Brunswick River – Brunswick Heads – 18/19 May 2021

On the 18th May I started fishing, land-based at about 11.00 am. I was on the north bank of the Brunswick River. I started off just north of the highway bridge. The tide was running in and would by high at 1.30 pm. The moon was a waxing crescent, just over a week away from full so the tidal flow would not be too strong.

I cast up around the edge of the oyster lease and around the weed banks with my favourite soft plastic for tough conditions – the GULP 4″ Minnow shape in the Watermelon Pearl colour. The water was very clear but there was not much bait in the shallows. I got a couple of bites (probably bream) on the first few casts and then things were quiet. At about 11.30 am I caught a 45cm flathead as I moved round closer to the bridge. About 10 minutes later, I caught another smaller (30cm) flathead.

I decided to cast around the base of the bridge and caught a couple of bream and then got snagged on the oyster covered rocks. Things were pretty slow, so I went back to the car at about 12.30 pm and drove down to the river mouth. The water was crystal clear on the top of the tide but I could only find one very small 20 cm flathead.

The next day was Saturday and as the river had disappointed the day before I decided to try fishing on the ocean side of the north wall. I started at about the same time – around 11.00 am. I walked out to the wall and started close in to the beach with another GULP – a 6″ Jerkshad in the plain white colour. Because I was now fishing in the surf I tied on a heavier, 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using about a meter of 12 lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader. The water was very clear again.

I cast at the wave break line and let the plastic waft around. Third cast and I was on to a fish. It was a flathead about 45 cm long. I released it. I moved a little further from the beach but this did not produce any fish so I moved back in again. A fish pulled the plastic off the jighead (probably a bream), so I re rigged with a GULP 4″ Minnow shaped soft plastic, in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I caught another slightly bigger flathead on this set up about thirty minutes later. Then I caught a couple of 30 cm bream on the top of the tide.

Brunswick River – Brunswick Heads – 23 April 2021

A few days later I was back at the north bank of the Brunswick River mouth looking for more flathead. The bait schools were not as thick but they were still around. Occasionally a small bream/ trevally/ tailor/ flathead would smash into them from below, and send them flying. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day. The water was still brown and tannin stained at the bottom of the run out tide but it was now crystal clear on the top of the tide.

We were about 5 days from the full moon, The wind was light from the south east and low tide had passed at about 11.45 am. I started about 2.15 pm and the tide was running in strongly, pushing the tannin stained river water back upstream.

I put a GULP 2 ” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and started casting just down river from the rocks, near the mouth. Fish were snatching at the soft plastic lure from the very first cast. I soon hooked a 30 cm bream and then a few casts later, I found a patch of flathead. I caught three, small but legal sized fish in quick succession.

As I moved towards the river mouth.The fish kept coming. A steady stream of flathead. Many were too small so I released them, but I managed to find four legal ones.

I finished at about 5.30 pm out on the rockwall, where I caught another couple of small bream and a 45 cm flathead. April was turning into a good month for fishing this river.

Iluka – Browns Rocks – Mid-December 2020

From about the 12th to the 17th December, the big swell and northerly winds were replaced by a tropical low. The rain was relentless for the best part of five days. I sat watching tv in my cabin. As I could not fish I drove down to Motackle https://www.motackle.com.au/ at Coffs Harbour to replace my broken ultralight spin rod. I tried everything – there was a G.Loomis XMS I liked the look of, but then there always is! With no job and a rapidly dwindling savings account I would have to settle for something a little less pricey. The team at Motackle were great and found me a Samaki Zing Gen II SZG 562 SXL for about $130. Its 5′ 6″ with a very fast action and so far I love it.

Eventually, I ventured out when there was a break in the rain. In the first few days the river stayed surprisingly clean and on the top of the tide I caught a few more very small flathead. There were a lot of jelly prawns in the shallows.

Initially the water stayed quite clean

By day three the water was a brown muddy soup full of debris. The big tides had coincided with the torrential rain and the occasional whole tree floated by. Below is picture showing the water colour and level, before and after the rain at the Goodwood Island Wharf.

I could not catch anything once it turned this murky.

The wind and swell was unlikely to drop off and the river would now probably be dealing with all the fresh water run off for a couple of weeks, so I decided to quit the fishing and head home for Christmas.

Iluka – Goodwood Island flats / Browns Rocks – 1/2 December 2020

The swell was building and the rocks were effectively out of bounds during the first week in December. The weather was windy and hot but the edge of a tropical low was about to dump a week of rain on us. I decided to see what I could find fishing in the Clarence River, a few km upstream from Iluka. I would be fishing the sand and mud flats around the Goodwood Island Wharf, near Browns Rocks.

Even though it was hot and the water was warm I pulled on my waders. There are lots of rays and oysters around on these flats and I am not keen on stepping on the various ooglies that inhabit the shallows. All along the south side of Goodwood Island there are patches of beach that slope or drop off into the main Clarence River channel. In winter these are good flathead fishing areas, but you can also catch tailor, whiting, bream and mulloway here.

I would be fishing with my NS Blackhole Amped II 6′ 6″ S-602 Ultralight spinning rod matched to my Daiwa TD Sol III 2500 spin reel. This was loaded with 12lb braid and just over a metre of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I have not had this rod long and it is performing pretty well. I would prefer and even faster tip but you can feel just about everything your soft plastic touches on the bottom. I like a 6 foot short rod so that I can flick lures around in the mangroves and other tight terrain.

The area I was fishing was covered in yabby holes. These ran right to the muddy riverbank that was lined with patches of mangrove. I started at about the top of the tide, casting into water that was about 50 to 60 cm deep. I was using my favorite prospecting soft plastic – the GULP 4″ Minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I was using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. The water was clear and the wind was a 12 to 15 knot north-easterly.

I soon found some fish. They had moved up quite close to the shoreline mangroves, with the incoming tide and they were now gradually retreating. They were flathead. I caught three very small ones in quick succession. All around 25 cm long.

I then spent the next hour wading and casting without getting a bite. Then, as the tidal flow got stronger I found about five more flathead, but they were all tiddlers. I was hot and thirsty so at about 3.00pm I gave up.

The next morning I fished soon after dawn in roughly the same spot. The tide was running in. I swapped through a few slightly bigger soft plastic jerkshads on the same weight jighead. The results were better – of the 12 flathead I caught in a couple of hours, three were big enough to keep – all just over 40 cm long.

That afternoon I tried a quick cast in the late afternoon. I soon caught another small flathead, close to the small rock wall that lines the shore. Then, as I was hopping a soft plastic along the bottom towards me it stopped dead and I thought I had snagged a rock. There was a big swirl and and long slow powerful run. It was a ray and despite trying hard to dislodge my plastic, for some reason I disastrously high-sticked my rod as it came close and that was the end of my NS Blackhole Amped II S-602.

Stingray meets my NS Blackhole Amped II S-602 Ultralight

Brunswick River – Brunswick Heads – 1 September 2020

Thanks to the machinations of our newly powerful state leaders, Brunswick Heads was very quiet in August and September. Despite vanishingly small numbers of locally identified cases of COVID 19, the Queensland border snapped shut. It was soul destroying for our local businesses that rely so much on visitors from north of the border, and further afield. But, every cloud has a silver lining and for once the Brunswick River was very peaceful and largely undisturbed.

I started September with a midday session wading the flats above the highway bridge. The tide was running out to low at about 1-30 pm. I parked up beside the caravan park at Ferry Reserve.

I was using my new light estuary spinning set-up. The guides on my old favorite NS Blackhole trout rod nearly all needed replacing and I had knocked about 10 cm off the tip over the last couple of years – it had to go. I had loved that rod so I decided to go for another NS Blackhole rod from EJ Todd. I chose the ultralight fast action NS Amped II Trout S-602UL rod. It is a 6′ long two piece, rated for 2- 10 gram lures and 2-6 lb (1-3kg) line. I match it with a Daiwa TD-SOL III LT 2500D spinning reel. So far it has met all my expectations. It is ultra sensitive but has the power to stop good sized bream and flathead. It might struggle to turn the head of a decent mangrove jack or snapper, but I rarely run into those. It cost me A$ 149-99 (with free shipping) from Tackle Warehouse and arrived in good shape, three days after I ordered it.

I pulled on my waders and wandered up the inside of Mangrove Island, casting a GULP 3″ Minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead, into the shallow water ahead of me. I found my first tiny flathead close the edge of a weed bed in about 20 cm of water. The tide was running out towards me so I cast at the edge of the weed beds and hopped the soft plastic slowly along the sandy/ muddy bottom, with the tide. I carried on wading up river, around the tip of Mangrove Island and across to the deeper water, in the main channel of the river.

I decided to put on a bigger soft plastic – a GULP 5″ Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I was now just upriver from the tip of the island, about 30 metres from the northern riverbank. My rod tip bent over, I paused and then lifted it. I had hooked a small flathead, just under 40cm. I let it go and gradually moved down river, casting backwards up river. I swapped through a few soft plastics – the GULP 2″ Shrimp also in the Peppered Prawn colour and another 5″ Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, and found three more flathead, all about the same size.

As the tide slackened around 2.00 pm, I gave up and waded back to the car. It was great to have the river virtually to myself, I will have to make the most of it.

Brunswick River, Lighthouse Beach and Mobs Bay Ballina – May 2020

As we entered May we were still in lockdown across Australia. The global economy was a slow motion train wreck, with businesses shuttered and unemployment sky-rocketing. Governments everywhere pumped money into their economies and so, despite their awful future prospects some companies like our banks, Qantas, Afterpay, etc – persuaded our moronic superannuation fund managers to buy even more new shares in them.

In addition to the ever-present threat of the ‘Egyptian Papyrus’ (COV 19 virus), May brought us a delightful mini-plague of noisy green frogs. They were hiding everywhere you looked.

As the weather had cooled the flathead had increased in numbers in the Brunswick River, but they were still frustratingly small. I could be pretty sure of getting a handful on the bottom of the tide near the river mouth, but they were rarely big enough for dinner. The water was crystal clear and so perhaps the bigger fish were harder to fool.

I decided to head to Ballina and try and pick up a few bigger flathead. The strategy paid off and I had success fishing the first few hours of the run out tide. I was wading in the shallows in Mobs Bay and a few other points along the south side of the Richmond River, towards the river mouth. I also had a great session fishing the run out tide in the corner of Lighthouse Beach. The swell had carved out a small gutter at the north end and I caught four flathead in quick succession, on one early morning session.

I fished my light spinning rod with about a 1.5 metre, 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied on to 12lb breaking strain braid and an 1/8th or 1/6th of an ounce, size 1 hook jighead. As usual, the GULP 3″ and 4″ minnow soft plastics in the watermelon pearl and lime tiger colours produced the most fish.

I caught a full bag of five legal sized fish several times and used them to cook a flathead fish pie – which is a firm favorite at home.

South Ballina – Richmond River – Flathead – December 2018

In December I did not get a lot of time to fish. The weather was windy and so when I did get time for a session it was not on the headlands or beach. I drove down to the Richmond River at Ballina and decided to fish the shallows on the south side, near the river mouth. There are good tidal sand flats – lined by oyster covered rocky shore and mangroves.

I waded around with a light spin rod, 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a few of my favorite soft plastic lures. I generally used a 1/8th ounce, size 2 hook jighead loaded with a small 3 inch GULP Minnow or Shrimp shaped soft plastic. I was fishing the run out tide through the middle of the day. I did not have very high expectations but its is always good to explore for the early morning and dusk sessions, which are when I am most likely to catch supper.

My session started with a couple small bream in close to the shoreline. As I waded around and the tide headed for low, I started to catch small flathead. I caught about 8 in a few hours but only one would have been just about legal size. So they were all released today.

In summary this looks like it will be a productive spot in the cooler months and I will definitely be back to fish it.

Brunswick River – Flathead, Bream – March 2018

It was back to work in February so there was little time for fishing. In March the hot days continued with no sign of autumn on the horizon. The usual wind pattern was a light south easterly or south westerly in the morning, turning around to a strong northerly in the afternoon. The water stayed pretty warm.

The Brunswick River was crystal clear. In the transparent warm water, I resorted to casting out almost unweighted 3 inch minnow soft plastics on very light 6lb leader, in order to entice the bream to bite. I caught a few keepers this way but I lost plenty of soft plastics to either bigger bream, cod or perhaps mangrove jacks. There were a few flathead around but most were about 30cm to 40 cm long, so I released them.

There was about a week of heavy rain later in the month. The water running off the surrounding swamps turned the Brunswick River brown for all but an hour around high tide. This increase in fresh water in the system changed things and I had a few sessions where all I caught were grunter bream. I caught them all on 3 inch soft plastics, using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. They were mostly too small to keep, but one or two were close to 35 cm.

So there were plenty of fish in March and the river had plenty of bait but there were not many big enough for supper.

 

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 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 oyster jetty flats and Bongaree – 6 October 2016

Thursday

October saw some good fishing on the Bribie Island sand flats. On Thursday the wind was forecast to be a west south-westerly at 10 to 15 knots, easing off through the morning. It was a fairly cool 13 degrees when I arrived to start fishing at about 5.15 am. Low tide would be at about 5.45 am. The moon was a waxing crescent and six days old.

I started fishing on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage under the bridge. The sun was just coming up. There was lots of bait in the shallow water under the bridge. I waded to the south and saw a school of small tailor swim through. There were also lot of small garfish, herring, mullet and long toms around.

I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour. On a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using about a metre of 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied on to the Aldi 8lb yellow braid, which I now have on most of my reels.

I dropped a couple of flathead close to the new floating pontoon then steadily started catching legal sized fish, just to the south of the jetty. In 30 minutes I had filled my bag with five good fish and then caught a couple more, which I released.

As the tide slowed I waded back to the car and crossed the bridge to fish the start of the run in tide at Bongaree. I started fishing on the sand flats in front of the fresh water lagoon at Buckley’s Hole and soon found a 45 cm flathead. I waded north along the shore towards the seaside museum drain and found a deep gutter close to the shore that was filling quickly. As I walked along beside it, a couple of decent flathead went flying off.

I moved back a little and put in a couple of casts. After a few tries I felt the solid bite of another flathead. I pulled it ashore and released it. It was about 55cm long. As I released it, a small eagle ray glided past in the shallows. A few moments later I heard a loud slap, as it flew out of the water and landed just behind me.

At about 10.00 am I retired to breakfast with and esky full of flathead. It had been a great morning of fishing.

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.

Brisbane River – Boggy Creek – 29 February 2016

Monday

Wind, wind, wind – this is why you do not want to buy a boat. Throughout the end of February the wild weather continued. The forecast was for a 30 knot southerly on Monday. Still, every cloud has a silver lining – less boat traffic means more undisturbed fish and remember it’s never windy under the water.

But I could not face another day of being blown around at Bribie so I decided to fish closer to home. I have not fished the Brisbane River for a while, so to avoid the wind I drove out to spend a few hours fishing Boggy Creek, at Pinkenba. The big advantage with this spot is that it is only about 20 minutes from the Brisbane CBD. The hum of the BP refinery and the trucks roaring by makes it slightly less picturesque than Bribie, but there are still good fish to be caught here.

I started after first light, a bit before sun rise, at about 5.45 am. It was a few days after full moon and low tide would be at 7.22 am. I parked by the bridge across to the oil refinery and started by casting a GULP 3“Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

The tide was running out quickly and there was plenty of surface action at the base of the rocks, on the far side of the creek. A big school of herring was sitting just off the current and every now and then, something would race in to it and send it flying.

At about 6.15 am, the sun poked its head over the mangroves and things began to slow down under the bridge. I moved towards the mouth of the creek and tried a few different soft plastics. I saw a few schools of bait swim buy and had a couple of hits. I could see some small bream in the shallows and I was sure there must be a flathead around somewhere.

I changed up to the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and moved back up the creek, past the bridge. Low tide came and went and the water started to run in again. It was very murky and it was difficult to know where to cast. I saw a strange black shape wriggling along in the shallows and as it swam closer, I realised it was a tightly packed school of tiny yellow and black fish. I have no idea what they were. They were staying close to the shoreline, herding and then hoovering up tiny jelly prawns that were hovering in the shallows.

I carried on casting and finally at about 8.30 am I felt a nice solid bite. I could not see anything in the murky water but I knew from the thud it was a flathead. I pause and then lifted the rod tip. After a short fight I had a nice 50cm flathead on the bank.

I let it go and fished around for more but could not find any. I packed up at about 9.00 am and reminded myself to come back here a bit more often. Land based fishing just 20 minutes from the Brisbane CBD can be a lot of fun.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 1 February 2016

Monday

The start of February usually marks the beginning of the real change in wind patterns on my home fishing patch – South East Queensland. The hot summer northerly winds are attacked by the cooler winter south-easterlies. The water temperature starts to drop very slightly and there is often some wild weather.

On Monday strong south-easterly winds were forecast to pick up from mid-morning. It was about a week after full moon and not a particularly big tide. I arrived at Bribie at about 5.15 am, to very grey skies that showed only the slightest evidence of first light. Low tide would be at 8.40 am, so sunrise at 5.20 am was about the perfect time to start fishing.

I waded out under the bridge and started casting with a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. I like to concentrate on the area just south of the bridge when the lights are still on. There is a large piece of rocky reef which keeps boats away from this patch so it is usually undisturbed, overnight. This morning all I could catch was a piece of that reef, so I re-rigged with a GULP jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour and moved on.

I passed the jetty and moved along the big sand bar that runs south, towards the furthest channel marker, that you can walk to. There were rays everywhere – they like to sit in the shallow water as the run out tide washes dinner into their path. Just where this sand bar turns left the water becomes slightly deeper and the weed beds are a little thicker. I was now standing in less than 50cm of water. I was casting along the edge of the weed when I clearly saw a flathead launch itself at the soft plastic. It missed. I dropped the rod tip and paused as the stirred up sand washed past. When the water cleared the flathead was sitting about 10 cm behind the clearly visible lure. It did not seem to want to strike. I decided to make the first move. I hopped the lure off the bottom, it lunged forward and grabbed the plastic. I dropped the rod tip, to let it get the soft plastic well inside its mouth and then lifted it again and set the hook in its jaw. It was a respectable 50cm flathead.

I fished around this area and moved further down towards the channel marker but could not find anymore. I saw a big shovel nose shark swimming in the shallows and a few small schools of squid. At about 7.45 am I turned for home and slowly walked back towards the bridge, casting as I went.

I swapped to my old favourite soft plastic – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just to the south of the jetty something fast hit the lure and I hooked up. It was a small bream, about 28cm long. I released it.

By 8.45 am I had passed the under the jetty and was fishing around the base of the stranded pylons, just to its north. My lure struck something and stopped dead. I pulled hard assuming it was the base of the pylon or an old crab pot. Gradually the object started to move and then wriggle and then it took off in a slow but powerful run. I thought it might be a ray but it was moving a little too quickly. I let it take line. There was no way to muscle a fish like this in on my light spin rod. I was pretty sure I had last re-rigged with 10lb fluorocarbon leader, so I would just have to be patient. We went back and forth for a few minutes and then I started to walk slowly backward towards the shore. This area is littered with rocks and bordered by the jetty pylons to the south, so it was a nerve racking fight. Eventually a big flathead appeared from the stirred up bottom and surrendered. I pulled her into the shallows and took a few photos. I did not have my tape, but by lining her up next to the rod I could see she was well over 75cm. I took a few quick photos and then watched her swim away. A great finale to what could have been a pretty slow session.

Bribie – The old oyster jetty flats – 2 January 2016

Saturday

With Christmas done and dusted and the New Year underway. It was time to find an interesting activity other than eating and drinking. When your waders are getting tight you know you are in trouble. I needed to get moving and a morning fishing session is a great way of doing that.

The weather has been far from ideal for the trailer boat based angler over the Christmas and New Year holidays. High winds and seas have pushed a lot of boats into the Pumicestone Passage. This means things have been fairly busy during daylight hours.

On Saturday I was up at 3.45am and drove up to Bribie Island for a 4.30 am start. Low tide would be at about 8.30 am and the wind was forecast to pick up to a 10 knot south westerly. The moon was waning and had been full about a week earlier. I decided to fish the flats in front of the Sandstone Point Hotel and waded out under the bridge just as the light went out.

I started fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Pearl Watermelon colour, mounted on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. After a couple of tough sessions in this area I chose a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I cast around under the bridge without any luck.

I waded towards the old oyster jetty and swapped to a smaller GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I felt couple of bites from small fish and then a solid thud from a flathead. I struck a bit too soon and missed hooking the fish.

I swapped soft plastic lure again just as the sun broke the horizon. This time I chose a Jerkshad in the BBQ chicken colour. I was now just to the south of the jetty standing about 15 metres form the mangroves casting in to the areas of sandy bottom between the weed beds. There was lots of bait around and every now and then something would smash into it from below. I slowed down my retrieve and paused longer between hops. This worked and at about 5.15 I safely landed a 45cm flathead.

About ten minutes later I caught another. This one was about 50 cm long and things were now looking good. I continued to pepper the area with casts but I could not find another. I moved slowly south casting as I waded. At about 6.00 am the wind started to pick up and by the time I reached the green channel marker at about 7.00 am, it was really blowing. Despite the wind there were now plenty of boats running out into the bay. I caught a tiny bar-tailed (sand) flathead by the green channel marker and then turned to wade back towards the bridge.

I got all the way back to the jetty before I got another bite and infuriatingly, after a brief run the fish slipped off or spat out my plastic. I was now fishing with the GULP 4 “Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just as I came close to the bridge and was about to wade out of the water, I felt a good bite and dropped the rod tip. I paused for what seemed like eternity but was actually about 5 seconds and then lifted the rod tip. The jig head’s hook set in the fish’s mouth and it took off. After a short run it settled and I pulled it ashore. It was another flathead, about 50cm long.

I had three good fish for dinner. As always the key was getting out early, before the boat and recreational traffic got going. I am looking forward to some more peaceful sessions in the near future.

Hat Head – Korogoro Creek – 28 September 2015

Monday

On Monday I did not have time for the walk out to the headland so I decided to see what the monster, full moon morning high tide would push up Korogoro Creek. On the low tide the day before the water had looked like gravy, as the tannin stained water drained off the surrounding swamps. As I walked along the edge of the creek the contrast was stunning. I was about an hour off high tide but the water was crystal clear and the current was pushing up the creek.

I had my waders on. The sun had come out but the water was still pretty fresh. I was fishing with my current light estuary fishing rig – a very light NS Blackhole trout rod. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader, a 1/8th of an ounce, size 1/0 jighead and I stared with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. It was very early but people were popping up all along to bank to fish or launch kayaks or stand up paddle boards or even have a swim.

I walked and waded along the northern bank, stopping at each gap in the vegetation to throw a few casts. I could see schools of small bream and Blackfish cruising the now submerged tree roots and some big whiting out nearer the centre of the main channel. Even on a big tide the creek is rarely more than 1.5m deep. I moved slowly northwards and stopped at a small bay about 100 m east of the road bridge. The water was so clear I could see the bream inspecting the shrimp soft plastic, each time it hit the water. But I could not entice them to strike. A whiting followed the lure all the way to my feet, but also would not bite.

I swapped soft plastic to the GULP 3’ Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and started to pepper the far bank with casts. The tide was slowing but the water was still crystal clear. After a few casts I felt the solid thud of a flathead bite. I dropped the rod tip and paused for about 8 seconds then struck. The fish was hooked. I reeled it in and took a few snaps before releasing it. It was a flathead about 40cm long.

It was only 7.00 am but the creek was getting busy with the kayaks, canoes, swimmers, and other fishermen. I decided to retire for breakfast. The creek would definitely fish well on the big tides when there is a little less traffic around.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – 10 March 2013

Monday

I managed to stay away for Sunday, but by Monday the fish were calling again. It’s very hard to resist going back when you have had some great sessions. Fish don’t generally school up in one spot forever, so having found the Flathead, on the flats opposite Bribie Island – I wanted to make the most of it.

The productive spots I have been fishing can only be reached during the lower half of the tide.  This meant I had the luxury of starting fishing a bit later than usual. The wind was going to be a solid 10-15 knot south-easterly, and low tide would 0.9 m at 11.21 am, at Bongaree. I arrived on the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at about 9.15 am.

I waded out to the old oyster jetty. The wind was blowing hard and it was quite cloudy. The area just to the south of the jetty is sheltered from the full thrust of the wind so this was where I started. To locate the fish, I decided to prospect with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I upped my leader to about a 1.5m length of 12lb fluorocarbon.  The 10lb leader is usually adequate, but I had had such a good catch rate in recent sessions that It was getting worn too quickly.

Once again I soon found the fish. I caught the first flathead at 9.24 am – it was about 50 cm and then another, about the same size, a few minutes later. The wind was creating quite a chop now and it was still a little too deep to reach the ideal target area – along the edge of the weed beds. I waded a little further south to the mouth of the drain that runs off the flats, in front of Sandstone Point.

When I first started fishing about 12 years ago, I went out with a guide on the Noosa River. This was the first time I had used lures.  One of the lures we used was the RIO Prawn. This lure is a very lifelike resin imitation of the typical Noosa river system prawn. It is Australian made, near Noosa. The guide positioned us over some likely looking hollows and weed beds and cast the lure out, into one of the sandy bottomed areas. He let it sink, raised it up in a long fluid movement then let it sink back down, to the sand. He counted to ten then repeated the process. He did this perhaps three times before the lure pulled up a flathead. I then had a go and managed to catch one, as well. I, like the fish was hooked!

I have caught plenty of fish on RIO lures since, but I rarely use them at Bribie – because of the weedy and rocky bottom. Today I decided I would give them an outing. I chose the 13 gram size RIO Prawn in the red colour. The water was clear and I could see the sandy patches. I repeated the process that I had been taught all those years ago and after a few tries, I was on to a fish. The first was a small Flathead about 45cm. On the next cast I caught another and on the third, I hooked up to another. The RIO Prawn caught about five more flathead over the next 30 minutes. Then I lost it to a 60cm + fish. The leader must have been damaged in some of the previous fights and it snapped just as I was walking the fish to shore.

Next I went down in size to the small DUO Tetraworks Bivi – a sinking bibless vibe lure, in a black /rainbow colour. This small vibe is always good for Flathead. It casts a long way and quickly falls into a tight action. The only problem with these smaller vibes is stopping the fish from swallowing them. This one also produced on its first cast. The fish were clearly not fussy today. I swapped again, this time to the DUO Koikakko tiny squid imitation. Once again this tiny lure caught the biggest fish of the day – a 63 cm flathead.

As we reached the bottom of the tide I pulled out another Charles Talmans soft plastics, which I called a ‘prong’. It is a split tail in a clear/ white colour. It is quite a chunky plastic so I put it on a 1/8th ounce 2/0 jighead and cast it out. After a few casts the fish found it and it pulled in another three or four fish to end the session. If you want to know more about Charles’ plastics drop him an email on ctalman@hotmail.com.

With the wind howling at noon, I walked back to the car. Another great session fishing the flats at Bribie.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 16 December 2013

Monday

Back up to Bribie to play with the flathead again. Usually the flathead fishing goes off a bit after November, during the hotter summer months. But my last two sessions had showed there were still plenty of lurking lizards hanging around on the sand flats.

The sunrise is gradually working its way towards a more reasonable hour, but it has a long way to go. First light was due at about 4.15 am and I like to ready to fish by then. Low tide had been at about 2.00 am, so I would not be able to fish my favourite spots for long. Over the years I have caught good fish at all stages of the tide, but the last few hours of a big run out tide are probably my favourite time to fish around the Pumicestone Passage.

It was the day before full moon, so the tide would be running in fast. I headed a favourite spot, just south of the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. There was a light south–easterly wind blowing which was forecast to pick up significantly.

Just before the sun came over the horizon I had my first bite, but no hook up. I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The same thing happened on the next cast.

I swapped to the bigger GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Watermelon Pearl colour. A few casts later a flathead struck. In fact, it cleared the surface to make sure it hit the plastic. I subdued it and could see it was about 45cm long. I was not keeping today so I loosened the tension on the line, grabbed the leader and the fish and released it.

I caught two more in the next ten minutes, in the same spot just after the sun had come up. Both were about the same size. I waded south trying to fish in the gaps between the weed beds but with a low bright sun, it was difficult to see where the fish might be.

After a fruitless hour, the weed was everywhere and the tide was coming up fast, so I turned back towards the shoreline and started casting at the large exposed sand bank. There was now about 20cm of water on the sand patch between the bank and the weed beds. I cast at this patch. It was about 5.40am, almost four hours after low tide. This patch of sand had been covered with water for only about 20 to 30 minutes.

After working my way along about ten metres of the sand bank, my lure was slammed as it hit the water. I thought I had picked up a big clump of weed but then the rod tip started wiggling and realised it was a fish. It was a good flathead, about 55cm long. I released it and marvelled at just how quickly these fish will move up, into the shallows, on a rising tide.

I tried for more but the big tide had lifted so much weed that I eventually got fed up and gave up at about 7.00 am. The fish are still around!

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 15 July 2013

Monday

Another fishing opportunity – and another miserable weather forecast, cold wet and windy. You just have to get on with it. I could not start early but I was able to reach the Bribie Island Bridge just as the tide was starting to really run in, at about 9.00 am. Low tide had passed at about 7.45am. There was a thick grey band on the horizon and a cool south-westerly breeze.

I wandered out past the jetty, heading south to my usual stomping ground. As I did so, the wind dropped and the drizzle started. I only had about an hour before the incoming tide would push me back, away from the weed banks.

A few weeks ago there were some good mullet schools in this area, but they seem to have moved on. I waded quickly south, to one of the more productive spots, along a big weed-covered sandbank. There are nearly always fish of some kind here. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour – bright orange and yellow with a black fleck. I was fishing with 8lb leader and a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead. The water was still and fairly clear despite the wild weather so I was trying a high contrast soft plastic.

It did not take long. After a few casts, I felt a very slight grab. It could have been weed, but it felt a bit more solid. I dropped another cast in the same spot……….. nothing, except a clump of weed. I gave it one more try and bang, a flathead grabbed it and took off. The rod bent over and line peeled smoothly off the spool. The drag on the Shimano Stella 2500 had been expertly fixed by Neil at Jones Tackle – http://jonestackle.com.au/. It just required the adjustment of a small spring.

It was not a huge fish – about 50 cm, but it had plenty of fight in it. By the time it drew level with me, I could see it had completely swallowed the soft plastic. I pulled it over snipped the leader and slipped it into the keeper bag.

I re-rigged with the same plastic and peppered the area with casts. I did find another flathead so I moved about five metres further south. I put in a long cast and almost as soon as the soft plastic splashed through the surface of the water, there was a tug and then the line went slack. I wound it in to find the soft plastic Jerkshad and jighead gone. No idea what that was.

I tied on another Orange Tiger and cast it out. It was grabbed before it reached the bottom by an enormous Pike. It took plenty of line and made a few leaps, but it was nicely hooked in the side of the mouth, so the rod and drag soaked up the acrobatics. When I dragged it up close to me and unhooked it, I measured it at about 45cm.

I swapped over to a Zman Minnowz soft plastic in the Houdini colour. I thought the paddle tail might stir up the flathead. The tide was moving up fast and the drizzle kept falling. I only had 20 minutes left and then I would be pushed to far back to see where I was casting. After a few minutes of working the Zman I felt stop dead on the bottom. Then the fish started swimming. For the first time in ages I had a good fish hooked and I realised how little work my drag had been doing. I decided to pull it back to the shoreline – it was too big to grab while wading. After several good runs, I pulled a good 60cm flathead up, on to the sand and put it in the keeper bag.

The tide was now too high to carry on here, so I finished fishing at about 12.00 noon.

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.