Sharpes Beach, Ballina and North Head, New Brighton – July 2019

It took a long time for winter to arrive in 2019. In fact, the water stayed warm pretty much all through June and July. I persisted with exploring the beach fishing to the north of the Brunswick River mouth, whenever possible.

I also had a few sessions on the headlands between Lennox and Ballina. I did quite well fishing soft plastic minnows at the north end of Sharpes Beach. Over a few mornings I caught some 35cm + bream, trevally and even a few jewfish, one of which was just over 70 cm long and therefore big enough to keep.

As most of my followers will know I love to fish with soft plastics and light rigs. I was catching the odd flathead and bream in the surf on a traditional jig head rigged soft plastic minnows and shrimps, but I was putting in a lot of casts for very few fish. So in July I experimented with rigging my GULP 4″ minnows, unweighted on a regular baitholder or trueturn hook at the end of about 30 cm of 20lb fluorocarbon leader, running up to a small swivel and sinker. This seemed to be more successful and I had a few quite good bream sessions on the beach.

Bream on a soft plastic without a jighead

As we moved towards the full moon in the middle of the month, I noticed a few keen local anglers fishing for tailor on dusk, on the beach near North Head. On the evening of the full moon I decided to join them and with a GULP 4″ minnow rigged on a size 4 Trueturn hook with a size 1 sinker further up the leader. I was using my 3.6m / 12 foot Daiwa Crossfire Surf 1202L, 20lb braid and a 20lb flurocarbon leader. I was casting out as far as I could and letting the plastic waft around. I started about 40 minutes before sunset. Just after sunset I felt the rod tip start to bend and as I took up the slack I realised there was a fish on. This rod does not have much power so I had to be patient but after about 15 minutes of back and forth in the swell I pulled up a chunky tailor about 55cm long.

North Head Beach tailor

So on reflection there was plenty of variety on June and July, especially in the run up to the full moon

New Brighton, South Golden Beach, Bribie – Bream – August 2017

In August the bream where still around in numbers at Bribie and I also started to explore the beaches near the mouth of the Brunswick River in New South Wales. I am planning a move in that direction, so I need to get to know where to fish.

Sticking with mainly Gulp soft plastics, I had success with various coloured 3 inch minnows on the bream at Bribie. Fishing in front of the drain that empties into the Pumicestone Passage, over the coffee rock ledge, in front of the seaside museum at Bongaree was very successful. A light, 10lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/8th or 1/12th ounce jigheads seemed to do the trick.

Down on the beach at New Brighton the same size plastics found dart, flathead and a few good bream.

 

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – March 2017

March saw some wet and humid days on the flats at Bribie. I only managed to fish a few fairly quick sessions when the tides were not ideal.

I fished around the old oyster jetty with soft plastics and managed about 9 keeper sized flathead over three sessions and probably an equal number of undersized fish.

The flounder suddenly appeared and displayed a liking for the GULP Cajun Chicken Jerkshad soft plastic. If you feel the bite you need to pause for at least 10 seconds to get them, as they take a while to swallow the lure.

There were also small groups of squid around and reports of some decent sized jewfish chasing the squid under the bridge lights.

Bribie flats & Mooball Creek, Pottsville – January 2017

In January I fished a couple of dawn sessions on the flats in front of the Sandstone Point Hotel jetty, at Bribie. I caught a few flathead, mainly on the bottom half of the run out tides. I also fished the mouth of Pacific Harbour which produced a few good sized flathead on various coloured jerkshad soft plastics.

Later in  the month I spent some time at Pottsville and Hastings Point. The Hastings Point headland always looks very fishy, but during the holidays it is a pretty busy spot. I tried a few daytime sessions with small soft plastics there, but only caught a few Butter Bream on light line.

On the bigger tides I fished in Mooball Creek (behind the beach). This is a sandy bottomed shallow creek that has a few holes and bends with some deeper water. I found plenty of small flathead, fishing with a 3″ GULP Minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th and 1/12th ounce, size #1 hook jighead. I stuck to 10lb leader and eventually found a couple of flathead that would have been been big enough to keep. There were also plenty of small bream and whiting in the clear water.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 16 October 2016

Sunday

We had had some wild weather through the end of the week in Queensland. A strong south-easterly had been blowing since Wednesday and fishing would have been pretty difficult. This was a shame as it was the run up to the full moon which is usually a good time to fish in the Pumicestone Passage.

Sunday was full moon and a very low 0.11m low tide had passed at 3.11 am.  I arrived and to start fishing in the dark at about 4.15 am. The water was still not really moving at this stage and there was lots of strap weed floating about. There was a pause in the strong winds with a change in direction, to north-easterly forecast in the late morning.

I was fishing with my G.Loomis SJR 6400 Rod. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. After an hour this had not produced a bite so I swapped soft plastics to the Lucky Craft Mad Scientist Swimming Shad in the Ayu colour. These are fantastic soft plastic lures with a long streamline body and an enormous beating paddle tail.

Just after dawn at about 5 .15 am I felt the bite, paused and then struck. The hook held and I soon had a 45cm flathead swimming around me. There is plenty of fish left in our fridge so I released it.

Soon after dawn the tide started running in very quickly and I caught another flathead almost at the at green channel marker. It was a big slow fish and it initially swam towards me. Then it took off on on the first of three long runs after which it seemed content to be towed in to the shallows. It settled on the sand covered in water and buy lining it up against my rod, I could see it was over over 80cm long.  I tried to pull it on to sand to unhook, but 10lb leader snapped, and it swam off.

It was Sunday morning and the wash from the constant flow of boats heading out into the bay made the water very murky. I tied on a new jig head and loaded it with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I waded back towards the bridge.  Just to the south of the old oyster jetty hooked and dropped two more flathead.

Finally, casting around just north of bridge, I caught one more flathead. It was just about 40cm long. At 6.30 am with the wind rising, I gave up for the day.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 11 October 2016

Tuesday

Monday had been pretty good so I decided to go back up to Bribie on Tuesday morning. Low tide would be about an hour later, at 10.30 am. There was not much tidal flow as the moon was not really doing much. This time I chose the oyster jetty flats on the mainland sided of the Pumicestone Passage.

It was another hot, clear morning but with a little more northerly wind, when I arrived at about 8.00am. I was still fishing with my short, fast action G.Loomis trout rod and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and put on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour.

I was just south of the bridge and once more the first taker was a long tom. These fish are tricky to hook. They have plenty of teeth and usually the bigger ones thrash around until they slice through your line or shake the hook loose. This on managed to wrap the light line thoroughly around its snout. I untangled it and released it.

I moved south and swapped soft plastics to a GULP Cajun Chicken Jerkshad. This black and pink lure seems to stir things up sometimes probably because it is such high contrast. I was now well to the south of the old oyster jetty. I felt a slid thump, dropped the rod tip and paused. When I lifted it the fish was on and the hook pushed home. It took off and felt like a pretty good flathead. It later measured 58cm. I took a few underwater shots with my new camera. This is a fairly hit and miss operation when you are not swimming with them!

I carried on moving south and caught another 30 cm flathead about 3 casts later. After another 30 minutes I swapped to a GULP Satay Chicken Jerkshad and not long afterwards I caught another 50cm plus flathead. As the tide stopped running the action slowed. I caught three more smaller flathead before giving up at about 11.00 am.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats and Bongaree – 10 October 2016

Monday

On Monday it was back up to Bribie to fish the bottom of the tide. Summer had arrived and so had the warm water and northerly winds. September and October are traditionally thought to be good months for flathead fishing. In my experience the cooler months and consistent south easterly winds tend to produce more legal sized fish but it is often around the start of summer that I catch and release a few really big fish.

I could not start really early on Monday and arrived at about 8.30 am. I started off fishing just south of the bridge on the old oyster jetty flats. There was virtually no wind and it was hot and clear. I started to cast a GULP Mantis Shrimp soft plastic (in the peppered prawn colour) in to the shallows. The clear water and bright sun has probably contributed to a thick blanket of snot weed forming over the bottom in this area. It does not seem to bother the fish but makes bouncing a soft plastic along the bottom pretty difficult. I swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I felt a couple of bites and soon hooked a toothy long tom. I carefully released it.

I moved south under the jetty and swapped soft plastics again. This time to the Mad Scientist Optishad. The paddle tail on this one did the trick and a 50 cm flathead snaffled it from a sandy hollow. Ten metres further south I caught another – this time a little smaller and things were looking promising. I kept moving south, towards the green channel marker. By now I had swapped to a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Satay Chicken colour. At about 10.45 am I caught one more 45 cm flathead.

The wind had turned south easterly and the incoming tide forced me back from where I wanted to fish. I waded back to the car and drove across to Bongaree. I just wanted to put in a few casts in the gutter that had formed in front of the Seaside Museum. I was back fishing with the Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic and after only a couple of casts, I found another 45 cm flathead. It was lying in just 40 cm of water a couple of metres out. They really move up very fast on a rising tide. I peppered the rest of the gutter with casts but could not find another, but I shall certainly be back.