Evans Head Goanna Headland – 10 Aug 2020

I have always wanted to fish at Evans Head and with a light swell forecast and a mid-morning low tide, Monday looked good. I wanted to fish off the front of Goanna Headland and with a south-westerly breeze this looked possible. I arrived well after sunrise at about 8.00 am and parked in the carpark at Chinamens Beach.

As it would be my first time fishing here I decided to just take my lighter rock fishing rig with me. This is presently the 3.2m Daiwa Crossfire CFS 1062 rod and my Shimano Stella 4000, rigged with 30lb braid and usually a 16lb leader to start off with. I like to look around any new spot with this setup. The relatively light leader will not stop a really big fish but it will also get you more hook ups, so that you can figure out who the local residents are.

I walked around the headland, found a good spot and watched the swell for a while . The water was clear and fairly calm – it was sheltered from the south-westerly wind by the headland. I started with a 1/6th ounce jighead and a GULP 3″ minnow soft plastic in the Watermelon Pearl colour. My second cast was hit hard by a fish that tried to head straight down into the rocks. I tightened the drag and pulled it out, fairly easily. It was a bream about 30 cm long. A found a couple more over the next few casts.

The bream had pretty much destroyed the minnow so I swapped over to a 2″ GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. The tide was rising and starting to wash over the ledge, so I could not stay in this spot for much longer. I cast out and let the plastic flutter down until I felt it was on the bottom. As soon as I lifted it a fish hit. It was bigger and faster than the bream and it pulled quite hard. It tried to take me under the ledge, but soon tired. It was a small silver trevally. I released the fish and cast straight back out. I caught three more small silver trevally in pretty quick succession and then something bigger hit the soft plastic on the drop and took off, straight under the rock ledge. After a few seconds I could feel my leader rubbing and then it snapped – cod, groper, wrasse, bigger bream, snapper or trevally – could have been anything. I re-rigged with a completely new 16lb fluorocarbon leader. This time I tied on a 1/6th ounce jighead but with a bigger size 1/0 hook and loaded it with a GULP 5″ Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour. After a few casts I hooked up again. This time it was another silver trevally – a little bigger than the others.

I had to change spots now so I moved a little south, to fish in a horse-shoe shaped bay. I looked like it was only a few metres deep but there were overhanging rocks on all sides and few bommies in the middle.

I cast the jerkshad out into the middle of the horse shoe mouth and let it sink to where I thought the bottom would be. I then hopped it back towards me. I repeated this for about an hour. I hooked a few small bream. It was now around 1.00 pm. The wind was picking up and turning south-easterly, so it was getting hard to cast straight out in front me. I was casting as close as I could to the overhanging rocks. As I started another retrieve of the soft plastic I felt a quick tug and then a real take. I set the hook and the fish took off. It was not quick like a tailor or trevally. My rod did not really have the power to slow it down but I kept the pressure on. It arched left, then came back to the right and I got some line back. I felt I was making some headway and tightened the drag a little. It arched over to the left again and then felt like it was beaten and was about to pop up. There was not obvious landing spot and just as I was thinking where to drag it to, it turned the thrusters on and took off again. I tried to hold slow the spool a bit with my hand and then I felt the jighead pull out.

I had found a great spot and had a great session. I will be back at dawn or dusk when the swell permits and I am sure I will encounter some great fish.

Bribie – Bongaree and the oyster jetty flats – June 2017

As the water cooled in June I enjoyed a few beautiful clear-skied sessions fishing the flats at Bribie. The back end of the run out tide proved the most productive time to fish and I caught five good sized flathead on several occasions.

I was usually using GULP Jerkshad soft plastics rigged on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead.  I use 10-12 lb fluorocarbon leader and 6’6 light spin rod with a ‘fast’ tip. The mainline is usually a 10 to 12lb breaking strain yellow coloured braid. I used the coloured stuff as it is far easier to see in low light.

The GULP Cajun Chicken and Pearl Watermelon colours were both effective. These two could not be further apart in appearance, which confirms my suspicion that when the flathead are around and feeding, they are not fussy about colour. You just have to cover the ground and find them.

When I swapped down to the smaller 3-inch GULP Minnow and Shrimp shapes I started to catch a few bream. I caught quite a few 30cm + sized fish along the drop off from the coffee rock ledge that runs along the shore in front of the Seaside Museum, at Bongaree.

If I am going to keep fish to eat. I kill them on capture and then remove the guts in the saltwater as soon as I finish fishing. I then put the gutted fish in an esky full of ice for the drive home. I then transfer to the fridge overnight and fillet them the next day. I then use a vacuum sealer, to bag the fish into family meal size portions and refrigerate. I find that flathead prepared in this way still tastes very fresh up to 12 days post capture. Not cleaning the fish in fresh water makes a big difference to both the flavour and texture, so avoid it if possible.

June was a good month to be out there.

Bribie & Mooball Creek – fishing the shallows – May 2017

May saw me out on the flats in front of the Sandstone Point hotel at Bribie Island wading in the shallows. Winter took a long time to arrive and the water styed stubbornly warm all through the month.

The flounder arrived to supplement the flathead and the odd bream. I fished with my light spinning rod and reel, 10lb fluorocarbon leader and generally GULP Jerkshad soft plastics in various colours on 1/8th 1/0 jigheads. I filled a bag with five keeper size flathead in the run up to the new moon on the run out tide.

I also continued my search for fish around Pottsville and found a few tiny flathead and Bream in Mooball Creek. These grabbed the smaller soft plastic minnows.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 16 October 2016

Sunday

We had had some wild weather through the end of the week in Queensland. A strong south-easterly had been blowing since Wednesday and fishing would have been pretty difficult. This was a shame as it was the run up to the full moon which is usually a good time to fish in the Pumicestone Passage.

Sunday was full moon and a very low 0.11m low tide had passed at 3.11 am.  I arrived and to start fishing in the dark at about 4.15 am. The water was still not really moving at this stage and there was lots of strap weed floating about. There was a pause in the strong winds with a change in direction, to north-easterly forecast in the late morning.

I was fishing with my G.Loomis SJR 6400 Rod. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. After an hour this had not produced a bite so I swapped soft plastics to the Lucky Craft Mad Scientist Swimming Shad in the Ayu colour. These are fantastic soft plastic lures with a long streamline body and an enormous beating paddle tail.

Just after dawn at about 5 .15 am I felt the bite, paused and then struck. The hook held and I soon had a 45cm flathead swimming around me. There is plenty of fish left in our fridge so I released it.

Soon after dawn the tide started running in very quickly and I caught another flathead almost at the at green channel marker. It was a big slow fish and it initially swam towards me. Then it took off on on the first of three long runs after which it seemed content to be towed in to the shallows. It settled on the sand covered in water and buy lining it up against my rod, I could see it was over over 80cm long.  I tried to pull it on to sand to unhook, but 10lb leader snapped, and it swam off.

It was Sunday morning and the wash from the constant flow of boats heading out into the bay made the water very murky. I tied on a new jig head and loaded it with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I waded back towards the bridge.  Just to the south of the old oyster jetty hooked and dropped two more flathead.

Finally, casting around just north of bridge, I caught one more flathead. It was just about 40cm long. At 6.30 am with the wind rising, I gave up for the day.

Bribie – The oyster jetty flats and Bongaree – 6 October 2016

Thursday

October saw some good fishing on the Bribie Island sand flats. On Thursday the wind was forecast to be a west south-westerly at 10 to 15 knots, easing off through the morning. It was a fairly cool 13 degrees when I arrived to start fishing at about 5.15 am. Low tide would be at about 5.45 am. The moon was a waxing crescent and six days old.

I started fishing on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage under the bridge. The sun was just coming up. There was lots of bait in the shallow water under the bridge. I waded to the south and saw a school of small tailor swim through. There were also lot of small garfish, herring, mullet and long toms around.

I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour. On a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using about a metre of 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied on to the Aldi 8lb yellow braid, which I now have on most of my reels.

I dropped a couple of flathead close to the new floating pontoon then steadily started catching legal sized fish, just to the south of the jetty. In 30 minutes I had filled my bag with five good fish and then caught a couple more, which I released.

As the tide slowed I waded back to the car and crossed the bridge to fish the start of the run in tide at Bongaree. I started fishing on the sand flats in front of the fresh water lagoon at Buckley’s Hole and soon found a 45 cm flathead. I waded north along the shore towards the seaside museum drain and found a deep gutter close to the shore that was filling quickly. As I walked along beside it, a couple of decent flathead went flying off.

I moved back a little and put in a couple of casts. After a few tries I felt the solid bite of another flathead. I pulled it ashore and released it. It was about 55cm long. As I released it, a small eagle ray glided past in the shallows. A few moments later I heard a loud slap, as it flew out of the water and landed just behind me.

At about 10.00 am I retired to breakfast with and esky full of flathead. It had been a great morning of fishing.

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 oyster jetty flats – 21 August 2016

Sunday

I was back in Brisbane and for once jetlag was quite useful. I kept waking up early so on Sunday I decided to drive up to Bribie for a fish. I arrived at about 6.00 am, just after first light. The first thing that struck me was the enormous floating pontoon that has been attached to the end of the old oyster jetty. It is a pretty imposing structure. It was a couple of days after full moon and the water was still. There was virtually no wind.

I put on a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ chicken colour. I was fishing with my LOX Yoshi 7’6” rod, Shimano Stella 2500, 10lb braid, and a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The tide had been low at about 5.30 am and it was just turning in.

I cast around under the new pontoon and had one good bite but I could not set the hook. I moved under the jetty. The first fish of the day was sitting in the shallows just to the south of the jetty. It swiped at my lure on a slow retrieve but I did not hook. I cast back in the same spot 4 more times before it decided to bite again and this time I got it. It was a solid 55 cm flathead.

 

I continued south, fishing with the same lure. After about 30 minutes I caught another flathead, a little smaller than the first. I carried on to the south and caught one more flathead, in front of the big sandbank, which was about 45cm long.

By about 9.00 am the incoming tide was pushing me back from the edge of the weed beds, so I gave up for the day.

Bribie Island – Bongaree – 8 January 2013

Tuesday

High tide at Bribie Island would be at 6.20 am. Conditions were still but the fires were getting going on the north side of the island and there was a strong charcoal smell and a hazy sky. I started at about 5.00 am.

I waded around on the sand flats beside the drain in front of the Seaside Museum and tried fishing with just about everything I had in my lure box.

The water was fairly clear and there was plenty of bait around. I cast over the broken ground with soft plastics and hard bodied lures, but I could not raise a bite.

At about 7.40 am I caught a 30 cm Flathead on a GULP Lime Tiger Jerkshad. I fished on for another hour but caught nothing.

The fishing in this area is definitely challenging at the moment!

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 7 January 2013

Monday

The fishing was still tough but I had found fish in one location, so that is where I returned on Monday. It was a pretty high high tide at 2.4m, at about 7.30 am. I started fishing the last of the run in at about 5.45 am.

I waded south from the bridge, casting parallel with the edge of the mangroves into about a metre of water. I started with a suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow lure, as I am convinced a big flathead would happily attack one, in the right conditions. Unfortunately these were not the right conditions and this one came up covered in weed on each cast. I gave up swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, rigged on a 1/8th 1/0 NITRO Saltwater Pro jighead with OWNER hooks.

There is a quite a range of NITRO stock in most shops and over the years it seems to have been called all sorts of different things. Basically, I like their jigheads that have black OWNER hooks (thin) and don’t much like their jigheads that have silver hooks (thick).

Jig head selection can be important when the fish are fussy. Generally, the less metal that is sticking out of the plastic the better – especially when you are fishing in the estuaries. This needs to be balanced with strength requirements.But as long as your drag is set correctly and you can be patient – even the softer (cheaper)hook styles will safely pull in very big fish.

I waded further south past the jetty, towards the drain that runs off the Sandstone Points flats. This often holds a few fish. I stayed close to the mangroves and cast round in a semi-circle, retrieving my lure slowly and methodically. Just before 7.00 am I found my first fish of the day – a solid 50cm Flathead. I released it and fished on.

The tide was running out now and unfortunately it was taking even more weed with it. I carried on fishing the drain area as I was sure there would be more fish there. At about 7.20 am I connected with another, slightly smaller Flathead, but it wriggled free before I could photograph it. At 7.25 am, I either caught it again, or caught another one, about the same size. I took this one back to the Mangroves to photograph and release. It was another handsome fish, just under 50cm.

By now the weed and wind were again making things difficult and although the tide run and the water level were ideal, it was just impractical to carry on. That’s fishing – too many variables. Just when you think it’s all falling into place some element of the environment changes and its back to the drawing board.

Bribie Island – the oyster jetty flats and Whitepatch – 2 January 2013

Wednesday

Flushed with the success of New Years Day, I invited a friend to come and fish the flats around Sandstone point with me on Wednesday morning. Andre is the perfect fishing companion. He comes well prepared, does not talk much, always pays for the coffee, but most importantly – he wants to catch fish.

It may sound odd but when you say you are a fisherman almost everyone seems to think you are in desperate need of company. Wives in particular, are constantly volunteering their husbands to go fishing with you. I think the problem might be that the annual ‘fishing trip’ away with the lads rarely yields any fish – this is because it is primarily a drinking trip. Perhaps the wives are thinking after 12 years of buying new gear, going to Fraser and coming back with 4 small dart and a shocking 3 day hangover, their husbands need some tips!

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When I fish with Andre we have none of that ‘well it was a beautiful morning even though we did not catch anything” nonsense. The focus is on the fishing. However I have noticed that it is often a lot harder to find and catch fish when you are with someone else. Perhaps you over plan or analyse or maybe the two of you and wading and casting causes more disturbance either way today was not easy fishing.

It started very well – we waded out under the bridge on to the exposed mud flats on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, at about 4.30 am. The tide was running out but was just slowing. The sun was not yet over the horizon and the air was still and warm. The south easterly that had been blowing up until the day before, had died away. Low tide would be at 5.52am. We waded down along the exposed sandbank to a point about half way between the old oyster jetty and the green channel marker – where I had caught plenty of fish the day before. The only real difference was that we would be fishing the last of the run out tide, whereas the day before, I had caught most of my fish on the beginning of the run in.

I rigged up with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead, 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I cast the soft plastic at the edge of the weed beds and a fish hit it almost as soon as I lifted it off the bottom. It was a nice 45cm flathead. A few casts later I pulled up a sub 40cm flathead which released itself before I could get a picture. Then, a little while later Andre pulled in another fish that was just about 40cm.

We gradually waded north as a couple of boat based anglers slowly electric motored right along the line of the edge of the weed banks. We carried on towards the old oyster jetty. I swapped to a Minnow in the smelt colour and caught another sub 40cm flathead. On the bottom of the tide the weed started to lift and made the fishing difficult so we decided to switch locations.

We drove up to the north end of Whitepatch and waded around on the edge of the drop off, trying to rustle up some more fish, but we could not find anything. Eventually the weed problem also arrived there on the incoming tide, so we gave up for the day.

Wreck Rock – Deep Water National Park 1770 – 13 May 2011

Friday

Having seen the Tuna working just offshore, all afternoon the day before, at both Wreck Rock and Flat Rock, I decided to spend dawn on Friday casting slugs from the southern tip of Wreck Rock. The tides where getting bigger in the run up to the full moon. Low tide would be at 11.10 am, so there would be plenty of water close into the rocks, at dawn.

The south end of Wreck Rock at dawn

The southern tip of the Wreck Rock bay has a couple of rocky outcrops and submerged bommies. At low tide there is only about a metre of water in front of them, but at high tide, this can increase to almost 4 metres. South of these rocks is a long, almost completely uninterrupted beach ( Rules Beach), that runs all the way down to the mouth of Baffle Creek. At the moment, the big seas and storms through the summer months have created a very steep, sloping beach with a few nice wholes and gutters. This means there is good deep water on high tide, all along this section.

Looking south from Wreck Rock - towards the mouth of Baffle Creek

It was another bitterly cold morning, the sky was crystal clear, but there was a light south-westerly wind blowing. As the sun came up I was casting a 90g slug from the rocks. I then tried a River to Sea – Dumbbell Popper and various heavy blades and big hard bodies. I could not interest the fish. I could see the Tuna, in small groups, smashing into the bait fish and the birds diving in to get a free breakfast, but they stayed at least 800m away the whole time.

Wreck Rock bay - just after dawn


I switched from the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood rod, which I use for slugs and poppers, to the light spin rod and rigged a soft plastic on a ¼ oz 1 jighead. I chose the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. After about 30 minutes I had caught two tiny Dart and a Long Tom. At about 8.30am I headed back into my camp to thaw out with a hot cup of tea and some breakfast.

Mackerel, Trevally, Tailor and a few reef species all cruise around these rocks at the southern end of Wreck Rock bay


I considered my options and spoke to another keen fisherman who was camped nearby. He too had seen the Tuna and was planning to spend the day casting slugs at them. As low tide approached I decided to head out the rocks on the southern tip of Wreck Rock bay. The Tuna were there but always just out of reach. They would swing in tantalizingly close and I would cast slugs at them then they were gone again. As the tide dropped I moved as far as I could out onto the exposed rocks to the south. I cast out at about 45 degrees to the shoreline and as my slug landed a huge circle of bait scattered around it. Then ‘zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ….fftt’ and the fish was gone. I wound the line back in and it looked like a clean bite through the 40lb leader. I presumed it was a Mackerel or some other toothy species. I rigged a wire trace and carried on, but after twenty more casts I was still without a decent fish.

The bait that shelters around this bommy at Wreck Rock, attracts all sorts of predators

I switched from the slug rod to the light spin rod again and rigged a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I wanted to cast a bit of distance, but I also wanted to make sure the lure wafted around in the strike zone for as long as possible. I settled on a ¼ oz 2/0 jighead and downgraded to 16lb fluorocarbon leader. First cast was hit on the drop but then the fish dropped it. Third cast and I had a solid hook up. The fish took line in a couple of fast blistering runs then swam round in front of the rocks into a good position. On the next surge I tightened the drag and pulled it up to my feet (getting soaked in the process). Then I grabbed the leader and pulled the fish clear. It was a Giant Trevally around 50cm – no monster, but a decent fish. Cold and wet, I decided I had enough – it was just after noon.

Finally a decent fish - 50cm GT at Wreck Rock

As always when fishing an area that you have not been to for a while, you need to spend a few sessions figuring out what works and where the fish are. It was my fourth day and I finally felt I understood when and where to concentrate. I headed back to camp for some fish cleaning.