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.

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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.