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.

New Brighton beach fishing – 22 December 2015

Tuesday

In the run up to Christmas I spent a few days fishing on the beach at New Brighton, just north of Brunswick Heads.

On Tuesday I wandered out for an afternoon fish and decided to walk towards New Brighton from South Golden Beach. I started at about 3.00 pm. I was using my Daiwa Air Edge 96L light surf rod and initially fishing with a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The moon was building up to full around Christmas Day, so the tidal flow was quite big. The wind was a fairly lively south-easterly, but the water was warm and still fairly clear.

This beach has very little structure apart from a few rocks half buried in the sand near New Brighton. However there are plenty of deep clearly defined gutters that are formed by the wind, tide and strong rips.

I cast around into the incoming tide. I was fishing with a GULP 3” minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and I concentrated on the areas at the entrances and exits to the gutters. Each time I moved, I would get faint bites on the first couple of casts and then nothing. As the waves rolled over I could see these were coming from tiny dart.

I paused at the exit to another gutter and cast my lure so it would come back past as it was washed out to sea. After a couple of hops a fish grabbed it. There was a brief fight but I soon pulled it ashore. It was bream about 28 cm long.

I moved south and eventually arrived at the small patch of rocks in front of New Brighton.  I swapped to a GULP 3” Shrimp soft plastic in the neutral grey flecked peppered prawn colour. I cast around the rocks and again felt a few small bites.

The wind was now blowing very hard so I moved to the south side of the biggest rock and put a few casts in around its base. This paid off and on about my third one I felt the unmistakeable solid thud of a flathead bite. After another fairly brief fight I landed a 43 cm flathead. I took a few pictures and sent it on its way.

By 4.30 pm the wind was a howling southerly so I decided to give up. As I walked back to South Golden Beach I noticed a young gent throwing a small slug into the surf and witnessed him catch some small dart, as his hungry dog looked on.

Iluka – Middle Buff – Tailor – 14 June 2015

Sunday

The wind had picked up from the south-east on Saturday afternoon and then dropped off again overnight. I was not sure where to fish on Sunday morning. The swell had made the fishing tricky all week. I decided to try Middle Bluff, the headland between Frazer’s Reef and Woody Head, in the Bundjalung National Park.

I was up early and was pleased to walk out on to the beach to only a light breeze. It was about 6.00 am and the remainder of the moon was clearly visible as the horizon started to glow. I disturbed a couple of big kangaroos who were standing around down at the water’s edge. They took off into the undergrowth.  The broken clouds made for a fantastic pre-dawn with the red sun taking a quite a while to break through. The tranquillity was soon broken by the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks. The wind was light but the swell was definitely still up.

I walked round to the northern end of Middle Bluff and watched the surf for a while. Fishing safely off the front of the Bluff was going to be impossible. I decided to move to plan B and try spinning for some Tailor.

I rigged up the heavy rod. I wanted to try the DUO Pressbait Saira 175. This is effectively just a beautifully crafted and weighted 175mm, 50g sinking metal slug/jig. I fish it just like any other metal slug – long casts with a mixture stop/ start, continuous, slow or fast retrieves depending in the conditions and terrain. I was sure this would appeal to the tailor, if they were around.

The rocks protrude a long way into the bay at this spot so you need to put in long casts and keep the lure moving. I was now using a fairly short (0.6m) 30 lb leader tied on to 20lb braid with a long, solid uni-knot. The DUO Pressbait Saira is nicely weighted so you really do not need to hurl it out there. You just let gravity do the work.

I started casting at about 6-30 am, well after first light but before the sun had come over the horizon. On very long casts it is difficult to keep contact with the lure. The long length of line means there is a fair amount of slack which often initially disguises a hook-up. The rod tip only starts wiggling as the line gets really tight. After a few long casts and high-speed retrieves I felt a bit of weight and then the rod tip bent over. I had found a tailor. Frustratingly, about 20 metres from the shore it started leaping around and managed to free itself. I cast out in roughly the same location and after a few turns of the reel I had another fish. This one stayed hooked and I landed it successfully. I took a few pictures and threw it back, then cast out again.

Things went quiet for a while and the sun came over the horizon. At about 7.00 am I had the lure about 40 metres from the shore when something grabbed it and the reel started screaming. I held on tight but after taking about 15 metres of line the fish was gone and so was the Pressbait. I wound in a severed leader. I re-rigged with a 65 gram Raider metal slug and tried to find the fish with this. After another 30 minutes I had had no luck and I was exhausted.

I walked down to the corner of back beach and cast some soft plastics around in the shallows, I watched as a few schools of garfish follow and grab at the lures but I did not hook any. The swell showed no signs of calming down so at about 8.30 am I went off to find breakfast.

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.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 8 April 2014

Tuesday

Stormy weather

Stormy weather

A massive storm hit Bribie Island on Sunday – dumping significant rain and really stirring things up. So I left it until Tuesday to go fishing again. It was now about half way between the new moon and the full moon. The wind was forecast to be a light south-westerly. It felt noticeably cooler as I got out of the car, by the bridge at about 5.30 am. The water was definitely cooler, as I waded out on to the flats beside the old oyster jetty. Low tide would be at about 10.30 am.

Just to the south of the jetty I concentrated on a patch of weed that has produced a few flathead in the past. I was fishing with a Gulp 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I had it rigged on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. As it is now possible that there are a few Tailor around, I am consistently fishing with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. This won’t stop big fish but it might give me a chance with some good sized choppers.

At about 6.00 am, I felt a few very aggressive bites but did not hook up. I persisted in the same spot and after about 10 minutes, I felt a solid yank and line started peeling. I had hooked a big Long Tom and it promptly leapt out of the water for the camera. I let it get rid of some energy then released it, recovered my jighead and chewed soft plastic. The leader was completely lacerated. So I cut off the last 10 cm and tied my jighead back on. I straightened the soft plastic and carried on casting.

The fishing was very tough. I tried a couple of small hard bodies and jerkshads with no success. By about 7.15am I had dropped down to a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. I managed to catch a couple of very small flathead on this plastic.

I waded all the way down to the big sand bar beside the green channel marker, but the fish were elusive.  I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour and this enticed another 30 cm flathead, but it was a long time between bites.

As the tide continued to run out I waded back closer to the oyster jetty and decided to swap to a Z Man Minnowz soft plastic in the Red Bone colour. As I have mentioned before I am no longer a fan of the Headlockz Jigheads. They hold the lure in place but I think they are a bit clunky for this type of estuary fishing. I therefore chose to put the plastic on a Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I hoped the vibration of the paddletail might be more obvious to the fish. It took a while, but after about 30 minutes I did finally catch a 45cm flathead. I swapped to a Minnowz in the Opening Night colour and after about another 30 minutes I caught another, about the same size.

By 10.00 am I had had enough and the wind had picked up. As I waded back towards the bridge a came across plenty of flathead lies – so the fish are around, somewhere. It had been another tough session.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 4 April 2014

Friday

There had been a few showers and more were forecast. There was also a cyclone forming, up north. The new moon, four days earlier had not really made any difference to the fishing but it had coincided with some heavy rain, which may have limited its effect.

I set off back to Bribie Island. For the last two months I have fished here, exclusively. I apologise to readers who would like a change. But it has been good to fish through a few moon cycles and big weather changes and notice how they the effect what I catch.

Since the first week in March, I have been catching a lot of flathead from the sand flats, on the mainland size of the Pumicestone Passage, to the south of the Bribie Island Bridge. The fish were probably most numerous and at their most aggressive, in the run up to the full moon on the 16th March. The size of the fish and the numbers then gradually dropped off, after the full moon.  We then had some heavy rain which may have pushed them out to saltier water.

Looking back over my archive of fishing reports, I see I have had a number of excellent flathead sessions at this time of the year, in this particular spot.  The large numbers, the aggressive feeding and the fact that a good proportion of the legal size fish I have kept are full of roe, suggests they had gathered to spawn. It seems unlikely that the flathead only schooled up in this one location and I have seen many reports of good flathead catches, through early March, in the fishing press.

According to the sparse research that has been undertaken on flathead (principally in New South Wales – see ‘Reproduction and growth of dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) in NSW estuaries’ – July 2008. NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries Final Report Series No.101 ), they spawn between – September and March.

This would put this particular spawning session right at the end of the window. This is interesting because most fishing pundits will suggest the end of the cooler months – September / November is when you more reliably catch large numbers of spawning flathead. Hopefully I will have time to fish then, as well and I will compare the results.

Back to Friday – low tide would be at 6.28 am and it would be a fairly high low tide, at 0.7 m. I arrived just before first light, at about 5.15 am. It was still warm and I had driven through a couple of showers on the way up from Brisbane. The wind, if there was any, was form the south east.

I waded out into the shallows beside the bridge and cast around with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. It was still dark and a few fish were feeding under the bridge lights. On my second or third cast I felt a solid bite, paused and hooked a good fish. I steered it out of the rocks, which dot the area and dragged it to the shore. It was a solid 50 cm flathead.

The next fish came about twenty minutes later, just to the north of the oyster jetty. I was then treated to a really fantastic sunrise which lit up a rain squall that was coming my way. It was now about 6.00 am. I caught a few more flathead in this spot, but they were all under 40 cm.

I moved to the south of the jetty and pulled out another new favourite of mine. The Lucky Craft 4” Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic lure, in the Pearl Vairon colour. This is the ultimate shape for a flathead soft plastic. It is a Jerkshad with a huge paddle tail. The slim body accentuates the paddle tail and you can really feel the lure moving as you hop it along the bottom. Thanks to the guys at Jones Tackle for introducing me to these – http://jonestackle.com.au/.  It did not take long to find the fish. Between 6.30 am and 8.15 am, I caught 8 more flathead on this soft plastic. However, only two of these fish were over 40 cm.

At about 8.30 am I was soaked by a rain squall and decided to give up.  There are still plenty of fish out there, but the bigger ones are getting harder to find.

Gayndah – Burnett River – Mount Debateable Bridge – 2 September 2013

Monday

I did some exploring of the Burnett River at Gayndah on Sunday afternoon and spent the night there. I was up before dawn and drove a few minutes up river on the town side to another bridge that leads to Mount Debateable Road.
The river widens here and there is a large sand bar in the middle. The sides are full of submerged trees and rocks. It looked like another good fishing spot, with access to either bank on foot. I decided to stick with what had worked the day before and rigged up with the same small soft plastic and 6lb fluorocarbon leader. I put the plastic on a 1/8th 1 hook, jighead and started casting at the various bits of submerged timber.

I had arrived just after first light and before dawn. As the sky brightened I saw fish coming to the surface in various locations. I walked out about 10 metres, towards the middle of the bridge and cast back towards the snags, along the bank. I lost a couple of jigheads and felt a couple of bites, but by sun up I still did not have a fish.
I started casting close to the bridge and letting the soft plastic sit on the bottom for longer. Just after dawn the line slowly pulled tight and I realised I had a fish on. It did not realise initially but when it did it took off. I played it patiently – with a 6lb leader and my light rod – I could not muscle it in. I let it wear itself out in mid-stream, before gradually pulling it towards the bank.

I could see it was another freshwater catfish. It made a few attempts to bury itself in the snags but it was tired out and I soon had it on the bank. I took a few pictures and let it go. It was time to move on.

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.

1770 – Getaway Beach – Jewfish – 5 May 2013

Monday

A friendly tackle supplier is fed up with reading about my exploits with the very capable Shimano Catana and decided to give me an alternative rod to try out. It arrived on Saturday – a N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod. It is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. It will throw up to a 30g lure or ½ oz jighead, for a soft plastic. It is designed for throwing small lures in the surf or off the rocks. NS Black Hole rods are made in Korea and have forged a strong reputation for durability, mainly in the US. It seemed like a good idea to put it to work. So on Sunday I decided to head for Agnes Water and 1770 for a few days.

I arrived in the late afternoon and went straight down to the beach opposite the 1770 Getaway resort, where I like to stay – http://www.1770getaway.com.au . They have great stand-alone cottages and an on-site restaurant / coffee shop which produces a magnificent lamb spit roast, twice a week. The best thing about the resort is that Michael, the owner, is a mad keen fisherman. He has good information on where to fish when the wind is blowing from almost any direction. He is always very willing to share his knowledge, just sit him down over a coffee and pick his brains.
I had matched the new N.S Black Hole Cabin II with my Shimano Sustain 4000 reel. I had it loaded with 15lb Super PE braid and decided on a 16lb fluorocarbon leader, to start with. The beach is about a 10 minute walk from the resort and has a number of rocky out crops. It is just round the corner from Workman’s Beach, which is a little more sheltered, if there is a strong south-easterly blowing.

It was about 3.30 pm by the time I was ready to fish. The water was pretty stirred up and the swell was building. The wind was on shore at about 10 to 15 knots and it was bright and sunny. High tide would be at about 5.45 pm and the moon was about three days off new. I walked out on to one of the rocky out crops and loaded up with a Powerbait 4” Ripple Shad on the gold and black colour on a ¼ 2/0 jighead. I fished the lure along the edges of the rocks but after about 15 minutes, I had not had a bite. I decided to change to a heavier 3/8th 2/0 jighead, to make sure my lure was on the bottom. I also swapped soft plastics to a 5” GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I fished around the rocks for another 20 minutes or so and felt a few bumps. The swell was up, I had a new rod and I did not know the terrain, so it was hard to tell if I was bumping into fish or the bottom.

Just before 4.00 pm, I lifted the lure from the bottom and felt a bit of resistance. I dropped it back down for a few moments, then struck. The rod tip started to wiggle and bent over. The new rod behaved well and soaked up the lunges and the Shimano Sustain drag took care of the hard initial runs. The tricky bit was the swell and the rocks – 16lb leader will withstand a Jewfish mouth for a while but it won’t last long if it rubs against the barnacles.

Fortunately the swell was pushing the fish in and there was a nice ledge at water level. I took my time and left the drag alone. The swell pushed the fish on to the ledge and I jumped down and grabbed it.

It was a great looking Jewfish – 77cm long and in fantastic condition. It had completely swallowed the jighead, which was now very obviously lodged in its throat. It had little chance of survival, so I decided to keep it and share it with my hosts at the 1770 Getaway resort.

I continued fishing until dusk but did not find any more. It had been a great opening session and I had successfully christened the new rod which had performed well.

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 24 April 2013

Wednesday

The tide was all wrong but the fish were around, so I decided on Bribie again. We would have a 2.2m high tide at 8.05 am. This would mean the tide would be just over half way in, at first light.

I arrived just before sunrise and wandered south along the shoreline, on the mainland side of the bridge. I passed the oyster jetty, casting soft plastics on the flats on either side. I felt a few tugs in the area just south of the oyster jetty, but I could not hook up with anything. I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I find the last of the run-in tide the hardest to fish, land-based, at Bribie. You can no longer reach the various drop offs on either side of the Pumicestone Passage. The fish move up quickly but suddenly there is no obvious structure for them to hide in; they spread out over the open expanse of flats and it is difficult to know where to concentrate your efforts.

As I thought about where to fish a huge flock of cormorants came into land. I have never seen a group as big as this before. They settled on the water for a few minutes then took off again.

In this area the only obvious structure is the slight drain that runs round the corner from Sandstone Point. Even this seems to be gradually silting up at the moment. This is where I decided to focus my efforts. The water was flowing round the corner from the south. I stood beside the mangroves and cast to the south, in the direction of the long, now submerged, sandbar.

It was now about 7.00 am. After a couple of casts, a fish grabbed the plastic, made a short run then it let it go. This also happened on the next cast and I saw the familiar snout of a long tom, following my lure in. I cast a little more towards the south east and when I took up the slack I had a fish on the line. I set the hook and it took off with the current. I soon had it under control and waded back to a gap in the mangroves. It was a good flathead, about 50cm long. I let it go.

I waded back to the same spot and cast out again. I continued fishing this area as the tide came up. I swapped to GULP Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. After a few casts the line pulled tight again and I had another flathead, about the same size. It was about 7.30 am. In the next twenty minutes I dropped two more fish and caught one smaller one.

Things went quiet around the tide change so I decided to wait out the slack water over breakfast and coffee. I waded back to the car and went off for breakfast. The wind was picking up from the south-east, but it was a beautiful morning.

By 10.00 am I had waded back to almost the same spot that I had been fishing earlier. The water level was much lower but I put in a few casts anyway. After about 10 casts, I caught another 45+ cm flathead, on a GULP Jerkshad, in the Satay Chicken colour.

The tide was now running out strongly and the big sand bar, down by the green channel marker, was clearly in view. With the wind behind me, I could reach the edge of the main channel and the sea grass beds, with some long casts. I started to make my way towards the green channel marker, casting as I went. I hooked a stingray which towed me around for a while and then broke me off. I also connected with an spiky puffer fish which grunted, spat jets of water at me and fluttered round in circles for a while before cut the line and got rid of it.

I re-rigged with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. The water was now really running and lifting more and more sediment as the tide got lower. This did not seem to bother the fish. I averaged one every 15 minutes or so, for about the next three hours. The colour of plastic did not seem to matter. Most were around the 40 to 45 cm size, but there were several more 50+ cm models amongst them.

At about 1.30 pm, I had to tear myself away – always hard to do when you are catching fish. I had caught more than 15 flathead through the morning and it does not get much better than that!

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

Iluka – Frasers Reef – 27 March 2012

Tuesday

There had been some very heavy showers through the night and at 5.30am, when I left the cabin, it was still pitch black with low cloud cover. But the wind seemed to have dropped so I headed for the rocky headland just to the north of Frasers Reef.

First light was well after 6.00 am but I could tell from the sound of the sea and the lack of spray crashing over the top of the rocks that I was in with a chance. I waited for about 20 minutes and watched the swell as the waves sets came in. It was a fairly light sea with the swell below 1.5 metres, but every 15 minutes or so a bigger set of waves would come through and soak everything. As it was just past the dark of the moon the tidal variation was still very big. On the turn of the tide, which had been at around 5.30 am, the swell can also behave erratically – so you always have to keep your eye on it.

I have felt-soled rock fishing boots which I ordered online from Cabelas in the US – http://www.cabelas.com. I currently have the Cabelas Ultralight 2 Felt-soled Wading Boots and I am very happy with them, so far. With the high Australian dollar they are currently reasonably priced at about A$80.00 a pair. They provide excellent grip even on the slimiest surfaces and also provide good ankle support. My last pair lasted about 3 years which I think is pretty good considering the work out I give them.

I started with the heavy rod and loaded up with a 3/8th 2/0 jighead, 30lb fluorocarbon leader and a Gulp Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Lime Tiger Colour. I fished around in the pre-sunrise light for a bit, lost a few jigheads to the rocks and copped a soaking from a few waves. It is rarely easy fishing this spot.

As the sun came over the horizon I switched to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Vader colour – which has been successful here before. On the first cast I felt a tug, on the second I had a fish. It was a small Jewfish, about 43cm long. I snapped it and let it go. I peppered the same area with casts and about five minutes later I felt a solid bite. The fish took a bit of line and I thought it was well hooked. I put some pressure on but then the line went slack and it was gone. It was no monster but probably a bit larger than the previous one. Now I was fired up but repeated lure changes could not raise another fish and after an hour I moved further south along the rocks – in the direction of Frasers Reef.

I was now fishing with the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Vader colour again, still with the same weight jighead and leader. I cast out into the foamy water at the base of the rocks and felt a solid hit. I was probably 4 metres above the water line so I slowly tightened the drag and lifted the fish up onto the rocks – it was another good sized Bream – about 35cm long. The rain and perhaps the dark of the moon seemed to have the big Bream fired up. I continued to fish all along these rocks but could not find anymore and at about 10.00 am I gave up and went in search of breakfast.

Bribie Island – Tailor, Tailor, Tailor – 14 August 2011

Sunday

I drove up to Bribie Island for a quick early morning fishing session. Rain was threatening as I arrived, at around 5.30.am. The tide was running in and I decided to start under the bridge in the shallows, on the island side.

I started with a GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. After a few casts and solid bites, a fish bit the tail off. I re-rigged with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was fishing with a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and my light spin rod. After a couple of casts I caught a small Tailor – just around the 30cm mark. I let it go and cast out again, under the bridge lights. Bang – the fish grabbed the lure as soon as it hit the water – it was just before dawn. It was another small Tailor. I let it go and re-rigged with a brighter coloured soft plastic – the GULP Jigging Grub in the Pink Shine colour. After a couple of casts this also brought up another Tailor.

As the sun came up I decided to move down to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole, at Bongaree. I waded out into the tide, which was now running in strongly. I cast out the Pink Shine soft plastic and as it sank I felt the line go tight. There were lots of head shakes and a few moments later I had the biggest Tailor of the morning at around 35cm. I fished on for around 30 minutes and finally gave up at about 7.30am.

There are clearly plenty of Tailor around at the moment and the surf beaches and rocky headlands should produce some good fish over the next few weeks.

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.

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!

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – A couple of Flathead – 1 Aug 2011

Monday

I only had time for a late morning fishing session today, so I drove up to Bribie Island for a couple of hours this morning, from the 10.00am high tide through to around noon. The wind had dropped significantly, since yesterday. There was still plenty of weed floating around but the water was a little clearer.

I caught a couple of Flathead that were just about 40 cm long. I got the first under the bridge, on the island side, using a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and the second down on the sand flats, in front of Buckley’s Hole, on a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I was fishing with a 1/6th 1 jighead. Hopefully the calmer weather and smaller tides will mean that the weed will start to settle down for the next week or so.

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Bribie Island – the Oyster Jetty to the Channel Marker – 19 June 2011

Sunday

I managed a quick dawn session at Bribie on Sunday. I arrived at around 6.00 am. Dawn and low tide were at about the same time. I was fishing the area of sand banks and muddy weed beds south of the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage.

I started with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Pink Shine colour, rigged on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I have now upgraded to a 12lb fluorocarbon leader as I have been getting bitten off by the Tailor that are around in the estuaries at the moment.

As I waded out I noted how cold the water has become in the last couple of weeks. I presume this is down to the consistent westerly winds. It was a westerly again this morning but not the predicted 10 to 12 knots. The first hour, through the slack water period on low tide, was a bit slow, but as the sun started to really light up the water, I started to catch fish. I had now switched to the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour – basically, yellow on top of pumpkinseed.

I opened the account with a monster Pike – at just over 45cm I think it’s the biggest I have ever caught. Around 7.00 am I caught the first Flathead. It was about 35cm long. I then put in about ten more casts in a radius of a few metres of where I caught it. After slowing my retrieve and pausing longer, I hooked up to another – this was a much better fish. I dragged it on to the sand, photographed and released it. It was just over 50cm.

I fished on until 8.00am and caught another six Flathead between 30cm and 58cm. They seemed to feed more aggressively once the sun was a little higher over the water and the tide started to run in, solidly. There are plenty of fish in our fridge at present, so I released all the Flathead I caught today. I kept the monster Pike for the cat.

If you want to try land-based fishing with soft plastic lures, now is the time in southern Queensland. I expect they are sitting on sandbanks and weed beds in all the major estuaries at present. You will need to wrap up warm though!

Bribie Island – More Flathead from around that jetty – 31 May 2011

Tuesday

When you are catching fish in a particular spot, it is difficult to tear yourself away. So at sunrise this morning I found myself back to the south of the old oyster jetty, on the mainland, opposite Bribie Island.

I started at about 6.00 am, just on first light. High tide would be just after 8.00 am. The wind was a very light south-westerly. From 6.00 am to 8.00 am, all I could find were a couple Pike. I often find the last hour of the run in tide is difficult. I think the fish need a bit of current to get them in feeding mood. When the water is completely still, at high tide, they just stop biting. Around high tide I was also limited by the water depth, to within 30 metres of the Mangrove fringed shoreline.

Around 8.30 am, as the tide started running out, I caught my first Flathead of the day – 42cm long, on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead loaded with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pumpkinseed Colour. As the run out tide grew stronger and the water level dropped, I walked further and further south, catching Flathead all the way along the big sandbar. I turned around when I reached the green channel marker and waded back up the Passage, casting into the run out tide. I swapped between the Pumpkinseed and Pearl Watermelon colour soft plastics and both caught fish. In total I caught 11 Flathead, of which 7 were over 40cm – the biggest was 61cm. I caught 4 fish on the sand right next to the green channel marker. All the fish were caught in less than a metre of water.

I finished up back at the bridge by about 11.00 am. All the fish caught today were released, so get out there and catch them!

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Iluka – Woody Head – 11 April 2011

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Monday – pm

After a good start earlier in the day, I could not resist an afternoon fish. We were staying in a cabin at Woody Head – so I was ideally placed to fish off the rocks, on the afternoon low tide. I walked out on the rock ledges, directly in front of the camp site, at about 5.00 pm. Low tide would be at about 7.30 pm.

There was a strong north easterly breeze and a few small rain squalls were coming over. I started around 5.00 pm with a 3/8oz 3/0 hook jighead and a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I was using a 30lb fluorocarbon leader again.
It is always difficult to avoid losing tackle in this location. The fish tend to bite just at the edge of the rock ledges and very close in. If you pull your lure to safety to fast, you will miss them. If you leave it too long, you get snagged. After a couple of casts I was stuck firm in the rocks, so I snapped off the jighead and plastic and re-rigged with the same set up.

I sent out five or six casts in a semi – circle, from my position on the edge of the rocks. Every now and then I would carefully retreat in the face of a big wave but only my feet were getting wet. The rocks are incredibly slippery so you need good rock fishing boots and you need to move slowly – running away from a wave is a recipe for disaster as you will almost certainly fall over. It is better to duck down and hang on if you see a big one coming – you may get wet, but hopefully you will not break your neck! Remember rock fishing is a dangerous activity, stay safe and if in doubt – don’t go out.

I moved along the rocks and just on 5.15 pm I hooked a fish. I let it run until I could see a good wave that would bring it up the rocks. I then tightened the drag and lifted the fish clear. The wave pushed it up and broke over the ledge. It was a school Jewfish/ Mulloway, just under 50cm. I unhooked it and cast out into the same spot. Before the lure had hit the bottom it was grabbed again. This time it was a much faster and more powerful fish. It headed out to see and then turned and ran along the edge of the rock ledge. I tightened the drag to slow it down as I could see it was going to try and bury itself in the rocks. The leader got stuck between the sea squirts that line the rocks, but a big wave lifted it clear and up came the fish. I was soaked but I had a good sized (45cm +) Trevally at my feet.

These two would be dinner and as another rain squall came over I decided to head back to the cabin for a warm shower. It had been another great land based session fishing with soft plastics from the rocks.

Bribie Island – Bridge, White Patch & Oyster Jetty – 8 March 2011

Tuesday

Up early and back to Bribie Island. I arrived at the mainland side of the bridge at around 4.00 am and started by casting soft plastics in amongst the pylons. The tide was in the last hour of running out and the rain showers overnight had again stirred things up. There is also a storm water drain under the bridge that empties out from time to time, further clouding the water.

I had rigged up a GULP 5” Jerkshad soft plastic in the Satay Chicken colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with 10lb braid and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader, on my light spin combo – a Loomis GL2 rod with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel.

I started just to the north of the bridge and got no bites for a while. I moved quietly, round to the north and cast into the area where the light and bridge shadows meet. Thud – a solid hit, I dropped the rod tip, paused and then struck. The fish took some line then settled into the current. I gradually eased it up on to the sandy area at the foot of the rocks. It was a nice, 46cm Flathead. I let it go, straightened the plastic on the jighead and peppered the area with more casts. It was about 4.20 am. A few retrieves later there was a smaller bite, in about the same spot and I caught another Flathead. This time it was just on 40 cm. I released it and moved all around the bridge area and down to the street light beside the boat hire outlet, but I could not find any more.

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As dawn broke, I drove up to White Patch to look for some more fish. I walked down on to the beach and out towards the drop off, that runs all the way along the edge of the Pumicestone Passage. It was just after low tide and I waded along casting in all directions, out over the drop off and on top of it, in the shallow water. I did not get a bite on the soft plastic lures. I swapped to a 1/6thoz weight, Berkley Big Eye vibration blade, but this did not find any fish either. After an hour of wading up and down, I decided to change locations again.

I drove across the bridge to the Oyster Jetty and waded out beside it, on the south side. The tide was now running in solidly and the water was much cleaner than it had been up at White Patch. However, the wind was really getting up and there were some very nasty clouds on the horizon. I hooked a decent fish but was disappointed when it leapt out of the water – a huge Long Tom. I got rid of it and waded south for about 60 metres, casting in front of me, into the run in tide. I swapped to a GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic and rigged it on a 1/8th 1 jighead. After a few casts in this area, the line came up taught and I had another fish. There was a bit of weight to it, so I decided to wade back the shoreline. It was a good size Flathead at 49cm.

I carried on for another 45 minutes but then a couple of monster rain squalls gave me a good soaking and the cooler southerly wind was really getting up. At about 9.45 am I headed home.