Bribie & Mooball Creek – fishing the shallows – May 2017

May saw me out on the flats in front of the Sandstone Point hotel at Bribie Island wading in the shallows. Winter took a long time to arrive and the water styed stubbornly warm all through the month.

The flounder arrived to supplement the flathead and the odd bream. I fished with my light spinning rod and reel, 10lb fluorocarbon leader and generally GULP Jerkshad soft plastics in various colours on 1/8th 1/0 jigheads. I filled a bag with five keeper size flathead in the run up to the new moon on the run out tide.

I also continued my search for fish around Pottsville and found a few tiny flathead and Bream in Mooball Creek. These grabbed the smaller soft plastic minnows.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 16 October 2016

Sunday

We had had some wild weather through the end of the week in Queensland. A strong south-easterly had been blowing since Wednesday and fishing would have been pretty difficult. This was a shame as it was the run up to the full moon which is usually a good time to fish in the Pumicestone Passage.

Sunday was full moon and a very low 0.11m low tide had passed at 3.11 am.  I arrived and to start fishing in the dark at about 4.15 am. The water was still not really moving at this stage and there was lots of strap weed floating about. There was a pause in the strong winds with a change in direction, to north-easterly forecast in the late morning.

I was fishing with my G.Loomis SJR 6400 Rod. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. After an hour this had not produced a bite so I swapped soft plastics to the Lucky Craft Mad Scientist Swimming Shad in the Ayu colour. These are fantastic soft plastic lures with a long streamline body and an enormous beating paddle tail.

Just after dawn at about 5 .15 am I felt the bite, paused and then struck. The hook held and I soon had a 45cm flathead swimming around me. There is plenty of fish left in our fridge so I released it.

Soon after dawn the tide started running in very quickly and I caught another flathead almost at the at green channel marker. It was a big slow fish and it initially swam towards me. Then it took off on on the first of three long runs after which it seemed content to be towed in to the shallows. It settled on the sand covered in water and buy lining it up against my rod, I could see it was over over 80cm long.  I tried to pull it on to sand to unhook, but 10lb leader snapped, and it swam off.

It was Sunday morning and the wash from the constant flow of boats heading out into the bay made the water very murky. I tied on a new jig head and loaded it with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I waded back towards the bridge.  Just to the south of the old oyster jetty hooked and dropped two more flathead.

Finally, casting around just north of bridge, I caught one more flathead. It was just about 40cm long. At 6.30 am with the wind rising, I gave up for the day.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats and Bongaree – 10 October 2016

Monday

On Monday it was back up to Bribie to fish the bottom of the tide. Summer had arrived and so had the warm water and northerly winds. September and October are traditionally thought to be good months for flathead fishing. In my experience the cooler months and consistent south easterly winds tend to produce more legal sized fish but it is often around the start of summer that I catch and release a few really big fish.

I could not start really early on Monday and arrived at about 8.30 am. I started off fishing just south of the bridge on the old oyster jetty flats. There was virtually no wind and it was hot and clear. I started to cast a GULP Mantis Shrimp soft plastic (in the peppered prawn colour) in to the shallows. The clear water and bright sun has probably contributed to a thick blanket of snot weed forming over the bottom in this area. It does not seem to bother the fish but makes bouncing a soft plastic along the bottom pretty difficult. I swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I felt a couple of bites and soon hooked a toothy long tom. I carefully released it.

I moved south under the jetty and swapped soft plastics again. This time to the Mad Scientist Optishad. The paddle tail on this one did the trick and a 50 cm flathead snaffled it from a sandy hollow. Ten metres further south I caught another – this time a little smaller and things were looking promising. I kept moving south, towards the green channel marker. By now I had swapped to a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Satay Chicken colour. At about 10.45 am I caught one more 45 cm flathead.

The wind had turned south easterly and the incoming tide forced me back from where I wanted to fish. I waded back to the car and drove across to Bongaree. I just wanted to put in a few casts in the gutter that had formed in front of the Seaside Museum. I was back fishing with the Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic and after only a couple of casts, I found another 45 cm flathead. It was lying in just 40 cm of water a couple of metres out. They really move up very fast on a rising tide. I peppered the rest of the gutter with casts but could not find another, but I shall certainly be back.

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 Island – the oyster jetty flats – 27 April 2015

Monday

Another big gap between fishing sessions but by the end of April I was back in Brisbane for a few days and the weather was calm, cool and bright. As soon as I had time, I drove up to Bribie Island to see if the flathead where around. March and April always seem to produce plenty of good flathead from the flats around the island.

I hit my favourite spot – the muddy, weedy, sand flats to the south of the old oyster jetty, in front of the Sandstone Point Hotel, which is currently under development. This will be a huge pub when it is finished. I think it is great to see a development that seems to fit in with the natural landscape. My only disappointment was the wholesale removal of the native gum trees behind the mangrove line, to make way for the project. These used to provide a good break when the cold south-westerly winds blow.

I started a little after first light and a bit before dawn at about 6.00 am. I think this short window between getting light and the sun coming over the horizon is an excellent time to fish. The change in light triggers the feeding response and the low intensity means they are bold enough to chase lures and baits into the shallows.

A 2.0m high tide had passed at 4.09 am, so I was fishing the run out tide. The moon was about half full which meant that the tidal flow would not be that significant. There was about 50cm of water at the base of the mangroves, as I waded towards the old oyster jetty.

I was fishing with my very light spin rod – NS Blackhole 6’ SGII 602L Trout rod I picked up in Tumut last year. It is rated for 2 to 8lb line and 2 to 10 gram lures. My beloved Loomis GL2 had a fatal accident in 1770 and the gang at Jones Tackle are seeking out a replacement for me. In the meantime this light, fast action rod is great for flathead, bream and other estuary targets.

It was now about 6.45 am, I had rigged a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead and I was using just over a metre of 10lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader.  I was casting ahead of me in to the shallows. The water was clear but a little cooler than it had been fishing at 1770, a few weeks before. I had just passed the cable crossing warning sign when I felt a faint grab at the soft plastic. I dropped the rod tip and paused but did not entice a strike. I cast back at the same spot and felt the same slight grab. I cast to the right – nothing. I cast to the left – nothing. Then I cast back along the original trajectory and paused with the soft plastic on the bottom, for a good ten seconds. When I lifted it the fish struck. It was a flathead – a little over 50cm. It was good to know persistence pays off.

I waded under the jetty and slowly fished my way to the point where the shoreline turns the corner towards Sandstone Point. I paused here and threw a few casts along the drain that channels the run out tide round the corner and over the flats. I felt a couple mad grabs and swipes and realised that the Long Toms must be snapping at the soft plastic. I could not find a flathead in the drain so I moved on.

I waded along the gradually emerging sand bank until I was almost at the green channel marker. I stuck with the same soft plastic all the way. I then turned back to walk along the edge of the weed beds, in the direction of the jetty.

About half way back to the jetty, I felt a solid hit and paused. When I lifted it, the fish was hooked. It was another, slightly smaller 45cm flathead. I now had two in the bag, but would need at least one more to feed my mob.

I slowly moved north, casting and casting. After another 1 hour I still only had two fish. I was back at the jetty and the water was clear and almost still. It was now about 9.30 am and nearly low tide. I out in a few casts alongside the jetty. On about the third cast a very angry flathead slammed my soft plastic.  I subdued it and carefully pulled it ashore.

That was enough for me. Three fish, four nice fillets from each, that’s twelve good pieces of fish – which makes a very decent family meal. It took 3 hours to catch and about 12 minutes to eat. Good to be back on my home turf.

1770 – Flat Rock – Dart – 7 April 2015

Tuesday

The family took off for Lady Musgrave Island to have a look at the reef. But the prospect of ninety minutes battling high seas had me close to throwing up so I dropped them off at about 8.00 am and drove back down to Flat Rock.

The sun was out when I arrived and there was a light northerly wind blowing. I had the beach to myself and walked south to the spot where I had been fishing the day before. I was fishing the same fairly light rig and was sticking with the 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I would not stop any toothy fish with light leader but even if I upped it to a 30lb breaking strain, I doubt I would be able to hang on to a mackerel or big trevally. I prefer to fish lighter and lose a few fish than not get the bites. I tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 2 hook jighead and loaded it with a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the sardine colour. It was now about 9.45 am and just about high tide. I started by fishing the gutter on the inside of the Flat Rock without much success. The sky turned grey and the wind started to pick up.

After about an hour I had had a few bites but caught nothing. I moved south and as the tide started to run out I waded across the gutter in a fairly shallow spot and stood up on the Flat Rock in ankle deep water. I started casting out beyond the rock. This immediately resulted in fish contact. I could see and feel the moses perch swiping at the soft plastic lure close to the front edge.

I cast out a bit further and found a small dart. I caught a few more and then changed to bigger 4” Minnow soft plastic. The dart kept hitting the bigger plastic but could not swallow it. I swapped back down to the 3” Minnow in the New Penny colour and instantly hooked another, slightly bigger dart.  I moved up and down the front face of the rock and tried different plastics. The dart kept coming but they did not get much bigger. The rain came too and gave me a good soaking. At about 1.00 pm, I gave up for the day.

1770 – Getaway Beach and Tom’s Creek – 3 December 2014

Wednesday

Wednesday was a beautiful morning but a disappointing one, from a fishing point of view.  I was still at 1770 and I decided to walk round from the beach that has the desalination plant intake to Getaway Beach. There is some really fantastic looking fishy terrain along here but apart from small dart and Moses Perch I have yet to catch anything decent here. I started at about 4.30 am and witnessed a beautiful sunrise but after a couple of hours of casting hard bodies and soft plastics all I had caught was a tiny sand flathead.

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I decided to retire and do something different for the afternoon session. I drove down to Tom’s Creek which is a tributary of Round Hill Creek. The boats can only get up to it for an hour or so, either side of high tide, but there are a few spots where you can fish it from the shore. I have had some powerful hit and runs, whilst fishing with soft plastics here but, apart from a few good grunter bream (javelin fish), I have landed very little.

It was now about 9.30 am and I started fishing with my light rod and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I fitted a 1/8th  ounce, 1/0 jighead and loaded it with a GULP 4” Minnow in the New Penny colour. I lost a few rigs working out where the snags were located.  I kept getting fast, aggressive bites but was struggling to hook up. I slowed things down and after about twenty minutes I connected with a mad fish – it was a Tarpon about 35 cm long, and it leapt around all over the place. I photographed and released it. I had a couple more bites from its mates, but could not hook up.

The tide was running out fast and so I swapped to a slightly heavier, 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead, but continued with the same soft plastic lure. This soon produced results and I caught a couple of grunter bream, the largest of which was about 35cm long.

I swapped to a bigger GULP jerkshad soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was casting as close as I could to the mangrove roots, on the far bank. At about 10.30 am something slammed the soft plastic, as it sank. It immediately headed for some rocks and after a couple of runs, it unhooked itself.

By about noon the water was fairly shallow and the tide had slowed, so I gave up for the day.

1770 – Wreck Rock – 2 December 2014

Tuesday

Once again I apologize for not writing up my fishing reports sooner but Christmas got in the way.  This one and the few that I will publish over the next few days, are from early December 2014 – better late than never.

I managed to get a few days off in Gladstone in early December. That enabled me to shoot back down to Agnes Water and 1770. Once again Gavin and Kim found me a great deal at Loka Santi – through http://www.1770beachaccommodation.com.au/. These apartments could easily become my home away from home.

I started at Wreck Rock on Tuesday morning. Low tide would be mid-morning and there was a light north-easterly wind blowing. It was a bright sunny day and the water was fairly clear. I was using my NS Blackhole light surf/ rock fishing rig and started with 12lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was fishing on the northern set of rocks.

I started at about 9.20 am but did not get a bite until around 10.00 am. I was using a GULP 3” Minnow in the Sardine colour. I was right at the north end of the line of rocks that are exposed as the tide runs out. Over my last few trips there have always been fish at the end of this set of rocks. Last time, it was mostly dart and stripey perch but in the cooler months it is often tailor, trevally and bream. You regularly see the tuna further out but they very rarely come close enough to cast at.

Today the first fish was a small trevally. It was followed by two more, in quick succession. None of them were more than about 35 cm long. Then things went quiet so I walked over to the rocks at the south end of the bay. I fished all round these and even dropped right down to 10lb fluorocarbon leader, but I did not get a bite.

By noon the easterly wind was making things tough so I gave up for the day.

Iluka – Woody Head – 27 November 2014

Thursday

It was another grey and humid start on Thursday morning in Iluka. There had been several showers overnight and the rain seem to have stifled the wind and swell. I had been doing well at Woody Head so I drove back out there, before dawn.  It would be an early morning low tide – which is pretty much perfect for fishing the rock ledges.

The recent bite offs suggested there was something big and toothy around so I tried again with a big shallow running hard bodied lure – the DUO Jerkbait 120 SP. I cast it around all through dawn but could not stir anything up.

I moved south along the rocks and swapped to a GULP 3 “ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was now on my lighter rock fishing NS Blackhole rod. I was using 14 lb fluorocarbon leader. I caught a small bream at about 5 am, from the spot which I believe the locals call the ‘Jew Hole’. It is a large inlet with a deeper channel in the middle, to the south of the area known as the ‘Barnacles’, where I usually start my fishing.

The sun came over the horizon and there was a brief glow of red before it got lost again, in the thick cloud. At about 5.30 am I hooked a fish and it took off. It was moving fast and I caught a flash of silver and realized it was a solid dart. I soon subdued it.  I caught another on the next cast and about 4 more, smaller ones over the next 20 minutes.  Then, I swapped to a GULP 3“ Minnow in the Green Camo colour and caught another, bigger dart. I bled the two bigger dart and left them in a rock pool that had a ledge overhanging it. Hopefully the various freeloaders – kites, pelicans, crows, crabs and wobbegongs, etc, would not find them.

Things slowed down a little so I moved further south to an area known as ‘Mossies’. This is a large, flat set of rocks covered in ankle deep green weed, at the southern end of the Woody Head platform. It is really only safe to fish here in gentle conditions, around low tide.  It was now about 6.00 am and low tide had been at 5.51 am. The first fish to grab the plastic was another solid 30 cm + bream. Another bream followed, on the next cast.

I was now almost as far south as I could go on the Woody Head rocks. I cast out the Green Camo minnow and let it waft down beside the ledge. Before it hit the bottom something smashed it. It took off to the south with a blistering run then turned back and torpedoed into the base of the rocks and snap went the leader.

I looked for tougher leader but I had used it all, so it was 14lb or 10lb. I tied a strong knot with the 14lb and put the same soft plastic minnow on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I cast back in the same spot and after a couple of tries, I was on to a fish again. I had the drag set tighter this time and I pulled pretty hard from the minute I hooked up. It was a tough fish but this time I kept it out of the rocks. After a few minutes it was tired and I landed it with the aid of the swell. It was a small king fish (or possibly an Amberjack – not sure) about 55cm long. I took some pictures and threw it back. A few casts later I was on to another one. This one was slightly smaller but put up just as tough a fight.

Next taker was a golden trevally which was longer than the king fish but not quite as mad. It was still a tough fight on the lighter rod and great fun. It was not even 6.30 am and I had caught four species. That is the beauty of Iluka.

I fished for another hour until the sun was really out and the cloud had burned away. Things slowed down a little but the bream and dart kept coming. I ended up keeping a few of the bigger dart, the trevally and a couple of bream, to make a mixed fish fried rice. I find using different flavoured and textured fish is great for this kind of dish. I fillet the fish and fry it, then add it to the cooked rice with some fried spring onions, crushed garlic, fresh coriander, Thai fish sauce and fresh lime juice.

By 8.00 am I was back at the car after a great mornings fishing.

Iluka – the Clarence River and Iluka Bluff – 24 November 2014

I woke up to a rising 25 knot north-easterly wind. So I could not fish the rocky headlands. I would have to find some shelter from the wind. I decided to go back to where I had been fishing the night before.

So just after first light, I walked along the top of the rock wall, to the south of the boat ramp. I started with my light spin rod and a GULP 3 “ Minnow soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. I caught a tiny bream after a couple of casts and then saw a school of fish come through the gap in the rocks. They splashing and gulping on the surface and I realized they were small tailor. I suddenly understood the term ‘choppers’ as this is exactly what they were doing to the surface of the water. I cast into them and got a bite but no hook up. When I retrieved my lure its tails was missing.

Clarence River tailor The gap in the rockwalls Clarence River

As I re-rigged a trailer boat came through the gap. The owner of the boat left his two-stroke running while he jigged for bait in the gap a few times. He did not get anything and after a few more goes he revved up and took off. Not surprisingly the fishing went quite for about 20 minutes. Then the choppers were back.

This time I cast my soft plastic 3” minnow right into the middle of the school and let it sink. It was whacked about three times as it floated towards the bottom. I jerked the rod tip up and connected with a fish. It was a small (30cm) ‘chopper’ tailor and it was soon jumping around in the mud at my feet.

Another boat came through and repeated the process that the first one had, with similair results. I had not realized this gap in the rocks was such a heavily used thoroughfare. The water must be consistently deep as a couple more boats soon came hurtling through. I decided it was getting a bit too noisy for the fish to hang around so I went back to find a coffee in town.

The wind kept howling all day. At about 3.30 pm I decided to see if the sheltered side of Iluka Bluff was worth fishing. A couple of other keen fisho’s were also braving the wind. They already had a couple of good-sized (45cm+) tailor from the foamy water. I big popper in the Qantas (red and white) colour had been the most successful. I did not have a popper with me so I tried a DUO Jerkbait 120 SP sub surface shallow diving hard bodied minnow. After few casts I lost this to the rocks. I tried a few plastics but the wind just blew them away. After 30 minutes of battling I finally decided that the day was not suitable for fishing and headed for the pub.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 18 November 2014

Tuesday

Back home to Brisbane for some work. I have done a fair bit of fishing recently but once again paid work has interfered with writing up my sessions, so these reports are far from fresh.

On Tuesday I had a window to fish in the morning, so I grabbed it. The tide would be running out to low at Bribie and it would be low just after noon.

It had rained overnight and there had been a big downpour a few days earlier. I could not get away for dawn, but I arrived and pulled on my waders at about 8.00 am. That is about four hours after first light, at this time of year. It was not a big tide. It was very humid and overcast and the wind was from the north east.

I started just south of the old oyster jetty on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, close to the mangroves roots, in the shallows. I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – the perfect small mullet/pilchard imitation. I was using my light spin rod and a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. At about 8.30am I caught a small (about 40 cm flathead). I took a picture and released it. It was sitting only a few feet away from the shore in about 35 cm of water. This is typical flathead behavior. They move up to the mangrove roots on the overnight high tide and just stay put until there is almost no water over the top of them.

I moved further south, following the run out tide as it gradually revealed the sand banks and weed beds. I had enjoyed fishing with the small surface poppers at 1770, so I decided to try one on the flats. I cast the small Rebel as far as I could in front of me and retrieved it slowly with quite a few long pauses. It took a while but as I took up the slack after a pause a fish smashed the popper and took off. It some tired and I could see it was a bream – about 30 cm long. I released and peppered the area with more casts. A few casts later, I caught another much smaller bream.

I carried on towards the green channel marker and swapped back to the soft plastic minnow. I found three more flathead, two of which would have been keepers. It was now just before noon and the run out tide had slowed. I turned and walked north, back towards the car. I caught one smaller flathead on the way and by 12.15 pm, I was back at the bridge.

It had taken a while and there were some long gaps between them, but I had found a few fish. The Christmas holiday fishing should be pretty good.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – 28 September 2014

Sunday

On Saturday, I packed up the car and drove 3 hours south, from Brisbane, to Iluka. It is about a year since I was here last and it feels like much longer. At last I had the opportunity to get away and fish for some different species. The weather was forecast to be pretty good for most of the week – with limited swell and wind and plenty of sunshine.

I arrived on Saturday night and ate at the Sedgers Reef Hotel. The food in here continues to go steadily downhill, while the prices go up. Everything is deep-fried (mostly from frozen) and hot chips are really the only thing worth eating. Still, the beer is cold and the location is fantastic. It’s a great place to watch the sunset across the mighty Clarence River.

The Clarence River empties into the ocean between Iluka to the north shore and Yamba to the south. The Clarence is a huge river and there is always activity at its mouth and on the rocky headlands, on either side. I prefer to fish the Iluka side of the river mouth, as it is quieter and has the beautifully unspoiled Bundjalung National Park.

This time I was staying at the Anchorage Holiday Park www.anchorageholidaypark.com.au in one of their deluxe cabins. I love to camp at the Woody Head camp ground, but they were booked out for the school holidays and its nice to have a proper fridge and running water, if you are planning to keep a few fish, to take home. There is also good fishing on the river, right in front of the park.

I went to bed early on Saturday night and as usual I found it hard to sleep. At about 4.00 am I woke before the alarm, had a quick cup of tea and set off for the rocks. I decided to start by fishing just to the north of Frazers Reef, at what is known as Middle Bluff (or sometimes Second Bluff). This is a rocky headland in between Woody Head and Iluka Bluff. I walked along the beach in the pre-dawn light and I was relieved to feel only a very light south easterly wind blowing. As the sky grew lighter I could see there was not much swell, which would make things much easier (and safer). I arrived at the northern end of Middle Bluff at about 5.15 am and started to rig up.

I had two rod and reel combos with me. The first – my heavy rig – is a Daiwa Demonblood 962H rod matched with a Shimano Stradic FJ 8000 reel. This is rigged with 20lb braid and I usually fish it with a 25lb or 30 lb fluorocarbon leader. The second is the much lighter, N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod. It is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. I match this rod with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. This is rigged with 15lb braid and I usually fish it with a 12lb to 16lb fluorocarbon leader.

Around dawn I tend to fish with the heavy rig and try a few hard bodied lures or poppers. This morning I tied on a small but fairly heavy (31g) sinking bibbed minnow from Maria – called the Duplex. It is designed for long casts and high speed retrieves and it is ideal for casting from the rocks. I threw it out about 15 times and felt a few bumps. The sun was just coming over the horizon when I felt my first solid hit. I had the drag set quite tight as I did not want to get dragged down into the rocks. I did not hook up, so I cast out again and cranked up the retrieve. This time the hit was much more solid and the rod bent over, there was a fairly slow initial pull followed by a massive yank and the lure pulled free. When I got it back the rear treble had been completely pulled out – not happy.

I continued to fish with another Maria Duplex for about 15 minutes, but I could not find that fish again. I decided to switch to a soft plastic and chose the trusty GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I started fishing on a ¼ ounce, 2/0 hook jighead. The swell was light and the ¼ ounce jighead ensured the lure would drift around in the water column, before it reached the bottom. I tried to keep the jighead on the bottom for as long as possible without getting snagged. After about five casts a felt a faint bite, very close to the rocks. I dropped the plastic straight back down, only a meter or so away from the rock ledge. I paused for about 10 seconds as it sank to the bottom. When I lifted the rod, the line pulled tight and the rod tip started wriggling. I had the drag set tight as I was fishing very close to the barnacle covered rocks, but the fish predictably tried to swim under the rock ledge. It was no match for the heavier Daiwa rod and 25lb leader and I muscled it out and up on to the rocks beside me. It was a small Jewfish/ Mulloway – I estimated it at just under 50cm – a long way off the new NSW legal size limit. I let it recover in the rock pool for a bit, so that it might avoid becoming a shark snack. Then I speared it back in to the water. I continued with the same rig for about another half hour and had another faint hit, but did not hook up.

I decided to swap to the lighter fishing rig with a 14lb fluorocarbon leader. I had tried a number of bigger soft plastics but none of these had created any real interest. I now swapped down to a GULP 3” Sardine Minnow which I rigged on a ¼ ounce, size 1/0 hook, Nitro breampro fine wire jighead. I lost a few of these to the rocks but at about 8.30 am I felt a solid bite in very close to the rocks. This was a stronger fish but the swell had dropped off a little, which made things easier. I could not muscle this one in, so I let it play itself out and then landed it with the help of a good wave surge. It was bigger than the last at about 55cm – but still not big enough to keep. I took some photos and threw it back in.

I continued fishing for another 90 minutes without any more success, but the birds were working a few hundred metres away. The dolphins came through a couple of times – so I assume that there was some bait around. At about 10.00 am, I gave up for the morning. There was no fish for supper but it was a great start to the week.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 23 April 2014

Wednesday

It was a late start for me again on Wednesday – juggling work and fishing is hard.  But then most of my readers are probably well aware of that!

I arrived at the Bribie Bridge at about 9.00 am and waded out towards the flats to the south of the old oyster jetty. The sun was shining and there was a light south westerly wind. It is definitely getting cooler and the wind had some bite in it. The moon was 37% full and waning. It would be a 0.6m low tide at about 10.30 am.

I started fishing with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour and this soon found a fish. It was a Flathead – just over 40 cm. I released it and went looking for more.  The water was clear but there were still a lot of black clumps of ‘snot’ weed floating around. There were sand crabs everywhere. Plenty of them seemed to be in romantic embraces.

As the tide slowed, I moved further south. In one of the sandy hollows, I caught another fish. This flathead had the brightest coloured tail I have ever seen. I released it and carried on wading south. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour and as the tide started to run in, I caught another 45cm flathead.

 

 

I briefly tried fishing with a few small hard bodied lures, but they kept getting clogged with weed. I swapped back to a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger (orange and green colour) and at about 11.00 am I found a couple more small flathead that were probably just under 40 cm.

This had not been a bad fishing session – especially as the school holidays have just finished and this area has been fished pretty hard. All fish were released today.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – again – 12 March 2014

Wednesday 12th

I paused, reluctantly, to dry out the fishing bag and finish filleting and skinning a few flathead, on Tuesday. By Wednesday I had spotted an opening for another fishing session. I was working around the low tide on the flats at Bribie.

I drove up to arrive at about 10.00am – very civilised. We had the same wind pattern as we have now had for about ten days – a 10 to 15 knot east-south easterly wind. It was a bright, sunny day and the wind was building. The water was clear and running out and the full moon would be on Saturday. Low tide would be at 1.10 pm.

I started to fish the small patch of reef just south of the Bribie Island Bridge, on the mainland side. The rocks were just visible above the receding tide. I started the day with a soft plastic. As you will have noticed I prefer to prospect with a soft plastic lure – once I find the fish I will then start to experiment. Today I chose the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I was fishing with 12lb fluorocarbon leader and using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook, jighead.

I soon found a fish, just to the south of the bridge. This flathead was just below 40cm long. I would release everything I caught today – there is plenty of fish in the fridge. I cast back in the same area and found another, smaller fish.  I moved closer to the jetty and caught 3 more, before wading under the jetty.

As with the previous sessions, the fish kept coming. I swapped from soft plastics to hard bodies and these were even more successful. I caught a 60cm flathead on the MARIA 90 mm MJ Twitch suspending minnow and a 66 cm fish on a RIO Prawn lure, in the 13 g size. The DUO range chipped in with some good flathead on the DUO Tetraworks Toto and, my current favourite – the suspending DUO Realis Shad 59 MR. This one really is a flathead slayer – the action and rattle seems to drive them wild.

I fished from 10.30 am to about 1.30 pm and I rarely went 5 minutes without a fish. I finished the session with some good sized flathead on the Powerbait 5” Rippleshad paddle tail soft plastic, in the black and gold colour (which I usually reserve for chasing Jewfish).

For the fish to be here in such numbers I can only conclude that they are feeding up to spawn. A few of the fish I kept last week were full of roe. It is early but apparently flathead can choose to spawn at any time and do not do it on mass, like bream.

Whatever the reason, I hope they stay for a while –  it’s a great time to be out there fishing.

Bribie Island – Whitepatch – 13 February 2014

Thursday

I am afraid this post relates to a fishing session which is now almost three weeks old. My apologies but for the sake of keeping my fishing diary up to date, I will summarize what happened.

 

I decided to fish at Whitepatch on Bribie Island, low tide had passed at about 2.45 am and it would be a fairly big run in tide. There was a very light south-easterly wind blowing when I arrived, just after 5.30 am.  I parked by the stairs and waded out towards the drop off. I stopped to pepper the area of weed beds just in front of the ledge. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour. The first few retrieves were grabbed at by something….moses perch, pike, maybe.

I persisted and after about fifteen minutes I found a small flathead. I released it and carried on fishing. Fish kept hitting the big plastic but I was not hooking them. The tide was getting higher and it was now difficult to cast over the edge of the drop off. I swapped down to a smaller GULP 3” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. This did the trick and I soon caught a few small yellowfin pike.

As the tide came up I waded further south. I kept casting and soon started to catch a few small moses perch. They gradually got bigger but none were bigger than the legal size of 25cm. I swapped through a few different small soft plastics and caught more moses perch and a few tiny whiting.

I put on a GULP jerkshad again, in the Satay Chicken colour and turned to wade back to the car. It was now about 8.30 am and heading for high tide. As I waded to the north I cast in front of me. After a few attempts this method produced the best fish of the day – a 46cm flathead.

After this I gave up. I had caught plenty of fish but only one would have been big enough to keep. Despite the lack of dinner it had been an interesting fishing session.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 20 December 2013

Friday

I was beginning to get fed up with the Christmas madness. Every time I have dropped into the supermarket in the last fortnight, there have been people stuffing trolleys with food that will surely end up in the bin in ten days – bags of assorted nuts in their shells, icing sugar dusted Stollen logs, massive hams & huge frozen turkeys, those huge square Italian sponge cakes that taste like cardboard and enough mangoes and cherries to sink a battleship.

Big W / Target / Kmart and the rest have crammed aisle upon aisle with cheap, useless crap that nobody wants or needs. Buckets of Margarita mix (without the alcohol), Brut deodorant combined with bonus Brut aftershave in a gift pack (not sure it really is a bonus). There are enough bath salts, crystals, foams, creams, milks, lotions, serums and bombs to make Wivenhoe Dam fizz. In almost every case, the packaging probably cost several times as much as the rubbish inside it. I am half expecting to see the old ‘soap on a rope’ make a comeback.

Only fishing could lift my spirits. I decided to set the alarm and fish the morning low tide at Bribie. The bottom of the tide was 4.24 am, just after first light and just before dawn. There was a slight northerly wind forecast. It was three days after the full moon. I chose the flats on the mainland side of the bridge, as these have been fishing well.

I arrived about 4.15 am and then waded out to the area south of the old oyster jetty, where the flathead have been hiding. I started with the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Watermelon Pearl colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and was using my usual 10lb fluorocarbon leader and G.Loomis TSR light spinning rod. The water was still and the sky was cloudy. I was about level with the end of the jetty, where there are a number of sandy hollows, amongst the thick weed.

At about 4.40am, I caught my first flathead. It was just under 40 cm. I released it and then I cast into the same hollow and caught another. This one was bigger – perhaps 45cm. I couple of casts later; I caught another, about the same size. I had another fish on my line from this spot, but it spat my jighead on the surface.

I moved on to the next hollow and decided to change colours. I chose the orange and yellow GULP Orange Tiger Jerkshad. At about 5.30 am this did the trick and I had another flathead. It was also about 45cm.  It had chewed through the plastic, so I replaced it with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I kept moving towards the south. The tide was starting to run in now. At 5.40am, I caught another small flathead – approximately 35cm long. The sky had turned grey not long after sunrise and now I could see the rain clouds coming towards me. It started spitting and then really raining but it was only a short shower.

I fished along the edge of the weed beds for another hour without a bite. At about 8.00 am another shower was threatening so I gave up. The best action has definitely been around dawn in the last few sessions – not good news if you like sleep!

Bribie Island – the old oyster jetty flats – 21 June 2013

Friday

It’s been a long time between fishing sessions. Work and the dreadful weather – particularly the wind, have limited my fishing opportunities. On Friday the rain and strong south-easterly winds were forecast again but I had no choice, I had to go for it. Fish don’t really care about the wind in an estuary, but if it is really strong, it makes it very hard to feel the bite and cast accurately, not to mention the cold, if it has some west in it.

On Friday morning, on the flats opposite Bribie Island, the wind was switching between a strong south-easterly and south-westerly and bringing plenty of rain with it. The tide had been high at 7.10 am and we were approaching the full moon, due in a couple of days.

I started fishing at about 9.00am. I wanted to fish the second half of the run out tide, through to about midday. I waded out under the bridge in a disposable rain poncho and my waders – I was dry underneath but the wind was very cold. The rain varied between a steady drizzle and heavy squalls.

Despite the wild weather the water was clear and cold. Unfortunately the algae (snot weed) are all over the sea grass and rocks on the bottom, between the bridge and the old oyster jetty. If you let your lure hit the bottom, it just gets clogged up with this stuff, straight away.

The situation improved to the south of the oyster jetty. I think the current is a little stronger here so the algae find it harder to take hold. I was fishing with a GULP 4” minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. After an hour of casting around I connected with a fish, but after a short fight, it slipped free. I persisted in the same spot for another 20 minutes. Eventually, I hooked the fish (or one of its neighbours) again. It was a flathead about 45cm long. Given how tough the fishing had been it seemed I was unlikely to catch the three fish minimum that I would need to feed my mob, so I released it.

I was now about 200 metres to the south of the old oyster jetty and the tide was running out, strongly. It was time to continue the sea trials of the Zman Minnowz. I chose the fairly natural, Houdini colour and put it on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead. I covered much of the same ground I had covered with the GULP Minnow and after about 20 minutes, I caught another small flathead about 35cm long.

I moved up and down casting at the edge of the weed beds but the after another 40 minutes with no bites I swapped back to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic lure, in the Pearl Watermelon colour. This produced a result on the first cast – another small flathead about 30cm long. I continued fishing the same area for another 30 minutes, but could not find anymore.
The wind was really building now, so I turned back and waded towards the bridge. On the way, I slowed my retrieve right down and left it longer on the bottom between hops. This produced one more flathead, just before low tide at about 1.00 pm.

Tough session – but the fish were there – as they nearly always are.

1770 – Eurimbula Creek – 8 May 2013

Wednesday

With the weather showing no signs of improving, I decided it was futile to keep trying on the rocks, so on Wednesday, I drove back out to Eurimbula Creek. I arrived a little after first light and the tide was running in. The water was not quite so dirty here. I went back to basics and started by fishing with small, lightly weighted soft plastics, first a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger and then a 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. After an hour with no luck I switched to a DUO Tetraworks Bivi, small, hard bodied vibe lure. This did not stir anything up either.

I decided to try a slightly bigger soft plastic and put on a GULP 4” Minnow, in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The tide was running in fast, so I also upped the weight to a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. The water had now come over the sandy edge of the main channel. I dropped the lure over the edge and then retrieved it, pausing for as long as I could, right at the edge. I felt the small bait fish attack the lure on each retrieve and then, after about 10 casts, a bigger fish grabbed it. It was a dusky Flathead – just over 40 cm. After a few pictures it went back.

I moved nearer to the mouth of the creek and put on a GULP 3” Jigging Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour. I lost a few of these to the fast flowing current and the fallen trees. I rigged up for the third time and aimed the soft plastic at eddies around one of the snags. It was hit on the drop and the fish went straight into the tangle of roots. With the Loomis GL2 light spin rod and 10lb fluorocarbon leader, I really did not have the power to fight a determined fish in heavy current – the fish was in charge. I backed off the drag a little and it swam out. I let it move about a metre away from the snag, tightened the drag and then increased the pressure again. It headed straight back in. We repeated this process 3 times until I eventually pulled out a 45 cm estuary cod. It was perfect cod terrain with overhanging mangrove roots and plenty of snags.

The rain showers kept coming. At about 10.00 am, I caught a couple of small grunter bream (javelin fish) – about 30 cm long. I had swapped back to the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I have caught plenty of these in the creeks around here, especially after heavy rain. I put them back and carried on fishing, up and down the creek bank, as high tide came and went.

By about 11.00 am I had had enough and drove back to Agnes Water.

1770 – Workmans Beach – 7 May 2013

Tuesday

The wild weather continued; strong south-easterly winds and plenty of rain. On Tuesday morning I braved the rocks at the southern end of Workman’s Beach, near Agnes Water. This area is sheltered from a southerly and south-easterly and there is plenty of fishy looking territory.

After a few days of big seas, the water was all stirred up and a milky brown colour. I started with soft plastics and then switched to slugs and hard bodies, but nothing yielded results. The sun came out mid-morning, but not for long. As the day wore on, the wind picked up. It then brought the clouds back in. Just after lunch, there was another downpour, so I gave up. Tuesday had been my first zero fish session for quite some time!

Nothing seemed to work today

Nothing seemed to work today

Bribie – oyster jetty to the channel marker – 28 April 2013

Sunday

When the fish have been biting in a particular spot it is hard to tear yourself away, so it was back to Bribie Island. It is also good to fish the same spot for a few weeks, so that you can see if any patterns appear in fish behaviour.

Sunday looked more promising than Friday had been. The moon was still pretty full but low tide was at 5.21 am. I would not be able to fish much of the run out tide, but I could reach my favourite target area, for a couple of hours, as the tide started to run in. In general, I have had more success on the ‘run out’ rather than ‘run in’ tide, in this area, on the edge of the main channel. The moon is also a factor. As I mentioned in my previous post the big moon means a very big tidal flow and this is not very helpful here.

There are a different current flows that run over and around the sand banks, at different times of the tide. You feel this very obviously in your waders, as you move between cold water – rushing in from Moreton Bay and warmer water, flowing out, off the sand flats and shallows, from the Pumicestone Passage. This can make deciding which direction to cast in, quite confusing. If possible, you should always cast up, in to the current and hop the lure back along the bottom, towards you.

I started early, around 5.30 am and made straight for the green channel marker. It took about 20 minutes to get out there and I started by fishing with GULP Jerkshads in various colours, but these did not find the fish. I swapped down to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I was using a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and the usual 10lb fluorocarbon leader. By 6.45 am the tide was running in and I found a small flathead in a sandy patch, about half way between the channel marker and the oyster jetty. I could only find one in this spot so, after 10 minutes of casting, I moved on.

It took more than hour to find the next one – at about 8.00 am. This one was over 40 cm, but I was releasing them all today. I covered the surrounding area with casts but could not find any more.

The incoming tide was now starting to push me out of reach of the main edge of the weed beds. I swapped to the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – black and pink colour. At 8.15 am I caught another small flathead – about 35cm long.

At about 9.00 am I was back at the bridge and had not caught any more. The combination of full moon and incoming tide had stirred the sediment in the water up and it was very murky again. I had only caught three fish. It seems that fishing the incoming tide is not working so well for me. We will have to see what happens when I get a chance to fish the ‘run out’ tide, next week.