Coffin Bay – Kellidie Bay & Point Avoid – 1/2 September 2016

Thursday

Work brought me to the Eyre Peninsula again in early September. I was keen to get back down to Coffin Bay as I have heard there is a run of big kingfish at this time of year.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon and took a cabin at the caravan park for the weekend. Spring had just about arrived and the weather and more importantly the water temperatures were beginning to warm up. Thursday was new moon so the tides were quite big.

In the afternoon I drove round to Kellidie Bay to fish at Seal Corner – and fished with my Gary Howard Estuary 9’ of the west side of the peninsula. I was using 4lb leader and 1/12th ounce, size 1 hook jig head with various Gulp Worms. I caught a few small King George Whiting, a few juvenile Salmon and one very small Tommy Rough. The Dolphins came through but a cold south westerly wind at about 15 knots made things tough.

On Friday morning I was up at 5.30 and drove in to the National Park and round to Point Avoid. Tide would be low at about 7.00 am and a five knot south easterly wind was forecast. Skies were overcast and there was virtually no moon. First light was at 6.20 am.

Last time I was here I was outgunned with a very light rod so this time I brought my slightly bigger NS Blackhole Light Surf Rod. I have a new Shimano Stradic 4000 reel and I had loaded it with the 17lb Aldi braid and tied on a length of 25lb leader.

I started with a River2sea Bubble Pop 88 in a gold colour. I cast this a long way out behind the waves and started yanking it. Conditions were pretty choppy so there was no point in trying to make it look pretty. No luck on the first cast but right at the end of the retrieve on the second, a decent salmon (about 2.5kg) caming rushing up behind it. It hit the lure hard and then turned around and headed back out to sea. It was solidly hooked and with the bigger rod I had little trouble subduing it.

As the sky brightened a full length rainbow appeared. I could see the rain heading towards me. I carried on with the popper for a few more casts but I was casting into the wind and I could net get it as far out as I wanted. I took it off and swapped to a 40 gram Surecatch Knight metal slug.  This caught a salmon on the first cast and then continued to catch more, about one every other cast. However the size gradually declined as we moved further from dawn.

At about 8.30 am, it started to rain. I tied on a DUO Realis Jerkbait 100 – a hard bodied suspending minnow. I cast this out and although it would not carry as far as the slug it did go a fair distance. The action or the rattle had an immediate effect and a fish hit it as soon as it got going. After a short fight I pulled out a grumpy looking brown spotted wrasse. I caught a few more of these who seemed to like this lure. The rain gradually got heavier and it was pretty cold so at about 9.30 am gave up.

As I drove back along the national park road into Coffin Bay the emus were out in force, one even had a set of what looked like fairly recent chicks. Drive slowly on this stretch if you are coming down this way.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 25 January 2016

Monday

Low tide had proved productive on Friday and Monday would be full moon, so I just had to get out fishing again. The wind was forecast to build up into a very strong south-easterly by mid-morning. I arrived at the Bribie Bridge at 4.30 am, well before first light. Low tide had passed at 3.51 am. There had been a storm overnight, with thunder and lightning but not much rain. It was hot and humid with mosquitoes everywhere, but conditions were very still. The tide was not yet running.

I cast around under the bridge and had a few bites from something small. I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour (yellow and pumpkinseed) on a 1/8th ounce size 1/0 hook jighead. There were plenty of tiny squid swimming around and a few mullet jumping.

I moved south, parallel with the shore. I cast at the first barnacle covered pylon that I came to and as I retrieved the soft plastic along the bottom, I felt a solid bite. I struck but did not set the hook and the fish was gone. I peppered the area with casts and after about seven or eight, I had another solid bite. I dropped the rod tip and paused. I counted slowly to ten, then struck. This time, I connected. It was a respectable flathead about 55 cm long. There was fish in the fridge at home, so I let this one go.  I continued fishing around the pole and soon caught another smaller flathead about 45cm long.

Now I waded to the south. Passing under the jetty, I kept casting but swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour.  The sun came up and an enormous school of mullet swam by, finning around on the surface. I cast my lure in to the middle of them and felt them bump and nudge it. On the few occasions I have caught a mullet, it has nearly always been by foul hooking it. They have really small mouths, so they will rarely swallow a soft plastic.

I kept seeing the triangular shape of a ray’s wing tips breaking the surface. It’s easy to see how these could be confused for shark’s fins in the low light of dawn and dusk. By now I was about half way to the furthest green channel marker. I felt another good bite but could not hook the fish. On the next cast I did connect and caught another 45cm flathead.

The wind was very strong now and the tide was running in quickly, so I turned back towards the jetty. It felt like I had been fishing for ages but it was actually only about 6.45 am. As I came back towards the bridge I caught the final flathead of the day. It was also the biggest, at just on 60cm.

I had had a few good sessions around the full moon which seems to be a pattern in this area.

Iluka – Shark Bay – 11 June 2015

Thursday

As is so often the case in Iluka – the weather was not easy to deal with. The week before it had looked good with light winds and no rain forecast. I woke up early on Thursday to a howling south-easterly wind and intermittent rain, so I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. That did not really work so I got up, had breakfast and then thought about where to fish in a powerful south-easterly. The northern edge of the rock platform at Shark Bay, at low tide was the only option, so I set off.

The mullet fisherman were waiting at the corner of Shark Bay looking out for some late season schools. Apparently it has been a terrible season. With the big rain events last month flushing out all the fish. One keen fisherman was on his way back from the rocks with a 40 cm tailor in his bag. He had spun it up on an 85 g Raider metal slug, just after dawn.

I spun an 85 g Raider for about 25 casts but could not raise another tailor so I swapped to the light rod and tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and GULP Mantis Shrimp soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour. I was using 16lb fluorocarbon leader. In this area there is a kelp covered drop off about 10 metres out from the edge of the rock platform at low tide. This is where the bream sit. I felt a couple of solid bites as I pulled the soft plastic over the ledge, but did not hook up.

I swapped to 3“Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and kept casting. In exactly the same spot a small bream grabbed it and I had my first fish of the day. It was now about 9.45 am and I was soaked and cold.

The wind had dropped a little so I moved south across the rock platform to fish on the southern edge. This area is full of kelp covered rocks but there are some deep, sandy bottomed holes and I have caught good bream here in the past.

I swapped plastics to a GULP Swimmow in the dark green Emerald Shine colour. This was getting hit on the first cast but it took a while to actually connect with a fish. At about 11.00 am after slowing everything down I connected with another bream. This was a good one – well over 35 cm long. I continued with the Swimmow soft plastic for another 20 mins and was rewarded with another, about the same size.

I swapped back down to a 3“Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and  this produced another big bream, at about 11.30 am.  The rain started again and I decided to give up. It had been a tough session but there had been constant action and I had caught three excellent fish –  the largest of which later measured 38 cm.

Bribie Island – Bongaree and White Patch – 22 August 2013

Thursday

Clear skies and 10 knot south-westerly winds – it would be cold but quite reasonable fishing weather. Low tide would be 4.17 am, about an hour before first light and the moon had been full the day before.

I decided I would start on Bribie Island at the Seaside Museum drain at Bongaree, again. I waded out into the shallows at about 5.30 am and the big moon was still high and bright. There was a cold breeze and a bit of chop on the water.

There were some cormorants swimming around and there were a few surface bust ups, as the sky gradually lightened. I started with a big soft plastic – a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. The water was already running fast – it would be a powerful tide, so close to the full moon. I was back to 8lb fluorocarbon leader, as I genuinely believe fishing light can make a difference when chasing bream – which were the main target.

It did not take long. At 6.15 am I had a solid bite and the fish ran with the lure for about a metre, but then I lost it. A few casts later I hooked another. It must have been sitting just below the edge. It grabbed the lure and ran off to the north, with the current. After a few runs, I got it over the ledge and walked it back to the sand. It was a good bream – over 30 cm. I have not caught large numbers of bream in this spot, this year, but almost all the fish I have caught have been over 30 cm.

The tide was getting too high to fish over the ledge so I opted to switch locations. I grabbed a hot cup of coffee at Scoopys and drove up to White Patch. This time I went up to the north end to fish around the weed beds.

The water was clear and it was well past dawn so I opted for a natural coloured, 2” GULP Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour. I chose a fine wire 1/8th ounce, #1/0 hook jighead and stuck with the 8lb leader. It was now about 8.15 am. I was casting into the incoming tide and hopping the lure back towards me. I would put in about three or four casts from one location, then move a few metres south and repeat the process.

At about 9.00 am I connected with a flathead and got a look at it, but it wriggled off before I could land it. I stayed in the same spot and methodically covered the area with casts. At about 9.15 am I hooked another fish and this time I set the jighead firmly. I pulled it up to the shoreline – it was a keeper flathead at 45 cm. Using the same plastic, same technique, in the same area, I caught another bigger flathead, about 50cm long, ten minutes later.

Five minutes later, I thought I had another small flathead but it was pulling very hard. It put up a tremendous fight and as it came into view I was surprised to see it was a whiting. It was probably the fattest whiting I have ever caught and measured 36cm.

At this point I had the makings of a good fish pie in my bag, so I gave up and went off to clean my catch.

Bribie Island – White Patch – 11 August 2013

Sunday

On Sunday I decided to try fishing at White Patch on Bribie Island. There have been a few Snapper around – just watch a few of Nigel Newman’s great video fishing reports on https://www.facebook.com/gatewaybaitandtackle. He, and others have caught some nice keepers lately. They seem to come a fair way up the Passage at this time of year and, in my experience, they often come on the bite just as the tide turns in.

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I arrived at about 5.30 am and parked by the first set of steps that lead down to the shore, at White Patch. My favourite soft plastic for tempting a snapper is the GULP Turtlebackworm in the Pumpkinseed colour. So I started with this one, on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. Low tide was at 6.20 am and the moon was a waxing crescent. There was no wind to speak of, but the water was quite dirty. As the tide turned, it lifted the weed and this made it difficult to keep the lure swimming.

As the tide really began to run in I was hoping the action would start. The weed floated off up the Passage and I kept casting. After 3 hours, I could no longer reach over the ledge without getting snagged on every other cast, so I gave up.
A morning with no fish, what is the world coming to?

Bribie Island – The Seaside Museum flats – 24 July 2013

Wednesday

Wednesday morning was cold, cold, cold, and really cold.  It was the first time this year that I have really felt it. It was a solid 15 knot south-westerly at 5.00 am. The moon had been full the day before and it was pretty bright.

I wanted to see if the Tailor were around at Bribie, before dawn. Tailor will often come on the bite in the dark, just before sunrise or just after sunset. I usually find it tough to fish in the dark but when the moon is as bright as it was on Wednesday, it almost feels like daytime.

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I decided to try the area around the drain beside the Seaside Museum. Low tide had passed 4.45 am. So at about 5.30 am the tide was just starting to run in.

I need not have bothered to get up so early, as nothing happened until just before first light. At about 6.00 am,  I was retrieving a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour, on a 1/8th ounce, #1/0 hook jighead, on 12lb leader. I had let it sink and I was hopping it back along the bottom towards me. I felt it stop dead and then the weight of the jighead just disappeared. It was a clean bite off – something very toothy.

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I re-rigged with the same soft plastic and carried on fishing. I moved up and down, casting along about a 15 metres section of the coffee rock ledge. I decided to drop down to a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic, in the Banana Pawn colour. This is a bream favourite.

At about 6.25 am I felt a few bites when the plastic hit the bottom. On the next cast, I paused for a long time with the soft plastic just sitting there. As soon as I lifted it the fish struck. It made some determined runs but I pulled it up, over the ledge and safely onto the sand – it was a 32cm bream.

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I continued casting in to the same patch and at about 6.45 am, I caught another good bream. This one was nice and plump and a bit bigger, at 34cm. I returned to the same spot and continued fishing. About 10 minutes later the soft plastic was grabbed again, as I lifted it off the bottom. This was a much more powerful fish and it took plenty of line in its initial run. I moved as close as I could to the edge, so that my line would not get caught against it. The fish made about four good runs and then it started to come towards me. It swam straight over the edge towards the shore line and I tightened the drag, a little. When it realised its mistake and started back towards deeper water I turned its head and pulled it slowly and steadily up to the sand.

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It was a handsome Jewfish. I measured it at 58cm. Once again, it had completely swallowed the jighead and soft plastic, so I cut the line, as far down its throat as I could, before releasing it. By now I the tide was getting too high to fish along the edge and I was freezing, so I gave up.

The weather is still consistently bad but at least there are a few fish around.

Bribie – flathead bonanza on the oyster jetty flats – 2 May 2013

Thursday

The moon was waning, the winds had dropped and the tides looked perfect. Low tide would be at 9.16 am, at 0.6 m. There had been a strong south-easterly wind the day before, but this would ease off in the morning and pick up as a pure southerly, later.

I was confident that the fish would be in my favourite spots – so I drove back up to Bribie at about 4.30 am. I was hopeful that I would find some flathead under the bridge lights. I waded out just after 5.00 am. The sky was clear and the moon was about 40% full.

There has not been much surface activity under the lights in recent weeks and today was no exception. I cast around the drains and weed beds on the edges of the illuminated pools created by the lights. I caught one very small flathead on a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour.

After about 30 minutes, I waded south, past the oyster jetty and started casting around the Sandstone Point corner drain. The water over this area was already pretty shallow – only about 50 cm, in most places. I moved to the edge of the sand bank and launched a few casts directly into the main drain. After three or four – I felt the lure stop dead. I thought it had snagged on the tufty seagrass at the edge of the drain. Then there was a tug and powerful, long, initial run. This was a good fish and it towed me around for a bit. I wanted to tire it out, as there were a few boulders and abandoned crab pots between and a gap in the mangroves, where I planned to land it. It soon tired and I pulled it up, on to the mangrove roots. It was a great start to the day – a good flathead – 66cm. I was still using the GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour.

I stopped for a chat with a keen local angler who had also waded out along the mangrove line – very keen – he is in his mid-eighties! He took to soft plastics after many years of fishing with an Alvey and bait, and now loves them. I hope I am still embracing change at his age – fantastic!

I wandered out a bit deeper, in front of the long sand bank and put in a few casts back towards the oyster jetty. The sun was up now. I hooked a couple of fish but dropped both. I was still fishing with the GULP 2” Shrimp. I stayed put and methodically sprayed the areas, where I had dropped the fish, with casts. I soon found one again and it was just under 40 cm, so I shook it free. A couple of casts later I had a better fish on and after a few solid runs, I decided to walk it back to the sand bank. It was just under 60cm.

As the tide dropped, I waded down towards the green channel marker and back again. The fishing got better and better. I caught another nine fish between 7.00 am and 8.20 am on GULP Jerkshads in the Cajun Chicken and Satay Chicken colours.

It was my turn to try something new. Many readers have been asking why I don’t use the Z-Man soft plastic lures. Steve, at Jones Tackle – http://jonestackle.com.au/ (and many others) have been trying hard to persuade me of their brilliance. I recognise they are cheaper and more durable than the GULP range but I have not really got used to their colours and I find their texture a lit too ‘rubbery’. I think the colours look very good in the water, but not very good on the packets. Steve insisted I buy a packet of Minnowz in the Houdini colour and try them out. I chose this moment to give them a work out. The Minnowz have a standard minnow shape with an additional paddle tail.

Well you can probably guess what happened. On the first cast, a fish hit the lure on the drop and I pulled in a tiny, 25cm flathead. On the second cast, I pulled up a 40cm flathead and from then on the Z-Man Minnowz caught a flathead about once every 10 minutes, until I gave up at about 10.00 am. At first they appeared to be catching smaller fish than the GULP Jerkshads but then I caught two 50cm+ specimens towards the end of the session.

So Steve, and everybody else – you are right, they do catch fish. Could this be the end of Landangler’s exclusive love affair with GULP? Well, one swallow does not make a summer. I have a feeling anything would have caught fish today. But I was impressed enough to buy a few more packets!

Bribie – under the bridge – 28 February 2013

Thursday

Midweek, the rain was easing off, but we have had so much that the estuaries and Moreton Bay are a muddy mess. Thursday morning looked like it might be worth a fish.

Full moon had passed on Tuesday and I expect the jewfish would be cruising around in the dirty water. Unfortunately, it would be a low tide around dawn. This would mean the water would be at its dirtiest at the optimum fishing time.

I decided to return to where I had caught fish last week – the flats around the old oyster jetty, just south of the Bribie Island bridge, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. I know I fish here a lot but it has been one of the most consistent fish producing spots for me over the years.

As I left Brisbane just after 4.00 am, it was drizzling. Then as I got on to the highway it really started chucking it down. Fortunately it was just a passing shower and I arrived at Bribie at about 5.00 am, just after low tide. I rigged up, pulled on the waders and wandered out under the bridge, in the dark.

The tide was a low low – about 0.4 m, because of the moon phase. The water’s edge was a long way from the mangroves. It was cloudy but the black sky was just beginning to turn grey in an attempt to signal dawn. The water was like milky tea in the shallows, but there was a bit of bait jumping around and the occasional prawn skittering across the surface.

When the water is as dirty as this I have no idea which colour soft plastic to go with. A hard bodied lure with a rattle or vibe would probably be best, but this area is very rocky, so that would have to wait. I decided to try a GULP jerkshad in the white colour on a 1/8 th oz, 1/0 jighead. It was tied on with 10 lb fluorocarbon leader.

On the first cast I felt a bump and saw a bit of movement behind the lure, in the water. I cast back in the same location and on the first hop, I had a fish. I could not figure out what it was. It was quite heavy and slow but made a few quite powerful quick runs – maybe it was a soapie jewfish or a ray. There are a number of oyster covered boulders in this spot so I took my time. It tired pretty quickly and I dragged it safely on to the mud. I was fairly surprised to see a stonker Luderick at my feet.

As most fisho’s will know Luderick are a largely vegetarian fish who prefer to eat green string and other weeds. They will also sometimes take live yabbies. They have tiny mouths and are usually targeted using weed, tiny hooks and very light leaders, under floats. This one was very hungry or perhaps, very confused by all the rain. It was a good fish and it later weighed in at a little over 1.5 kg.

I cast around this area in the shallows with a variety of soft plastics – big and small. I felt a few more touches as the sun poked over the horizon, but I did not hook up. I waded further south, casting as I went. There were more attacks, probably from the small moses perch or bream that hang around here. I passed under the jetty as the tide started to run in.

The hardest thing about wading in such dirty water is that you cannot see any contours on the bottom. I am always looking for the edge of weed beds or the small humps and channels that are dotted around this area. In these conditions you are just casting at where you think they are. Sometimes the surface movement of the water will help you but really, you just have to keep prospecting with long casts and slow retrieves.

The tide was now running in strongly but there was not much debris or weed floating by. I swapped to my DUO Ryuki Spearhead 45s. It’s a small sinking hard body that has been catching plenty of fish for me lately. I particularly like this gold/ green coloured one. It is looking a bit battered as it is rapidly becoming my favourite – that usually means its days are numbered! I was now casting over the sea grass so I had to keep the lure moving. I could only pause momentarily, to allow the fish to strike, every few seconds. The lure kept catching clumps of sea-grass on the bottom, but that just proved I was at the right depth – just off the bottom. At about 6.45 am the skies had clouded over again and it looked like it would rain yet again. I persisted with the hard body and thought I had a few knocks. I was about to swap back to a soft plastic when I felt some resistance and saw a splash. I lifted the rod tip and the lure caught in the mouth of a small flathead – just under 40 cm long.

I released the fish and decided to swap back to a soft plastic lure. I tied on a GULP jerkshad in the orange tiger colour. A paddle tail soft plastic might have been better in these conditions but I did not have one with me. I continued south, wading against the incoming tide, towards the green channel marker. I was soaked by another shower. The water was running in fast but it was no cleaner. I was casting towards the middle of the Passage and bouncing the soft plastic along the bottom until I felt it hit the edge of the weed beds. At about 7.10 am I felt a fish snatch the plastic and take off on a short run before dropping it. I stayed put and spent the next five minutes peppering the same area with casts. As I paused on one of the retrieves I felt a small hit, then a proper bite. I dropped the rod tip, then struck. It was another flathead. When it emerged from the cloudy water I could see it was only about 35cm long.

I was wet through and there was clearly more rain on the way. I trudged back to the car, dreaming of crystal clear waters and sunny skies. If you are prepared to get wet and fish blind there are things to catch – but it is not much fun at the moment.

Bribie Island – Whitepatch – 16 December 2012

Sunday

A hasy still morning at Whitepatch

A hasy still morning at Whitepatch

I was back in Brisbane and after a few interesting but largely fishless sessions, I decided to give Bribie Island a try, on Sunday morning.

Now, on the first Sunday of the school holidays it is not likely to be quiet anywhere. Also with a hot, sunny day on Saturday, a lot of popular spots will have been fairly thoroughly fished and disturbed. So I decided to try the north end of Whitepatch beach, about half way up the west coast of the island. I arrived at about 4.15 am and pulled in next to Colin, an experienced local fisherman, who obviously had the same idea. He explained he had caught a few Flathead earlier in the week, but they had been pretty hard to find.

The sky was thick with smoke haze and the wind had died down to nothing. The water was still and it was hot. Low tide would be a very low one at 0.2m at 5.22 am. The water was still slowly running out but there was not much pace in it.

I was back with my Loomis GL2 light spin rod and started with a GULP Lime Tiger Jerkshad soft plastic on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was only fishing an 8lbh leader as the water was quite clear, initially. Colin started with a small jerkbait, an Ecogear, I think. He caught a couple of small moses perch.

Troy arrived and put out a pilchard bait, which was grabbed pretty much straight away, and then bitten off. Colin waded south and I waded north. Neither of us found much. Eventually I ended up back at the bottom of the steps close to Troy, where I caught a just legal size moses perch – but it released itself before having its photo taken.

The tide was now running in. Troy was trying various baits and I knowingly told him that the squid would not catch anything. I wandered along the shore for another twenty minutes or so, and when I came back he had caught the fattest Whiting I have ever seen…………on the squid!

Troys very fat whiting

Troys very fat whiting

By about 8.30am, fishermen were lined up all along the beach. I was now fishing with a smaller GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic. I felt a few aggressive hits and saw some swirls but could not hook up. Then I saw a thrashing long tom, chasing the lure.  A few minutes later Troy landed one…… on the squid. It was time to give up!

The flathead were around - somewhere

The flathead were around – somewhere

Fingal Head – Where has the bait gone? 5 December, 2012

Wednesday

The trouble with land based fishing is that once you find a good spot its difficult to stay away or risk going elsewhere. So it was back down to Fingal Head to look for the Jewfish again. Wednesday looked good, although the moon phase was no longer very exciting. Light northerly wind was forecast. I arrived around 4.00 am and caught a small 30cm Tailor just before the sun came over the horizon. I was using a RAPALA SXR 12 in the ‘ghost’ colour.

Another fantastic sunrise

Another fantastic sunrise

There did not seem to be any more around so I swapped over to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic, on a 1/4 oz, 1/0 jighead. There was a much bigger swell than I had been expecting and there was a lot of weed floating around. It had rained hard the night before and it was close to low tide. But the biggest problem was that the schools of tiny bait fish, that have been hugging the rocks for the last few weeks, had disappeared.

I fished for about 4 hours with every plastic I had. I changed down to the lighter rod, lighter leader and jigheads, but none of this helped. Eventually, I crossed the causeway and walked along the headland to the south side to get out of the northerly wind. I stuck with the light rod and the GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow. After a few casts I felt a couple of double tap bites. I persisted in the same spot, making sure that the plastic was on the bottom before I started the retrieve. After a few more casts, I had a fish – a 25cm Bream. It had been a tough morning.

The 4" Minnow can be tempting

The 4″ Minnow can be tempting

I hope the bait has only disappeared temporarily.

Fingal Head – more Tailor & more Jewfish – 7 November 2012

Wednesday

Monday’s rock fishing session had me all fired up. There was plenty of bait around and the Tailor and Jewfish would probably stick around as long as it was there. I set the alarm for 2.45 am and arrived at Fingal Head just after 4.00 am (QLD time).

There was not much swell or wind, but the light breeze was from the north east. I walked out to the rocks and rigged up the heavy rod. I was fishing with 20lb braid and 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a DUO Roughtrail. This is a 130mm sinking, hard bodied, minnow lure. It is designed for tough swell conditions and has a fairly thick bib that keeps the rolling action on track,even in choppy water. It is also a bit tougher than the standard range.

The sun was not yet over the horizon, and it was about 4.50 am when I finished rigging up. The first cast flew away nicely and the lure quickly found its rhythm. On the second, there was an obvious bump, as the lure passed over a submerged bommy. On the third, the line pulled tight and I hooked up. I pulled the fish round the rocks to the north of the platform and landed it – another 50cm Tailor. I took some pictures and bled it. This fish had a treble through its gills so I had to keep it. I quite enjoy eating Tailor when its fresh, but one fish per session is usually enough for me.

I cast out again and a few metres in to the retrieve, the DUO Roughtrail was slammed and line was peeling, this was a bigger fish and it took me straight down into the rocks and released itself. Disastrously, it left the Roughtrail behind – snagged firmly below the water line. I snapped the line and reviewed my tackle options. I was pretty much out of hard bodied minnow lures. I tried a couple of slugs, a 65g and 85g raider, but these did not get any interest. I also tried a big popper, without success.

By 7.00 am I decided to try the light rod and fish with some soft plastic lures. I put on a 16lb leader and a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I chose a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I let the plastic sink, in close to rocks and after a couple of casts I caught a Bream.

I released it and tried casting the plastic so it would float down beside a submerged bommy, about 6 metres out. Just as I was pulling the plastic over the top of the bommy, a fish grabbed it and the rod bent over. The fish was slow and powerful and immediately headed south. I had the light rod, so I had to go with it. I started to exert some pressure but it was still setting the agenda. I assumed it was a Jewfish but I still had not seen it. It swam round into the mouth of the channel, between the rock platform and the mainland and then I caught sight of a 70-80cm Jewfish.

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The fish was nicely hooked but had plenty of kick left in it. Con, the other fisherman on the rocks, came over to assist but with no gaff and a long way down to a point where we could grab the fish, our options were limited. I tried to ease the fish on to some flat rocks that I could get down to, between wave sets. The swell had built up through the morning and was now easily strong enough to knock me in, if I timed it wrong. I pulled the fish clear of the water and it lay, obligingly on a rock about a metre below. Just then a big wave came through and I had to retreat. As I tried to keep the fish on the rocks the leader snapped, but miraculously the fish just lay there for what seemed like ages (probably 30 seconds) until the next set came through and washed it back into the water.

It seemed like fishing light had done the trick but how would I land them? I swapped up to 20lb leader to give myself more of a chance, but I stuck with the light rod and jighead. About 15 minutes later I was on again. This time the fish had struck right at the base of the rocks, on the eastern side of the rock platform. There was a big swell by now, crashing into the rocks every few minutes and the fish took off to the south again. The last one had shown me that south was not a good option. I tightened the drag and pulled hard, hoping to pull the fish round to the north. I made a bit of headway, but then the line went slack and the fish was gone.

I swapped to the heavy rod with 30lb leader and carried on fishing for another hour. I cast all around the platform and tried a few more different soft plastics, but I did not get another bite. At about 9.30am, I cleaned up the Tailor and gave up for the day.

Bribie Island – More Flathead from Bongaree – 25 October 2012

Thursday

I was stuck with my usual problem at Bribie Island. High tide would be an hour or so after dawn at about 6.00 am. I never know where to fish on the first few hours of the run out tide. Once the water comes flooding over the ledge (that runs almost the entire edge of the Pumicestone Passage) it quickly floods on to the sand flats. It brings plenty of hungry fish with it and I have caught big Flathead and other species in this shallow water, but it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start the search. It feels like there is just too much ground to cover.
The low tide was also getting higher and the tidal flow was slowing, as we moved away from the new moon. The wind was swapping around between northerly and south-easterly but it had been a fairly strong south easterly on most early mornings through the week.

By Thursday the wind was forecast to ease off a little around dawn so I started on the flats in front of the creek drain, which comes out under the bridge, by the Seaside Museum. At high tide all of the rocky structure is submerged and the Flathead move right up to the creek mouth to feed on what is being washed out. They like to tuck themselves in in the grooves in the rocks or bury themselves in the sand just beside them.

The wind was a strong south easterly and there where soon a few white caps on the surface. It was a stark contrast to the still waters of the week before. I fished around the rocky ground but did not get any hits so I waded south, to the new opening at the south end of the tidal lagoon. I cast around, but it was very windy. The bait was certainly not so thick and the big schools of Mullet had moved on.

I moved back to the south. Just passed the museum I felt a tug at my soft plastic – a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I paused but there was no fish there when I struck. Two casts later, in the same spot, the fish grabbed it again. I paused again and this time, when I lifted the rod tip, the fish was hooked. It was a good Flathead and it used the run out tide to make some good runs, but after a short fight it was on the beach. You have to be patient and wear them out when you are fishing with 10lb leader. The last drag up on to the sand can often be the point when the leader snaps. Everything held and this was a handsome fish, measuring just over 64cm. It was just after 8.30am.

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As the tide ran out, I continued south and found another three Flathead – between 45cm and 50 cm. I caught three on the Cajun Chicken Jerkshad and the last on a bigger Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Pumpkinseed colour. All the fish were caught on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I did not get a bite from the Pike or small Tailor so the bait really does seem to have thinned out.

Brooms Head – the Lagoon ridge – 22 September 2012

Saturday

It was on to Brooms Head in Northern New South Wales for our family holiday. Fortunately this represented another fishing opportunity. I have fished here a few times and never found it very easy. The terrain looks incredibly fishy but it often fails to deliver. It is also a very exposed stretch of coast, so the swell can make things tough.

Now September can be particularly tricky when fishing from the rocks. The wind keeps changing around and the water can be cool and clear or brown and dirty (if it has rained a lot). Fortunately it was cool and clear at Brooms Head. But it was so crystal clear that it would be difficult to fool the fish.

I started on Saturday morning trying to fish the mouth of the lagoon on the north side of the headland. I say trying because the north easterly was producing enough chop to give me a good soaking every 10 minutes or so. I was fishing with the Shimano Catana Coastline light rod with the Shimano Stella 2500. I soon swapped from hard bodies to soft plastics and from 20lb to 10lb leader.

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I was fishing with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and a GULP 2” Shrimp when I caught the first fish. It was sitting right in the mouth of the lagoon – a Pike – followed by another, on the next cast. I threw them back and then cast out a bit further. I lost a few jigheads to the rocks and then re-rigged with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I cast close into a bommie and let the lure sink. It was hit hard by a small angry Bream. It was about 25cm but would not be much of a meal so I threw it back.

At about 8.00 am I was soaked through, cold and no longer getting any bites so I gave up. A few fish, but not a very promising start.

1770 – Deepwater National Park – Flat Rock – 10 August 2012

Friday

After a couple of weeks of mostly perfect fishing weather, two high pressure fronts were heading up the Queensland coast. Cold south westerly winds to 25 knots were forecast for Friday and I woke to the sound of palm fronds crashing down and a very cool breeze.

I stepped out just on dawn but it was too windy, so I drove down to 1770 for breakfast. I sorted out my gear, re-loaded the fishing vest and added a few drops of oil to the Stella. By lunchtime the wind had dropped a little, so I decided to drive down to Flat Rock beach, in Deepwater National Park, to the south of Agnes Water.

When there is a westerly blow the steep beach provides some shelter from the wind. The tide was about half way in and it was just washing over the long flat rock that gives the beach its name. The westerly wind had flattened the sea but once my legs were wet, the wind chill was nasty. Fortunately it was a bright sunny day.

I started at about noon at the south end of the rock and walked along casting off the seaward edge. As the waves rose over the rock you could see plenty of baitfish hugging the edge. The water was crystal clear. I was fishing with the light rod, a 1/6th 1/0 jighead, 8lb fluorocarbon leader and a 2” GULP Shrimp in the Natural colour. I felt plenty of touches and after about 10 minutes caught a tiny Stripey Perch. I caught a few more, all hiding in close to the edge. None of them were big enough to keep. I moved further along and the lure was hit by a better fish – this time it was a Bream, about 30cm long. I released and carried on.

The waves were now breaking over the rock and I was soaked and pretty cold. I let the soft plastic lie on the bottom for a while and when I lifted it I had another fish on – a flounder – plenty of species along here.There was now too much water washing over the rock and I was too cold so I gave up and went to thaw out in the sun.

I went back to my cabin and after a few hours off, I went down the track to the beach. I walked up on to a slightly sheltered rock and cast a small 3″ Gulp Minnow in the Sardine colour. The wind carried the 1/6th 1/0 jig head a long way and I slowly retrieved it. At the base of the rocks in the foam, a fish took it and made for cover. It took some line then felt like a brick – typical Cod behavior – they turn sideways and try to wedge themselves under an over hang or rock. I only had the 8lb leader in place so I let it swim down and hide and loosened the drag. After a couple of minutes it swam out and I landed it. No monster but a reasonably fat little cod. A few more casts produced nothing and the wind was just too strong to feel anything, so I gave up for the second time.

Bribie Island – The Oyster Jetty flats – 8 July 2012

Sunday

Saturday’s gusty winds were forecast to die away for Sunday morning. When I arrived at Bribie Island at about 5.15 am, the wind was still blowing at about 15 knots and it had just stopped raining. The water was pretty choppy and the wind appeared to be coming from the southwest. It would be fairly hard to fish into the wind on the island side. I decided to drive back over the bridge and fish the more sheltered mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage.

I walked out under the bridge just before first light. The tide was running out and low would be at about 7.00 a.m. As I walked across the exposed sand/ mud, I could see the scaring from the cast nets that had been thrown from the bridge. Netting from the bridge at night died right down with the introduction of the bridge cameras, but for some reason it seems to have picked up again – there are a few squid around – perhaps these are the target.

I fished around the reefy area by the fifth bridge pylon but this did not produce anything. It was a cold but fantastic sunrise. I waded along on the shallows casting a 3” GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour, all around me. The tide was slowing now and the water was very murky. I hooked in to something slow moving and as I pulled it towards me it squirted a jet of water and grunted. It was a good size squid. My first on a soft plastic and it went in the bag.

I continued south and increased the size of my plastic to a 4” Minnow in the same colour. I fished along the edge of the weed banks but there was no run now, and I did not get a touch for the next hour. I reached the green channel marker and turned around to wade back. The tide had started to run in now and was picking up pace. The wind had dropped and the sun was now out.

I swapped to a brighter coloured, larger soft plastic. The GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, on a 1/8th, 1/0 jighead and I dropped down to a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The water was clearing with the run in tide. I felt a couple of bites and caught a 20cm Flathead about half way back to the Oyster Jetty.

I slowed everything down, letting the plastic sit for longer between hops. I felt a couple of quick bites and then had a few runs, but I could not hook up. Then I had a fish – it was a big Pike.

I moved a bit further north and at about 8.30 am I finally found a patch of Flathead. I caught two in the same spot, both about 45cm long. I concentrated on the area, casting in a semi-circle and at about 8.45 am I caught another, bigger one – about 55cm long. This was ground I had covered an hour earlier with no result. Either the Flathead had moved in quickly with the tide or the tidal flow had persuaded them to eat.

That was it for the day and the end of the school holidays. Things will get a bit quieter next week – but it won’t get any warmer for a while!

Caloundra – Golden Beach – 1 July 2012

Sunday

I decided to give Bribie a rest and head up the Pumicestone Passage to Caloundra, to fish on Sunday morning. The weather looked good and it would be a run out tide all morning. High tide was just after dawn at about 6.45am and there was not much wind forecast for the early morning.

I wanted to see if the Flathead would be as thick up here as they have been down at the Bribie Island end of the Passage. I started on the sand flats, in front of the Bribie Island Power Boat Club. The terrain has changed quite a bit in the short time since I last fished here. A few weeks of windy wild weather can change the position of the sandbanks very quickly. I was not the only one surprised by the change. I saw three boats come to a shuddering halt as they ploughed into a sandbank that was not there a month ago. One skipper very nearly ended up thrown out of his boat! So take it easy if you have not been out here for a while.

The sea grass beds are also developing around this area, giving lots of cover for the fish. There was not much bait around which is not usually a good sign. I started with soft plastics and chose the 4” GULP Smelt Minnow, which I loaded onto a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. This is a very natural looking soft plastic that closely resembles a Pilchard. I waded along the edge of the sandbanks casting and slowly retrieving the lure with hops and jumps, across the bottom.

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Well, it was a beautiful morning and a fantastic sunrise but it was hard work, to say the least. I cast and waded, cast and waded. The tide was dropping which gave me access to a lot of area but it took me until 10.00 am to find a patch of fish. I had almost reached the channel markers in the centre of the Passage by the time I discovered them. Just after 10.00 am I caught a 30cm Flathead in about 50cm of water, close in to a weed bed. About 100m further on, I found a few more, of which perhaps 1 was legal size.

At about noon I was knackered and cooked so I gave up and waded back to the car. I expect this area has been fished fairly hard during the school holidays and there was plenty of boat traffic about. I am sure the fish are here somewhere but the ones I found today were not as big or easy to catch, as those at the south end of the Passage.