Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 7 December 2015

Monday

I had time for a quick fishing session on the flats at Bribie Island. School holidays had not really started so I was still hopeful that I would find dinner. I wanted to fish the run out tide. Low tide would be at 12.40 pm. It had been fairly windy with strong northerlies blowing for the few previous days. Today a strong south-easterly was forecast and it was blowing at about 20 knots from that direction, when I arrived at the Bribie Island Bridge.

I parked on the mainland side and walked out under the bridge.  The new café is now open at the old oyster jetty so there is now plenty of space to observe the fishing opportunities in this area. I don’t think there will be a sudden flood of anglers, as the mud and oyster covered rocks will put all but the diehard flathead hunters off.

I was fishing with my light rod and reel spinning combination. I have swapped back to the NS Blackhole 6′ SGII 602L trout rod. This rod picks up even the slightest of bites and although it does not have any grunt it can handle a good sized flathead. I was using the 2500 size Shimano Stella reel with it. I think the braid on the reel is about 8lb breaking strain Sunline Super PE in the bright green colour. I was using about 1.5m of 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I started fishing with a large GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. After twenty minutes, I had passed the jetty with no bites, so I swapped down to GULP 4” Minnow in the green camo colour. Perhaps I had just found the fish or the change of lure and the fresh scent it contained, woke the fish up, but I almost immediately got a bite. I thought I had the fish hooked but after a couple of runs it was gone. I cast back at the same spot and slowed things down. On about my sixth repeat cast the fish grabbed the soft plastic again. I paused and dropped the rod tip for a few seconds. It took off again and I was sure it was hooked but unfortunately it wriggled off again.

I waded slowly south. Just before I reached the green channel marker, I saw a couple of big squid hovering in the shallows. I cast my plastic at them and managed to hook one through the wing. I slowly pulled it in, relieved that I would at least bring home something for supper.

The tide slowed and then started to run in. The wind made things very tough but I just could not find the fish. I swapped through lots of different shaped and coloured soft plastics but did not stir up any interest.

Finally at about 1.50 pm, with the tide running in and the water very stirred up, I felt an obvious bite. I was now fishing with the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour (probably my all-time favourite flathead soft plastic). This time the jighead pulled home and I reeled the fish in. It was only a 30cm flathead – but at least it was a fish! I photographed it and let it go.

I waded slowly back across the exposed flats. There were soldier crabs everywhere so there is plenty of food for the fish here. I did not see any flathead lies so maybe the persistent northerly winds have blown them off to another spot for a while. The northerlies seem to have flattened out the terrain quite a bit in the last few months. At about 2.30 pm I gave up for the afternoon.

Iluka – Woody Head – 1 October 2014

Wednesday

Many claim it was Einstein who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But there is no evidence that he ever said it, thought it or wrote it.  However as with all good clichés, there is an element of truth in it, especially for fishermen.

For this reason I decided not to return to Middle Bluff on Wednesday morning and to go instead to Woody Head – the next headland to the north. When the swell is light and the tide is low or falling, there are few better fishing spots.

I parked up and walked out on to the rock platform at about 5.00 am. The wind had stayed a northerly and the swell was fairly gentle, but there was still the odd large set of waves coming through. Boots with felt soles or studs, or both are essential, if you intend to venture out here, as is a PFD. The tides ensure almost every surface is a suitable home for green and black slimy weed and the barnacles here are responsible for plenty of long term scar tissue. So it is only relatively safe when the swell is under 1 metre and the tide is about half way out and falling.

It was another magnificent sunrise. I wandered out to the front of the rock platform to a spot called the Barnacles. I rigged up the light rod (NS Blackhole) with 14 lb fluorocarbon leader and ¼ ounce, 1/0 size hook jighead and a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad, in the Curry Chicken colour. I lost the first rig to the rocks – fishing is expensive in this kind of terrain. I rigged up again with the same set up. I cast out and let the jig head sink. I left it as long as I dared and then hopped it in a little closer to the rocks. As I lifted it again I felt it stop and then line started peeling. The fish ploughed off to the south, parallel with the rocks. This was tricky as I could not stay lined up with it for long. I Let it run and then fairly quickly took back some line and tightened the drag a little. It turned but tried to bury itself at the foot of the rocks. It was now weakening but the leader was caught on some rocks and I could feel it rubbing. I loosed the drag right off and waited. Fortunately it swam out and freed the leader. Now I tightened again and pulled it up on the next surge of water. After a couple more waves I had it at my feet. A solid mulloway –  it was 76 cm and legal size in both Queensland and NSW. At last we would have a taste of the fish I had been catching all week and releasing.

I dispatched it, gutted and cleaned it. Then I headed back to the rocks for another try. It had destroyed my last GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad so I put on a 4” Minnow in the Green Camo colour. Back to the same spot – bang, first cast and I have a fish on again. The drag was still set too tight from the final stages of the fight with the last one and after a big initial run, before I realised, it found a rock and snapped me off.  I assume it was another mulloway. I re-rigged and continued fishing for another 30 minutes with no result. The swell was building and the tide rising. So at about 7.45am, I gave up and took my prize back to the cabin.

Bribie – the old osyter jetty flats – 7 June 2014

On Saturday it would be a morning high tide at 3.52 am on Bribie Island. So on past performance the fishing would start to get really good around 7.00 am, which sounded great. I arrived at my usual spot, beside the old oyster jetty, at about 5.45 am. The air was still but it was very cold.  The moon was just into its second quarter, so it would not be a very powerful or big tide.

The water was up to the mangrove roots, so I moved slowly south. I cast a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic, in the Curried Chicken colour, ahead of me, into the shallows, parallel with the shoreline.  There a few sandy patches in this area and they had been covered in flathead lies, the last time I was here, so I peppered the area with casts.

At about 6.30 am just before the sun came over the horizon, I felt a definite bite but did not hook up. I threw the lure back in exactly the same place and slowed things down. After a long pause on the bottom, I slowly lifted the rod and then flicked the tip. I wound in a little line and then repeated the pause. When I lifted the rod, the fish had already grabbed the plastic and it was hooked, instantly. It was a good flathead around 45 cm long. I released it and tried again and was instantly rewarded with another, slightly bigger one.

As the sun rose, I could see lots of small squid and I noticed the pelicans where swimming around picking them off. This might be what has brought the flathead in. I fished around the mouth of the drain that runs off the flats, from the direction of Pebble Beach. I did not get much interest here so I waded out on to the long sand bank, which runs to the south.  I swapped over to a GULP 4” Minnow in the new Green Camo colour. The sand bank was still was covered in water. From here, I cast at a sandy patch that sits about 30 metres directly south of the jetty. As soon as the lure hit the water it was snaffled. After a brief fight, I had another 45 cm flathead swimming beside me.

I released this one and cast straight back into the same spot. This area is always fishy because it is where the water running off the flats meets the water running down the main channel of the Pumicestone Passage. The current flow forms a bit of a depression with a sandy bottom. After a couple more casts I felt a fast solid hit. The rod tip bent over but this fish was faster than a flathead. It took a bit of line in a few quick runs then I saw the flash of silver and realised it was a good sized bream. It had seriously munched the 4” Minnow soft plastic. It was about 33cm long, I tried for another but could not find any. It was now just after 7.00 am.

As the tide ran out I gradually moved closer to the edge of the weed beds. I caught a couple more 35cm flathead on the GULP 4” Minnow and then decided to try something bigger. I loaded my 1/8th 1/0 jighead with a GULP 7” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. This is a very big plastic for a flathead so I flicked it slowly along the bottom with plenty of pauses. I felt a definite bite but struck too soon and probably pulled the plastic out of the fish’s mouth. On the next retrieve I slowed it down even more. In exactly the same spot, I felt the bite and this time I dropped the rod tip and counted to ten. When I lifted it the fish was on. Amazingly, it was a just legal sized 40 cm flathead. I carried on with this soft plastic for a while but I could not catch anymore.

I swapped down the spectrum to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and fished around the same area. I caught a few more flathead that were just undersize. There were clearly plenty around but I had only caught 4 that would have been big enough to keep.

As I pondered what to try next an old timber bibbed minnow floated past. The front eyelet ring had pulled out. It was nice to get one back. I will have to try and fix it up. It was now getting close to low tide and I had to stop for the day.

In summary, the flathead are back in large numbers but they are mostly under 45cm. Size/ type of lure did not make much difference today. Perhaps they have followed the plentiful squid into the shallows.