Brunswick River – Flathead, Bream, Mullet – December 2017

In December Brunswick Heads started to fill with holidaymakers and the river became much busier. I had found the beaches north of the river mouth pretty hard in the warmer weather. There were still dart and whiting around but they were very small. I tried fishing in the few areas of Simpsons Creek where it is allowed and caught a couple more flathead. The bait continued to multiply in the river and big schools of juvenile mullet started to appear. On a couple of hot days, I snorkeled around in Simpsons Creek and took a few photos of the food chain underwater.

Fishing with the small minnow soft plastics in natural colours worked best. Every now and then, the bait would fly in all directions as schools of small trevally moved through. Occasionally I would catch one but none were bigger than about 25cm long. Down at the river mouth I had some luck catching some better sized bream at the base of the rocks.

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Brunswick River – Bream and Flathead – November 2017

By November summer was truly upon us and the water temperatures had risen significantly. Typical wind pattern was little or no breeze on dawn and a building north-easterly during the day. On the beaches between Wooyung and the north wall of the Brunswick River I caught a few dart, flathead and the occasional monster whiting. In the surf the big whiting are often happy to attack a 4 inch minnow soft plastic, just at the point where the wave rolls over. I have been using a Daiwa Crossfire 8’6” rod which has a pretty fast action matched with Shimano Stradic 4000 reel, 12lb braid and 12lb fluorocarbon leader in the surf. This rig will land a determined dart or bream, as long as there are no rocks around. It is also light enough to flick a soft plastic lure a fair distance.

There was some big surf around so I focused on getting to know the Brunswick River. Fishing the quieter spots mid-week produce the best catches and the trusty 3” and 4” Gulp Minnow soft plastics in the Pearl Watermelon colour worked very well. I had a couple of quick bust offs that could have been mangrove jacks, but who knows. The bait schools were thick all along the shore line and mangrove jacks love to hunt on still humid afternoons. To catch the bream I had to fish with a light leader, usually 10lb fluorocarbon. I found a few and even wrestled a cod out form under a rock during one session.

 

Brunswick River, Richmond River – flathead and bream – October 2017

In October I could not find anything much on the beaches and was still only catching tiny flathead in Mooball Creek. I had a couple of sessions fishing on the Brunswick River rock wall at Northhead, where I dropped a couple of small chopper tailor when fishing with a Gulp Jerkshad.

In desperation I drove down to fish the mouth of the Richmond River at Ballina. Things looked more promising here and I caught a few good-sized bream on the inside of the north wall. I was using 3”and 4” Gulp minnow soft plastics in my favourite Pearl Watermelon colour. I also watched a large flock of cormorants herd a school of baitfish into the shallows and then feast on them.

 

 

 

Brunswick River, Wooyung Beach and Mooball Creek – September 2017

September saw my first serious explorations of the coast around the Brunswick River mouth in Northern New South Wales. The river itself holds plenty of fish but it is a very busy recreational spot so at the weekends it is hard to find an undisturbed stretch to fish. I managed to find a few small flathead and bream amongst the oyster leases near where the Pacific Highway Bridge crosses the river. In the run up to the new moon there were large schools of mullet and bream in the marine sanctuary areas near town. Unfortunately, I saw people fishing for them even though this is a no – take zone. Perhaps clearer signage is needed.

When the water was very clear in the main branch of the river I was dropping down to 8lb fluorocarbon leader to persuade the bream to bite. Every now and then my soft plastic would be grabbed and pulled under a ledge by what I think was most likely and estuary cod.

I also tried fishing around the rocks the rocks on the beach at Wooyung and had a few sessions in Mooball Creek.  I caught small flathead on soft plastics in both these locations but virtually none were big enough to keep.

New Brighton, South Golden Beach, Bribie – Bream – August 2017

In August the bream where still around in numbers at Bribie and I also started to explore the beaches near the mouth of the Brunswick River in New South Wales. I am planning a move in that direction, so I need to get to know where to fish.

Sticking with mainly Gulp soft plastics, I had success with various coloured 3 inch minnows on the bream at Bribie. Fishing in front of the drain that empties into the Pumicestone Passage, over the coffee rock ledge, in front of the seaside museum at Bongaree was very successful. A light, 10lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/8th or 1/12th ounce jigheads seemed to do the trick.

Down on the beach at New Brighton the same size plastics found dart, flathead and a few good bream.

 

Bribie and Iluka – Bream – July 2017

July

I agree with the general sentiment that a clear sunny winter day in Queensland is hard to beat. Ok, so the mornings can be chilly but there is something great about needing a beany at sunrise and a cold shower at noon.

July provided some good weather and some great bream. I started the month fishing on the Bongaree side of the Pumicestone Passage at Bribie and I soon found good sized spawning bream. Gulp 3-inch minnow soft plastics in the Pearl Watermelon or Smelt colours worked best, fished on 1/8th ounce, size 1 and 2 hook jigheads and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. This set up also caught a few flathead for me.

Later in the month I had a few days fishing at Iluka, in Northern New South Wales. In fact, it was the good bream catches at Bribie that persuaded me I need to get down there. The rocky headlands of the Bundjalung National Park hold plenty of good bream all year round but in the run up to the big winter full moons they can be everywhere.

During my trip to Iluka I fished at Shark Bay, Iluka Bluff, Frazers Reef and Woody Head. Frazers Reef and the Middle Bluff – just to the north, produced solid catches of bream, as did Shark Bay. I tried for some tailor most mornings using 50/ 60 g slugs. I caught a few small choppers but they were very patchy. When I swapped down to big and small DUO hard bodied lures, I just caught more bream.

The swell made things hard at Woody Head and I could not really fish safely off the front. There must have been Jewfish around and I had a couple of bust offs that may well have been jewfish. Beautiful sunrises and loads of birds  and other wildlife to watch made for a great few days.

Bribie – Bongaree and the oyster jetty flats – June 2017

As the water cooled in June I enjoyed a few beautiful clear-skied sessions fishing the flats at Bribie. The back end of the run out tide proved the most productive time to fish and I caught five good sized flathead on several occasions.

I was usually using GULP Jerkshad soft plastics rigged on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead.  I use 10-12 lb fluorocarbon leader and 6’6 light spin rod with a ‘fast’ tip. The mainline is usually a 10 to 12lb breaking strain yellow coloured braid. I used the coloured stuff as it is far easier to see in low light.

The GULP Cajun Chicken and Pearl Watermelon colours were both effective. These two could not be further apart in appearance, which confirms my suspicion that when the flathead are around and feeding, they are not fussy about colour. You just have to cover the ground and find them.

When I swapped down to the smaller 3-inch GULP Minnow and Shrimp shapes I started to catch a few bream. I caught quite a few 30cm + sized fish along the drop off from the coffee rock ledge that runs along the shore in front of the Seaside Museum, at Bongaree.

If I am going to keep fish to eat. I kill them on capture and then remove the guts in the saltwater as soon as I finish fishing. I then put the gutted fish in an esky full of ice for the drive home. I then transfer to the fridge overnight and fillet them the next day. I then use a vacuum sealer, to bag the fish into family meal size portions and refrigerate. I find that flathead prepared in this way still tastes very fresh up to 12 days post capture. Not cleaning the fish in fresh water makes a big difference to both the flavour and texture, so avoid it if possible.

June was a good month to be out there.