Brunswick River, Lennox Head Beach & Flat Rock – August 2019

In August the weather had warmed up a little but the water had finally cooled down. I tried a few different fishing methods in the Brunswick River, where the bream can be easy to find but hard to catch. I started with small soft plastics, which would mostly just catch small flathead. In the end I worked out that throwing in some burley (small bread cubes) seemed to get the fish in the mood. Once a decent crowd of fish had assembled I would pull a jighead with some bread on it, along the bottom. This method caught a few fish. So I refined it and started floating an unweighted size 6 hook with a small dough cube down towards the fish. This worked better but, overall it was hard work and most of my catch was barely big enough to keep.

Brunswick River bream like bread
Clearwater and plenty of food makes the bream hard to catch
The Brunswick River

I was only fishing the river when the swell made fishing the beaches or rocks to tricky. Whenever I found a good gutter on the beach between the northwall of the Brunswick River and South Golden Beach, I would go down at dusk and try flicking soft plastic lures around. I found a few little flathead using this method (but not many keepers) and no tailor.

On a couple of calmer mornings, I fished the beach at Lennox Head. There is plenty of structure here and if the swell permits, it is great to fish the gaps in the rocks for flathead and bream. Over a few days I caught trevally, bream and flathead, all on soft plastic minnows. The back half of the run out tide was the most productive time to fish.

Lennox Head mixed bag

I also took advantage of the lighter swell to have a fish at Flat Rock, just north of the Richmond River mouth, near Ballina, in August. This is a great fishing platform but it requires wind, tide and swell to be friendly – to deliver the fish. I started off fishing the eastern side on a falling tide and caught a beautiful elegant wrasse on a soft plastic. A little later, as the tide turned to run in I caught a few bream on the same lures.

I then moved round to the southern side, where I have seen fishermen catch some very good tailor and jewfish. I was using my Daiwa Crossfire Surf 1062 rod matched with a Shimano Stella 4000 reel. I wrigged them with 20lb braid and a 16lb fluorocrabon leader. This rod is just big enough to throw a 40 gram slug and so I tied one on and threw one out over the reef ledge into the surf. After a few casts I hooked a fish which I though was a very solid tailor. It pulled really hard. When i finally go a look I was very surprised to see it was a small kingfish about 45cm long. I released it and carried on casting but did not get another.

I rounded out the month with a trip across the river on the ferry to South Ballina. I fished my lighter spinning rig along the south rockwall and caught a few flathead and bream. The end of the wall always seems to produce good bream and there are usually flathead around, as you move upriver and the water gets shallower.

Skennars Head – Jewfish – November 2018

In November I spent a few sessions exploring the rocky headlands around Lennox and Skennars Heads in Northern New South Wales. I was fishing soft plastics lures on my new favorite outfit – a Daiwa Crossfire 1062 matched with a Shimano Stella 4000. I generally rigged a 12 to 20lb fluorocarbon leader and 20lb braid, for main line. As usual I was losing plenty of gear to the rocks as I felt around the rocky outcrops and bommies. My soft plastic of choice is still the GULP 4″ Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. It is as close to a pilchard as anything and pilchards catch plenty of fish. I keep the jighead as light as I can – a sixth of an ounce or even an eighth, if the swell will still let it sink.

On most sessions I found a bream or a dart or two, but on a couple of occasions I found some Jewfish/ Mulloway, hugging the base of the rocks. They appeared to be schooled up under the overhangs. Only one was big enough to keep but I was glad to have made contact.

Skennars Head fishing spot
Skennars Head

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.

 

Coffin Bay – Point Avoid – 11 June 2016

Saturday

Having caught plenty of salmon trout inside Coffin Bay it was time to get out on to the surf beaches and find some bigger models. On Saturday morning I was up at 5.45 am and drove into the Coffin Bay National Park. I drove long the winding track out to the west side. It was cold – about 5 degrees, but the wind had dropped a little. It was still a south-easterly and low tide would be at about 8.45am.

I was heading out to fish the beach at the depressingly named Point Avoid. Point Avoid/ Coffin Bay – they obviously did not think much of the place when they drew up the maps. Point Avoid was named by Matthew Flinders and as it is usually lashed by strong winds and has strong currents racing through rocky channels, its probably a fair name.

It was overcast as I walked down onto the beach. Rain looked likely. I loaded up the Lox Yoshi with a length of 20lb fluorocarbon leader and tied on a 20g Raider metal slug. I put a long cast out into the surf and wound fast. On the second cast – bash , bump, bump and then zzzzzzzzzzzzz. I let it have some line and gradually played it out it was a small Australian Salmon. I dragged it slowly to the sand. It was about 35cm long. I let it go and cast out again. I caught three or four at this size and then a bigger one grabbed the lure. I could not stop it and after a short fight, it buried itself in the rocks and snapped me off.

I put on a small popper (about 50cm). I could not cast this as far but it did not matter. On about the fourth cast I saw a shape come up and snaffle it. This was a bigger fish. Fortunately it headed for open water and did some leaping around. I let it run and wear itself out and slowly I steered it back up the beach. This one was about 40 cm long and I decided to keep it. I bled it and left it under a rock. I cast the popper around again. It did not take long to find another decent salmon. This one really pulled hard and put in some good stunts but I managed to hang on to it. It was about 45cm long and had completely mashed the hooks on the popper’s front treble.

I put on a DUO Realis Jerkbait 120 in a purple colour. This lure suspends about 10 to 15 cm below the surface and has a very loud rattle and great action. The smaller salmon knocked this around for a while. Then something different whacked it. It was a brown spotted wrasse, about 30 cm long.

I moved around the corner and walked out on to a rocky promontory that had been revealed by the falling tide. I swapped to a 1/8th ounce jighead and GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I cast around the deep holes in between the rocks. The salmon where here as well but the lure was a bit big for them.  I caught a couple more small wrasse.

I hooked what I thought was another salmon but on close inspection I realized it was an Australian Herring known locally as a Tommy Rough. I carried on fishing until the tide turned in, then gave up for the morning

 

 

 

 

 

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1770 – Wreck Rock – Trevally – 19 May 2016

Thursday

My sincere apologies for still writing about fishing trips back in May. There has been lots more recent fishing, but I have not had much time to write about it. I will now do my best to catch up and get current.

I finished my May trip to 1770 with a couple of great fishing sessions down at Wreck Rock in Deepwater National Park. I timed my arrival for a few hours before low tide and fished the north end of the rocks that are only accessible around low. Conditions were good with fairly light winds and swell. However, once a couple of waves splashed over me the wind was pretty cool. This area often produces trevally and some good dart.

Today was no exception. I started fishing with a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour. The Daiwa Air Edge no longer had a tip so I swapped back to the NS Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod matched with a Shimano Sustain 4000. This rod is a little stiffer and has a little more grunt than the Daiwa. I was fishing with 16lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/6th ounce, 2/0 hook jighead.

As the tide receded I moved out along the rocks. There was a fishy looking corridor between two sets of barnacle covered rocks. The water was no more than a metre deep and far shallower in places. I pulled the plastic along parallel with the shoreline and a silver fish came up and grabbed it. It took off and I knew it was a trevally. This was a reasonable sized fish about 45cm long and it kept turning sideways and using the swell to try and get away. After a while I had it subdued at my feet. I released it and went looking for its friends.

It did not take very long. About ten minutes later I had another trevally come racing up behind the soft plastic and grab it. This one swam straight towards me but I manage to keep the line tight and after a short fight I landed it.

About 15 minutes later another group of trevally came through and this time I saw several follow the lure in before one grabbed it. It took off out to sea and managed to get the line wedged down between the barnacles. I loosened the drag, bug the line was wrapped around the rocks and it soon snapped. It was now about 4.00 pm, and the tide was slackening so I gave up for the day.

I drove back along the four-wheel drive track towards 1770. The local country fire service were doing a ‘controlled’ fuel reduction burn. As I drove through the smoke and flames I wondered what and ‘uncontrolled’ burn would be like. Instead of smelling of fish my car was going to smell of barbequed fish for the next few weeks.

1770 – Flat Rock – Stripey Perch – 16 May 2016

Monday

Clear skies and light south-westerly winds strengthening and turning south easterly, were forecast for Monday. Flat Rock would be covered by the tide until about 8.30 am, so I drove down to the rocky outcrop, just to the south of Getaway Beach. This area always looks very fishy, but I have yet to catch anything very serious here. A few times I have been towed around by a resident groper before being busted off.

I started fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour matched with a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using the Daiwa Air Edge rod and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. Just on dawn, I felt some pretty aggressive grabs and pinches and after a few more casts, I hooked a snapping long tom. About ten minutes later I lost the whole rig to another toothy long tom, who sheared through the leader.

I re-rigged with a lighter 1/8th ounce jighead and loaded a GULP Mantis Shrimp in the colour with a red body and a yellow tail. I like this fairly new pattern from GULP. It seems to be quite the fish attractor with its prong tail and sparkly colour range. I think this shape is ideal for fishing close to rocky overhangs. The soft plastic flutters down and can entice a territorial strike from the resident fish.

This morning it was the Moses perch that woke up and attacked it. They were only small but they were very persistent. In about 30 minutes I caught four fish – none over 25cm long. I moved a little further to the south and caught a couple more. I am not sure if these are Moses perch or juvenile stripeys or even tiny fingermark. They all look very similair and are clearly all part of the same Lutjanidae (tropical snappers and seaperches) family. If you can catch one over 25cm long, they are some of the finest tasting fish in the sea.

I dropped the same soft plastic close to a bommy and let it float down in the current. Something grabbed the lure then did not really move. It then swam slowly north. I thought I may have hooked a turtle but then it started to swim off a little more quickly. I could not turn its head and after I tightened the drag and tried to put some pressure on the fish, it put its head down and the leader snapped.

I gave up in this spot and drove down to Flat Rock. The water was running out and I waded out onto the rock and walked along the top of it. I started with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. This colour seems to be particularly attractive to dart in the clear water. It was now 9.45 am and after a few casts I caught a small dart, then a slightly bigger one.

I moved along the rock casting out beyond it and caught more dart, a couple of tiny flathead and a Moses Perch. After about 45 minutes I swapped to a slightly bigger GULP Fry soft plastic in the same colour. I was standing on the south side of a gap in the rocks where the tide runs out.  I was casting into the wash and just letting the soft plastic float down in the current and  bump along the bottom. After a few attempts another dart hit the plastic and took off. This was a much bigger one, about 40 cm long.

I caught a few more then moved down to the next opening in the Flat Rock. After few casts here the rod bent over and line started peeling. This was quite a powerful fish. I played it for a few minutes and still had no idea what I was on to. As soon as it came close to the rocks it would charge off again. Eventually it tired and I pulled it clear of the water. It was a remora (sucker fish). I took a few pictures and released it. I wondered what it might have been attached too.

I was now almost at the southern end of the Flat Rock. The tide was low and just turning back in. I swapped to a more natural GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was right in the spot where I had been bitten off the day before. It was the same drill but this time I had the drag set tighter and I was ready for the fish. As soon as it struck I wound hard and pulled it clear of the rock overhang. It made some good runs but I kept it away from the rocks and soon landed it. It was a chubby 35cm Stripey Perch – the perfect fish for supper.

I cleaned it up and continued fishing for another 30 minutes or so. I caught a few more dart before giving up for the morning.

1770 – Middle Rock, Wreck Rock -14 May 2016

Saturday

I had some work to do in Gladstone in mid-May and this year I have decided to add fishing to work, at every opportunity.  I was driving up and decided a few days of land based fishing at 1770 would be a good move. I rented a unit from Gavin and Kim at the Loka Santi appartments (nestled in the sand dunes behind the beach) which are my favorite place to stay.  You can book through http://www.1770beachaccommodation.com.au/. I packed the car full of rods and lures (and reluctantly my work boots).

I arrived late on Friday, looked at the weather for the next few days and planned where I would fish. Failing to plan means you are planning to fail, so they say. There is certainly some truth in this. Optimum fishing times (in my opinion) are dawn and dusk. If the change of tide coincides with dawn and dusk, even better. If it’s the lead up to the full or new moons, even better again. The week looked prett,y good with light south-easterly winds in the morning rising in strength through the days. The moon was about half full.

For my first session, I drove along the four wheel drive track just south of Agnes Waters into Deepwater National Park. I set off before dawn in order to fish through first light and sunrise at 6.21 a.m. I rigged up my Daiwa Air Edge rod, Shimano Sustain 4000 reel. I was using the 8lb Aldi braid and I started with a 20lb fluorocarbon leader to give myself a chance against a bigger fish if one was around. Low tide would be at 9.43 am and there was not much swell.

There are lots of submerged rocks in this spot and I have caught stripey perch, trevally, bream, flathead, whiting and morwong/slatey bream here. I started by casting a DUO Realis Vib 62 (a sinking vibe lure) all around the rocks using the 9′ the Daiwa Air Edge rod. This did not get a bite. After 15 minutes, I swapped to 12lb leader, a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP 4-inch Minnow soft plastic lure in the Lime Tiger colour. As soon as it hit the water this was attacked by the ugly local long toms.

About 7.30 am I jumped back in the car and drove down the track to Wreck Rock. I walked out on the rocks at the north side of the small bay and started casting again with the same set up. The long toms were here as well.  I swapped through a couple of small and big GULP soft plastics, gradually moving further out along the rocks as the tide receded. At about 8.30 am the wind started to pick up from the south east. By now I was fishing with the GULP Cajun Chicken Jerkshad (black and pink colour). I was hopping it along the sandy bottom between the rocks, when I saw a fast shape swim up and grab it, at the foot of the rocks. Line started peeling and in the blink of an eye it was a silver flash in the waves 25 metres away. I tightened the drag a little which did little to slow it. But the fast action, fairly whippy Daiwa Air Edge rod soaked up the lunges. After a few minutes I had a 50 cm trevally at my feet. It had completely swallowed the soft plastic.

I bled the fish and re-rigged but could not find anymore. I swapped to a MARIA MJ Twitch suspending hard bodied minnow. This seemed to drive the long toms crazy but did not entice any other fish. By 10.15 am the wind had picked up to about 15 knots from the south east and the tide had turned, so I gave up.

Perth -Fremantle – Australian Salmon – 20 April 2016

Wednesday/ Thursday

On a Wednesday morning in April, I found myself up early (as always) and in Perth. I was here for a week and although I would not get to Ningaloo Reef or the more glamorous WA fishing spots, I would have time for a few early morning sessions near Perth.

I checked the internet for land based fishing spots near Perth CBD and realised that North and South Mole (the big rockwalls at the entrance the Port of Freemantle) were my best option. Dawn is refreshingly late in Western Australia at this time of year and so I woke at about 5.30 am and drove out to Fremantle.

I had packed a light spin rod and reel – Berkley Dropshot 7”, 1-3 kg IM-6 Dropshot and my Shimano Sustain 4000 reel. The mainline was 8lb Aldi yellow braid and I started with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. It was just before sunrise when I clambered over the rocks on the right side of North Mole Drive and I was amazed at how many cars and fisherman were already there. The water was flat, crystal clear and there was virtually no wind.

I rigged up a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and put on a GULP 4” minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just before sunrise I caught a small bream. I could now see fishermen everywhere with a variety of rigs including slugs/ baits and both big and small rods. I asked a guy next to me, what was going on and he explained big schools of Australian salmon had been coming through, so everybody had come down to catch one. All around me fishermen were casting metal slugs, hard bodies, poppers and baits.

I swapped down to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. Right on cue, on about my third cast I felt the bite, followed by the charge. A good sized Australian salmon soon came leaping out of the water, trying to spit the jighead out. It was well hooked but with a very light rod and 12lb leader, I was not in charge.

Things were made more complex by the fact that I was going to have to go with him. Which meant walking initially north, along the rock wall. There were lines to the right and left and interestingly no one seemed particularly interested in winding them in, to avoid a tangle. Somehow I only got tangled with one and we soon managed to undo the crossover. The fish was still leaping around but it was slowing. The small rod had no power but by gradually tightening the drag I managed to tire the fish.

No one had a net but the lack of swell meant I could get down safely to the base of the rocks, which I gradually did. I had been playing the fish for about 15 minutes when it started to come in much closer. I chose my spot and started to pull the fish in towards it. At the last minute it revived and put its head down in the weed around the rocks. That was all it needed to knock the lure out and it was gone.

Dejected but excited I then had to give up for the day and go and do some work. But the next morning I was back. This time with 20lb leader (the heaviest I had). I decided to fish the other side of the North Mole, at the entrance of the small harbour, facing the mouth of the river.

I arrived pre-dawn and cast around some big and small soft plastics and small metal slugs, without much success. I could see fisherman on the other side casting in to the main channel and catching a salmon, every now and then.

At about 7.00 am I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour, on a ¼ ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I kept getting hits close to the base of the rocks. Eventually something connected with the plastic and took off. It felt quite powerful but was faster than a salmon. As it came in to view I could see it was a junior samson fish (I presume this is, or is from the Amberjack family). It pulled very hard and took a little while to subdue. I photographed and released it. A little while later, Tom, a keen local angler caught a good salmon on a hard bodied minnow, right next to me. Fortunately another angler had a landing net that enabled me to help him get it safely up the rocks.

I swapped to one of my favourite small hard bodied lures – the DUO Realis Vib 62. This is a bass lure made in Japan, but fortunately fish have an open mind when it comes to trying foreign dishes. It is a sinking vibe and casts a long way. I started casting it out, into the main channel. It did not take long to get some interest. I felt a few knocks and then watched a big salmon follow it all the way to the base of the rocks before whacking it.

Today I was better prepared. Although the rod could not really put much pressure on the fish, the stronger leader meant I could pull a bit harder. It jumped around, as salmon do, but a treble was quite firmly lodged in its cheek. I was also lucky to have Tom’s assistance with the net. We soon landed the fish.

By now the rock walls were packed, but it was time for me to go to work again. I packed up and gave the fish to the guy who provided the net. Nice to catch a fish in Western Australia – I hope I will be back.

Iluka – Shark Bay – Tailor – 18 March 2016

Friday.

It was Friday and although the wind and swell was forecast to drop off slightly in the morning – it would soon pick up again. I stuck with Shark Bay and arrived at about 5.45am. The skies were the clearest they had been all week and I was treated to a magnificent sunrise.

I fished in the bays on each side of the rocks while I waited for the tide to recede. I started with a small no name popper and attracted plenty of long tom interest but nothing else. At about 7.00 am I waded through the tide and out on to the north side of the rock platform.

At this stage of the run out tide I had to stick with a surface lure so that I could cast out over the kelp covered ledge. I chose the Fluoro Pink Roosta Popper again.  This hooked up to a good tailor straight away but it wriggled off. I kept casting and the long toms kept swiping. After about 30 casts, I found another smaller tailor but it also wriggled off in the shallows. I swapped to the Spanyid Maniac 45g wide metal spoon. I soon caught a 25cm Tailor and then a few casts later, a 50cm model.

I swapped lures again. This time to a 55g HALCO Twisty in the gold colour – this was the most successful lure of the morning. But the fish were not feeding furiously. They seemed to come and go. I caught 5 more fish over the next 90 minutes. But none of them were over 35cm long.

As low tide approached I decided to switch locations and walked back to the car and drove round to Woody Head. I wandered out to the area known as ‘the Barnacles’. The sun was finally out and the swell had dropped off a little.

I tied on a ¼ ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and cast out a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colours. As is so often the case in this spot, a fish grabbed the lure on the first cast, as I started to retrieve it. I landed it with the aid of an incoming wave. It was a 35cm bream. As a warning, the next wave came up and soaked me so I decided it was time to retire. No monsters and interestingly, no jewfish but plenty of action.

I was soaked but the sun was out and the water was warm so I took a dip in one of the many rock pools (which were even warmer). I can just see the advert – Woody Head Day Spa with sea minerals and slimy kelp rub – what would they pay for one of those in Sydney?

Iluka – Shark Bay – Tailor / Bream – 17 March 2016

Thursday

On Thursday the weather was much the same and low tide was not until 11.20 am. Most of my favourite fishing points around Iluka are low or falling tide spots, so I decided to have a lie in. Of course a fisherman’s lie in just means getting up at dawn, rather than 90 minutes before dawn, but it was nice to get a full 8 hours sleep.

At about 8.30 am I drove round to Woody Head to have a look at conditions. Although the tide was far enough out to make fishing possible, the swell was still bashing up against the rocks. The swell had been a steady 1.5/ 1.8m all week. It was caused by the slow moving tropical storm that had missed the Queensland coast the week before, but stirred everything up. Discretion is the better part of valour and I was not going to risk my life for a fish, so I walked back to the car.

I drove round to Shark Bay again. I walked out onto the rock and tied on 55g HALCO Twisty in the brass/ gold colour. I catch far more fish on the brass/ gold colour of this lure than the silver colour – no idea why. I started with big long casts on the heavy rod and after five or six casts, I had a 30 cm tailor. A few casts later I had another…. and another. I swapped up to an 80mm HALCO Roosta Popper in the Fluoro Pink colour. I blooped this back towards me, making plenty of splashes and stopped for a few seconds every now and then. After a few bloops, a bigger tailor grabbed it and I soon had a 50cm tailor at my feet.

It was now about 11.00 am and I swapped to the lighter rod, 14lb fluorocarbon leader, a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP 4 inch Minnowp soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The first cast was smashed by a tailor which then spat it out. The second, attracted a few snaps from a long tom, which followed the soft plastic right back to me. After about ten more minutes of casting I caught another 30cm bream.

I decided to try the other side of the rock platform but neither soft plastics nor slugs could raise anything there so at about 12.00 noon, I gave up.

Iluka – Shark Bay – Tailor / Bream – 16 March 2016

Wednesday

Wednesday in Iluka and more rain was forecast.  I woke to grey skies and the persistent south easterly wind and swell.

Shark Bay would be the only sensible place to fish. Low tide would be about 9.30 am. By standing on the north side of the rocky outcrop, I would be able to cast out with the wind behind me. I was fishing with the Rovex Bario (good) and the Penn Spinfisher (awful, but just about functional).

My current line of choice for the big rod is the 17lb breaking strain Aldi ‘Crane’ braid, in the yellow colour. I picked up about ten 250 metre reels when they were reduced to A$ 11.99 each to clear, earlier in the year. This stuff is great. Alibaba offers me 184 braided fishing line suppliers in China so it could be from anyone but my sources tell me that braid this good is probably made by either Sunline or by Innovative Textiles (now owned by Shimano). I am pretty certain the breaking strain is almost double the listed 17lbs. It’s tough and does not fray. The colour fades after a while but that happens with almost all the brands I have used. When it comes round again, grab some.

I started with a big (150 mm) red and white Classic Lures plastic popper. This stirred up the long toms, initially. But after about twenty minutes of casting around it connected with a good size tailor. Unfortunately the fish swam straight for a bommie and managed to unhook itself but leave the popper firmly lodged in the cunjevoi. To add insult to injury the heavens then opened and I got soaked by a brief downpour.

I swapped to a big new Spanyid Maniac 45g metal spoon. This looks like a great lure. It’s a nice wide target for the tailor to attack. The only downside is that it’s much wider profile makes it less aerodynamic and therefore hard to cast long distances. I could still get it 40 metres or so out, which would be enough. It proved irresistible and after a few retrieves during which it was bumped and nudged a few times, a fish grabbed it and the rod bent over. It was another tailor about 35 cm long. I continued casting and soon caught two more fish of about the same size.

By about 10.00 am the tailor seemed to have gone off the bite. I swapped to the light rod and tied on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic on a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead. After a few casts this found a fish. This time it was a bream. It was about 30 cm long so I put it aside for dinner. The next cast produced another bream, about the same size, so I kept that as well.  Things quietened down again, so I cleaned my fish and went home to dry out.

By 4.00pm I was ready for more fishing. I drove out to Iluka Bluff. The swell was still pretty lively. Between waves I managed a few casts with the lighter rig and caught another good bream – about 38cm long – on a GULP Jerkshad in the Sweet & Sour Chicken colour.

There was no shortage of fish in the area but I just needed the swell to go away. At about 6.00pm I packed up for the day.

Iluka – Shark Bay – 15 March 2016

Tuesday

I woke to more grey skies on Tuesday – but grey skies are a fisherman’s friend. At least it was not raining. I drove round to Woody Head, just before dawn I walked out onto the rock platform. But by first light I could already see that this location was going to be difficult to fish with such a big swell. The sun came up between the horizon and the grey line of cloud but after half an hour of attempting to cast heavily weight soft plastics and losing them to the rocks or swell, I decided to switch locations.

I drove round to Shark Bay which is always sheltered from big south easterly swells. As I got out of the car, it started raining. This seemed to dampen down the wind but it was still around a 20 knot south easterly. I could see birds hovering above the shallows on the north side of the rocks so I walked towards them. It was now about 7.15 am. Low tide would be at about 8.30 am.

The birds were feeding on something in very shallow water. As I got closer, I could see Tailor also ‘chopping’ into some huge schools of tiny whitebait. I started prospecting with the light surf rig, my Daiwa Air Edge rod. I tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and loaded it with a 3” minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. A hungry tailor snaffled this lure as soon as it hit the water and bit it off. I tied on another and upgraded to 35lb leader. This landed a 35 cm tailor on the first cast. I dropped a few more over the next ten minutes.

I decided to swap to my bigger rod and reel and try a bigger lure. The day before the Daiwa Demonblood tip had fallen off so I had swapped to a Rovex Bario that is slightly shorter. I was also trying out a Penn Spinfisher reel. I see these reels everywhere but just because they are plentiful does not make them good and over the week I found all its faults. It was heavy and clunky and the drag only just functioned. My advice is, if you are thinking about buying one – don’t. I had rigged this combo with 20lb braid and 35lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a proven performer the DUO Pressbait Saira. This has long profile but is essentially a big heavy slug. Its chief advantage is the distance that you can cast it. I threw it out as far as I could. I think this would be about 60 or 70 metres with a strong southerly behind it. I cranked it back in at full speed. You cannot slow down here as there are too many clumps of rocks in the way. About twenty metres into the retrieve something hit it and the rod bent over. It was another Tailor no bigger than the one I had caught on the soft plastic.

I carried on casting this big lure for the next hour or so. I caught eight more Tailor and kept the biggest one that was about 50 cm long. The Long Toms where also out in force and I caught a few with the big lure. The thick schools of bait and a bit of blood also brought out the Wobbegongs. This is why it’s best to fish in boots and watch your step.

By about 10.00 am things had slowed down so I swapped back to the 3” Minnow soft plastic. After a few casts a bream grabbed it. It was about 25cm long and was followed by a few more. By 11.00 the tide pushed me back from the edge so I gave up for the day.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 7 March 2016

Monday

The wind and wild weather persists. A look back at my fishing reports suggest that the run up to the full and new moons around February, March, April have produced the most consistent catches of flathead. The latter half of the run out tide also appears to be a good time to get at them.

So on Monday I ignored the wind and grey skies and drove up to Bribie at about 10.30 am, to fish the run out tide on the flats in front of the jetty and the Sandstone Point  Hotel. Low tide would be at 2.38 pm. The wind was about a 15 to 20 knot east-south-easterly by the time I arrived.

As regular readers know, I love my GULP soft plastics (and just for the record I don’t think I have ever received a free packet from anyone – so this is definitely not sponsor induced waffle). We all tend to use bait and tackle that we are confident with. If something works for us we go back to it – whether it’s a fishing spot/ area or favourite lure type. When I first caught a few flathead on a GULP Minnow Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour, I soon convinced myself that this was the only colour and shape that would catch fish. It caught plenty of fish for me but fortunately I was brave / frustrated enough at some point, to experiment with some alternative shapes and colours and even try hard bodied lures.

So this morning I resolved to stick with the ZMAN soft plastics that I carry around but rarely seem to use. My principal problem with them is additional buoyancy in the material they are made of and the lack of scent. I am convinced by the amount of strikes I get when I introduce a GULP soft plastic that is just out of the packet, that the scent is the thing that makes a difference.  Having said that they have a range of shapes in their paddle tail varieties that put GULP to shame. I started with a ZMAN Minnowz in the Redbone colour on a 1/8th 1/0 Headlockz jighead. These jigheads are specially designed to hold the ZMAN soft plastics in place and perhaps also counter the additional buoyancy, they are based on Mustad hooks.

I fished around the bridge and felt a few nudges and bumps from either the resident Moses Perch or perhaps some Pike. After a thorough peppering of the area I moved south, under the jetty and fished along the edge of the weed beds all the way along to the farthest green channel marker. About halfway I swapped colours to the same shape ZMAN in the Rootbeer Gold colour. Unfortunately this made no difference.

I had been fishing for an hour without a bite and I no longer believed the ZMAN soft plastics were going to catch a fish. Confidence is so important when fishing and I just don’t have it when it comes to these plastics. I reached into the tackle bag for a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour and swapped over. I started back over the ground I had covered and after another 10 minutes, I caught the first fish of the day – a 45cm flathead, close to the edge of the weed.

I carried on moving slowly back towards the jetty, fishing with the same Jerkshad soft plastic. It was now almost 1.00 pm and I caught another flathead, about the same size. Twenty minutes later I caught another much smaller flathead.

There was huge (no doubt multi-million dollar)  fisheries patrol vessel moored in front of the bridge. I think I would rather see our taxes spent on hospitals and schools and just have boats checked in their way in/ out. Especially since the numbers of boats seized, fines issued or commercial licenses cancelled is miniscule. Since we send so much of our good seafood overseas it seems crazy to spend all this money just to race around persecuting recreational anglers.

By now I was casting around just south of the jetty. The jighead stuck fast in to something. It felt like a stick or lump of coral but it was moving. I slowly brought it to the surface with a tightened drag. I was a welcome surprise – a big mud crab with the jighead stuck nicely in one of its back legs. I checked it was male and big enough and I manoeuvred it into my keeper bag and gave up for the day.

Brisbane River – Boggy Creek – 29 February 2016

Monday

Wind, wind, wind – this is why you do not want to buy a boat. Throughout the end of February the wild weather continued. The forecast was for a 30 knot southerly on Monday. Still, every cloud has a silver lining – less boat traffic means more undisturbed fish and remember it’s never windy under the water.

But I could not face another day of being blown around at Bribie so I decided to fish closer to home. I have not fished the Brisbane River for a while, so to avoid the wind I drove out to spend a few hours fishing Boggy Creek, at Pinkenba. The big advantage with this spot is that it is only about 20 minutes from the Brisbane CBD. The hum of the BP refinery and the trucks roaring by makes it slightly less picturesque than Bribie, but there are still good fish to be caught here.

I started after first light, a bit before sun rise, at about 5.45 am. It was a few days after full moon and low tide would be at 7.22 am. I parked by the bridge across to the oil refinery and started by casting a GULP 3“Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

The tide was running out quickly and there was plenty of surface action at the base of the rocks, on the far side of the creek. A big school of herring was sitting just off the current and every now and then, something would race in to it and send it flying.

At about 6.15 am, the sun poked its head over the mangroves and things began to slow down under the bridge. I moved towards the mouth of the creek and tried a few different soft plastics. I saw a few schools of bait swim buy and had a couple of hits. I could see some small bream in the shallows and I was sure there must be a flathead around somewhere.

I changed up to the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and moved back up the creek, past the bridge. Low tide came and went and the water started to run in again. It was very murky and it was difficult to know where to cast. I saw a strange black shape wriggling along in the shallows and as it swam closer, I realised it was a tightly packed school of tiny yellow and black fish. I have no idea what they were. They were staying close to the shoreline, herding and then hoovering up tiny jelly prawns that were hovering in the shallows.

I carried on casting and finally at about 8.30 am I felt a nice solid bite. I could not see anything in the murky water but I knew from the thud it was a flathead. I pause and then lifted the rod tip. After a short fight I had a nice 50cm flathead on the bank.

I let it go and fished around for more but could not find any. I packed up at about 9.00 am and reminded myself to come back here a bit more often. Land based fishing just 20 minutes from the Brisbane CBD can be a lot of fun.

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 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.

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.

South Golden Beach – Marshalls Creek – 23/24 December 2015

Wednesday

On Wednesday morning I was up before dawn to have another shot of catching something decent in the surf. The wind had changed to a strong northerly over-night. When I walked out on to South Golden Beach at about 4.45 am, I could see the water was pretty stirred up.

The wind was up and gusting between 10 and knots. As the water hit my feet I noticed it had cooled down considerably overnight. I was fishing with my Daiwa Air Edge rod and Shimano Sustain reel combination again. This time I tied on about 1 metre of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The wind and surf was going to make it very hard to cast a lightly weighted soft plastic lure any distance, so I decided to rig up a hard bodied lure.

I chose the DUO Realis Vib 62. This is a Bass lure made by my favourite Japanese lure manufacturers DUO – http://www.duo-inc.co.jp/bass/en/realis/vibration62/ . I have tried plenty of cheaper imitations but I keep coming back to this one. It is an 11g sinking vibe lure with a loud rattle and comes in some great colours. There is something about its action and its ability to instantly find its rhythm that I really love. Even when bumping along a shallow, sandy bottom it keeps vibrating. The other advantage in the surf is that it casts like a bullet. I have found these lures at Jones Tackle http://jonestackle.com.au/ and also at Motackle http://www.motackle.com.au/. I understand that DUO has just secured a new Australian distribution deal so I hope this means they will become more widely available.

I wandered south as the horizon started to light up. I felt a few bumps and nudges in each new gutter but did not connect. At about 5.00 am the sun came over the horizon. I was now standing at the south end of a very long gutter that had a pronounced sand bank lip. I could see the small dart shadowing the lure as I pulled it towards me. I put in a long cast and started to jerk the lure back towards me. After about three pulls something smashed into the lure. I struck hard but the line felt slack. Then I realised the fish was just swimming towards me. It changed direction and I could feel that it was solidly hooked. It travelled sideways for a bit. I had the drag fairly loosely set. This is important in the surf as the pull of the waves will snap a light leader very easily.  I soon had a respectable 30 cm bream at my feet. I released it and looked for some more without any luck.

On Christmas Eve I decided to fish the big incoming morning tide in the section of Marshalls Creek that is open to fishing. This is a very beautiful stretch of water just off the Brunswick River. Its lower reaches are closed to all types of fishing but there is a section opposite the New Brighton shop where fishing with rod and line is still permitted. This area is fairly shallow on all but the biggest tides but it looks very fishy. There are big sand bars, overhanging trees and dense mangroves. I waded around through the early morning high tide and got a few bites. I saw plenty of bream, luderick and mullet swimming around but I could not hook any. It was peak holiday time and there was a constant flow of small boats which did not improve my chances of catching anything. After a few hours I gave up, but I will definitely be back.

Happy Christmas to all

New Brighton beach fishing – 22 December 2015

Tuesday

In the run up to Christmas I spent a few days fishing on the beach at New Brighton, just north of Brunswick Heads.

On Tuesday I wandered out for an afternoon fish and decided to walk towards New Brighton from South Golden Beach. I started at about 3.00 pm. I was using my Daiwa Air Edge 96L light surf rod and initially fishing with a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The moon was building up to full around Christmas Day, so the tidal flow was quite big. The wind was a fairly lively south-easterly, but the water was warm and still fairly clear.

This beach has very little structure apart from a few rocks half buried in the sand near New Brighton. However there are plenty of deep clearly defined gutters that are formed by the wind, tide and strong rips.

I cast around into the incoming tide. I was fishing with a GULP 3” minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and I concentrated on the areas at the entrances and exits to the gutters. Each time I moved, I would get faint bites on the first couple of casts and then nothing. As the waves rolled over I could see these were coming from tiny dart.

I paused at the exit to another gutter and cast my lure so it would come back past as it was washed out to sea. After a couple of hops a fish grabbed it. There was a brief fight but I soon pulled it ashore. It was bream about 28 cm long.

I moved south and eventually arrived at the small patch of rocks in front of New Brighton.  I swapped to a GULP 3” Shrimp soft plastic in the neutral grey flecked peppered prawn colour. I cast around the rocks and again felt a few small bites.

The wind was now blowing very hard so I moved to the south side of the biggest rock and put a few casts in around its base. This paid off and on about my third one I felt the unmistakeable solid thud of a flathead bite. After another fairly brief fight I landed a 43 cm flathead. I took a few pictures and sent it on its way.

By 4.30 pm the wind was a howling southerly so I decided to give up. As I walked back to South Golden Beach I noticed a young gent throwing a small slug into the surf and witnessed him catch some small dart, as his hungry dog looked on.