Brunswick River Brunswick Heads – 24/25 May 2021

After catching and releasing a big female flathead in the third week in May, I continued my thorough survey of fish in the Brunswick River. On Monday the 24th May, I was back out wading around in the shallows at the mouth. The water was still warm and clear and the bait was not as plentiful as it had been, but it was still there.

I started at about 10.30 am. Low tide would be just after noon, so I was fishing the bottom of the run out. I focused on the area where I had caught the big fish the week before – just as the tide had picked up speed running in, but I could not find another one there. I moved up river a little. I was fishing with a GULP 4″ Black Silver Paddleshad soft plastic loaded onto a 18th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. Just at the lower mouth of Marshalls Creek, I felt a single thud. I dropped the rod tip, paused for about 10 seconds and lifted it again. The fish was hooked and I pulled in a small flathead about 40cm long. I peppered the area but there were no more.

I moved down to the river mouth and caught another small flathead on a GULP 3″ Minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour. It was now about 11.45 am and I had a few casts out on the beach on the north side of the river mouth. This yielded one more very small flathead.

On the 25th I decided to fish upstream, around the top of the island west of the Ferry Reserve holiday park. This is accessed via the south bank of the river. I waded out in to the shallows at the eastern tip of the island at about 11.30 am. I was fishing the run out tide. The area is fairly shallow and usually covered in rays. I could see lots of tiny jelly prawns hanging around the edge of the weed beds and sunken timber. I moved slowly round the island, casting at the edge of the weed beds and channels and caught two very small flathead and one very angry bream. I finished up at about 1.00 pm.

Brunswick River – Brunswick Heads – 14/16 May 2021

On the 14th May, I decided to see if the fish were up river. I was fishing land based and I started on the sand flats on the south side of the river, around the highway bridge. The first catch was a tiny flathead, just under the bridge. Then I moved up river to the boat ramp, near the caravan park. The water was crystal clear again.

It was now about noon. The tide had been high at about 10.00 am and was now running out. I was fishing with my light spin rig and a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I was using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP 2″ Shrimp soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. I paused beside the boat ramp as there was a big school of tiny bait fish close to the shore. I cast up river, into the fast running tide and gradually hopped the lure back along the bottom, under the bait. On about my tenth try I felt a solid thud and I had another flathead. It was probably 35 cm long and I let it go.

I made my way along the rockwall in front of the caravan park, casting all along the base of the rocks. There was bait everywhere. But I could not find anymore flathead.

A few days later I had a beach session at New Brighton, just to the north of the Brunswick River mouth. The swell and wind was fairly light and so I cast around in the corner of the beach using my medium weight beach rig. This is a Daiwa Crossfire CFX1062 – a 10 foot 6 inch long beach fishing rod, matched with a Shimano Stella 4000 reel. I spool it with 30lb braid and today I was using a 16lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader. I thought there might be a few tailor around as there had been so much bait in the river. I was using a big soft plastic (GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour) on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead.

It was about 4.00 pm and it was almost low tide. After a few casts I caught a 40 cm flathead. I released it and kept casting. About 10 minutes later I hooked another flathead. This was a better fish (just under 50 cm long) and I decided to keep it for supper. I carried on for about half an hour but I was now wet and the wind chill got too high, so I cleaned up the fish and quit for the day. The water is still warm but it won’t be for much longer, now the wind is coming from the west.

Brunswick River – Flathead, Bream, Trevally – 21 April 2021

I have always done well targeting flathead in March and April. Those of you who have followed me for a while will be aware that when I was based in Brisbane I spent a lot of time exploring the flats at Bribie Island. My experience of catching flathead in that area have shaped my fishing process for every estuary I subsequently explore. Look for the edges of weed beds, sand banks and drop offs and fish the last couple of hours of the run out tide – these have been two of my best my most successful habits.

I now live very close to the Brunswick River in northern New South Wales, but I have not really had a lot of success fishing in the river. The much bigger Richmond and Clarence Rivers are nearby and if I have a day to fish I often head for one of these. In the Brunswick River I have caught flathead, bream and the odd trevally but nothing very big and I have not found many consistent fish producing spots. The Northern Rivers area of New South Wales has been very busy with holidaymakers since COVID 19 locked us all into Australia. However with Easter behind us we were beginning to get a few quieter days on the river. The swell was still playing up offshore so there were less big boats heading over the bar. The caravan parks were gradually emptying out so there were a few less tinnies ploughing up and down fishing the river.

Out on the beaches the water was still warm and now crystal clear. There were big schools of mullet cruising along behind the wave breaks. On a calm afternoon I caught a couple of legal size flathead in a gutter at New Brighton. I was using a 2″ GULP Shrimp on a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and 12lb leader.

The water in the lower reaches of the Brunswick River was fairly clear once the tide started running in and there seemed to be plenty of bait around. On the bottom of the tide the water was stained brown with tannin, as the rain drained from the tea tree and paperbark swamps that surround the river.

On the 21st I decided to fish for a few hours of the run in tide after low, which was just before 10.00 am. I arrived at the mouth of the Brunswick River on the north side at about 10.45 am and got rigged up on my light spinning outfit. I stuck with 10lb fluorocarbon leader as the water was now very clear. I noticed something smashing into a bait schools out in the middle of the river. I put on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and loaded it with a GULP 2 inch Shrimp profile soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. I cast this at the spots were I saw the surface bust ups. After a few tries I hooked a small bream and then a small trevally. As the incoming clean water washed in I noticed there were big schools of small whitebait coming with it. I swapped to GULP 4″ Minnow soft plastic in the Watermelon Pearl colour and after a few casts something pulled this plastic off the jighead. I put another one on and slowed my retrieve down. After about ten minutes I caught another small flathead.

As the tide started to run in strongly I swapped through a few different soft plastics and caught four more legal size flathead and two that were less than the 36 cm limit. I kept a couple of fish for supper and released everything else.

Let’s hope the bait sticks around and lures the predators up river.

Brunswick Heads – the beach – 18 October 2015

Sunday

Half way through October, I managed to get down to Brunswick Heads for the weekend and had a few mornings fishing on South Golden Beach. Earlier in the year, in the cooler water, I had found plenty of tailor and bream down here.

The moon was in its first quarter and the tides were not big. The wind was a light south easterly, turning northerly in the afternoons. As you all know I love to fish with soft plastics lures. On the beach, success with plastics requires a bit of persistence – especially in the warmer months.

As usual you have to be up early or be prepared to fish through dusk. I prefer the dawn session, as I am an early riser and you know the water has not really been fished/ surfed/ disturbed overnight.

In spring and summer I fish with very light gear. The predominant summer species; dart, whiting, bream can be very picky and the water is often clear. I rarely use more than a 12lb fluorocarbon leader and will often go down to 8lb to get the bites. This means you have to have a good, functioning drag on your reel and make sure it is set correctly. You will certainly lose a big bream/ or dart in the surf, if your drag is set to tight. If you get a fish hooked you have to bring it in patiently, using the rhythm of the surf. If a big mackerel is passing through, your are doomed, but that is fairly unlikely.

I like to use small brightly coloured soft plastics when the water is clear. My favourite for dart is the GULP 3” Minnow in the lime tiger colour. If the water is stirred up I swap to paddle and grub tailed soft plastics in darker colours. In these conditions it is often the vibration that will bring the fish to the lure.

On Sunday, I decided fish the rocks and beach on the north shore of the Brunswick River mouth. There is often a nice big gutter here and the rocky/ reefy area on the north side of the river rock wall also provides some good structure to fish around. I arrived at the carpark at about 5.30 am, just after first light.

The water was a little stirred up so I started with a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. 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. After a while I was not getting any bites, so I swapped down to a lighter 1/8th ounce jighead. I moved a little closer to the rocks.

The fishing was tough. I had a couple of bites from what I assume were dart. Low tide had passed at about 5.40 am and the water was now starting to run in. Perhaps this was the catalyst for action and I hooked a small bream (about 25cm long) and then another.

There was a pause of about 20 minutes then I caught a few more. At about 8.15 am the sun was high in the sky – and my fishing spot was right at the start of the surfer route out to their favoured spot. They kept, very politely, swimming through the fishing zone, so I decided to give up for the morning.