Brunswick Heads – Birds Working – 3 August 2015

Monday

People often ask me about birds and what do fishermen mean by “look out for the birds working”. Whilst fishing off the beach at Brunswick Heads recently I managed to film a good example.

It is hard to say exactly what was going on but the most like scenario is that there is a large school of bait – mullet, anchovies or something similair, that has drawn the attention of a big school of tailor that are migrating north to spawn. The tailor are attacking the bait school from below whilst the birds are dive bombing from above. Pretty soon this leads to a lot of blood and fishy residue in the water and the larger predators, sharks, trevally, mackerel will start to get involved.

The key challenge for the land based fisherman is getting a cast out to where the action is. You can watch this type of activity going on all day but it often is just out of reach. My advice is to make sure you tie on a very tough leader and a heavy metal lure and then hurl it out in the direction of the fish. There is often a big school under the water that you cannot see and it could be a hundred metres ahead of where the birds are.

If you can get you lure in amongst this kind of action you are definitely going to hook something.

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Brunswick Heads – Joe Blake – 3 August 2015

Monday

I could not resist returning to the same beach gutter at Brunswick Heads on Monday evening to see if the fish were still there. The gutter that had produced so many tailor in the morning now only seemed to hold a few dart. After a while I caught one tiny flathead on a small soft plastic. The birds were nowhere to be seen and the wind had turned to a northerly.

As the sun dropped below the horizon I walked to the car and drove back along the dirt road that runs alongside Marshalls Creek. I slowed down when I saw what looked like a big stick on the road in front of me. The stick suddenly moved so I jumped out to have a look. It was a good sized python of some kind. It was fairly sluggish in the cool evening and after sticking its tongue out at me, it slowly slithered off into the undergrowth.

Remember – it’s a jungle out there!

A bit slow in the cold Marshalls Creek - Python Snake in the grass Stuck its tongue out

Brunswick Heads – tailor time – 3 August 2015

Sunday – Monday

I had managed to get a few days down at South Golden Beach in Northern New South Wales and was very keen to see if the Tailor where around on the beaches.

On Sunday morning I was up before dawn. I wrapped up in warm clothes and pulled on my waders. The house we were staying in was right behind the beach and I had seen a few fisherman pull in some small Tailor the night before, using pilchards.

As I came out on to the beach conditions were very calm. I had noticed a long wide gutter the day before so I tied on a 55g HALCO Twisty in the brassy/ gold colour and started putting in long casts towards the mouth of the gutter. I was doing a fairly fast steady retrieve and this soon warmed me up. Just after first light I briefly hooked a fish but it shook itself free after a few seconds. I carried on for another 30 minutes and just before the sun came over the horizon, I felt the rod tip bend over. It was a fair way out but I gradually pulled it in. It was soon at my feet in the surf, but as I pulled it clear of the water the treble pulled out of its lip and it was gone. I put in a few more casts before changing to a jerkshad soft plastic but I did not find another fish.

On Monday morning I decided to explore the mouth of the Brunswick River. I picked the rock wall on the north side and arrived just after first light at about 5.45 am. It was another fantastic sunrise with the whole horizon glowing a rich orange colour. I walked to the end of the rock wall with my light rock fishing rig. The NS Blackhole rod and Shimano Sustain 4000 reel, 15lb braid and 30lb fluoro-carbon leader. I tied on a 55g HALCO Twisty and cast it diagonally across the river mouth. I cast about 15 times in various directions with no luck. I swapped to a suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow hard bodied lure and cast this across the same area. On my third cast a fish hit the lure and I set the hooks. It was a small (approx.35cm long) tailor. I photographed and threw it back. On the next cast a fish hit the lure again but I did not connect. I continued for another 20 minutes in this spot with no further action so I decided to swap to a small soft plastic lure.

I moved a little way back along the rock wall, up river. I dropped the fluorocarbon leader down to 12lb, tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/ hook jighead and loaded it with a GULP 2.5 cm Crabbie in the Chocolate sparkle colour. This immediately attracted the attention of some Bream, I caught a couple and threw them back, both were between 25cm and 30 cm long.

The wind had picked up but I could see a big flock of birds dive bombing a little way up the beach. I decided to go and investigate. They were about 300 metres offshore but gradually moving in closer around the small rocky platform, just north of the rockwall. There was clearly a big school of bait with something feeding on it from below, which had attracted their attention. I walked along the beach and found a long gutter that runs up to the rocky platform. This looked about 1.5m deep at its deepest point and the main channel was very well defined. When I got level with the birds I started casting my soft plastic. The first takers were a few small dart, close to the beach. Then something bigger grabbed the soft plastic and started shaking its head. It presume it was a tailor and it soon chewed through the leader. I tied on the 30lb leader again and rigged up a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour and threw this out. A fish grabbed it almost as soon as it hit the water. This time I pulled it almost to the wave break, then it wriggled free.

I decided treble hooks would give me a better chance of landing a fish so I swapped back to the suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow. My strategy paid off. The lure was slammed as soon as I started the retrieve. I managed to get this tailor, safely up the beach. Now the fish were clearly feeding in the gutter and almost every cast hooked up. I caught somewhere between 10 and 15 fish over the next 40 minutes. The largest was 48cm long. I dropped plenty before they reached the beach, but kept a couple of bigger ones. Then just after 9.00 am, I hooked up again but the YOZURI Crystal Minnow was bitten clean off after just a few reel turns. I tied on the HALCO 55g Twisty again and landed a couple of smaller tailor with this lure, but then the same thing happened.

At about 9.15 am I swapped to a larger floating YOZURI Tobimaru 130mm hard bodied bibbed minnow. I tied this on with a 40lb rated wire trace and threw it out. More or less as soon as it landed I felt the fish bashing it around and about 2-3 metres into the retrieve I hooked up. I turned the reel a couple of times and then the line went slack. Clearly there was now something very toothy out there and I am not sure I really wanted to catch it, so at about 9.30 am I gave up for the morning.

It had been a great tailor session and confirmed for me that they will eat anything when they are feeding in big schools like this. I think lure choice was fairly unimportant but I did get the slightly larger fish on the hard bodied minnows, rather than the metal slugs.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – A bagful of flathead – 28 July 2015

Tuesday

I could not get away for dawn and it has been so cold lately that I was glad I did not have to. But I could make it to Bribie to fish my favourite spot, for a few hours, mid-morning. High tide had passed at about 6.30 am and it would be low at 12.30 pm. The wind was a light south-westerly.

I arrived at about 9.00 am, pulled on my waders and wandered out under the bridge. The full moon was three days away, but the bigger of the daily high tides had been in the morning. This sometimes helps the fishing. On the bigger overnight high tides the fish have deeper water, to follow the bait up into the shallows and feed. Flathead will often remain in the shallows until they are only covered by 10 cm of water as the tide runs out.

I was fishing with my NS Blackhole light spin rod and Shimano Stradic 2500 reel. I was using 10lb braid and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I was trying out my new favourite GULP soft plastic – the 5 inch Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour. I had it rigged on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead.

I soon found a flathead just to the north of the jetty on the edge of the weed. It was about 45cm long. I then found the pike who seemed to also like the jerkshad. They were clustered around the larger weed clumps.

I moved south and kept catching flathead. I caught 8 more fish over 45cm in the next three hours and a few that were too small. I kept the bag limit of five and released the rest. They were spread all along the edge of the weed beds and the pike were everywhere. As the run out tide slackened towards low, the bite dropped off a little. I finished up at 12.30 pm after another great session.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 20 July 2015

Monday

On Monday the weather looked windy and unsettled but it was forecast to get worse through the week, so I thought I would try an early morning session on the Bribie oyster jetty flats, in front of the new Sandstone Point Hotel.

The wind was a cold south-westerly forecast to turn northerly around lunch time. In a south-westerly it is better to fish the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, as the land gives you some shelter.

Low tide would be at 6.00 am. So I could probably stay fishing the best areas until about 9.00 am. By then the incoming tide would push me back away from the edge of the weed beds, where the flathead seem to congregate.

I waded out just after 6.30 am and the sky was very cloudy. The water was fairly dirty and not really running in yet. The sun came up at about 6.45 am and briefly showed beneath the clouds. I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour rigged on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using 12lb leader.

I found the pike first, just to the south of the old oyster jetty. They were actually pretty hard to get past. They were also big and aggressive – several were over 40cm long. They finally seemed to leave the lures alone as I moved further south.

I found the first flathead of the day at about 7.10 am. It was a solid fish about 55cm long. I carried on wading south and found a steady stream of fish. The pike kept up turning up and a couple of times I was bitten off clean (could have been tailor or perhaps just really big toothy pike).

At 7.30 am I found another slightly smaller flathead. Then I came across several more. I soon had 4 keeper size flathead in the bag all form the same soft plastic. Then a big nasty grey cloud came over and gave me a good soaking.

The wind picked up and I was cold so I turned around and waded back towards the bridge. I kept casting and found a couple more undersized flathead. Fortunately I found one more 45cm fish just short of the end of the jetty, so I managed a full bag.

The weather was dodgy but the fish are definitely there at the moment.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 15 July 2015

Wednesday

By Wednesday I was back in Brisbane, but I had a few hours for a fish in the middle of the day, that would coincide with the run out tide at Bribie.

I drove up and arrived at about 11.00 am. I had swapped back to my NS Blackhole 6′ SGII 602L trout rod as I wanted to put in some bigger casts on the flats. My new short Loomis ultra-light rod is great in tight terrain, when there are lots of overhanging branches, but it is not necessary at Bribie.

I waded out under the bridge on the mainland side. Low tide would be at 2.54 pm. There was a very light cold south-westerly wind blowing. It was the day before the new moon. The water was very clear and running out fast.

After about 30 minutes of casting and wading to the south, I caught the first flathead of the day. I was using my usual 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic lure in the Satay Chicken colour. I had decided to use a 12lb leader to give myself a little more protection against the toothy winter species. I then quickly caught a few pike on the same plastic.

I was now a fair way to the south of the old oyster jetty. I swapped to GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour and caught more big pike. I kept a couple of the bigger ones for my cat’s supper. One came in with a nice mouth shaped bite mark on its belly. There are few better live baits for mulloway, tailor or big flathead, than large double hooked pike.

I managed to move away from the pike patch and caught another legal sized flathead. The pattern of pike then flathead, continued as I moved out along the sand bar towards the green channel marker. I caught fish all the way along, on a number of different soft plastics including the GULP Smelt and Lime Tiger coloured 4” minnows and the GULP Cajun Chicken 5” jerkshads.

As I reached the slighty deeper water around the green channel marker something fast and furious grabbed the Smelt colour minnow and took off. It was a 40 cm tailor and it gave my light trout rod a good work out. I released it and set off back for the bridge.

I caught fish all the way back to the car. They were mainly Pike and I had a couple of bite offs that could have been the passing tailor. In between I caught approximately 8 more flathead, only three of which were under the legal size limit of 40cm.

I finished in the dirty water at the bottom of the tide at about 3.15 pm. Unfortunately I forgot the camera today so I have posted a few pics from my phone and a couple of the home fish filleting area.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – Woody Head – 18 June 2015

Wednesday was a washout, there was intermittent rain and strong wind all day. I tried Iluka Bluff in the morning but the rising tide and big swell made things very hard. The rain kept coming and I soon gave up. In the afternoon, I went along to Woody Head to see if I could do any better. I walked along the rock platform looking for a safe place to cast but found it very difficult. All I caught was a big mouthed Eastern Wirrah (known colloquially as an Old Boot).

Thursday was my last day and although there was a morning high tide, the swell was dropping and the sky had cleared. I started at Middle Bluff and witnessed a beautiful sunrise with a clear sky. The relatively calm conditions made it possible to fish off the front of the rocks, although every 15 minutes or so a big wave set would smash through. This made things tough. I twice hooked reasonable sized fish on the GULP Goby soft plastic but had to abandon the fight as I could see a big wave set coming in. I think they were both tailor.

In the afternoon the swell had dropped some more so I decided to spend my last session fishing from ‘the Barnacles’, round at Woody Head. Low tide would be at 3.00 pm and I started fishing at about 2.00 pm. The swell had dropped right back and this enabled me to cast directly out in front of ‘Barnacle Bob’ (the prominent rock in this area), without getting washed away.

In this spot you have to cast out over about 7 to 10 metres of cunjevoi and barnacle covered rocks, to a point where the rock ledge drops away. This is where the fish typically wait. In the event of a hook up this presents an immediate problem. The fish grabs the lure and swims down, pulling your leader or line tight against the rocks. The next wave of surge tangles the line more firmly in the rocks and you are stuck see-sawing until the line snaps. So hooking a fish here is just the beginning.

I was fishing the heavy rig and with this week’s favourite soft plastic – the GULP BBQ Chicken coloured Jerkshad, on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was now using 20lb fluorocarbon leader. After about 20 minutes of fish something grabbed the lure close to the ledge and the scenario I previously mentioned played out. It put its head down and see sawed on rocks, until the leader broke.

I re-rigged bit this time with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour and tried again. A few casts with nothing then a solid bite. Fortunately this fish swam out wards initially and I was able to keep it above the ledge. It was yet another chunky bream, well over 35cm long. I threw it back and tried again.  After few more minutes of casting and then something faster took off with the lure and swam along, parallel with the ledge. It felt like a good fish but it was actually a small trevally. When they turn their bodies sideways they are difficult to pull in. I landed it and released it.

A couple more fisherman, down from the Gold Coast for the weekend arrived. One started fishing with a big soft plastic and soon connected with a 45cm tailor. The sun was dropping fast and it was now about 4.30 pm. Things went a bit quiet and I moved south along the rocks. I decided to swap down to the lighter rod and 14 lb leader.

 

I was casting to the south and retrieving the lure almost parallel with the rocks. I tried to let it sit on the bottom between hops. I lost a few rigs and then at about 4.45 pm I lifted the rod and there was a fish on the line. It took off in a long solid run straight out to sea. I am sure it was another mulloway/ jewfish and immediately cursed my decision to drop down to my lighter rod. I played the fish patiently and after two more long steady runs, it started swimming back towards me. I could not muscle it in and so I had to wait for the surf. Unfortunately the waves were not kind. The first was not quite powerful enough to lift the fish up and I tightened the drag and heaved little bit too soon. The leader caught on the rocks and a few moments later the fish was gone.

That was it for me. Both reels needed re-spooling and a good clean and I was exhausted. I reckon the only way to end a fishing holiday is needing a week in bed and a couple of appointments with the chiropractor and that was just how I felt. Hoping to be back again soon.