Bribie – flathead bonanza on the oyster jetty flats – 2 May 2013

Thursday

The moon was waning, the winds had dropped and the tides looked perfect. Low tide would be at 9.16 am, at 0.6 m. There had been a strong south-easterly wind the day before, but this would ease off in the morning and pick up as a pure southerly, later.

I was confident that the fish would be in my favourite spots – so I drove back up to Bribie at about 4.30 am. I was hopeful that I would find some flathead under the bridge lights. I waded out just after 5.00 am. The sky was clear and the moon was about 40% full.

There has not been much surface activity under the lights in recent weeks and today was no exception. I cast around the drains and weed beds on the edges of the illuminated pools created by the lights. I caught one very small flathead on a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour.

After about 30 minutes, I waded south, past the oyster jetty and started casting around the Sandstone Point corner drain. The water over this area was already pretty shallow – only about 50 cm, in most places. I moved to the edge of the sand bank and launched a few casts directly into the main drain. After three or four – I felt the lure stop dead. I thought it had snagged on the tufty seagrass at the edge of the drain. Then there was a tug and powerful, long, initial run. This was a good fish and it towed me around for a bit. I wanted to tire it out, as there were a few boulders and abandoned crab pots between and a gap in the mangroves, where I planned to land it. It soon tired and I pulled it up, on to the mangrove roots. It was a great start to the day – a good flathead – 66cm. I was still using the GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour.

I stopped for a chat with a keen local angler who had also waded out along the mangrove line – very keen – he is in his mid-eighties! He took to soft plastics after many years of fishing with an Alvey and bait, and now loves them. I hope I am still embracing change at his age – fantastic!

I wandered out a bit deeper, in front of the long sand bank and put in a few casts back towards the oyster jetty. The sun was up now. I hooked a couple of fish but dropped both. I was still fishing with the GULP 2” Shrimp. I stayed put and methodically sprayed the areas, where I had dropped the fish, with casts. I soon found one again and it was just under 40 cm, so I shook it free. A couple of casts later I had a better fish on and after a few solid runs, I decided to walk it back to the sand bank. It was just under 60cm.

As the tide dropped, I waded down towards the green channel marker and back again. The fishing got better and better. I caught another nine fish between 7.00 am and 8.20 am on GULP Jerkshads in the Cajun Chicken and Satay Chicken colours.

It was my turn to try something new. Many readers have been asking why I don’t use the Z-Man soft plastic lures. Steve, at Jones Tackle – http://jonestackle.com.au/ (and many others) have been trying hard to persuade me of their brilliance. I recognise they are cheaper and more durable than the GULP range but I have not really got used to their colours and I find their texture a lit too ‘rubbery’. I think the colours look very good in the water, but not very good on the packets. Steve insisted I buy a packet of Minnowz in the Houdini colour and try them out. I chose this moment to give them a work out. The Minnowz have a standard minnow shape with an additional paddle tail.

Well you can probably guess what happened. On the first cast, a fish hit the lure on the drop and I pulled in a tiny, 25cm flathead. On the second cast, I pulled up a 40cm flathead and from then on the Z-Man Minnowz caught a flathead about once every 10 minutes, until I gave up at about 10.00 am. At first they appeared to be catching smaller fish than the GULP Jerkshads but then I caught two 50cm+ specimens towards the end of the session.

So Steve, and everybody else – you are right, they do catch fish. Could this be the end of Landangler’s exclusive love affair with GULP? Well, one swallow does not make a summer. I have a feeling anything would have caught fish today. But I was impressed enough to buy a few more packets!

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Bribie – oyster jetty to the channel marker – 28 April 2013

Sunday

When the fish have been biting in a particular spot it is hard to tear yourself away, so it was back to Bribie Island. It is also good to fish the same spot for a few weeks, so that you can see if any patterns appear in fish behaviour.

Sunday looked more promising than Friday had been. The moon was still pretty full but low tide was at 5.21 am. I would not be able to fish much of the run out tide, but I could reach my favourite target area, for a couple of hours, as the tide started to run in. In general, I have had more success on the ‘run out’ rather than ‘run in’ tide, in this area, on the edge of the main channel. The moon is also a factor. As I mentioned in my previous post the big moon means a very big tidal flow and this is not very helpful here.

There are a different current flows that run over and around the sand banks, at different times of the tide. You feel this very obviously in your waders, as you move between cold water – rushing in from Moreton Bay and warmer water, flowing out, off the sand flats and shallows, from the Pumicestone Passage. This can make deciding which direction to cast in, quite confusing. If possible, you should always cast up, in to the current and hop the lure back along the bottom, towards you.

I started early, around 5.30 am and made straight for the green channel marker. It took about 20 minutes to get out there and I started by fishing with GULP Jerkshads in various colours, but these did not find the fish. I swapped down to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I was using a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and the usual 10lb fluorocarbon leader. By 6.45 am the tide was running in and I found a small flathead in a sandy patch, about half way between the channel marker and the oyster jetty. I could only find one in this spot so, after 10 minutes of casting, I moved on.

It took more than hour to find the next one – at about 8.00 am. This one was over 40 cm, but I was releasing them all today. I covered the surrounding area with casts but could not find any more.

The incoming tide was now starting to push me out of reach of the main edge of the weed beds. I swapped to the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – black and pink colour. At 8.15 am I caught another small flathead – about 35cm long.

At about 9.00 am I was back at the bridge and had not caught any more. The combination of full moon and incoming tide had stirred the sediment in the water up and it was very murky again. I had only caught three fish. It seems that fishing the incoming tide is not working so well for me. We will have to see what happens when I get a chance to fish the ‘run out’ tide, next week.

Bribie Island – Sandstone Point flats – 26 March 2013

Tuesday

A good run of predominantly south-easterly winds and not much rain had me feeling confident on Tuesday morning. It was also full moon which meant plenty of tidal flow. It would be a 2.3m high tide at 8.46 am, at Sandstone Point, on the mainland, opposite Bribie Island. The wind was forecast to switch from east-south-east to north easterly in the middle of the middle of the morning.

I arrived at about 4.45 am and found the water lapping around the feet of the third set of bridge pylons and just covering the patch of reef to the south of the fifth set. The pylons are smooth and polished and the cleaning / survey process has created a few new holes around the footings.

I started with soft plastics – the GULP 2” Shrimp in the peppered prawn colour on a 1/8th, size 1 hook jighead. I cast around north and south of the bridge without result. There was not really enough water here yet.

I moved south, past the old oyster jetty and stuck with the shrimp soft plastic. The tide was not moving very fast so I dropped back to 1/16th oz , size 1 hook jighead. I aimed at the sandy drain area, just south of the jetty. I was casting at around in just less than a meter of water. The sun came over the horizon at about 6.00 am and I immediately started to get a few hits. I caught a small bream about 25cm and then another two. The peppered prawn shrimp was hanging off the jighead, so I swapped to a banana prawn coloured version.

After a few casts, this produced a big Pike – perhaps 35cm long. Then, at about 6.45 am I felt a bigger fish attack the shrimp, as it sank. It took a little bit of line and then settled down. It had a strange tail beat and I could not figure out what it might be. After a few lunges I pulled it in closer and could see it was a nice tarwhine – about 35 cm long. It’s strange action in the water was probably due to the fact that it only had half a tail. I kept the tarwhine and caught a few more bream, all in the same spot, before the incoming tide pushed me back towards the mangrove line.

On a full moon the flats towards Sandstone Point are covered in a metre of water for a solid couple of hours around the high tide. This gives the fish plenty of time to move up in to the area looking for bait. I decided to wade along the mangrove line, in the direction of Sandstone Point and see if I could find them. I stuck with small GULP soft plastics in the natural colours, smelt, pearl watermelon, peppered prawn and banana prawn. There were plenty of long toms cruising around and they were the first takers. They are hard to hook but once they are solidly connected they put on an impressive aerial display – thrashing and leaping around. More often than not their sharp teeth just sliced through my 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

By about 8.00 am I had waded all the way round to Sandstone Point and the water was so deep that it was only just possible to continue fishing along the mangrove line. I turned around and started wading back to the north east. I pulled up one small (less than 35cm) flathead, who was lying close to the edge of the mangroves but the rest of the fish interaction was with the long toms. By the time the tide turned at 8.45 am I was back on the corner at the sandy drain.

As the tide started to run out I focused on this area. I tried a few brightly coloured GULP jerkshads but these did not produce anything so I swapped back to a natural coloured offering – the GULP 2” shrimp in the banana prawn colour. I also swapped to a heavier 1/8th 1 jighead, as the tide started to run out. This did the trick and after a few long tom hits, I connected with a sold fish that turned out to be a 55cm flathead. I kept casting around this area and after another ten minutes, I found two more 45cm versions.

By about 9.45 am I was close to the old oyster jetty again. I was now using a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The water is still full of sediment on these big tides and the bridge cleaning barge was out again, further stirring things up. I was fishing from memory, aiming my casts at areas where I thought the weed beds thinned out and dropped off to sandy bottom. I pulled up another good flathead, about 60cm.

As I reached the bridge area I put in a few final casts with the same soft plastic and found my fifth keeper – a flathead – about 50cm long. My apologies, I did not have my camera with my while I was fishing today. You will have to make do with a couple of pictures of the bagful that I took with my phone, when I got back to the car.

It looks like the south-easterlies are gradually bringing the water temperature down which is firing up the traditional winter species. If the weather behaves there should be some great fishing over Easter.