Bribie – Under the bridge/ The Seaside Museum creek drain – 11 March 2013

Monday

There is still a strong south-easterly blowing and it is still dumping rain on us. New moon is Tuesday and with all the recent rain the Bream should be around. With the big tides and the top up showers that water is not clearing up as fast as I thought it would.

I went for an early start again, as the hour before dawn has produced the best fishing recently. The wind was forecast to get stronger through the day, so I had a very limited choice of locations. I decided I would rely on the bridge lights at Bribie again.

I arrived just after 4.00 am. Low tide had passed at 2.50 am. The water was already running in fast and it was very muddy and weedy. I started with a GULP 4” minnow in the smelt colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I started on the south side of the bridge. I cast into the shadows and slowly hopped the plastic along the bottom, under the lights.

I spent 30 minutes methodically covering the ground to the south of the bridge. I did not get a touch and I did not see much bait moving around. At about 4.30 am, I moved round to the north side of the bridge. There is a good channel here, between two rocky patches. It is very difficult to get your lure to move along the bottom without getting snagged, but if you can leave it in the strike zone long enough, you are in with a chance.

On my first cast I got snagged. The water is shallow enough in this area to wade over and retrieve the lure, but if I did that, I would spook any fish in the vicinity, so I had to break it off and re-rig. I tied on the same lure again. But this time I put it on a 1/6th oz, 2/0 jighead. The water was running fast and even though I was more likely to get snagged, I wanted the lure on, or near the bottom, all the time.

I stayed in the shadows under the bridge and after a few casts, a flathead grabbed the plastic, just over a metre away from me and took off. It hooked itself and I steered it over the rocky bottom to the shoreline. It was just over 50cm and it was 4.57 am.

I swapped to a GULP 4” shrimp in the banana prawn colour (gold). I kept casting around the area and after about 5 minutes, I caught another flathead, just a little smaller than the first.

GULP Shrimp in Banana Prawn for the second one

GULP Shrimp in Banana Prawn for the second one

At about 5.15 am, I crossed the bridge to the other side of the Passage, to see if the bridge lights on that side offered any fishing opportunities. The weed banks in this area seem to have either been washed away or covered in sediment. There is a storm water drain that empties fresh water into the Passage just under the bridge – this will have been flowing pretty constantly recently. I waded up and down but did not get a touch. A big rain shower passed over just when the sun should have been coming up and all the time the wind was building.

I swapped locations again and had a quick cast around by the Seaside Museum creek drain. I spent about 40 minutes here but did not get a bite. By 8.00 am it was too blowy to carry on so I packed up. I had caught a couple of fish but would kill for some flat, clean water to fish in!

Bribie Island – White Patch & Bongaree – 10 September 2012

Monday

I promised to take a friend fishing and introduce him to soft plastics on Monday. Unfortunately the weather was far from perfect and we arrived at Bribie to find the wind blowing from the south-east at about 15 Knots.

I decided to start at White Patch, as it is sometimes just a little less exposed to the elements. I showed my mate the basic plastics rig and set him to work with a 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I started with the same.

Why is it always so bloody hard to catch a fish when you need to? I tried all the usual spots and swapped through a load of different soft plastics. I don’t think I managed to prove it was worth getting him up at 4.00 am by catching one small Pike in 3 hours.

The wind did drop off a little, so we moved down to Bongaree to fish around the Seaside Museum drain until low tide. This was a bit more exciting as after about 20 minutes there was a big swirl and splash in between us, as something slammed into the bait just in front of the drop off. This process was repeated every few minutes, as whatever it was moved up the edge, heading north. The angler a bit further north, thought it was a small group of Tuna – difficult to say, as I did not get a look.

Whilst it made interesting viewing I still had not caught anything and nor had my mate. I was about to give up when I felt the solid ‘thud’ of a Flathead. In the end he had grabbed the lure I had started the day with – the GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour. It was a decent fish – approximately 50cm long and it was immediately donated to my patient, but cold, fishing guest.

Finally a fish

At about 10.30 am we gave up – I take my hat off to fishing guides everywhere – and will not be calling myself a ‘Gillie’ any time soon.

Bribie Island – Large Easter Sunday Flathead – 24 April 2011

Easter Sunday

I had a big Easter BBQ planned for Monday. Four Good Friday Flathead was a good start but I would need a bit more fish to make sure my guests didn’t go hungry. That was my excuse for getting out on Easter Sunday!

I arrived at the Bribie Island Bridge at 5.00am and parked on the bank, on the mainland side. I put on my waders and had a few casts around the rocks under the bridge. I caught a small Moses Perch and released it.

Just as it started to get light I moved off to the south. There was lots of surface feeding going on and the tide was running out strongly. Low tide was at around 8.00am. I waded past the oyster jetty with no more bites and then started to fish the drain that runs round from Sandstone Point. I fished all along it without a touch. I moved out to a point where the water was waist deep and started to move north, back towards the bridge.

I was fishing with a new favourite, the GULP 3” Smelt Crazylegs Grub soft plastic. It is a short version of the Crazylegs Jerkshad that has proved so useful. I had it rigged on a 1/6thoz 1/0 jighead. I was using my light spin rod and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

I got a couple of solid bites but could not keep the fish on. Then as I moved towards the oyster jetty a fish grabbed the plastic about a metre away from me. I struck with rod and stepped back. It was a good fish but it did not do much, initially. I decided to walk it back to the shore. I loosened the drag a little, as I did not want a bust off. I started to tow it towards the bank and about half way there it really woke up and made a few powerful runs. As I dragged it up onto the muddy shore the leader snapped, but it was clear of the water.

It was a healthy female Flathead, just under 70cm long. I fished around this area for another hour and caught and released several Flathead that were around the legal size limit of 40cm. At about 8.30 I gave up. It had been great morning land-based fishing in the Pumicestone Passage.

70cm Flathead

Brisbane River – Boggy Creek – 28 March 2011

A trip away, a cold and car trouble have all conspired to keep me away from fishing for a few weeks. To those of you who have been checking in to see what is biting – I apologise.

I managed to sneek out yesterday morning for a quick fix. I only had a couple of hours, so I headed down to Boggy Creek. A small swampy tributary on the north side of the Brisbane River, only a few kms from where it opens into Moreton Bay. I parked up by the foot bridge that crosses the creek and leads to the oil refinery. I arrived around 10 am and the tide would be low around midday. I would be fishing the last few hours of the run out. This is not a great time to fish, as there is very little water – but beggars cant be choosers.

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I have not fished in the River since the floods and I was delighted to see so much bait in the water. There were jelly prawns in close to the shore and lots of roving schools of small mullet. I decided to fish the soft plastic lures and went for a natural colour – a 2″ GULP Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. I rigged it on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I was fishing a light spin rod with a 10lb Fluorocarbon leader. I moved along the bank, casting my lure into the middle of the main channel and bouncing it along the bottom with the run out tide, until it reached my feet.

I cast around on each side of the bridge and got a few bites but no hook ups. I moved east, in the direction of the creek mouth and switched to a lighter, 1/8th 1 jighead. I changed the plastic to a 2″ Minnow pattern, in the same colour. I was putting in a couple of casts at each break in the Mangroves when, at the third spot, a small bream grabbed it. I took a picture and let it go – my first fish for three weeks – a trifle small but very satisfying.

I carried on moving east, casting into the channel as the water got shallower and shallower. At the mouth of a drain, about 60 metres from the bridge, I felt a light thud. I paused, then lifted the rod tip. The line came up taught and there were a few head shakes. I had a 30cm Flathead.

At noon I gave up, just as the tide was starting to run in again. With the smell and noise of the refinery, this is not the prettiest environment to fish in. But after a three weeks off I was glad to get out there and see that there are plenty of fish around.

Bribie Island – Bridge & Sandstone Point – 3 March 2011

Thursday

Thursday was set to be another hot day with a possible thunderstorm. There would be a slight northerly wind in the Pumicestone Passage, which would freshen through the day. I decided to keep looking for Flathead, as these have been the only consistent fish for me, in recent weeks.

I started under the bridge on the Island side about 4.15 am. The tide was running in and there was about 30cm of water at the base of the rockwall by the shore, to the north of the bridge. There was not much surface action and I think the Pike prefer a little more depth, to feel safe. I cast out a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and bounced it along the bottom under the lights. Three casts later, after a pause on the bottom, the line came up tight. There were a few head shakes and a short run and then the fish was gone. A couple of casts later; same soft plastic, same place, maybe the same fish, I hooked up again. This time I got him to the rocks – a Flathead – around 45cm, but as I was lifting him in to the bag, he spiked me and slithered out of my grip to freedom.

Dawn by the Bribie Island bridge - the fish come to the lights

After 30 minutes more, prospecting both north and south of the bridge, I could not find any more fish so I decided to change location. Just as the sun was coming up, I drove round to Pebble Beach and walked along the beach to the far end, towards Sandstone Point. The water was fairly high but there were still a couple of hours before high tide. It was a beautiful, calm, still morning. The thunderstorms had passed over earlier and there were still a few flashes of lightning as they moved in land, but the sky was bright red.

A very calm morning

At the end of the beach, I walked out in front of the fringing Mangroves and cast out over the rubble and boulders that dot the ground. I was aiming for the sandy patches in between the rocks, where the Flathead often shelter. As I moved nearer to the corner I had a few encounters with the Long Toms, who kept grabbing and then dropping, the lure. When one finally did get hooked it started leaping and splashing and effectively shredded the 16lb Fluorocarbon leader I was using. I re- rigged and tied on a new leader and put on a GULP 4” Jigging Grub soft plastic in the Pepper Prawn colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. A few cast later as the lure bumped over the rocky bottom, a fish grabbed it and took off. It only made a small run and then settled in the current. I pulled it on to some rocks – a 48cm Flathead – I released it and carried on casting. A few casts later I had another on the same plastic, this time it was just over 50cm.

After working the corner thoroughly I move round it, heading north and on to the broad flats of Sandstone Point, which almost form a tidal lagoon. With another hour to go before a 2.3m high tide, I could still wade out to the middle of the area and cast back in towards the Mangrove roots along the shore. The Long Toms where patrolling and I had a couple of tussles with them. After 30 minutes, the water was getting too deep to stay in the middle so I turned and headed south, in closer. I switched to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour and put in long casts parallel with the shore. A fish grabbed the lure as it landed and this time it was a Flathead, I dragged it in under the Mangroves – it was around 40cm – and after a quick picture, I unhooked it and sent it on its way.

That was the last fish for the morning and even thought it was only 8.15 am, it was already blisteringly hot. I dumped the gear in the car and had a quick swim before heading home. Another good session, the water is still full of sediment on these big tides but there is plenty of bait around and so the fish will come.

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Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – 5 Feb 2011

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Saturday

Ok – no fish at Fingal. Where next? Well there is no shortage of coastline to try in Queensland. I had loads of excuses for my recent poor performances – warm water, floods, cyclones etc, but I have concluded that this summer, northerly winds have been the key factor in making life hard. The Mangrove Jacks and a few other species that like it humid, are not put off, but I think the fish I usually catch – Flathead, Bream, Tailor, Jew, etc – don’t like them.

I decided to go back up to Bribie Island and see what the water was like now. Was all the silt flushing out of the bay and the Pumicestone Passage? I started under the bridge lights on the island side, just before low tide at 4.15 am. There were small jelly prawns jumping everywhere, especially sitting just on the weed beds, in the shallows. There were also hardy heads and other small baitfish all around. It was new moon and it looked very promising. I rigged up the light spin rod – 1- 3kg and tied on a 10lb leader. I put in a 1/8th 1/0 hook jighead and started by fishing a GULP 2”Shrimp soft plastic in the banana prawn colour. After half an hour of walking up and down and watching surface busts ups, jumping prawns and big bait schools swimming between my legs, I had not had a bite.

I swapped locations and drove down to the saltwater lagoon just in front of Buckley’s Hole, on the southern end of the island. The topography at the mouth of the lagoon has changed dramatically because of the wild weather we have had. It now drains out into the Passage much further north than it did even a few months ago. The tide was just turning and there was a lot of weed in the water. The water is still holding a lot of sediment but as I walked south along the flats it looked quite clear.

I walked south, parallel with the shore, casting and retrieving and again, there was a lot of surface activity. I tried all sorts of soft plastic lures – big and small minnows, minnow grubs, jerkshads and shrimps. I tried bright colours and natural colours, I tried a heavier jighead – nothing. As the tide started to run in it brought a few jellyfish with it and the water clouded up. Obviously the incoming tide now lifts all the sediment that has settled on the bottom.

At around 7.30am I turned around and waded back north. I put on a GULP 3” Minnow in the pearl watermelon colour and started to pull this along the bottom with long pauses between each lift. After about 10 mins, I felt a bit of weight on the rod and the tip started shaking. At last – a fish. It was not a big one but I waded back to the beach and pulled it out onto the sand – it was a Flounder, about 30cm long. It had completely swallowed the jighead so I cut it off and released it.

It was now very hot and the water had turned really brown so I gave up and headed back to the car. There is no shortage of bait in the Passage but the water quality is still very poor – it looks like it may take quite a while for things to settle down.

Bribie Island – A few Flathead – 26 Jan 2011

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Australia Day – Wednesday

Although I did not catch anything yesterday, I was encouraged by the conditions in the Pumicestone Passage at Bribie Island. I love estuary fishing in Queensland but Bribie Island is by far my favourite spot near Brisbane. So this morning I was up early and wading out from the shore, on the mainland side, under the Bribie Island bridge at around 4.15 am.

There was virtually no breeze and the tide was about half way out. Low tide would be at about 8.40 am, at around 0.6m. The area that is lit by the bridge lights always attracts bait and this morning was no exception. There were surface bust ups all around with prawns and bait fish jumping everywhere. The bottom is a mixture of sand, weed and rubble so you cannot fish too heavy. The run out tide starts to run fast over the rubble areas as the water gets shallower and this forms a few ridges, channels and drains that hold the Flathead. A 1/6th oz jighead with 1/0 or 2/0 hook is perfect in these conditions. I decided to fish my favourite soft plastic for Flathead – the GULP 4” Minnow in the pearl watermelon colour. I rigged up my light spin rod and waded along the edge of the mangroves heading south, so I could come back up and cast from the darkness up into the area lit by the bridge lights.

I was standing in about 400mm of water casting up into the run out tide. The plastic was spooking the bait schools and they would burst out of the water each time I jerked it off the bottom. After a few casts a felt a good crunch and let the rod tip drop. A few seconds later I lifted it and had a small Flathead around 30 cm. It was now about 4.30 am and the sky was brightening very slowly. I continued casting around the same area and about ten minutes later a caught another one on the same plastic – this time it was around 35 cm.
I continued casting – I still could not clearly see the colour of the water but it looked a lot dirtier on the run out tide, than it had when I fished the run in tide, yesterday. I moved into slightly deeper water and lost a couple of jigheads to the snaggy bottom. I re-rigged and on my first cast a Flathead more or less caught the lure as it hit the water. There was a good deal of tail splashing and head shaking but when I got it to the bank, I could see it was not much bigger than the others at around 40cm. I let it go, hoping for something better.
As the sun cleared the horizon the surface activity gradually slowed and I started to walk down to fish around the old oyster farm jetty. My plastic was getting plenty of hits but they were not Flathead and I could not seem to hook up. Finally I set the hook on one of the bites and pulled up a tiny Moses Perch. They certainly have an appetite for a decent sized lure (see photo).

I spent another hour fishing the end of the run out tide and as the water got lower, it got dirtier and dirtier. Finally at about 7.30 am I decided there was not enough water in this area, so I packed up. It was good to find a few fish – even though they were small. Hopefully the good weather will continue and the water quality will gradually improve.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Another Duck

My lure arsenal for the Tweed rockwall

Saturday

Oh dear , oh dear , oh dear – another morning with no fish. As I have said before, this is the worst time of the year for me. The main estuary species – Flathead & Bream – have long finished spawning and as the water temperature climbs and weather patterns get more unpredictable they get harder to find. Add to that – flooded river systems and constant changes in wind patterns and I get stuck focusing on the ocean rock walls and ledges.

In these locations the fish come and go with the bait and the wind. Tailor, Trevally, Kingfish, Queenfish and even good sized Mackerel and Tuna will all come in close to the rocks if the bait is around. The Tailor are particularly voracious in these situations and you can catch them on almost any type of lure or bait. The Trevally are sometimes harder to please, often limiting their feeding period to an hour or so either side of dawn and dusk. The other species require you to be in the right place at the right time and this means putting in the casting hours – and it can be a long time between fish!

This morning I arrived at the north rockwall, at the mouth of the Tweed River at around 4.00 am. The horizon started to glow just as I rigged up and I started by fishing soft plastic lures through the last of the run out tide. I switched to a surface popper for about 30 casts and put in 50 casts with an 85 gram metal slug. Nothing I used produced results. At one point a fellow fisherman caught a 30cm Tarwhine on a fresh beach worm, but that was the only fish I saw caught.

Apparently a few decent Trevally had been caught at dusk, on Friday and everyone was hopeful that this mornings session would produce fish – But it didn’t! I gave up around 7.30 am as another of this summer’s rain showers arrived.

Yamba – Jewfish – 3 Dec 2010

Friday
As the rain poured down I headed in to Yamba, mid morning, to visit the local tackle store and replenish my supplies. I stopped for a coffee and the rain eased off. I decided to have a look at the fishing off the rocks, down below the light house in front of Yamba.
It was about 11.30 am and the sea was doing a good impersonation of a washing machine, but the rock walls at the mouth of the Clarence River provide some shelter for this area when there is a north easterly wind. I found a safe ledge on the rocks and watched the swell for a while.
I rigged up the big rod – a Rovex Bario 11”. I put on a 1/2oz jighead and a GULP 4” Pumpkinseed Minnow soft plastic lure. I cast around and lost a few jigheads as I got used to the terrain. After about 50 casts, I hooked up to a very small Soapie (juvenile Jewfish) around 30 cm long. After a quick snap, I released it.
The rain started again and by now even I had reached the end of my weather tether. With no dry clothes I decided it was time to pack up camp and head back to Brisbane.
So overall, the good news is the fish are there. The bad news is the weather may well make them very hard to get at this month.

Iluka – Shark Bay in the rain – 3 Dec 2010

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Friday
It wasn’t raining at 4.00am Friday – so I walked out on to the rocks in front of Woody Head. I was disappointed to still see a big sea. I tried casting from a few safer spots but after losing four jigheads to the rocks, I decided I needed another plan. I walked along the beach to Shark Bay. It is probably one or two km but at this time of the morning, it was a beautiful stroll. There were big black clouds everywhere but initially, at least, it stayed dry and there was not much wind.
I had swapped my heavy rod for a lighter set up and I was fishing with a 7’6” Nitro 2-4 kg Distance Spin Rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel. I had loaded the reel with 3.8 kg Fireline in the yellow colour and tied on about 1.5 metres of 12lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader. I had decided to fish lighter as I wanted to see if there were any good Bream around. This rig is also quite capable of land the odd small jewfish or Tailor should they show up.
I walked out onto the rock platform at the southern corner of Shark Bay and moved out to the north east corner. I had a few hours in this spot before the incoming tide would force me off. Just as I put in the first cast a shower came over and I was soaked in a few minutes. At least it wasn’t cold.
I started by fishing the GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon minnow soft plastic. This is a great imitation of a pilchard and has proved to be excellent bait in this location. But today I could not raise a bite. Maybe it was the murky water. I switched to one of my new favourites the GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour. I also switched down in weight from a ¼ oz to a 1/6th oz jighead both with 1/0 hooks. This gives me a little less distance when casting but increases the sink time and gives the fish more time to strike. After a few casts with the new rig, a fish slammed the lure at the edge of the kelp covered ledge. I struck hard and then let it have some line. On the next surge I pulled it up through the kelp. It was a nice 36cm Bream. I cast out again and over the next few casts pulled in three smaller fish around the 30cm mark all on the same plastic.
With another rain squall on the horizon and the tide moving up rapidly I decided to head back to the campsite to try to dry out. I would think with all the rain, good Bream would be all around these rocky headlands. The only problem would be finding a safe place to fish for them.

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.

Iluka – Shark Bay – 1 Dec 2010

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Wednesday

It rained all night on Tuesday and most of Wednesday morning. I got up early and surveyed a few rock fishing spots around Woody Head and Iluka Bluff, but the swell had got up during the night and there was really nowhere to fish on the morning high tide. The Clarence River was now a tea coloured soup with lots of debris floating around, so that was not really an option.
I grabbed a cuppa and watched the rain pour down from my tent. Thankfully, it was doing a good job of remaining waterproof. Around 11.00 am the rain eased off and so did the wind. I decided to have a fish in Shark Bay which is a little to the north of Woody Head. There is a low rock promontory in the corner of the bay, which you can walk out to at low tide. On the north east side of the promontory there is a pronounced rock ledge that is covered in kelp. About fifty metres further east there is a partially submerged patch of reef that rises just above sea level, at low tide. As the tide runs in and out, it funnels bait into a twenty to thirty metre channel which is a great area to target all kinds of species. There are often birds smashing into the baitfish in this area but there was no action when I arrived around 11.30 am.

I had my new felt-soled Cloudveil fishing boots on. I prefer these to the rubber booties with studded soles, which I have been using. The felt gives you an excellent grip but the tougher boot also gives good ankle support. To cast out over the kelpy rock ledge you really need to stand about knee deep in the water. You can only really get close enough to it for a couple of hours, either side of low tide. The water was certainly cooler than I expected and definitely much cooler than usual for this time of year – maybe it’s all the rain. I started with soft plastic lures on a 3/8 oz 3/0 hook jighead. I tried a number of shapes in the Pumpkinseed and also a few other colours and apart from a tiny Moses Perch, I did not catch anything.

After an hour or so, I decided to put a metal slug on and have a spin for some Tailor. I put on a 60g Mojiko (Anaconda) slug in a pink/purple colour and started casting. I like the colour of these slugs but I suspect the reason Anaconda can’t give them away, is that after about ten casts, all the colour chips off and you are left with a zinc coloured battered piece of metal. This can still catch fish but it doesn’t look too impressive. I was putting in very long casts, trying to land the slug as close as I could to the exposed reef. With all the kelp and rocks it was very difficult to tell whether I was getting hit or just catching on debris on the retrieve. However after about 50 casts I tried to yank the lure free of what I thought was some kelp and the rod tip started shaking and line started peeling. As the fish came towards the ledge it made a good leap and I could see it was a nice Tailor. It tried to get down under the ledge but I tightened the drag and pulled it over the top and up to my feet. My arms were burning from all the spinning so after a couple of follow up casts, I cleaned up the fish and headed back to camp. After a couple of hours on ice, I ate fresh fried Tailor fillets for dinner. Only one fish – but a good one at about 55cm.

Bribie Island – The Old Oyster Jetty – 17 Nov 2010

Wednesday
I started fishing at about 9.15 am – not ideal, but sometimes life gets in the way of my true calling. It was a fantastic Queensland day with bright sunshine and light breeze from the North West. I was at my usual haunt – Bribie Island. I headed up to Whitepatch where I had caught a few fish on Sunday. The tide was about half way out with low tide forecast for around 12.45pm.
I rigged up with a very light 1/32 oz jig head and put on a Gulp Sandworm in the Camo colour. I was trying for a few whiting. There were plenty around – I suspect their favourite food is the soldier crabs that come out on to the flats, in huge numbers, at low tide.
I caught a couple of very small Whiting and then decided to look for something bigger. There was plenty of bait in the water – whiting, garfish etc. I upgraded to a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and put on a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered prawn colour. I walked up and down the ledge that runs all along this section of the Passage and cast alternately; one over the edge and one out in front of me, into the shallow water on top of the ledge. I did this for well over an hour without success. At one point a hungry Pike made a great lunge at the lure just as I lifted it out of the water, but I did not get it.
At this stage I think it is fair to point out that I usually find November, December, January and February by far the toughest months to fish the Queensland estuaries from the shore. If I look back through my diaries there is a dramatic drop off in my catch rate after the Flathead finish spawning and the water warms up. However, summer brings the possibility of rarer, but exciting species such as Mangrove Jack and Sweetlip and even the occasional pelagic, like Tuna or Mackerel. It is a different style of fishing and requires a bit more work. You have to find them and this means lots of long casts and long walks/ wades.
I decided to switch spots and drove over to the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge. I waded out onto the muddy weed banks just to the south of the old oyster jetty. By now these were only covered with about 60cm of water. I put on the Gulp 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – I stuck with the 1/6th 1/0 weight jighead. I was aiming at the sandy patches in between the weed and the edge of the rubble piles that dot the area. There was a bit of weed floating around but not enough to make the fishing difficult. About 40 metres to the south of the jetty I cast into a piece of clear sandy bottom and just as the plastic hit the edge of the weed, I felt a dull thud. Finally, after three hours of fishing I was on to a reasonable fish. I gave it plenty of line and gradually towed it back to the shore to unhook. It was too valuable to try to risk grabbing while wading around in the water. When I got it up and away from the water it was a respectable 46cm Flathead. It was now right on low tide and after a few more casts to see if the fish had any friends around, I gave up.
The fishing is getting harder but the harder they are to find, the sweeter they taste!

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.

Bribie Island – Bag of Flathead – 28 Sept 2010


Tuesday
I was back out wading around on Bribie Island this morning. The midges were doing their best to put people off and I swallowed more than a few for breakfast. With the weather warming up and the weed beds exposed at low tide, conditions are perfect for them.
I decided to focus on the sand flats at the bottom tip of the island. There is no defined rock ledge marking the edge of the Pumicestone Passage here. There is a smoother, sandy drop off, peppered with weed beds. With low tide around 5.30 am I was fishing the run in tide for most of the morning. I parked at Buckley’s Hole, waded out to about waist deep and then walked south, casting out in front of me, parallel with the shore.
I decided to start with the larger GULP 4” Minnow in the natural, Pearl Watermelon colour. This soft plastic lure looks remarkably like a pilchard in the water. As it was the bottom of the tide and there was no current flow, I rigged the soft plastic on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. It was not long before I felt a solid hit on the lure. After a pause, I pulled up hard, then I thought I was snagged as I could hardly move the rod tip and line started to peel from the spool. But it wasn’t a rock it was a fish and initially it swam towards me so I got a little line back. Then I think it realised something was up or got fed up and started really thrashing around. With a couple of massive headshakes, it was off the hook and swam away. It was a big female Flathead. I consoled myself with the thought that it probably would have been too big to keep.
I carried on wading south putting long casts out in front of me and moving as quietly as I could. The bottom was predominantly sandy and fairly featureless now. I switched plastics to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour on the same jighead. After another 50 metres or so I had a bite, but no hook up. I cast back along the same trajectory, slowed my retrieve right down and added plenty of 3 second pauses. This time in the same spot I got a solid bite. I dropped the rod tip, paused and then struck. I had caught my first fish of the day, an under-size Flathead. I un-hooked and released it.
Now I had found them and over the next two hours, while wading another 200 metres or so, I caught 14 flathead, 8 or 9 were big enough to keep. So I took my bag limit of 5 and released the rest. I put on bigger soft plastics and smaller soft plastics but regardless of these different offerings, could not find any bigger fish. Everything was between 35cm and 45cm long.
I gave up around 10 am. I love this time of year – if you have been thinking of trying out soft plastics in the estuaries – now is the time.

Bribie Island – Plenty of Flathead – 14 Sept 2010


Tuesday
After a really disappointing land-based fishing session at Bribie Island (see previous post)on Sunday, I was a little concerned on when we were going to eat fish next. Rain was forecast for Tuesday morning but I had to get back out there. So I was up early and fishing under the Bribie Bridge, on the island side at about 4.45am.
I started on the south side of the bridge – a logical spot as the tide was running out and the fish often feed in the eddies, behind the pylons. I put on a 3” GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. The water was moving fairly slowly so I rigged it on 1/8th 1 jighead. After a few casts up under the bridge, I felt the solid thud of a Flathead. It was only a little one so I photographed it and sent it on its way.
The northerly breeze had blown most of the weed away. This enabled me to try a 1/4oz blade vibration lure in amongst the bridge pylons. The tide was running out and would be low at about 7.00 am. I gradually waded to the north side of the bridge. I was now standing at the foot of the oyster covered rocks in the sand, in about 70cm of water, casting as close as I could to the foot of the third bridge pylon. Just as the sun started to rise behind me, a fish hit the blade. I dropped the rod tip for a few seconds and then I struck. After a few headshakes I had my first Snapper on a blade. At about 25cm he was not going to be dinner and back he went.
It was a good start but after another half an hour and a few Pike, I decided to move. I drove down to Bongaree and waded out onto the sand flats in front of Buckley’s Hole. The Pike were plentiful here as well. Just on low tide another angler, further along the beach, pulled in a nice 70cm flathead on a whole, fresh herring bait.
I decided to move south, along the coffee rock ledge, in the direction of Red Beach. My strategy was to target the Flathead as they moved up over the ledge with the incoming tide. The water was now very clear and the sun was fairly bright. Although it seems counter intuitive, I have often been told that these are the best conditions to use a bright coloured plastic. So I switched to a 2” GULP Shrimp in the green and orange Lime Tiger colour. After about 15 minutes this seemed to pay off as my line came up tight on another small flathead. I carried on and after covering another 10 metres or so, I was on to a much bigger fish. The problem in fighting a fish in this location is that they will immediately try to get themselves back down deep, below the rock ledge. You need to keep their head above the ledge and walk them back towards the beach, the drag needs to be set fairly tight to achieve this and with only a ten pound leader you really have to be careful. Perhaps I was pulling too hard or had not really set the hook properly. Either way, almost as soon as the Flathead came into view (about 3 metres away), it dropped the hook. It just sat there on the sandy bottom for a few moments then turned and made its way back, very slowly, to the ledge. It had two smaller fish following it the whole time. A few metres further on and I caught yet another undersize flathead.
I switched back to the Minnow soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour and as the tide was now running in quite strongly, I put it onto a 1/6th oz 1 hook jighead. I felt a knock on the first retrieve and after a few more casts in the same spot, I hooked up with 48cm Flathead. I walked it back to the shore and finally I had something to keep for dinner. Using the same tactics I caught four more undersize fish as I gradually waded south. By now it was around 9.15 am and I was almost at the point where the shore turns left and becomes Red Beach. I decided to give myself a few more casts before turning for home. I clearly saw a decent Flathead just miss my lure as I lifted it up at the end of the retrieve. So I immediately cast it out just a couple of metres away, in the same direction and let it sit on the bottom for 10 seconds. As I lifted it, it was smashed by what I presume was the same fish. After a long walk back to the beach I pulled it safely up onto the sand and it was the best fish of the day – a 60cm Flathead. It was now starting to rain so with two nice fish for dinner; I called time on the session and headed back to Brisbane.

Bribie Island – I tried everywhere – 11 Sept 2010

Saturday
Well just to show that I am not a ‘good news only’ fishing blogger, Saturday morning was a disaster. It went like this – I had high hopes for a good catch, with a big tide and good weather. I started off under the Bridge on the island side at Bribie. It was just on 4.00 am. I cast soft plastic lures up against the pylons – I tried paddle tails, shrimps and minnows in various colours, with no luck.
Ok, onto Plan B. As the sun came up I drove down the island, through Bongaree to fish the coffee rock ledge in front of the saltwater lagoon, at Buckley’s Hole. This is a great position on low tide, the lagoon empties out and the fish usually congregate just south of its mouth. It was around slack water on dawn, with low tide at 5.20am. I walked up and down, up and down but I could not even raise a bite.
Ok, on to Plan C. I jumped back into the car and drove north, up to Whitepatch. The tide was just starting to run in. I walked down the wooden staircase to the spot I have christened ‘Pike Rocks’ and put on a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I cast out as fair as I could and let it sink for 10 seconds or so. I then began a slow and steady retrieve. Well at least the Pike did not let me down. About 4 metres from the shore I got a hit, then another and then a hook up with a fairly small Yellow fin Pike. I started to move south along the sand flats, casting out over the rock ledge and bouncing the plastic along the bottom. About 15 minutes passed and the 2” Shrimp plastic I had switched to was slammed as it came up over the ledge. After a good tussle I was disappointed to find it was only a 20cm Moses Perch. I carried on along this stretch until the run in tide drove me to far from the ledge and my lure kept getting snagged. I turned around and waded back to the car. I was now casting my lure on top of the ledge. By 9.30am I still had nothing for dinner.
Ok, on to plan D. I climbed back into the car and drove down to the old Oyster Jetty on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, to the south of the bridge. By 10.30 am I was wading along the edge of the weed banks just south of the jetty casting a 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th 1 jighead. That big tide I had been looking forward to was now, unfortunately stirring everything up, so just to add to my woes, the jighead was constantly getting clogged with weed. I walked round the corner and cast out over a big sand bank. The tide was streaming in and I felt sure the flathead would have moved up to sit in the cover offered by the sandbank. There was a bit of surface activity with bait jumping so I wound in and cast at it. There were a couple hard bites so I dropped the rod tip for a few seconds and then struck. There was a load of splashing and then I saw the unmistakable writhing thin silver body of a Long Tom. I took this as an omen and decided to give up for the day. It was 11.45am. There was plenty of bait around and the water was fairly clear, the tide was good – I just could not find the fish.

Bribie Island – Whitepatch – 29 August 2010

Sunday Morning
The advantage of fishing from the shore is that provided you are prepared to wrap up, you can still fish in a 15 knot wind. Especially if you chose somewhere like the Pumicestone Passage which has a few, fairly sheltered areas. The other advantage of fishing at these times is there is almost zero boat traffic. All the wise boaties are tucked up in bed having lie in or just listening to Nugget’s fishing show and cursing the weather gods. I am not sure that I subscribe to the idea that there are less fish around in the estuaries than there were 20 years ago – but I do believe the massive increase in boat traffic and other noise and disturbance, has a big effect on our ability to find and catch the fish that are there.
On Sunday morning there was plenty of wind forecast but when I arrived at Whitepatch on Bribie Island, the water was reasonably calm. It was about 5.15 am and the wind had dropped away as the sun was about to come up. This hour around dawn nearly always produces slightly calmer weather. It was just on low tide and I started fishing on the slack water with virtually no tidal flow. I often find this is a slow time. I presume the fish are beginning to reposition themselves and are slightly confused as to where to lie in wait to ambush prey. Sunday was no exception and nothing of note happened until about 45 minutes later when the tide really started running in.
I was fishing a 3” GULP Minnow soft plastic lure in the Banana Prawn colour on a 1/6th 1 jighead. This is another great lure for bream but will tempt almost anything. There is a sizeable drop off all along the shoreline at Whitepatch – it is perfect to fish for about two hours either side of low tide. I had parked at the last car park before the entrance to the Bribie National Park and I was wading south, along the shore, casting up into the run in tide. I caught a few Pike and then a tiny Moses Perch and then I got a touch, a pause, another touch and then bang – the blistering run and head shakes that had to be a Snapper. Over the course of each year, in this spot, I catch perhaps two or three legal size snapper and many more just undersize. Unfortunately this one was in the latter category. He measured up at 28cm and I threw him back, after a quick mug shot. What is uncanny is the consistent way I get these fish when the start of the run in tide coincides with dawn.
I switched to a 2” GULP Shrimp plastic, also in the Banana Prawn colour. I was fishing with about a metre and a half of 10lb fluorocarbon leader, tied onto a spool of 1.8kg Fireline. About 40 minutes after catching the Snapper, I found a patch of Bream. I caught three fish in quick succession. The largest was approximately 30 cm long. Shortly afterwards I reached a large drain with weed beds on either side. These were now covered by approximately a metre of water. I cast out, methodically in a semicircle and caught several Pike and then a very small (25cm) Flathead. I moved on and about 30 minutes later reached a similar drain. I used the same tactics and was rewarded with another Flathead that was just on 40cm. Like all the other fish, I released it. By 9.30 am the water was now effectively too high to continue fishing over the edge of the drop off and the wind was steadily building, so gave up for the day.

Iluka – Browns Rocks – Final Session – 14 August 2010

On Saturday the swell from the big low that was moving past offshore, arrived. This was my last day at Iluka. The rocky headlands were a no go area and the key sign that fishing was out of the question was the arrival of all the surfers. I decided to have a lie in and fish in the afternoon.
At about 2.00pm I headed off up the Clarence to look for a good Flathead spot. I crossed the bridge over to Goodwood Island, at Woombah and drove past Browns Rocks and the Norfolk Island Jetty to a couple of weed beds that have produced good fish in the past. It was the perfect afternoon. The tide was running out, there was a bit of breeze and the water was about 2- 3 feet over the weed beds. The water was very clear and I have been told that the wild colours go best when this is the case – so I put on a 5” Lime Tiger Jerkshad and used a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and 12 lb leader. I would usually go lighter, but with all the choppers around, bite off’s are a common problem.
I put the waders on and wandered out until I was about waist deep and walking through the weed banks, up river, parallel with the shore. I was casting up into the run out tide and letting the plastic sink. I would then bump it along the sand beside the weed, at the edge of the main channel. I walked about two hundred yards like this, before I got a hit. I hooked up with a small (30cm) flathead. I released him and cast back in the same spot a few more times. Third time, I got another one, slightly bigger. I carried on for another 30 feet and got a decent, 48 cm keeper. On the walk back to the car I got bitten off by what I presume was a Chopper. I had to get back for dinner but I had that feeling that all fisherman get – if only I could have stayed a little longer the really good fish would have come on the bite!

Iluka – Frazers Reef – Jewies – 12 August 2010

On Thursday morning conditions were as near perfect as you can get on the rocky headlands around Iluka. There was a light (but cold) westerly wind which had flattened the swell and despite the rain earlier in the week, the water was fairly clean. I decided to fish the rock ledges around Frazer’s Reef, a rocky outcrop, located just to the south of Woody Head at Iluka. This is another spot you can only get to 3 hrs or so, either side of low tide. As the tide rises, it swamps the rocky causeway of boulders that you cross to get to the fishing spots.
At dawn on Thursday, the only other sign of life on the walk along the beach were the tracks in the sand made by the kangaroos. It was seriously cold. I was hoping for something more than a Tailor or Trevally. So again I rigged up a plastic on a 3/8 3/0 jighead but this time I went for a 5” GULP Lime Tiger Crazy Legs Jerkshad. This is a Jerkshad shaped plastic with twin curly tails and has a fantastic action both on the drop and when sitting in the current on the bottom. I not convinced about the colour, but I love the action.
I started fishing in the red glow before the sun came up and had a few bumps and nudges and lost the tails on the first plastic. As the great orange ball broke the horizon just on 6.00 am, I hooked a fish. It put in a solid run but it was difficult to follow as the Stradic’s (my expensive reel !!) drag ratchet chose this moment to give up on me. The drag was still working but I could not hear the clicking as the fish took line. It is a very strange sensation fighting a fish without the ‘zzzzzzzzzzzzz’ every now and then. I had subdued the fish but now had to get him up the rocks. I moved him to a corner where there are a few stepped ledges and used the swell to lift him on to the lower one. Then I jumped down one step, wrapped the leader round the glove and lifted the fish clear. It was a beautiful school Jewfish. It was in great condition and measured just on 80cm.
I bled the Jew and put him in a keeper rockpool (one without a wobbegong!). I then got straight back into it. This time I got snagged on a bommy. Next cast produced another, smaller (65cm) school jewfish which I again landed with the aid of the swell. Now I knew they were obviously right on the bottom just behind the bommy. This kind of fishing requires deep pockets – I must have lost 10 more jigheads to that bommy over the next hour. I had a couple of runs with decent fish which I judged from the headshakes were Tailor, but I failed to hook up with either of them. Finally, as the tide was going to force me off my spot I was on to a fish again. This time I had swapped to a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Pumpkinseed colour. This fish felt big but when I got him up the rocks he was actually the smallest of the day at around 60cm – another school jewfish.
I now had to wade, waist deep, through the water to get back across the causeway to the beach, but I reckon getting my nuts chilled was a reasonable sacrifice for some great fishing.