Iluka – Middle Bluff – 28 November 2020

Wild weather was on its way and the swell would soon start building. I had one last good session in November at Iluka. I chose Middle Bluff again and started before dawn. I was gifted another fabulous sunrise and was in position to fish at about 5.20 am. I could see enough to fish but dawn was twenty minutes away.

I decided to up the stakes and try a really big soft plastic. I choose a GULP 7 ” Jerkshad in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I loaded it onto a 1/4 ounce size 1/0 jighead and cast it out. As is so often the case in the pre-dawn session, a fish grabbed it. I played it along the ledge to a landing spot and pulled it up by the leader. It was the smallest mulloway I have caught for sometime, at about 50 cm. Big soft plastics/ lures don’t always translate into big fish.

I tried a few more different soft plastics, but could not catch another mulloway. The sun came up and I switched to my lighter rock fishing rig. I was now fishing with 16lb fluorocarbon leader, a 1/4 ounce , size 1/0 jighead and a GULP 4″ Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour. I move up and down the rock platform casting at the patches of sandy bottom in between the rock bommies and reefs.

After 30 minutes or so I came up tight on another fish. It tried to head straight under the ledge I was standing on but I pulled it clear, tired it a little and landed it. It was a small trevally about 45 cm long. I decided to keep it and while cleaning it I found a hook and leader stuck in its throat. It was an unlucky fish!

At around 8.00 I caught a small striped trevally and then a couple of very small bream. I decided to give up and head back home. I tried fishing the next morning and I caught a couple of decent bream but the swell was up now and as the wind had also picked up, I decided to withdraw. It was time to retreat for a few days while a big storm and lots of rain came through.

Coffin Bay – Mount Dutton and Kellidie Bays – 13 June 2016

Monday

Monday was to be my last day at Coffin Bay. The wind had come up again and when I woke at 5.30 am it was bitterly cold. I wrapped up and drove round to the flats at Farm Beach. In the biting wind I wandered around casting through dawn but apart from a few nibbles, I did not catch anything.

After sun up I drove back round to Mount Dutton Bay and fished in cold crystal clear water. The juvenile salmon were everywhere and they smashed in to just about every soft plastic that I cast at them. The GULP Lime Tiger Fry was particularly popular but I think they would have attacked anything. At about 10 am I gave up and went to thaw out.

In the afternoon I drove round to fish at Seal Rocks on the western side of the peninsula that surrounds Kellidie Bay. The rock ledge here faces west and the sunsets directly in front of it. The locals tell me they catch snapper, kingfish, whiting, gar, flathead, salmon and herring here. I started with a GULP Turtleback Worm in the Banana Prawn colour. I was using a 1/16th ounce 2 hook jighead and 8lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader.

From the first cast the King George whiting attacked the soft plastics. I caught a few but they were all too small to keep – around 25 cm long. I swapped through a few different soft plastics and moved up and down the shoreline casting at any fishy looking spots. Every now and then, a small salmon would get to the soft plastic lure ahead of the whiting, but on many occasions the jighead would come up expertly cleaned, but with no fish on it. I fished through until the sun dropped behind the horizon and then gave up.

In summary – Coffin Bay had produced great salmon, herring and wrasse off the beaches, a few good sized King George Whiting from the shores of the bay and juvenile salmon trout just about everywhere. I will definitely be back.

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 – Oyster jetty flats – 7 January 2013

Monday

The fishing was still tough but I had found fish in one location, so that is where I returned on Monday. It was a pretty high high tide at 2.4m, at about 7.30 am. I started fishing the last of the run in at about 5.45 am.

I waded south from the bridge, casting parallel with the edge of the mangroves into about a metre of water. I started with a suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow lure, as I am convinced a big flathead would happily attack one, in the right conditions. Unfortunately these were not the right conditions and this one came up covered in weed on each cast. I gave up swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, rigged on a 1/8th 1/0 NITRO Saltwater Pro jighead with OWNER hooks.

There is a quite a range of NITRO stock in most shops and over the years it seems to have been called all sorts of different things. Basically, I like their jigheads that have black OWNER hooks (thin) and don’t much like their jigheads that have silver hooks (thick).

Jig head selection can be important when the fish are fussy. Generally, the less metal that is sticking out of the plastic the better – especially when you are fishing in the estuaries. This needs to be balanced with strength requirements.But as long as your drag is set correctly and you can be patient – even the softer (cheaper)hook styles will safely pull in very big fish.

I waded further south past the jetty, towards the drain that runs off the Sandstone Points flats. This often holds a few fish. I stayed close to the mangroves and cast round in a semi-circle, retrieving my lure slowly and methodically. Just before 7.00 am I found my first fish of the day – a solid 50cm Flathead. I released it and fished on.

The tide was running out now and unfortunately it was taking even more weed with it. I carried on fishing the drain area as I was sure there would be more fish there. At about 7.20 am I connected with another, slightly smaller Flathead, but it wriggled free before I could photograph it. At 7.25 am, I either caught it again, or caught another one, about the same size. I took this one back to the Mangroves to photograph and release. It was another handsome fish, just under 50cm.

By now the weed and wind were again making things difficult and although the tide run and the water level were ideal, it was just impractical to carry on. That’s fishing – too many variables. Just when you think it’s all falling into place some element of the environment changes and its back to the drawing board.

Bribie Island – the oyster jetty flats and Whitepatch – 2 January 2013

Wednesday

Flushed with the success of New Years Day, I invited a friend to come and fish the flats around Sandstone point with me on Wednesday morning. Andre is the perfect fishing companion. He comes well prepared, does not talk much, always pays for the coffee, but most importantly – he wants to catch fish.

It may sound odd but when you say you are a fisherman almost everyone seems to think you are in desperate need of company. Wives in particular, are constantly volunteering their husbands to go fishing with you. I think the problem might be that the annual ‘fishing trip’ away with the lads rarely yields any fish – this is because it is primarily a drinking trip. Perhaps the wives are thinking after 12 years of buying new gear, going to Fraser and coming back with 4 small dart and a shocking 3 day hangover, their husbands need some tips!

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When I fish with Andre we have none of that ‘well it was a beautiful morning even though we did not catch anything” nonsense. The focus is on the fishing. However I have noticed that it is often a lot harder to find and catch fish when you are with someone else. Perhaps you over plan or analyse or maybe the two of you and wading and casting causes more disturbance either way today was not easy fishing.

It started very well – we waded out under the bridge on to the exposed mud flats on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, at about 4.30 am. The tide was running out but was just slowing. The sun was not yet over the horizon and the air was still and warm. The south easterly that had been blowing up until the day before, had died away. Low tide would be at 5.52am. We waded down along the exposed sandbank to a point about half way between the old oyster jetty and the green channel marker – where I had caught plenty of fish the day before. The only real difference was that we would be fishing the last of the run out tide, whereas the day before, I had caught most of my fish on the beginning of the run in.

I rigged up with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead, 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I cast the soft plastic at the edge of the weed beds and a fish hit it almost as soon as I lifted it off the bottom. It was a nice 45cm flathead. A few casts later I pulled up a sub 40cm flathead which released itself before I could get a picture. Then, a little while later Andre pulled in another fish that was just about 40cm.

We gradually waded north as a couple of boat based anglers slowly electric motored right along the line of the edge of the weed banks. We carried on towards the old oyster jetty. I swapped to a Minnow in the smelt colour and caught another sub 40cm flathead. On the bottom of the tide the weed started to lift and made the fishing difficult so we decided to switch locations.

We drove up to the north end of Whitepatch and waded around on the edge of the drop off, trying to rustle up some more fish, but we could not find anything. Eventually the weed problem also arrived there on the incoming tide, so we gave up for the day.

Caloundra – Dirty water, a big tide & elusive fish – 27 November 2011

Saturday

After a rubbish session at Bribie Island on Thursday morning, I decided to go back to Caloundra again on Saturday. It would be the usual wind pattern – virtually no breeze pre-dawn, building to a solid 15 to 20 knot north-easterly by about 11.00 am.

The view from Bulcock Beach - just after dawn


The new moon had risen on Friday, so it would be a big, fast running tide. High was due at 8.40 am and would be 2.1 metres. I arrived at Bulcock Beach at about 4.00 am to find the water just starting the run in, with some force. The blowy weather and rain of the previous few days has stirred the water up and visibility is very poor. There is also a bit of sediment and floating around. I started off fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was walking along the shore, under the board walk, casting close in to the shore. Just on first light, I caught a small Flathead – about 35 cm long. I carried on up to the rocks at the mouth of the Passage and caught nothing else.

Bulcock Beach - Small Flathead by the boardwalk


I moved down to the flats and weed beds in front of the Power Boat Club, just south of Golden Beach. The water was flooding over the flats when I arrived. I tried a Strikepro hard bodied, bibless vibe lure for a while, but there was a lot of sea grass floating around and the lure was getting fouled up on every cast, so I switched back to a soft plastic lure. I chose the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I hoped the fluttering tail might draw a strike.

I moved further north across the flats in ankle deep water. I cast along the edge of the channel, bouncing the soft plastic along the bottom. The water was still very murky, with the strong tidal flow washing around a lot of debris as it approached high.

Flathead grabs a Crazylegs soft plastic - Caloundra

After about an hour of fishing this area with the hard bodied lure, I had not found a fish. Three casts with the soft plastic – and I had one. It was no monster – a Flathead, about 45cm long. I released it and spent the next few hours trying, in vain, to find another.

A bit of a frustrating session – but the fish are there.

Tweed Rockwall – Trevally and a Snapper encounter – 02 Aug 2011

Tuesday

I was fed up with the weed in the Pumicestone Passage so this morning, I decided to head south from Brisbane and spend the morning fishing the north side of the Tweed River rock wall. Conditions were perfect – a light breeze, low tide just before dawn and very little swell.I arrived about 5.30 am and walked to the very end of the wall in the dark. I used my head lamp to rig up. I was fishing with the big rod – the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood and the Shimano Stradic 6000 reel. I had it loaded with 40lb braid and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I decided to start with a soft plastic and chose a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. I rigged it on a Squidgy fish-shaped jighead – 9 gram, 2/0 hook.

Tweed Rockwall - Trevally

The first glow of dawn was on the horizon but sunrise was still about 30 minutes away. There was virtually no moon and the sky was pretty clear. I cast out about 15 metres and counted to 10 while I let the lure sink. As I picked it up there was a solid ‘thud’ as something took a swipe at it. Next cast there were a couple of bites and then, as I paused, a hook up. It was a small Trevally , I released it and cast out in the same spot. A few casts later I caught another about the same size. I lost the next one – which was a bit bigger, as I tried to haul it up the rocks. I switched to a Gulp 5”Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I caught yet another small Trevally.

Another Tweed Trev


I moved round to the river side of the rock wall and cast out into the river. The sun was just over the horizon now. A big fish grabbed the soft plastic as it sunk. It took line for about ten seconds, in a solid run back around towards the ocean side of the rockwall. It soon had my line tight against the rocks and after a couple of seconds the line snapped. I tied on a new 40lb fluorocarbon leader and another of the same jigheads. I decided to try a different plastic – the GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I cast out into the same spot and bang – the lure was slammed on the drop. This time I put the pressure on straight away and kept its head out of the rocks. It had plenty of power but it was not fast like a Tailor or Trevally. I thought it might be a Jew but it kept making determined attempts to burrow down into the base of the rockwall. It was too fast for a Jew. After about 10 minutes of play I had the fish coming round to the ocean side of the wall where I thought I might be able to grab the leader. I slid down the rocks on my backside to the lowest rock that was fairly dry. I tightened the drag a little and heaved – suddenly a big pink tail slapped the surface of the water – it was a Snapper. It was a good size with a big knobby forehead, perhaps 60 or 70 cm long. It was exhausted but still had plenty of kick. It lolled over on its side and I grabbed the leader just as a surge washed it over the rocks at my feet and pushed it down into a gap in the rocks, behind me. It was now temporarily stuck but out of reach. I had no gaff and therefore no choice but to try to pull the fish out by the leader. As I tried to pull it up, another surge washed over and it wriggled off the hook. With the next set of waves it wriggled free – and slowly swam off! I rarely get Snapper from the rocks and to lose a great fish like this was heart-breaking. Still he is there for someone else to catch now.

Close but no Snapper


I sat trembling for 10 minutes or so and then re-rigged and put in a few more casts. By now my heart was not really in it. Just out of casting distance the birds were working over a bait school that was being smashed from beneath. I put on a slug but I could not reach them. Around 8.30 am I headed home – but I’ll be back!

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – A couple of Flathead – 1 Aug 2011

Monday

I only had time for a late morning fishing session today, so I drove up to Bribie Island for a couple of hours this morning, from the 10.00am high tide through to around noon. The wind had dropped significantly, since yesterday. There was still plenty of weed floating around but the water was a little clearer.

I caught a couple of Flathead that were just about 40 cm long. I got the first under the bridge, on the island side, using a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and the second down on the sand flats, in front of Buckley’s Hole, on a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I was fishing with a 1/6th 1 jighead. Hopefully the calmer weather and smaller tides will mean that the weed will start to settle down for the next week or so.

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Wreck Rock – Deep Water National Park 1770 – 13 May 2011

Friday

Having seen the Tuna working just offshore, all afternoon the day before, at both Wreck Rock and Flat Rock, I decided to spend dawn on Friday casting slugs from the southern tip of Wreck Rock. The tides where getting bigger in the run up to the full moon. Low tide would be at 11.10 am, so there would be plenty of water close into the rocks, at dawn.

The south end of Wreck Rock at dawn

The southern tip of the Wreck Rock bay has a couple of rocky outcrops and submerged bommies. At low tide there is only about a metre of water in front of them, but at high tide, this can increase to almost 4 metres. South of these rocks is a long, almost completely uninterrupted beach ( Rules Beach), that runs all the way down to the mouth of Baffle Creek. At the moment, the big seas and storms through the summer months have created a very steep, sloping beach with a few nice wholes and gutters. This means there is good deep water on high tide, all along this section.

Looking south from Wreck Rock - towards the mouth of Baffle Creek

It was another bitterly cold morning, the sky was crystal clear, but there was a light south-westerly wind blowing. As the sun came up I was casting a 90g slug from the rocks. I then tried a River to Sea – Dumbbell Popper and various heavy blades and big hard bodies. I could not interest the fish. I could see the Tuna, in small groups, smashing into the bait fish and the birds diving in to get a free breakfast, but they stayed at least 800m away the whole time.

Wreck Rock bay - just after dawn


I switched from the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood rod, which I use for slugs and poppers, to the light spin rod and rigged a soft plastic on a ¼ oz 1 jighead. I chose the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. After about 30 minutes I had caught two tiny Dart and a Long Tom. At about 8.30am I headed back into my camp to thaw out with a hot cup of tea and some breakfast.

Mackerel, Trevally, Tailor and a few reef species all cruise around these rocks at the southern end of Wreck Rock bay


I considered my options and spoke to another keen fisherman who was camped nearby. He too had seen the Tuna and was planning to spend the day casting slugs at them. As low tide approached I decided to head out the rocks on the southern tip of Wreck Rock bay. The Tuna were there but always just out of reach. They would swing in tantalizingly close and I would cast slugs at them then they were gone again. As the tide dropped I moved as far as I could out onto the exposed rocks to the south. I cast out at about 45 degrees to the shoreline and as my slug landed a huge circle of bait scattered around it. Then ‘zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ….fftt’ and the fish was gone. I wound the line back in and it looked like a clean bite through the 40lb leader. I presumed it was a Mackerel or some other toothy species. I rigged a wire trace and carried on, but after twenty more casts I was still without a decent fish.

The bait that shelters around this bommy at Wreck Rock, attracts all sorts of predators

I switched from the slug rod to the light spin rod again and rigged a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I wanted to cast a bit of distance, but I also wanted to make sure the lure wafted around in the strike zone for as long as possible. I settled on a ¼ oz 2/0 jighead and downgraded to 16lb fluorocarbon leader. First cast was hit on the drop but then the fish dropped it. Third cast and I had a solid hook up. The fish took line in a couple of fast blistering runs then swam round in front of the rocks into a good position. On the next surge I tightened the drag and pulled it up to my feet (getting soaked in the process). Then I grabbed the leader and pulled the fish clear. It was a Giant Trevally around 50cm – no monster, but a decent fish. Cold and wet, I decided I had enough – it was just after noon.

Finally a decent fish - 50cm GT at Wreck Rock

As always when fishing an area that you have not been to for a while, you need to spend a few sessions figuring out what works and where the fish are. It was my fourth day and I finally felt I understood when and where to concentrate. I headed back to camp for some fish cleaning.

Bribie Island – Bridge and Sandstone Point – 1 March 2011

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Tuesday

Up at 3.45 am and back up to the Pumicestone Passage in search of more Flathead. I decided to start by fishing the Bribie Island side of the bridge, this morning. There is always plenty of surface action in this area with Jew, Pike, Moses Perch, Bream, Tailor, Flathead and even juvenile Snapper, all drawn in to feed on the jelly prawns and small baitfish that gather under the bridge lights.

In recent sessions, I have noticed the small jelly prawns are everywhere and the Flathead that I have caught and gutted, generally have a belly full of them. I therefore grabbed a bag of the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Jelly Prawn colour and decided to try these out. The tide was running in so I decided to start by casting my soft plastic at the base of the first bridge pylon, on the north side of the bridge and jigging my plastic along the bottom , all the way back to the edge of the rock wall. On the first cast, just as it reached the base of the wall, in about 30cm of water, the lure was grabbed. I was using a 1/8th 1/0 jig head and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. The fish took a bit of line but I soon subdued it and swung it up, over the rocks. At 42cm it was the first keeper Flathead of the day. It went in the bag and I cast back out. A couple of casts later, I had another – this one was just on 40 cm so I let it go. I moved to the south side of the bridge and carried on. I had a couple of bites from Pike and dropped a better fish, which was probably a Flathead and then I decided to move over to the mainland side of the bridge.

I put on a GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour, waded out and cast to the south of the bridge. The tide was now rushing in and a few Pike grabbed the bigger plastic but usually released it just before they reached me. There were some big surface bust ups erupting, in close to the Mangroves, so I cast straight into one and the line came up taught. I brought the fish in – the headshakes were too rapid for a Flathead and as it came close there was a flash of silver. It was either a Bream or a juvenile Snapper, but it spat out the lure so I will never know.

With the dawn I decided to change positions again and I drove round to Pebble Beach. I walked out onto the beach and turned left. I walked to the end of the beach and along the rocky area that fronts the Mangroves. I was casting in to the sandy areas amongst the rocks and although I lost a fair amount of jigheads, the strategy paid off. Over the next couple of hours, I caught nine more Flathead in this area – between about 25cm and 48cm. I experimented with different colour and size plastics and they did not appear to be fussy. I caught fish on the GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad in Lime Tiger and Pink Neon, the 2” Shrimp in Jelly Prawn and Banana Prawn, the 3” and 4” Minnow in Pearl Watermelon and the 4” Minnow in Vader. The Long Toms were a constant menace – slashing through the soft plastics and often wrecking the last few cms of the leader.

I kept the first four fish over 40cm, to add to the one I had kept at the bridge, so I had another bag full. It was another good session and as there was a Northerly wind blowing the whole time, it did not really support my idea that the fish don’t like it!

Bribie Island – Old Oyster Jetty – Flathead & Cod – 20 Feb 2011

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Sunday

Back in Brisbane and it was time to go looking for some fish in the Pumicestone Passage at Bribie Island. Conditions looked pretty good for Sunday morning so I was wading out in the pre-dawn light, by the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Bribie Bridge at around 4.45 am.

It was just after low tide and there was no real current flow. The water was very murky with plenty of sediment stirred up by the big tides of the full moon (which was the night before). I started with a 1/8th 1 hook jighead and a GULP 3” minnow soft plastic in the lime tiger colour.

There is plenty of debate about the use of bright coloured soft plastics for murky water. I am yet to be convinced that they work better than natural colours, in these conditions. I think darker, natural colours, which create a clear silhouette in the water, probably work better. I am also a convert to using bright colours in extremely clear water, although this is somewhat counter intuitive and has taken a while for me to accept. Today the lime tiger had produced nothing in the first twenty minutes and as this was the bite window around dawn, I switched to a more natural coloured pearl watermelon minnow in the 4” size.
I waded slowly south, parallel with the shoreline casting in between the patches of rocky reef that are exposed on a low, low tide in this area. I got a couple of bites from what felt like Bream, or perhaps Long Toms, but no hook ups. At about 6.00 am the tide started to flow in with a bit more power and the water began to clear slightly.

At a point about 50 metres to the south of the old oyster jetty, I felt a light thud as I jerked the soft plastic off the bottom. I waited and then struck, but there was no fish. I cast back in the same direction and in the same spot, another thud. I dropped the rod tip slowly and then struck and I got the fish. It was a very small Flathead, around 20cm long, but at least I was off the mark.

The tide was really moving now and it was covering the weed beds very quickly. I found a patch of weed in about one metre of water. I cast up current and let the plastic hop across the bottom. As it reached the weed patch – thud. I set the hook and realized this time I had a better sized fish. I walked it back to the shoreline – it was another Flathead – just over 40cm long. With plenty of fish in the fridge I decided to let this one go.

I waded back out to the same area and over the next hour or so caught three more similar sized Flathead and a 40cm Estuary Cod – all on the same 4” pearl water melon coloured soft plastic. The water had been quite clear for a while at the beginning of the run in tide but now it was full of stirred up sediment again. By 8.45 am it was already around 30 ° C so I stopped fishing and headed for the air con.

Bream & Flathead from the Clarence River – Browns Rocks – 12 Feb 2011

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Saturday pm

I decided to have a fish in the Clarence River on Saturday afternoon. I had been concentrating on the rocks and beaches at Iluka, as the river water still looked very dark after the recent floods. I decided to try and fish the north bank of the river just to the east of the Norfolk Island dock, near Browns Rocks. You get to this spot by turning left off the Iluka road at Woombah. There is an area of weed beds and sand flats here. There is also an old oyster farm and a few drop offs into the main river channel.

I arrived about 4.30 pm. The tide was about half way out and it was hot and humid. There was a light northerly breeze and it was fairly cloudy. This area is best approached in a pair of waders. I pulled mine on and rigged up my light spin outfit for soft plastics. It is a 6ft Loomis GL2 spin rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 4000 reel. I had spooled it with 6lb (2.8kg) Fireline and tied on a 1.5m long 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I started fishing with a 1/6th 1/0 jighead, but almost immediately changed down in weight and size to a 1/8th 1 hook jighead when I realized there was not much current flow.

I waded out to the point just short of where the sand flats drop off into the main channel and then turned and waded up river, parallel with the river bank. I was therefore casting up, into the run out tide and bouncing my soft plastic over the bottom, along the edge of the weed banks, right along the drop off.

I was looking for Flathead and that was what I found, in almost plague proportions – I caught twenty in an hour and a half. I was using the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and the 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger and Pear Watermelon colours. They were all catching fish. The problem was size. The vast majority of Flathead were under 20cm long. There were few around the 30cm mark, but only three over 40cm. The best fish was just over 55cm.

There were also plenty of small Bream cruising above the weed beds. Initially, they definitely preferred to hit the Pearl Watermelon minnow but as it got later and darker, they got less fussy. I caught 9 in the session of which three were over 25cm – but I released them all.

Finally around 7.15pm I gave up and drove back to Iluka. It was a great session and shows that there are still plenty of fish in the Clarence River.

Fingal Head – The Lighthouse Rocks – 1 Feb 2011

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Tuesday

With the cyclone bearing down and the prospect of another wet and windy period, I thought I had better get out for a fishing session. So early Tuesday morning I headed down to the Tweed river mouth before dawn. I fished around the end of the rockwall for a couple of hours, either side of dawn but failed get a bite so, at around 6.30 am, I decided to head further south to Fingal Head, to fish the rocks there. There is no shortage of great rock fishing spots in Northern New South Wales. Fingal is another beautiful spot with some unique octagonal rock formations. There are good fishing locations in front of the lighthouse, all along the headland but my favourite area is just to the south of the main rock platform.

I started fishing here at about 7.15am. I was using my ROVEX Aureus 9ft rod with the SHIMANO Stradic 6000. It is spooled with 20lb Fireline and I had tied on a 25lb fluorocarbon leader. I attached ½ oz 4/0 jighead and decided on my favourite soft plastic lure for Jewfish – the GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. On my first cast – I let the plastic sink to the bottom then jerked it back towards the rocks. As I lifted it clear of the water something took a swipe at it – but I could not see what. Next cast I slowed it down even further and let it drift in very close to the base of the rocks. As I lifted it I felt the bite, I dropped the rod tip, paused, then struck hard. I had a fish on and due to the proximity of the rocks I tightened the drag and just winched it up. It was a good size Tarwhine at just over 35cm.

The soft plastic was pretty mauled so I changed it for a new one in the same colour and pattern. I still had about half an hour of run in water before high tide. I got a good soaking from a passing rain squall but that was no hardship as it was so hot and humid. I was standing on the mainland to the south of the narrow causeway that leads out to the main rock platform. The water washes over the causeway at high tide and I was casting in to the area just south of it. The bottom is very rocky so inevitably I lost a few jigheads as my lures got snagged. After a couple of re-rigs I felt the line go taught and then the rod tip started wiggling and I could see silver. I waited for a wave to bring it up over the rocks onto the ledge below me. Then I tightened the drag and pulled the fish up successfully. It was a Jewfish, just on 50 cm long.

Four or five casts later I had the plastic down deep at the base of the rocks and again, I felt a solid bite and then lost a bit of line. Fortunately the swell pulled the fish out from under a ledge and on the next wave I brought it up, out of the water and onto the ledge below. Again, I winched it up to my feet and it was another Jewfish – perhaps a couple of cm smaller than the first.

I carried on for half an hour or so, but then the sky darkened and really heavy rain started, I decided to give up. I presume we will get some fairly big seas and rain as the cyclone passes through up north, but this might bring the Jewfish on in greater numbers. The challenge will be finding somewhere safe to target them.

Bribie Island – Plenty of bait – 25 Jan 2011

Tuesday

After a couple of disappointing sessions fishing off the rock wall of the Tweed River, I decided to go and have a look at the estuaries, to see if they are clearing up. I decided to fish the last few hours of the incoming tide at Bribie Island.

I arrived about 9.00 am and fished soft plastic lures around the weed beds on the mainland side, under the bridge and along by the old oyster jetty. There was a fairly big tide and you can see that the water is still holding a lot of sediment. There was also a lot of weed and other rotting vegetation floating around.

I fished a 1/6th 1/0 jighead using a very slow retrieve and tried both bright and natural coloured plastics – the 4” Minnow in the pearl watermelon colour and the 3” Minnow in the lime tiger colour. I soon found a few Long Toms. They are a mean looking, thin fish with a long, toothy jaw. They grab the plastic and play ‘tug of war’, only letting go just as they reach you. I rarely hook them as they have such a hard and narrow jaw. They were obviously getting stuck into the bait schools which were cruising around. I was surprised at just how much bait there was – I suppose it has been washed out of the rivers. There were plenty of Garfish and other small bait schools, so there must also be some predators lurking. After an hour or so of walking and casting, a good-sized Flathead grabbed the plastic. It has been a while since I caught one and maybe I struck a bit too quickly. The fish was on for about 20 seconds, then it was gone. All I was left with was a big bite mark in the back of the pearl watermelon Minnow, just below the hook.

I carried on for another 2 hours and covered plenty of ground. I had a few grabs from the Long Toms but I did not find another Flathead. At around noon I gave up. The water is far from clear and I was only fishing the run in tide but it is encouraging to see there is plenty of bait in the Pumicestone Passage. I assume that if we can have another week without torrential rain the water should be pretty clear. I will be out there again soon.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Tailor / Trevally – 14 Jan 2011

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Friday

Living on the north side of Brisbane – meant that I was thankfully completely unaffected by the floods. With the Gateway motorway now open and easy to access, I decided to make a trip down to the Tweed River mouth again.
I arrived to meet a fairly strong east south east wind and a good two metres of swell. I walked out to the end of the north rock wall at about 4.00 am. It was a beautiful dawn sky and as the tide was still running in – the water was not too discoloured.
I started with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour and rigged it on a ¾ oz 4/0 jighead. I am now using a ROVEX Aureus 9 Ft rod (the Aureus is just the new name for the old Bario) with the SHIMANO Stradic 6000 reel. I have loaded this with 20lb Fireline and a 40lb fluorocarbon leader.
The wind made it hard to cast but after a couple of attempts, I had the plastic just about where I wanted it – right at the base of the rockwall. As I was about to lift the plastic clear of the water it was slammed and I was onto my first fish of the day. I had no chance with this one. It put its head down and went straight for the rocks and a big wave washed the leader onto the sharp edges and ‘ping’, it was gone.
Another local rock fisherman had a couple of Taylor by now – on a slug – so I switched to a 90g slug for a few casts but then lost it to the rocks. Back to the soft plastic lures. This time I tried the same pattern in a more natural colour – sardine. This did not seem to tempt them, so I switched to the brighter lime tiger again. First cast I got a couple of hits and the tail was bitten off. I threw it out in to the surf again and as soon as it hit the water (minus the tail) it was grabbed. Landing the fish is always a challenge here and it is even worse when the swell is up. With a bit of luck and a fairly tight drag setting, I got the fish safely up the rocks. It was a Tailor just on 50cm.
I put a new soft plastic on and cast it straight back out in the same spot. There were plenty of bites and I thought I had a fish on at one point, but then it either let go or wriggled off. I pulled up the jighead with only ½ a inch of soft plastic left on it. I lost another two or three plastics in this way, over the next 20 minutes.
By now it was about 6.30 am. The tide was running out strongly and the brown slick of the Tweed River was gradually spreading out from the mouth. I put another plastic on, this time on a 1 oz jighead. I cast right out in front of the rock wall and again felt a series of knocks and nudges on the retrieve. I kept pausing but I could net connect with a fish. About fifteen minutes later the line finally came up taught and I had another fish on. I played it round to the ocean side of the rock wall and used a surge to get it safely up to my feet. It was a 40cm Big Eye Trevally. The swell gave me a couple of soakings and I lost a few more plastics, so at around 7.00 am I packed my bags and headed back to Brisbane.
With a cyclone passing out to sea, big swells are forecast for the next few days – the weather is not giving us many breaks this year!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Tailor & Queenfish – 23 Dec 2010

On Wednesday morning – the rain looked like it would stop for a bit and as the wind was forecast to come from the south for a while, I decided to go for one more Tweed rockwall session before Christmas. The couple of hours either side of dawn has always been the most productive for me in this spot, so I was up at 3.00 am again. I drove down from Brisbane and was at the end of the rockwall, watching the red glow on the horizon at about 4.15 am.
There was a light south westerly blowing and it was quite cool. There was a little more swell as a result. I started with a River 2 Sea 110mm Dumbell Popper in the Pilchard colour. I was blooping it back slowly across the front of the rockwall. Suddenly there was a boil on the surface so I cast out, in that direction. The popper was knocked out of the water by a marauding fish but there was no hook up. After several more casts and hits – but no connections. I quickly tied on a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. I used a ½ oz 4/0 jighead. As soon as it hit the water is was snaffled by a solid fish. I had the drag fairly tight and got the fish round to the left (north) side of the rockwall, fairly quickly. Its head was shaking and then there were a few leaps and I could see it was a Tailor. I got it up the rocks and it measured up at just over 60cm.
Then everything went quiet. I switched from popper to metal slug, to plastic, several times but I could not raise a bite. I could not find any Kingfish but after another hour or so, I had another hook up on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. This time it was a tiny Queenfish. The range of species in this spot is amazing. After a quick snap I returned it to the water. I carried on for another ½ hour without success and finally headed home around 7.30 am.
Happy Christmas to all and I wish you the best of luck for your holiday trips. Get out there (in your rain gear) and find some good fish. Even if it is raining, the fish still have to eat!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Three Kings for Xmas – 20 Dec 2010

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Monday

Now I had the bit between my teeth. Land based fishermen don’t often get the chance to get amongst the Kingfish. So after a great morning on Saturday, I decided to put in another early start on the Tweed rockwall on Monday.
I arrived just before first light, around 3.45 am and was treated to a beautiful early morning sky and very calm conditions. A slight westerly wind was blowing and it was distinctly cooler than the hot and humid conditions on Saturday.
I walked to the end of the rock wall and started casting a 110mm River 2 Sea Dumbell Popper in the Pilchard colour. After twenty casts there was no interest, so I switched to an 85 gram SPANYID Raider metal slug. I put in another twenty casts without a touch. Things were not looking promising. It was now about 4.30 am and the westerly wind was getting up.
I switched to soft plastics lures. Specifically, I put on a GULP 3” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. Again I rigged it on a ½ oz 4/0 jighead. I cast out and let it sink down and counted to ten, to let the scent circulate a bit. As I lifted it off the bottom, it was struck hard by a fish. The fish came up to the surface fairly easily but then made a blistering run round to the front end of the rock wall. I gradually worked it back round to the left hand side, tightened the drag and lifted it up the rocks. It was a 50 cm Yellowtail Kingfish. It had a very recent looking wound behind its tail, where it had obviously had a run in with a bigger predator. After a quick picture, I returned it.
I continued fishing with the soft plastics and felt a few nudges and bites but no hook ups. I got snagged and lost my last GULP Shrimp plastic. I switched to a 5” Crazylegs jerkshad in the Watermelon colour. At about 5.30am the line came up tight again. I was now fishing with the drag very tight, to slow the initial dive down into the rocks. It was another Kingfish around the 50cm mark. Again, I brought it round to the left of the wall and pulled it up the rocks. Then I measured and photographed it and threw it back.
Another half an hour passed and I tried the metal slug and popper again, with no luck. I went back to plastics and put on a 5” jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. It was now around 6.30 am. After a few casts, I was on again. After a brief fight I pulled up another Yellowtail Kingfish, about the same size as the previous one.
Three Kings but nothing for dinner – I will have to come back again soon.

Iluka – The Rockwall – 2 Dec 2010

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Thursday

I went to bed in a heavy rain shower and woke up to yet another one at about 4.00 am. After a while it eased off so I pulled on the (now very wet and fairly malodorous) fishing boots and made a cup of tea. The wind was light from the north east but as I walked out from Woody Head in the half light of dawn, I could see the swell was significant and the rocks were going to be too dangerous. I jumped in the car and headed down to the rock wall that runs out from the northern bank of the mouth of the Clarence River, at Iluka.
Fishing the Iluka rock wall is not for the faint hearted. You need good boots and good knees. It is a long walk from where you park to the best fishing spots. The first half of the wall has a nice pathway along the top, but as you reach about half way, the fill underfoot gets bigger and bigger until you a walking across wobbling boulders. Finally in the last 200 metres all the loose fill has been washed away and what is left is a mass of boulders. If you persist and clamber on, there are a few good flat boulders that make excellent fishing platforms on either side, but the most consistent fish holding spot, for me, is the wash around the base of the wall at the very end. Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side
Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side. I recommend giving both a try. I usually put in a few casts whilst walking out and one of these got smashed at the foot of the rocks by a small Tailor. I was using the GULP 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad soft plastic lure on a 3/8 2/0 jighead. I landed this fish after a short fight and as it was only just legal size at around 35cm, I threw it back. I had a few more casts here with no further action and so I moved on to the end of the wall.
The swell was calming down a bit, but the rain was still blowing over in 10 minute showers. There was too much swell to fish directly off the end of the wall, so I started off fishing the north side of the wall. The tide was running out and I assumed that the fish would shelter from the current on the ocean side of the wall. I switched to a ½ oz 4/0 jighead and put on a GULP 7” Limetiger Crazylegs Jerkshad. This is a great plastic with a split curly tail that flutters, as it sits or sinks, in the current. I was sure there would be some Jewfish around. I put in about 50 or 60 casts without result, so I switched to the river side. Fortunately, the rain was flattening the sea now. After a few casts out into the mouth of the river, the line came up tight and the rod tip started shaking. This is a tricky spot to land a fish. You are a couple of metres above the water line and you just have to heave the fish up. If you are on your own this is your only option. I find a long handle gaff is too hard without someone to hold the rod. I had a good size Tailor on. Tailor have such soft mouths that the final lift is even more difficult. Sure enough, as I tried to raise it clear of the water, I pulled the hook. I put on a fresh soft plastic and cast out in the same spot. After a few seconds I got a solid hit and I dropped the rod tip. When I lifted it I had another fish on. After a short fight, I successfully landed another Tailor. At about 45cm, I decided to keep this one.
I continued to cast in semicircle in the area but the fish had moved on or they had stopped eating because I could not raise another bite. Finally after another rain squall I packed up.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole Sand Flats – 5 Oct 2010

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Tuesday
I could not get to Bribie Island to start fishing until about 9.30 am on Tuesday. I decided to head back to the sandbanks to the south of Buckley’s Hole. This area has consistently been producing fish for me –no monsters but plenty of fish.
The wind had turned around from a northerly to a south easterly and unfortunately, it had brought the weed with it. The tide was running out so I walked down to the bottom of the island then turned around and waded back north. Despite the weed and recent rain, the water was fairly clear and the sun was out. I decided to rig up a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic on a 1/6th 1 hook jighead. I was told once that in clear water and bright conditions the weirder colours often do well, so I chose the Lime Tiger colour which is an orange and green combination. This theory is counter intuitive but it certainly seems to work – especially on a sandy bottom.
I moved forward slowly, putting out long casts in a semicircle, in front of me and then slowly hopping the soft plastic along the bottom. After half an hour of constantly pulling weed of the jighead, I finally hooked up. It was a Flathead but he was around 35cm long so I released him.
The weed was a pain but I could not really find a solid pocket of fish. On the last few occasions fishing here, I have tended to find the fish in groups of two or three. Over the next hour and a half I caught three more Flathead but they were all too small and they were all caught in separate spots. At noon I had to give up what had been a bit of a frustrating session and head for home.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – 2 Oct 2010


Saturday
The weather was poor – 10 – 15 Knot wind and showers. But it was still better than Thursday, so I decided to get out fishing for a few hours, around dawn on Saturday.
I set off in a rain storm, at around 4.00 am and arrived at Buckley’s Hole on Bribie Island, at about 4.45 am. The wind was quiet – it had stopped raining and although it was grey and cold, the sand banks looked very fishable.
I would be fishing the last couple of hours of the run out tide. This is usually a great time to fish, especially if it coincides with dawn. In this area the tidal flow is washing all sorts of bait out of the lagoon during this period. It then gradually flows down, south over the sand banks. First the Whiting and Pike feed on the small stuff and then the Flathead lie in wait for the Whiting and Pike.
I walked south, along the shore for a few hundred metres, then waded out to about waist deep. I now turned back and waded parallel with the shore, casting north into the tidal flow. It did not take long to find a few Pike – but they are getting smaller. Then I was surprised as a stonker 34cm Whiting grabbed the Gulp 4” Pearl Watermelon minnow soft plastic, which I was casting around. It sounds like there are plenty of quality Whiting around at the moment. They must be hungry if they are even sampling plastics of this size.
Unfortunately as the tide dropped, the weed started to become a problem and the wind picked up. After about an hour of fishing and peppering the banks with casts, I caught a small flathead, again on the Gulp 4” Pearl Watermelon minnow. I had switched from a 1/8th to a ¼ 1/0 jighead as the wind was making it hard to keep contact with the bottom. On clear sandy bottom I really think the disturbance of the heavier jighead, bashing along the bottom is very attractive to the Flathead. It picks up more weed but that is a necessary evil.
I focused on this area for the next 40 minutes or so. Standing in one place and casting around me in a tight semicircle. After 15 minutes, I switched to the smaller 3” GULP Lime Tiger Minnow. This instantly produced results and I caught a nice, 44cm Flathead. I stayed in the same place but focused my casts into the shallower water. This also worked and in the next 25 minutes I caught five more Flathead of which two, were big enough to keep.
I had now had enough and with the wind and swell getting up, I headed home. Good fishing – despite the weather.