going to stop it. I re-rigged with the heaviest leader I had in the bag – 20lb fluorocarbon and cast back out. I peppered the area with casts but whatever it was had moved on.

 

The wind was now picking up again and the incoming tide was forcing me back along the rocks. I swapped to a GULP Green Camo 4” Minnow and carried on fishing. The dart kept hitting this one and then something slower and heavier grabbed it. It turned with the swell and took a bit of line. It then started swimming away faster, once it realised it was hooked. After a few minutes I pulled it up onto the rocks with the aid of a breaking wave. It was another good sized slatey bream with bright orange markings behind its lips.

I decided to keep this one for supper and so I retreated to the dryer rocks to bleed and clean it. By the time it was gutted the tide had come up further and the wind was really starting to blow so I gave up for the day.

1770 – Flat Rock – Dart – 7 April 2015

Tuesday

The family took off for Lady Musgrave Island to have a look at the reef. But the prospect of ninety minutes battling high seas had me close to throwing up so I dropped them off at about 8.00 am and drove back down to Flat Rock.

The sun was out when I arrived and there was a light northerly wind blowing. I had the beach to myself and walked south to the spot where I had been fishing the day before. I was fishing the same fairly light rig and was sticking with the 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I would not stop any toothy fish with light leader but even if I upped it to a 30lb breaking strain, I doubt I would be able to hang on to a mackerel or big trevally. I prefer to fish lighter and lose a few fish than not get the bites. I tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 2 hook jighead and loaded it with a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the sardine colour. It was now about 9.45 am and just about high tide. I started by fishing the gutter on the inside of the Flat Rock without much success. The sky turned grey and the wind started to pick up.

After about an hour I had had a few bites but caught nothing. I moved south and as the tide started to run out I waded across the gutter in a fairly shallow spot and stood up on the Flat Rock in ankle deep water. I started casting out beyond the rock. This immediately resulted in fish contact. I could see and feel the moses perch swiping at the soft plastic lure close to the front edge.

I cast out a bit further and found a small dart. I caught a few more and then changed to bigger 4” Minnow soft plastic. The dart kept hitting the bigger plastic but could not swallow it. I swapped back down to the 3” Minnow in the New Penny colour and instantly hooked another, slightly bigger dart.  I moved up and down the front face of the rock and tried different plastics. The dart kept coming but they did not get much bigger. The rain came too and gave me a good soaking. At about 1.00 pm, I gave up for the day.