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.

 

 

 

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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.