Bribie Island – Jan to March 2015 – Catch Up – 24 March 2015

I am ashamed to admit that January to March 2015 has been a fishing black hole as far as the Landangler Blog is concerned. I apologise to those of you who check back here regularly for a fishing fix.

Once more the irrational requirements of modern society – funding for food, clothing and shelter – have diverted me from the most noble of pursuits. I have fished a few sessions at Bribie since returning from 1770 in December, but I have largely been overseas working.

As usual, when you increase the time between fishing sessions it gets much harder. You lose track of which tides work best and where and when the fish are feeding.  You lose your touch with the rod and start to forget what a snag feels like and what a fish feels like. Fishing is often a process of elimination. If you fish in one general location for three or four sessions in a row, in a short time frame, you get a far more accurate idea of what works and what does not. So the moral of this story is fish as often as you can!

In late December 2014 I had a couple of session on the flats beside the old oyster jetty at Bribie and caught a few flathead on each occasion. There were always flathead lies under the bridge after the big night time high tides and because there had not been much rain, up to that point, the water was fairly clear. The GULP 4” Minnow in the New Penny colour proved successful as did the 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I rigged both on 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jigheads with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and I was using my light spinning rod and reel combination.

My next session was a beautiful morning in early February. Conditions were good with an early morning run out tide and a light south easterly wind, but I fished the same area for dismal results. There was no evidence of bait around and no lies under the bridge lights. I fished from pre-dawn to low tide with all sorts of soft plastics and hard bodies. The only thing I caught was a tiny foul hooked whiting. At low tide it was very clear that the consistent summer wind pattern of early morning south easterly followed by afternoon northerly had flattened out the terrain quite considerably. This could also be a result of the cleared area where the new resort is being built creating a wind tunnel.

My next session was early March on Red Beach at Skirmish Point, on the southern tip of Bribie Island. I fished the last of the low tide on a beautiful hot morning. I did not start until after 9.00 am and stuck with a light leader and 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead. I was using the ‘dart slayer’ soft plastic – the GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. This plastic seems to really work well off the beach. After a few casts I hooked, then dropped, a small flathead. I found the point where the current flows from either side of the island meet and started casting in to it. I could see plenty of small garfish schools and every now and then something would send the schools of smaller bait flying in all directions. The soft plastic lure was getting bumped and snapped at and I soon caught a small dart and then a bigger dart. The next taker was a tiny chopper tailor. They continued to nibble but I did not get any more and left when the tide turned.

In late March I returned to the same spot at about the same time of day with almost identical results. My cousin was visiting from the UK and I was keen to put him onto a fish or two. A great gutter had formed along the beach at Skirmish Point. At its mouth there was constant activity with garfish and other small bait schooling up. There was virtually no breeze, but the tide was coming in this time. I caught a small dart and half an hour later I was delighted to see cousin Joe land a feisty bigger dart. That was it for the day.

Cousin Dangler

Hooked up on a Skirmish Point dart

 

That’s a quick round up of the story so far this year. I hope to be posting more regularly now – sharks permitting.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 20 December 2013

Friday

I was beginning to get fed up with the Christmas madness. Every time I have dropped into the supermarket in the last fortnight, there have been people stuffing trolleys with food that will surely end up in the bin in ten days – bags of assorted nuts in their shells, icing sugar dusted Stollen logs, massive hams & huge frozen turkeys, those huge square Italian sponge cakes that taste like cardboard and enough mangoes and cherries to sink a battleship.

Big W / Target / Kmart and the rest have crammed aisle upon aisle with cheap, useless crap that nobody wants or needs. Buckets of Margarita mix (without the alcohol), Brut deodorant combined with bonus Brut aftershave in a gift pack (not sure it really is a bonus). There are enough bath salts, crystals, foams, creams, milks, lotions, serums and bombs to make Wivenhoe Dam fizz. In almost every case, the packaging probably cost several times as much as the rubbish inside it. I am half expecting to see the old ‘soap on a rope’ make a comeback.

Only fishing could lift my spirits. I decided to set the alarm and fish the morning low tide at Bribie. The bottom of the tide was 4.24 am, just after first light and just before dawn. There was a slight northerly wind forecast. It was three days after the full moon. I chose the flats on the mainland side of the bridge, as these have been fishing well.

I arrived about 4.15 am and then waded out to the area south of the old oyster jetty, where the flathead have been hiding. I started with the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Watermelon Pearl colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and was using my usual 10lb fluorocarbon leader and G.Loomis TSR light spinning rod. The water was still and the sky was cloudy. I was about level with the end of the jetty, where there are a number of sandy hollows, amongst the thick weed.

At about 4.40am, I caught my first flathead. It was just under 40 cm. I released it and then I cast into the same hollow and caught another. This one was bigger – perhaps 45cm. I couple of casts later; I caught another, about the same size. I had another fish on my line from this spot, but it spat my jighead on the surface.

I moved on to the next hollow and decided to change colours. I chose the orange and yellow GULP Orange Tiger Jerkshad. At about 5.30 am this did the trick and I had another flathead. It was also about 45cm.  It had chewed through the plastic, so I replaced it with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I kept moving towards the south. The tide was starting to run in now. At 5.40am, I caught another small flathead – approximately 35cm long. The sky had turned grey not long after sunrise and now I could see the rain clouds coming towards me. It started spitting and then really raining but it was only a short shower.

I fished along the edge of the weed beds for another hour without a bite. At about 8.00 am another shower was threatening so I gave up. The best action has definitely been around dawn in the last few sessions – not good news if you like sleep!

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.

Bribie Island – The Seaside Museum drain – 24 August 2012

Friday

The wind is starting its undecided phase with a big northerly blow predicted for Friday afternoon. Friday morning looked ok, so I decided to revisit my favorite Bream location – Bongaree, on Bribie Island.

In years gone by, the Bream have shown up along the coffee rock ledge that runs along the edge of the Pumicestone Passage. They have often schooled up to spawn in the areas around the mouth of the tidal lagoon, in front of Buckley’s Hole. Typically, the best time to chase them has been either side of the new moons in July and August. Sometimes they are also around in June and September, depending on the water temperature.

The GULP 3” Minnow or 2” Shrimp have always been my favorite soft plastic lures for Bream. I prefer the more natural colours. When I am fishing the rocky headlands, I have caught plenty of big Bream on Jerkshads and other big soft plastics, but in the estuaries these fish can be fussy.

I started just after first light at about 5.45am. I was in front of the Seaside Museum again. The tide was running out and would be low at 7.45 am. This is the perfect time to fish this spot. I stopped about three metres from the drop off and cast over it, to the north. I was fishing with my light spin rig, with 10lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/8th, 1/0 jighead. I thought there might be some Flathead around so I had chosen a compromise soft plastic – the GULP 4“ Minnow in the Smelt colour. Big Bream should still be interested in it and if I passed over any Flathead, they would also go for it.

I counted to ten and let the lure sink. I am not sure how deep it is here but I would guess no more than 2.5 to 4 metres, in most places. The first couple of casts produced nothing and then the dolphins swam buy. It is always a pleasant sight but I presume the fish head for cover. About twenty minutes later there were some surface bust ups and just as I pulled the lure over the top of the ledge, there was a fast snatch and I was on. Playing fish here is tricky. It’s best to get close to the edge and play them out in the open water. If you have to hall them over, you risk sawing off your leader when they lunge back down, close to the edge.

This was a good Bream – 32cm and I pulled it safely onto the sand. I waded back out and cast over the edge again. The lure was hit on the drop but the mad head shakes meant it was not a Bream or Flathead. A few moments later I pulled a 35cm Chopper Tailor onto the sand. I fished for another 30 minutes with a few bites but no hook ups.

The wind, a north westerly, was now picking up. I moved to the south of the lagoon mouth and tried a few different soft plastics. I swapped back to the Smelt Minnow and started casting again in the same spot where I had caught the first Bream. At about 7.30 am, I cast out and let the lure sit on the bottom for a while. When I lifted it, I had a fish on. It was another good Bream just over 30cm long. I landed it and decided to pack up.

I had a coffee then decided to try fishing at Whitepatch, further up the Island. I stuck with the same soft plastic and jighead and walked along the drop off casting and retrieving. There was quite a bit of bait in the water and the birds kept turning up for a dive, but I could not find the fish. I did however, pull up a Stonefish – seriously ugly.

It had been a tough session but I had caught two quality fish and had dinner organized – so no complaints.

Bribie Island – Pacific Harbour Flats – 7 November 2011

Monday

I wasn’t planning to fish today. I couldn’t get away until 8.00 am and thought that might be too late. But it was such a beautiful day that I decided I would go anyway. I drove up to Bribie and dropped in on Nigel at the tackle shop, in Ningi. As usual, he provided some good local knowledge and told me who was catching what, where and when.

I took his advice and decided to fish some new ground, to the north of the mouth of the Pacific Harbour canal development, on Bribie Island. High tide had passed at around 7.00 am and it was now about 9.00 am. This is a great fishing spot. It has everything – weed beds, sand banks and the coffee rock ledge that runs the length of the Pumicestone Passage.

I started just north of the wading bird sanctuary and started casting around with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour. I had been fishing the longer Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastics at the end of the previous session and had left the slightly heavier and wider gape 1/6th oz, 2/0 jighead on. I have begun to conclude that anything bigger than a 1/0 hook jighead, can reduce you hook up rate with the Flathead. I don’t think it affects their eagerness to eat the lure but I think the bigger hook does not lodge so effectively in the jaw of the very flat mouth.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After about ten minutes I felt a bite, paused and struck, I had a good size fish on, but after about twenty seconds, it wriggled off the jighead. I waded a little further south, towards the mouth of the Pacific Harbour development. Just short of the entrance, I was retrieving my lure and about to lift it from the water to cast again. A Flathead launched itself at the lure and grabbed it, just as it came out of the water. I nearly jumped out of my skin. It turned and ran and I tried to set the hook but failed again and it was gone.

I changed down to a lighter and smaller gauge jighead, a 1/8th 1/0 hook, and moved back north, wading and casting, wading and casting. I tripped over an unmarked crab pot and then another. The water is still quite muddy and murky in places, even though there has been no rain for a while. Finally, after more than one hour, I hooked up with a 25cm Flathead. I released it and decided to switch locations.

I drove down to Bongaree, to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole. It was just about low tide by the time I got there. I cast over the edge of the coffee rock ledge and moved south from a spot just in front of the new museum. After a couple of casts, bait started skipping around and I caught a small Chopper Tailor – about 25cm long.

I decided I had missed my chance of catching a good fish earlier in the day and so, at about 12.30 pm, I gave up and went home.

Bribie Island – A bagful of Flathead – 27 May 2011

Thursday

Back up to Bribie Island, in search of Flathead. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived around 5.00 am. It really was not too cold and the south westerly wind was far lighter than the predicted 15 knots. High tide had been at about 4.00 am so there was still plenty of water around the bridge pylons. I decide to start on the island side and as soon as arrived I could see and hear the Pike and Chopper Tailor breaking the surface as they grabbed smaller baitfish/ shrimps.

Small Flathead - under the bridge on Bribie Island side

I started with the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour, rigged on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I was using a 12lb leader and fishing with my Loomis GL2 light spin rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel. After a couple of casts I caught a small Flathead – just about 40cm. It must have been lying in the shadows beside the first pylon, in no more than 40cm of water. I released it. The next cast gave me a Pike that was bigger than the Flathead and then, a few casts later, a 25cm Chopper Tailor.

Choppers - Juvenile Tailor under the Bribie Island bridge lights

Before the tide got too low I decided to go back over to the mainland side and fish around the pylons under the bridge lights. I stuck with the same soft plastic and jighead and worked my way around the pylons. I waded quietly, stopping frequently to pepper the spots where I have caught fish before. This soon paid off and just south of the bridge, about 6 metres from the mangrove line, I caught another Flathead. It was around 50cm long so it went in the keeper bag.

A Flathead from the mainland side about 50 cm

There was the glow of dawn on the horizon but the sun was still not up. It was cold now, but this area is shielded from the westerly breeze. The water looked fairly clear so I switched to a bigger GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour – basically a flecked combination of pink and yellow with a forked curly tail. After a couple more casts I caught another fish – despite the bigger lure it was a much smaller Flathead at around 42cm – Keeper No.2.

Bigger lure but a smaller fish! around 42cm

The sun came up and I continued wading south, past the old oyster farm jetty. I walked right along the big sand bar – that is exposed at low tide, casting on either side. I reached the pole that warns boats about the remains of the old oyster racks and then turned north again and started wading back, alongside the sandbar, in waist deep water. I swapped back to the Pearl Watermelon Minnow. I was casting back at the sand bar and after about 50 metres I hooked another fish. It was another Flathead, about 48cm long –Keeper No.3. I dragged it up onto the sand and then resumed my course towards the oyster jetty. Over the next half an hour I got two more slightly bigger Flathead (Keepers 4 & 5) and a monster Pike – well over 45cm – which I kept for the cat.

When water covers this spot the Flathead sit along this lip

A bag of five Bribie Flathead and a big Pike for the cat

I now had my bagful of fish and so I decided to call it quits. The forecast wind was really arrived and was starting to blow so I headed back to the car and then the gutting table. It had been another good fishing session in the Pumicestone Passage.

Fingal Head – Nothing for dinner – 3 Feb 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thursday

Back to Fingal Head in Northern New South Wales – a big drive down from Brisbane – left around 2.45 am – but the Jewfish from the last session had got me all fired up.

I arrived before dawn – and walked all around the headland casting everywhere. I got a few bites just as the sun came up – probably Dart or Bream and then nothing. I started with GULP Jerkshad soft plastic lures on a 1/2 oz jigheads and also tried a HALCO 70g Twisty metal slug. Nothing produced fish. The swell was a bit bigger than on Tuesday and half an hour after dawn it was already stinking hot. I waited until the tide peaked at around 8.30 am and then gave up.

A great spot but I could not find the fish today. I will blame Tropical Cyclone Yasi which was crossing the coast at Cardwell/ Tully just as I started the session.

Iluka – Shark Bay in the rain – 3 Dec 2010

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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 – Frasers Reef – 30 Nov 2010

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Bribie Island – Bridge, Buckleys Hole and Whitepatch – 14 Nov 2010

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sunday

After a month away from fishing, I was keen to get a line in the water as soon as possible. I decided to head up to Bribie Island and was on the road from Brisbane at 3.30 am. A lot changes in 4 weeks – the water has warmed up, sunrise is a good deal earlier and there has been plenty of rain. As I waded out under the bridge, on the island side, the first thing that struck me was the murky water and the lack of surface activity. Then I gradually realised that the plus side of all the rain and the northerly winds, was distinct lack of weed floating around.
I started by casting my old favourite soft plastic – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – in close to the Bribie Island bridge pylons. Not much happened for half an hour or so. I had a few nudges and bumps, but no hook ups. Finally, I put a cast right into the foot of the second pylon and it scraped the barnacles as it went into the water. Next thing the line went taught but with not much weight on it. I wound in the line and had my first fish of the morning a 10cm Moses Perch! As the sky lightened I caught a couple of small Pike. At about 5.30 am I decided to move on.
I drove down to the sand flats at Buckley’s Hole, at the southern tip of Bribie Island. High tide had been at 3.30 am and now the tide was running out strongly. The water here was very cloudy. I think this is due to the hollowing out of the banks at the mouth of the tidal lagoon. You can see where the current has washed the sand away and revealed the mud underneath. During the run out tide this further clouds the water. Despite the discolouration there was plenty of surface activity and there were Whiting everywhere. On many casts my plastic would land in the middle of a school and send them jumping in all directions. There were also plenty of herring and other small bait fish around. Perhaps because there was so much bait in the water, I was still casting around after an hour or so with no fish. There were plenty of jellyfish around, no doubt blown in on the northerly winds. The turtles were also out in force and at about 6.30 am a Dugong swam past.
I changed plastic to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour which I was fishing on a 1/6th 1/0 hook jighead. I was using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied to 2.8kg Fireline. I had my favourite Loomis GL2 Light spin rod with a Stradic 3000 reel. About 300 metres south of the mouth of the tidal lagoon I got a couple of hits that I took for a Pike or Bream. I cast back again into the same spot and almost instantly felt the solid bite of a Flathead. I was so excited I nearly catapulted him out of the water on to the shore. He was just under the legal size limit so I snapped him and put him back. In the attached pictures you can see just how cloudy the water was. I carried on for another 30 mins without success and then decided to change spots.
I drove up to Whitepatch beach, further up on the inside of Bribie Island. It was now almost low tide, so I stayed out of the water, initially. I cast out the same soft plastic shrimp on to the ledge that forms the edge of the Pumicestone Passage, all along this beach. There was only about 50cm of water covering the ledge and again, the water was very murky. On the third or fourth cast, a fish slammed the soft plastic shrimp and took off over the ledge. I let it have some line then moved down to the edge, tightened the drag a little and pulled it up and over. I then dragged it up on to the sand. It was a nice 52cm Flathead and it went straight into the bag for dinner.
As the tide started to run in, I decided to try my Snapper theory for this spot. My experience suggests that they often feed in this area during the first half hour of the run in tide. This seems to be especially true when these are the conditions just after dawn. I prefer a plastic with a curly tail for Snapper but I didn’t have one, so it was back to the trusty GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The fish are usually in close to the ledge but I cast a fair way out, let the plastic sink then skip it across the bottom fairly slowly, increasing the pause to five seconds or so, as the plastic comes close to the ledge. Right on cue, on the third cast the rod bends over and I am losing line to something that can only be a Snapper. After a quick tussle and a slight tightening of the drag I successfully pulled it up on to the sand. It was just under legal size at around 34cm but this is a good fish for this spot. As I photographed it, I noticed it had lost one of its fins – it’s a tough ocean out there! I let it go and decided to pack up for the day.
It was 9.00 am and I had fed my craving – watch this space – I will be back out there again soon.

Brisbane River – Pinkenba Rockwall – 7 Oct 2010


Thursday
I only had time for a short fishing excursion today. I checked the tide and saw we had a pretty high high-tide at around 9.00 am at the mouth of the Brisbane River. I could not start fishing until about 9.30 am so I decided to walk out, along the Pinkenba rock wall in search of some Flathead.
You can get access to the rock wall down a small track that runs down to the river side, behind the Queensland Cement Plant, which is next to the Pinkenba boat ramp. I have caught Flathead, Bream and Tailor all along this wall. When the high tide is over 2 metres, as it was today, I like to walk along the wall until the water is flowing over the top of the broken down sections. The tide forms small drains and channels as it runs out and usually, this is where the fish are lurking.
I walked for about 35 mins until I could walk no further. I then turned around to walk back along the wall, casting out on either side and working my lure back along the bottom beside the wall. The tide was now running out strongly. Unfortunately the big tide had made the water a bit murky. I have always found the more natural coloured lures work well in the Brisbane River so I started fishing with the GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic on a 1/6th 1 jighead. I lost a few jigheads to the oyster covered rocks on the river side of the wall and watched a few tiny Bream follow it in – but after an hour I had nothing to show for my efforts.
I turned my attention to the lagoon side of the rock wall. The lagoon sits between the wall and the BP Refinery Tank Farm. It is less than two metres deep, even on a high tide but it has plenty of weed beds that attract the Flathead. I found a break in the wall where the water was running into the lagoon. I cast in a semi-circle, into the eddy that had formed a few metres behind the opening. I felt a few small hits then hooked a 10cm Whiting. I carried on and after a few more casts the lure was slammed by a Flathead, just at the base of the rock wall. I landed him – took a picture and sent him on his way. He was just over 40cm but there is more than enough Flathead in the fridge at present. I carried on in the same spot, peppering the area with casts and after about 5 more I had another Flathead around the same size. I also released him.
I gradually moved back along the rock wall casting as I went but despite changing colours and even trying a blade lure, I did not get another touch from the fish. I arrived back at the car at about noon.

Bribie Island – I tried everywhere – 11 Sept 2010

Saturday
Well just to show that I am not a ‘good news only’ fishing blogger, Saturday morning was a disaster. It went like this – I had high hopes for a good catch, with a big tide and good weather. I started off under the Bridge on the island side at Bribie. It was just on 4.00 am. I cast soft plastic lures up against the pylons – I tried paddle tails, shrimps and minnows in various colours, with no luck.
Ok, onto Plan B. As the sun came up I drove down the island, through Bongaree to fish the coffee rock ledge in front of the saltwater lagoon, at Buckley’s Hole. This is a great position on low tide, the lagoon empties out and the fish usually congregate just south of its mouth. It was around slack water on dawn, with low tide at 5.20am. I walked up and down, up and down but I could not even raise a bite.
Ok, on to Plan C. I jumped back into the car and drove north, up to Whitepatch. The tide was just starting to run in. I walked down the wooden staircase to the spot I have christened ‘Pike Rocks’ and put on a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I cast out as fair as I could and let it sink for 10 seconds or so. I then began a slow and steady retrieve. Well at least the Pike did not let me down. About 4 metres from the shore I got a hit, then another and then a hook up with a fairly small Yellow fin Pike. I started to move south along the sand flats, casting out over the rock ledge and bouncing the plastic along the bottom. About 15 minutes passed and the 2” Shrimp plastic I had switched to was slammed as it came up over the ledge. After a good tussle I was disappointed to find it was only a 20cm Moses Perch. I carried on along this stretch until the run in tide drove me to far from the ledge and my lure kept getting snagged. I turned around and waded back to the car. I was now casting my lure on top of the ledge. By 9.30am I still had nothing for dinner.
Ok, on to plan D. I climbed back into the car and drove down to the old Oyster Jetty on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, to the south of the bridge. By 10.30 am I was wading along the edge of the weed banks just south of the jetty casting a 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th 1 jighead. That big tide I had been looking forward to was now, unfortunately stirring everything up, so just to add to my woes, the jighead was constantly getting clogged with weed. I walked round the corner and cast out over a big sand bank. The tide was streaming in and I felt sure the flathead would have moved up to sit in the cover offered by the sandbank. There was a bit of surface activity with bait jumping so I wound in and cast at it. There were a couple hard bites so I dropped the rod tip for a few seconds and then struck. There was a load of splashing and then I saw the unmistakable writhing thin silver body of a Long Tom. I took this as an omen and decided to give up for the day. It was 11.45am. There was plenty of bait around and the water was fairly clear, the tide was good – I just could not find the fish.

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.

Brisbane River – Boggy Creek – 23 July 2010

If you have children of school age you will know that most officially classified biological weapons are far less toxic than the coughs and colds they bring home. I succumbed this week and I have been feeling like crap. I missed my usual fishing session on Thursday, so I decided to put in a couple of hours this morning, close to home, at Boggy Creek, on the Brisbane River.
For those of you who don’t know it, Boggy Creek is a small arm off the Brisbane River on the north side of the Pinkenba Shell oil terminal. You can fish all along the northern bank, but I usually start by the small pedestrian bridge that leads across to the refinery. You cannot fish on the bridge as it has a security gate and belongs to the refinery.
I find this creek fishes best for a couple of hours on either side of the high tide and it is a great spot pre-dawn. There is a small rock wall on either side of the bridge and the channel narrows significantly at this point. This has cut a fairly deep channel under the bridge. There is always plenty of bait under the lights and once the tide is running there are large swirls, eddies and sections of slack water where the big fish lurk.
I started around 9.00 am – the wind (from the southwest) was getting up and the run out tide was really moving. The water was fairly clear so I started with a 3” GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th 1 jighead on 10lb leader. My strategy was to cast out, upstream and let the plastic float with the current down under the bridge. I would jig it every 5 seconds or so to stop it getting snagged. There is plenty of manmade structure under that bridge ranging from tyres to shopping trolleys. After a few prospecting casts I switched to the GULP Pumpkinseed Minnow Grub. I find the paddle tail pattern is good when there is a strong current. The tail moves realistically even when the plastic is at rest on the bottom and it is almost irresistible as it sinks. Sure enough – second cast a hungry Pike wallops the plastic. This scenario played out a few more times and then I cast over towards the far rock wall. On the retrieve there were a few nudges and tickles and then a solid hit and hook up. As I brought the fish in, a great school of Pike scattered before it. It turned out to be a 28cm Bream with a Mohican fin! I released him after a picture or two and then decided to move up the bank towards the Brisbane River.
There are a number of openings all along the bank from which you can fish. I stopped at each one and did a semicircle of casts in each location. When I reached the mouth of a small drain I was a bit more thorough with my coverage and on about the 6th cast I pulled up a 35cm Flathead. I let him go and got another smaller one from exactly the same spot. The water was getting very shallow now and it was blowing a gale so decided to give up for the day.
It was good to get the rod in the water and find a few fish – even if there was nothing for dinner.