Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – big flathead – 27 February 2016

Saturday

By my standards I have hardly fished in February. The two main reasons for lack of a fish supper have been wild weather and work – both equally annoying. For the last weekend in February I had time to fish but ex-tropical cyclone Winston that had flattened Fiji was still hovering off the Queensland coast and threatening big winds and swell.

I woke at about 4.00 am hoping the forecast would be wrong and I was surprised to not hear too much rustling in the trees. I was awake now so I decided to give it a try. I drove up to Bribie, arriving on the mainland side of the bridge just before 5.00 am. Low tide would be at 5.46 am. The wind was already blowing at about 20 knots from the south. I waded out into the stirred up water, south of the bridge. Unfortunately I promptly fell over a submerged rock, dunked my rod and reel and chest bag and filled my waders with murky water. At least it was warm water.

I put the poor start behind me as I hooked a good flathead just on first light, under the bridge lights. It was 53cm long and it went in the bag for supper. I was fishing with the GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour. After catching a very big flathead earlier in the month and given the wild and windy conditions, I had swapped to a 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

As the sun came up so did the wind. By about 6.00 am it was well over 25 knots. The mangrove island provides a partial wind break and fortunately I was casting with the wind. At the foot of the big drain that runs round the corner from Sandstone Point, I caught a 45cm flathead. I could hardly feel the soft plastic as the wind was blowing the line around so much. I am sure I missed a few fish. About half way out to the channel marker I caught another flathead, about 43cm long.

Now the wind was getting ridiculous. The water was very cloudy and covered in loose sea grass, so I turned for home. I swapped to the GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour and loaded it onto a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead. I felt the slightly heavier jighead might hold the bottom better. The Lime Tiger swap stirred things up and I caught another good flathead – just over 60 cm long.

By now I was about 30 metres to the south of the old oyster jetty. I was casually casting as I waded back towards the car. The soft plastic struck hard and I thought it had lodged in the weed. I gave it a yank and it slowly moved about a metre towards me. Then line started peeling, slowly at first then much more quickly. I was on to a big fish. I checked my drag and let it take line. In three long runs it took over 30 metres of line. I wound against it each time but made no progress. Then it just stopped. I tightened the drag just a little and started to get line back. It now swam slowly back along the 30 metres, towards me. I kept up the line tension and slowly started walking backwards towards the big sandbank. As it reached about 30 cm of water it turned and made another long run. I turned its head and kept slowly winding and walking. Now it was tired and all I needed to do was steer it gently up on to the sand bank. It was a beautiful 86cm female flathead. I measured her and took a few photos. I then pushed here back in to the water and swam her through the water until her tail started waving and she took off unaided.

It was certainky worth braving the wild weather.

 

 

 

1770 Getaway Beach and Wreck Rock – 24 October 2014

Friday

With the wind and swell dropping and turning into a light north-easterly, Friday looked like the perfect fishing day. I was awake at 4.00 am and decided to fish at Getaway Beach. I walked down to the small bay in the pre-dawn light.

I started at the north end of the beach on the rocky promontory. The tide was coming in and would be high at about 8.30 am. I cast at a semi-submerged bommie. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/8th 2/0 jighead. I was still hoping there might be a jewfish/mulloway lurking somewhere around here. The first taker was a small stripey perch – not much longer than the jerkshad. I cast out again and got another. I moved further round and caught another. After about 30 minutes I had caught and released about 10 fish – all too small for a meal. The tide was coming in and I had to get off the rock if I wanted to avoid getting stranded.

I walked back to the south side of the rocky headland. I was now fishing with a GULP 4“ Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I cast it at a bommie and let it sink. N.B – The word ‘bommie’ is unique to Australia and is derived from a local aboriginal word – ‘bombora’ which can be loosely translated as coral reef outcrop. The sea was settling down but it was still not very clear and I could smell and see the algal bloom in the water. As I lifted my rod tip a fish attacked and hooked itself. It turned and tried to bury itself in the rocks. I pulled it out and landed it. It was a chunky stripey perch about 35cm long – I kept it. I believe these fall under the ‘all tropical sea perch’ category and have a minimum size of 25cm (but please correct me if I have misinterpreted the current Queensland rules).

I did not find another one but I did pull out small, bream, dart and trevally, after swapping down to smaller 3” GULP Minnows in various colours. I swapped to a small DUO hard bodied vibe lure and this caught also caught a few small dart. By about 9.00 am, as we passed the top of the tide, the sea was calm and the fish seemed to stop biting. I decided to go for breakfast and a sleep.

At about 2.00 pm I drove back down to Wreck Rock to fish the bottom of the tide. This was another good session. I caught plenty of dart and small bream and the catch rate picked up as the afternoon moved on and the tide started to run in. At about 3.30 pm, I upgraded to 15lb leader and swapped to a slightly heavier 1/6th ounce jighead, to counter the strong afternoon north-easterly wind, which had picked up. I was now fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow, in the Pearl Watermelon colour.

Just on 4.00 pm I felt a sudden hit and line started peeling. It felt like a chunky fish but in the swell it was hard to tell. It was fast and trying get down into the rocks. I felt more confident with the 15lb leader and I tightened the drag and put some pressure on. It fought hard but after a few minutes I pulled it up on a wave and grabbed it. It was another decent trevally, about 50cm long. They must cruise up and down these rocks. I have seen some much bigger shapes in the waves out front but they could be anything in this spot. By 4.30 pm the incoming tide pushed me off the rocks so I gave up for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

Bribie Island – Banksia Beach and Whitepatch – 31 December 2012

New Years Eve

I was still at Bribie Island and the big south-easterly wind and swell would make it just too hard to fish on the surf side. This gave me an excuse to go over to the western side of the island and fish in the Pumicestone Passage.

The wind would still be a pain but usually it calms down for a few hours either side of dawn and this morning was no exception. I started at Banksia Beach, just to the north of the wading bird roost. There is a nice coffee rock ledge along here and the area produces snapper in the cooler months and plenty of Flathead, all year round.

Low tide was just before 5.00 am and this is when I arrived. I waded out to the ledge and cast around on top of it and just over it. I was using might light spin rod and reel and had rigged a GULP satay chicken Jerkshad on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead, on 10lb fluorocarbon leader. After a few casts a felt a solid thud and the rod tip started wriggling. I struck a bit too hard and the fish was gone. Too long between fish and this can easily happen!

I peppered the same area with about 50 casts but could not find the fish again. I gradually went smaller and lighter with my jighead and soft plastics, until I caught an angry 20cm moses perch, on a GULP 3” minnow, in the emerald shine colour. I got a good soaking from a passing shower and at about 7.30 am, decided to move locations. I drove up to the north end of Whitepatch and waded out into the water.

The tide was about half way in and I focused on an area where I had seen some flathead lies the week before. I had swapped to the more natural coloured GULP Jerkshad in the smelt colour but was still using a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was casting at the area, just on top of the ledge which now has some thick weed beds growing on it. I felt a very slight hit and decided to cast into the same spot again. As soon as the plastic hit the water the fish swallowed it and took off. It hooked itself and I just had to hang on. I soon had it back at the tree line and safely out of the water. It was a handsome 57cm flathead.

I was so relieved to have broken my duck that I decided not to push my luck. I took a few photos, released the fish and gave up for the 2012.

Bribie Island – The Oyster Jetty to the channel marker – 17 June 2012

Monday

I had to do the tax return on Monday. But one look at the weather and I decided that Wayne Swan would have to wait another few days. Fishing conditions were perfect. I could not start early so I arrived at the Bribie Bridge just after 8.30am. It was just after high tide. There was no real wind and the new moon was due on Tuesday. The water was very clear despite the recent high winds.

I got straight down to business with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jig head. I was using my light spin rod and had it loaded with 8lb braid and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I waded out to the north of the bridge, on the mainland side. The Flathead come right up to the edge of the mangroves on a high tide and this was what I was looking for.

It started with Smelt

It was a 1.8 m high tide which is a fairly ‘low’ high tide for this area. I waded out a bit further on the north side of the bridge to cast at the rocky area, just in front of the third set of bridge legs. The lure bumped on a few rocks and then the line went tight and started wiggling. It was a 44cm Flathead and my first decent fish for a while.

Under the Bribie Bridge

The first decent fish for a while

I moved south towards the oyster jetty. The tide was just starting to run out. I cast all around the rocky reef just south of the bridge, with no luck. As I got a bit closer to the jetty I felt a solid bite. I paused, counted to ten, then struck. This one was a bigger Flathead – just under 50 cm. It tried a few headshakes, as I waded up into the shallows, but I soon had it landed by the mangroves.

Also took the Smelt colour

Then came a bigger one

I moved under the oyster jetty and continued to cast out into the Passage. I was casting into the run out tide and working my lure back along the bottom with the flow. I felt a good bite and cast back in the same spot. This time I saw the Flathead follow the plastic but it turned away at the last minute. I kept casting at the same spot and felt another bite, but I just could not hook it.

I swapped soft plastics to a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I moved further south, over the sand flats towards the green channel markers. At about 10.30 am I felt a solid hit and the line started peeling. This was a bigger fish and it had grabbed the lure on the drop, so it was a long way away from me. The tide was running out but there was still no nearby sand bank to land the fish on. I decided to play it out and try and grab it – this usually ends in tears – with me getting a quick spike and then dropping the fish. This time, I let the fish make lots of runs and then maneuvered my keeper bag, like a landing net, under the fish. I shortened the line and pulled the fish into the bag. I then took out the hook in the bag. This was the best fish of the day at just under 60cm.

This one took a Cajun Chicken

I continued wading across the flats and soon caught two more Flathead on the same soft plastic, about 50cm long. With a full bag it was now catch and release for the rest of the day.

A bag of Bribie Flathead

A bag of Bribie Flathead

I had reached a sandy patch by the green channel marker and decided to try the DUO Tetraworks Bivi small hard body vibe lure. After a couple of casts I found some Pike. The lure may have worked on the Flathead but the problem was getting passed the Pike. I caught seven Pike in ten casts and realized that I was not going to beat them.

The DUO Bivi could net get past the Pike

I swapped back to a GULP Jerkshad – this time in the Satay Chicken colour. The Pike left this alone so I turned around and started to wade back in the direction of the old oyster jetty. At the edge of the weed banks I found the Flathead again. I caught another six on the way back to the bridge – all were legal size, from about 50 to 60 cm. They all went back for someone else to catch.

Satay Chicken for this one

The weather was perfect and the fishing matched the weather – shame about the tax return!

Conditions were perfect

The spectators were unimpressed

Tweed Rockwall – Trevally and a Snapper encounter – 02 Aug 2011

Tuesday

I was fed up with the weed in the Pumicestone Passage so this morning, I decided to head south from Brisbane and spend the morning fishing the north side of the Tweed River rock wall. Conditions were perfect – a light breeze, low tide just before dawn and very little swell.I arrived about 5.30 am and walked to the very end of the wall in the dark. I used my head lamp to rig up. I was fishing with the big rod – the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood and the Shimano Stradic 6000 reel. I had it loaded with 40lb braid and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I decided to start with a soft plastic and chose a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. I rigged it on a Squidgy fish-shaped jighead – 9 gram, 2/0 hook.

Tweed Rockwall - Trevally

The first glow of dawn was on the horizon but sunrise was still about 30 minutes away. There was virtually no moon and the sky was pretty clear. I cast out about 15 metres and counted to 10 while I let the lure sink. As I picked it up there was a solid ‘thud’ as something took a swipe at it. Next cast there were a couple of bites and then, as I paused, a hook up. It was a small Trevally , I released it and cast out in the same spot. A few casts later I caught another about the same size. I lost the next one – which was a bit bigger, as I tried to haul it up the rocks. I switched to a Gulp 5”Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I caught yet another small Trevally.

Another Tweed Trev


I moved round to the river side of the rock wall and cast out into the river. The sun was just over the horizon now. A big fish grabbed the soft plastic as it sunk. It took line for about ten seconds, in a solid run back around towards the ocean side of the rockwall. It soon had my line tight against the rocks and after a couple of seconds the line snapped. I tied on a new 40lb fluorocarbon leader and another of the same jigheads. I decided to try a different plastic – the GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I cast out into the same spot and bang – the lure was slammed on the drop. This time I put the pressure on straight away and kept its head out of the rocks. It had plenty of power but it was not fast like a Tailor or Trevally. I thought it might be a Jew but it kept making determined attempts to burrow down into the base of the rockwall. It was too fast for a Jew. After about 10 minutes of play I had the fish coming round to the ocean side of the wall where I thought I might be able to grab the leader. I slid down the rocks on my backside to the lowest rock that was fairly dry. I tightened the drag a little and heaved – suddenly a big pink tail slapped the surface of the water – it was a Snapper. It was a good size with a big knobby forehead, perhaps 60 or 70 cm long. It was exhausted but still had plenty of kick. It lolled over on its side and I grabbed the leader just as a surge washed it over the rocks at my feet and pushed it down into a gap in the rocks, behind me. It was now temporarily stuck but out of reach. I had no gaff and therefore no choice but to try to pull the fish out by the leader. As I tried to pull it up, another surge washed over and it wriggled off the hook. With the next set of waves it wriggled free – and slowly swam off! I rarely get Snapper from the rocks and to lose a great fish like this was heart-breaking. Still he is there for someone else to catch now.

Close but no Snapper


I sat trembling for 10 minutes or so and then re-rigged and put in a few more casts. By now my heart was not really in it. Just out of casting distance the birds were working over a bait school that was being smashed from beneath. I put on a slug but I could not reach them. Around 8.30 am I headed home – but I’ll be back!

Brisbane River – Pinkenba Rockwall – More Trevally – 7 April 2011

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Thursday

Everywhere I looked the wind was blowing 20 knots – add a few showers and things did not look promising. I decided that the Brisbane River was the best option so I drove down to Pinkenba around 9.30 am and walked along the rock wall.

The tide was running in and the water was still very cloudy – I am not sure if it is the wind, the recent rain or left over silt from the floods. I was still using my light spin rod – the Loomis GL2 – but I had upgraded my leader to 14lb. I tied on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and loaded it with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Pink Shine colour.

I was hoping for a few more Trevally and it was not long before I ran into them. I was walking along the shore towards the river mouth, putting out fairly short casts, straight from the bank. I had started beside the cement plant and walked about 500 metres without any bites. Just before I crossed the oil pipeline, the lure was snatched right at the bank and the fish took off. It was a nice junior Trevally and I soon had it under control. I put it back and moved on.

The first Trevally of the day - close to the pipeline

After another half an hour or so, the wind got really gusty and a rain squall came over. I sheltered under some trees and switched to a small GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Pepper Prawn colour. I cast it out under the tree branches and just as I got it back to the bank, I felt a few tugs and then I was losing line at a blistering pace. I bumbled through the tree branches following the fish along the bank. I tightened the drag but initially, it did not make much difference. It kept pulling line but eventually I got some back and after a few more runs I grabbed the leader and pulled a good size Trevally up the rocks. It would have been around the 45cm mark. I put it back and carried on towards the river mouth looking for more.

Second Trevally - around 45cm


The tide was now running out strongly and the wind was probably blowing well over twenty knots. It was a challenge to cast. I reached a spot where water was running over the rockwall and I cast around on either side. I switched back to the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Pink Shine colour and after a couple of casts; it was snaffled at my feet. It was another blistering initial run. I made a mental note that the GL2 light spin rod is not the right rod for these fish, and hung on. This was another good fish and I was very concerned it would rub me off on the oyster covered rocks. It took a while and I must have scrambled up and down about 10 metres of shoreline but eventually the fish surrendered and I grabbed the leader. I lifted it out of the water and the leader broke just as I did. Luckily it fell into a little depression in the rocks and I got a couple of pictures before I released it. It was another solid Trevally that measured approximately 50 cm.

The biggest Trevally of the day at 50cm


I walked until I could walk no further – because the rockwall was submerged and cast around on both sides. It was now about 1.15pm and the tide was running out, strongly. Again the lure was grabbed right next to the rocks on the river side of the wall. This fish was tough and it decided to cross over the partially submerged rockwall and try to escape on the other side. I watched as it swam in between the oyster covered rocks and somehow did not manage to bust me off. It was a smaller Trevally and I released it.

At around 1.30pm I got drenched in another rain squall and decided the make the long walk back to the car. It had been another great session fishing with soft plastics on the Brisbane River.

Bribie Island – Bridge & Sandstone Point – 3 March 2011

Thursday

Thursday was set to be another hot day with a possible thunderstorm. There would be a slight northerly wind in the Pumicestone Passage, which would freshen through the day. I decided to keep looking for Flathead, as these have been the only consistent fish for me, in recent weeks.

I started under the bridge on the Island side about 4.15 am. The tide was running in and there was about 30cm of water at the base of the rockwall by the shore, to the north of the bridge. There was not much surface action and I think the Pike prefer a little more depth, to feel safe. I cast out a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and bounced it along the bottom under the lights. Three casts later, after a pause on the bottom, the line came up tight. There were a few head shakes and a short run and then the fish was gone. A couple of casts later; same soft plastic, same place, maybe the same fish, I hooked up again. This time I got him to the rocks – a Flathead – around 45cm, but as I was lifting him in to the bag, he spiked me and slithered out of my grip to freedom.

Dawn by the Bribie Island bridge - the fish come to the lights

After 30 minutes more, prospecting both north and south of the bridge, I could not find any more fish so I decided to change location. Just as the sun was coming up, I drove round to Pebble Beach and walked along the beach to the far end, towards Sandstone Point. The water was fairly high but there were still a couple of hours before high tide. It was a beautiful, calm, still morning. The thunderstorms had passed over earlier and there were still a few flashes of lightning as they moved in land, but the sky was bright red.

A very calm morning

At the end of the beach, I walked out in front of the fringing Mangroves and cast out over the rubble and boulders that dot the ground. I was aiming for the sandy patches in between the rocks, where the Flathead often shelter. As I moved nearer to the corner I had a few encounters with the Long Toms, who kept grabbing and then dropping, the lure. When one finally did get hooked it started leaping and splashing and effectively shredded the 16lb Fluorocarbon leader I was using. I re- rigged and tied on a new leader and put on a GULP 4” Jigging Grub soft plastic in the Pepper Prawn colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. A few cast later as the lure bumped over the rocky bottom, a fish grabbed it and took off. It only made a small run and then settled in the current. I pulled it on to some rocks – a 48cm Flathead – I released it and carried on casting. A few casts later I had another on the same plastic, this time it was just over 50cm.

After working the corner thoroughly I move round it, heading north and on to the broad flats of Sandstone Point, which almost form a tidal lagoon. With another hour to go before a 2.3m high tide, I could still wade out to the middle of the area and cast back in towards the Mangrove roots along the shore. The Long Toms where patrolling and I had a couple of tussles with them. After 30 minutes, the water was getting too deep to stay in the middle so I turned and headed south, in closer. I switched to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour and put in long casts parallel with the shore. A fish grabbed the lure as it landed and this time it was a Flathead, I dragged it in under the Mangroves – it was around 40cm – and after a quick picture, I unhooked it and sent it on its way.

That was the last fish for the morning and even thought it was only 8.15 am, it was already blisteringly hot. I dumped the gear in the car and had a quick swim before heading home. Another good session, the water is still full of sediment on these big tides but there is plenty of bait around and so the fish will come.

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Tweed River – The Rockwall – Tailor / Trevally – 14 Jan 2011

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Friday

Living on the north side of Brisbane – meant that I was thankfully completely unaffected by the floods. With the Gateway motorway now open and easy to access, I decided to make a trip down to the Tweed River mouth again.
I arrived to meet a fairly strong east south east wind and a good two metres of swell. I walked out to the end of the north rock wall at about 4.00 am. It was a beautiful dawn sky and as the tide was still running in – the water was not too discoloured.
I started with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour and rigged it on a ¾ oz 4/0 jighead. I am now using a ROVEX Aureus 9 Ft rod (the Aureus is just the new name for the old Bario) with the SHIMANO Stradic 6000 reel. I have loaded this with 20lb Fireline and a 40lb fluorocarbon leader.
The wind made it hard to cast but after a couple of attempts, I had the plastic just about where I wanted it – right at the base of the rockwall. As I was about to lift the plastic clear of the water it was slammed and I was onto my first fish of the day. I had no chance with this one. It put its head down and went straight for the rocks and a big wave washed the leader onto the sharp edges and ‘ping’, it was gone.
Another local rock fisherman had a couple of Taylor by now – on a slug – so I switched to a 90g slug for a few casts but then lost it to the rocks. Back to the soft plastic lures. This time I tried the same pattern in a more natural colour – sardine. This did not seem to tempt them, so I switched to the brighter lime tiger again. First cast I got a couple of hits and the tail was bitten off. I threw it out in to the surf again and as soon as it hit the water (minus the tail) it was grabbed. Landing the fish is always a challenge here and it is even worse when the swell is up. With a bit of luck and a fairly tight drag setting, I got the fish safely up the rocks. It was a Tailor just on 50cm.
I put a new soft plastic on and cast it straight back out in the same spot. There were plenty of bites and I thought I had a fish on at one point, but then it either let go or wriggled off. I pulled up the jighead with only ½ a inch of soft plastic left on it. I lost another two or three plastics in this way, over the next 20 minutes.
By now it was about 6.30 am. The tide was running out strongly and the brown slick of the Tweed River was gradually spreading out from the mouth. I put another plastic on, this time on a 1 oz jighead. I cast right out in front of the rock wall and again felt a series of knocks and nudges on the retrieve. I kept pausing but I could net connect with a fish. About fifteen minutes later the line finally came up taught and I had another fish on. I played it round to the ocean side of the rock wall and used a surge to get it safely up to my feet. It was a 40cm Big Eye Trevally. The swell gave me a couple of soakings and I lost a few more plastics, so at around 7.00 am I packed my bags and headed back to Brisbane.
With a cyclone passing out to sea, big swells are forecast for the next few days – the weather is not giving us many breaks this year!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Three Kings for Xmas – 20 Dec 2010

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Monday

Now I had the bit between my teeth. Land based fishermen don’t often get the chance to get amongst the Kingfish. So after a great morning on Saturday, I decided to put in another early start on the Tweed rockwall on Monday.
I arrived just before first light, around 3.45 am and was treated to a beautiful early morning sky and very calm conditions. A slight westerly wind was blowing and it was distinctly cooler than the hot and humid conditions on Saturday.
I walked to the end of the rock wall and started casting a 110mm River 2 Sea Dumbell Popper in the Pilchard colour. After twenty casts there was no interest, so I switched to an 85 gram SPANYID Raider metal slug. I put in another twenty casts without a touch. Things were not looking promising. It was now about 4.30 am and the westerly wind was getting up.
I switched to soft plastics lures. Specifically, I put on a GULP 3” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. Again I rigged it on a ½ oz 4/0 jighead. I cast out and let it sink down and counted to ten, to let the scent circulate a bit. As I lifted it off the bottom, it was struck hard by a fish. The fish came up to the surface fairly easily but then made a blistering run round to the front end of the rock wall. I gradually worked it back round to the left hand side, tightened the drag and lifted it up the rocks. It was a 50 cm Yellowtail Kingfish. It had a very recent looking wound behind its tail, where it had obviously had a run in with a bigger predator. After a quick picture, I returned it.
I continued fishing with the soft plastics and felt a few nudges and bites but no hook ups. I got snagged and lost my last GULP Shrimp plastic. I switched to a 5” Crazylegs jerkshad in the Watermelon colour. At about 5.30am the line came up tight again. I was now fishing with the drag very tight, to slow the initial dive down into the rocks. It was another Kingfish around the 50cm mark. Again, I brought it round to the left of the wall and pulled it up the rocks. Then I measured and photographed it and threw it back.
Another half an hour passed and I tried the metal slug and popper again, with no luck. I went back to plastics and put on a 5” jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. It was now around 6.30 am. After a few casts, I was on again. After a brief fight I pulled up another Yellowtail Kingfish, about the same size as the previous one.
Three Kings but nothing for dinner – I will have to come back again soon.

Iluka – Shark Bay in the rain – 3 Dec 2010

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Friday
It wasn’t raining at 4.00am Friday – so I walked out on to the rocks in front of Woody Head. I was disappointed to still see a big sea. I tried casting from a few safer spots but after losing four jigheads to the rocks, I decided I needed another plan. I walked along the beach to Shark Bay. It is probably one or two km but at this time of the morning, it was a beautiful stroll. There were big black clouds everywhere but initially, at least, it stayed dry and there was not much wind.
I had swapped my heavy rod for a lighter set up and I was fishing with a 7’6” Nitro 2-4 kg Distance Spin Rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel. I had loaded the reel with 3.8 kg Fireline in the yellow colour and tied on about 1.5 metres of 12lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader. I had decided to fish lighter as I wanted to see if there were any good Bream around. This rig is also quite capable of land the odd small jewfish or Tailor should they show up.
I walked out onto the rock platform at the southern corner of Shark Bay and moved out to the north east corner. I had a few hours in this spot before the incoming tide would force me off. Just as I put in the first cast a shower came over and I was soaked in a few minutes. At least it wasn’t cold.
I started by fishing the GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon minnow soft plastic. This is a great imitation of a pilchard and has proved to be excellent bait in this location. But today I could not raise a bite. Maybe it was the murky water. I switched to one of my new favourites the GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour. I also switched down in weight from a ¼ oz to a 1/6th oz jighead both with 1/0 hooks. This gives me a little less distance when casting but increases the sink time and gives the fish more time to strike. After a few casts with the new rig, a fish slammed the lure at the edge of the kelp covered ledge. I struck hard and then let it have some line. On the next surge I pulled it up through the kelp. It was a nice 36cm Bream. I cast out again and over the next few casts pulled in three smaller fish around the 30cm mark all on the same plastic.
With another rain squall on the horizon and the tide moving up rapidly I decided to head back to the campsite to try to dry out. I would think with all the rain, good Bream would be all around these rocky headlands. The only problem would be finding a safe place to fish for them.

Iluka – The Rockwall – 2 Dec 2010

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Thursday

I went to bed in a heavy rain shower and woke up to yet another one at about 4.00 am. After a while it eased off so I pulled on the (now very wet and fairly malodorous) fishing boots and made a cup of tea. The wind was light from the north east but as I walked out from Woody Head in the half light of dawn, I could see the swell was significant and the rocks were going to be too dangerous. I jumped in the car and headed down to the rock wall that runs out from the northern bank of the mouth of the Clarence River, at Iluka.
Fishing the Iluka rock wall is not for the faint hearted. You need good boots and good knees. It is a long walk from where you park to the best fishing spots. The first half of the wall has a nice pathway along the top, but as you reach about half way, the fill underfoot gets bigger and bigger until you a walking across wobbling boulders. Finally in the last 200 metres all the loose fill has been washed away and what is left is a mass of boulders. If you persist and clamber on, there are a few good flat boulders that make excellent fishing platforms on either side, but the most consistent fish holding spot, for me, is the wash around the base of the wall at the very end. Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side
Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side. I recommend giving both a try. I usually put in a few casts whilst walking out and one of these got smashed at the foot of the rocks by a small Tailor. I was using the GULP 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad soft plastic lure on a 3/8 2/0 jighead. I landed this fish after a short fight and as it was only just legal size at around 35cm, I threw it back. I had a few more casts here with no further action and so I moved on to the end of the wall.
The swell was calming down a bit, but the rain was still blowing over in 10 minute showers. There was too much swell to fish directly off the end of the wall, so I started off fishing the north side of the wall. The tide was running out and I assumed that the fish would shelter from the current on the ocean side of the wall. I switched to a ½ oz 4/0 jighead and put on a GULP 7” Limetiger Crazylegs Jerkshad. This is a great plastic with a split curly tail that flutters, as it sits or sinks, in the current. I was sure there would be some Jewfish around. I put in about 50 or 60 casts without result, so I switched to the river side. Fortunately, the rain was flattening the sea now. After a few casts out into the mouth of the river, the line came up tight and the rod tip started shaking. This is a tricky spot to land a fish. You are a couple of metres above the water line and you just have to heave the fish up. If you are on your own this is your only option. I find a long handle gaff is too hard without someone to hold the rod. I had a good size Tailor on. Tailor have such soft mouths that the final lift is even more difficult. Sure enough, as I tried to raise it clear of the water, I pulled the hook. I put on a fresh soft plastic and cast out in the same spot. After a few seconds I got a solid hit and I dropped the rod tip. When I lifted it I had another fish on. After a short fight, I successfully landed another Tailor. At about 45cm, I decided to keep this one.
I continued to cast in semicircle in the area but the fish had moved on or they had stopped eating because I could not raise another bite. Finally after another rain squall I packed up.

Iluka – Shark Bay – 1 Dec 2010

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Wednesday

It rained all night on Tuesday and most of Wednesday morning. I got up early and surveyed a few rock fishing spots around Woody Head and Iluka Bluff, but the swell had got up during the night and there was really nowhere to fish on the morning high tide. The Clarence River was now a tea coloured soup with lots of debris floating around, so that was not really an option.
I grabbed a cuppa and watched the rain pour down from my tent. Thankfully, it was doing a good job of remaining waterproof. Around 11.00 am the rain eased off and so did the wind. I decided to have a fish in Shark Bay which is a little to the north of Woody Head. There is a low rock promontory in the corner of the bay, which you can walk out to at low tide. On the north east side of the promontory there is a pronounced rock ledge that is covered in kelp. About fifty metres further east there is a partially submerged patch of reef that rises just above sea level, at low tide. As the tide runs in and out, it funnels bait into a twenty to thirty metre channel which is a great area to target all kinds of species. There are often birds smashing into the baitfish in this area but there was no action when I arrived around 11.30 am.

I had my new felt-soled Cloudveil fishing boots on. I prefer these to the rubber booties with studded soles, which I have been using. The felt gives you an excellent grip but the tougher boot also gives good ankle support. To cast out over the kelpy rock ledge you really need to stand about knee deep in the water. You can only really get close enough to it for a couple of hours, either side of low tide. The water was certainly cooler than I expected and definitely much cooler than usual for this time of year – maybe it’s all the rain. I started with soft plastic lures on a 3/8 oz 3/0 hook jighead. I tried a number of shapes in the Pumpkinseed and also a few other colours and apart from a tiny Moses Perch, I did not catch anything.

After an hour or so, I decided to put a metal slug on and have a spin for some Tailor. I put on a 60g Mojiko (Anaconda) slug in a pink/purple colour and started casting. I like the colour of these slugs but I suspect the reason Anaconda can’t give them away, is that after about ten casts, all the colour chips off and you are left with a zinc coloured battered piece of metal. This can still catch fish but it doesn’t look too impressive. I was putting in very long casts, trying to land the slug as close as I could to the exposed reef. With all the kelp and rocks it was very difficult to tell whether I was getting hit or just catching on debris on the retrieve. However after about 50 casts I tried to yank the lure free of what I thought was some kelp and the rod tip started shaking and line started peeling. As the fish came towards the ledge it made a good leap and I could see it was a nice Tailor. It tried to get down under the ledge but I tightened the drag and pulled it over the top and up to my feet. My arms were burning from all the spinning so after a couple of follow up casts, I cleaned up the fish and headed back to camp. After a couple of hours on ice, I ate fresh fried Tailor fillets for dinner. Only one fish – but a good one at about 55cm.

Iluka – Frasers Reef – 30 Nov 2010

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Tuesday
I am just back from a week down at Iluka. There were fish around but the weather did its best to stop me catching any. The consistent northerly winds created a constant swell at most of the rock fishing spots and the rain just kept coming.
I arrived last Tuesday, 30th Dec and, in hindsight, the conditions that day were the best. I started early in the morning, just on dawn, looking for some jewfish from the rocks around Frasers Reef. The swell was just fishable but every now and then I got soaked by a surge that slapped up against the rocks and came straight down on top of me – at least it was warmer than June and September. The tide was about half way in.
Any plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour is a firm favourite with the locals and I rigged a GULP 5” Jerkshad which has worked well for me in this spot. The swell was big and after a few casts with a 3/8 oz jighead, I switched to a heavier ½ oz jighead. Soon after sun up I got a few bites and nudges at the foot of one of the bommies that I like to cast at from the shore. As always, it is very difficult to get a plastic down on the bottom and leave it there for any length of time. If you jerk it off the bottom too quickly the fish don’t find it and if you leave it too long you get snagged. Add in the swell and the murky water and things did not really look promising.
I persisted and got soaked and snagged a few times and then switched to a smaller GULP. I also changed down from 30lb to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. It started to rain. A couple of casts later I had a fish on. I played it for a bit and then noticed a huge wave building, about fifty metres offshore. I tightened the drag and made an effort to get the fish up on the preceding, smaller wave, but I just could not pull it up. I crouched and the wave smashed against the rocks. The plume of water went straight up for 5 metres or so before absolutely soaking me. But as the water receded, I was delighted to hear some tail slapping and just beside me there was a small school jewfish, just about legal in NSW, at a little more than 45cm. I decided to release this fish in the hope of finding a better one. I removed the jighead without too much trouble and speared the fish back into the foam.
About twenty minutes later I had another one on and despite the strong current, it felt a bit bigger. I decided to walk it round to a more sheltered landing spot and got another soaking in the process. I managed to hold on and let the swell lift it onto a ledge. I then grabbed the leader and pulled it up. It was a better fish at around 50cm long, but it was no monster. This one I kept for dinner and after cleaning it up in the rain I decided to give up at around 9.30 am.

Iluka – Browns Rocks – Final Session – 14 August 2010

On Saturday the swell from the big low that was moving past offshore, arrived. This was my last day at Iluka. The rocky headlands were a no go area and the key sign that fishing was out of the question was the arrival of all the surfers. I decided to have a lie in and fish in the afternoon.
At about 2.00pm I headed off up the Clarence to look for a good Flathead spot. I crossed the bridge over to Goodwood Island, at Woombah and drove past Browns Rocks and the Norfolk Island Jetty to a couple of weed beds that have produced good fish in the past. It was the perfect afternoon. The tide was running out, there was a bit of breeze and the water was about 2- 3 feet over the weed beds. The water was very clear and I have been told that the wild colours go best when this is the case – so I put on a 5” Lime Tiger Jerkshad and used a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and 12 lb leader. I would usually go lighter, but with all the choppers around, bite off’s are a common problem.
I put the waders on and wandered out until I was about waist deep and walking through the weed banks, up river, parallel with the shore. I was casting up into the run out tide and letting the plastic sink. I would then bump it along the sand beside the weed, at the edge of the main channel. I walked about two hundred yards like this, before I got a hit. I hooked up with a small (30cm) flathead. I released him and cast back in the same spot a few more times. Third time, I got another one, slightly bigger. I carried on for another 30 feet and got a decent, 48 cm keeper. On the walk back to the car I got bitten off by what I presume was a Chopper. I had to get back for dinner but I had that feeling that all fisherman get – if only I could have stayed a little longer the really good fish would have come on the bite!

Iluka – Frazers Reef Tailor – 13 August 2010

Friday brought a slightly warmer morning so I headed back to Frazer’s Reef at Iluka to see if there were anymore Jewfish to be had. I was fishing with a mate who is yet to land one and expectations were high. The conditions were still very good but the wind had turned around to a light northerly. We started just in the pre-dawn light and predictably lost a few jigheads to the bommies. Just on dawn my mate’s rod goes off and he is on to a very solid fish. It had better be a Jewie – me thinks – but it looked a bit too lively and it was taking plenty of line. Then it jumped and we realised it was an Australian Salmon. The fun of the capture made up for it not being a Jew – well that’s what I told him anyway. He pulled it up via a few rock ledges and weighed it at 3kg. He was using the GULP 5” Crazy Legs in the Lime Tiger colour on a 3/8 3/0 jighead on 20lb leader. These fish taste awful but everyone takes the first one home just to see for themselves and this one was no exception – yes, it went home and yes, it tasted like rubber. However we made sure the kids were starving before dinner – so they scoffed most of it.
Back to work and we were still hopeful that the Jewfish would come back on the bite. I was now fishing with the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. When things get slow I often find switching back to the more natural colours can tempt a reluctant fish. Sure enough on about the 5th cast with this lure, I scored a solid hook up. The rapid head shakes and frenetic runs suggested it was a Tailor and with the aid of a big wave I had it up on the ledges before it could chew its way up the plastic to bight through the 25lb leader. It measured up at just over 50cm.
We fished on but the Jewfish did not put in an appearance. It was interesting to note that all the fish we gutted during the course of the week had virtually nothing in their stomachs. There was plenty of bait around so one can only assume they were not really feeding.
I decided to walk right around Frazer’s Reef putting in casts wherever I could. After half an hour, this strategy paid off and I caught another similar sized Tailor. I hooked him quite a long way out and through the very clear water, I watched his mates take several snaps at the plastic that was hanging from his mouth. They followed him right to the base of the rocks.
We retreated to stop ourselves from being caught by the tide and although we did not find the Jewies we had seen some good action.

Iluka – Woody Head – 11 August 2010

Tuesday was a washout with 24 hours of almost solid rain. Fortunately the tent kept me dry throughout. By the lunchtime low tide on Wednesday, the sky was still overcast but things where brightening up. The ‘Barnacles’ at Woody Head, where I had been fishing the day before, were out of bounds due to the swell. I decided to try fishing the northern side of the Woody Head rock shelf which was a bit more sheltered. I started with the same terminal tackle as the day before – 3/8 3/0 jighead, 25lb fluorocarbon leader and a 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow. Fishing these spots is always difficult. You need the plastic down in the water column, but leave it too long or weight it too heavily and you will just get snagged. On the first three casts I lost three jigheads to the rocks. This was the price of getting a feel for the swell and terrain. After a few more successful casts I felt a distinct hit but no hook up. Two more casts and just as I was about to jerk the jighead out of the water, at the end of the retrieve – bang! I had a solid fish. It tried to dip down and bury itself in the rocks but fortunately the swell was on my side. I tightened the drag and towed him straight up to my feet with the rising water. I had a nice trevally, about 45cm. I fished on for an hour or so and lost two similar fish to the barnacle covered rock ledges.
I then decided to clean the Trevally in a rock pool. I gutted the fish and started tidying it up when I noticed a splash a few feet away. A decent sized Wobbegong had turned up hoping for a free meal! I retreated, in case he mistook my foot for a fish and made a mental note to check the content of the next rock pool before I start gutting.

Landangler’s Tailor on Soft Plastics

I am sure you have all heard it said a million times – if you want to catch some Tailor you can’t go past a lightly weighted, West Australian Pilchard floating down off the back of the boat or a well place chrome slug cast from the rocks. Don’t get me wrong – it’s sound advice and it definitely will get you some fish, but I thought I would offer my experience of catching Tailor on soft plastic lures.
As you may have worked out, I love to fish with soft plastics and I almost only fish from the shore. So my experience of catching Tailor is based on those parameters. Firstly, most of the time when I get a good (keeper size – 35cm + QLD or 30cm + NSW) ‘chopper’, it is an accident. I am usually not targeting them; they just wallop whatever I am fishing with. I am usually prospecting on some sand flats, beside a bridge or rock wall and suddenly the line starts peeling and the rod starts shaking and I realise that I either have a Flathead on steroids or it’s a Tailor. This usually results in a bite off as I fish pretty light (10 to 12lb leader), but occasionally, if the fish is nicely hooked, I will get it safely to the bank. The plastic is usually pretty smashed up but if I cast it straight back out, I often get another. Then they are gone.
So this year, as the weather cooled, I decided I would actually try to catch some tailor with plastics. The first thing I did was switch to heavier tackle. I decided on a 6000 size spinning reel, loaded with 12lb Fireline down to a 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I also made sure I had the toughest jigheads that I could find, from 1/6th to ½ ounce. Then I thought about my rod. The problem, when choosing a rod for plastics in these circumstances, is the immediate compromise between strength and sensitivity. A ‘medium’ weight estuary spinning rod (something like a 7’6 3-6kg Berkeley Dropshot) gives you a good, sensitive connection to the soft plastic and so you can fish fairly light weight jigheads (1/8 to ¼ ounce) and still cast them out effectively. However if you hook up to a decent fish (in my book that is anything over 2kg) you are really going to struggle, especially if you need to pull it up a rock wall or onto a ledge. The alternative is to go heavier but then, inevitably, you lose a bit of the sensitivity. My ‘heavy’ plastics rod is the 11 Ft 6-15kg Rovex BARIO. This rod still has some feel in the tip but it is strong enough to heave some decent fish up the rocks. The downside is that it is very difficult to fish with much less than a 3/8 ounce jighead, as the rod is really too stiff to feel anything lighter. I have landed plenty of 2 to 5 kg fish with this rod – if you hook up with anything much heavier then you really need a mate with long handled gaff.
Once I had decided on the set up I looked for likely locations. This was tricky as I have caught Tailor from Yamba in Northern NSW right up to 1770 in Queensland, but I have usually caught the bigger ones when chasing jewfish from the rocks.
So my first experimental Tailor plastics session was fishing the end of the rock wall at the mouth of the Tweed River, about a month ago (in mid June). I find that the north side of the north rock wall is a good fishing spot, so I arrived an hour before dawn and found a large flat boulder near the end of the wall. I rigged up the ‘heavy’ rod. So which plastic to choose? Working on the principle that Tailor love Pilchards – I chose the GULP 4” Minnow in Pearl Watermelon – as it looks quite like one. It is basically a dark green on top with silver coloured under body and v shaped tail. It is an excellent all rounder that I often start with it. I rigged it on a 3/8 2/0 jighead. The first few casts – in the dark – produced nothing. Fishing from the rocks in the dark is pretty hit and miss, not to mention dangerous, so I usually wait for the pre-dawn light to see what I am doing. Yes – I have a headlamp but it is pretty easy to spook the fish by shining a few high powered LEDs down at them. Sure enough just as the horizon started to glow I got a couple of solid hits and then a good fish took the plastic right at the foot of the wall, on a fairly quick retrieve. A bit too big for a Bream and a bit too frenetic for a trevally, sure enough it was a good ‘chopper’, probably around 40cm. Once I turned it around, it broke the surface, in the foam, by the rocks, but as soon as I lifted it clear of the water, it started wriggling and wriggled off the jighead. In the space of half an hour, I had four more fish of a similair size. I landed two and lost two in a similair manner to the first. They have very soft mouths and once they are out of the water it is very difficult to stop yourself pulling the hook out. Then all went quiet for about forty minutes and they were back again. They were obviously chasing the bait schools up and down the rock wall. This time round (using the same plastic) I dropped the first fish and was bitten off by the second. By the time I had re-rigged they were gone. I stayed the rest of the morning and caught a few bream but the Tailor did not come back. The plastics had certainly taken a beating – I had to put a new one on after every successful hook up – but it seemed like a reasonable trade off.
The next trip was down to Iluka Bluff in Northern New South Wales. I had a couple of days there but due to the weather I could only manage two fishing sessions – the morning and evening of the first day. Conditions on that morning were perfect with only a light swell and virtually no wind. The Bluff is a large flat ledge at the end of a headland and there are tailor here all year round although they improve in size and numbers in the cooler months. Again I arrived in position pre-dawn on the southern side of the Bluff. I started with the same rig except I ran a 40lb leader and switched to the same shaped plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour. About 30 mins after dawn I was bitten off, then after re-rigging, I landed a nice 50cm Tailor and dropped two more in quick succession. Things slowed for an hour or so and then I down sized to a twenty pound leader. Third cast with the lighter leader and I was onto a decent fish which rubbed me off, but after a quick re-rig I got another 45cm fish which I landed. Downsizing the leader as the sun gets higher in the sky often works for me in this way, as does matching the size of the plastic, as closely as possible, to the bait that’s already in the water.
That evening the wind was up and so was the swell. Again the fish appeared to come on and off every 20 to 30 minutes. It certainly seemed like they were cruising up and down in front of the headland, chasing the bait. Each time they came by I would get a couple of knocks and nudges and sometimes a hook up. I like to use a pretty standard retrieve – it is always a tricky balance between getting the fairly heavy jigheads (3/8 ounce) down low in the water column and not getting snagged on the bottom. I usually cast out and count slowly to ten. On ten, I jerk the rod tip up, and pause while the plastic sinks again. Then I wind in some line and repeat the process. Finally, just on dusk I got the best fish of the trip – a 65cm Tailor and fortunately the rising swell more or less landed it for me, by washing it up over a ledge right at my feet. This time I had switched to the 5” Jerkshad plastic also in the pumpkinseed colour.
Although two trips hardly make a definitive study, I have had many rock fishing sessions which have produced Tailor on soft plastic lures and I think I can draw the following key conclusions.
There are a few disadvantages to using plastics. Firstly, they are expensive – the Tailor destroy them and you will rarely get two fish out of one plastic, often they will get munched before you even get a fish to the shore. Secondly, you certainly cannot cast them as far as a heavily weighted bait or slug. Thirdly, jigheads often do not hook up as solidly as a treble right in the mouth – so slugs can make it easy to lift the fish to safety without pulling the hook.
However, the single biggest advantage of using soft plastics for Tailor is the ability to fish a moving lure through the lower part of the water column, more consistently, than you could a bait or a slug. You simply cannot move bait along the bottom with the action of a plastic and a slug is almost always on an upward trajectory once it gets up to speed. So if the fish are travelling along, or close to the bottom, I think you will get more hooks ups with a soft plastic, than with a slug or bait. Of course, if they are feeding on the surface they will still take the plastic on the drop, but maybe they will be more interested in a surface popper, fast moving slug or lightly weighted pilchard.
Of course, none of the above applies in the weeks that lead up to spawning off Fraser Island. If you can locate the fish at that time – they are usually so thick and so competitive that you can catch them with almost any type of bait, lure or even an old sock!
I hope you found this useful and, as always I would welcome any comments – questions or experiences that you may wish to share.

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole – 15 July 2010

Thursday morning – I got up at 4.15 am and drove from Brisbane up to Bribie looking forward to a good fishing session. Low tide would be around 6.40 am and although the forecast was for moderate West to Southwest wind, it was pretty flat when I arrived.

I decided to start off under the Bridge lights on the island side. I find the bridge lights attract the bait and there is often something waiting to pounce on your lure/ bait from the dark water around the pylons. I loaded a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead with Gulp 3” minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour and sure enough, first cast I pulled up a Pike and next cast 15cm Tailor. I moved up and down the weed banks, along the edge of the Passage, on either side of the bridge. After about half an hour I picked up a 45cm Flathead about 15 metres north of the bridge., right on the edge of the weed.

The first glow of dawn was showing so I decided to move down to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole. This is an excellent Bream spot especially when they are schooling up to spawn. Using the same plastic and weight I cast up into the last of the run out tide and let it sink down along the coffee rock ledge – jigging every 5 seconds or so. After a few casts I caught an undersized Bream, followed by a few Pike and gradually I started to catch a few keeper Bream. Every third fish or so, was legal and after an hour I had 5 keepers between 25cm and 30cm.

At about 8.30am I called it quits and went to find a hot drink.

PASSAGE BREAM ARE BEGINNING TO FIRE
BREAM FROM BUCKLEY’S HOLE – BRIBIE ISLAND