Brunswick Heads and Ballina – Fishing post floods – March 2022

I say fishing post the floods – plural because a few weeks after the first floods we were hit with another one. The torrential rain came through and the flood plains of northern New South Wales all filled and the rivers burst their banks again.

The Brunswick River is fairly small and started to clear up on the incoming tides within about 10 days of the original flood. As the water cleared it was immediately apparent how the floodwaters has scoured out the riverbed, creating a much rockier river bed.

I had a couple of sessions fishing the beginning of the run out tide with various soft plastics and found a few flathead. There was plenty of bait in the shallows. The flood washed so much sand away that it revealed a wreck near the river mouth on the north shore.

I also decided to try fishing the Richmond River at Ballina. This was a different story. In such a big river there was filthy water pushing down for much longer and even on high tide the water was still a chocolate soup full of debris. On the flats in front of the Aquatic Centre I did manage to catch a decent flathead. But after a long walk out to the end of the South Ballina rockwall, I could only raise a few dart.

Large chunks of river bank came floating down as I fished. With the sewage treatment systems knocked out in most of the are I decided to release everything.

Iluka – The Clarence River at Browns Rocks – December 2021

As November rolled into December, Queensland and Western Australia remained cut off from the rest of the country as they realised that it might not be a bad idea to get vaccinated. I continued to go bankrupt and found solace in fishing.

The wind and swell were relentless out on the Iluka headlands but the lower reaches of the Clarence River remained calm and clear. There were a few shrimp in the river and almost as soon as they arrived in numbers the river trawlers set about catching them. They ploughed up and down, day after day trying their best to catch their quotas. This is almost exclusively a bait fishery; the prawns are frozen and sold for bait. The trawler owners say it is a traditional and sustainable fishery but it seems like a lot of activity for a very meagre return. I understand that they frequently receive less than A$1000 a tonne for the prawns. Since 2018 the average catch per licensed boat has been around 5 tonnes per year. If you deduct labour, fuel, boat maintenance and depreciation then no one is making any money. Maybe we could just buy back the boats and licenses, give them a tinny each and all start fishing with lures!

Despite the prawn trawlers the fishing was pretty good on the flats around Browns Rocks (so they may not being doing much harm). I concentrated on fishing the falling tides on the flats. I swapped between hard bodied minnow lures (the DUO Realis Rozante 63/ DUO Realis Shad 52 MR SP, the DUO Realis Jerkbait 100 SP and a variety of no name cheap ones) I also used my favourite GULP soft plastic minnows and paddleshads.

Some mornings were beautifully calm but the northerly winds usually picked up in the afternoons. We had a couple of big storms in the middle of the month. But the river stayed mostly clear.

I caught the usual range of species – bream, flathead, small jewfish, whiting and even the odd luderick. There were plenty of tiny tailor marauding around at dawn and dusk but not many keeper sized fish. On several days I managed a bag of 5 keeper size flathead. It was a month of flat river dawns and beautiful but very early sunrises.

Iluka – Woody Head and the Clarence River – Late November 2021

Most of us were now getting vaccinated against the Wuflu with the exception of a few very boring people who insisted on sharing (at length) the reasons why they weren’t. I carried on fishing (and slowly going bankrupt).

We finally had a break in the swell in late November. It was still grey, windy and rainy but I was able to get back out on the rock platform at Woody Head and fish through a middle of the day low tide. The moon was 25 days old and waning. It was about 20% visible.

It looked like perfect jewfish weather but after a few casts a good tailor grabbed my soft plastic. I landed it and changed tactics. I rigged up a metal slug. I was using a 40 gram multi-coloured metal slug from Gillies. It soon found its mark and after a couple of casts I connected with another tailor. It was a decent fish, about 65cm long. I decided to keep that one for supper. I connected and then dropped another two tailor and then swapped back to a soft plastic set up to try for a jewfish.

I selected one of my rapidly declining store of GULP Crazylegs Jerkshads in the Lime Tiger colour and put it on a 1/4 ounce, size 2/0 jighead and lobbed it out just in front of me. I was using my battered Daiwa Demonblood 962 H rod and Daiwa TD SOL III LT 6000D-H spinning reel. I was using 40lb braid and 40lb fluorocarbon leader. I made a few casts with no results. I moved a bit further along the rock platform. I kept dropping the soft plastic in close to the rocks. After a while I felt some resistance, paused and set my hook. The fish tried to swim under an overhang but I managed to pull it out and land it. It was a school jewfish. It was about 60cm long and so after a few pictures I sent it back into the ocean. I could not find anymore fish that day.

The swell came back up but the Clarence River still fished pretty well for flathead and smaller tailor all through the month.

Browns Rocks flathead

Goodwood Island – Browns Rocks – early October 2021

In early October we had a few big late afternoon storms and the swell came back up on the rocky headlands of the Bundjalung National Park. I decided to do my fishing wading around in the shallows around Browns Rocks, on the Clarence River.

I love this type of fishing, I was using light gear – a 6ft spinning rod with a fast action matched with a 2500 size reel. For line I use 12lb breaking strain braid and about 1.5 metres of 10lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader, tied together using a uni to uni knot. I use soft plastics most of the time and fish with the GULP range. I think the infused scent encourages fish to both bite and hang on, once they have. I sometimes also use small diving minnow hard bodies or surface lures if the bite is hot. I favour the run out tide and the most common catch is flathead.

The tailor are also often patrolling this area and it is quite common to lose your whole rig to them. They were getting especially hungry around dawn and dusk in October and I lost a few rigs to clean bite offs.

Iluka – Wood Heady, Middle Bluff and Goodwood Island – 24th to 30th September 2021

On Friday 24th September, a slightly calmer morning was forecast. I was up early and set out for Middle Bluff, the headland just to the north of Frazer’s Reef at Iluka. I arrived just before dawn and started casting off the rock ledge with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I was using 1/4 ounce, size 2/0 hook jighead. My reel was rigged with 30lb braid and a 40lb fluorocarbon leader. I kept the soft plastic in close to the rocks and left it on the bottom as long as I could between hops. Low water had passed at around 4.00 am and the tide was running in. The fishing was fairly slow around dawn. I felt a few hits, which I thought might be bream, but I did not hook up and I was thinking of moving on.

At about 8.00 am I cast out next to the large rock bommy that dominates the headland. As soon as I lifted the lure off the bottom, a fish grabbed it. It was another nice Mulloway/ Jewfish – which I pulled up the rock ledges. It measured 76cm long. They are great eating at this size so I kept it for a family supper. If I am careful, I will get about 1.5 to 1.75 kg of fillets from a fish this size and that will give us a couple of dinners.

The swell came back up, so over the next few days I fished in the shallows of the Clarence River around Browns Rocks. The water was very clear and at dawn and dusk I caught plenty of keeper sized flathead on various soft plastics. There were also tailor, bream and the odd whiting around.

On the 29th the swell eased off again and I fished the rocks at Woody Head. I arrived just after low tide and was fishing using my Daiwa Demonblood rod. There is not much sensitivity in this unit but plenty of power.

I had run out of my beloved GULP Crazylegs Jerkshads in my favourite Lime Tiger colour. This was probably a good thing because it forced me to persist with some other colours and shapes. The reasonably new GULP paddle shad shape worked well. I caught the biggest jewfish of the day on a 5 inch paddle shad in the nuclear chicken colour. It was approximately 85cm long. I let it go as I now had a fridge full of flathead.

The end of September had been great fishing around Iluka. The school jewfish were the biggest of the year so far and there was plenty of bait around.

Brunswick Heads – Brunswick River – 17/18/23/27 August

Through late August the weather was bright and sunny but the swell was still pretty difficult to manage on the rocks. I focused on fishing in the Brunswick River. I also had a few dawn sessions, fishing on the beach at New Brighton.

Most of the time I was fishing with my Samaki Zing Gen III 562SXL ultralight rod. But when I cast a lure into the surf (looking for tailor) I moved up to my Daiwa Crossfire CFS1202L. There was not much rain in August and the Brunswick River was fairly clear, even on the low tides.

I had a few sessions around the mouth of the river and caught a few small flathead on minnow soft plastics. On a couple of sessions I trekked up river on the south bank and caught plenty more small flathead. The star performer was the GULP Pulseworm soft plastic in various beige/ camo colours.

I had hoped to find some tailor from the beach on a few morning sessions. I have some new Samaki 40g Flash Minnow hard bodies which I think will be great for tailor. They are solid, sink fast, cast well and have a great action. I think they will be great in rough seas but this time I only caught flathead with them during my dawn sessions.

Brunswick River – Brunswick Heads – 13 June 2021

There had been a few good gutters in front of South Golden Beach and I tried an early morning session to see if the tailor were still around. I had a couple of hits on dawn on a metal slug but did not hang on to anything. The big swell made things difficult and I did not find really them there again, through the rest of June.

On Sunday 13th June, it was a beautiful day so I drove down to the Brunswick River and spent a couple of hours fishing the run out tide. I tried a few casts near the river mouth with no luck. The river was busy so I waded round to fish the flats just downstream of the Marshalls Creek lower outlet. There were plenty of rays in the shallow water. It was now a hot afternoon and although the river was cool, it was definitely not cold.

I cast around with a soft plastic lure and caught three flathead right on the bottom of the tide. I caught them all where the creek drains in to the main river channel. My soft plastic of choice was the trusty GULP 4″ Minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. All the fish were in less than a metre of water.

New Brighton – North Head wall and beach – 10 June 2021

I was hoping the tailor would come back to the beach so I kept revisiting it over the next few days. But the wind picked up and started blowing from the north east and north west. We had a bit of rain and the edge of a low pressure system passing the bottom of Australia, stirred things up a bit.

On Thursday 10th June the sun came out and the wind eased off. It was new moon so I thought the fishing would be worth a try. I walked out onto the beach at North Head at about noon. Low tide was due just before 2.00 pm, so I would be fishing the last of the run out tide.

I was using my light rock fishing rig with 16 lb fluorocarbon leader, in case the tailor re-appeared. I was using a 1/4 ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I needed a heavy jighead to put in a decent cast against the breeze. The water was crystal clear so I chose a bright colour. I also did this because if big dart are around, they seem to attack the brighter patterns. This was a 4 inch, Savage Gear Minnow in a yellow and pink colour. I sometimes put a few of the cheaper Savage Gear plastics in the GULP packet to soak up a bit of the GULP scent. This keeps my average tackle cost per fish a little lower! You have to be careful doing this as some plastics simply dissolve if they are mixed together.

I aimed at a sandy bank at the mouth of a gutter and let the plastic waft along its edge with the current. Once I figured out where to cast I got a hit straight away. After a few more casts I had a small flathead. I released it. I cast back in the same spot and hooked and then dropped another one.

I moved south along the beach to where it meets the rocks known locally as ‘seagulls’. I swapped to a small GULP 3″ Minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour and caught a 48 cm flathead. By about 2.00 pm the wind started howling and I gave up for the afternoon.

Brunswick River Brunswick Heads – 24/25 May 2021

After catching and releasing a big female flathead in the third week in May, I continued my thorough survey of fish in the Brunswick River. On Monday the 24th May, I was back out wading around in the shallows at the mouth. The water was still warm and clear and the bait was not as plentiful as it had been, but it was still there.

I started at about 10.30 am. Low tide would be just after noon, so I was fishing the bottom of the run out. I focused on the area where I had caught the big fish the week before – just as the tide had picked up speed running in, but I could not find another one there. I moved up river a little. I was fishing with a GULP 4″ Black Silver Paddleshad soft plastic loaded onto a 18th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. Just at the lower mouth of Marshalls Creek, I felt a single thud. I dropped the rod tip, paused for about 10 seconds and lifted it again. The fish was hooked and I pulled in a small flathead about 40cm long. I peppered the area but there were no more.

I moved down to the river mouth and caught another small flathead on a GULP 3″ Minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour. It was now about 11.45 am and I had a few casts out on the beach on the north side of the river mouth. This yielded one more very small flathead.

On the 25th I decided to fish upstream, around the top of the island west of the Ferry Reserve holiday park. This is accessed via the south bank of the river. I waded out in to the shallows at the eastern tip of the island at about 11.30 am. I was fishing the run out tide. The area is fairly shallow and usually covered in rays. I could see lots of tiny jelly prawns hanging around the edge of the weed beds and sunken timber. I moved slowly round the island, casting at the edge of the weed beds and channels and caught two very small flathead and one very angry bream. I finished up at about 1.00 pm.

Brunswick River – Brunswick Heads – Monster at the Mouth – 20/21 May 2021

May 20th was a Friday. The tide was low at 9.50 am and the moon was 6 days away from being full. I was once more fishing midmorning in the Brunswick River, starting at about 10.15 am.

I started down by the river mouth on the northside. I caught a bream on a minnow soft plastic and then the bream pulled it off the jighead, as they so often do. I opened a packet of GULP 4″ Pulseworm soft plastics in the Moebi colour (beige) and put one on my 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using my light spinning outfit and about 1.5 metres of 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

To my surprise the next fish was an ambitious whiting. I released it and moved slowly up river. I lost my plastic again and put on a GULP 2″ Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. The next taker was a small flathead, about 35cm long. I let it go. The tide was now beginning to flood in.

I moved further up the river bank and cast my soft plastic at the sandy patches in between the rocky bottom. I lost a jighead, snagged on one of the rocks that was out of wading distance. I put on another GULP Pulseworm and carried on casting.

I was now keeping the soft plastic moving fairly quickly across the bottom as I did not want to get snagged again. I was fishing in about 30 cm of water. I felt the plastic stop dead and assumed I was snagged again. I pulled hard and there was a little bit of give, so I pulled harder. Suddenly my drag was screaming and a fish was swimming away. It was a big flathead that had been sitting in the shallows between the rocks.

Every fisherman loves that sound

It made a couple of long slow runs. I left the drag alone. I only had a 12lb fluorocarbon leader and a very light rod so I was going to have to play it very patiently. When they get this big their head shakes are slower and less numerous and as long as they are hooked on the outside of the mouth, you have a good chance at landing them. I let her go where she wanted to and took back line whenever I could. After about five minutes I pulled her onto the sand. She was a beautiful fish and by measuring her against my rod I estimate she was about 75cm long. I took a few snaps and turned back into the water. I held her by the mouth and let some water run back and forth over her gills and then she slowly swam away.

This is by far the biggest fish I have found in the river so far. I am delighted they are there and I hope to tangle with a few more.

The next day I went back to see if she was part of a gang. I tried out the GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad in my favorite; Lime Tiger colour. I fished around for a few hours in the same area and found another decent 55cm flathead. I also released this one.

Brunswick River – Brunswick Heads – 10/11 May 2021

On the 10th of May I fished from about 10.00 am through to 3.30 pm. I had a great day and caught all through the day. I fished a falling tide and then the beginning of the run in tide. The new moon was due on the 11th. There was plenty of small bait in the shallows near the Brunswick River mouth. The water was clear and still much warmer when it started running in from the ocean. It was a fairly low, low-tide and there was plenty of tidal flow.

I worked my way through a number of large and small soft plastic lures and swapped between a 1/8th ounce, size1/0 hook jigheads and 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jigheads, depending on how fast the current was moving. I even used one of my current favourites, which is not from the GULP range – the Westin ShadTeez Slim soft plastic in the 256 colour ( beige/ brown/ orange belly). I have 9 and 12cm (about 4″) versions. It has a great action and the small fish will not destroy it.

I worked my way down from the mouth of Marshalls Creek to the mouth of the river, casting my lures at all the sandy patches along the way. I caught about 15 flathead and 6 bream. I released most of them but I kept the five biggest flathead for a family fish pie.

There were quite a few bream around and they often beat the flathead to the soft plastic lures. At one point I watched a 70+ cm flathead follow a 25cm bream that I had hooked. It looked like it was considering it for a meal but turned away at the shoreline.

The flathead were not that fussy and I think it was probably the big tidal run and the plentiful bait that were key reasons for their presence

The next day I came back a little later and although I caught about 6 keeper size flathead things were definitely slower.

Overall it was a great couple of days.

Richmond River Mouth – South Ballina 27/29 January 2021

A couple of days later I returned for a dawn fishing session at the mouth of the Richmond River. I started just before dawn on the rockwall I had fished a few days before – just upriver from the ferry. I caught a couple of bream but despite/ or perhaps because of the big moon there seemed to be less fish around.

I decided to move nearer the river mouth. I drove up to the locked gate on the road out to the rockwall. I packed up my gear and decided to make the trek out to the wall, stopping to fish at a few spots along the way.

I was fishing with my ultra light spinning setup. Because of the full moon it would be a very big high tide and the water was much clearer than it had been a few days before. I was not expecting anything big so I was using a 12lb fluorocarbon leader down to a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead.

I stopped at a my first spot and put on a GULP 4″ Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and let it sink down in the current, fairly close to the shore. I slowed it down as I pulled it towards the bank and the fish struck. It was a flathead and it must have been resting no more than an a few inches from the base of the rocks. It was around 45 cm long.

I moved a little further along the shoreline and caught a couple of bream – both were over 30cm long. It seemed the fish got bigger as I moved towards the river mouth. I walked all the way out to where the rock wall meets the beach. By now I was fishing with a Gulp 3″ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour and I caught another bream on the river side of the wall. I cast a little further out and got bitten off. I re-rigged and caught a small chopper tailor on the first cast. At about 11.00 am I gave up for the day.

I came back to the same spot on the 29th (the day after the full moon). This time I started off the casting with a GULP 4 ” Minnow soft plastic lure in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The first taker was a flathead. It was sitting close to the base of the rocks, on the river side of the wall. It measured in a 48 cm. I photographed it and let it go. If there is fish in the fridge, then it’s pretty much catch and release fishing for me.

I made my way out onto the wall past the resident osprey. He/she always seems to be sitting at this spot – which is a very good sign. Ospreys only eat fish. Just before the end of the wall on the open ocean side , I took up position. I was now fishing with a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and I swapped through three or four different coloured minnow soft plastics. I caught bream on all of them – the biggest was about 34 cm long.

By lunchtime the wind and swell had built up significantly so I gave up for the day.

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.