Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole Flats Jewfish – 19 October 2012


Friday was a very fishy day. I drove up to Bribie and headed straight for Bongaree and the sand flats in front of Buckley’s Hole. The large amount of bait that had been hovering over the flats on Monday and Wednesday had convinced me this was the place to fish.

I arrived just before 4.40 am and it was already light enough. The tide would be a very low one again, at about 5.40am. There was no wind, although it was forecast to pick up from the north, later.

I started at the drain in front of the museum. The water was completely still and the midges were thick. I started the day with another of my favorite DUO finesse lures. A small brightly colored hard bodied bibless lure – the Tetraworks Yurameki. It weighs about 7 grams which makes it about 1/5th of an ounce and DUO describes it as a ‘sinking pencil’. I like to retrieve it with a series of hops just above the bottom, with lots of pauses.

On such a low tide the surface of the ledge was covered by only 30cm of water. At the mouth of the drain this water was very muddy, where the run out from the creek was lifting the sediment. It was in this shallow water that I got the first fish of the day on the Yurameki lure. It was a Flathead – it was just about legal size but I threw it back in hope of a bigger one.

I fished this area for a while. There were several surface bust ups and each time herring or mullet would go flying in all directions. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken color on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and started to move south along the edge. I caught a few Pike in front of the car park, by the tidal lagoon but things went pretty quiet, as the tide slowed and turned in.

By about 7.00am I had reached the new opening at the southern end of the tidal lagoon. I was sure there would be Flathead around the drop off here. The water was clearer so I decided to swap to a 2” GULP Shrimp in the Banana Prawn color. I caught a good size Pike and offered it to a fisherman soaking a Pilchard nearby named Kenny. He put it out on three good sized hooks and we swapped a few fishing yarns.

I cast along the top of the ledge, into the run in tide and hopped the lure across the bottom, back towards me. On the third cast the line came up tight on a Flathead. It was just too small to keep – a little under 40 cm, so I let it go. A few minutes later I caught another in the same spot – this one was about 43cm, so it went in the bag. I swapped to a bigger GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour and caught three more Flathead about the same size, from the same location.

I swapped to a brighter coloured Satay Chicken Jerkshad and immediately lost the tail to what I think was a small Tailor. I cast out another and this time I landed a keeper size Tailor. Kenny had just pulled in the Pike. It had a chunk out of its tail and had been sucked clean of scales, like a lollipop. We decided the small Tailor would make a good replacement. Hooked through the nose, back and tail, out went the Tailor.

I carried on fishing with the Jerkshad and caught three more Flathead. I added the first to the keeper bag and released the others. A big mullet school was finning around, sometimes just on top of the ledge and sometimes out over the deeper water. Every now and then there would be a swirl and thrash, as something attacked from below.

The Tailor was still kicking then Kenny pointed to his rod tip which was slowly bending over. There were a couple of slow lunges as the fish mouthed the bait. Kenny waited patiently for a few moments. The fish started to pull and he let it have a bit of line, then he struck. The initial run was slow. Perhaps the fish had not realised it was hooked. Then, as it noticed there was a problem with its latest meal, it powered up and started a serious run. This was a big fish but Kenny’s gear was a match for it – good hooks, good knots, a big spool of solid braid and a 50lb leader. He tightened the drag slightly and settled in. Every time he applied pressure the fish did the same and initially it looked like stalemate. Then he started to get back some line and slowly, moved further north, where the drop off is smoother and sandier.

All this had happened in the space of about 4 minutes but it felt much, much longer. Now Kenny was making steady progress but as soon as the fish saw the ledge it put in another blistering run. We still had no idea what it was. It had been so slow initially that I had thought it might be a ray or shark but its subsequent runs had convinced me otherwise.

Kenny stayed calm and got the fish back to the ledge but it was not interested in coming over the top. On the third attempt we saw a great flash of silver and realised it was a big Jewfish. Kenny kept the pressure on. He got it over the ledge and walked slowly backwards towards the beach. The fish still had plenty of kick in it and there was some serious thrashing as it was pulled through the shallows to the sand. The whole process had taken about 8 minutes from start to finish.

It was a beautiful Jewfish that later weighed in at 13kg but looked a good deal fatter than that, lying on the beach. Kenny was stoked and I was delighted to have witnessed the capture. Hands shaking and hearts racing we took photos and then he set out to show the beast off. There is nothing better than converting small fish into big ones.

I had my bag of five Flathead but I carried on fishing for a while. I found a couple more small Flathead. As I was wading back north to the car I saw Pike flying everywhere then clearly saw a good sized green backed Mackerel chasing them up into the shallows. Before I could cast at it, it was gone. It made several more passes causing chaos amongst the bait schools, but it was moving too fast to target.

At about 9.00 am I decided to get the Flathead to the esky. It had been a very fishy day!

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole and the old Oyster Jetty – 20 October 2011

Tuesday and Thursday

Back in Brisbane and time to zip up to Bribie Island for some local land-based fishing. But the wind had other ideas. I arrived at around 4.30 am on Tuesday and it was blowing hard from the south-east. It was only about 15 knots on dawn but it soon picked up to about 25 knots.

I started fishing at the mouth of the Buckley’s Hole tidal lagoon. The water from this ever changing land mark now comes out almost level with the new Bribie Island seaside museum. Low tide was around 6.00 am and I started fishing here just after first light, at around 5.00 am. I was using my Loomis GL2 light spin rod, Shimano Stradic 3000 reel, 10lb braid, 12lb fluorocarbon leader, a 1/6th oz 1/0 jighead loaded with a GULP 5” Jerkshad soft plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour.

I moved along the edge of the drop off casting up, into the falling tide and jerking the plastic slowly along the bottom, back towards me. The jighead kept slowing and as it got lighter, I realized there were large blue jellyfish everywhere. I was casting the plastic on top of the ledge in no more than 30cm of water. Suddenly I felt a tug and then saw a swirl in the water, then I had a fish on. I played it for a while and after a couple of runs, I started to pull it slowly back towards the sand. But the fish had other ideas and with a couple of furious headshakes it dislodged the jighead and swam slowly back towards the deeper water.

As I stood wondering what went wrong, I was surprised to see a couple of good sized Tuna leap clear of the water right at the edge of the drop off. I cast all around but they were gone in seconds. I am not sure how I would have subdued one if I had hooked up! Back to the Flathead – I cast in every direction but as the sun rose, so did the wind and by about 9.00am it was just too hard.

On Thursday I was back in the same spot just after dawn. The wind had dropped considerably and low tide would be around 8.00 am this time. I started with the same soft plastic – the 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad. I waded out to the same area where I had lost the fish on Tuesday and after 20 minutes of peppering the terrain with casts, I was onto a fish. It was a Flattie, I played it very carefully back to the sand and where it measured in at around 55cm. I waded back out and caught another 35 cm Flathead about ten minutes later.

I then decided to move south along the beach towards the southern tip of the island. As a walked across the mouth of the big drain, I caught another undersize Flathead, but spooked a much bigger one, that took off across the sand.

I walked down the beach casting as I went. I swapped through a few different soft plastics but did not get a touch. Finally just as I reached Beach Flag No.1, I sent a large Flathead skittering off across the sandy bottom. I was in ankle deep water and there was absolutely no structure around at all. It was right on low tide. I stopped and cast all around. I swapped down to a 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour, still nothing. I turned and walked back towards Buckley’s Hole. I cast inland, in to the shallower water. Infuriatingly, I almost stepped on another three Flathead, who went flying off passed me into the depths. I could see them, but I could not seem to catch them.

I found myself back where I had started and decided to dump the subtle approach. The tide had now just started to run in. I put on a GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. After three or four casts it paid off and I had another fish on. I safely steered it back to land – it was a 42 cm Flathead.

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I decided it was time to try the other side of the Pumicestone Passage. I drove over to the old oyster jetty and waded out onto the muddy flats. The sea grass is now growing quickly and most of the ‘snot’ weed seems to have died off. I stuck with the GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad and after a few casts, just south of the jetty, I saw a decent Flathead roll over onto the lure just after it hit the water. I paused, then struck. I had it on for a bit and then it spat the lure out. I moved south and after wading for about 50 meters, I cast out and hooked up with another. This time I dragged it carefully, all the way back to the sand. It was a 45cm Flathead.

By now the water was getting to high to fish the edge of the weed banks so I decided to call it quits. I had only landed three fish but encountered many more. There are obviously plenty of Flathead around – but I need to get better at catching them!!