Richmond River mouth – South Ballina – 22 April 2021

A few days later I returned to the South Ballina wall for an early morning fishing session. If you fish in this area I urge you to email both Justine.Elliot.MP@aph.gov.au and Tamara Smith ballina@parliament.nsw.gov.au; – (our federal and state parliamentary representatives) – and ask them when we can expect the road out to the rock wall to be repaired and re-opened. I know a number of elderly and disabled fishos who used to enjoy visiting the wall and the beach and I think we all have a right to have road access to this beautiful spot. So please take 5 minutes to drop them an email and ask them when will it re-open.

I arrived before first light and walked for 35 minutes to reach the end of the rock wall and started fishing just after dawn. There was a clear line where the brown water from the river was pushing out against the clearer blue green water of the ocean, pushing in.

Again I was targeting the jewfish/ mulloway but I caught an assortment of species. I started with a few small tailor from the river side of the wall. Tailor will nearly always smash a soft plastic if it is right in front of them. I think the dolphins were also targeting them.

The swell was lighter than I had expected so I moved round to the very end of the wall and cast to the east. It is amazing how over just one year the huge concrete tripod shapes have gradually broken down and slipped forward, from the relentless wave action. Some have even been broken in half.

The crumbling rockwall now has some more easily accessible fishing spots – but take precautions and watch out for that one surprise wave!

The fish I had caught so far were pretty small, so at about 8.40 am I dropped down to my lighter rock fishing setup – Shimano Stella 4000 matched with a Daiwa Crossfire 1062, 30lb braid and a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a 1/4 ounce size 2/0 hook jig head and loaded a 4″ GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Camo colour. The first taker was another small tailor, very close to the base of the front of the rock wall. I kept casting and had a few more bites then lost two jigheads in a row to the rocks. I re-rigged and this time after a few casts I hooked a decent fish. It was a school jewfish, about 60 cm long and I managed to haul it carefully up to my feet, photograph it and throw it back.

I carried on with the lighter rod and I was surprised to catch a few dart and then a scorpion fish and finally, a few small bream. At about 11.30 am I gave up and made my way back to the car.

On the way back I stopped to aim a few casts at the gutter close to the beach. This is where the jewfish had been the week before. They were not there but I did hook a decent flathead. It was about 50 cm long and I kept it for supper.

Skennars Head, Brunswick River – Flathead, Dart, Bream and Tailor – January 2018

The Brunswick River turned into a water park for January with kayaks, canoes, tinnies, paddle boards and anything else that floats, ploughing up and down from dawn until  dusk. I caught a few flathead and dart at Northhead and out on the beach but fishing was tough

On my explorations of the northern New South Wales coast I had driven past the rocks at Skennars Head a few times and seen people fishing them. This is not a spot for big seas. In fact, it is very dangerous when there is anything more than a metre of swell, so be very careful here. There is rocky outcrop in front of the headland and at the end there is an old iron pole driven into the rocks and a cement set rod holder. At low tide on a very calm day you can fish from this spot.

As the water cools I think this would be a good/ jewfish tailor spot. As I needed to fish at low tide my first few sessions were during the day time. I caught bream, dart and the odd butter bream on light leader and 1/8th ounce jighead mounted minnow and shrimp soft plastics. On one morning a school of mullet thick enough to walk on cruised by, finning on the surface.

Later in the month dawn started to coincide with low so I fished a couple of sunrise sessions. These were much more successful. I started by spinning with a fifty gram Halco Twisty in the gold colour. I use a Daiwa Demonblood 962H paired with a Shimano Stradic FJ 8000. It is getting old now but this rod and reel combo has caught a lot of big fish for me. It is a great set up when you need a chance of landing a big fish from the rocks. When casting a lure or slug I rig up with 30lb braid, and a short 25lb fluorocarbon leader.

I arrived pre-dawn and I could just see the birds working a long way out.  It is Landangler’s first law of fishing that feeding schools of fish will remain approximately 10 metres clear of you casting range for the duration of your fishing session.

It was a fantastic sunrise and I cast the slug all through it with no result. My shoulders get sore pretty quickly now and it was hot, so I swapped down to the lighter Daiwa Crossfire 862 rod which I have been using to cast plastics and light lures from the beach. I match this with a Shimano Stradic 4000 reel. This is rigged with 12lb braid and 16lb fluorocarbon leader and I started with a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead and a Gulp Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour.  After a few casts this one did the trick and I felt a good grab and short run, but no I did not hook up. I cast back in the same direction and almost as soon as the lure hit the water the rod bent over. It was fast and furious but not very big. It was a tailor – just about 40 cm long. I bled it and dropped it in a keeper rockpool. I cast out again in the same area but they had moved on.

As the sun rose, the schools of bait and birds remained mostly out of reach. I swapped down to a more natural GULP Peppered Prawn coloured, shrimp shape soft plastic.  At one point a spinning wheel of what looked like bonito came within casting distance and I landed my plastic close by, but they were not interested. The next takers where few good bream, caught close the base of the rocks on the GULP shrimp. As the day warmed up the bream disappeared but a few good dart took their place.

I cooked the tailor whole for lunch, a few hours later. My view is tailor are pretty good for 24 hrs from capture, as long as they are bled and cleaned in the saltwater, soon after landing, after that even my cat turns its nose up.

Overall a great session – no monsters, but it was a beautiful morning and there would be fish for lunch and dinner.

 

For anyone who fishes the rocks please note – this is a dangerous environment so wear a PFD, good boots with a decent grip and watch the surf all the time. Finally, remember the old adage, if in doubt…… don’t.

 

 

Bribie – Bongaree & the oyster jetty – 14 September 2016

Wednesday

On Wednesday I was fishing again in the morning but I decided to try the other side of the Pumicestone Passage and fish along the shore at Bongaree. This area has a sandy ledge that runs down to a drop off of a few metres. There are fish to be found all along the ledge at various stages of the tide.

I arrived and started fishing in my waders at about 9.30 am.  I started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The first fish I caught was a small bream about 30cm long. It grabbed the soft plastic just as I hopped it up, over the coffee rock ledge and into the shallows. I released it and caught two more in the next few minutes.

A hungry Pelican swam over to see if it could secure a free lunch but all the bream swam away unharmed. The next taker was a pike, then at about 11.30 am things went quiet.

I drove back over the bridge and had a quick cast around under the bridge and along by the old oyster jetty at Sandstone Point. As the wind picked up and conditions got difficult I managed to hook one 48 cm flathead on the Mad Scientist Optishad.

By 1.00 pm it was too windy so I gave up for the day.

Coffin Bay – Point Avoid/ Boat Ramp – 3/4 September 2016

Saturday/Sunday

Saturday morning was cold and grey and the low that had passed through the week before had left a big swell behind it. It would be low tide near dawn and although it was cold, it was not raining so I drove back down into the Coffin Bay National Park and round to fish at Point Avoid. I arrived just after dawn. The wind was a howling south westerly and the swell would be too hard to fish in.

I drove back into sheltered Coffin Bay. I bought a coffee and thawed out. The sun came out and I had a fish around the boat ramp with my light Gary Howard Estuary 9’ rod and 6lb fluorocarbon leader. I used a GULP Turtleback Worm in the pumpkinseed colour and a couple of 2 inch Minnows in Smelt and Peppered Prawn, on a 1/16th ounce, size 2 hook jighead. These immediately attracted the attention of the juvenile salmon that swarm around the clear waters of the bay. I caught about ten is quick succession. All about 15cm long.

The sun had come out but the wind was building so I retired to the cabin for a hot shower and a sleep.

On Sunday the wind had died away but the swell was still up. I started in the morning at Point Avoid. I was casting a 40 gram Raider metal slug out in to the surf. Almost from the first cast the bigger salmon were on to it. I caught a couple of 25cm fish and then found myself fighting something bigger. It took a fair amount of line and then started leaping. Each time I thought I had subdued it, it came back to life at my feet and charged off. Australian Salmon are one tough fish – to fight and to eat! This one made about five mad leaps clear of the surf. Eventually I got it to the sandy beach. It was about 55cm long and weighed a few kilos. I released it and carried on fishing.

The smaller salmon kept biting but after a big wave gave me a soaking I decided to retreat. I went back to Coffin Bay and changed into dry clothes. In the afternoon I drove back into the park where I stopped to fish off the high cliffs north of Point Avoid. I was never going to be able to land a significant fish here because the fishing platform is at least five metres above the water, but it just looked so fishy that I had to have a cast.

I started with a 40g Raider metal slug – this almost immediately caught a 30cm salmon – which in turn, regurgitated a small herring (Tommy Ruff). I swapped through a few small metal and vibe lures which all caught fish. I found a good patch of herring but also kept catching the small salmon. They were not particularly interested in the soft plastics – which I also tried for a while. At about 4.00 pm I stopped for the day after continuously catching fish for about 2 hours.

If only this spot had some approachable water I am sure there would be some monsters prowling about at dusk dawn. I will have to keep exploring.

1770 – Tom’s Creek – 17 May 2016

Tuesday

On Tuesday the wind was forecast to blow pretty hard from the south east so I decided to fish the run out tide in Toms Creek. This is a small shallow creek system that comes off Round Hill Creek. The Town of 1770 is situated on the banks of Round Hill Creek.

The moon was about 85% full and low tide would be at about noon. You can reach Tom’s Creek down a very rough four-wheel drive track that leads off from the showground/ market area. I started fishing from the bank and as the tide receded, I followed it out.

I fished with various soft plastics all on a 1/8thounce, 1/0 hook jighead, using 10 lb fluorocarbon leader and my light spin rod. I caught a few small Moses Perch, one flathead that was just about legal size at 40 cm. It was good to explore this territory on a very low tide and see where the holes and slightly deeper patches of water are located.

I fished until about noon and finished by catching a few tiny trevally that enjoyed attacking my small minnow soft plastics.

1770 – Flat Rock – Dart, Perch, Flathead – 15 May 2016

Sunday

Sunday was my second morning at 1770 and the weather looked like it was going to be pretty good. The wind was forecast at about a 7 knot southerly on dawn and would pick up a little later on. The moon was 67% full in its waxing gibbous phase. Low tide would be at about 10.45 am.

Once again I drove down the four-wheel drive track into Deepwater National Park. They are carrying out fuel reduction burns in this section and several small fires still were still burning from the day before and the smell of burning gum trees was all around.

Today I decided to fish at Flat Rock beach. As it names suggest it has a long flat rock that runs parallel with the beach and makes for a great fishing platform. The long rock is accessible across a sandy bottomed gutter from about half way through the run out tide to about half way through the run in tide.

It was a cool morning (17 C) but not cold and the water was still very warm. When I arrived in the pre-dawn light at about 6.00 am the flat rock was almost completely submerged so I started fishing in the sandy gutter. I started with fishing with the Daiwa Air Edge rod and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and squeezed on a GULP 3” Minnow shaped soft plastic in the lime tiger colour. The first takers where a couple of very small sand / flag /bar tailed flathead. These are pretty fish. They sit right at the base of the wave break and think nothing of trying to swallow soft plastics that are almost as big as they are.

As the sun came up and the tide receded I walked north along the beach stopping to cast at the spots where the water was rushing out through the breaks in the rock. I reached beach marker number 10 and spent a while trying to cast the DUO Vib 62 hard bodied vibe lure over the top of the flat rock into the deeper water beyond. This did not really work and I soon lost another of my favourite lures.

As the water dropped I climbed on to the rock and started casting around with a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour. I was now casting directly into the water beyond the rock and starting to feel a few bumps and knocks from the small perch and dart that patrol this area. After perhaps 25 casts I dropped down to a smaller GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. Thi attracted a flurry of bites and after a few casts I hooked a small moses perch. I little while later I swapped back to the GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I moved north along the edge of the rock until a nice dart slammed the soft plastic and took off with it.

By now I was about level with beach marker 8. I straightened the soft plastic on the jighead and let it waft around on the bottom in front of the rock for as long as I could. Something grabbed it and immediately took off underneath the rock. After a few see saws the leader snapped. Perhaps it was a cod or a bigger stripey perch.

I tied on a length of 20lb fluorocarbon leader and put on a bigger, 4“ Minnow soft plastic in the same Lime Tiger colour. I started casting in the same spot. Perhaps 10 casts later – smash, then zzzzzz as the fish did exactly the same thing. This time I had a tougher leader on. I initially loosened the drag and then, when I felt the fish swim out, tightened it and tried to pull the fish out. I obviously did not tighten it enough and it swam straight back under the rock, despite my furious but futile.

I turned around and walked back to the south. I swapped down to a couple of smaller soft plastic minnows and caught a steady stream of dart, Moses perch and tiny flathead.

By low tide the wind was picking up and I was getting cold so I decided to give up for the morning.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 10 May 2016

Tuesday

A few days on home turf gave me another opportunity to visit the Bribie Pumicestone Passage flats in search of flathead. I am enjoying the later starts for fishing trips at this time of year. I woke at about 4.45 am and drove up to Bribie, from Brisbane.Low tide would be at 6.18 am, coinciding almost exactly with sunrise. It was 4 days after the new moon. The wind would be a very light south easterly. I pulled on my waders and waded out under the Bribie bridge at about 5.40 am.

As the seasons come and go and the predominant wind direction alters, the tidal flats change shape quite dramatically. For example, just to the north of the bridge on the mainland side a big sand bank is forming and the weed is growing very quickly. However just to the south of the bridge the rubble bottom is becoming more exposed and there is less weed. These changes are best viewed at absolute low tide and it is good to keep an eye on them.

I started fishing with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curried Chicken colour, on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead, tied on with 12lb fluorocarbon leader. It was still dark but the sky was starting to turn a magnificent red colour. I was standing on the rubble bottom just to the south of the bridge. I was casting towards the bridge and hopping the lure back along the bottom towards me, in line with the tidal flow. I cast the soft plastic lure in the direction of a pylon and kept it moving quite quickly, to avoid getting snagged on the many rocks in this area. The tide was ebbing and the water flow was slowing as we got close to low.As is often the case in the predawn light, a flathead slammed the lure and almost jumped out of the water in its desire to swallow it. It was well hooked and I soon had my first fish of the day – it was just short of 50 cm long.

The sun came up and I moved south. The tide slowed and so did the fishing. I covered a lot of ground without a bite. I worked through a few soft plastics and tried a small hard bodied minnow for a while. I caught nothing for the next 90 minutes as the tide turned, and started to run in.

At about 8.30 am I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was just to the south of the old oyster jetty. A flathead burst out of the water behind my lure as I lifted it out of the water, at the end of the retrieve. It missed. I moved back and let things settle down. About two minutes later I threw a short cast at the area and felt the bite. This time I hooked it. It safely pulled it ashore. This one later measured 46 cm.

I carried on back towards the bridge as the tide pushed in. I caught another flathead just north of the jetty, but it was under 40 cm long, so it went back. It was just after 9.00 am when I reached the bridge. I cast around just to the south of the bridge where I had caught the first fish of the day and was rewarded with another 45 cm flathead.

As I waded north under the bridge I put in a few casts and caught my final fish. It was a small flathead of some kind with frilly fins. I released it and gave up for the morning.

Iluka – Shark Bay – Jewfish – 19 March 2016

Saturday would be my last morning in Iluka for a while. Despite praying for calmer weather the wind was forecast to pick up. I had a lie in as low tide would not be until 2.30 pm. I arrived at Shark Bay at about 10.30 am.

All week I had been expecting the stirred up seas to reveal a few Jewfish/ Mulloway. There was lots of bait around and previous trips, at this time of year have nearly always produced a few. The big seas had made it difficult to reach my favourite spots – perhaps the fish were there but I just could not get to them.

With this in mind I decided to start on the southern side of the Shark Bay rock platform. I would be casting straight in to the south-easterly wind so I needed to fish with something fairly heavy. There are lots of rocks on this side of the platform so I was not confident I would keep my lure.

I have a couple of Rapala 13g, 6cm Clackin Raps, lipless vibe lures which have been rattling around the bottom of the tackle bag for ages. I have never caught anything on these lures so I was not too worried about losing them. I rigged up the lighter of my rock fishing rods (the Daiwa Air Edge) and tied the lure on to my Aldi braid and 20lb fluorocarbon carbon leader. I cast the lure into the surf and waited for it to sink. The sea was very lively and I could only just feel the juddering vibrations as I yanked the lure along. After about three casts the lure pulled tight on something and I thought I had hit some kelp. I pulled the rod tip up and then line started peeling. I knew it was a Jewfish straight away. It made three long powerful steady runs and then started swimming back towards me. The game of cat and mouse continued for about 10 minutes. The rod was not powerful enough to force the issue, so I just had to be patient. After a couple more minutes the fish popped over on its side, a few meters from the shore. It looked as if it was beaten, so I tightened the drag a little and tried to pull it over the rocks with the next surge. Either the wave or sense of impending doom caused it to suddenly wake up and it put its head back down and tried to bury itself. The leader slipped down between the cunjevoi and I could not free it. I could see the fish and lure hanging on by just the single big hook on the front treble, a few metres in front of me, but could not get to it. Another big wave came over and when it receded the fish was gone and the lure was lodge firmly in the cunjevoi. They always getting bigger in your memory but I think it was about a 6kg fish. I realised I did not have my camera with me – perhaps that’s why I could not hold on to the fish.

Rapala

I had another, bigger Clackin Rap and I cast this around without success. As the tide lowered I moved to the front of the rock platform, also on the southern side. I swapped to a soft plastic on a ¼ ounce 2/0 jighead. I needed the weight to cast against the wind. I put on a GULP Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I lost the first to the rocks and tied another one on. After a few casts this was slammed in the surf, close in. The fished pulled hard and when I finally subdued it, I was surprised to only see a small Trevally.

The challenge in this spot was losing gear to the rocks and I lost a few more rigs over the next hour or so. I swapped to a Gulp Jerkshad soft plastic in the Sweet and Sour Chicken colour and when I got this one in to a good foamy patch of water just beyond the rocks, I almost instantly hooked up. This time it was a 55cm tailor and I managed to pull it in.

I finished the session casting the long DUO Pressbait Saira hard body off the northern end of the rock platform. As it had done all week the lure found lots of long toms and a few more small tailor.

Just after low tide I stopped for the day. It had been another great week of fishing at Iluka.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – big flathead – 27 February 2016

Saturday

By my standards I have hardly fished in February. The two main reasons for lack of a fish supper have been wild weather and work – both equally annoying. For the last weekend in February I had time to fish but ex-tropical cyclone Winston that had flattened Fiji was still hovering off the Queensland coast and threatening big winds and swell.

I woke at about 4.00 am hoping the forecast would be wrong and I was surprised to not hear too much rustling in the trees. I was awake now so I decided to give it a try. I drove up to Bribie, arriving on the mainland side of the bridge just before 5.00 am. Low tide would be at 5.46 am. The wind was already blowing at about 20 knots from the south. I waded out into the stirred up water, south of the bridge. Unfortunately I promptly fell over a submerged rock, dunked my rod and reel and chest bag and filled my waders with murky water. At least it was warm water.

I put the poor start behind me as I hooked a good flathead just on first light, under the bridge lights. It was 53cm long and it went in the bag for supper. I was fishing with the GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour. After catching a very big flathead earlier in the month and given the wild and windy conditions, I had swapped to a 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

As the sun came up so did the wind. By about 6.00 am it was well over 25 knots. The mangrove island provides a partial wind break and fortunately I was casting with the wind. At the foot of the big drain that runs round the corner from Sandstone Point, I caught a 45cm flathead. I could hardly feel the soft plastic as the wind was blowing the line around so much. I am sure I missed a few fish. About half way out to the channel marker I caught another flathead, about 43cm long.

Now the wind was getting ridiculous. The water was very cloudy and covered in loose sea grass, so I turned for home. I swapped to the GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour and loaded it onto a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead. I felt the slightly heavier jighead might hold the bottom better. The Lime Tiger swap stirred things up and I caught another good flathead – just over 60 cm long.

By now I was about 30 metres to the south of the old oyster jetty. I was casually casting as I waded back towards the car. The soft plastic struck hard and I thought it had lodged in the weed. I gave it a yank and it slowly moved about a metre towards me. Then line started peeling, slowly at first then much more quickly. I was on to a big fish. I checked my drag and let it take line. In three long runs it took over 30 metres of line. I wound against it each time but made no progress. Then it just stopped. I tightened the drag just a little and started to get line back. It now swam slowly back along the 30 metres, towards me. I kept up the line tension and slowly started walking backwards towards the big sandbank. As it reached about 30 cm of water it turned and made another long run. I turned its head and kept slowly winding and walking. Now it was tired and all I needed to do was steer it gently up on to the sand bank. It was a beautiful 86cm female flathead. I measured her and took a few photos. I then pushed here back in to the water and swam her through the water until her tail started waving and she took off unaided.

It was certainky worth braving the wild weather.

 

 

 

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 1 February 2016

Monday

The start of February usually marks the beginning of the real change in wind patterns on my home fishing patch – South East Queensland. The hot summer northerly winds are attacked by the cooler winter south-easterlies. The water temperature starts to drop very slightly and there is often some wild weather.

On Monday strong south-easterly winds were forecast to pick up from mid-morning. It was about a week after full moon and not a particularly big tide. I arrived at Bribie at about 5.15 am, to very grey skies that showed only the slightest evidence of first light. Low tide would be at 8.40 am, so sunrise at 5.20 am was about the perfect time to start fishing.

I waded out under the bridge and started casting with a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. I like to concentrate on the area just south of the bridge when the lights are still on. There is a large piece of rocky reef which keeps boats away from this patch so it is usually undisturbed, overnight. This morning all I could catch was a piece of that reef, so I re-rigged with a GULP jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour and moved on.

I passed the jetty and moved along the big sand bar that runs south, towards the furthest channel marker, that you can walk to. There were rays everywhere – they like to sit in the shallow water as the run out tide washes dinner into their path. Just where this sand bar turns left the water becomes slightly deeper and the weed beds are a little thicker. I was now standing in less than 50cm of water. I was casting along the edge of the weed when I clearly saw a flathead launch itself at the soft plastic. It missed. I dropped the rod tip and paused as the stirred up sand washed past. When the water cleared the flathead was sitting about 10 cm behind the clearly visible lure. It did not seem to want to strike. I decided to make the first move. I hopped the lure off the bottom, it lunged forward and grabbed the plastic. I dropped the rod tip, to let it get the soft plastic well inside its mouth and then lifted it again and set the hook in its jaw. It was a respectable 50cm flathead.

I fished around this area and moved further down towards the channel marker but could not find anymore. I saw a big shovel nose shark swimming in the shallows and a few small schools of squid. At about 7.45 am I turned for home and slowly walked back towards the bridge, casting as I went.

I swapped to my old favourite soft plastic – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just to the south of the jetty something fast hit the lure and I hooked up. It was a small bream, about 28cm long. I released it.

By 8.45 am I had passed the under the jetty and was fishing around the base of the stranded pylons, just to its north. My lure struck something and stopped dead. I pulled hard assuming it was the base of the pylon or an old crab pot. Gradually the object started to move and then wriggle and then it took off in a slow but powerful run. I thought it might be a ray but it was moving a little too quickly. I let it take line. There was no way to muscle a fish like this in on my light spin rod. I was pretty sure I had last re-rigged with 10lb fluorocarbon leader, so I would just have to be patient. We went back and forth for a few minutes and then I started to walk slowly backward towards the shore. This area is littered with rocks and bordered by the jetty pylons to the south, so it was a nerve racking fight. Eventually a big flathead appeared from the stirred up bottom and surrendered. I pulled her into the shallows and took a few photos. I did not have my tape, but by lining her up next to the rod I could see she was well over 75cm. I took a few quick photos and then watched her swim away. A great finale to what could have been a pretty slow session.

Bribie – the Sandstone Point flats – 21 January 2016

Thursday

The forecast was for a 10 knot northerly wind which looked good for a quick fishing session. So I drove up to Bribie, to fish the run out tide on the old oyster jetty flats. It was a few days before full moon and the tides were getting big. It had been a 2.39m high tide at 7.35 am. Ideal fishing time on the flats would therefore be between about 10.00 am and 1.00 pm.

I started fishing at about 9.30 am. I rigged up my light spin ring and waded out under the bridge. There was still plenty of water so I cat around under the bridge for a while. I did not get any bites and the high tide meant there was a lot of weed floating around so I decided  to wade south alongside the mangroves and fish around the corner on the Sandstone Point flats.

On a big tide these flats are covered in 2 metres of water in places and there is plenty of structure and food for the fish that move up into these areas. There are a number of piles of oyster covered rocks and the remains of some old fish traps and old oyster racks.  There are also some big weed beds and patches of sandy bottom.

Today I could see some big mullet schools finning around and as I came around the corner I saw a couple of small tuna, of some kind, chase a school of smaller baitfish into the shallows. I was initially fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime tiger colour. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I saw a few long toms grabbing at the plastic and hooked and then dropped one. They seem to love this area.

The wind was picking up and now coming from the north-east at about 20 knots. I was about waist deep behind a mangrove island and fishing alongside a small submerged rockwall. I felt a solid bite but struck a little too quickly and probably pulled the lure out of the fish’s mouth. I cast back in the same spot about five times and on the sixth the fish struck again. This time I dropped the rod tip for a full ten seconds and when I lifted it again I hooked the fish. It was a healthy looking 45cm flathead and I kept it for dinner.

It was now about 10. 45 am and I could not find any more fish around the mangrove island so I wandered back towards the main channel. There was still plenty of bait around and a cormorant was successfully fishing in the shallows. I waded along the sand bar that runs down towards the green channel marker, casting along the edges of the weed. I was now in less than a metre of water and the tide was running out quickly.  I felt a very aggressive smash and grab and a fish took off with the same Lime Tiger Minnow. It was a bigger fish and after a short fight I pulled it up onto the sand. I later measured it at 63cm.

By about 11.45 am the wind and weed were making fishing just too hard. I am sure the fish were there but I did not have the patience to carrying on battling the elements to find them.

Bribie – The old oyster jetty flats – 2 January 2016

Saturday

With Christmas done and dusted and the New Year underway. It was time to find an interesting activity other than eating and drinking. When your waders are getting tight you know you are in trouble. I needed to get moving and a morning fishing session is a great way of doing that.

The weather has been far from ideal for the trailer boat based angler over the Christmas and New Year holidays. High winds and seas have pushed a lot of boats into the Pumicestone Passage. This means things have been fairly busy during daylight hours.

On Saturday I was up at 3.45am and drove up to Bribie Island for a 4.30 am start. Low tide would be at about 8.30 am and the wind was forecast to pick up to a 10 knot south westerly. The moon was waning and had been full about a week earlier. I decided to fish the flats in front of the Sandstone Point Hotel and waded out under the bridge just as the light went out.

I started fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Pearl Watermelon colour, mounted on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. After a couple of tough sessions in this area I chose a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I cast around under the bridge without any luck.

I waded towards the old oyster jetty and swapped to a smaller GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I felt couple of bites from small fish and then a solid thud from a flathead. I struck a bit too soon and missed hooking the fish.

I swapped soft plastic lure again just as the sun broke the horizon. This time I chose a Jerkshad in the BBQ chicken colour. I was now just to the south of the jetty standing about 15 metres form the mangroves casting in to the areas of sandy bottom between the weed beds. There was lots of bait around and every now and then something would smash into it from below. I slowed down my retrieve and paused longer between hops. This worked and at about 5.15 I safely landed a 45cm flathead.

About ten minutes later I caught another. This one was about 50 cm long and things were now looking good. I continued to pepper the area with casts but I could not find another. I moved slowly south casting as I waded. At about 6.00 am the wind started to pick up and by the time I reached the green channel marker at about 7.00 am, it was really blowing. Despite the wind there were now plenty of boats running out into the bay. I caught a tiny bar-tailed (sand) flathead by the green channel marker and then turned to wade back towards the bridge.

I got all the way back to the jetty before I got another bite and infuriatingly, after a brief run the fish slipped off or spat out my plastic. I was now fishing with the GULP 4 “Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just as I came close to the bridge and was about to wade out of the water, I felt a good bite and dropped the rod tip. I paused for what seemed like eternity but was actually about 5 seconds and then lifted the rod tip. The jig head’s hook set in the fish’s mouth and it took off. After a short run it settled and I pulled it ashore. It was another flathead, about 50cm long.

I had three good fish for dinner. As always the key was getting out early, before the boat and recreational traffic got going. I am looking forward to some more peaceful sessions in the near future.

1770 – Flat Rock at Baffle Creek and Wreck Rock – 23 October 2014

Thursday

On Thursday the seas were still up and low tide would not be until about 2.30 pm. The wind would hopefully have dropped by then and I could try fishing the beaches and rocks again. In the morning I decided to drive back out to Flat Rock on Baffle Creek and see if I could have some more fun with the Tarpon.

It takes about an hour to drive south from 1770, down the four wheel drive sand track, past Flat Rock, Middle Rock and Wreck Rock beaches, across Deepwater Creek and on to Flat Rock boat ramp on Baffle Creek.

By the time I arrived, the sun was already up and the insects were humming in my ears. You need plenty of insect repellent in these parts! The wind had dropped away and the tide was coming in. It would be high at about 9.00 am.  There were a few surface strikes and the bait was jumping around. I worked through a few different soft plastics on the light rod. The usual minnows, jerkshads and shrimps did not work, so I swapped to a Watermelon coloured GULP Minnow grub. I slowed the retrieve and let it flutter around in the current. After a few casts, there was a solid bite and I hooked up. The fish headed for the rocks and immediately tried to get under them. I was still fishing with 14lb leader so I tightened the drag and pulled it out. It was an estuary cod – about 45cm long. I released it and after another hour with no luck, I went off to the Baffle Creek Township, to find some breakfast.

The wind had dropped off so I decided to make my way to Wreck Rock to fish the last few hours of the run out tide. It would not be possible to get out to the spots I like to fish there, until two to three hours before low tide, from about 10.30 am onwards. So I drove back up the sand track and stopped for a nap in a shady spot. I woke to some rustling and found a mother emu and three chicks walking past. This really is a very unspoilt spot!

I drove on to Wreck Rock and walked out on to the beach. The sun was out and there was no one else around. The wind was now a 10 to 15 knot north-easterly and the swell was dropping. I decided to stay with the light spinning rod and 10lb leader. It was the middle of the day and I thought the fish would be fairly picky.

I started fishing on the calmer side of the rocky peninsula that sticks out to the north of the little bay. I put on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead with a 2” GULP Shrimp soft plastic, in the Banana Prawn colour. After a few casts, the first taker was a small stripey perch, this was followed by an equally small bream. Both these fish where sitting at the base of the rocks in a few feet of water. About 20 minutes later, I dropped a bigger bream, as I tried to land it.

It was pretty warm so I decided to risk getting wet and wandered a bit further out along the rocks. I wanted something chunkier to throw out into the breaking waves, in front of the rocks and I chose a GULP Jerkshad in the Waremelon Pearl colour. I also upped my jighead to a slightly bigger 1/6th ounce with a 1/0 hook. I cast this out in to the gaps between the rocks and let it sink for as long as I could before hopping it back towards me. I lost a couple of rigs to the rocks and gradually moved further out as the tide dropped. At about noon I was almost at the end of the rocky peninsula. I cast clear of the rocks and let the jerkshad sink. On the drop, it was slammed and line started peeling. The swell was still significant and this fish new how to use it. As soon as I applied some pressure, it took off. There were rocks everywhere and I had a 10lb fluorocarbon leader on the end of a very light, fast action trout spinning rod. Patience – Patience – Patience would be necessary. I got a little line back and tightened the drag, very slightly. I watched the swell and used the waves to steer the fish towards me. I took several tries but eventually I had it out of the water and at my feet. It was a trevally, about 50cm long.  I love to eat fresh trevally, so I killed and bled it and put it in a keeper pond, about 10 metres back from the shoreline.

A climbed back out along the rocky peninsula and put on another Jerkshad soft plastic. This time it was in the green and orange Lime Tiger colour. I cast around for another trevally but could not find any out the front. I started casting into the foamy water right at the end of the line of rocks. Small dart kept attacking the soft plastic just as it reached the rocks and on a few occasions they almost beached themselves trying to eat it. On the next cast there was a solid hit and then a clean bite off. I re-rigged with 14lb fluorocarbon leader and put the same soft plastic/ jighead combination on again.

I cast out wide again and let the jighead sink but then I added some urgency to the retrieve, a few quicker, more violent jerks. This did the trick and just before I got the soft plastic back to the rocks, a fish grabbed it, dropped it, and then grabbed it again. I felt the hook set in the jaw and then the fish went ballistic. I knew it was a Tailor before I could see it and I suspect this was what had bitten me off, before.

 

I pulled up a wriggling 40 cm tailor – I photographed it and released it. I shortened the mashed soft plastic then cast it out again. After a few jerks of the rod tip I had caught another slightly bigger one. Over the next 20 minutes I caught 4 more and dropped a few. The biggest was about 45cm. I am not sure how long they would stay in this area, but I suspect they are nearly always around until the water really warms up.

By 1.30 pm I was soaked and the fish seemed to slow a bit, as the wind and swell picked up again. I waded back towards the keeper pool, where I had left my trevally but I could not find it. Then I saw a big brahminy kite circling the shallows, about 50 metres away towards the beach. I watched as it swooped and plucked up the trevally – which it or another bird must have dropped halfway back to its nest. It struggled to get airborne again but eventually it got its full wingspan deployed and made it to the tree line. That was the end of my fish supper.

I decided to give up for the day and drove back up to 1770.

1770 – Getaway Beach – 21 October 2014

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I was up early to fish the rocks at Getaway Beach. This can be reached from Springs Road along a walking track, or by walking north around the headland from the new road that was constructed for the desalination plant inlet.

I have caught and dropped a few jewfish/mulloway here in the past. There are lots of spots that look promising, in fact it is pretty much perfect with rocky overhangs and sea caves all around the headlands. But I am much less confident in my ability to find them here than I am down south, in Southern Queensland or Northern New South Wales. They are very much creatures of habit but the more I think about it and the more I fish for them, I realise that there must be ready supply of bait for them to hang around. The moon and tides are also important. The run up to the full and new moons both seem to make them more active but, like most fish, it is a constant food supply that they are most interested in. I agree that they also prefer the water to be stirred up and foamy but not necessarily dirty.

The new moon was only a few days away.  The tide was running in. I started fishing about 5.30 am, a little after sunrise (late for work again!). I started with my lighter rock and beach fishing combo, based on the N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod. It is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. I match this rod with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. This is rigged with 15lb braid and I usually fish it with a 12lb to 16lb fluorocarbon leader. Today I had some 14lb. When I am looking for a jewfish I start with the lightest jighead that will sink in the swell. That varies between a 3/8th ounce, down to a 1/8th ounce. A ¼ ounce was perfect for the conditions – a light south-easterly swell. I started with some big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshads and then regular Jerkshads, then 4” Minnows and finally 3 “ Minnows. Nothing produced a jewfish.

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I caught plenty of stripey perch and lost tails to small dart/ whiting. At one point, I hooked the resident turtle – who set off for New Zealand, before unhooking himself. I moved around the rocks and cast into every crevasse and at every bommy – but nothing produced what I was looking for.

The wind started to build and by 9.00 am it was a 25 knot south-easterly so I gave up. No fish pictures because you all know what a dart and stripey perch look like by now.

Bribie – the old osyter jetty flats – 7 June 2014

On Saturday it would be a morning high tide at 3.52 am on Bribie Island. So on past performance the fishing would start to get really good around 7.00 am, which sounded great. I arrived at my usual spot, beside the old oyster jetty, at about 5.45 am. The air was still but it was very cold.  The moon was just into its second quarter, so it would not be a very powerful or big tide.

The water was up to the mangrove roots, so I moved slowly south. I cast a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic, in the Curried Chicken colour, ahead of me, into the shallows, parallel with the shoreline.  There a few sandy patches in this area and they had been covered in flathead lies, the last time I was here, so I peppered the area with casts.

At about 6.30 am just before the sun came over the horizon, I felt a definite bite but did not hook up. I threw the lure back in exactly the same place and slowed things down. After a long pause on the bottom, I slowly lifted the rod and then flicked the tip. I wound in a little line and then repeated the pause. When I lifted the rod, the fish had already grabbed the plastic and it was hooked, instantly. It was a good flathead around 45 cm long. I released it and tried again and was instantly rewarded with another, slightly bigger one.

As the sun rose, I could see lots of small squid and I noticed the pelicans where swimming around picking them off. This might be what has brought the flathead in. I fished around the mouth of the drain that runs off the flats, from the direction of Pebble Beach. I did not get much interest here so I waded out on to the long sand bank, which runs to the south.  I swapped over to a GULP 4” Minnow in the new Green Camo colour. The sand bank was still was covered in water. From here, I cast at a sandy patch that sits about 30 metres directly south of the jetty. As soon as the lure hit the water it was snaffled. After a brief fight, I had another 45 cm flathead swimming beside me.

I released this one and cast straight back into the same spot. This area is always fishy because it is where the water running off the flats meets the water running down the main channel of the Pumicestone Passage. The current flow forms a bit of a depression with a sandy bottom. After a couple more casts I felt a fast solid hit. The rod tip bent over but this fish was faster than a flathead. It took a bit of line in a few quick runs then I saw the flash of silver and realised it was a good sized bream. It had seriously munched the 4” Minnow soft plastic. It was about 33cm long, I tried for another but could not find any. It was now just after 7.00 am.

As the tide ran out I gradually moved closer to the edge of the weed beds. I caught a couple more 35cm flathead on the GULP 4” Minnow and then decided to try something bigger. I loaded my 1/8th 1/0 jighead with a GULP 7” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. This is a very big plastic for a flathead so I flicked it slowly along the bottom with plenty of pauses. I felt a definite bite but struck too soon and probably pulled the plastic out of the fish’s mouth. On the next retrieve I slowed it down even more. In exactly the same spot, I felt the bite and this time I dropped the rod tip and counted to ten. When I lifted it the fish was on. Amazingly, it was a just legal sized 40 cm flathead. I carried on with this soft plastic for a while but I could not catch anymore.

I swapped down the spectrum to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and fished around the same area. I caught a few more flathead that were just undersize. There were clearly plenty around but I had only caught 4 that would have been big enough to keep.

As I pondered what to try next an old timber bibbed minnow floated past. The front eyelet ring had pulled out. It was nice to get one back. I will have to try and fix it up. It was now getting close to low tide and I had to stop for the day.

In summary, the flathead are back in large numbers but they are mostly under 45cm. Size/ type of lure did not make much difference today. Perhaps they have followed the plentiful squid into the shallows.

Bribie – the bridge and White Patch – 2 June 2014

Monday

No time for anywhere but Bribie at the moment, but I decided to try a few different areas. These bright winter dawns are the best of the year and although the cooler weather makes it a bit tougher to get out of bed in the dark, it’s dark for much longer.

I started on the Bribie Island side at about 5.45 am, just north of the bridge. I would be fishing the low tide and the start of the run in. The water was still and the tide had slowed down. I started with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour and I have now swapped back down to fishing with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. This definitely produces more hits than fishing with 12 lb leader or heavier. It is also a good strategy to try and catch a few bream.

There was not much going on under the lights below the bridge. A few prawns skittered around, which was why I chose the Shrimp patterned soft plastic. At about 6.00 am, I caught a couple of small Pike. I moved a bit further to the south and a few minutes later, I caught two 35cm flathead, which had been lying in the shadows on the edge of the weed beds.

The sun started to light things up and nothing much was happening, so I drove up to White Patch Beach, further north on Bribie Island. The drop off that lines the edge of the Pumicestone Passage, also runs along the shoreline here. I parked at the set of steps down to the beach and wandered down. The fishing can be tough here but the scenery is fantastic, so it’s worth a regular visit.

 

There are nearly always lots of pike here and whilst you do catch the odd snapper, queenfish, mulloway and trevally, it is the core estuary species of cod, bream, flathead and tailor that dominate. Predictably, I found a patch of pike straight away. It was now about 7.30 am. I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and the pike liked this as well.

I moved slowly to the south and swapped to the DUO Realis Shad 59 MR a suspending hard body that has caught a few bream for me. I put in some long casts further to the south and I slowly twitched the lure back along the edge of the drop off. I felt a few grabs and then, as I slowed things down a little I connected with a fish. It was a small bream – about 28cm long. A few casts later, I connected with another, but I had the drag set a little tight and I pulled the trebles out.

It was now 8.30 am, well after low tide but the water still appeared to be running in, on the surface. The water was quite, murky and stirred up, so I decided to swap to a big bright coloured soft plastic lure. I chose the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curried Chicken colour. I was now close to Wrights Creek, casting ahead of me into the shallows.

I was now close to Wrights Creek, casting ahead of me into the shallows. I got plenty of grabs and small bites, as I worked the soft plastic along the edge of the drop off, but I had to wait another hour to find the next fish. It was another small flathead about 35cm.

At about 9.45 am I had to pack up. I had found a few small fish, which usually means the bigger ones are nearby, but there was nothing for dinner.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 4 April 2014

Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bribie Island – the Seaside Museum drain and flats – 19 July 2013

Friday

A late start on Friday and wet weather again. I drove up to Bribie and passed through several showers on the way. I arrived at Bongaree at about 9.30 am. I stopped in front of the Seaside Museum again and parked up. The tide had been high at 5.45 am, so I could now easily reach and cast over, the coffee rock ledge that runs along, parallel with the road.

Surveyors were measuring up for a new sea wall – the current slope is sinking and sagging after all the wild weather. Hopefully work on the new one will create some new fishy structure.

I started fishing with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was using 8lb leader again. After a few casts I hooked a fish. It made a few runs then I pulled it over the edge. It was a good bream, about 34cm long.

It was not long before I had another fish on. This time it swam under the ledge and soon rubbed me off. I did not get a look but it felt like another decent bream. I carried on in the same spot and after a few more casts, I felt another solid bite, as I lifted the soft plastic off the bottom. On the next cast, I paused a little longer with the soft plastic on the bottom. When I lifted it, a fish struck. It pulled quite hard but I was now level with the ledge and so I could keep the fish away from it. When it came in to view it was only a 25cm Moses Perch!

I moved a bit further south and kept casting. A few more casts and I had another fish on, this time it was a Tailor. It pulled very hard but it was nicely hooked so it could not bite through the leader. I pulled it up to the sand. It was just about 35cm long but I released it after a few pictures.

I checked the leader and thought about upgrading to 12lb, but could not be bothered. On the next cast I wished I had. A fish hit my plastic just a few inches out from the ledge and took off. This fish had weight and power but was not mad like a Tailor. I started swimming north, parallel with the shoreline and I went with it for about 10 metres. I tried to keep it away from the edge but my light spin rod was no match for it. It found a ledge and I could feel the leader rubbing and then it was gone. I suspect it was a jewfish but I will never know.

I fished on as the tide slowed and picked up another respectable 32cm bream on the Gulp 3” minnow in the Sardine colour. On the bottom of the tide the weed was clogging every cast and the sky looked ominous so I packed up.

Bribie Island – the old oyster jetty flats – 21 June 2013

Friday

It’s been a long time between fishing sessions. Work and the dreadful weather – particularly the wind, have limited my fishing opportunities. On Friday the rain and strong south-easterly winds were forecast again but I had no choice, I had to go for it. Fish don’t really care about the wind in an estuary, but if it is really strong, it makes it very hard to feel the bite and cast accurately, not to mention the cold, if it has some west in it.

On Friday morning, on the flats opposite Bribie Island, the wind was switching between a strong south-easterly and south-westerly and bringing plenty of rain with it. The tide had been high at 7.10 am and we were approaching the full moon, due in a couple of days.

I started fishing at about 9.00am. I wanted to fish the second half of the run out tide, through to about midday. I waded out under the bridge in a disposable rain poncho and my waders – I was dry underneath but the wind was very cold. The rain varied between a steady drizzle and heavy squalls.

Despite the wild weather the water was clear and cold. Unfortunately the algae (snot weed) are all over the sea grass and rocks on the bottom, between the bridge and the old oyster jetty. If you let your lure hit the bottom, it just gets clogged up with this stuff, straight away.

The situation improved to the south of the oyster jetty. I think the current is a little stronger here so the algae find it harder to take hold. I was fishing with a GULP 4” minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. After an hour of casting around I connected with a fish, but after a short fight, it slipped free. I persisted in the same spot for another 20 minutes. Eventually, I hooked the fish (or one of its neighbours) again. It was a flathead about 45cm long. Given how tough the fishing had been it seemed I was unlikely to catch the three fish minimum that I would need to feed my mob, so I released it.

I was now about 200 metres to the south of the old oyster jetty and the tide was running out, strongly. It was time to continue the sea trials of the Zman Minnowz. I chose the fairly natural, Houdini colour and put it on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead. I covered much of the same ground I had covered with the GULP Minnow and after about 20 minutes, I caught another small flathead about 35cm long.

I moved up and down casting at the edge of the weed beds but the after another 40 minutes with no bites I swapped back to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic lure, in the Pearl Watermelon colour. This produced a result on the first cast – another small flathead about 30cm long. I continued fishing the same area for another 30 minutes, but could not find anymore.
The wind was really building now, so I turned back and waded towards the bridge. On the way, I slowed my retrieve right down and left it longer on the bottom between hops. This produced one more flathead, just before low tide at about 1.00 pm.

Tough session – but the fish were there – as they nearly always are.

Yeppoon – Byfield National Park – Fishing Creek – 4/5 June 2013

Tuesday/ Wednesday

Byfield is a beautiful spot and I spent Tuesday exploring. The wind was a howling south-easterly, all day, so I focused on scouting out some good sheltered spots. I tried the lee side of the headland that I had fished the day before, at the end of Nine Mile Beach. This looks like a great spot but the waves were crashing in and I could not keep my lures in the dirty water. After a few hours, I gave up on the fishing and climbed up the hill.

It looks like the water is generally quite shallow and the sediment that has poured out of the creeks and bays must get stirred up by the wind. I climbed to the top of the hill and surveyed the whole area. There were a few trawlers working just offshore. I concluded this would be an excellent area to fish land-based, so I will be back.

On Wednesday the wind was still up and it had rained heavily overnight. I decided to try fishing one of the shallow creeks that feed into Corio Bay. I chose Fishing Creek, which comes in from the south and drove down Fishing Creek Road until it petered out at a bend in the creek. It was just after high tide at about 7.00 am. There was a small ledge path on the muddy, mangrove lined banks and I squelched my way along it.

The guys at Barra Jacks in Rockhampton had suggested this spot, when I was in there a few days before. They reckoned that crocodiles were very unlikely to be around at this time of year but that I should keep my eyes peeled. That always adds a little excitement to the session!

I was fishing with my light spin rig (Loomis GL2 and Shimano Stradic 2500) and I dropped all the way down to 8lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook, jighead. I decided to stick with natural colours and started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. The water was not too dirty as the tide had just peaked. I dropped the soft plastic up current and bounced it back to me, along the bottom. I cast as close to the bank as I could and gradually lengthened the pauses on the bottom. After about ten casts, I felt a bite and was connected to a fast fish for a few seconds, and then it was gone. I stayed in the same area and after about 10 more casts, I landed a small flathead. A few casts later I found another, it was just under 40 cm.

I continued down the creek towards the estuary. The tide was running out quickly revealing various ponds and channel. I was wet and muddy but the sun was out and I was catching fish, so things were looking up. I concentrated on the patches of deeper water and the caught a steady stream of small flathead, over the next 4 hours. The 3” GULP Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour was the most successful lure of the day. I tried the paddle-tailed Zman Minnowz, in a couple of colours, but did not catch anything on them.

I gradually ran out of water as the creek emptied and at about 12 noon, I turned around and walked back to the car. I caught a couple of fish in the shallow pools on the way back. By the time I reached the car, I had caught 9 flathead – the majority were between 30 and 40 cm long and only two looked like they were big enough to keep.

It had been a much more successful session and had given me confidence that this is a very fishy area, when conditions allow you to get at it.