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.

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Bribie & Mooball Creek – fishing the shallows – May 2017

May saw me out on the flats in front of the Sandstone Point hotel at Bribie Island wading in the shallows. Winter took a long time to arrive and the water styed stubbornly warm all through the month.

The flounder arrived to supplement the flathead and the odd bream. I fished with my light spinning rod and reel, 10lb fluorocarbon leader and generally GULP Jerkshad soft plastics in various colours on 1/8th 1/0 jigheads. I filled a bag with five keeper size flathead in the run up to the new moon on the run out tide.

I also continued my search for fish around Pottsville and found a few tiny flathead and Bream in Mooball Creek. These grabbed the smaller soft plastic minnows.

Bribie – Bongaree & the oyster jetty – 14 September 2016

Wednesday

On Wednesday I was fishing again in the morning but I decided to try the other side of the Pumicestone Passage and fish along the shore at Bongaree. This area has a sandy ledge that runs down to a drop off of a few metres. There are fish to be found all along the ledge at various stages of the tide.

I arrived and started fishing in my waders at about 9.30 am.  I started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The first fish I caught was a small bream about 30cm long. It grabbed the soft plastic just as I hopped it up, over the coffee rock ledge and into the shallows. I released it and caught two more in the next few minutes.

A hungry Pelican swam over to see if it could secure a free lunch but all the bream swam away unharmed. The next taker was a pike, then at about 11.30 am things went quiet.

I drove back over the bridge and had a quick cast around under the bridge and along by the old oyster jetty at Sandstone Point. As the wind picked up and conditions got difficult I managed to hook one 48 cm flathead on the Mad Scientist Optishad.

By 1.00 pm it was too windy so I gave up for the day.

Dune Rocks – Tailor – North Stradbroke Island – 15 July 2015

Saturday

I was still on North Stradbroke Island and delighted with my first session, the day before. It was still cold and fairly breezy on Saturday morning. The wind was blowing from the south-west but it would slacken off through dawn before turning south-east and picking up, mid-morning. Low tide had passed at about 3.00 am. It had rained overnight.

I walked down on to Deadman’s Beach just after first light and headed for Dune Rocks. It was about 5.45 am. I had decided that I would fish the pre-dawn period with a popper. It is my experience that the fish are more comfortable attacking a surface lure in the pre-dawn light. I stayed slightly to the north of where I had been fishing the day before.

There was already a keen fisherman in position reeling in a tailor on a metal slug, as I came round the corner. I joined him on the rocks and threw out the River2sea 110mm Dumbbell Popper in a pink colour. I had upgraded to 40lb fluorocarbon leader. Almost as soon as I started the retrieve, the lure was being pulled in all directions by a number of different fish, I kept up the pace of the retrieve and eventually solidly hooked one of them. It was a tailor about 35cm long. I threw it back and cast again. For the first few casts the fish whacked the popper as soon as it hit the water. Then they eased off a little. I slowed the retrieve and added a few long pauses after each big bloop of the popper. This got them fired up and they would hit the lure each time it paused. In the 30 minutes between first light and dawn I had tangled with 12 fish but landed only 4. They were all between 35 cm and 45 cm.

Post dawn by about 6.30 am the popper was no longer working. I tried a soft plastic jerkshad which was grabbed by something close to the rocks but I could not set the hook – cold have been anything – bream/ butter bream/ dart.  There were now a few fisherman on the rocks and they were still catching tailor from time to time. A curious Kangaroo also appeared to watch the fishing show.

I cleaned up my fish and walked back to the car at about 7.15 am.

Iluka – Shark Bay – Jewfish – 12 June 2015

Friday

On Friday the wind was a 10-15 knot south-westerly. I woke to heavy rain at about 5.00 am and it was cold. I had decided to go back to Shark Bay but low tide would not be until about 10.00 am, so there was no hurry. I had breakfast and put on a few layers.

I drove down to Shark Bay again and headed out to the northern end of the rocks. It was about 6.30 am by the time I reached the fishing spot.I rigged up a DUO Realis Jerkbait 110 SP – which is a shallow running hard body that has caught tailor here for me before. I tied it on with 35lb fluorocarbon leader and threw it out. On about the third cast I felt a grab and then some resistance but it did not feel like a Tailor. I kept winding and was surprised to see a big bream attached to the lure.

I carried on fishing with the DUO lure, but it did not find me any tailor so I swapped to a DUO Pressbait Saira. DUO call this a ‘slim and long-bodied jig minnow’. It is basically a 50 gram, 175mm long slug with a wobble tail action. The long baitfish profile means it should attract everything from tailor to tuna, but today after about 30 casts, it had attracted nothing.

I switched down to the lighter rock fishing rig and a soft plastic Jerkshad on a ¼ ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. I fished this around, the drop off and in amongst the kelp beds. I felt a few grabs but could not connect so I dropped down to a small 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. This soon found another smaller bream.

I moved south to the other side of the rocks. I started with the heavy rod and big soft plastics and gradually dropped down to the light rod and GULP 3” Minnows in various colours. I was now fishing 16lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. It was about 30 minutes to low tide and the swell seemed to be picking up. I changed up to a heavier 1/6th ounce 1/0 hook fine wire Breampro jighead and loaded up with a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour.

This is a colour I have never tried before and subsequent events suggest it pays to try something new, from time to time. The bigger plastic and slightly heavier jighead meant I could put in a slightly longer cast. On about my third attempt, I landed it beyond the breaking waves and waited for it to sink. As it floated down I felt a gentle tug. I paused for a few seconds then lifted the rod tip and felt a fish. It took off along the line of the surf towards some kelp covered rocks. I played it for a while and it felt like a jewfish. Unfortunately, it managed to find a good tuft of kelp to wrap itself around and the line went slack.  When I got the jighead back the fine wire hook had straightened so I tied on a heavier gauge one and put on another BBQ Chicken Jerkshad.

It did not take long, perhaps 3 or 4 more casts, then I was on to another fish.  This one was a little smaller and less powerful. It made a long initial run but then I was able to turn its head and use the wave surges to bring it in. It was a beautiful school jewfish but I was not sure if it was big enough, so I took out the tape and checked. It was 73cm long and therefore big enough to keep for dinner in New South Wales.

I threw a few more casts and felt a few more bites but as the tide slackened, the bites stopped. Another rain shower came over so I cleaned up my fish and decided to make for the car.

Iluka – Shark Bay – 11 June 2015

Thursday

As is so often the case in Iluka – the weather was not easy to deal with. The week before it had looked good with light winds and no rain forecast. I woke up early on Thursday to a howling south-easterly wind and intermittent rain, so I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. That did not really work so I got up, had breakfast and then thought about where to fish in a powerful south-easterly. The northern edge of the rock platform at Shark Bay, at low tide was the only option, so I set off.

The mullet fisherman were waiting at the corner of Shark Bay looking out for some late season schools. Apparently it has been a terrible season. With the big rain events last month flushing out all the fish. One keen fisherman was on his way back from the rocks with a 40 cm tailor in his bag. He had spun it up on an 85 g Raider metal slug, just after dawn.

I spun an 85 g Raider for about 25 casts but could not raise another tailor so I swapped to the light rod and tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and GULP Mantis Shrimp soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour. I was using 16lb fluorocarbon leader. In this area there is a kelp covered drop off about 10 metres out from the edge of the rock platform at low tide. This is where the bream sit. I felt a couple of solid bites as I pulled the soft plastic over the ledge, but did not hook up.

I swapped to 3“Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and kept casting. In exactly the same spot a small bream grabbed it and I had my first fish of the day. It was now about 9.45 am and I was soaked and cold.

The wind had dropped a little so I moved south across the rock platform to fish on the southern edge. This area is full of kelp covered rocks but there are some deep, sandy bottomed holes and I have caught good bream here in the past.

I swapped plastics to a GULP Swimmow in the dark green Emerald Shine colour. This was getting hit on the first cast but it took a while to actually connect with a fish. At about 11.00 am after slowing everything down I connected with another bream. This was a good one – well over 35 cm long. I continued with the Swimmow soft plastic for another 20 mins and was rewarded with another, about the same size.

I swapped back down to a 3“Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and  this produced another big bream, at about 11.30 am.  The rain started again and I decided to give up. It had been a tough session but there had been constant action and I had caught three excellent fish –  the largest of which later measured 38 cm.

Iluka – Woody Head – 27 November 2014

Thursday

It was another grey and humid start on Thursday morning in Iluka. There had been several showers overnight and the rain seem to have stifled the wind and swell. I had been doing well at Woody Head so I drove back out there, before dawn.  It would be an early morning low tide – which is pretty much perfect for fishing the rock ledges.

The recent bite offs suggested there was something big and toothy around so I tried again with a big shallow running hard bodied lure – the DUO Jerkbait 120 SP. I cast it around all through dawn but could not stir anything up.

I moved south along the rocks and swapped to a GULP 3 “ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was now on my lighter rock fishing NS Blackhole rod. I was using 14 lb fluorocarbon leader. I caught a small bream at about 5 am, from the spot which I believe the locals call the ‘Jew Hole’. It is a large inlet with a deeper channel in the middle, to the south of the area known as the ‘Barnacles’, where I usually start my fishing.

The sun came over the horizon and there was a brief glow of red before it got lost again, in the thick cloud. At about 5.30 am I hooked a fish and it took off. It was moving fast and I caught a flash of silver and realized it was a solid dart. I soon subdued it.  I caught another on the next cast and about 4 more, smaller ones over the next 20 minutes.  Then, I swapped to a GULP 3“ Minnow in the Green Camo colour and caught another, bigger dart. I bled the two bigger dart and left them in a rock pool that had a ledge overhanging it. Hopefully the various freeloaders – kites, pelicans, crows, crabs and wobbegongs, etc, would not find them.

Things slowed down a little so I moved further south to an area known as ‘Mossies’. This is a large, flat set of rocks covered in ankle deep green weed, at the southern end of the Woody Head platform. It is really only safe to fish here in gentle conditions, around low tide.  It was now about 6.00 am and low tide had been at 5.51 am. The first fish to grab the plastic was another solid 30 cm + bream. Another bream followed, on the next cast.

I was now almost as far south as I could go on the Woody Head rocks. I cast out the Green Camo minnow and let it waft down beside the ledge. Before it hit the bottom something smashed it. It took off to the south with a blistering run then turned back and torpedoed into the base of the rocks and snap went the leader.

I looked for tougher leader but I had used it all, so it was 14lb or 10lb. I tied a strong knot with the 14lb and put the same soft plastic minnow on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I cast back in the same spot and after a couple of tries, I was on to a fish again. I had the drag set tighter this time and I pulled pretty hard from the minute I hooked up. It was a tough fish but this time I kept it out of the rocks. After a few minutes it was tired and I landed it with the aid of the swell. It was a small king fish (or possibly an Amberjack – not sure) about 55cm long. I took some pictures and threw it back. A few casts later I was on to another one. This one was slightly smaller but put up just as tough a fight.

Next taker was a golden trevally which was longer than the king fish but not quite as mad. It was still a tough fight on the lighter rod and great fun. It was not even 6.30 am and I had caught four species. That is the beauty of Iluka.

I fished for another hour until the sun was really out and the cloud had burned away. Things slowed down a little but the bream and dart kept coming. I ended up keeping a few of the bigger dart, the trevally and a couple of bream, to make a mixed fish fried rice. I find using different flavoured and textured fish is great for this kind of dish. I fillet the fish and fry it, then add it to the cooked rice with some fried spring onions, crushed garlic, fresh coriander, Thai fish sauce and fresh lime juice.

By 8.00 am I was back at the car after a great mornings fishing.