Bribie Island – the oyster jetty flats – 27 April 2015

Monday

Another big gap between fishing sessions but by the end of April I was back in Brisbane for a few days and the weather was calm, cool and bright. As soon as I had time, I drove up to Bribie Island to see if the flathead where around. March and April always seem to produce plenty of good flathead from the flats around the island.

I hit my favourite spot – the muddy, weedy, sand flats to the south of the old oyster jetty, in front of the Sandstone Point Hotel, which is currently under development. This will be a huge pub when it is finished. I think it is great to see a development that seems to fit in with the natural landscape. My only disappointment was the wholesale removal of the native gum trees behind the mangrove line, to make way for the project. These used to provide a good break when the cold south-westerly winds blow.

I started a little after first light and a bit before dawn at about 6.00 am. I think this short window between getting light and the sun coming over the horizon is an excellent time to fish. The change in light triggers the feeding response and the low intensity means they are bold enough to chase lures and baits into the shallows.

A 2.0m high tide had passed at 4.09 am, so I was fishing the run out tide. The moon was about half full which meant that the tidal flow would not be that significant. There was about 50cm of water at the base of the mangroves, as I waded towards the old oyster jetty.

I was fishing with my very light spin rod – NS Blackhole 6’ SGII 602L Trout rod I picked up in Tumut last year. It is rated for 2 to 8lb line and 2 to 10 gram lures. My beloved Loomis GL2 had a fatal accident in 1770 and the gang at Jones Tackle are seeking out a replacement for me. In the meantime this light, fast action rod is great for flathead, bream and other estuary targets.

It was now about 6.45 am, I had rigged a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead and I was using just over a metre of 10lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader.  I was casting ahead of me in to the shallows. The water was clear but a little cooler than it had been fishing at 1770, a few weeks before. I had just passed the cable crossing warning sign when I felt a faint grab at the soft plastic. I dropped the rod tip and paused but did not entice a strike. I cast back at the same spot and felt the same slight grab. I cast to the right – nothing. I cast to the left – nothing. Then I cast back along the original trajectory and paused with the soft plastic on the bottom, for a good ten seconds. When I lifted it the fish struck. It was a flathead – a little over 50cm. It was good to know persistence pays off.

I waded under the jetty and slowly fished my way to the point where the shoreline turns the corner towards Sandstone Point. I paused here and threw a few casts along the drain that channels the run out tide round the corner and over the flats. I felt a couple mad grabs and swipes and realised that the Long Toms must be snapping at the soft plastic. I could not find a flathead in the drain so I moved on.

I waded along the gradually emerging sand bank until I was almost at the green channel marker. I stuck with the same soft plastic all the way. I then turned back to walk along the edge of the weed beds, in the direction of the jetty.

About half way back to the jetty, I felt a solid hit and paused. When I lifted it, the fish was hooked. It was another, slightly smaller 45cm flathead. I now had two in the bag, but would need at least one more to feed my mob.

I slowly moved north, casting and casting. After another 1 hour I still only had two fish. I was back at the jetty and the water was clear and almost still. It was now about 9.30 am and nearly low tide. I out in a few casts alongside the jetty. On about the third cast a very angry flathead slammed my soft plastic.  I subdued it and carefully pulled it ashore.

That was enough for me. Three fish, four nice fillets from each, that’s twelve good pieces of fish – which makes a very decent family meal. It took 3 hours to catch and about 12 minutes to eat. Good to be back on my home turf.

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Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 25 March 2014

Tuesday

On Tuesday the tide and wind looked pretty good but it was probably going to rain. I could not resist another session at Bribie Island. I wanted to try a more scientific comparison of the GULP and Zman soft plastic lures, in an area where I was pretty sure there are fish. There are numerous problems in trying to measure lure success. However, flathead are a good species to work with, as they often lie around in groups of 4 or more.

I wanted to compare the performance of the Berkley Gulp range with the Zman range. Although the ranges have similar offerings, none of their lures match up, exactly. I decided to compare the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour with the Zman 3.75” Streakz in the Shiner colour. Both have approximately the same profile, although the Zman is a little slimmer. The colours are similar but the Zman is more translucent.

I started with the Zman which I loaded on to a TT Headlockz 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. This set up caught a fish at about 6-15 am. It was a flathead between 50 and 55cm. I cast out again with the same soft plastic and had another hit but no hook up. I decided to give the Zman 10 casts in a semi – circle and then switch to the Gulp and do the same thing. On casts 5, 7, 9 and 10, I got hits but could not hook up with the Zman.

Then I switched to a regular, fine wire, 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and put on the Gulp Minnow. I cast right back at the spot where I had caught the fish on the Zman and hooked another, after a couple of hops. It was another flathead between 45cm and 50cm. I continued to cast into the now fairly shallow water in a semi-circle. At the end of 10 casts the Gulp had caught three more Flathead – all were just under the legal size limit of 40cm.

So on the face of it – it was GULP 4” Minnow that caught more fish. I have mentioned before my theory that the texture of the Gulp soft plastics is much more fish-like than other brands. They also seem to be more porous, so they retain a scent trail for longer than most other soft plastic lures. But I could not see how this could make much difference in this situation. In these circumstances, where the fish are really aggressive in their feeding, they seemed to hit almost every plastic/ hard body that I threw at them – so why was the hook-up rate not as good with the Zmans?

Then I figured it out. I loaded another Zman 3.75” Streakz in the Shiner colour, but this time on the regular TT  finewire, 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. On the first cast I felt the hit, paused and counted to 10. When I lifted the rod the fish was hooked. I kept fishing with the same plastic for a while and I hardly missed a bite, converting about five bites in to fish. I know it is not conclusive proof but it seems that either the TT Headlockz are less sharp or the broader gauge hook required to hold the lock in place, prevents them from penetrating as effectively.

After I finished my experiment I moved to the south of the jetty and I decided to see just how big a soft plastic these flathead will attack. I pulled out a GULP 6” grub in a sardine-like colour. I put it on a Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 2/0 hook jighead. This was the biggest I had, and cast it out. After a few casts, I felt a bite. I paused then struck, but I was not attached. This happened three times, so on the fourth cast, when I felt the bite, I dropped the rod tip for a full count of 15 seconds. When I lifted it I had a flathead, but only a 42 cm long one. The lure was well on its way to the fishes stomach, so I kept it. I would recover the soft plastic later.

I finished the session with the DUO Realis Jerkbait 120 SP – a big hard bodied, suspending minnow. This also soon found the fish. In fact, it found the biggest two fish of the day – both well over 60cm. Just after 9.00 am, the incoming tide pushed me off the target area, so I gave up. The fish are still there and they are still hungry.

Bribie Island – Bongaree and White Patch – 22 August 2013

Thursday

Clear skies and 10 knot south-westerly winds – it would be cold but quite reasonable fishing weather. Low tide would be 4.17 am, about an hour before first light and the moon had been full the day before.

I decided I would start on Bribie Island at the Seaside Museum drain at Bongaree, again. I waded out into the shallows at about 5.30 am and the big moon was still high and bright. There was a cold breeze and a bit of chop on the water.

There were some cormorants swimming around and there were a few surface bust ups, as the sky gradually lightened. I started with a big soft plastic – a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. The water was already running fast – it would be a powerful tide, so close to the full moon. I was back to 8lb fluorocarbon leader, as I genuinely believe fishing light can make a difference when chasing bream – which were the main target.

It did not take long. At 6.15 am I had a solid bite and the fish ran with the lure for about a metre, but then I lost it. A few casts later I hooked another. It must have been sitting just below the edge. It grabbed the lure and ran off to the north, with the current. After a few runs, I got it over the ledge and walked it back to the sand. It was a good bream – over 30 cm. I have not caught large numbers of bream in this spot, this year, but almost all the fish I have caught have been over 30 cm.

The tide was getting too high to fish over the ledge so I opted to switch locations. I grabbed a hot cup of coffee at Scoopys and drove up to White Patch. This time I went up to the north end to fish around the weed beds.

The water was clear and it was well past dawn so I opted for a natural coloured, 2” GULP Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour. I chose a fine wire 1/8th ounce, #1/0 hook jighead and stuck with the 8lb leader. It was now about 8.15 am. I was casting into the incoming tide and hopping the lure back towards me. I would put in about three or four casts from one location, then move a few metres south and repeat the process.

At about 9.00 am I connected with a flathead and got a look at it, but it wriggled off before I could land it. I stayed in the same spot and methodically covered the area with casts. At about 9.15 am I hooked another fish and this time I set the jighead firmly. I pulled it up to the shoreline – it was a keeper flathead at 45 cm. Using the same plastic, same technique, in the same area, I caught another bigger flathead, about 50cm long, ten minutes later.

Five minutes later, I thought I had another small flathead but it was pulling very hard. It put up a tremendous fight and as it came into view I was surprised to see it was a whiting. It was probably the fattest whiting I have ever caught and measured 36cm.

At this point I had the makings of a good fish pie in my bag, so I gave up and went off to clean my catch.

Bribie Island – the Seaside Museum drain and Buckleys Hole – 17 July 2013

Wednesday

New look site – hope you like it.

Things looked pretty good for Wednesday – there was a bit of rain forecast but the wind would be light, turning into a northerly. The moon would be about 65% full and low tide would 0.5m at 9.43am. These are ideal conditions to fish at Bribie Island. Arriving before dawn, I could fish the second half of the run out tide.

I arrived on the island side of the bridge at about 5.30 am. The water was running out pretty fast. I put on my waders and clambered down the rock wall to the south of the bridge. The bridge lights often bring the smaller fish or prawns into this area but there was no evidence of their presence. The water was clear, but there was a fair amount of weed floating around. I tried dark and light, big and small soft plastics but did not get a bite. Just after first light at about 6.00 am I decided to move south.

I drove down to the car park in front of the Seaside Museum. Conditions were perfect – I could see where the fresh water drain was pouring over the ledge into the channel and I positioned myself just south of this point.

I was fishing with my light spin rod and running 8lb fluorocarbon leader down to a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook, jighead. I started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I cast over the ledge, let it sink and bounced it back along the bottom, parallel with the shore. After about three casts, there was a solid bite, then line started peeling. It was slow at first but then it took off, as it realised it was hooked. It took about 10 metres, paused and then took another 10. It was a heavy fish. It turned and swam back towards the ledge. I tried to apply some pressure and lift it over but it put its head down and swam under an overhang. I tightened the drag a little and then slowly dropped the rod tip. As the line slackened, the fish swam out. I put the pressure on again but it went straight back under. I could feel the line rubbing on something and then pffffft – it was gone. When I wound in the line, the jighead and plastic were gone.

I swapped through a few soft plastics and hard bodies as the tide ran out. A small school of Tailor passed through and I lost a couple tails from my lures. I dropped down to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on the same size jighead. On the first cast this soft plastic was hit as it sank. There was a quick initial run, towards me. I tightened the drag and started wading backwards. I did not want the fish to swim back over the ledge. I pulled a little too hard and caught site of a good sized Bream swimming away.

I carried on peppering the area with casts. I made sure I gave the soft plastic plenty of time to sink to the bottom. On a couple of casts I felt a faint bite, as I lifted the lure off the bottom. At about 7.35 am I cast out and paused. When I lifted the rod I felt some resistance. Suddenly line was peeling again. This time it was heading out into the channel. I moved closer to the ledge and gradually recovered some line. It was another slow powerful fish. It gradually tired and as I pulled it over the ledge, I could see it was a Jewfish. It made few more runs but I soon had it safely on the sand. It was about 55cm long. Unfortunately it had completely swallowed the jighead, so I left it in, cut the leader and released it, after a few pictures. I could not find anymore, so I moved on.

I waded to the south, casting along the edge of the drop off. Things were uneventful for about 45 minutes. I was now standing in front of the tidal lagoon at Buckley’s Hole. Suddenly, something grabbed the soft plastic as it dropped into the water. It took off and then let go. I continued retrieving the lure, quickly and just before it reached me, the fish grabbed it again. It jumped around and made plenty of lunges and short runs. It was a small Tailor. As it came over the ledge, it had two other fish following it. It was only about 30cm long but nicely hooked. I picked it up and took a few pictures before releasing it.

Things went quiet so I slowly waded back along the shore line to where I had started. It was now almost low tide and the water was getting dirtier and weedier. I was still using the GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic. At about 9.00 am I was ready to give up. As I speeded up my retrieve to pull the lure clear of the ledge, a fish grabbed it and pulled away. It went straight back over the ledge and headed for the bottom. It took a bit of line but soon calmed down and after a minute or two, I had a nice 36cm Bream to finish the session.

As I drove home the heavens opened again.

Yeppoon – Byfield National Park – Fishing Creek – 4/5 June 2013

Tuesday/ Wednesday

Byfield is a beautiful spot and I spent Tuesday exploring. The wind was a howling south-easterly, all day, so I focused on scouting out some good sheltered spots. I tried the lee side of the headland that I had fished the day before, at the end of Nine Mile Beach. This looks like a great spot but the waves were crashing in and I could not keep my lures in the dirty water. After a few hours, I gave up on the fishing and climbed up the hill.

It looks like the water is generally quite shallow and the sediment that has poured out of the creeks and bays must get stirred up by the wind. I climbed to the top of the hill and surveyed the whole area. There were a few trawlers working just offshore. I concluded this would be an excellent area to fish land-based, so I will be back.

On Wednesday the wind was still up and it had rained heavily overnight. I decided to try fishing one of the shallow creeks that feed into Corio Bay. I chose Fishing Creek, which comes in from the south and drove down Fishing Creek Road until it petered out at a bend in the creek. It was just after high tide at about 7.00 am. There was a small ledge path on the muddy, mangrove lined banks and I squelched my way along it.

The guys at Barra Jacks in Rockhampton had suggested this spot, when I was in there a few days before. They reckoned that crocodiles were very unlikely to be around at this time of year but that I should keep my eyes peeled. That always adds a little excitement to the session!

I was fishing with my light spin rig (Loomis GL2 and Shimano Stradic 2500) and I dropped all the way down to 8lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook, jighead. I decided to stick with natural colours and started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. The water was not too dirty as the tide had just peaked. I dropped the soft plastic up current and bounced it back to me, along the bottom. I cast as close to the bank as I could and gradually lengthened the pauses on the bottom. After about ten casts, I felt a bite and was connected to a fast fish for a few seconds, and then it was gone. I stayed in the same area and after about 10 more casts, I landed a small flathead. A few casts later I found another, it was just under 40 cm.

I continued down the creek towards the estuary. The tide was running out quickly revealing various ponds and channel. I was wet and muddy but the sun was out and I was catching fish, so things were looking up. I concentrated on the patches of deeper water and the caught a steady stream of small flathead, over the next 4 hours. The 3” GULP Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour was the most successful lure of the day. I tried the paddle-tailed Zman Minnowz, in a couple of colours, but did not catch anything on them.

I gradually ran out of water as the creek emptied and at about 12 noon, I turned around and walked back to the car. I caught a couple of fish in the shallow pools on the way back. By the time I reached the car, I had caught 9 flathead – the majority were between 30 and 40 cm long and only two looked like they were big enough to keep.

It had been a much more successful session and had given me confidence that this is a very fishy area, when conditions allow you to get at it.

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.

Brooms Head – Plover Island & Bonito – OOPS! Slimey Mackerel – 23 September 2011

Friday

Crystal clear water at Plover Island


It was to be my last fishing day for a while. I decided to try fishing the rocks at the front of Plover Island, at the mouth of the Sandon River, about 10kms south of Brooms Head in Northern New South Wales. At low tide you can walk across to the sand spit to the Island. The northern side has a number of rocky platforms to fish from. I arrived at about 9.30 am, just before low tide and climbed across a rocky causeway to some really fishy looking water on the northern side.

Plover Island causeway


I started with a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour on a 1/8th 1 jighead. I got a couple of hits on the first cast and on the second, I caught a small Butter Bream. I caught a few more of these and then pulled up a 25cm Tarwhine. I fish this spot again at either dawn or dusk. I moved around to another rocky outcrop and caught a few good sized Pike. I made a mental note to come back and fish this spot again at either dawn or dusk, one day.
For the afternoon session I was back at the Brooms Head lagoon. It would be high tide at about 5.00 pm and decided to clamber along the rock ridge at the eastern end of the Brooms Head lagoon.

Plover Island Tarwhine

I rigged up with the favorite soft plastic of the week –the GULP 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow. It was fairly choppy – with a strong south easterly blowing. Was using a 1/8thoz, 1/0 jighead, my light 7’6” spinning rod and a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. The bottom in this area is covered in rocks and kelp, with a few sandy holes in between. If you fish with heavy sinkers/ jigheads – you are doomed.

I pulled up a couple small speckled, green coloured fish that are common in amongst the rocks – not sure what they are – but they seem to like the soft plastics. Then I caught a strange red finned Wrasse of some kind. Then I found a few Pike – they always seem to hit the lure really close into the rocks, just as you are about to pull it clear of the water.

Big toothed green fish

Then I noticed a big shimmering area on the surface of the water about 50 metres away that was moving towards me – I waited for it to get in range and then cast the soft plastic straight into the middle of it. I got a couple of bumps but no hook ups. I cast out again and retrieved the lure quickly, so that it was swimming just below the surface. I could now see it was a good sized school of Bonito. I cast out again and this time I raced the lure back through the school and hooked up. I land a small Bonito and released it. For the next half an hour I had a great time catching and releasing Bonito, every time the school came in range. It was a decent size school and it circled the area for about 45 minutes before being chased further out by the Dolphins.

Slimey Mackerel school enters the lagoon

Slimey Mackerel on the surface

Slimey Mackerel

And that was my last session at Brooms Head. The variety of fish had been fantastic, even if there had been no real trophy fish. We had managed to catch dinner most days and I was quite happy with the diet of fresh Flathead and sea Bream. The weather gods had been very kind and I plan to be back again at the same time next year.