Bribie – flathead bonanza on the oyster jetty flats – 2 May 2013

Thursday

The moon was waning, the winds had dropped and the tides looked perfect. Low tide would be at 9.16 am, at 0.6 m. There had been a strong south-easterly wind the day before, but this would ease off in the morning and pick up as a pure southerly, later.

I was confident that the fish would be in my favourite spots – so I drove back up to Bribie at about 4.30 am. I was hopeful that I would find some flathead under the bridge lights. I waded out just after 5.00 am. The sky was clear and the moon was about 40% full.

There has not been much surface activity under the lights in recent weeks and today was no exception. I cast around the drains and weed beds on the edges of the illuminated pools created by the lights. I caught one very small flathead on a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour.

After about 30 minutes, I waded south, past the oyster jetty and started casting around the Sandstone Point corner drain. The water over this area was already pretty shallow – only about 50 cm, in most places. I moved to the edge of the sand bank and launched a few casts directly into the main drain. After three or four – I felt the lure stop dead. I thought it had snagged on the tufty seagrass at the edge of the drain. Then there was a tug and powerful, long, initial run. This was a good fish and it towed me around for a bit. I wanted to tire it out, as there were a few boulders and abandoned crab pots between and a gap in the mangroves, where I planned to land it. It soon tired and I pulled it up, on to the mangrove roots. It was a great start to the day – a good flathead – 66cm. I was still using the GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour.

I stopped for a chat with a keen local angler who had also waded out along the mangrove line – very keen – he is in his mid-eighties! He took to soft plastics after many years of fishing with an Alvey and bait, and now loves them. I hope I am still embracing change at his age – fantastic!

I wandered out a bit deeper, in front of the long sand bank and put in a few casts back towards the oyster jetty. The sun was up now. I hooked a couple of fish but dropped both. I was still fishing with the GULP 2” Shrimp. I stayed put and methodically sprayed the areas, where I had dropped the fish, with casts. I soon found one again and it was just under 40 cm, so I shook it free. A couple of casts later I had a better fish on and after a few solid runs, I decided to walk it back to the sand bank. It was just under 60cm.

As the tide dropped, I waded down towards the green channel marker and back again. The fishing got better and better. I caught another nine fish between 7.00 am and 8.20 am on GULP Jerkshads in the Cajun Chicken and Satay Chicken colours.

It was my turn to try something new. Many readers have been asking why I don’t use the Z-Man soft plastic lures. Steve, at Jones Tackle – http://jonestackle.com.au/ (and many others) have been trying hard to persuade me of their brilliance. I recognise they are cheaper and more durable than the GULP range but I have not really got used to their colours and I find their texture a lit too ‘rubbery’. I think the colours look very good in the water, but not very good on the packets. Steve insisted I buy a packet of Minnowz in the Houdini colour and try them out. I chose this moment to give them a work out. The Minnowz have a standard minnow shape with an additional paddle tail.

Well you can probably guess what happened. On the first cast, a fish hit the lure on the drop and I pulled in a tiny, 25cm flathead. On the second cast, I pulled up a 40cm flathead and from then on the Z-Man Minnowz caught a flathead about once every 10 minutes, until I gave up at about 10.00 am. At first they appeared to be catching smaller fish than the GULP Jerkshads but then I caught two 50cm+ specimens towards the end of the session.

So Steve, and everybody else – you are right, they do catch fish. Could this be the end of Landangler’s exclusive love affair with GULP? Well, one swallow does not make a summer. I have a feeling anything would have caught fish today. But I was impressed enough to buy a few more packets!

Bribie – Under the bridge and on the flats – 19 March 2013

Tuesday

The wind has now been persistent from the south for some time. This is usually a good sign. Although it can push the swell up, in my experience, it makes fish a little easier to find. The problem on Tuesday was that it was forecast to blow up to about 20 – 30 knots, which would make fishing almost impossible.

So I was limited to fishing in the calmest period – the very early morning and decided to go back to the flats, by the Bribie Island Bridge. There is a bridge survey or cleaning process going on at the moment. Divers are spraying the barnacles/ oysters off all the pylons during the daylight hours. This would either scare the fish off or create a great berley mix to bring them in.

I arrived just before 5.00 am. Low tide would be at 0.9 m at 8.24 am. The moon was about 60% full and so the tide flow would not be very strong. The wind was a south-easterly, blowing about 10 knots.

There was still plenty of water lapping at the mangroves. I stood in the shadows and rigged up with a small GULP Alive split tailed grub, in the Smelt colour. I found a few tubs of these in a NSW fishing shop a couple of years ago, but I can no longer remember what they are called. They are probably about 2” long and have proved pretty useful when the fish are fussy.

I cast to the north, into the darkness and let the lure sink to the bottom. I got a few hits and pulls, but did not hook up. I kept casting and after a while I caught a couple of small Moses Perch. Ten minutes later, the same soft plastic attracted a small Flathead. I was now sure I was fishing in the right place and I think the previous days pylon blasting had created some good berley.

I kept casting around the same area and at about 5.40 am I connected with a solid fish. It took some line and I tightened the drag a little, to keep it away from the pylons and then the mangrove roots. When it was worn out I towed it up, onto the oyster covered area of beach, under the bridge. It was a good-size flathead, about 55cm long.

I fished on and caught a couple of bream (both about 30cm) and a couple more much smaller moses perch. I swapped over to a 2” GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the banana prawn colour. I was still fishing with a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The thick dark clouds obscured the sunrise and just after 6.00 am, I found another small flathead lying at the base of one of the bridge pylons.

I moved south towards the oyster jetty and got rained on by a passing shower. By 8.15 am I was about half way between the oyster jetty and the channel marker. I had had a few grabs from fish that I thought were long toms, but could have been pike or small tailor.

I was now fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour, which has proved effective recently. Suddenly my jighead caught on something. It made a very slow run. It was not very heavy and I slowly pulled it to the surface. It was a very ugly spiny puffer fish, hooked through its eyebrow. It kept spitting jets of water at me, but after a while I shook it free.

Another massive rain cloud was now headed in my direction so I decided to wade back to the car. I had caught a few fish but had only really secured one keeper – the 55cm flathead. Still, on balance I would say the fishing is getting better.

lluka Rockwall – In search of Tuna – 14 April 2010

Thursday

On Wednesday, I had noticed the birds working off Woody Head and seen a few Tuna jumping just out of range. So on Thursday I decided to fish the Iluka rockwall in the hope that they might come past.

I had popped into Big River Bait and Tackle at Maclean and as usual, the future Australian Bream Tournament Champion – Jo, had given me some good local tips. It’s a great tackle store and everyone in there knows their stuff. They are always ready to have a chat and impart some up to date, local knowledge. Jo decided he would join me on the wall for a quick pre-work fish, next day. I readily agreed, seeing this as a great opportunity to learn a few tricks from a local. At 4.45 am he was there waiting at the rock wall parking area. High tide had been at around 4.30am which meant we had plenty of water.

We walked along to where the wall begins to break down, stopped and rigged up. Jo put on a popper and I put on a plastic initially, and then joined him with a popper. As the horizon started to glow we covered the area with casts – but we got nothing. Conditions were perfect but there was no sign of any fish and after 20 mins or so, I decided to clamber on down to the end of the wall. I said farewell to Jo and started walking.

Looking back along the Iluka wall just after dawn


After another 20 mins scrambling over the boulders, I reached the end. The sun was just below the horizon and I started by casting the popper all around. This took about 15 minutes but did not produce any fish. As the sun came over the horizon I swapped to a GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad soft plastic, in the Pink Shine colour. I rigged it on a 1/2oz 3/0 jighead as the tide was now running out with some force. I put a few casts into the ocean side of the end of the wall and then moved round to fish the river side. After a few more casts, I got a couple of good bites, in close to the rocks. I cast out again and let the plastic sink down in the fast flowing water. As I lifted the rod the line came up taught and I had a fish on. I knew it was a Tailor because of the mad shaking. It was around the 40cm mark, I got it to the rocks and as I was about to lift it, it calmly turned its head and dropped the hook.

I tried a few more casts with the Pink Shine plastic and got a few more hits but no fish. They eventually bit the tail off, so I decided to downsize. I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the more natural Pepper Prawn colour. First cast and bang the lure was whacked and line started peeling. A big Tailor 60- 70cm jumped out of the water, ran a bit further and then he was gone – he had bitten straight through my 30lb leader.

I fished for another hour or so, but the Tuna never showed up. Finally just as I was about to give up I caught a decent Tailor, around 45cm long on a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour.

Tailor from the end of the Iluka rockwall

Iluka – Woody Head – 11 April 2011

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Monday – pm

After a good start earlier in the day, I could not resist an afternoon fish. We were staying in a cabin at Woody Head – so I was ideally placed to fish off the rocks, on the afternoon low tide. I walked out on the rock ledges, directly in front of the camp site, at about 5.00 pm. Low tide would be at about 7.30 pm.

There was a strong north easterly breeze and a few small rain squalls were coming over. I started around 5.00 pm with a 3/8oz 3/0 hook jighead and a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I was using a 30lb fluorocarbon leader again.
It is always difficult to avoid losing tackle in this location. The fish tend to bite just at the edge of the rock ledges and very close in. If you pull your lure to safety to fast, you will miss them. If you leave it too long, you get snagged. After a couple of casts I was stuck firm in the rocks, so I snapped off the jighead and plastic and re-rigged with the same set up.

I sent out five or six casts in a semi – circle, from my position on the edge of the rocks. Every now and then I would carefully retreat in the face of a big wave but only my feet were getting wet. The rocks are incredibly slippery so you need good rock fishing boots and you need to move slowly – running away from a wave is a recipe for disaster as you will almost certainly fall over. It is better to duck down and hang on if you see a big one coming – you may get wet, but hopefully you will not break your neck! Remember rock fishing is a dangerous activity, stay safe and if in doubt – don’t go out.

I moved along the rocks and just on 5.15 pm I hooked a fish. I let it run until I could see a good wave that would bring it up the rocks. I then tightened the drag and lifted the fish clear. The wave pushed it up and broke over the ledge. It was a school Jewfish/ Mulloway, just under 50cm. I unhooked it and cast out into the same spot. Before the lure had hit the bottom it was grabbed again. This time it was a much faster and more powerful fish. It headed out to see and then turned and ran along the edge of the rock ledge. I tightened the drag to slow it down as I could see it was going to try and bury itself in the rocks. The leader got stuck between the sea squirts that line the rocks, but a big wave lifted it clear and up came the fish. I was soaked but I had a good sized (45cm +) Trevally at my feet.

These two would be dinner and as another rain squall came over I decided to head back to the cabin for a warm shower. It had been another great land based session fishing with soft plastics from the rocks.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – Even more Jewfish – 11 Feb 2011

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Friday

The weather was getting better and on Friday morning the rain had stopped and the wind had dropped. There was virtually no swell so again, I decided to fish at Middle Bluff at Iluka. This time I walked out to the rocks just as the sun was beginning to glow behind the horizon, at around 5.45am. The wind was light from the south east.

I started with a soft plastic on a 3/8 oz 4/0 hook jighead – the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. This plastic has a forked tail that curls in at the ends. The tail creates a flutter effect as it sinks and most fish find it hard to resist. I put in a couple of casts and on the third, the lure was hit very close in. It was still pretty dark but after a short fight I had a 55cm Jewfish/ Mulloway at my feet. Things looked promising.
I cast the same plastic back out, after straightening it on the jighead. It was smashed before it hit the bottom and a solid fish started heading out to sea with it. It was a slow and rhythmic run and it took around twenty metres of line before it paused, then set off again. On the next pause I tried to get some line back but it immediately set off again. I tightened the drag and then it started to swim back towards me. I took up slack as fast as I could but the fish had now got the line round something on the bottom – there was a bit of see-sawing back and forth and then the line snapped.

I re – rigged with the same set up and cast the soft plastic back out. Things went quiet for a while and then at about 6.30 am I got a couple of touches, very close to the base of the rocks. I then got snagged and lost the jighead. I swapped to a Jerkshad in the satay chicken colour and slowed the retrieve right down. After a few more casts I had another fish on. This time it was a smaller Jewfish/Mulloway around 48cm. I threw it in the keeper pool.

I fished on for a couple of hours and caught another two Jewfish of a similair size. At around 9.00 am I stopped and cleaned the fish. It had been a great session fishing from the rocks in Northern New South Wales.