Bribie – the old oyster jetty to the channel marker – 21 April 2014


I am disappointed to report that once more the curse of paid employment has slowed down my posting and fishing. If the current government has its way, I shall be doing more work, for a lot longer than I had planned. I understand that when the pension was first introduced around 1910, the qualifying age was 65 and life expectancy was 58. So it was the ultimate healthy lifestyle bonus. Rarely did the government have to pay out for more than a few years. Now, most of us will get to our mid 80’s (especially if we eat plenty of fish). So we nearly all qualify for some portion of state funding for 15 years or more. Someone has to pay for it and the woeful performance of most people’s superannuation fund managers, means they will not be making much of a contribution. It’s a mess and it can only mean one thing – the current Australian age pension is probably as good as it will ever be.  So next time you see someone with more grey hair than you, whingeing about the cost of bait, remember you will be working long after they put their feet up, so ask them to shout you a beer. Of course, I can’t imagine who will employ me when I am 65 but that’s a whole another can of worms.

That’s enough social commentary. I was keen to see if the flathead glory days of early March would return. I drove up to Bribie on Monday, to fish the run out tide, which would be low at 8.00 am. It was still school holidays and during my last few visits, there has been plenty boat traffic. The wind has been changing between a light south-easterly and a northerly, with the occasionally cool westerly appearing, in the early morning. On Monday, it was light and cool from the south west. The overnight westerlies will start to bring the water temperature down quite quickly, if they persist. We were about half way between the full and the new moon.

I started in the dark and decided to head straight to the area to the south of the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. My last few sessions through the Easter Holidays had produced some quality fish, but the numbers were thinning out.  I decided to fish with neutral/ natural coloured soft plastics, just in case the fish were getting picky. I started with a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. I loaded it on to a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead.  It was 5.30 am and the sky was just beginning to turn orange along the horizon. I cast the plastic a long  way out and after two hops, I felt a good bite. Then the line went slack. I wound up the slack and suddenly, I was in contact with a fish again. It was swimming towards me but now it turned away. As it pulled away, the hook struck home and it took off with a blistering first run. I gradually subdued it, but it was powerful and angry and this area has a big patch of rocky bottom, close to the shore, so I took it slowly. After a few minutes, I pulled the fish on to the sandy beach. It was a big female, just under 70 cm. After a few pictures, I let her go.

The sun came up and I waded further south, following the falling tide. It was pretty quiet and it was not until 6.25 am, that I got another bite. I had swapped to the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and hooked another slurping, grunting, spiny puffer fish. I pushed it off the hook and continued fishing. I then caught a couple of undersized flathead in quick succession. Then things went quiet again. I swapped to a longer GULP Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour and this soon attracted a few bites. About 10 minutes after the change, I caught a big (35cm) pike. I was now about half way to the green channel marker.

The water slowed and I turned back towards the jetty. At about 7.20 am I caught an almost legal size flathead, which I released. It was getting frustrating. By low tide at 8.15 am, I found myself back beside the old oyster jetty. I had swapped back to the Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I put in a few last casts and then bang, a big fish grabbed the Shrimp soft plastic, just as it landed. The fish was lying in no more than 20 cm of water. It was big and powerful and as it was so near the surface, it immediately started shaking its head. It ran hard but after about four good runs, it was spent. I waded through the soft muddy weed and pulled it ashore. It was another 70 cm model, or perhaps it was the one I caught earlier. It looked a very different colour in full daylight, but you never know.

I had caught some good fish but I had released them all. It may be time to fish somewhere else for a while.

Yeppoon – Fishing Creek – 14 November 2013


It would be my last chance to fish in Yeppoon, for a while. The wind had been blowing hard, so I decided to give Fishing Creek a look.I arrived at about 8.30 am but I had misjudged the tide. It was a big high and it would be a while before it ran out enough for me to proceed down the creek. I fished around the top end and saw a fair amount of bait moving around, but did not catch anything. The combination of a strong north-easterly wind and the big tide had stirred the water up, so I could not see much.

By about 9.30 am the water level was dropping fast and I could walk down the creek towards Corio Bay. I was using my new G.Loomis TSR Ultralight 6′ 7″ rod. It needed to catch a fish, to settle its nerves and I thought it would be fairly easy to find a flathead for it, in this creek. I waded down the creek for an hour, stopping at a every bend and sand bar, but I could not find a fish.

I liked the feel of the rod and its very sensitive tip. I gradually got used to the feel of the 1/8th ounce jighead hopping along the sand corrugations, on the bottom. I lost plenty of jigheads to the trees and snags, as I got used to casting with the slightly longer rod. At about 11.00 am I reached a bend in the creek where a big drain rounds a sand island and empties out into the main channel. The fast flowing water has carved some deepish holes and exposed the mangrove roots.

I thought there must be a fish here. I put on a GULP 5″ Jerkshad soft plastic, in the natural, Peppered Prawn colour and loaded it onto a 1/8th ounce, size 2/0 hook jighead. I cast around the mouth of the drain, still looking for a flathead, without any luck. I turned my attention to the eddies, at the foot of the mangroves on the other side of the channel. After about three casts at these roots, the line pulled tight about halfway back across the channel and a fish took off with the soft plastic. The rod bent right over and absorbed the initial smash, then line started peeling. I could feel the tail beats of something fast.

It kept making for the mangrove roots but I gradually subdued it. When I caught sight of it, it was a trevally – about 40cm long. It is amazing how powerful these fish can be when they have a strong current to run with. It took a while but I pulled it up on to the sand and took a few pictures.

The rod was off the mark but I could not find any more fish. With the north-easterly now almost gale force, I gave up just before noon.

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Rockhampton – Fitzroy River – 11-13 November

Monday to Wednesday

I would be in Rockhampton for most of the week. I wanted to put in a few sessions fishing the town reaches of the Fitzroy River. It’s now closed season for barramundi, but I am told there are all sorts of other things to catch on lures and soft plastics. Monday evening was hot, still and humid – perfect fishing conditions. It looked like it was about to rain and the mosquitoes and midges were buzzing in my ears, as soon as I got out of the car.

I had chosen to fish on the north side of the river, close to the base of the railway bridge. The grass is head high here, but there are a few tracks through it. I think its best not to think too hard about what might be lurking in the long grass at dusk. I always wear boots and long sleeves and trousers in this kind of terrain.

By the time I reached the waters edge I was soaked in sweat. The water was fairly murky but the locals I spoke with said this was about as clean as the salty part of the river ever gets. Once the rain started it would get much murkier.

It was about 5.30 pm and the sun was dropping fast. There was plenty of bait around and every now and then, a predator would send tiny fish flying in all directions. High tide would be just before 6.00 pm and the water was not moving very fast.

I was fishing with the Berkley IM6 Dropshot GEN IV 6’6″ Light spin rod. I had it rigged with 14lb fluorocarbon leader and had put on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and a GULP 2″ Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I felt a few nudges and as it got dark the plastic was grabbed by a fish which took for a short powerful run, then dropped it.

Fishing the Fitzroy River at dusk

Fishing the Fitzroy River at dusk

A couple of casts later it must have come back around and this time it did not hesitate. It took off with the soft plastic heading for mid-stream. Almost immediately the fish jumped clear of the water and initially I thought it was a large Tarpon. On the second jump I got a better look and realised it was not a Tarpon. On the third jump I got a really good look at it because it jumped out of the water and up on the bank next to me. It was a giant herring. It thrashed around while I took a few photos and then with one final jump spat the lure and landed back in the water – a very tidy catch and release.

Fitzroy River giant herring

Fitzroy River giant herring

It was now 6.30 pm and very dark, so I decided it was time to get out of the long grass and head for a cool shower. Over the next few nights, I swapped sides of the river and fished through dusk, under the bridges through the high tide. I caught a few grunter and a few tarpon. I connected with another giant herring but failed to land it. I also had a couple of bite offs which could have been anything. I found the natural coloured peppered prawn and banana prawn plastics worked best.

Grunter bream on a GULP Peppered Prawn Jerkshad

Grunter bream on a GULP Peppered Prawn Jerkshad