Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 20 December 2013

Friday

I was beginning to get fed up with the Christmas madness. Every time I have dropped into the supermarket in the last fortnight, there have been people stuffing trolleys with food that will surely end up in the bin in ten days – bags of assorted nuts in their shells, icing sugar dusted Stollen logs, massive hams & huge frozen turkeys, those huge square Italian sponge cakes that taste like cardboard and enough mangoes and cherries to sink a battleship.

Big W / Target / Kmart and the rest have crammed aisle upon aisle with cheap, useless crap that nobody wants or needs. Buckets of Margarita mix (without the alcohol), Brut deodorant combined with bonus Brut aftershave in a gift pack (not sure it really is a bonus). There are enough bath salts, crystals, foams, creams, milks, lotions, serums and bombs to make Wivenhoe Dam fizz. In almost every case, the packaging probably cost several times as much as the rubbish inside it. I am half expecting to see the old ‘soap on a rope’ make a comeback.

Only fishing could lift my spirits. I decided to set the alarm and fish the morning low tide at Bribie. The bottom of the tide was 4.24 am, just after first light and just before dawn. There was a slight northerly wind forecast. It was three days after the full moon. I chose the flats on the mainland side of the bridge, as these have been fishing well.

I arrived about 4.15 am and then waded out to the area south of the old oyster jetty, where the flathead have been hiding. I started with the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Watermelon Pearl colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and was using my usual 10lb fluorocarbon leader and G.Loomis TSR light spinning rod. The water was still and the sky was cloudy. I was about level with the end of the jetty, where there are a number of sandy hollows, amongst the thick weed.

At about 4.40am, I caught my first flathead. It was just under 40 cm. I released it and then I cast into the same hollow and caught another. This one was bigger – perhaps 45cm. I couple of casts later; I caught another, about the same size. I had another fish on my line from this spot, but it spat my jighead on the surface.

I moved on to the next hollow and decided to change colours. I chose the orange and yellow GULP Orange Tiger Jerkshad. At about 5.30 am this did the trick and I had another flathead. It was also about 45cm.  It had chewed through the plastic, so I replaced it with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I kept moving towards the south. The tide was starting to run in now. At 5.40am, I caught another small flathead – approximately 35cm long. The sky had turned grey not long after sunrise and now I could see the rain clouds coming towards me. It started spitting and then really raining but it was only a short shower.

I fished along the edge of the weed beds for another hour without a bite. At about 8.00 am another shower was threatening so I gave up. The best action has definitely been around dawn in the last few sessions – not good news if you like sleep!

Bribie – under the bridge – 28 February 2013

Thursday

Midweek, the rain was easing off, but we have had so much that the estuaries and Moreton Bay are a muddy mess. Thursday morning looked like it might be worth a fish.

Full moon had passed on Tuesday and I expect the jewfish would be cruising around in the dirty water. Unfortunately, it would be a low tide around dawn. This would mean the water would be at its dirtiest at the optimum fishing time.

I decided to return to where I had caught fish last week – the flats around the old oyster jetty, just south of the Bribie Island bridge, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. I know I fish here a lot but it has been one of the most consistent fish producing spots for me over the years.

As I left Brisbane just after 4.00 am, it was drizzling. Then as I got on to the highway it really started chucking it down. Fortunately it was just a passing shower and I arrived at Bribie at about 5.00 am, just after low tide. I rigged up, pulled on the waders and wandered out under the bridge, in the dark.

The tide was a low low – about 0.4 m, because of the moon phase. The water’s edge was a long way from the mangroves. It was cloudy but the black sky was just beginning to turn grey in an attempt to signal dawn. The water was like milky tea in the shallows, but there was a bit of bait jumping around and the occasional prawn skittering across the surface.

When the water is as dirty as this I have no idea which colour soft plastic to go with. A hard bodied lure with a rattle or vibe would probably be best, but this area is very rocky, so that would have to wait. I decided to try a GULP jerkshad in the white colour on a 1/8 th oz, 1/0 jighead. It was tied on with 10 lb fluorocarbon leader.

On the first cast I felt a bump and saw a bit of movement behind the lure, in the water. I cast back in the same location and on the first hop, I had a fish. I could not figure out what it was. It was quite heavy and slow but made a few quite powerful quick runs – maybe it was a soapie jewfish or a ray. There are a number of oyster covered boulders in this spot so I took my time. It tired pretty quickly and I dragged it safely on to the mud. I was fairly surprised to see a stonker Luderick at my feet.

As most fisho’s will know Luderick are a largely vegetarian fish who prefer to eat green string and other weeds. They will also sometimes take live yabbies. They have tiny mouths and are usually targeted using weed, tiny hooks and very light leaders, under floats. This one was very hungry or perhaps, very confused by all the rain. It was a good fish and it later weighed in at a little over 1.5 kg.

I cast around this area in the shallows with a variety of soft plastics – big and small. I felt a few more touches as the sun poked over the horizon, but I did not hook up. I waded further south, casting as I went. There were more attacks, probably from the small moses perch or bream that hang around here. I passed under the jetty as the tide started to run in.

The hardest thing about wading in such dirty water is that you cannot see any contours on the bottom. I am always looking for the edge of weed beds or the small humps and channels that are dotted around this area. In these conditions you are just casting at where you think they are. Sometimes the surface movement of the water will help you but really, you just have to keep prospecting with long casts and slow retrieves.

The tide was now running in strongly but there was not much debris or weed floating by. I swapped to my DUO Ryuki Spearhead 45s. It’s a small sinking hard body that has been catching plenty of fish for me lately. I particularly like this gold/ green coloured one. It is looking a bit battered as it is rapidly becoming my favourite – that usually means its days are numbered! I was now casting over the sea grass so I had to keep the lure moving. I could only pause momentarily, to allow the fish to strike, every few seconds. The lure kept catching clumps of sea-grass on the bottom, but that just proved I was at the right depth – just off the bottom. At about 6.45 am the skies had clouded over again and it looked like it would rain yet again. I persisted with the hard body and thought I had a few knocks. I was about to swap back to a soft plastic when I felt some resistance and saw a splash. I lifted the rod tip and the lure caught in the mouth of a small flathead – just under 40 cm long.

I released the fish and decided to swap back to a soft plastic lure. I tied on a GULP jerkshad in the orange tiger colour. A paddle tail soft plastic might have been better in these conditions but I did not have one with me. I continued south, wading against the incoming tide, towards the green channel marker. I was soaked by another shower. The water was running in fast but it was no cleaner. I was casting towards the middle of the Passage and bouncing the soft plastic along the bottom until I felt it hit the edge of the weed beds. At about 7.10 am I felt a fish snatch the plastic and take off on a short run before dropping it. I stayed put and spent the next five minutes peppering the same area with casts. As I paused on one of the retrieves I felt a small hit, then a proper bite. I dropped the rod tip, then struck. It was another flathead. When it emerged from the cloudy water I could see it was only about 35cm long.

I was wet through and there was clearly more rain on the way. I trudged back to the car, dreaming of crystal clear waters and sunny skies. If you are prepared to get wet and fish blind there are things to catch – but it is not much fun at the moment.

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole lagoon and south of the oyster jetty – 16 June 2011

Thursday

I could not resist another Flathead session – so I set off for Bribie Island bright and early around 4.45 am. I had checked the lunar phase and saw that the moon was full on Wednesday. When I walked out to the car it looked like a half-moon in the sky. As I drove up to Bribie, I switched on the radio and heard that we were in the midst of a lunar eclipse. By the time I arrived at the car park by Buckley’s Hole, the moon was almost completely in shadow, with just a faint red glow marking its outline. It was now about 5.45 am and the tide was a couple of hours into the run-in phase.

At first light I waded around the mouth of the lagoon, casting out, over the drop off into the Pumicestone Passage. Small bait fish schools kept breaking the surface – running away from something. I was fishing with the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead, with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Every time there was a surface break, I cast at it and just on dawn, I caught a small Bream. I carried on for another hour and got a couple more good bites from Bream or Tailor but then the marauding Dolphins arrived and had a good rummage around in my fishing spot.

There was now too much water to fish over the drop off so I decided to move over to the other side of the Passage where I could also get out of the wind, which was building up from the west. So I parked beside the bridge on the mainland side and waded along south past the old oyster jetty. Things were very quiet through to high water at around 10.00am. I didn’t register a bite for about four hours. I waded all around the area trying different soft plastic lures and experimenting with different jighead weights.

Finally as the tide turned and really started running out I caught a few Pike and then at noon I caught a decent Flathead on a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Curry Chicken colour, rigged on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. It was around 54cm – Flathead number one. I carried on wading south along the big sandbank to the south of the jetty. Ten minutes later, I caught a smaller, just legal Flathead on the same lure – Flathead number two. I was casting along the edge of the weed beds into the clear sand and jogging the lure back along the bottom.

I switched to a GULP 5” Jerkshad on the Orange Tiger colour. After a couple of casts there was a good solid bite and a fish slowly swam off with the lure. I counted to ten and then set the hook and at that point – it took off with around ten or twelve metres of line. I slowly walked back towards the sandbank, maintaining the bend in the rod and getting line back as it swam towards me. It was a really solid fish and it made about four more big runs. Eventually it started to tire and I tightened the drag a little, to pull it up on to the sand bank. The leader snapped as I pulled it clear of the water but it was safely on the sand. It was a good size female at around 68cm – Flathead number three.

I waded back out to the same area and after a few more casts I was on to another fish. Again it did not initially realise it was hooked. It made a few small runs and then really went crazy with head shakes and tail slaps and solid long runs. It was safely hooked through the jaw and after another long slow walk back to the sand bank; I pulled it up on to the shore. This was another quality fish at about 73cm long – Flathead number four.

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As the tide ran out further I moved even further south, over the weed beds. I was still using the Orange Tiger Jerkshad. It did not take long, less than ten minutes, in fact, before I had another good fish. This time it was another very respectable Flathead at 62cm – Flathead number 5.

It had ended as a fantastic session but from 5.30 am through to noon all I had caught were a ‘just legal’ Bream and a couple of Pike. I am not sure if the fish were only biting on the run out tide or whether it just took a long time to find them. It was a good feeling to head back to the car with a heavy keeper bag. I was completely knackered but as always, it was worth it!