Flathead Paradise on Bribie Island – 9 June 2011

Thursday

The weather was awful again – but at least it was not raining. There would be a cold westerly all morning, getting up to about 12 knots again. You have to suffer the cold but you do not have to get up in the middle of the night to fish the dawn, at this time of year. I woke up at 4.00 am and reached Bribie just after 5.00 am.

First light would be just after 6.00 am and low tide would be at about 10 am. I started on the Island side – beside the boat hire jetty, under the big light on the walkway. First cast, with 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead, produced a fish. A 25 cm Flathead – it grabbed the lure right at the base of the rocks. I walked south, along the bank and caught a few more – they were all still too small to keep. I soon found a few Pike and then a couple of Tailor, as I got closer to the bridge lights. I caught a few more Pike, under the bridge and then I heard the familiar sound of dolphins exhaling and the fish went quiet.

It was just before six, so as the horizon started to glow, I drove down to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole. The lagoon now drains out close to the new Bribie Island Museum. As the sun came up, I waded out into the mouth of the drain, where it empties into the Pumicestone Passage. The westerly wind had blown plenty of weed on to the shore but my first cast was grabbed and then dropped by something. A couple of cast later, the same thing happened. I was still fishing with the same soft plastic minnow. I slowed down the retrieve and this time I hooked the fish. It took a bit of line and felt pretty decent then it was gone again. Next cast as lure hit the water, bang – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……………..ptff and I was bitten off. Could have been the Long Tom’s but, from the head shakes, I think it was a Tailor.

I re – rigged with a GULP 4” Jigging Grub in the Peppered Prawn colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jig head. I was using my light, Loomis GL2 with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel. I had loaded it with 10lb braid and about a metre of 10lb Fluorocarbon leader tied on with a uni knot. It was now just after 7.00 am. After a couple of casts over the sand, I caught another small Flathead. Then 10 minutes later I got the first keeper of the day – another Flathead around 42 cm long.

Well this spot gradually revealed itself as a Flathead paradise. As I moved up and down I caught over 30 Flathead in the next four hours – all over a 200 metre stretch of shore. I tried almost every soft plastic in my bag and they all worked. Of the 30 fish, just over half were legal size. I kept a couple of 50 cm fish for dinner and the rest were released.

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Conditions continued to get worse with the cold south-westerly wind gradually getting colder and stronger and more and more weed washing up – but it did not bother the fish. By just after 11.00 am – my teeth were chattering and I was feeling vaguely hypothermic so I went back to the car, warmed up and headed home. What a morning!

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Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – Stonefish Encounter – 5 May 2011

Thursday

The weather forecast looked windy but not until about 8.00 am, so I set out early to fish on Bribie Island. I crossed over the bridge around 4.30 am and decided to fish around the base of pylons on the island side. I met another keen fisherman there, flicking soft plastics. It’s always nice to know that there is someone just as mad as me out there!

The bridge lights had attracted the prawns, and they had attracted the Pike and a few small chopper Tailor. We cast either side of the bridge for about 45 minutes. I hooked up with a few Pike, but could not find anything bigger. The other fisherman had found a couple of Flathead earlier and then been busted off.

The Pike are back with the cooler weather

At first light I moved down to fish the drop off in front of Buckley’s Hole. The wind was starting to pick up and it had stirred up the water. The tide was running in. I waded south, in about waist deep water and cast around in the area just before the coffee rock forms a ledge at the main channel. I was using the GULP 3” Crazy Legs Grub on a 1/6th 1/0 hook. After ten minutes or so I hooked up with a Flathead that was just under 50cm. I released it and cast back in the same area. I hooked another fish immediately, but then somehow it wriggled off the lure.

50cm Flathead

I moved further south, parallel with the shore. Then disaster struck. I felt a sharp needle under my wader boot and instinctively hopped away. Something had pierced the gumboot sole and gone into the sole of my foot. I thought things through and concluded it was probably a Stonefish. It did not hurt initially but after about ten minutes all that changed and it really went off! I limped back to the car and fortunately for me, the ambulance station was only a few hundred yards away. It was around 6.30 am, so I rang on the bell. A paramedic sat me down and had a look at the puncture mark. She then put my foot in a bowl of hot water. The relief was pretty much instant. Apparently the heat neutralises the toxin. After 15 minutes the pain was far more manageable and I hobbled off to the car and drove home. A few hours later the pain was just a tingle.

I was lucky. I was wearing my Horne waders which have a very thick soled, Blundstone boot. This meant that only one spike actually got to my foot. I was also able to find a qualified paramedic only a few hundred yards away. The paramedic explained that without the boots on it would have been very messy! If you are ever fishing in that area, I would certainly advise protecting your feet with some form of shoe and being very careful where you tread. I will certainly be a little more cautious in future.

Bribie Island – Bridge, Buckleys Hole and Whitepatch – 14 Nov 2010

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Sunday

After a month away from fishing, I was keen to get a line in the water as soon as possible. I decided to head up to Bribie Island and was on the road from Brisbane at 3.30 am. A lot changes in 4 weeks – the water has warmed up, sunrise is a good deal earlier and there has been plenty of rain. As I waded out under the bridge, on the island side, the first thing that struck me was the murky water and the lack of surface activity. Then I gradually realised that the plus side of all the rain and the northerly winds, was distinct lack of weed floating around.
I started by casting my old favourite soft plastic – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – in close to the Bribie Island bridge pylons. Not much happened for half an hour or so. I had a few nudges and bumps, but no hook ups. Finally, I put a cast right into the foot of the second pylon and it scraped the barnacles as it went into the water. Next thing the line went taught but with not much weight on it. I wound in the line and had my first fish of the morning a 10cm Moses Perch! As the sky lightened I caught a couple of small Pike. At about 5.30 am I decided to move on.
I drove down to the sand flats at Buckley’s Hole, at the southern tip of Bribie Island. High tide had been at 3.30 am and now the tide was running out strongly. The water here was very cloudy. I think this is due to the hollowing out of the banks at the mouth of the tidal lagoon. You can see where the current has washed the sand away and revealed the mud underneath. During the run out tide this further clouds the water. Despite the discolouration there was plenty of surface activity and there were Whiting everywhere. On many casts my plastic would land in the middle of a school and send them jumping in all directions. There were also plenty of herring and other small bait fish around. Perhaps because there was so much bait in the water, I was still casting around after an hour or so with no fish. There were plenty of jellyfish around, no doubt blown in on the northerly winds. The turtles were also out in force and at about 6.30 am a Dugong swam past.
I changed plastic to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour which I was fishing on a 1/6th 1/0 hook jighead. I was using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied to 2.8kg Fireline. I had my favourite Loomis GL2 Light spin rod with a Stradic 3000 reel. About 300 metres south of the mouth of the tidal lagoon I got a couple of hits that I took for a Pike or Bream. I cast back again into the same spot and almost instantly felt the solid bite of a Flathead. I was so excited I nearly catapulted him out of the water on to the shore. He was just under the legal size limit so I snapped him and put him back. In the attached pictures you can see just how cloudy the water was. I carried on for another 30 mins without success and then decided to change spots.
I drove up to Whitepatch beach, further up on the inside of Bribie Island. It was now almost low tide, so I stayed out of the water, initially. I cast out the same soft plastic shrimp on to the ledge that forms the edge of the Pumicestone Passage, all along this beach. There was only about 50cm of water covering the ledge and again, the water was very murky. On the third or fourth cast, a fish slammed the soft plastic shrimp and took off over the ledge. I let it have some line then moved down to the edge, tightened the drag a little and pulled it up and over. I then dragged it up on to the sand. It was a nice 52cm Flathead and it went straight into the bag for dinner.
As the tide started to run in, I decided to try my Snapper theory for this spot. My experience suggests that they often feed in this area during the first half hour of the run in tide. This seems to be especially true when these are the conditions just after dawn. I prefer a plastic with a curly tail for Snapper but I didn’t have one, so it was back to the trusty GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The fish are usually in close to the ledge but I cast a fair way out, let the plastic sink then skip it across the bottom fairly slowly, increasing the pause to five seconds or so, as the plastic comes close to the ledge. Right on cue, on the third cast the rod bends over and I am losing line to something that can only be a Snapper. After a quick tussle and a slight tightening of the drag I successfully pulled it up on to the sand. It was just under legal size at around 34cm but this is a good fish for this spot. As I photographed it, I noticed it had lost one of its fins – it’s a tough ocean out there! I let it go and decided to pack up for the day.
It was 9.00 am and I had fed my craving – watch this space – I will be back out there again soon.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – 2 Oct 2010


Saturday
The weather was poor – 10 – 15 Knot wind and showers. But it was still better than Thursday, so I decided to get out fishing for a few hours, around dawn on Saturday.
I set off in a rain storm, at around 4.00 am and arrived at Buckley’s Hole on Bribie Island, at about 4.45 am. The wind was quiet – it had stopped raining and although it was grey and cold, the sand banks looked very fishable.
I would be fishing the last couple of hours of the run out tide. This is usually a great time to fish, especially if it coincides with dawn. In this area the tidal flow is washing all sorts of bait out of the lagoon during this period. It then gradually flows down, south over the sand banks. First the Whiting and Pike feed on the small stuff and then the Flathead lie in wait for the Whiting and Pike.
I walked south, along the shore for a few hundred metres, then waded out to about waist deep. I now turned back and waded parallel with the shore, casting north into the tidal flow. It did not take long to find a few Pike – but they are getting smaller. Then I was surprised as a stonker 34cm Whiting grabbed the Gulp 4” Pearl Watermelon minnow soft plastic, which I was casting around. It sounds like there are plenty of quality Whiting around at the moment. They must be hungry if they are even sampling plastics of this size.
Unfortunately as the tide dropped, the weed started to become a problem and the wind picked up. After about an hour of fishing and peppering the banks with casts, I caught a small flathead, again on the Gulp 4” Pearl Watermelon minnow. I had switched from a 1/8th to a ¼ 1/0 jighead as the wind was making it hard to keep contact with the bottom. On clear sandy bottom I really think the disturbance of the heavier jighead, bashing along the bottom is very attractive to the Flathead. It picks up more weed but that is a necessary evil.
I focused on this area for the next 40 minutes or so. Standing in one place and casting around me in a tight semicircle. After 15 minutes, I switched to the smaller 3” GULP Lime Tiger Minnow. This instantly produced results and I caught a nice, 44cm Flathead. I stayed in the same place but focused my casts into the shallower water. This also worked and in the next 25 minutes I caught five more Flathead of which two, were big enough to keep.
I had now had enough and with the wind and swell getting up, I headed home. Good fishing – despite the weather.