Iluka – Middle Bluff – 22 November 2020

The swell came up and then subsided, a little. The wind swapped to south easterly, then northerly, then south easterly and then back to a morning south westerly, all in the space of about 48 hours. The moon had reached its first quarter. The dawn tide would be too high to fish at Woody Head so I decided to give Middle Bluff a try.

The challenge at Middle Bluff is the distance between you and the water, if you hook a fish. In some places on this rock platform you are fishing three or four metres above the water. In calm conditions you can gently coax a fish along the front of the rock ledges to a lower one and grab the leader to pull the fish up. But if there is any swell this is next to impossible. I have never mastered using a gaff as I am convinced I will most likely end up gaffing myself (I also like to release fish, if I am not planning to eat them). So like so many other rock fishing ledges it is only really safe when the swell is around 1 metre. Even then all the usual rules apply; wear boots or shoes with excellent grip, wear a life jacket, check the swell for 20 minutes or so before fishing and try to stay permanently on dry rocks – if in doubt, don’t.

I arrived and parked at Frasers Reef just after 4.00 am and walked north to Middle Bluff. By the time I reached the ledges I wanted to fish there was a long line of orange on the horizon. I started on the north end of the platform.

I cast out a 3/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead with a GULP 5″ Paddleshad soft plastic in the Pink colour on my heavy rig. I tried to get it as close to the edge of the ledge as possible as I believe the mulloway and other fish school up in the sea caves and overhangs which extend under the ledges. The idea is to drop it down next to the rocks and then hop it slowly along the bottom, parallel with the shoreline. The period between first light and sunrise is definitely my most successful period for catching mulloway/ jewfish from the rocks. I cast around close to the edge and just before dawn the line pulled tight and I felt the weight of a fish. It set off under the ledge but I turned it around. I was fishing with my heavier rod and reel with 40lb fluorocarbon leader and a fairly tight drag. I pulled hard to keep it away from the rocks but I was going too hard and fast and the hook pulled out. I was a little too eager. I carried on casting through dawn and swapped through a few different soft plastics. I had another bite that felt like a tailor but it also spat the hook. I had eaten all my mulloway/ jewfish so I needed something for dinner.

At about 6.00 am I moved south along the ledge, nearer to Frasers Reef. The swell was a little more relaxed here. I swapped to my lighter fishing rig which was rigged 16 lb fluorocarbon leader down to a 1/4 ounce, size 1 hook jighead and GULP 3″ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I cast this out and again focused on the area close to the base of the ledge. Leaving the plastic on the bottom for as long as I could without getting snagged. This tactic worked and I caught a decent bream just over 36 cm long. It hit the lure inches from surface and inches from the rocky shore. I put it in a rock pool and tried again in the same spot. A few casts later I caught another one about the same size.

Twins

A disappointing morning but I would have fish for supper.

Brunswick River – Brunswick Heads – 1 September 2020

Thanks to the machinations of our newly powerful state leaders, Brunswick Heads was very quiet in August and September. Despite vanishingly small numbers of locally identified cases of COVID 19, the Queensland border snapped shut. It was soul destroying for our local businesses that rely so much on visitors from north of the border, and further afield. But, every cloud has a silver lining and for once the Brunswick River was very peaceful and largely undisturbed.

I started September with a midday session wading the flats above the highway bridge. The tide was running out to low at about 1-30 pm. I parked up beside the caravan park at Ferry Reserve.

I was using my new light estuary spinning set-up. The guides on my old favorite NS Blackhole trout rod nearly all needed replacing and I had knocked about 10 cm off the tip over the last couple of years – it had to go. I had loved that rod so I decided to go for another NS Blackhole rod from EJ Todd. I chose the ultralight fast action NS Amped II Trout S-602UL rod. It is a 6′ long two piece, rated for 2- 10 gram lures and 2-6 lb (1-3kg) line. I match it with a Daiwa TD-SOL III LT 2500D spinning reel. So far it has met all my expectations. It is ultra sensitive but has the power to stop good sized bream and flathead. It might struggle to turn the head of a decent mangrove jack or snapper, but I rarely run into those. It cost me A$ 149-99 (with free shipping) from Tackle Warehouse and arrived in good shape, three days after I ordered it.

I pulled on my waders and wandered up the inside of Mangrove Island, casting a GULP 3″ Minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead, into the shallow water ahead of me. I found my first tiny flathead close the edge of a weed bed in about 20 cm of water. The tide was running out towards me so I cast at the edge of the weed beds and hopped the soft plastic slowly along the sandy/ muddy bottom, with the tide. I carried on wading up river, around the tip of Mangrove Island and across to the deeper water, in the main channel of the river.

I decided to put on a bigger soft plastic – a GULP 5″ Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I was now just upriver from the tip of the island, about 30 metres from the northern riverbank. My rod tip bent over, I paused and then lifted it. I had hooked a small flathead, just under 40cm. I let it go and gradually moved down river, casting backwards up river. I swapped through a few soft plastics – the GULP 2″ Shrimp also in the Peppered Prawn colour and another 5″ Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, and found three more flathead, all about the same size.

As the tide slackened around 2.00 pm, I gave up and waded back to the car. It was great to have the river virtually to myself, I will have to make the most of it.

Bribie Island – the Seaside Museum drain and flats – 19 July 2013

Friday

A late start on Friday and wet weather again. I drove up to Bribie and passed through several showers on the way. I arrived at Bongaree at about 9.30 am. I stopped in front of the Seaside Museum again and parked up. The tide had been high at 5.45 am, so I could now easily reach and cast over, the coffee rock ledge that runs along, parallel with the road.

Surveyors were measuring up for a new sea wall – the current slope is sinking and sagging after all the wild weather. Hopefully work on the new one will create some new fishy structure.

I started fishing with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was using 8lb leader again. After a few casts I hooked a fish. It made a few runs then I pulled it over the edge. It was a good bream, about 34cm long.

It was not long before I had another fish on. This time it swam under the ledge and soon rubbed me off. I did not get a look but it felt like another decent bream. I carried on in the same spot and after a few more casts, I felt another solid bite, as I lifted the soft plastic off the bottom. On the next cast, I paused a little longer with the soft plastic on the bottom. When I lifted it, a fish struck. It pulled quite hard but I was now level with the ledge and so I could keep the fish away from it. When it came in to view it was only a 25cm Moses Perch!

I moved a bit further south and kept casting. A few more casts and I had another fish on, this time it was a Tailor. It pulled very hard but it was nicely hooked so it could not bite through the leader. I pulled it up to the sand. It was just about 35cm long but I released it after a few pictures.

I checked the leader and thought about upgrading to 12lb, but could not be bothered. On the next cast I wished I had. A fish hit my plastic just a few inches out from the ledge and took off. This fish had weight and power but was not mad like a Tailor. I started swimming north, parallel with the shoreline and I went with it for about 10 metres. I tried to keep it away from the edge but my light spin rod was no match for it. It found a ledge and I could feel the leader rubbing and then it was gone. I suspect it was a jewfish but I will never know.

I fished on as the tide slowed and picked up another respectable 32cm bream on the Gulp 3” minnow in the Sardine colour. On the bottom of the tide the weed was clogging every cast and the sky looked ominous so I packed up.

Bribie Island – White Patch & Bongaree – 10 September 2012

Monday

I promised to take a friend fishing and introduce him to soft plastics on Monday. Unfortunately the weather was far from perfect and we arrived at Bribie to find the wind blowing from the south-east at about 15 Knots.

I decided to start at White Patch, as it is sometimes just a little less exposed to the elements. I showed my mate the basic plastics rig and set him to work with a 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I started with the same.

Why is it always so bloody hard to catch a fish when you need to? I tried all the usual spots and swapped through a load of different soft plastics. I don’t think I managed to prove it was worth getting him up at 4.00 am by catching one small Pike in 3 hours.

The wind did drop off a little, so we moved down to Bongaree to fish around the Seaside Museum drain until low tide. This was a bit more exciting as after about 20 minutes there was a big swirl and splash in between us, as something slammed into the bait just in front of the drop off. This process was repeated every few minutes, as whatever it was moved up the edge, heading north. The angler a bit further north, thought it was a small group of Tuna – difficult to say, as I did not get a look.

Whilst it made interesting viewing I still had not caught anything and nor had my mate. I was about to give up when I felt the solid ‘thud’ of a Flathead. In the end he had grabbed the lure I had started the day with – the GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour. It was a decent fish – approximately 50cm long and it was immediately donated to my patient, but cold, fishing guest.

Finally a fish

At about 10.30 am we gave up – I take my hat off to fishing guides everywhere – and will not be calling myself a ‘Gillie’ any time soon.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – A couple of Flathead – 1 Aug 2011

Monday

I only had time for a late morning fishing session today, so I drove up to Bribie Island for a couple of hours this morning, from the 10.00am high tide through to around noon. The wind had dropped significantly, since yesterday. There was still plenty of weed floating around but the water was a little clearer.

I caught a couple of Flathead that were just about 40 cm long. I got the first under the bridge, on the island side, using a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and the second down on the sand flats, in front of Buckley’s Hole, on a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I was fishing with a 1/6th 1 jighead. Hopefully the calmer weather and smaller tides will mean that the weed will start to settle down for the next week or so.

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