Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 8 March 2014

Saturday

After an extraordinary session on Friday, I had to get back up to Bribie again to fish the low tide. Fortunately, I could squeeze in a session on Saturday morning. The wind was forecast to be pretty lively again, with a couple of tropical cyclones hovering off the coast, up north. Low tide would be at 8.40 am. The moon was a week away from full.

I arrived just after first light at about 5.30 am. I ran into Matt, another keen fisho who had had the same idea. We walked out towards the old oyster jetty and swapped a few fishing stories. He headed south along the sandbank towards the channel marker and I settled on a spot just to the south of the jetty.

It took a while to find the fish. The sun came over the horizon and the wind started to pick up. The tide was running out quickly. I started by fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken on a 1/8th 2/0 jighead. I was using my G.Loomis TJR fast action, light spin rod and a 15lb Super PE braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. At about 6.20 am I dropped a small flathead, but on the next cast, I felt the bite and paused. When I lifted, the fish was attached.

Now I had found the fish and I caught a fish on almost every cast for the next 30 minutes.  A hot bite is a great time to experiment. A gent named Charles Talman from Mount Gambier in South Australia makes his own soft plastics and recently was kind enough to send me some to try out. There were plenty of prawns jumping so I decided to start by rigging up one of his 4” Shrimp soft plastics. These plastics do not quite have the finesse of the major brands, but as you will see from the pictures, they are cleverly designed and have good actions and texture – both essential characteristics. I rigged the first one on a 1/8th ounce, 2/0 jighead and cast it out. I knew the fish were here but I wasn’t sure they would go for it. There was no need to worry – half way into the retrieve a fish hit it. I dropped the rod tip and paused. About five seconds later, I struck and I pulled up a flathead, about 45cm long. A few casts later, I caught another. Over the next hour, they kept coming. I cycled through a couple more of Charles’ lures and then put in a GULP 4” Shrimp in the Natural colour. There was no difference in the catch rate between the two types of shrimp soft plastic.

I now decided to try the DUO Tetraworks Koikakko tiny hard bodied squid imitations. These are made with the usual DUO care and attention to detail. They can be used in deep water as a jig or hopped across the bottom like a traditional sinking hard body. They are only 34mm long and weigh 4.6g. They are ideal to cast across the flats in crystal clear water, on light leaders and will tempt almost any species.  I knew there had been a lot of small squid around this area so I thought they would be perfect. My only concern was that perhaps they would be too small for the flathead to notice. I checked my knots and decided to slow everything down and increase the pauses on the bottom.

Success was not immediate, but after about 15 minutes I saw a flathead come up behind the lure and then turn away at the last minute. I cast back in the same spot and left the lure on the bottom for about 20 seconds. On the second hop, I felt the violent thud of a flathead mouth crunch down on my lure. The fish took the lure and slowly swam away with it. It took a while for it to register that this was not an ordinary squid and when I lifted the rod tip to ensure the tiny treble was lodged, it took off.

It was obviously bigger than the small flathead that had swiped at the lure on the previous retrieve and it made couple of blistering runs out towards open water. You cannot muscle a fish with the fast and flexible G.Loomis TJR rod. It absorbs the lunges beautifully but you have to be patient and let the reel’s drag do the rest. I have traded up the single tiny treble hook on the DUO Tetraworks Koikakko for a slightly tougher Gamakatsu version. I waded back to the shoreline with the fish. It was tired now, but as we reached the shallows, it continued to try and turn and then shake its head. I pulled it across the weed in the shallows and on to the sandbank. It was the biggest fish of the day – a 68cm flathead. I released this one and carried on fishing.

The Koikakko lure caught plenty more flathead and its tiny size did not seem to have much bearing on the size of fish it attracted.  By low tide I had five good fish in the keeper bag – all between 50 cm. and 60cm.

By 9.00 am, the wind was howling and making it pretty hard to fish. I decided to finish the session with a couple more of Mr Talman’s soft plastics. I particularly like his small, three legged monster – not sure what it is but the flathead love it. I lost the green version to a fish that wrapped itself around an abandoned crab pot.  Fortunately, there was also a fluorescent gold/creamy coloured one, so I re-rigged with this. The flathead could not resist and I caught about 5 more, all good sized fish, on this soft plastic lure. I finished up with a 5” worm in a green colour. This also delivered and after a few casts it connected with a 50cm flathead.

 

I am not really sure why the fish have suddenly appeared but I hope they hang around for a while. I’ll be back.

Bribie Island – old oyster jetty flats – 6 January 2012

Sunday

Between the wind and the increased traffic, finding the fish has been far from easy over the Christmas period at Bribie. All you can do is keep trying your favourite spots, on your favourite tides and hope things improve. As I look back over the blog and my dairies, which precede it – I see that December and January have been my toughest fishing months in the Pumicestone Passage for the last few years. Partly because if this, I have often run away to fish the rocks at Iluka or elsewhere, at this time of year.

The only spot that has been consistently producing fish for me is the area to the south of the old oyster jetty on the mainland side of the Passage, so this is where I started on Sunday morning. To add to the challenge high tide was just on dawn (3.57 am at 1.9m) and there would be a fairly strong south-easterly blowing at about 10 to 15 knots. This had the advantage of frightening off the boat traffic but would make casting less simple.

I started with a hard bodied lure as there was not much weed around. I love the DUO Realis Shad 59 MR. It is another of DUO’s finesse range, probably designed with bass in mind, but it annoys the hell out the flathead. It is 59mm long and weighs a little less than 5 grams. This is rapidly becoming my favourite suspending lure. It casts a mile and it seems to be able to just hang for ages in the water column. It’s great in this terrain, where you want to stay off the bottom. I was using an olive coloured model.

I was fishing a stretch of sandy bottom about 6 metres out from the edge of the mangroves. It was covered in about 80cm of water. I was retrieving the lure over the edge of a weed bed when suddenly something grabbed it. First it ran away from me and then it changed direction and hurtled back towards me. This must have left some slack in the line and as it came tight again, the drag screamed and the lure pulled free. Not sure what it was but it seemed a bit fast for a flathead – who knows?

I carried on working the same area and about 10 minutes later, there was a tug and a splash and an angry flathead appeared, shaking its head on the surface. After a brief fight I had it subdued and pulled it over to a gap in the Mangroves. It was about 55cm with a small open wound on its back and a pattern on its scales that looked as if it had been mauled by something with a broad mouth. Perhaps a wobbegong had had a go at it. I have seen some big ones cruising these flats.

I let the fish go and carried on peppering the area with casts. I felt another tug and lunge but again the hook pulled after a brief fight. The weed was starting to become a nuisance so I decided to swap to a soft plastic lure. I picked out a GULP jerkshad in the lime tiger colour, which has been doing quite well lately. I was fishing with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. On the first cast I saw a flathead appear from the weed, grab the lure and immediately roll over, flashing its white belly, to release itself. I kept going and soon hooked it again. This time I kept it on the line. It was another nice fish, about the same size as the first.

As the tide started to run out strongly I gradually followed it, casting over the weed and sand banks. The gradually increasing high tides and big south-easterly blow had lifted a lot of sea grass and this was now clogging almost every cast. I reached the green channel marker and walked slowly back towards the oyster jetty. About half way along I connected with another fish, but it shook out the hook. I carried on casting in the same area for about 10 minutes until I felt another solid thud. I paused and then lifted the rod. It was another flathead about 45cm. I released it and battled the wind and weed for a further 30 minutes before giving up. I had found a few fish but also lost a few – not a bad session.

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 1 January 2013

New Year’s Day – Tuesday

The wind was calming down and the low tide around dawn meant that fishing the Passage again would be a good option. I decided to go and have a look around on the flats in front of the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side.

I arrived beside the bridge just after 4.30 am. Low tide would be at 5.12 am so I started fishing in the slack water. The strong south-easterly had died away in the night and there wasn’t much breeze. I waded south, along the exposed sand spit, towards the green channel marker.

About half way between the end of the oyster jetty and the channel marker, I waded out to just short of the edge of the weed beds. I started with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Just after 5.00 am the water started to run in. I waded towards the channel marker, casting into the water, as the tide picked up pace. At about 5.30 am I felt a couple of hits and could see some bait scattering around my lure. I kept casting in the same location and 5 minutes later I had my first flathead of the day. It was a dark coloured weed dweller, just over 45cm. I was releasing everything today – as we are still struggling through the Christmas ham!

I did not want to change a winning formula so I threw the same soft plastic lure back out, in the same direction and after a few casts, I had another. This one was a little bigger – perhaps 50cm. I let it go and persisted in the same general area. The next fish hit the soft plastic on four separate casts before it finally got serious. I had slowed everything down and lengthened the pause in the area that I estimated it had reached. After a long pause, I lifted the rod and the plastic was half way down its throat. This one was also about 45cm. I moved gradually south and caught two more undersized flathead within 10 meters.

I decided to see if I could tempt them with one of my small DUO hard bodies. The DUO Ryuki Spearhead 70S is a 70mm, 9g, sinking, flat-sided minnow designed to catch trout in fast flowing streams. Once the current is running it will swim in one spot with a great action and good rattle, just from the water flow. It is built to the usual DUO high standards and comes in some great colours. There is a pink stripy silver one which I selected, which looks like it would be the perfect flathead lolly.

The lure has a bit more weight than the shorter version and therefore casts well on my light spin combo. I decided to cast with the current flow and then retrieve the lure back through the run-in tide to get the most of the action. I kept plenty of long pauses in the retrieve and it was as I lifted the lure off the bottom, for about the fifth time on the first cast, that the flathead struck. The fish always seem angrier when they hit a hard bodied lure – maybe it’s the treble hooks. I hauled this one back to the sand to release it. It’s is never a good idea to try removing a treble from a wriggling flathead that you have clutched to your chest whilst wading, better to deal with it on the sand with a good set of pliers.

I let it go and then waded back out to where I had been fishing, along the edge of the weed beds. The next fish took a while to find but about twenty minutes later, I had another on the same DUO lure. It was also somewhere between 40 and 50cm.

The tide was now running in strongly and lifting plenty of sea grass. This gradually made it impossible to keep fishing with the hard body lure. The tide was also pushing me back from the edge so, at about 8.00 am I decided to give up.

I had travelled from flathead famine to feast in 48 hours. Was it the strong south-easterly blow that had brought the fish in, or the run in tide, or the lure choice – that is the trouble with fishing – too many variables!

Caloundra – Bulcock & Golden Beaches – a big Flathead and a runaway – 15 November 2011

Tuesday

Ok – forget about the wind, I told myself. Yes it would be from the north – but the fish must still be there – somewhere, and it was not forecast to pick up until about 9.00 am. Low tide would be at 4.00 am at Caloundra and the top end of the Pumicestone Passage is a little more sheltered than the bottom end, in a Northerly – so that was my destination.

It would have to be an early start – first light would officially be at about 4.15 am , but over the last few weeks, the fish appear to be out hunting for their breakfast as soon as the horizon starts to glow – from about 3.45am. So I set out from Brisbane at 2.45am and reached the rocks on Bulcock Beach at about 3.50 am.

There was no wind and the tide was still running out, but beginning to slow. I started with a GULP 5” Lime Tiger Jerkshad on a 1/6th 2/0 jighead. I cast around the base of the rocks and then waded a fair way out into the shallows. The sand gives way under foot and is constantly moving so you have to watch your step. I was casting just on the edge of the rock bar, which skirts the bank beneath the boardwalk and the car park. I got snagged and re-rigged.

A couple of seconds after the soft plastic hit the water a fish hit it. It must have been slowly sinking down the water column. Unfortunately, after a few days fishing with my heavier spin rod (Nitro 2-4kg) I had swapped back to the light one – the Loomis GL2. It was bent over and the reel was screaming. I had a 12lb leader and the knots would probably hold but I could not exert any pressure on the fish, through the rod. It was running all over the place, out in the middle of the channel. I tightened the drag but it made little difference. It went where it wanted. After about a minute and a half, it changed tactics and headed back in towards the rock bar. As soon as it got next to the rocks, the line went slack and it was gone. I think it had just knocked the jighead and plastic loose on the rocks. Given the powerful runs and its speed, I would think it was a Trevally – who knows?

I cast around hoping there might be a school of them but there were no more takers. I moved into the shallows and decided to try another of the DUO lures I have been sent from Japan. This time I would be using the REALIS VIBRATION 62. It is another beautifully crafted lure. It is a blade shaped vibe lure made of resin with a clever weighting system that means a really consistent swimming action, even when retrieved quickly. The rattle is loud and effective – I think it annoys the hell out of the Flathead – and can stimulate a strike from a fish that would not otherwise be feeding. It weighs 11 grams and is 62mm long, so it can be cast a fair distance and hugs the bottom, even on a fairly fast retrieve.

I carefully worked the REALIS lure over the sandy patches, I could hear the rattle from several metres away. I felt a bite – or was it a snag? I kept it moving pretty fast as I did not want to lose it. The next cast, across the same piece of sand was definitely grabbed and then dropped. Third time lucky – I cast back out and this time the fish made no mistake. There was a splash and head shake as it realized it had eaten something prickly, but it was solidly hooked. I pulled it up on the sand, it was a 52cm Flathead.

I went back to the same area and worked the lure closer and closer to the rocks until, inevitably, it got caught amongst the rocks and that was that. This seems to happen to a lot of my lures!

I took the hint and moved down the Passage to fish amongst the weed beds and sandbanks around Diamond Head. The water had just started to cover the weed along the edge of the channel. I walked across the sand bar to the green channel marker that marks the deeper water in the main channel. There were small flathead lies all over the sand bar, clustered in little groups. I cast around and caught a few small Flathead on a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour – between 25 and 35 cm.

After an hour of wading along the edge of the main channel, I decided to drive back up to Golden Beach and try my luck there. The tide was now almost high and the weed banks in front of the Powerboat Club looked like a good target. I waded north from the club, casting along the edge of the sand banks. It was now about 10.30 am and the Northerly wind was starting to pick up, roughening the surface of the water. I waded slowly, changing the soft plastic lure regularly and making sure I moved carefully and quietly. It may be choppy on the surface but it is calm down below. After 45 minutes of this I felt a nice solid bite close in to a clump of weed. I paused, counted to ten, then struck. There was a long slow pull, then a pause, then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I checked the drag, it was set right with a fair bit of pressure – this was a decent fish. I started to get some line back and moved towards the shore. There were plenty more solid runs but eventually I got a look at a very good Flathead. I kept the rod tip bent and slowly dragged the fish up on to the sandy beach. It was a big female that measured in at just under 75cm. I thought about it, but she was too good-looking to keep for dinner. The lure was now a long way down her throat so I decided to cut the line and leave it to be digested. After a few snaps, she swam away. She had been caught on GULP Lime Tiger coloured 5″ Jerkshad on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

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Despite the northerly wind it had been a good session with a cracker of a fish to finish up. I’ll be back!

Caloundra – Some new ground and a new lure – 1 November 2011

Tuesday

I started early and I could see from the rustling trees that the strong southerly wind had not really dropped off. I set off at 3.30 am, from Brisbane, arriving at Caloundra at about 4.30 am. My trip up here last week had got me interested in the land-based fishing opportunities at this end of the Pumicestone Passage, so I was back to do a little more exploring.

Low tide would be at 7.20 am, with first light just before 5.00 am. The low tide would be better for establishing where the possible fish hiding places would be. I was looking for the rock bars, sand banks and sea grass beds.

I started at the far northern end of the Passage, where it runs out into the ocean. The Caloundra side of the mouth has lots of exposed rocks at low tide. It has a few shallow tidal lagoons, that you need to cross to reach the main channel, nearer to the northern tip of Bribie Island. The water was running out much too fast to fish the main channel.

At about 4.45 am I started casting a 4” GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic lure, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead back, against the run out tide and then retrieving it along the sandy bottom, close to the submerged and semi-submerged rocks. I could not stop for long as the plastic would get wedged into the rocks by the quick running water. I lost of few jigheads, but that is the price of exploration. I moved a bit further out on to the sandy area and cast into the eddies, where the water had slowed down a little. This paid off and suddenly I felt the solid thud of a Flathead. I paused and forced myself to count to ten, then I struck. I had hooked it and played an angry fish back to the shoreline, It was a 63cm Flathead. As it grew gloomier and the wind picked up, the sky started to spit big splashing rain drops. I decided to wade back to the car and wait until the squall blew over.

It only took about 10 minutes and then I was back out on the rocks, this time I put on a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I moved back along the Pumicestone Passage in the direction of Golden Beach. I was casting around in the shallow water – about 20 cm to 1 metre deep. Every now and then, I would lose a jig head to a patch of rock. I gradually found patches of smaller Flathead and caught 5 fish that were about 35cm long, over the next hour.

Another shower threatened so I decided to move round to the sand flats, just north of the Power Boat Club – near Golden Beach. The rain had passed by the time I arrived. Just in front of the club there a few clumps of sea grass, in a line, about 25 metres from the shore. The tide was now running in and the water was beginning to cover them. I waded out and cast all around them. I was using the 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I soon caught another fish – a Flathead about 55 cm long. It was lying a metre off the weed beds in about 40cm of water.


Those of you who are regular readers will know that I am hopelessly addicted to soft plastic lures, but I also fish with blades and, more recently, with hard bodied lures. A nice gentleman from DUO Lures in Japan recently asked if I would try some of their products and I agreed. I explained my usual rules which are – if I have been given something for free, to try out, I let my readers know and I will also let them know how the try out goes, good or bad. He was happy with that and confident that his products would catch fish.

He sent me a few lures and I particularly liked the look of one called the TETRAWORKS BIVI. It is basically a nicely weighted 3.8g resin blade. It has a bit more substance than a metal blade but seems to retain the traditional vibe action. As I now knew there were fish in the area, I decided I would give it a try. The colour was a semi-transparent silver on top and a bright yellow underneath. It looked good in the clear water and skittered nicely over the sandy bottom.

I decide I would give it 30 minutes to prove itself. I waded along the weed beds casting all around and trying a few different retrieves. There was a still a bit of sea grass floating around and the wind was now blowing strongly from the south east, but I kept the lure in the water and it did not get clogged up very often. After about 20 minutes I felt a bit of resistance. I thought it might be a clump of weed but then the line went taught and there was some furious splashing. It was another good Flathead about 60 cm long. When I landed it, I saw the lure had got a good grip through the corner of the fishes mouth. So full marks to DUO for this one – you can have a look at the range on their website http://www.duo-inc.co.jp/en/ and now I know they work, I will find out who supplies them in Australia and let you know.