Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 25 January 2016

Monday

Low tide had proved productive on Friday and Monday would be full moon, so I just had to get out fishing again. The wind was forecast to build up into a very strong south-easterly by mid-morning. I arrived at the Bribie Bridge at 4.30 am, well before first light. Low tide had passed at 3.51 am. There had been a storm overnight, with thunder and lightning but not much rain. It was hot and humid with mosquitoes everywhere, but conditions were very still. The tide was not yet running.

I cast around under the bridge and had a few bites from something small. I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour (yellow and pumpkinseed) on a 1/8th ounce size 1/0 hook jighead. There were plenty of tiny squid swimming around and a few mullet jumping.

I moved south, parallel with the shore. I cast at the first barnacle covered pylon that I came to and as I retrieved the soft plastic along the bottom, I felt a solid bite. I struck but did not set the hook and the fish was gone. I peppered the area with casts and after about seven or eight, I had another solid bite. I dropped the rod tip and paused. I counted slowly to ten, then struck. This time, I connected. It was a respectable flathead about 55 cm long. There was fish in the fridge at home, so I let this one go.  I continued fishing around the pole and soon caught another smaller flathead about 45cm long.

Now I waded to the south. Passing under the jetty, I kept casting but swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour.  The sun came up and an enormous school of mullet swam by, finning around on the surface. I cast my lure in to the middle of them and felt them bump and nudge it. On the few occasions I have caught a mullet, it has nearly always been by foul hooking it. They have really small mouths, so they will rarely swallow a soft plastic.

I kept seeing the triangular shape of a ray’s wing tips breaking the surface. It’s easy to see how these could be confused for shark’s fins in the low light of dawn and dusk. By now I was about half way to the furthest green channel marker. I felt another good bite but could not hook the fish. On the next cast I did connect and caught another 45cm flathead.

The wind was very strong now and the tide was running in quickly, so I turned back towards the jetty. It felt like I had been fishing for ages but it was actually only about 6.45 am. As I came back towards the bridge I caught the final flathead of the day. It was also the biggest, at just on 60cm.

I had had a few good sessions around the full moon which seems to be a pattern in this area.

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Bribie – Whitepatch and the old oyster jetty flats – 22 January 2016

Thursday’s fishing had not been that great but when I woke up on Friday I was confident that the fish would be there. The moon was virtually full and it would be a big high tide at about 8.30 am. More importantly the wind had dropped off considerably.

I decided to fish the first half of the run out tide at Whitepatch on Bribie Island. On a big tide the water comes right up to the tree line and the fish will often move up with it. There are often good whiting in the shallows here and where there are whiting there are usually flathead.

I started at the north of end of Whitepatch beach, fishing with a GULP 3 inch Minnow in the New Penny colour. I waded off to the north casting in the direction of the outflowing tide and then hopping the lure back towards me. I soon caught a tiny flathead that was sitting right next to a ledge of coffee rock at the foot of the tree lined beach. When I cast the lure out further it was grabbed a few times by what I think where the cruising long toms. I fished for about two hours but could not find any more fish.

At about 11.15 am I moved down to the old oyster jetty flats. The tide was still fairly high so I waded along close to the mangrove line, casting out towards deeper water. I was now fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. The wind was picking up and there was lots of weed floating around. The tide was running out fast and by about 12.30 pm I was about 30 metres to the south of the old oyster jetty. I felt a solid bite and hooked a nice 55cm flathead. When I pulled it in it had a nasty scar on its back.

I carried on towards the channel marker and about 40 minutes later picked up another 45cm flathead. As I moved south I caught two more, a 48 cm and a 50cm in fairly quick succession. By 2.00 pm I was hot and knackered and the wind was really blowing so I decided to give up. It had been a long session but I had found some decent fish.

Bribie – the Sandstone Point flats – 21 January 2016

Thursday

The forecast was for a 10 knot northerly wind which looked good for a quick fishing session. So I drove up to Bribie, to fish the run out tide on the old oyster jetty flats. It was a few days before full moon and the tides were getting big. It had been a 2.39m high tide at 7.35 am. Ideal fishing time on the flats would therefore be between about 10.00 am and 1.00 pm.

I started fishing at about 9.30 am. I rigged up my light spin ring and waded out under the bridge. There was still plenty of water so I cat around under the bridge for a while. I did not get any bites and the high tide meant there was a lot of weed floating around so I decided  to wade south alongside the mangroves and fish around the corner on the Sandstone Point flats.

On a big tide these flats are covered in 2 metres of water in places and there is plenty of structure and food for the fish that move up into these areas. There are a number of piles of oyster covered rocks and the remains of some old fish traps and old oyster racks.  There are also some big weed beds and patches of sandy bottom.

Today I could see some big mullet schools finning around and as I came around the corner I saw a couple of small tuna, of some kind, chase a school of smaller baitfish into the shallows. I was initially fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime tiger colour. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I saw a few long toms grabbing at the plastic and hooked and then dropped one. They seem to love this area.

The wind was picking up and now coming from the north-east at about 20 knots. I was about waist deep behind a mangrove island and fishing alongside a small submerged rockwall. I felt a solid bite but struck a little too quickly and probably pulled the lure out of the fish’s mouth. I cast back in the same spot about five times and on the sixth the fish struck again. This time I dropped the rod tip for a full ten seconds and when I lifted it again I hooked the fish. It was a healthy looking 45cm flathead and I kept it for dinner.

It was now about 10. 45 am and I could not find any more fish around the mangrove island so I wandered back towards the main channel. There was still plenty of bait around and a cormorant was successfully fishing in the shallows. I waded along the sand bar that runs down towards the green channel marker, casting along the edges of the weed. I was now in less than a metre of water and the tide was running out quickly.  I felt a very aggressive smash and grab and a fish took off with the same Lime Tiger Minnow. It was a bigger fish and after a short fight I pulled it up onto the sand. I later measured it at 63cm.

By about 11.45 am the wind and weed were making fishing just too hard. I am sure the fish were there but I did not have the patience to carrying on battling the elements to find them.

Muscat, Oman – Al Ghubra beach – 15 January 2016

Friday

Friday would be my last chance to fish the beach in Muscat, Oman. I woke well before dawn and pulled on my back pack. It is always difficult to know what types of lures and leaders to bring to a previously unknown fishing spot. I brought a packet of mixed GULP 3” Minnow soft plastics in various colours, a packet of GULP 4” Minnows in Lime Tiger, a packet of GULP 4” Swimmows in the Peppered Prawn colour and a packet of mixed coloured GULP Jerkshads. I also had 1/4, 1/8th and 1/6th ounce jigheads and 6lb, 10lb, 16lb and 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I packed three Maria MJ Twitch small hard bodied minnows in different sizes and a few bigger DUO Realis Jerkbait hard bodied minnows.

On Friday I walked in the opposite direction along the beach, past the Al Ghubra market and a big camp of tuna boats. The beach was pebbly with patches of sandy bottom and I could see some rocky structure beneath the waves. After about 600 metres I crossed the mouth of a shallow wadi.

I had been fishing all the way along with a GULP Minnow with no luck. Now I decided to swap to a small MARIA MJ twitch suspending hard bodied minnow. I could cast this a bit further out, beyond the wave break. This soon stirred things up and after two or three retrieves I was on to a fish. It was another grinner/ lizard fish. I had seen these in the market, so they obviously eat them here. At home in Queensland, they are pretty much considered to be only good for bait. I let it go and cast out again. I had obviously found a solid school because for the next 30 minutes I caught grinner after grinner. I swapped to a GULP Swimmow in the peppered prawn colour, but this just caught a few more grinners.

It was now well past sunrise and I was moving back towards the Chedi resort. I had tied on a heavier, 1/6th ounce jighead and loaded a GULP 3” Minnow in the New Penny colour. I cast this around leaving it for long pauses on the bottom. After a while I felt another good bite and paused. When I lifted the rod tip the fish was hooked. It was another flounder, but a much bigger one. I decided to keep it. I dispatched it and put it to one side. The soft plastic was all mashed up so I put on another GULP Swimmow and carried on casting. I had found a good patch of flounder (or goat fish as the locals call it). I caught about four more and released them all.

I wandered back to the Chedi, where a helpful waiter arrived with a plate and whisked the still flapping flounder off to the kitchens. I had a shower and made my way to breakfast. The fish was cleaned, filleted and grilled and arrived at my breakfast table with some fresh lemon, olives and hummus.

I had loved visiting Oman and was delighted by the friendly people and the beautiful scenery. It is a Muslim country but I never felt threatened or uncomfortable. The Ibadi Muslims who are the religious majority, preach tolerance and respect for other religions and cultures.  It is a pocket of calm in a troubled part of the world. I hope it stays peaceful and I will get the chance to come back.

Muscat, Oman – Al Ghubra beach – 12 January 2016

Tuesday

Jetlag and the call to prayer had me up early again on Tuesday.  I rigged up the travel rod and headed out on to the beach in front of the resort. I was staying at the Chedi Hotel – http://www.ghmhotels.com/en/muscat/ . There is not much you can say about this place – it is basically heaven on earth, with a price tag to match. I am pretty sure I am the first guest they have ever had who wanders out to flick soft plastic lures in front of their manicured beach and pristine lawns.

Muscat has some fantastic scenery. The Jebel Akdar mountain range rises to about 3000 metres, just behind the coastal strip. The range is dotted with fertile wadis where springs and snow smelt make it possible to cultivate irrigated gardens, all year round.

It was still dark when I started casting at about 5.45 am. The sun was starting to redden the sky behind the mountains. I was walking along the beach casting with a GULP 4 “ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. The tide was running in and there was virtually no wind. I was using a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader.  After two or three casts I waded out a little as I could see some baitfish jumping around. I cast straight at the action and as the lure sank a fish grabbed it. It was much faster than a flathead and I saw a flash of silver. It took a bit of line and made some persistent runs but soon I had it under control. I pulled it up the beach and let it settle. It was a King Soldier bream – Argyrops Spinifer. I took a few pictures and released it.

I carried on moving and casting as the sun came up. I swapped through a few different soft plastic lures. I caught a couple of flathead on the GULP 3” Minnow in the New Penny colour and then a couple more on the GULP Swimmow in the Peppered Prawn colour. They were all bar/ flag tailed flathead and all would have been between 35 and 45 cm long.

The sun was rising and the water was crystal clear. As I walked back towards the hotel. I felt a slightly different bite on the Swimmow. I paused, then lifted the rod. I had another fish and this time it was small flounder. I released it and caught another on the next cast.

It was time for breakfast so I gave up at about 8.00 am. There is no shortage of fish here.

Muscat, Oman- fishing in the Middle East – 9 January, 2016

Sunday

In early January I was fortunate enough to travel to Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, on the Arabian Gulf. I had heard there was some great fishing. So I packed my Berkley Nomadic travel rod and reel and a few bags of soft plastics, jigheads and a couple of hard bodied lures.

After a few days in Muscat I visited the wet fish market in Mutrah. There were tuna of several types, which are caught from the Gulf, using long lines. There were many other familiar looking species – trevally, queenfish, snapper, small sharks, and piles of anchovies/ whitebait. There was a large fish that looked a little like a grunter bream that they call Hamour or Kingfish. There was also the head of what had obviously been an enormous garoupa.

This visit had me fired up so the next morning I decided to walk south, in front of the resort, along the long flat Al Ghubra beach. Oman has very little fresh water so there is an enormous desalination plant at the southern end of the beach which constantly discharges warm water into the Gulf. I was sure this flow would attract fish so I walked in that direction.

The morning call to prayer comes at 5.30 am and is a useful alarm call for a light sleeping fisherman like me. As I walked along the beach in the pre-dawn light the locals were making the most of the cooler northern hemisphere weather for morning exercises. Typical temperatures at this time of the year are between about 18 and 25 C, but there is very little humidity – so it feels quite cool. One lady had decided to read her Koran looking out over the waves and it looked like a pretty calming way to start the day. Despite the cooler weather both women and men were fully covered up – Men in their long white dishadashas and small caps and women in their black abayas and head scarves. The only thing their outfits had in common with a typical Aussie exercise kit was the occasional pair of Nikes, poking out under their robes.

There is virtually no swell in the Gulf but the wind can kick up a few small waves. There were a few patches of flat rock sticking out from the shore but the rest of the beach was flat and sandy. The tide was coming in and would be high at about 8.20 am. Sunrise would be at 6.15 am. The water felt very warm on my feet and the new moon was a few days away.

The Berkley Nomadic NMS761 rod is a five piece – so it will comfortably fit in my suitcase. It is rated 2-4 kg and 7’ 6” long. The action on the rod is a little slower than I would like. I prefer a very flexible, fast (whippy) tip, but this is very difficult to achieve in a 5 piece rod. It’s a pretty good compromise and has enough power to stop a reasonable fish. I rigged up with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader, tied on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead, loaded a 4” GULP Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic lure and started casting.

 

It took a little while to get used to the feel of the rod and the jighead was a little light for this rig but I gradually found my rhythm and started to feel a few small bites. As the sun came up I could see tight schools of what looked like small mullet finning around on the surface. Every so often they would scatter as something came at them. I swapped soft plastic to a smaller 3” minnow in the New Penny colour. Just as I was about to pull the lure out of the water on the first retrieve, a fish grabbed it. It pulled and splashed and was brown and sandy coloured. When I got it to the beach it could see it was a lizardfish or grinner (as we know them in Australia). I released it and carried on.

A few casts later I was on to a fish again and imagine my surprise when a small sand/ bar-tailed flathead came wriggling up the beach. It was now a bright morning and getting warm. I caught another grinner and as I moved back along the beach, another small flathead.

I swapped back to the bigger 4” minnow in the Lime Tiger colour and after about 10 minutes I was on to another flathead. By now I was back in front of the resort. The cleaners who were raking the beach and sweeping the paths watched intently. This was a better fish, about 45 cm long. As I landed it one rushed over and asked if he could have it. I was happy to oblige. A few moments later, I caught another and by now, the team had found a bucket and were keenly following my progress along the beach.

I caught two more big grinners which they also happily accepted and one small flathead that I felt I should release, much to their disappointment. I finished up and declined the kind invite to a curried fish supper.

What a great session – remember – wherever you are, it’s always worth wetting a line.