South Ballina – Richmond River – Flathead – December 2018

In December I did not get a lot of time to fish. The weather was windy and so when I did get time for a session it was not on the headlands or beach. I drove down to the Richmond River at Ballina and decided to fish the shallows on the south side, near the river mouth. There are good tidal sand flats – lined by oyster covered rocky shore and mangroves.

I waded around with a light spin rod, 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a few of my favorite soft plastic lures. I generally used a 1/8th ounce, size 2 hook jighead loaded with a small 3 inch GULP Minnow or Shrimp shaped soft plastic. I was fishing the run out tide through the middle of the day. I did not have very high expectations but its is always good to explore for the early morning and dusk sessions, which are when I am most likely to catch supper.

My session started with a couple small bream in close to the shoreline. As I waded around and the tide headed for low, I started to catch small flathead. I caught about 8 in a few hours but only one would have been just about legal size. So they were all released today.

In summary this looks like it will be a productive spot in the cooler months and I will definitely be back to fish it.

Bribie Island – Flathead and Pike – July 2018

In mid-July I had a great winter afternoon fishing session at my favourite old stomping ground – the flats of the Pumicestone Passage at Bribie Island. It was a beautiful clear afternoon and the tide would be running out. I waded out to the north of the Bribie bridge, to a point where the water was about waist deep. I was fishing with a 2 metre long 12lb fluorocarbon leader and a fast action 6’6” spinning NS Blackhole spinning rod. I was using a GULP 4“Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour which I loaded on to a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead.

I cast in a semi-circle to the north of me. The tide was running out and I hopped the soft plastic along the bottom with two or three second pauses between each hop. The idea was to make my lure look like a wounded/ drunk baitfish wobbling along the bottom with the run-out tide. After about three casts the strategy worked, and I felt the solid thud of the flathead bite. I dropped the rod tip for a few seconds then pulled it up and set the hook. I let it take some line and the fast action rod absorbed its initial lunges. I slowly walked it back the beach under the bridge where a handy Woolworths shopping trolley provided a good spot to unhook it. It was about 47cm long and would be dinner.

I carried on the technique moving south under the bridge and caught 4 more flathead through the afternoon.  Of these two were just under 40 cm and one was a little bigger. I also hooked a couple of pike who seemed to be hanging around over the weed beds.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 11 October 2016

Tuesday

Monday had been pretty good so I decided to go back up to Bribie on Tuesday morning. Low tide would be about an hour later, at 10.30 am. There was not much tidal flow as the moon was not really doing much. This time I chose the oyster jetty flats on the mainland sided of the Pumicestone Passage.

It was another hot, clear morning but with a little more northerly wind, when I arrived at about 8.00am. I was still fishing with my short, fast action G.Loomis trout rod and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and put on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour.

I was just south of the bridge and once more the first taker was a long tom. These fish are tricky to hook. They have plenty of teeth and usually the bigger ones thrash around until they slice through your line or shake the hook loose. This on managed to wrap the light line thoroughly around its snout. I untangled it and released it.

I moved south and swapped soft plastics to a GULP Cajun Chicken Jerkshad. This black and pink lure seems to stir things up sometimes probably because it is such high contrast. I was now well to the south of the old oyster jetty. I felt a slid thump, dropped the rod tip and paused. When I lifted it the fish was on and the hook pushed home. It took off and felt like a pretty good flathead. It later measured 58cm. I took a few underwater shots with my new camera. This is a fairly hit and miss operation when you are not swimming with them!

I carried on moving south and caught another 30 cm flathead about 3 casts later. After another 30 minutes I swapped to a GULP Satay Chicken Jerkshad and not long afterwards I caught another 50cm plus flathead. As the tide stopped running the action slowed. I caught three more smaller flathead before giving up at about 11.00 am.

Bribie – Bongaree and the old oyster jetty flats – 26 August 2016

 

On Friday I decided to fish on Bribie Island itself, at Bongaree. This ever changing stretch of sandy shore runs along a coffee rock ledge and is a good fishing spot. The winds were light and low tide would be at 9.35 am.  The water was very clear and the northerlies had blown a few big blue jellyfish into the Pumicestone Passage.

The I started fishing on the flat sandy areas next to the drop off at about 8.00 am. The tide was running out, but not very quickly. I was fishing with a GULP Fry soft plastic in the Lime Tiger Colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Things were fairly slow but after about thirty minutes I felt a solid bite and hooked a 45cm flathead. I released it and moved along the ledge.

I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and cast around just of over the ledge. I felt some quicker, more aggressive bites and soon caught a Pike. This was followed by another, a few moments later. A hungry Pelican came over and when I caught a third Pike, it tried to pull it off the hook.

As the tide changed, I stopped for a cup of coffee and then repositioned myself over on the other side of the bridge on the old oyster jetty flats. I started with the bigger GULP Minnow in the same colour and soon found a flathead. It was sitting on the bottom just beside the new pontoon.

I continued south and swapped to a jighead with a red painted head. Local fisherman, Colin has been painting his jigheads either red or yellow and feels this makes them more attractive to the fish. He very kindly gave me a few to try.

They worked for me and the next fish was a bigger flathead, caught just to the south of the jetty. It was now about 11.00 am and I had nearly reached the green channel marker.  The tide was coming in faster and the water was getting too deep so at about noon I finished for the day.

1770 – Flat Rock – Dart, Perch, Flathead – 15 May 2016

Sunday

Sunday was my second morning at 1770 and the weather looked like it was going to be pretty good. The wind was forecast at about a 7 knot southerly on dawn and would pick up a little later on. The moon was 67% full in its waxing gibbous phase. Low tide would be at about 10.45 am.

Once again I drove down the four-wheel drive track into Deepwater National Park. They are carrying out fuel reduction burns in this section and several small fires still were still burning from the day before and the smell of burning gum trees was all around.

Today I decided to fish at Flat Rock beach. As it names suggest it has a long flat rock that runs parallel with the beach and makes for a great fishing platform. The long rock is accessible across a sandy bottomed gutter from about half way through the run out tide to about half way through the run in tide.

It was a cool morning (17 C) but not cold and the water was still very warm. When I arrived in the pre-dawn light at about 6.00 am the flat rock was almost completely submerged so I started fishing in the sandy gutter. I started with fishing with the Daiwa Air Edge rod and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and squeezed on a GULP 3” Minnow shaped soft plastic in the lime tiger colour. The first takers where a couple of very small sand / flag /bar tailed flathead. These are pretty fish. They sit right at the base of the wave break and think nothing of trying to swallow soft plastics that are almost as big as they are.

As the sun came up and the tide receded I walked north along the beach stopping to cast at the spots where the water was rushing out through the breaks in the rock. I reached beach marker number 10 and spent a while trying to cast the DUO Vib 62 hard bodied vibe lure over the top of the flat rock into the deeper water beyond. This did not really work and I soon lost another of my favourite lures.

As the water dropped I climbed on to the rock and started casting around with a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour. I was now casting directly into the water beyond the rock and starting to feel a few bumps and knocks from the small perch and dart that patrol this area. After perhaps 25 casts I dropped down to a smaller GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. Thi attracted a flurry of bites and after a few casts I hooked a small moses perch. I little while later I swapped back to the GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I moved north along the edge of the rock until a nice dart slammed the soft plastic and took off with it.

By now I was about level with beach marker 8. I straightened the soft plastic on the jighead and let it waft around on the bottom in front of the rock for as long as I could. Something grabbed it and immediately took off underneath the rock. After a few see saws the leader snapped. Perhaps it was a cod or a bigger stripey perch.

I tied on a length of 20lb fluorocarbon leader and put on a bigger, 4“ Minnow soft plastic in the same Lime Tiger colour. I started casting in the same spot. Perhaps 10 casts later – smash, then zzzzzz as the fish did exactly the same thing. This time I had a tougher leader on. I initially loosened the drag and then, when I felt the fish swim out, tightened it and tried to pull the fish out. I obviously did not tighten it enough and it swam straight back under the rock, despite my furious but futile.

I turned around and walked back to the south. I swapped down to a couple of smaller soft plastic minnows and caught a steady stream of dart, Moses perch and tiny flathead.

By low tide the wind was picking up and I was getting cold so I decided to give up for the morning.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 1 February 2016

Monday

The start of February usually marks the beginning of the real change in wind patterns on my home fishing patch – South East Queensland. The hot summer northerly winds are attacked by the cooler winter south-easterlies. The water temperature starts to drop very slightly and there is often some wild weather.

On Monday strong south-easterly winds were forecast to pick up from mid-morning. It was about a week after full moon and not a particularly big tide. I arrived at Bribie at about 5.15 am, to very grey skies that showed only the slightest evidence of first light. Low tide would be at 8.40 am, so sunrise at 5.20 am was about the perfect time to start fishing.

I waded out under the bridge and started casting with a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. I like to concentrate on the area just south of the bridge when the lights are still on. There is a large piece of rocky reef which keeps boats away from this patch so it is usually undisturbed, overnight. This morning all I could catch was a piece of that reef, so I re-rigged with a GULP jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour and moved on.

I passed the jetty and moved along the big sand bar that runs south, towards the furthest channel marker, that you can walk to. There were rays everywhere – they like to sit in the shallow water as the run out tide washes dinner into their path. Just where this sand bar turns left the water becomes slightly deeper and the weed beds are a little thicker. I was now standing in less than 50cm of water. I was casting along the edge of the weed when I clearly saw a flathead launch itself at the soft plastic. It missed. I dropped the rod tip and paused as the stirred up sand washed past. When the water cleared the flathead was sitting about 10 cm behind the clearly visible lure. It did not seem to want to strike. I decided to make the first move. I hopped the lure off the bottom, it lunged forward and grabbed the plastic. I dropped the rod tip, to let it get the soft plastic well inside its mouth and then lifted it again and set the hook in its jaw. It was a respectable 50cm flathead.

I fished around this area and moved further down towards the channel marker but could not find anymore. I saw a big shovel nose shark swimming in the shallows and a few small schools of squid. At about 7.45 am I turned for home and slowly walked back towards the bridge, casting as I went.

I swapped to my old favourite soft plastic – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just to the south of the jetty something fast hit the lure and I hooked up. It was a small bream, about 28cm long. I released it.

By 8.45 am I had passed the under the jetty and was fishing around the base of the stranded pylons, just to its north. My lure struck something and stopped dead. I pulled hard assuming it was the base of the pylon or an old crab pot. Gradually the object started to move and then wriggle and then it took off in a slow but powerful run. I thought it might be a ray but it was moving a little too quickly. I let it take line. There was no way to muscle a fish like this in on my light spin rod. I was pretty sure I had last re-rigged with 10lb fluorocarbon leader, so I would just have to be patient. We went back and forth for a few minutes and then I started to walk slowly backward towards the shore. This area is littered with rocks and bordered by the jetty pylons to the south, so it was a nerve racking fight. Eventually a big flathead appeared from the stirred up bottom and surrendered. I pulled her into the shallows and took a few photos. I did not have my tape, but by lining her up next to the rod I could see she was well over 75cm. I took a few quick photos and then watched her swim away. A great finale to what could have been a pretty slow session.

Bribie – The old oyster jetty flats – 31 October 2014

Friday

On Friday I was back on home turf and had a few hours clear in the morning. I set the alarm for 4.00 am and drove up to Bribie to see what I could find. I passed through a few showers on the way up from Brisbane, but by the time I waded out under the bridge, at about 5.00 am, the rain had stopped.  The tide would be running out and would be low at 8.20 am. There was not much of a sunrise but the sky was getting lighter, as I waded south towards the old oyster jetty. I was fishing with my light spin rig – Loomis TSR rod, Shimano Stella 2500 reel, 10lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I started by fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. This is always what I start with when I am not sure what to start with. It’s a consistent performer and looks just like a small pilchard or mullet.  I was using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0  hook jighead. At about 6.15 am, I was 30 metres to the south of the jetty, I felt the tug of a flathead, dropped the rod tip and paused. I lifted and hooked it. It was a decent fish just over 50cm, I photographed and released it.

The clouds thickened and I got a light soaking. I waded further south. The bites were few and far between. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour and this produced a bite on the first cast. I threw it back in the same direction and paused for a little longer. This time I hooked it. It was a small flounder. I have never really found one big enough to eat here, but I live in hope.

By about 7.00 am I had reached a point about half way to the green channel marker. I was hopping the jerkshad along the bottom towards me. Just as it reached me a flathead popped up and engulfed it. It turned as it tried to swallow and hooked itself. It was a very solid fish, so I let it take some line and started slowly wading back to the sand bank, behind me. It pulled hard but after a few determined runs it gave up and came with me. It was a great flathead probably just under 70 cm. I took a few pictures and released it.

I returned to about the same spot and swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour. After a few more cast, this lure caught another 45cm flathead and, a few casts later, a slightly smaller one. It was now about 7.30 am so I waded back towards the bridge. I caught two more very small flathead on the way.

By 8.00 am  with more rain threatening and a slowing tide, I gave up.

1770 Round Hill Creek – 20 October 2014

Monday – Dusk

On Monday afternoon, the south easterly wind was blowing hard and the beaches south of 1770 were impossible to fish. I decided to fish on the northern side of the 1770 headland, in Round Hill Creek. I drove to the car park by Captain Cooks Monument and followed the path down to the creek.

1770 is one of the few places you can actually see great sunrises and sunsets. I started fishing with small soft plastics at about 4.00 pm. I moved along the shoreline towards the mouth of the creek. At one point a small school of what looked like trevally came by, busting up into some bait on the surface. As is so often the case, they remained just out of casting range.

The shoreline is rocky, interspersed with patches of sandy bottom. As with everywhere in this town it looks very fishy! I swapped to a slightly bigger 4” GULP Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. As I pulled this carefully over the top of the submerged rocks a small cod shot out and grabbed it. It did its best to bury itself in the rocks but I just let the pressure off and waited for it to swim out. It was about 30 cm long – so I sent it on its way.

 

I swapped to a bigger soft plastic a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I was still fishing with my light rig – 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th, 1/0 jighead. After a few casts, I felt a solid bite at the foot of the rocks and was sure I had a fish on for a few seconds. But it must have dropped the soft plastic. I carried on along the shore and turned back as the sun began to drop towards the horizon. I stopped where I had felt the bite previously and put in another cast. I slowed it all down and let the plastic sit on the bottom for a good 10 seconds. I then hopped it back towards the shore. On the third attempt the fish hit the plastic hard.  It hooked itself and started thrashing around in the fairly shallow water. I let it make a few runs then tightened the drag and pulled it up on to the pebbly beach. It was another flathead – but a dusky this time. It was a little bigger the mornings version at about 55 cm. By the time I had photographed and released it, I had a violent red sunset to watch.

Nothing spectacular but a decent fish and sunrise at the beginning of the day and a decent fish and sunset at the end of the day – perfect!

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 16 April 2014

Wednesday

On Wednesday I drove up to Bribie and arrived just before first light at about 5.30 am. On Tuesday night we had a lunar eclipse and the full moon was huge and bright in the west. There was a surprisingly cool south-westerly wind blowing. Low tide had passed just after 4.00 am so by the time I waded out on to the flats, the tide was really running in.

Just before dawn there was some surface action under the bridge lights so I cast a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour around the pylons. This soon produced a couple of small Pike. I witnessed another beautiful sunrise and then continued wading south.

The big moon and meant a fairly big tide. The big tide had lifted all the storm debris from the previous week and it was soon clear that this would be the major obstacle to fishing the incoming tide. Seagrass, weed clumps, bait bags, floats and plastic bottles all started to passed by.

The only advantage of all the floating debris was that it allowed me to examine the water currents in the area. There is obviously a slightly sheltered area just to the south of the old oyster jetty and this is often where you find fish. It is protected by a couple of patches of rocky reef to the east and the tree line, on shore, to the west. At certain points in the tide cycle the water in this area slows right down and the debris gathers in a big clump.

I cast around the edges of this slow moving water looking for fish but I got virtually no bites. Just before 8.00 am it was getting too hard to fish into the strike zone, so I started back for the car. I was casting a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce , size 1/0 hook jighead. Suddenly the line went tight and the rod tip started to wriggle. I set the hook but the fish took a while to register – this often means it’s a big one. It swam towards me for a few seconds and then realised something was amiss. It took off with a long, blistering run towards the jetty. I let it take line and then gradually started to get some back. There were a couple more long runs but after a few more minutes I caught site of a very decent flathead. I steered her up to the beach and took a few photos.  She was just under 70 cm but I let her go. They really can be a bit tough to eat at this size and if I want to still be catching plenty of fish in future seasons, it makes sense to let these big breeding females go.

This final fish rescued what would have been a pretty dismal session. They seem to be far easier to find on the run out tide in this area. The sudden cool south westerly wind may also have put them off their food.

Bribie – the oyster jetty to the channel marker – 10 April 2014

Thursday

I only had time to fish the afternoon run-in tide on Thursday. I arrived at the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at about 12.30 pm. It was a hot, humid day.  It had rained again, in the morning and there was a light northerly wind. Low tide had passed at 12.20 pm. It was a hot still afternoon.




Clumps of weed everywhere

I waded south past the oyster jetty. The water was hardly moving but it was very dirty. As the tide started to run in, it became difficult to fish as the jighead caught on clumps of black, rotting weed. I swapped through a few different soft plastic lures and decided to stick with the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken (black & pink) colour.

Just one keeper

It was hard work and I waded further south. As the tide picked up pace, I caught a 45 cm flathead, about 50 metres to the south of the jetty. It was now about 1.30 pm. I carried on towards the green channel marker and caught another 30 cm flathead at about 2.00 pm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I swapped to the Mad Scientist Optishad paddletail soft plastic and I got a few bites on this but could not stay connected with anything. Just to the north of the big exposed sand bar I felt a bite. I hooked the fish but it was a slurping, spitting spiny puffer fish. This reminded me why I wear waders. I carefully retrieved my lure with the aid of my pliers.

Porcupine puffer

By about 2.30 pm the incoming tide was pushing me off the edge of the weed beds so I gave up and waded back to the car. It had been a tough session in the middle of the day.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty shark adventure – 02 January 2014

Thursday

After a short break from fishing over Christmas and far too many mince pies and hangovers, I was anxious to clear my head and wet a line.

Some big blows were forecast but the best weather looked like Thursday morning. I did not have much time, so I decided I would carry on at Bribie, on the flats around the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage.

The new moon had arrived on Wednesday. As a result we are in the middle of some very big daytime high tides which provide advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, my experience suggests the fish feed more confidently when there is good tidal flow. Also, as a land-based fisherman you get to examine more of the terrain you regularly fish, as more of it is exposed on the really low tides that follow/ precede the big highs. On the negative side, the water and the fish move very quickly, so you often can only fish safely in one spot, for about 30 minutes. The big flows also lift a lot of sediment, weed and other debris – which can make the water very cloudy.

I walked out to the water’s edge, under the Bribie Bridge, in the dark, at about 4.15 am. Low tide had passed at about 3.30 am and there water was fairly still. There was not much weed floating around so I decided to fish with the DUO Realis Shad 59 MR. As I have mentioned, I have tried a few alternative,  small hard-bodied lures but I keep coming back to this one. It is a shallow running, suspending bibbed minnow, I was using the bronze colour and even on the first cast, the small moses perch attacked it. I was standing ankle deep in the water, casting into the shadows around the bridge pylons. On the next couple of cast the nudges and bumps from small fish continued. I think the rattle in this lure really gets them fired up.

After about 10 more casts I waded out a bit further, to about waist deep and put in a long one to the north of the bridge. As the lure hit the water I gave it a couple of pulls to get it running below the surface. Then there was a slight feeling of tension and it was gone. I wound in to find the leader cut cleanly by something.

I was fishing with only 10lb fluorocarbon leader, so I upped it to 14lb, the heaviest I had, and tied on a GULP soft plastic jerkshad on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead in the Lime Tiger colour. I lobbed this out to approximately the same spot and on my second cast, the same thing happened. I re-rigged and it happened again. There was something toothy out there so I backed up a little.

The sun was now peeping over the horizon and the tide was running in, fast. I decided to move quickly to the south of the old oyster jetty and look for some fish. Just after first light I caught a 40cm flathead on the GULP Lime Tiger jerkshad soft plastic. At this point, I realised I had my camera but I had forgotten to put the battery back in.

I moved further south, casting in to the incoming tide. There was now a lot of weed around and it was hot and still. The water was very murky. As the birds flew over the shallows they spooked some big bait schools. For an hour I swapped soft plastics and fished along the edge of the sand banks, but I could not get a bite. At about 5.30 am, I noticed a bit of movement in the water about 30 metres to the south, in the shallows. I thought I saw a few fins but assumed they were just the tips of rays’ wings which you often see in this area.

By 6.00 am I still had not had a bite. The tide was now running in quickly and I was standing about 3 metres from the edge of the long weed bank that runs along this part of the flats. At the edge of the weed there is a sloped sandy drop off. The water beyond the drop off is only a couple of metres deep but this is where the bait tends to school up.

As I stopped to swap plastics again, a fin broke the surface just a few metres in front of me. At first I thought it was a dolphin, but then I saw the tail fin and realised it was a decent sized bull shark, moving very slowly along the edge of the bank. I immediately started slowly wading backwards from the edge. It was followed by another shark, a couple of metres behind that was also swimming with its fins above the surface.

After covering a few metres I looked back and to my disappointment I realised that the tide had been coming in so fast that I now had a good 30 metres of waist deep water to walk through, before I could reach the safety of the sand bank. I waded as fast as I dared and as you can imagine, I covered the ground pretty quickly.

From the safety of the sand bank, I counted at least 8 fins – so perhaps four sharks – in the group. I expect there were a few more.  On reflection it is difficult to work out how big, but they were certainly all over 2 metres and the first one that I saw quite clearly would have been 2.5 + metres long. I knew there was plenty of bait around but they did not seem to be hunting. They just cruised slowly up and down the edge of the banks and the fins would only break the surface when the water got too shallow. They stayed over the sandy areas and did not seem to venture up over the weed beds. I watched them for 30 mins and decided I would leave that area to them.

I waded back to towards the bridge and stopped under it to have a few casts in the shallows. I was now fishing with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic on the Banana Prawn colour, on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was back down to 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I was about ankle deep in the water (I was reluctant to go any further – for obvious reasons). I was standing to the north of the bridge and I cast close to the pylons and hopped the shrimp back to me, across the rubble on the bottom. As the lure hopped over a sandy patch, no more than 20 cm deep, there was a big surge and something grabbed it and turned away.

 

The tide was running fast across these shallows and the fish drifted with it for a few metres. I then lifted my rod tip and set the hook. It carried on drifting for a few moments and then it took off towards Caloundra. The rod tip bent over and the reel started screaming.  There was rubble on one side, mangroves on the other and the barnacle covered bridge pylons in the middle (and probably a selection of sharks, further out). I walked north with the fish, away from the bridge and let it take line. It was very heavy and slow and initially I thought it might be a ray. The two initial runs were long and powerful but the rod kept soaking up the lunges and eventually it calmed down. After about 5 minutes of steering I had it close enough to the shore to grab the leader. As soon as the leader took the full weight of the fish it snapped but I was able to push it onto the shore with my boot.

I was now under the bridge, so I raced to the car that was now only a few metres away and grabbed the phone and tape measure. I measured her at about 77 cm, and after a couple of pictures, she swam away, unharmed. It had been quite an eventful session. Wherever you are fishing take care!

Caloundra – Bulcock Beach and the Power Boat Club flats – 5 August 2013

Monday

As we were approaching the new moon I wanted to have a fish, pre- dawn. I was hoping to find some bream, which should, by now be schooling up to spawn, around the estuary mouths. I have not found many at Bribie, so I decided to try Caloundra.

I like to fish the rocky area, right at the mouth of the northern end of the Pumicestone Passage, off Bulcock Beach. There is always good tidal flow here and lots of structure. At night, the street lights bring the bait in and the predators follow.

I started about 5.30 am, in my waders on Bulcock Beach. I rigged up with the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour – which is gold with a black fleck. I put it on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead. I was fishing with my 6’6” Loomis GL2 light spin rod. I opted for 8lb fluorocarbon leader as the water was very clear. High tide would be at 7.02 am, there was no real wind at this stage. It was forecast to pick up from the south west later in the morning. There would be a new moon in a couple of days’ time.

It was very dark and there were a few prawns skipping around on the surface. I cast the soft plastic into the fast moving water in the middle of the channel and let it sink. After about ten seconds, it was on the bottom, so I started hopping it back towards me. I paused for few seconds close to the shore line and when I picked up the rod tip I had a fish. My first customer of the day was a small pike.

I continued fishing, slowly moving towards the sea and soon picked up a bream about 28cm. I was hopeful I had found a patch of them, as my next few casts were all hit on the drop. I could not hook whatever was biting the soft plastic and so I moved on towards the mouth of the Passage.

Now the sun was up and the tide was running in. I decided to swap locations and drove down to the Caloundra Power Boat Club to fish the flats and weed beds. I generally find flathead in this area, so I rigged up a larger GULP 5 “ Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour – which is a mix of pumpkinseed and yellow. I found the edge of the weed beds that line the edge of the main channel and focused on leaving the soft plastic on the bottom, just where the sandy slope drops away to deeper water.

I took a while but at about 7.45am, I felt a solid bite and after a pause, I lifted the rod tip and set the hook. After a brief tussle I subdued a just legal 40cm flathead. I took some pictures and let it go, hoping I would find a better one. I covered the same area in casts but I could not find another one, so waded further along the edge of the channel.

I had no luck for about an hour and the wind was really picking up and making casting difficult. At about 8.45 am I felt another solid bite. Again the fish was less than a meter from the edge of the weed and was waiting to ambush anything that came its way. It was another flathead, about the same size as the previous one, so I released it.

I had not secured a fish supper but I had connected with a few fish and enjoyed a beautiful morning.

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 – Oyster jetty flats – 26 June 2013

Sunday

I was up early and even though it was cold and windy, I had to get my fishing fix. I drove up to Bribie and waded out under the bridge, on the mainland side, at about 6.00 am. Low tide had been at about 4.30 am. I had filled a bag on Thursday, so I was confident.

My target area would only be in range until about 7.30 am. The sky was clear but the wind made things tough and it was building. I waded straight to the north of the oyster jetty, to target the edge of the weed beds. This is where the fish are usually laying up.

I tried lots of different lures – Gulps, Z-Men, hard bodies, but I could not find the fish. Just as I was being pushed back by the incoming tide, I finally connected with a fish. It was a 46cm Flathead and I caught it with a 4” Gulp Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour.

The tide was too high to stay in this spot and the wind was making things tough, so I gave up. There was a big moon in the sky behind me and recent trips suggest the fishing is tougher in this spot when the moon is full. Maybe that is true – but I maybe had just failed to find them today.

1770 – Workmans Beach – 7 May 2013

Tuesday

The wild weather continued; strong south-easterly winds and plenty of rain. On Tuesday morning I braved the rocks at the southern end of Workman’s Beach, near Agnes Water. This area is sheltered from a southerly and south-easterly and there is plenty of fishy looking territory.

After a few days of big seas, the water was all stirred up and a milky brown colour. I started with soft plastics and then switched to slugs and hard bodies, but nothing yielded results. The sun came out mid-morning, but not for long. As the day wore on, the wind picked up. It then brought the clouds back in. Just after lunch, there was another downpour, so I gave up. Tuesday had been my first zero fish session for quite some time!

Nothing seemed to work today

Nothing seemed to work today

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats again – 22 April 2013

Monday

After a good session at Bribie last week, I was keen to get back out there. The wind was light and the moon phase was good, with the tides getting bigger in the run up to the full moon, on Friday. I could not fish the dawn, but I could fish the run out tide for a few hours before low tide, at about 1.00 pm.

I arrived just before 9.00 am and decided to keep fishing the flats on the mainland side of the Bribie Bridge. There had been plenty of flathead around and I presumed they would still be there. There was not much wind and the sky was cloudy.

I understand it is New South Wales school holidays this week so I expected a bit more boat traffic than normal but as I walked out at about 9.30 am, there were crab pots as far as the eye could see. As I waded south from the bridge, they were everywhere. I counted 50 in sight before I gave up. It made casting a little difficult, in places. There were plenty of sand crabs around, as I kept kicking them. However the density of pots meant that there was a boat arriving to; figure out which were theirs, check them and reset them, every five minutes.

This did not do much for the fishing but after all the crap weather we have had, is was good to see boats out and about and the odd pot being pulled up with a few keepers in it. I decided to stay in the shallows and find some undisturbed areas to fish.

The tide was running out quite fast and so the boats and pots gradually retreated, leaving me to fish the edge of the sand and weed banks, which were now covered in only 800 mm of water. This is where I concentrated my casts. I tried to pause my retrieve right at the edge of the banks. This was where my first fish of the day hit just before 10.00 am. I was using a GULP Jerkshad in the red and yellow Curried Chicken colour on a 1/8th, 2/0 jighead. It was a good flathead but the sand banks where not yet exposed so I had nowhere to land it. I tried the tricky manoeuvre of pulling the fish into my body then grabbing it with a rag. The fish promptly spiked me hard, unhooked itself and wriggled free. It was a good spike right in the middle of my thumb. I could not rub some slime into it to ease the sting, as the fish had gone and taken all its slime with it! I wrapped it up in a bit of rag.

When you get spiked like this the blood does not clot very quickly, as the venom in the spike is slightly anti-coagulant. So if you are not careful, you end up dripping blood everywhere. This is not ideal in waist deep water! The thumb calmed down after a while and I carried on casting. I kept peppering the same spot with casts and I soon hooked up again. This was a slightly smaller fish and made sure it was tired out before pulling it in close and grabbing it with the rag. It ended up being a bit over 45cm.

I moved further south and was soon close to the green channel marker. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken – the black and purple colour. I used the usual technique along the edge of the sand bank and soon caught two more undersized (35cm) flathead. I persisted in the same area and after about ten more casts, I felt a good bite. I paused and dropped the rod tip. When I lifted it I had another fish on. This one was about 45 cm again, and I safely grabbed it and put it in the bag.

It was now about 12.45pm and I turned back and waded towards the bridge. In the shallows, just short of the jetty, I hooked another flathead and pulled it up to the shore. It was also a keeper, at about 50cm long.

Three little flathead went swimming one day...

Three little flathead went swimming one day…

I had to give up at about 1.15 pm, just as the tide stopped moving. I had forgotten the camera today, so only one snap of the keepers is included, from my phone. Considering the late start and all the boat traffic, it had been another good session.

Bribie Island – Oyster Jetty to the channel marker – 18 April 2013

Thursday

At last the cooler (and hopefully drier) weather is beginning to show itself. I love this time of year. Dawn is later so I become slightly less nocturnal and the fishing improves exponentially with the cooling water temperatures and the more consistent south-easterly winds.

It was back to Bribie Island – my home fishing territory. I was in position under the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at 5.00 am, about an hour before dawn. Low tide would be just before 9.00 am. This is the ideal tide situation for fishing these flats. The tide is about halfway out and running nicely. The fish have moved up into the shallows during the night with the high tide and are now gradually retreating. They stay in shallower water in the pre-dawn light, as they still feel fairly safe.

I cast around but the water was already too shallow directly under the bridge lights, to warrant fishing that area, so I gradually moved up, past the old oyster jetty and concentrated on an area of weed banks, about level with the end of the jetty. There are sandy hollows in the weed and when the water depth is just right the flathead like this spot.

I started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and my Loomis GL2/ Shimano Stella 2500 spinning outfit. It was still dark. It was now just before 6.00 am. There was just a faint glow on the horizon. I put a few casts out into the shallows and the fun started. The first fish was a good one – a flathead, just over 55cm long. I was going to release them all today but this one had half a tackle shop hanging out of its mouth, so I put it in the keeper bag. It looked like it had swallowed at least one hook and had some pretty heavy trace with another broken hook hanging off it.

I cast out again and felt another bite, but did not connect. On the next cast, I caught it – another Flathead – but this one was just a baby – about 30cm long. I kept going in the same spot and about 5 minutes later, I felt a good fish connect. This was another good fish, a little over 60 cm.

The sun was now up and I gradually moved further to the south. There were a few long toms around and these would occasionally attack the soft plastic. I caught another undersized flathead at about 6.30 am and then things went quite for about an hour.

By 7.30 am I was about half way to the green channel marker. I had swapped to a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour. The water had started fairly clear but as we got closer to low tide it became murkier. Suddenly I felt a solid bite and I was on to another fish. I pulled it on to the sand. It was about 45cm. I then caught a couple more, of about the same size, on the same soft plastic.

I was sure there were more fish in the area but after another 20 minutes of casting, they seemed to have calmed down or perhaps, grown wary of the soft plastic. I swapped over to a small hard-bodied lure – the DUO Realis Shad 59MR. I have had success with the lure in this area before, but today I was using a new colour – purple/ silver called HD Gill. It is a 4.7 gram, 59mm suspending minnow with a great action. It will hover for a few seconds at the end of a swim and maintain its depth, to about 1.5 metres below the surface.

This soon stirred the fish up. I worked it along the edge of the weed beds, out by the channel marker and soon started hooking up. The first couple of fish were small. I turned back and covered the same ground I had been over with the soft plastic jerkshad and after an hour and half, I had caught six more flathead. They were all over 45cm and had all attacked the Realis Shad 59MR.

By about 9.45 am I was back at the bridge. I had three of the better fish in the keeper bag for a meal and I had really enjoyed the session. Early in the tide the water had been very clear and there had been no rain – let’s hope the fishing and weather stays this good.

Bribie – Under the bridge – 5 March 2013

Tuesday

The rain is easing but it is just being replaced by howling south-easterly winds. The only real option would be to fish the couple of hours either side of dawn, in a fairly sheltered location. So it was off to Bribie again, to fish the area under the bridge, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, as the tide fell.

I arrived at about 4-45 am to find I was not the only mad angler wetting a line. A couple of fishos were on the bridge casting to the north – a few pylons out. A couple of good jewfish have been landed from the middle of the bridge, at night, recently. The favoured technique is to fish with very heavy gear then drop a grappling hook down once the fish is worn out. This strikes me as a pretty tough proposition – but it does work.

I rigged up and waded along the edge of the mangroves, to the south of the bridge. The wind was from the south east and was blowing around 15 knots. The water was dirty and running out, against the wind. High tide had been at about 3.00 am.

I started by fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour, on a 1/8th oz, 2/0 jighead. There was a bit of surface action on the edge of the pools of light, cast by the bridge lights. Every so often, I could trace the path of a cruising predator by the scattering bait fish. There were some pretty big surges and splashes which made me reluctant to wade out further.

I had no luck with the brightly coloured Jerkshad, so I made a counter-intuitive switch to a 3” GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. This is a gold colour that would not really stand out at all in the sediment rich, murky water. After about ten minutes of casting without result, I switched my attention to the deeper water, just out of reach of the bridge lights. I carried on peppering the area and was about to swap soft plastics again when I felt a solid bite and a few moments later, I set the hook on a good fish. As I pulled it in between the mangroves, bait went flying everywhere. There is plenty of food around. It was a good flathead, about 55cm long and I kept it for dinner. It was 5.10 am and its possible that the sun was trying brighten the sky but the clouds were too thick.

The heavens opened and I retired under the bridge. The fishos on the bridge had disappeared – probably washed away by the relentless rain. I started casting to the north and gradually moved along between the pylons. It was now a little lighter and the rain had stopped. The water was getting dirtier as the tide ran out. As I cast out, around the base of the third bridge pylon, I felt a good bite, but did not connect. I cast back in exactly the same spot and got hit again, still no hook up. I cast another ten times in the same spot gradually slowing the retrieve right down and increasing the length of my pauses. On the eleventh cast I felt the solid bite of a committed fish. I dropped the rod tip and slowly counted to ten. After what seemed like an eternity, I lifted it and felt the lure lodge in the mouth of the fish. The rod bent over, I felt the resistance and the tip started wobbling. I waded back to the shoreline and safely landed my second flathead. It was a little smaller than the first, just under 50 cm. It was 5.23 am. I also kept this one for dinner.

I swapped to a 4” GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I concentrated in the same area, around the third pylon. At 5.34 am I caught another flathead, almost exactly the same size. Three fish is about right to feed my mob for dinner.

It was now light but the sun could not break out above the clouds and the rain showers just kept coming. I persisted in the same area but things seemed to go a bit quiet, as the traffic on the bridge built up and the water receded. I swapped down to 3” GULP Minnow in the Smelt colour and moved a bit further out, to the south of the bridge. I felt a couple of taps and then hooked a small Bream. It was now just after 6.00 am. A few casts later the same plastic produced flathead number four. The smallest of the morning, but it was still a healthy fish, at 47cm.

I waded south, past the oyster jetty and on to the windy flats. The sun almost emerged above the clouds but the now howling south-easterly immediately blew some more rain clouds in, to block it out. One of these gave me a thorough soaking and despite casting around for more than an hour, I did not get a bite out here.

Just before 8.00 am another nasty black cloud opened above me and I decided to call it quits. It had been a successful morning but the wild weather had made it a challenge.

Iluka – Woody Bay – 13 February 2013

Wednesday

On Wednesday I woke to more showers which were blowing through on a building south-easterly wind. I made some breakfast and waited for them to pass.

By the time the rain stopped it was about 6.30 am. The south-easterly was already blowing at about 15 knots and was forecast to get stronger through the day. There was not much point in trying to fish the headlands. The tide had been low at 5.00 am and had now turned in. I decided to fish around the rocks beside the boat launching area, on the edge of Woody Bay. This area, directly in front of the camp site, is sheltered by Woody Head. Even in a big south-easterly blow, it stays pretty calm.

A grey morning on Woody bay

A grey morning on Woody bay

I decided to switch to my really light spinning outfit – Shimano Stella 2500 reel, Loomis GL2 rod, 1.8kg Fireline and a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The bait that had been jumping around close to the rocks, had been some kind of small whitebait, so I chose a GULP 3” minnow soft plastic in the Watermelon Pearl colour, which would represent a similar profile. I rigged up the plastic on a 1/8th oz., 1/0 jighead. As I stood in the shallows, the water was warm and I started casting along the edge of the semi – submerged rock bars. At about 6.45 am the rain started again and just as it did, I felt the familiar double tap bream attack. I did not hook up but on the next cast, I did. I wound in another very respectable bream.

GULP Minnow gets the first bream

GULP Minnow gets the first bream

I let it go and moved on, casting out and trying to rest my soft plastic lure, for as long as possible, right where the rocks met the sand. Just before 7.00 am I felt the faintest of grabs, as I hopped the lure along the bottom beside the rocks. Two more casts in the same spot produced nothing. On the third, the rod bent over as the jighead stopped dead.

It felt like the lure had stuck fast in the rocks but then very slowly the ‘rocks’ started to move. In a long slow run the fish moved about 6 metres to the south. Then paused and did the same thing again. I pulled up on the rod and tried to recover some line. It was only at this point that the fish realised that it was hooked and started really fighting. It was still so slow and heavy that I thought it was a ray or shovel nose shark. After a few more lunges it turned towards me and rose to the surface shaking its head. I could now see it was a big flathead.

With a ten pound leader I could not risk any abrasion from the barnacle-covered rocks so I let the fish play itself out. It had been lurking in less than 30cm of water so it was hard to keep its head down but I took my time and used the swell. I found a nice sloping rock bar and gradually eased the fish up in a breaking wave. It was a nice flathead who measured up at about 74cm. After a few snaps I put her back and she swam away.

The Clarence River is still very de-oxygenated and full of fresh water from the floods. It is likely that all sorts of species (including flathead) have settled around these headlands to wait for it to clear. The birds were very active, constantly swooping in to pick up baitfish. So it looks like a fair amount of bait has also been washed out.

I decided to wade around the shallows in the bay and look for some more fish. I was soaked from the rain and being in the water was warmer than being out of it. I tried all around the rocks with the same soft plastic and a few others, to see if I could find anymore flathead – but I couldn’t. I watched a few long toms follow my lures in and have a snap at them, but did not hook any.

I swapped over to one of my favourite DUO hard bodied lures. With the river out of bounds there was not much water where I could use their range of finesse lures, but this bay was flat enough and clear of weed, so it was perfect. I tied on the DUO Ryuki Spearhead 45s in a gold/ green colour. This is a small trout lure that seems to work well on bream. It weighs 4 grams and is 45mm long with a small bib. As with most of the DUO range it casts a long way and slips into its action almost as soon as it hits the water. Although it is technically a sinking lure, its lightweight means that it effectively suspends, when you pause the retrieve.

I cast it over the flats and around the rock bars as the tide rose. First it attracted a few undersize moses perch. Then, as I moved into slightly deeper water I found a patch of small bream. I caught a couple before they decided they had had enough.

At about 10.00 am I found myself almost back where I had caught the big flathead earlier. I had waded round the bay in a big circle. I continued to cast along the edge of the rocks and suddenly felt a solid hit and run. The fish was hooked and after a few good runs it calmed down and I pulled it up to the sandy beach. It was another good bream – just over 35cm long. I released it and carried on fishing for about another hour with no luck, so I decided to give up for the morning.

Tweed River – South Rockwall – Tailor, Trevally – 6 Aug 2011

Saturday

I have not been doing so well at Bribie Island lately so I decided to fish the Tweed River mouth on Saturday morning. I chose to fish the southern rock wall which you reach by driving through Fingal Head.

The forecast was for a light northerly wind and low tide would be just before dawn. You have to be in this spot before dawn, as the light change often brings the fish on to the bite – often just for half an hour or so. I left Brisbane around 3.45 am and arrived just after 5.00 am. I walked out the end of the rock wall and rigged up with my headlamp. I try to keep the light off the water when I am doing this.
I rigged up a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – this is a black soft plastic with a purple/ pink underbody. I put it on a ½ oz 3/0 hook jighead. I had the Daiwa Demon Blood 9 foot rod loaded with 40lb braid and about 2 metres of 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I had a couple of casts in the dark, but with no bites, I decided to wait for some light.

A choppy morning on the South Rockwall at the Tweed River mouth

About 10 minutes later, I could see what I was doing and I cast my soft plastic straight out into the river mouth. It landed about 15 metres off shore and slowly sank, as it ran out with the tide. Before it reached the bottom I felt a couple of solid strikes. I jerked the lure up and then paused and let it sink again. As I started to repeat the process there was a solid pull on the end of the line and the rod tip started wiggling. The fish took some line and then raced out towards the middle of the river. It was moving fast and then broke the surface with a vertical, head shaking leap. It was a good size Tailor – probably around 60 cm long. I tightened the drag a little and played it to the base of the rocks. I tightened the drag some more and gradually heaved it up the rocks towards me – just as I grabbed the leader the hook pulled from its mouth and it was gone. Bugger!

I checked the plastic – it was pretty mauled but serviceable, so I cast it back out. This time the action was instant – bitten off, as soon as it hit the water. I re-rigged – same colour plastic, same weight jighead. First cast – nothing, but I hooked up again on the second. This time it was a small Tailor – about 40cm and I pulled him safely over the rocks. I presumed they had just moved up the river and would be back again shortly but they did not return. It was just before 7.00 am and it had all gone quiet.

A Tweed Tailor grabs the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad

I finished the session with this Trevally

I moved around the front of the rockwall casting in a broad semicircle. I changed to different colored plastics, I tried lighter jigheads. I tried various minnows and grub shapes. By 8.00 am the sun was up and the choppy swell had started to settle down a bit. The tide was now running in again. I had dropped right down to a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead and I was using a 4” Gulp Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just as I was about to flick it up, out of the water, at the base of the rocks, a Trevally grabbed it. It was around 40cm long and I landed it safely. I hoped there would be more but after another 30 minutes without a bite I decided to pack up and head home.