Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 16 October 2016

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday

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

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

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

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

Bribie – a bagful of flathead – 2 June 2015

Tuesday

I have concluded that the bottom of the tide is my best chance of catching a fish on the flats around Bribie Island.  The fish must still be around on the higher tides but they seem to disperse over a larger area and it is much harder to know where to look for them. So on Tuesday I decided to only fish the last few hours of the run out tide.

I drove up to Bribie and waded out under the bridge at about 11.00 am. Low tide would be at about 3.00 pm but it was full moon, so it would be a fast running tide and would run out very quickly to a lower than usual low. I was fishing with my new G.Loomis short, light spinning rod with 8lb braid and a 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I had promised the Mrs a few fish for a family event and she was relying on fresh flathead fillets for her recipe. This is usually the kiss of death for my fishing sessions, but not today.  I decided to try a different soft plastic and had found my last packet of Lucky Craft Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic lures. Now everybody knows I love my GULPs but they really do not yet have a good paddle tail soft plastic. Their Swimmow shape is pretty good but a little too small and the Shaky shad is very hard to load on to a jighead. The Mad Scientist Optishad is a brilliant shape and size and comes in some great colours. I load it onto a 1/8th ounce size 1/0 hook jighead. As with so many good lures you probably will not find them in the big stores and may need to order them online.

 

By 11.05 am I had my first flathead on the end of the line – just to the south of the old oyster jetty. It was about 38cm,  so I let it go and moved on. I caught another a few minutes later and this one was big enough to go in the bag. The next was about 55cm, close to the mouth of the drain that runs out from the Sandstone Point flats. Things slowed down. There was lots of very small bait around, sitting just over the weed beds. I swapped to a GULP 3“Minnow in the Smelt colour, which pretty closely resembled these small fish. A few casts later I found the biggest fish of the day – a 58cm flathead.

I continued to the channel marker, swapped back to the Mad Scientist Optishad and caught a couple of 45 cm long fish, just beside it.  I now had a full bag so I turned for home. On the way back to the car I caught and released another 8 flathead, most of which were legal size.

It seems that the fish have are now around in large numbers so it’s time to get out there.

Bribie – the bridge, the Seaside Museum creek, the old oyster jetty – 22 May 2014

Thursday

The wind was up again, making it hard to know where to fish. It can be unpredictable, as we move firmly into winter, but as the direction becomes more consistently from the south east, I find the fishing usually improves.

For some reason I could not sleep, so I got up at about 3.30 am and arrived at Bribie at about 4.30 am. The weather was not good. The wind seemed to be building and it was swapping between drizzle and real rain. There had been plenty of activity on the island side, under the bridge, early on Monday morning, so I started there.

The wind had blown the floating sea grass over to this side of the Passage and now it floated by in huge clumps. I loaded up a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour and threw this around for a while. I fished here for about an hour and the contrast with my pre-dawn session on Monday was stark. Despite changing through a few soft plastics, I did not feel a single bite. There was no surface activity and the water seemed completely devoid of fish. At about 5-15 am, I swapped to the DUO Realis Shad 59 MR – my current favourite suspending, hard bodied lure. After a few casts, I caught a small (35cm) flathead. I released it, tried a few more casts and then decided to move on.

At 5-30 am, I moved down to the ledge and the creek drain, in front of the Seaside Museum. The rain had stopped but it was so cloudy that it looked like there would be no real sunrise. Low tide would be at 10.03 am. I waded down to the point where I caught the decent bream on Monday and started casting, with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic. The wind was up and making things tricky. I could see the ledge and I cast at the area both on top of it and beyond it, but did not have any luck. I waded south, following the tide out. I swapped through small and large soft plastics but nothing produced a result.

Then the excavator started up and dug a trench to release the tidal pool that had gathered overnight. I did not think this would do much for the fishing, so I switched locations again. I crossed back over the bridge to my old stomping ground – beside the old oyster jetty.

I swapped to a Powerbait Jerkshad soft plastic lure, in a grey/ silver/ neutral colour. I had also dropped my leader down to 10lb fluorocarbon. The tide was still running out, hard. The water was clear and the sun was trying to come out. It did not take long to find the fish here. I caught the first flathead sitting just behind a submerged weedy sand hill, about 30 metres south of the jetty. It was about 45cm long. I caught three more, about the same size, in quick succession. Then things went quiet.

I was pretty sure there were more fish in the area, so I swapped to a Mad Scientist 4” Optishad soft plastic in the Motor Oil colour. This is a great plastic with a whopping great shad tail that pounds along the sandy bottom. I could not find any more fish in the same spot, so I moved about 10 metres further south. The Optishad worked its magic and caught two more flathead in successive casts. They were almost exactly the same size as the others.

 

 

Over the next hour, I caught about 10 more flathead. Most were about the 40 cm size. Only two looked like they were over 50 cm. I swapped through a few more lures, to see if this would affect the size of the fish, but it did not seem to. I put on the new DUO Realis Shad 62DR – a slightly longer, deeper running version of the Shad 59MR. This also proved a hit and accounted for a few more fish.

Eventually I tied on a large timber Detonator 100 from Lethal Lures  – http://www.lethallures.com.au/ , that I bought at Barra Jacks (in Rockhampton) and gave that a go. It was awkward to fish on my light rod and picked up plenty of weed but, after about 10 casts, it caught another 45cm flathead.

At about 11.30am, with the tide running in, I gave up for the day. There were plenty of fish around on one side of the Passage, today, and none on the other. That’s why you have to keep moving.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 4 April 2014

Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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