Brunswick River, Richmond River – flathead and bream – October 2017

In October I could not find anything much on the beaches and was still only catching tiny flathead in Mooball Creek. I had a couple of sessions fishing on the Brunswick River rock wall at Northhead, where I dropped a couple of small chopper tailor when fishing with a Gulp Jerkshad.

In desperation I drove down to fish the mouth of the Richmond River at Ballina. Things looked more promising here and I caught a few good-sized bream on the inside of the north wall. I was using 3”and 4” Gulp minnow soft plastics in my favourite Pearl Watermelon colour. I also watched a large flock of cormorants herd a school of baitfish into the shallows and then feast on them.

 

 

 

Brunswick River, Wooyung Beach and Mooball Creek – September 2017

September saw my first serious explorations of the coast around the Brunswick River mouth in Northern New South Wales. The river itself holds plenty of fish but it is a very busy recreational spot so at the weekends it is hard to find an undisturbed stretch to fish. I managed to find a few small flathead and bream amongst the oyster leases near where the Pacific Highway Bridge crosses the river. In the run up to the new moon there were large schools of mullet and bream in the marine sanctuary areas near town. Unfortunately, I saw people fishing for them even though this is a no – take zone. Perhaps clearer signage is needed.

When the water was very clear in the main branch of the river I was dropping down to 8lb fluorocarbon leader to persuade the bream to bite. Every now and then my soft plastic would be grabbed and pulled under a ledge by what I think was most likely and estuary cod.

I also tried fishing around the rocks the rocks on the beach at Wooyung and had a few sessions in Mooball Creek.  I caught small flathead on soft plastics in both these locations but virtually none were big enough to keep.

Bribie flats & Mooball Creek, Pottsville – January 2017

In January I fished a couple of dawn sessions on the flats in front of the Sandstone Point Hotel jetty, at Bribie. I caught a few flathead, mainly on the bottom half of the run out tides. I also fished the mouth of Pacific Harbour which produced a few good sized flathead on various coloured jerkshad soft plastics.

Later in  the month I spent some time at Pottsville and Hastings Point. The Hastings Point headland always looks very fishy, but during the holidays it is a pretty busy spot. I tried a few daytime sessions with small soft plastics there, but only caught a few Butter Bream on light line.

On the bigger tides I fished in Mooball Creek (behind the beach). This is a sandy bottomed shallow creek that has a few holes and bends with some deeper water. I found plenty of small flathead, fishing with a 3″ GULP Minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th and 1/12th ounce, size #1 hook jighead. I stuck to 10lb leader and eventually found a couple of flathead that would have been been big enough to keep. There were also plenty of small bream and whiting in the clear water.

Bribie – The oyster jetty flats – 12 September 2016

Monday

I drove up to Bribie, arriving at about 9.30 am to fish the bottom of the tide. I chose the old Bribie oyster jetty flats, in front of the new Sandstone Point Hotel.

The wind had started as a cool 10 knot south-westerly before changing into to a 10 knot south-easterly at about 10.15 am. Low tide would be at 11.20 am. I was fishing with the superfast tipped G.Loomis Trout rod, 12lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce,  1/0 jig head.

The tide was a fair way out when I arrived and so I started off by fishing along the inside edge of the new floating pontoon. I tried a small GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I had walked out on to the pontoon a few weeks before and seen plenty of baitfish that were about this size, so it was a logical choice. I moved from one end to another cast right up to the edge and let the soft plastic flutter down in the shadows. There were no takers.

I moved to the south of the jetty and started casting. On about the third there was a solid bite, run and the leader snapped. I realised I still had the 6lb fluorocarbon leader I had been using for King George Whiting a week earlier. I changed up to 12lb leader and carried on moving to the south.

I put on a Lucky Craft Mad Scientist Paddle tail soft plastic lure. I cast all around the sandy patches where the water drains round the corner from Sandstone Point and suddenly got thumped. The fish set off for deepwater, initially moving fairly slowly. Then it turned its head, realized it was hooked and started shaking its head. It was a powerful big lady flathead and it took about 10 minutes to subdue. By lining it up next to the rod I could see it was over 70 cm so I let it go.

I carried on moving to the south and caught three more flathead on the GULP Satay Chicken Jerkshad. The biggest was 54cm long and the smallest was 42cm. By about 1.00pm I was hot and thirsty so I headed back to the car.

Bribie – Bongaree and the old oyster jetty flats – 26 August 2016

 

On Friday I decided to fish on Bribie Island itself, at Bongaree. This ever changing stretch of sandy shore runs along a coffee rock ledge and is a good fishing spot. The winds were light and low tide would be at 9.35 am.  The water was very clear and the northerlies had blown a few big blue jellyfish into the Pumicestone Passage.

The I started fishing on the flat sandy areas next to the drop off at about 8.00 am. The tide was running out, but not very quickly. I was fishing with a GULP Fry soft plastic in the Lime Tiger Colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Things were fairly slow but after about thirty minutes I felt a solid bite and hooked a 45cm flathead. I released it and moved along the ledge.

I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and cast around just of over the ledge. I felt some quicker, more aggressive bites and soon caught a Pike. This was followed by another, a few moments later. A hungry Pelican came over and when I caught a third Pike, it tried to pull it off the hook.

As the tide changed, I stopped for a cup of coffee and then repositioned myself over on the other side of the bridge on the old oyster jetty flats. I started with the bigger GULP Minnow in the same colour and soon found a flathead. It was sitting on the bottom just beside the new pontoon.

I continued south and swapped to a jighead with a red painted head. Local fisherman, Colin has been painting his jigheads either red or yellow and feels this makes them more attractive to the fish. He very kindly gave me a few to try.

They worked for me and the next fish was a bigger flathead, caught just to the south of the jetty. It was now about 11.00 am and I had nearly reached the green channel marker.  The tide was coming in faster and the water was getting too deep so at about noon I finished for the day.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – 23 August 2016

Tuesday

On Tuesday I drove back up to Bribie for another early morning fish before the forecast wind picked up. I arrived just after low tide and sunrise at about 6. 30 am. The moon was on the wane and about 70% full.

I had given up on the LOX Yoshi Rod for this type of fishing. It is fine on a windless day, but there are very few of these. I was finding my casts kept tangling around the end of the rod unless casting with the wind directly behind me. I swapped back to another bass rod – my G Loomis SJR6400 5’4” Mag Light/ Extra Fast. This is a short rod but still casts a loaded 1/8th ounce jighead a long way. Once you have a fish on it does not have a long enough tip to have the subtlety of the LOX, but it still soaks up the lunges.

This morning I had to cast for a while to find a flathead. In fact, I was fishing for more than an hour before I had my first bite. I was using a GULP 4 inch Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead.  I was standing well south of the jetty casting over the weed, aiming to land the soft plastic on the sandy patches beyond. As I hopped the soft plastic towards the weed edge, the fish grabbed it. It was a solid 50 cm flathead.

I cast around to see if there were more nearby but I could not find them. I carried on wading south as the tide rolled in. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour. At the spot where the water first comes over the big sand bank I found another fish. It was a little larger than the first and had only taken ten more minutes to locate.

I thought things were looking up but it took 45 minutes to find another flathead and this one was quite a bit smaller at only just over 40cm. By about 9.30 am the incoming tide had forced me away from my favourite spots and the wind was really blowing, so I gave up for the morning.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 7 March 2016

Monday

The wind and wild weather persists. A look back at my fishing reports suggest that the run up to the full and new moons around February, March, April have produced the most consistent catches of flathead. The latter half of the run out tide also appears to be a good time to get at them.

So on Monday I ignored the wind and grey skies and drove up to Bribie at about 10.30 am, to fish the run out tide on the flats in front of the jetty and the Sandstone Point  Hotel. Low tide would be at 2.38 pm. The wind was about a 15 to 20 knot east-south-easterly by the time I arrived.

As regular readers know, I love my GULP soft plastics (and just for the record I don’t think I have ever received a free packet from anyone – so this is definitely not sponsor induced waffle). We all tend to use bait and tackle that we are confident with. If something works for us we go back to it – whether it’s a fishing spot/ area or favourite lure type. When I first caught a few flathead on a GULP Minnow Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour, I soon convinced myself that this was the only colour and shape that would catch fish. It caught plenty of fish for me but fortunately I was brave / frustrated enough at some point, to experiment with some alternative shapes and colours and even try hard bodied lures.

So this morning I resolved to stick with the ZMAN soft plastics that I carry around but rarely seem to use. My principal problem with them is additional buoyancy in the material they are made of and the lack of scent. I am convinced by the amount of strikes I get when I introduce a GULP soft plastic that is just out of the packet, that the scent is the thing that makes a difference.  Having said that they have a range of shapes in their paddle tail varieties that put GULP to shame. I started with a ZMAN Minnowz in the Redbone colour on a 1/8th 1/0 Headlockz jighead. These jigheads are specially designed to hold the ZMAN soft plastics in place and perhaps also counter the additional buoyancy, they are based on Mustad hooks.

I fished around the bridge and felt a few nudges and bumps from either the resident Moses Perch or perhaps some Pike. After a thorough peppering of the area I moved south, under the jetty and fished along the edge of the weed beds all the way along to the farthest green channel marker. About halfway I swapped colours to the same shape ZMAN in the Rootbeer Gold colour. Unfortunately this made no difference.

I had been fishing for an hour without a bite and I no longer believed the ZMAN soft plastics were going to catch a fish. Confidence is so important when fishing and I just don’t have it when it comes to these plastics. I reached into the tackle bag for a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour and swapped over. I started back over the ground I had covered and after another 10 minutes, I caught the first fish of the day – a 45cm flathead, close to the edge of the weed.

I carried on moving slowly back towards the jetty, fishing with the same Jerkshad soft plastic. It was now almost 1.00 pm and I caught another flathead, about the same size. Twenty minutes later I caught another much smaller flathead.

There was huge (no doubt multi-million dollar)  fisheries patrol vessel moored in front of the bridge. I think I would rather see our taxes spent on hospitals and schools and just have boats checked in their way in/ out. Especially since the numbers of boats seized, fines issued or commercial licenses cancelled is miniscule. Since we send so much of our good seafood overseas it seems crazy to spend all this money just to race around persecuting recreational anglers.

By now I was casting around just south of the jetty. The jighead stuck fast in to something. It felt like a stick or lump of coral but it was moving. I slowly brought it to the surface with a tightened drag. I was a welcome surprise – a big mud crab with the jighead stuck nicely in one of its back legs. I checked it was male and big enough and I manoeuvred it into my keeper bag and gave up for the day.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 25 January 2016

Monday

Low tide had proved productive on Friday and Monday would be full moon, so I just had to get out fishing again. The wind was forecast to build up into a very strong south-easterly by mid-morning. I arrived at the Bribie Bridge at 4.30 am, well before first light. Low tide had passed at 3.51 am. There had been a storm overnight, with thunder and lightning but not much rain. It was hot and humid with mosquitoes everywhere, but conditions were very still. The tide was not yet running.

I cast around under the bridge and had a few bites from something small. I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour (yellow and pumpkinseed) on a 1/8th ounce size 1/0 hook jighead. There were plenty of tiny squid swimming around and a few mullet jumping.

I moved south, parallel with the shore. I cast at the first barnacle covered pylon that I came to and as I retrieved the soft plastic along the bottom, I felt a solid bite. I struck but did not set the hook and the fish was gone. I peppered the area with casts and after about seven or eight, I had another solid bite. I dropped the rod tip and paused. I counted slowly to ten, then struck. This time, I connected. It was a respectable flathead about 55 cm long. There was fish in the fridge at home, so I let this one go.  I continued fishing around the pole and soon caught another smaller flathead about 45cm long.

Now I waded to the south. Passing under the jetty, I kept casting but swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour.  The sun came up and an enormous school of mullet swam by, finning around on the surface. I cast my lure in to the middle of them and felt them bump and nudge it. On the few occasions I have caught a mullet, it has nearly always been by foul hooking it. They have really small mouths, so they will rarely swallow a soft plastic.

I kept seeing the triangular shape of a ray’s wing tips breaking the surface. It’s easy to see how these could be confused for shark’s fins in the low light of dawn and dusk. By now I was about half way to the furthest green channel marker. I felt another good bite but could not hook the fish. On the next cast I did connect and caught another 45cm flathead.

The wind was very strong now and the tide was running in quickly, so I turned back towards the jetty. It felt like I had been fishing for ages but it was actually only about 6.45 am. As I came back towards the bridge I caught the final flathead of the day. It was also the biggest, at just on 60cm.

I had had a few good sessions around the full moon which seems to be a pattern in this area.

Bribie Island – White Patch – 11 December 2015

Friday

The flats in front of the old oyster jetty at the Sandstone Point Hotel had not produced much action during my last fishing session. So on Friday I decided to fish somewhere else on Bribie. Wild weather was forecast and it was very hot – 33 C. There was a strong northerly wind blowing and there was plenty of cloud around. A storm seemed likely in the late afternoon.  I decided to give White Patch a try. This is a stretch of shore on the inside of Bribie Island where the 2 to 3 metre coffee rock drop off into the Pumicestone Passage, is quite pronounced. I have caught just about everything here over the years – snapper, trevally, queenfish, flathead, bream, whiting, estuary cod, moses perch, pike, long toms, tailor and jewfish. Flathead, whiting, bream and pike are by far my most common catches.

I wanted to fish the falling/ low tide. As regular readers will be aware, I much prefer fishing a run out tide at Bribie. That is not to say fish do not bite on the run in. I am just more confident of where to find them when the tide is running out. Fish, (especially flathead) move back in surprisingly fast with the run in tide. Both flathead and whiting love to eat soldier and other small crabs. As the tide runs into the shallows, they have a very good chance of finding them. If you are fishing with children over the holidays, soldier crabs are a great bait. They are plentiful, fun to collect and if you slide two or three on to a #4/#6 hook, at the end of a lightly weighted 6 to 10 lb line, you should find a few fish in the shallows.

Low tide would be at about 4 pm. I arrived at about 2.30 pm and wandered down the steps to the beach. The shoreline has a mixture of weed, sand and flat rocky areas. The edge of the main channel is only exposed on the very lowest of tides. I like to fish on top of the ledge, in the shallows before later casting over it, as the tide recedes.

This is a beautiful spot but this afternoon the fishing was very tough. I walked up and down casting everything I had in the tackle bag without much luck. At about 3.00 pm I caught a very grumpy bream who slammed my GULP 3” Lime Tiger coloured soft plastic minnow. I had dropped right down to 8lb fluorocarbon leader in the clear water.

I waded a long way along the shore almost to the south end. At this point there was plenty of bait in the shallows and each time I cast, it would scatter as the lure passed overhead. It was now about 4.30 pm and the tide was starting to slowly run in. There was a big surge about 5 metres in front of me and the bait scattered in all directions. I was now fishing with a bigger GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I cast in the direction of the surge. After about five casts something grabbed the soft plastic and took off at a tremendous pace. Fortunately the drag was not set too tight so it could easily take line. It stripped off about 20 metres of line in a solid fast run. Then after just a few seconds, it was gone. It looked like it had just dropped the soft plastic. I suspect it was a trevally, which I have caught in this area before.

I carried on casting but it did not come back. The sky got blacker and blacker, so at about 5.00 pm I decided to retire. Fishing in our estuaries is tough in the summer months but persistence is the key.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 15 July 2015

Wednesday

By Wednesday I was back in Brisbane, but I had a few hours for a fish in the middle of the day, that would coincide with the run out tide at Bribie.

I drove up and arrived at about 11.00 am. I had swapped back to my NS Blackhole 6′ SGII 602L trout rod as I wanted to put in some bigger casts on the flats. My new short Loomis ultra-light rod is great in tight terrain, when there are lots of overhanging branches, but it is not necessary at Bribie.

I waded out under the bridge on the mainland side. Low tide would be at 2.54 pm. There was a very light cold south-westerly wind blowing. It was the day before the new moon. The water was very clear and running out fast.

After about 30 minutes of casting and wading to the south, I caught the first flathead of the day. I was using my usual 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic lure in the Satay Chicken colour. I had decided to use a 12lb leader to give myself a little more protection against the toothy winter species. I then quickly caught a few pike on the same plastic.

I was now a fair way to the south of the old oyster jetty. I swapped to GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour and caught more big pike. I kept a couple of the bigger ones for my cat’s supper. One came in with a nice mouth shaped bite mark on its belly. There are few better live baits for mulloway, tailor or big flathead, than large double hooked pike.

I managed to move away from the pike patch and caught another legal sized flathead. The pattern of pike then flathead, continued as I moved out along the sand bar towards the green channel marker. I caught fish all the way along, on a number of different soft plastics including the GULP Smelt and Lime Tiger coloured 4” minnows and the GULP Cajun Chicken 5” jerkshads.

As I reached the slighty deeper water around the green channel marker something fast and furious grabbed the Smelt colour minnow and took off. It was a 40 cm tailor and it gave my light trout rod a good work out. I released it and set off back for the bridge.

I caught fish all the way back to the car. They were mainly Pike and I had a couple of bite offs that could have been the passing tailor. In between I caught approximately 8 more flathead, only three of which were under the legal size limit of 40cm.

I finished in the dirty water at the bottom of the tide at about 3.15 pm. Unfortunately I forgot the camera today so I have posted a few pics from my phone and a couple of the home fish filleting area.

Bribie – a bagful of flathead – 2 June 2015

Tuesday

I have concluded that the bottom of the tide is my best chance of catching a fish on the flats around Bribie Island.  The fish must still be around on the higher tides but they seem to disperse over a larger area and it is much harder to know where to look for them. So on Tuesday I decided to only fish the last few hours of the run out tide.

I drove up to Bribie and waded out under the bridge at about 11.00 am. Low tide would be at about 3.00 pm but it was full moon, so it would be a fast running tide and would run out very quickly to a lower than usual low. I was fishing with my new G.Loomis short, light spinning rod with 8lb braid and a 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I had promised the Mrs a few fish for a family event and she was relying on fresh flathead fillets for her recipe. This is usually the kiss of death for my fishing sessions, but not today.  I decided to try a different soft plastic and had found my last packet of Lucky Craft Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic lures. Now everybody knows I love my GULPs but they really do not yet have a good paddle tail soft plastic. Their Swimmow shape is pretty good but a little too small and the Shaky shad is very hard to load on to a jighead. The Mad Scientist Optishad is a brilliant shape and size and comes in some great colours. I load it onto a 1/8th ounce size 1/0 hook jighead. As with so many good lures you probably will not find them in the big stores and may need to order them online.

 

By 11.05 am I had my first flathead on the end of the line – just to the south of the old oyster jetty. It was about 38cm,  so I let it go and moved on. I caught another a few minutes later and this one was big enough to go in the bag. The next was about 55cm, close to the mouth of the drain that runs out from the Sandstone Point flats. Things slowed down. There was lots of very small bait around, sitting just over the weed beds. I swapped to a GULP 3“Minnow in the Smelt colour, which pretty closely resembled these small fish. A few casts later I found the biggest fish of the day – a 58cm flathead.

I continued to the channel marker, swapped back to the Mad Scientist Optishad and caught a couple of 45 cm long fish, just beside it.  I now had a full bag so I turned for home. On the way back to the car I caught and released another 8 flathead, most of which were legal size.

It seems that the fish have are now around in large numbers so it’s time to get out there.

Bribie – A few flathead from the oyster jetty flats – 12 May 2015

Tuesday

Up to Bribie Island again to find some more flathead. The cooler months – from March through to September – are traditionally a very good time to fish on south east Queensland. The pike, bream and flathead all fire up and occasionally the mulloway also arrive.

On Tuesday morning I was up early and wading out under the bridge at about 5.30 am. It was before first light so I decided to have a cast around under the bridge lights on the mainland side. There is always plenty of bait in this location and this morning was no exception. The water was cool and the Pike were surging around having a snap at the smaller fish.

The tide had been high at about 3.45 am and was running out. I cast at the areas of dark water just on the edge of the halo from the lights. I was working the area just north of the bridge around eth mangrove roots. I was fishing with the new Loomis light sin rig and a10lb fluorocarbon leader. I had loaded it with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook, jighead. The first taker was a small flathead, about 35cm long, who was sitting in the shallows. I released it and a few minutes later connected with a series of hungry pike.

As the sky turned red I moved south. The sun came over the horizon at about 6.20 am and soon afterwards I found another flathead. This one was big enough to keep at about 43 cm long. I released it and moved under the jetty.

I could see something moving in the water a little beyond the end of the jetty and heard a blow a little like the sound the turtles sometimes make when they surface. About a minute later I heard it again and turned to see a swirl in the same spot. I realised it was a dugong sitting in the 2.5m deep channel that runs through the rocky/reefy area in front of the jetty. I stopped and watched it surface and sink for about 10 minutes. I have never seen one moving along these sea grass beds but I am sure they come and go fairly regularly.

I moved south and left the dugong to its business. There were lots of swirls on the surface and I realised there was a big school of mullet swimming around over the weed. I waded round the corner towards Sandstone Point and watched as the resident long toms harassed my soft plastic lure. There were mullet schools everywhere here but I could not find anything lurking beneath them. I waded around following them for the next ninety minutes with no luck.

I moved back towards the big sandbank and started casting along its edge. I had now swapped to a GULP 5” Jerkshad soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour.  At about 8.20 am I felt a grab but did not hook up. I cast back in the same spot and this time I hooked another just legal flathead. I released it and peppered the area with casts but there were no more takers in the area.

I moved down to the edge of the major weed banks that line the main channel, in the direction of the green channel marker. At about 8.40 am I found another flathead, also about 45cm long. Once more, I could not find any others in close proximity. I turned back towards the jetty and waded along the edge of the sandbanks, casting as I went. At 9.00 am I caught my final flathead of the session just short of the jetty.

I waded back to the car. I had caught a few fish but it had been fairly hard work and they had been very spread out. The amount of bait in the water was very encouraging but I could not find the flathead bunched up anywhere – maybe next time.

Bribie Island – Jan to March 2015 – Catch Up – 24 March 2015

I am ashamed to admit that January to March 2015 has been a fishing black hole as far as the Landangler Blog is concerned. I apologise to those of you who check back here regularly for a fishing fix.

Once more the irrational requirements of modern society – funding for food, clothing and shelter – have diverted me from the most noble of pursuits. I have fished a few sessions at Bribie since returning from 1770 in December, but I have largely been overseas working.

As usual, when you increase the time between fishing sessions it gets much harder. You lose track of which tides work best and where and when the fish are feeding.  You lose your touch with the rod and start to forget what a snag feels like and what a fish feels like. Fishing is often a process of elimination. If you fish in one general location for three or four sessions in a row, in a short time frame, you get a far more accurate idea of what works and what does not. So the moral of this story is fish as often as you can!

In late December 2014 I had a couple of session on the flats beside the old oyster jetty at Bribie and caught a few flathead on each occasion. There were always flathead lies under the bridge after the big night time high tides and because there had not been much rain, up to that point, the water was fairly clear. The GULP 4” Minnow in the New Penny colour proved successful as did the 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I rigged both on 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jigheads with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and I was using my light spinning rod and reel combination.

My next session was a beautiful morning in early February. Conditions were good with an early morning run out tide and a light south easterly wind, but I fished the same area for dismal results. There was no evidence of bait around and no lies under the bridge lights. I fished from pre-dawn to low tide with all sorts of soft plastics and hard bodies. The only thing I caught was a tiny foul hooked whiting. At low tide it was very clear that the consistent summer wind pattern of early morning south easterly followed by afternoon northerly had flattened out the terrain quite considerably. This could also be a result of the cleared area where the new resort is being built creating a wind tunnel.

My next session was early March on Red Beach at Skirmish Point, on the southern tip of Bribie Island. I fished the last of the low tide on a beautiful hot morning. I did not start until after 9.00 am and stuck with a light leader and 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead. I was using the ‘dart slayer’ soft plastic – the GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. This plastic seems to really work well off the beach. After a few casts I hooked, then dropped, a small flathead. I found the point where the current flows from either side of the island meet and started casting in to it. I could see plenty of small garfish schools and every now and then something would send the schools of smaller bait flying in all directions. The soft plastic lure was getting bumped and snapped at and I soon caught a small dart and then a bigger dart. The next taker was a tiny chopper tailor. They continued to nibble but I did not get any more and left when the tide turned.

In late March I returned to the same spot at about the same time of day with almost identical results. My cousin was visiting from the UK and I was keen to put him onto a fish or two. A great gutter had formed along the beach at Skirmish Point. At its mouth there was constant activity with garfish and other small bait schooling up. There was virtually no breeze, but the tide was coming in this time. I caught a small dart and half an hour later I was delighted to see cousin Joe land a feisty bigger dart. That was it for the day.

Cousin Dangler

Hooked up on a Skirmish Point dart

 

That’s a quick round up of the story so far this year. I hope to be posting more regularly now – sharks permitting.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – 30 September 2014

Tuesday – Morning

I had not given up on finding a keeper size mulloway at Iluka, so at 4.45 am on Tuesday, I walked along the beach towards Middle Bluff. I surprised a couple of Kangaroos who were up on the rocks. Conditions were similair to the day before (light northerly) but the sea seemed a little more stirred up and foamy. Low tide would be at about 5.20 am – just on sunrise. The beginning of the run in tide offers good fishing in this spot, so I was hopeful.

I started with my big rod and a big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour, on a ¼ ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I flicked this around, close to the base of the rocks and it soon came back minus its curly tail. I swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The sun was up and the sky and water were very clear. After about 20 casts with the GULP Minnow I was getting pretty good at leaving it in the wash at the base of the rocks, without getting snagged. As I was about to lift it, at the end of a retrieve, I felt a grab. The fish swam for a bit with the plastic then let it go. A few casts later I connected with another fish. This time I dropped the rod tip as soon as I felt the resistance and paused. When I struck, the fish was hooked. Once more the light swell made things easy and I soon had a mulloway/ jewfish of about 48cm at my feet. I took a few pictures and threw it back.

I was starting to see a bit of bait jumping around close to the base of the rocks and it all looked pretty small.  I dropped down to my lighter rod and a 14lb fluorocarbon leader. I swapped down to a 2 inch GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the new Green Camo colour, but stuck with the ¼ ounce jighead.

A fish struck this hard on the first cast, but I did not hook up. About ten minutes later, I swapped to a 3 inch GULP Minnow in the New Penny colour. I had another hit on the first cast. This fish was not big but by the way it started pulling, I knew it was a tailor. They thrash about very hard and never give up. It was only small, about 35 cm long. It was good to see they are around. I took a picture and threw it back.

It had mashed up the plastic so I put the 2 inch GULP Shrimp in Green Camo on again. The tailor had obviously moved on. But after about 20 minutes of cast into the wash, I felt a good bite and was onto another fish.  This time it was another solid bream – a little over 34cm. I decided to keep this one for supper.

I continued fishing and kept felling small bites. Eventually I pulled up a butter bream. I had caught no trophy fish but had found great variety. The session had been a good example of how changing soft plastics can often produce results. At about 9.30 am I gave up and walked back to the car.

Tuesday  – Afternoon

In the afternoon I waded back out on to the flats beside the Clarence River, at dusk. They are covered in yabby holes which is a good sign for a fisherman. I flicked around a GULP Jerkshad in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I caught three flathead – the first would have been big enough to keep, the rest were too small. The sun dropped behind the trees on the horizon at about 5.40 pm and the midges and mozzies became unbearable, so I waded back to the cabin.

Bribie Island – The old oyster jetty flats – 11 August 2014

Monday

After a disappointing outing on Friday I was up earlier on Monday.  It was full moon. In fact, it was a super moon. That is probably why I could not sleep. I did not have much time, so I drove up to Bribie Island for a quick morning session.

The fish are always out there somewhere, so when they are elusive, it is not a bad idea to go back to basics. I decided to drop the leader down to 8lb fluorocarbon, use the fine wire Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, #1 hook jigheads and start with 2” and 3” GULP soft plastics in natural colours – Peppered Prawn, Banana Prawn, Smelt, Pearl Watermelon, etc. This set up should at least attract a few pike and bream.

I started under the bridge lights, on the mainland side of the Bribie Bridge. There was a very light south-westerly wind blowing and the moon was amazing. It was so bright that the fish would certainly have been confused by it. It was just after 5.00 am and low tide had passed at 3.53 am. It had been one of the years lowest at 0.2 metres. The tide was running in fast but there was no sign of any bait under the bridge lights. I cast around with a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I felt a couple of grabs and half hooked a couple of pike, but they both wriggled off. I had one solid bite, that might have been a small flathead, but it let go before I could find out.

At about 5.30 am, I decided to swap back to the mainland side of the bridge. I drove back over and waded out into the shallows. I stayed about 10 metres north of the bridge and cast towards it. I soon found the pike hiding in amongst the weed clumps and rocks.

I gradually moved south, under the bridge. The mad moon was creating a fantastic bright orange sky, as dawn was breaking. I think the sunrises on the east coast of Australia are the best in the world and this one was as good as they get. My camera does not do it justice – but I am sure if you are as mad about fishing as I am, you will have seen a few of these.

The tide was moving in quickly and the water coming in from the bay was very cold.  I made my way south to the fast disappearing sand bank and fished around this area. It is tough to fish here when the sun is low in the sky, as you cannot see where the sandy patches and weed beds are. You just have to slowly and methodically cover the ground.

I swapped up to slightly bigger GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. After just a few casts this produced results with a definite hit. I paused but there was no fish there. It was just about 7.00 am. I did not have much more time in this spot as the tide was running in very quickly. I slowed everything down and tried to put the next cast back in exactly the same spot. I left the lure on the bottom for a good ten seconds. I hopped it slowly back towards me – nothing. I cast about a metre to the left and repeated the process. This time after my second pause on the bottom, whack, another solid flathead bite. This time I dropped the rod tip and counted (fairly quickly) to ten. When I lifted the rod the fish was hooked. It felt much bigger than it was (about 45cm) but it was a relief to finally get one.

As the morning progressed the wind picked up a little. The scenery was fantastic and the weather very good but I just could not find the fish. I swapped from small plastics to big plastics, jerkshads to paddletails to grubtails. I tried my DUO hard bodies but nothing worked.

At about 9.00 am I had to give up. It looks like I am going to have to put in a lot of practice to find my form again!

Bribie Island – the old oyster jetty flats – 20 June 2014

Friday

Sorry readers but I need to post one more very old report for the sake of the historical record. In a thousand years, when the new inhabitants of our planet decipher this blog from a fossilized hard drive, they will be truly perplexed. Imagine the discussion: ‘Yes it appears they wandered around in shark infested waters in long rubber trousers and then used brightly coloured plastic fish to try to catch more fish…….. and when they did finally catch them, they usually let them go!’

So cast you mind back to late June and a cold snap. The flathead fishing had been good but was gradually slowing. The temperature had been down to 9 Celsius overnight and the water was very cold. A light, cold, south westerly wind was forecast. The moon was 50% full and waning. There had been some very light showers overnight and after sun up, the sky was grey and cloudy.

I waded out under the Bribie Bridge at about 6.00 am. Low tide would be at about 9.00 am, so there was still plenty of water covering my favourite target areas. The first taker was a 40 cm flathead, lurking under the lights to the north of the bridge. It swallowed a GULP Pearl Watermelon Jerkshad at about 6.20 am. I was fishing with a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and using 10 lb fluorocarbon leader. I let the fish go and moved on.

The sky looked ominous. I moved south towards the old oyster jetty. It took about an hour to find the next fish. 45 cm long, it was sitting on a sandy patch of bottom, in the middle of the weed beds, just east of the big sand bank and south of the jetty. I then caught three more fish from the same patch of sandy bottom, in quick succession. They were all just over 40 cm long.

I carried on wading south. After no luck for a while I swapped to a Zman Minnowz paddletail soft plastic, in the Opera colour. This one stirred up another flathead, after a few casts. It was probably about 35 cm long. I carried on with this plastic for another 20 minutes and kept moving. Then I swapped again, this time to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Sardine colour. Once more the change of offering produced a fish – but again it was under the 40cm legal size limit.

As low tide approached I had to give up for the day. Despite the cold water and wind, there were still a few fish around.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 8 April 2014

Tuesday

Stormy weather

Stormy weather

A massive storm hit Bribie Island on Sunday – dumping significant rain and really stirring things up. So I left it until Tuesday to go fishing again. It was now about half way between the new moon and the full moon. The wind was forecast to be a light south-westerly. It felt noticeably cooler as I got out of the car, by the bridge at about 5.30 am. The water was definitely cooler, as I waded out on to the flats beside the old oyster jetty. Low tide would be at about 10.30 am.

Just to the south of the jetty I concentrated on a patch of weed that has produced a few flathead in the past. I was fishing with a Gulp 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I had it rigged on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. As it is now possible that there are a few Tailor around, I am consistently fishing with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. This won’t stop big fish but it might give me a chance with some good sized choppers.

At about 6.00 am, I felt a few very aggressive bites but did not hook up. I persisted in the same spot and after about 10 minutes, I felt a solid yank and line started peeling. I had hooked a big Long Tom and it promptly leapt out of the water for the camera. I let it get rid of some energy then released it, recovered my jighead and chewed soft plastic. The leader was completely lacerated. So I cut off the last 10 cm and tied my jighead back on. I straightened the soft plastic and carried on casting.

The fishing was very tough. I tried a couple of small hard bodies and jerkshads with no success. By about 7.15am I had dropped down to a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. I managed to catch a couple of very small flathead on this plastic.

I waded all the way down to the big sand bar beside the green channel marker, but the fish were elusive.  I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour and this enticed another 30 cm flathead, but it was a long time between bites.

As the tide continued to run out I waded back closer to the oyster jetty and decided to swap to a Z Man Minnowz soft plastic in the Red Bone colour. As I have mentioned before I am no longer a fan of the Headlockz Jigheads. They hold the lure in place but I think they are a bit clunky for this type of estuary fishing. I therefore chose to put the plastic on a Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I hoped the vibration of the paddletail might be more obvious to the fish. It took a while, but after about 30 minutes I did finally catch a 45cm flathead. I swapped to a Minnowz in the Opening Night colour and after about another 30 minutes I caught another, about the same size.

By 10.00 am I had had enough and the wind had picked up. As I waded back towards the bridge a came across plenty of flathead lies – so the fish are around, somewhere. It had been another tough session.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats and the Seaside Museum drain – 1 April 2014

Tuesday

New moon had been on Sunday and there had also been another big downpour at Bribie. By Tuesday the sun was out again but the wind was a strong northerly, in the morning. It was forecast to drop off later in the day and turn in to a south easterly.  I would have preferred to fish the dawn but I had been cursed with some paid work that had to be finished, so I decided to fish the afternoon run out tide, which would be low at 4.35 pm.

The burst of northerlies meant the hot day time temperatures were back, but the cool nights and the influx of fresh water had pushed the water temperature down a little. I arrived at the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at about 1.30 pm.

I waded south, past the old oyster jetty and soon found my first fish. I had started with a GULP Jerkshad in the yellow and pumpkinseed Satay Chicken colour.  It was a flathead about 45cm long. I was fishing with Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook, jigheads. These are built on finewire Owner hooks and are just about the perfect size for GULP Jerkshads. The hooks will bend if you try to muscle a size-able snapper or jewfish, but they are very sharp and are good at lodging in the tough mouths of flathead.

People often ask me about jigheads and what to use. The answer, as always is ‘that depends’.  There are lots of drivers – price, hook quality, size, shape. What is right for a bream, whiting or bass is not right for a kingfish, tuna or big snapper. How easy or difficult it is to put on a soft plastic and how long it stays on, are also important. Trial and error is the only way to test them out. It is also important to understand that one manufacturers 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead may be very different in size and weight to another. Some use the lead weight only. Some include the hook and the lead weight. This means the total weight maybe up to 30% different to the numbers on the packet.  They also all have slightly different hook sizes. Some manufacturer’s size 1 hooks are almost twice the length of others.

 

The water was still dirty from all the rain and as we reached the bottom half of the tide, it got dirtier. I persisted with the Jerkshad and caught two more flathead – one about 50cm and one about 55cm.

My old friend the cormorant turned up again looking for a free fish. The bird only got the message that I was not there to provide a lunch, after a well-placed tap on the behind, from the end of my rod. Then it flew off, probably with the intention of mugging some other fisherman.

I dropped a couple of fish and slowly moved further and further south of the jetty. The fish were certainly not as numerous as they had been a week or so before. I walked all the way down to the green channel marker and back. Eventually I had five fish over 40cm to take home, but it had been hard work. I caught about 10 fish in total, over 2 1/2 hours.

At about 4.00 I walked back to the car and drove over the bridge to Bongaree to look at the creek drain in front of the Seaside Museum. They are still reconstructing the seawall along here. But at low tide you could see where the creek water runs over the edge in to the Passage and it looks very fishy. It was a beautiful evening and the wind had completely dropped away. Unfortunately this brought the biting midges out in huge numbers. It was now low tide and the water was almost still.

I wandered along the edge of the drop off for about an hour but I could not find any fish. The midges were so thick by 5.30 pm, that I gave up.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 22 March 2014

Saturday

Back to early morning low tides for the weekend. On Saturday it would be at about 7.00 am. There was a bit of rain around. The northerly winds had been coming and going. The temperatures were warm again but the water is continuing to gradually cool down.

I arrived at the Bribie Bridge a little after 5.00 am. First light would be at about 5.30 am and there was no breeze. I had selected a variety of soft plastics lures to run through. I started with a 3“ Zman Minnowz in the Opening Night colour, on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook Headlockz Jighead. I chose 12lb fluorocarbon leader and started fishing from the shadows cast by the bridge lights.

At 5.18 am I caught the first fish of the day – a 43cm flathead. It was sitting just to the south of the patch of reef near pylon number five. The tide was running pretty quickly. This can work against the Zmen as they are definitely more buoyant than most other soft plastic lures. After five minutes, I caught another, bigger flathead about 10 metres further south.

There were prawns jumping everywhere and a bit of surface feeding going on, so I swapped to a slightly thinner profile 3.75“ Zman Streakz, in the Redbone (glow) colour.  I cast around and got plenty of hits from something a bit more agile than a flathead. I assumed it was the small Moses perch that are often around, or perhaps some bream. Either way, eventually it was a flathead that I caught with it – about 10 minutes later.

The sun was now up and I moved south, past the old oyster jetty. I swapped to a different colour in the 3.75” Zman Streakz  – Shine. I thought I might find a few more bream and I think I had a few bream bites before I caught yet another flathead at 5.47am. I swapped to a 4 inch Zman Streakz Curltailz in the Bloodworm colour and after a few casts, this caught another flathead. This was a very good size fish – somewhere between 65cm and 70 cm. I worked through the Zmans, catching a couple more fish on the 3“ Minnowz in the Redbone colour.

 

 

It was now about 6.30 am and the sky was looking ominous. A soaking looked like a certainty but at least there was still no real wind blowing. I swapped to my last remaining Rio Prawn lure – the biggest one in their range – the 19 gram. I thought the colour I had was the original or ‘Natural’ but I see it’s actually called ‘Night Glow’. This soon did the trick and I pulled in three or four more flathead over the next 30 minutes. The bigger lure seemed to attract some slightly bigger fish, but after a few tussles the worn leader snapped and I lost my lure to a particularly aggressive, headshaking flathead.

Size of lure did not seem to be an issue so I pulled out the DUO Jerkbait 120 SP. This is a suspending, flat sided, hard bodied minnow that seems to drive the tailor nuts. At 120 mm long it is bit larger than the usual flathead favorites but I thought I would give it a try. I did not have to wait long. The first taker was a fairly small flathead – just over 40cm. The next, a few casts later was a very decent fish – nudging 60 cm. The Duo Jerkbait kept catching fish through the bottom of the tide.

As the tide started its run in I decided to switch to a small lure and see if the fish were still interested. I pulled out the DUO Tetra Works Pocopoco sinking popper. This is a light (4.7 gram) popper that can still be worked quickly on the surface. I had it in the Pink Clown colour. It did not take long to find the fish. Unfortunately it did not last long. I had not upgraded the factory treble hooks. These are too soft for wrestling with hard mouthed flathead and so after a few captures one had broken off and the other was all bent out of shape. On to the next lure – the DUO Ebikko hard bodied, sinking shrimp imitation. This time I had it in a pearly white colour. Once more, I did not have to wait long and after three or four casts I found a fish – another 45cm+ flathead.

It was now about 8.00 am. The stormy skies seemed to have fired the fish up even more than usual. I carried on working my way through the tackle bag. Next I offered a Sebile ¼ ounce Spin Shad – I have never caught much with this lure although I think it should catch plenty of fish. It did not have much trouble today and after a couple of hits the treble hook bit and pulled in another flathead. The last hard body in the bag was a tiny orange and purple Japanese-made bug. This performed like all the others and soon caught a fish.

I finished up the session catching a few more flathead on the Powerbait Rippleshad – first the 5” in the Cola colour and then the 3” in the Perch colour. The fish were very aggressive which might have been because of the barometric pressure drop caused by the big storm that was approaching. At 9.00 am I was back at the car after another great session.

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.