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.

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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.