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.

1770 – Wreck Rock and Deepwater Creek – 8 November 2011

Saturday

It was my last day in 1770 for a while. I decided to fish the afternoon low tide at Wreck Rock. It was full moon so the water would get quite shallow around the rocks. There was a fairly light north easterly wind and not much swell.

I arrived at about 3.00 pm and rigged up with a 16lb fluorocarbon leader and 3 “ GULP Minnow on a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. This produced a small dart on the first cast and almost a fish a cast thereafter, for the next 30 minutes. I gradually moved along the rocks and it was usually the first cast, in a new location that produced the bigger dart. I soon had a few worth keeping.

By about 3.30 pm I had almost arrived at the end of the rocks. I had now swapped to a Zman 4” Jerkshad in the Shiner colour. A cast it out, about 5 metres directly in front of the rocks and the lure fluttered towards the bottom. I set the hook on another dart. Dart fight hard and love to turn sideways like trevally, but this one was positively hyperactive. I pulled it clear of the water and then released it. The next cast produced another dart, a little smaller but equally frantic. Then I saw why the fish were so spooked. I long, slow moving grey shape swam along the base of the rocks. It looked about 1.5 metres long and had clear black markings on its fin – so I presume it was a black tipped reef shark. This probably explains numerous bite offs I have had around these rocks.

The dart kept coming but as the tide turned in I caught a few small trevally – including  a strange looking bumpnose trevally. As the tide started to run in at about 5.00 pm,  I decided to swap locations.

I drove down to Deepwater Creek to fish through dusk. I thought the big tide and full moon might create some good conditions. I arrived about 5.30 pm and fished through the dusk with poppers and small soft plastics on a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I tried both the freshwater and saltwater sections. I was surprised to get a catfish from the salt water side. It grabbed a GULP Swimmow soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour, presented on a 1/16th, size 1 jighead. Meanwhile as the sun dropped below the horizon something swiped at the popper on the freshwater side. On the saltwater side, in the pitch dark, I could hear plenty of surface slurps and bust ups. The moon was not up yet and as I dragged the popper slowly across the surface, it was getting bumped and nudged all the way through the retrieve. Finally I hooked something and it pulled quite hard. I turned the headlamp on to reveal a small mullet. There was a big school of them cruising round.

I gave up for the night and marked this spot down for a future visit. Once again, I would like to recommend Gavin and Kim of 1770 Beach Accommodation. I stayed at Loka Santi which are very smart apartments, but they have accommodation to rent at every budget level and can offer some really great rates – visit their website for more information  www.1770beachaccommodation.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 4 April 2014

Friday

There had been a few showers and more were forecast. There was also a cyclone forming, up north. The new moon, four days earlier had not really made any difference to the fishing but it had coincided with some heavy rain, which may have limited its effect.

I set off back to Bribie Island. For the last two months I have fished here, exclusively. I apologise to readers who would like a change. But it has been good to fish through a few moon cycles and big weather changes and notice how they the effect what I catch.

Since the first week in March, I have been catching a lot of flathead from the sand flats, on the mainland size of the Pumicestone Passage, to the south of the Bribie Island Bridge. The fish were probably most numerous and at their most aggressive, in the run up to the full moon on the 16th March. The size of the fish and the numbers then gradually dropped off, after the full moon.  We then had some heavy rain which may have pushed them out to saltier water.

Looking back over my archive of fishing reports, I see I have had a number of excellent flathead sessions at this time of the year, in this particular spot.  The large numbers, the aggressive feeding and the fact that a good proportion of the legal size fish I have kept are full of roe, suggests they had gathered to spawn. It seems unlikely that the flathead only schooled up in this one location and I have seen many reports of good flathead catches, through early March, in the fishing press.

According to the sparse research that has been undertaken on flathead (principally in New South Wales – see ‘Reproduction and growth of dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) in NSW estuaries’ – July 2008. NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries Final Report Series No.101 ), they spawn between – September and March.

This would put this particular spawning session right at the end of the window. This is interesting because most fishing pundits will suggest the end of the cooler months – September / November is when you more reliably catch large numbers of spawning flathead. Hopefully I will have time to fish then, as well and I will compare the results.

Back to Friday – low tide would be at 6.28 am and it would be a fairly high low tide, at 0.7 m. I arrived just before first light, at about 5.15 am. It was still warm and I had driven through a couple of showers on the way up from Brisbane. The wind, if there was any, was form the south east.

I waded out into the shallows beside the bridge and cast around with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. It was still dark and a few fish were feeding under the bridge lights. On my second or third cast I felt a solid bite, paused and hooked a good fish. I steered it out of the rocks, which dot the area and dragged it to the shore. It was a solid 50 cm flathead.

The next fish came about twenty minutes later, just to the north of the oyster jetty. I was then treated to a really fantastic sunrise which lit up a rain squall that was coming my way. It was now about 6.00 am. I caught a few more flathead in this spot, but they were all under 40 cm.

I moved to the south of the jetty and pulled out another new favourite of mine. The Lucky Craft 4” Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic lure, in the Pearl Vairon colour. This is the ultimate shape for a flathead soft plastic. It is a Jerkshad with a huge paddle tail. The slim body accentuates the paddle tail and you can really feel the lure moving as you hop it along the bottom. Thanks to the guys at Jones Tackle for introducing me to these – http://jonestackle.com.au/.  It did not take long to find the fish. Between 6.30 am and 8.15 am, I caught 8 more flathead on this soft plastic. However, only two of these fish were over 40 cm.

At about 8.30 am I was soaked by a rain squall and decided to give up.  There are still plenty of fish out there, but the bigger ones are getting harder to find.

Fingal Head – More Jewfish – 30 November 2012

Friday

A northerly wind to flatten the seas, a full moon and plenty of bait around the rocks – what more could a fisherman want? A few more hours of sleep, perhaps. Low tide would be at 3.20 am at Fingal Head and that is where I decided to go.

I arrived just before 4.00 am and walked out onto the rocks to find a few good size piles of scales – jewfish scales. The moon was still very bright in the sky. I started with soft plastic lures. I was sure the jewfish would still be around and I am convinced that their favourite food is big Jerkshads. So I started with a big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Blackshad colour – black and white, with a split curly tail. I was using my heavy rig and cast it out on a ¼ oz, 2/0 jighead hook. I had 30lb leader on.

After a couple of casts I hooked a fish in the half light – a small Tailor about 35cm long. By the time I released the fish, there was only about an inch of the plastic left, I put on a new one and carried on fishing. It was only 4.25 am and the sun had not yet crossed the horizon. I was concentrating on the area at the south end of the rock platform. There has been a big school of small baitfish sitting here for a few weeks and the jewfish have never been far away.

Con arrived and confirmed that he had found some good jewfish the day before – around the 85cm mark. He had caught one on a soft plastic, but had been surprised when one took his Shimano Waxwing hard bodied lure, the previous afternoon. Steve, another local arrived and finally decided to give the plastics a go. His was a cheapy from Kmart which included the jighead. As we were talking fishy rubbish he cast it out a few times, to the south of the rock platform. On about his third attempt a fish grabbed the plastic and took off. After a quick run around it tried to wedge itself under the rocks but Steve played it patiently and let it swim out. He lifted it clear and was delighted with his first jewfish. It looked about 60 to 70cm long and was in great condition.

Now Steve found his rhythm and over the next hour he land two more good jewfish. I was getting just a little jealous and beginning to wish I had never mentioned soft plastics. I had been fishing all through and had had a few bites but could not seem to hook up. I put on a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Smelt colour and just dropped it straight down beside the rocks and counted to 10. My lure would either be snagged or get a fish and luckily for me, it was the latter. It fought hard initially but I had the heavy rod and it soon tired. With the sea fairly flat I climbed down the stepped rocks to the water and lifted the fish clear. It was another jewfish, just on 65cm.

I continued fishing around that same ledge. I lost a few jigheads and plastics to the rocks and swapped down to a lighter, 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I was now using my old favorite GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. At about 5.50 am there was a tug and then another and then line started peeling. This one wanted to swim out to sea initially and then turned north. I went with it and followed it round to the eastern edge of the platform. It was about the same size as the first and I soon had it up they rocks.

I swapped to a RAPALA SXR 12 for a bit and felt a few knocks from small Tailor but by 6.30am, the jewfish had gone off the bite. I fished on until eight, trying lighter gear but then, with the sun beating down, I cleaned the fish and went in search of a cold drink.