Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 10 May 2016

Tuesday

A few days on home turf gave me another opportunity to visit the Bribie Pumicestone Passage flats in search of flathead. I am enjoying the later starts for fishing trips at this time of year. I woke at about 4.45 am and drove up to Bribie, from Brisbane.Low tide would be at 6.18 am, coinciding almost exactly with sunrise. It was 4 days after the new moon. The wind would be a very light south easterly. I pulled on my waders and waded out under the Bribie bridge at about 5.40 am.

As the seasons come and go and the predominant wind direction alters, the tidal flats change shape quite dramatically. For example, just to the north of the bridge on the mainland side a big sand bank is forming and the weed is growing very quickly. However just to the south of the bridge the rubble bottom is becoming more exposed and there is less weed. These changes are best viewed at absolute low tide and it is good to keep an eye on them.

I started fishing with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curried Chicken colour, on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead, tied on with 12lb fluorocarbon leader. It was still dark but the sky was starting to turn a magnificent red colour. I was standing on the rubble bottom just to the south of the bridge. I was casting towards the bridge and hopping the lure back along the bottom towards me, in line with the tidal flow. I cast the soft plastic lure in the direction of a pylon and kept it moving quite quickly, to avoid getting snagged on the many rocks in this area. The tide was ebbing and the water flow was slowing as we got close to low.As is often the case in the predawn light, a flathead slammed the lure and almost jumped out of the water in its desire to swallow it. It was well hooked and I soon had my first fish of the day – it was just short of 50 cm long.

The sun came up and I moved south. The tide slowed and so did the fishing. I covered a lot of ground without a bite. I worked through a few soft plastics and tried a small hard bodied minnow for a while. I caught nothing for the next 90 minutes as the tide turned, and started to run in.

At about 8.30 am I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was just to the south of the old oyster jetty. A flathead burst out of the water behind my lure as I lifted it out of the water, at the end of the retrieve. It missed. I moved back and let things settle down. About two minutes later I threw a short cast at the area and felt the bite. This time I hooked it. It safely pulled it ashore. This one later measured 46 cm.

I carried on back towards the bridge as the tide pushed in. I caught another flathead just north of the jetty, but it was under 40 cm long, so it went back. It was just after 9.00 am when I reached the bridge. I cast around just to the south of the bridge where I had caught the first fish of the day and was rewarded with another 45 cm flathead.

As I waded north under the bridge I put in a few casts and caught my final fish. It was a small flathead of some kind with frilly fins. I released it and gave up for the morning.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 25 March 2014

Tuesday

On Tuesday the tide and wind looked pretty good but it was probably going to rain. I could not resist another session at Bribie Island. I wanted to try a more scientific comparison of the GULP and Zman soft plastic lures, in an area where I was pretty sure there are fish. There are numerous problems in trying to measure lure success. However, flathead are a good species to work with, as they often lie around in groups of 4 or more.

I wanted to compare the performance of the Berkley Gulp range with the Zman range. Although the ranges have similar offerings, none of their lures match up, exactly. I decided to compare the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour with the Zman 3.75” Streakz in the Shiner colour. Both have approximately the same profile, although the Zman is a little slimmer. The colours are similar but the Zman is more translucent.

I started with the Zman which I loaded on to a TT Headlockz 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. This set up caught a fish at about 6-15 am. It was a flathead between 50 and 55cm. I cast out again with the same soft plastic and had another hit but no hook up. I decided to give the Zman 10 casts in a semi – circle and then switch to the Gulp and do the same thing. On casts 5, 7, 9 and 10, I got hits but could not hook up with the Zman.

Then I switched to a regular, fine wire, 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and put on the Gulp Minnow. I cast right back at the spot where I had caught the fish on the Zman and hooked another, after a couple of hops. It was another flathead between 45cm and 50cm. I continued to cast into the now fairly shallow water in a semi-circle. At the end of 10 casts the Gulp had caught three more Flathead – all were just under the legal size limit of 40cm.

So on the face of it – it was GULP 4” Minnow that caught more fish. I have mentioned before my theory that the texture of the Gulp soft plastics is much more fish-like than other brands. They also seem to be more porous, so they retain a scent trail for longer than most other soft plastic lures. But I could not see how this could make much difference in this situation. In these circumstances, where the fish are really aggressive in their feeding, they seemed to hit almost every plastic/ hard body that I threw at them – so why was the hook-up rate not as good with the Zmans?

Then I figured it out. I loaded another Zman 3.75” Streakz in the Shiner colour, but this time on the regular TT  finewire, 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. On the first cast I felt the hit, paused and counted to 10. When I lifted the rod the fish was hooked. I kept fishing with the same plastic for a while and I hardly missed a bite, converting about five bites in to fish. I know it is not conclusive proof but it seems that either the TT Headlockz are less sharp or the broader gauge hook required to hold the lock in place, prevents them from penetrating as effectively.

After I finished my experiment I moved to the south of the jetty and I decided to see just how big a soft plastic these flathead will attack. I pulled out a GULP 6” grub in a sardine-like colour. I put it on a Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 2/0 hook jighead. This was the biggest I had, and cast it out. After a few casts, I felt a bite. I paused then struck, but I was not attached. This happened three times, so on the fourth cast, when I felt the bite, I dropped the rod tip for a full count of 15 seconds. When I lifted it I had a flathead, but only a 42 cm long one. The lure was well on its way to the fishes stomach, so I kept it. I would recover the soft plastic later.

I finished the session with the DUO Realis Jerkbait 120 SP – a big hard bodied, suspending minnow. This also soon found the fish. In fact, it found the biggest two fish of the day – both well over 60cm. Just after 9.00 am, the incoming tide pushed me off the target area, so I gave up. The fish are still there and they are still hungry.

Bribie Island – the oyster jetty flats – 22 February 2013

Friday

I was back in Brisbane considering the land based fishing options. Next week it looks like mad weather – just about everywhere. It’s a tragedy – I have no work on the horizon so I could go and fish just about anywhere, but it looks like the east coast of Australia, will be washed out.

Friday morning did not look very promising locally, either. The big south-easterly blow was not forecast to drop off until about midday and the Pumicestone Passage was pretty much full of fresh water, after all the recent rain.

But the point about fishing is you must never give up. So at about 8.00 am, as the sun came out, I set off for Bribie hoping to find some sheltered spots, where I could put in a few casts.

I arrived just before 9.00 am and decided to fish the mainland side of the Passage around the old oyster jetty. Despite the major tree clearance that took place last year, this area is still quite sheltered from a southerly wind and is a viable option, especially as the tide runs out. High tide had passed at 7.22 am at 2.2 m. I waded south, under the Bribie Bridge. The water was still lapping at the mangroves, but it was running out fairly fast. Predictably the water was pretty brown and full of sediment but you could still just see your feet through about 60cm of it.

I started by casting all around the bridge pylons. I was using a neutral coloured 3” GULP minnow soft plastic in ‘smelt’on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. This produced nothing so I moved further south, to cast alongside and underneath the oyster jetty. I felt a few grabs in this area and soon realised there were some hungry long toms cruising around.

I crossed to the area just to the south of the jetty and swapped to a DUO Ryuki Spearhead hard body which is usually a great bream lure. Unfortunately I sacrificed this in the shallows to a patch of rocky bottom. I moved further south and changed tactics. I swapped back to soft plastics and tied on a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour – still on a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead. I was using about 1.5 m of 10lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader.

By about 11.00 am the tide was about halfway out and I had reached the area where the water drains off the Sandstone Point flats, round the corner. You could not see the bottom but you could tell from the eddies on the surface where the slack water was. I put in a couple of long casts (the southerly wind was helping me). I felt the plastic pull through the see grass but it did not pick up too much. The advantage of all the rain and wild weather is that it washes away any loose stuff.

A few casts later there was a big splash, as the lure hit the water and then a solid tug and run. Line was peeling straight away but as I lifted the rod I clearly felt the jighead pop through the fishes’ lip. This was a sizeable fish so I let it run. There is not much structure in this area, just a line of rocky bottom as you move back towards the mangroves. This fish was too big to tangle with in the water so I would have to walk it back to the shore line. I slowly took back some line and started wading towards the mangroves. The water was now shallower and dirtier, so I had to be careful to steer it over the rocky patches and onto the shore.

It was a solid flathead. I pulled it up on to a ready-made envorimat; a pair of abandoned trawlerman’s waders, that had washed up on the shore. I measured it against the rod and could see it was pushing 70cm. I took a couple of pictures then released it.
Although the water was now very cloudy, there was not much weed floating around so I decided to try out my latest DUO favourite – the Realis Shad MR 59 hard body minnow. It is a small suspending lure and that has caught plenty of flathead for me, but I am sure it will catch good bream over the weed beds. I picked out a white and blue one tied it on and cast out. This lure has a great action but it is the pauses that seem to entice the strikes. So I slowly retrieved it with lots of long pauses. On the second cast my theory panned out as, on the first pause, the lure was first knocked out of the water and then, a moment later, connected to a fish.

The hooked fish was too fast for a flathead – although it may have been a flathead that attacked the lure first. I soon had it subdued – it was a solid 30cm + bream. After a few pictures I released it but I could not find any more.

As the tide level fell I moved further and further south, towards the green channel marker. I was trying to fish the edge of the weed banks but in the dirty water on the bottom of the tide, I was finding it hard to see the edges. I swapped back to a GULP 4” minnow soft plastic in the smelt colour, on the 1/8th 1/0 jighead. This drew the attention of the long toms who I saw follow it in a couple of times. Eventually I got the lure into the right spot and the line started peeling. It was another flathead – just over 50cm. I decided to keep this one and after playing it for a while I managed to grab it with my rag and slip it in my keeper bag.

I swapped to a different colour in the same soft plastic – banana prawn. A few casts later this produced a fish – it was a very lively long tom. It did plenty of leaping around and made a couple of runs straight at me which was not that much fun. Usually these fish will cut through the leader pretty quickly but this one seemed to be hooked on the side of its long snout. I managed to flick it off the hook and carried on prospecting for flathead.

Just before 2.00 pm I caught another flathead who was perched on the edge of the weed line. This one was just under 50 cm. I swapped over to the bigger GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the lime tiger colour. This did not produce a fish but it did pull up two sand crabs. I am not sure if they were hungry or mating – either way they ended up in a right tangle. I had been playing football with the crabs all morning – perhaps they were finding it difficult to see me coming in the muddy water.

Just after a 2.00 pm, a set of squally showers moved through and I decided to give up. Conditions had been very average but the fish were there – and I suppose that is all that really matters!