Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats and the Seaside Museum drain – 1 April 2014

Tuesday

New moon had been on Sunday and there had also been another big downpour at Bribie. By Tuesday the sun was out again but the wind was a strong northerly, in the morning. It was forecast to drop off later in the day and turn in to a south easterly.  I would have preferred to fish the dawn but I had been cursed with some paid work that had to be finished, so I decided to fish the afternoon run out tide, which would be low at 4.35 pm.

The burst of northerlies meant the hot day time temperatures were back, but the cool nights and the influx of fresh water had pushed the water temperature down a little. I arrived at the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at about 1.30 pm.

I waded south, past the old oyster jetty and soon found my first fish. I had started with a GULP Jerkshad in the yellow and pumpkinseed Satay Chicken colour.  It was a flathead about 45cm long. I was fishing with Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook, jigheads. These are built on finewire Owner hooks and are just about the perfect size for GULP Jerkshads. The hooks will bend if you try to muscle a size-able snapper or jewfish, but they are very sharp and are good at lodging in the tough mouths of flathead.

People often ask me about jigheads and what to use. The answer, as always is ‘that depends’.  There are lots of drivers – price, hook quality, size, shape. What is right for a bream, whiting or bass is not right for a kingfish, tuna or big snapper. How easy or difficult it is to put on a soft plastic and how long it stays on, are also important. Trial and error is the only way to test them out. It is also important to understand that one manufacturers 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead may be very different in size and weight to another. Some use the lead weight only. Some include the hook and the lead weight. This means the total weight maybe up to 30% different to the numbers on the packet.  They also all have slightly different hook sizes. Some manufacturer’s size 1 hooks are almost twice the length of others.

 

The water was still dirty from all the rain and as we reached the bottom half of the tide, it got dirtier. I persisted with the Jerkshad and caught two more flathead – one about 50cm and one about 55cm.

My old friend the cormorant turned up again looking for a free fish. The bird only got the message that I was not there to provide a lunch, after a well-placed tap on the behind, from the end of my rod. Then it flew off, probably with the intention of mugging some other fisherman.

I dropped a couple of fish and slowly moved further and further south of the jetty. The fish were certainly not as numerous as they had been a week or so before. I walked all the way down to the green channel marker and back. Eventually I had five fish over 40cm to take home, but it had been hard work. I caught about 10 fish in total, over 2 1/2 hours.

At about 4.00 I walked back to the car and drove over the bridge to Bongaree to look at the creek drain in front of the Seaside Museum. They are still reconstructing the seawall along here. But at low tide you could see where the creek water runs over the edge in to the Passage and it looks very fishy. It was a beautiful evening and the wind had completely dropped away. Unfortunately this brought the biting midges out in huge numbers. It was now low tide and the water was almost still.

I wandered along the edge of the drop off for about an hour but I could not find any fish. The midges were so thick by 5.30 pm, that I gave up.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 25 March 2014

Tuesday

On Tuesday the tide and wind looked pretty good but it was probably going to rain. I could not resist another session at Bribie Island. I wanted to try a more scientific comparison of the GULP and Zman soft plastic lures, in an area where I was pretty sure there are fish. There are numerous problems in trying to measure lure success. However, flathead are a good species to work with, as they often lie around in groups of 4 or more.

I wanted to compare the performance of the Berkley Gulp range with the Zman range. Although the ranges have similar offerings, none of their lures match up, exactly. I decided to compare the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour with the Zman 3.75” Streakz in the Shiner colour. Both have approximately the same profile, although the Zman is a little slimmer. The colours are similar but the Zman is more translucent.

I started with the Zman which I loaded on to a TT Headlockz 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. This set up caught a fish at about 6-15 am. It was a flathead between 50 and 55cm. I cast out again with the same soft plastic and had another hit but no hook up. I decided to give the Zman 10 casts in a semi – circle and then switch to the Gulp and do the same thing. On casts 5, 7, 9 and 10, I got hits but could not hook up with the Zman.

Then I switched to a regular, fine wire, 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and put on the Gulp Minnow. I cast right back at the spot where I had caught the fish on the Zman and hooked another, after a couple of hops. It was another flathead between 45cm and 50cm. I continued to cast into the now fairly shallow water in a semi-circle. At the end of 10 casts the Gulp had caught three more Flathead – all were just under the legal size limit of 40cm.

So on the face of it – it was GULP 4” Minnow that caught more fish. I have mentioned before my theory that the texture of the Gulp soft plastics is much more fish-like than other brands. They also seem to be more porous, so they retain a scent trail for longer than most other soft plastic lures. But I could not see how this could make much difference in this situation. In these circumstances, where the fish are really aggressive in their feeding, they seemed to hit almost every plastic/ hard body that I threw at them – so why was the hook-up rate not as good with the Zmans?

Then I figured it out. I loaded another Zman 3.75” Streakz in the Shiner colour, but this time on the regular TT  finewire, 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. On the first cast I felt the hit, paused and counted to 10. When I lifted the rod the fish was hooked. I kept fishing with the same plastic for a while and I hardly missed a bite, converting about five bites in to fish. I know it is not conclusive proof but it seems that either the TT Headlockz are less sharp or the broader gauge hook required to hold the lock in place, prevents them from penetrating as effectively.

After I finished my experiment I moved to the south of the jetty and I decided to see just how big a soft plastic these flathead will attack. I pulled out a GULP 6” grub in a sardine-like colour. I put it on a Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 2/0 hook jighead. This was the biggest I had, and cast it out. After a few casts, I felt a bite. I paused then struck, but I was not attached. This happened three times, so on the fourth cast, when I felt the bite, I dropped the rod tip for a full count of 15 seconds. When I lifted it I had a flathead, but only a 42 cm long one. The lure was well on its way to the fishes stomach, so I kept it. I would recover the soft plastic later.

I finished the session with the DUO Realis Jerkbait 120 SP – a big hard bodied, suspending minnow. This also soon found the fish. In fact, it found the biggest two fish of the day – both well over 60cm. Just after 9.00 am, the incoming tide pushed me off the target area, so I gave up. The fish are still there and they are still hungry.

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.