Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 10 May 2016

Tuesday

A few days on home turf gave me another opportunity to visit the Bribie Pumicestone Passage flats in search of flathead. I am enjoying the later starts for fishing trips at this time of year. I woke at about 4.45 am and drove up to Bribie, from Brisbane.Low tide would be at 6.18 am, coinciding almost exactly with sunrise. It was 4 days after the new moon. The wind would be a very light south easterly. I pulled on my waders and waded out under the Bribie bridge at about 5.40 am.

As the seasons come and go and the predominant wind direction alters, the tidal flats change shape quite dramatically. For example, just to the north of the bridge on the mainland side a big sand bank is forming and the weed is growing very quickly. However just to the south of the bridge the rubble bottom is becoming more exposed and there is less weed. These changes are best viewed at absolute low tide and it is good to keep an eye on them.

I started fishing with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curried Chicken colour, on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead, tied on with 12lb fluorocarbon leader. It was still dark but the sky was starting to turn a magnificent red colour. I was standing on the rubble bottom just to the south of the bridge. I was casting towards the bridge and hopping the lure back along the bottom towards me, in line with the tidal flow. I cast the soft plastic lure in the direction of a pylon and kept it moving quite quickly, to avoid getting snagged on the many rocks in this area. The tide was ebbing and the water flow was slowing as we got close to low.As is often the case in the predawn light, a flathead slammed the lure and almost jumped out of the water in its desire to swallow it. It was well hooked and I soon had my first fish of the day – it was just short of 50 cm long.

The sun came up and I moved south. The tide slowed and so did the fishing. I covered a lot of ground without a bite. I worked through a few soft plastics and tried a small hard bodied minnow for a while. I caught nothing for the next 90 minutes as the tide turned, and started to run in.

At about 8.30 am I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was just to the south of the old oyster jetty. A flathead burst out of the water behind my lure as I lifted it out of the water, at the end of the retrieve. It missed. I moved back and let things settle down. About two minutes later I threw a short cast at the area and felt the bite. This time I hooked it. It safely pulled it ashore. This one later measured 46 cm.

I carried on back towards the bridge as the tide pushed in. I caught another flathead just north of the jetty, but it was under 40 cm long, so it went back. It was just after 9.00 am when I reached the bridge. I cast around just to the south of the bridge where I had caught the first fish of the day and was rewarded with another 45 cm flathead.

As I waded north under the bridge I put in a few casts and caught my final fish. It was a small flathead of some kind with frilly fins. I released it and gave up for the morning.

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Brisbane River – Boggy Creek – 29 February 2016

Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bribie Island – Bongaree – 22 September 2015

Tuesday

Its school holidays and it already feels like a chore reminding my teenagers that fresh air and limb movement are essential elements of a healthy lifestyle. So kicking and screaming, I confiscated their phones and forced them into the car on Tuesday morning, to drive them up to Bribie Island. Obviously, a pre-dawn start was out of the question and we rolled into Bongaree, at the southern tip of the island, just after 8.00 am.

I have not fished here for quite a while. The shifting sands are the only constant feature. The new stepped sea wall on either side of the Seaside Museum creek drain is the latest feature. This has already had quite an effect. The coffee rock ledge that runs along the whole edge of the Pumicestone Passage has been covered in sand in some parts and stripped down to rock in others.

My children wandered off to Scoopy’s to find lattes and a nutritious breakfast that probably comprised mainly of hot chips – well at least I had succeeded in getting them to leave the house! I wandered south towards Buckley’s Hole. The sky was clear the breeze was light and low tide would be at 9.07am . I wandered passed a couple who had a few baits out and were in the process of reeling in a small bream.

I waded out slowly and quietly towards the edge of the coffee rock ledge. I was casting a small soft plastic GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with my light spin rod and reel combination and there were plenty of small schools of similair sized bait fish, hovering over the edge of the ledge.

The first taker was a small pike. It slammed the soft plastic, just as I pulled it over the ledge. It was followed by another, on the next cast. A few casts, later I caught another. Pike are often look very striped when they are caught and displaying their distress colours.  I moved a little further south and, about 10 minutes later, I found another patch of pike. I tried a few different soft plastics but I could not find any fish other than the pike.

The tide had slowed, turned and started to run in. The beach had started to fill with families, kayaks, inflatables and fisherman and of all ages. It was now about 10.30 am. I waded back towards the Seaside Museum. I was back fishing with the 3” Minnow soft plastic. I saw a two large amber speckled shapes moving slowly just beneath the surface, parallel with the ledge. I cast my soft plastic just in front of them and one diverted to miss it. I quickly wound in and cast again. This time I retrieved the plastic quickly across the surface and jagged the creature. It was a squid and I had sunk the jig head in to one of its wings. I slowly wound it in, keeping up the pressure but being careful not to pull the hook out. As it got close to shore it started pumping out black ink in big bursts. I carefully picked it up and let it empty its ink.

I fished on for a while but could not find anymore and by 11.00 am my children were threatening to report me to social services for child abuse, if I did not get them back to their mobile phones. I was happy – mission ‘fresh air’ had been accomplished and we would be having calamari for dinner.

Bribie Island – the oyster jetty flats – 27 April 2015

Monday

Another big gap between fishing sessions but by the end of April I was back in Brisbane for a few days and the weather was calm, cool and bright. As soon as I had time, I drove up to Bribie Island to see if the flathead where around. March and April always seem to produce plenty of good flathead from the flats around the island.

I hit my favourite spot – the muddy, weedy, sand flats to the south of the old oyster jetty, in front of the Sandstone Point Hotel, which is currently under development. This will be a huge pub when it is finished. I think it is great to see a development that seems to fit in with the natural landscape. My only disappointment was the wholesale removal of the native gum trees behind the mangrove line, to make way for the project. These used to provide a good break when the cold south-westerly winds blow.

I started a little after first light and a bit before dawn at about 6.00 am. I think this short window between getting light and the sun coming over the horizon is an excellent time to fish. The change in light triggers the feeding response and the low intensity means they are bold enough to chase lures and baits into the shallows.

A 2.0m high tide had passed at 4.09 am, so I was fishing the run out tide. The moon was about half full which meant that the tidal flow would not be that significant. There was about 50cm of water at the base of the mangroves, as I waded towards the old oyster jetty.

I was fishing with my very light spin rod – NS Blackhole 6’ SGII 602L Trout rod I picked up in Tumut last year. It is rated for 2 to 8lb line and 2 to 10 gram lures. My beloved Loomis GL2 had a fatal accident in 1770 and the gang at Jones Tackle are seeking out a replacement for me. In the meantime this light, fast action rod is great for flathead, bream and other estuary targets.

It was now about 6.45 am, I had rigged a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead and I was using just over a metre of 10lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader.  I was casting ahead of me in to the shallows. The water was clear but a little cooler than it had been fishing at 1770, a few weeks before. I had just passed the cable crossing warning sign when I felt a faint grab at the soft plastic. I dropped the rod tip and paused but did not entice a strike. I cast back at the same spot and felt the same slight grab. I cast to the right – nothing. I cast to the left – nothing. Then I cast back along the original trajectory and paused with the soft plastic on the bottom, for a good ten seconds. When I lifted it the fish struck. It was a flathead – a little over 50cm. It was good to know persistence pays off.

I waded under the jetty and slowly fished my way to the point where the shoreline turns the corner towards Sandstone Point. I paused here and threw a few casts along the drain that channels the run out tide round the corner and over the flats. I felt a couple mad grabs and swipes and realised that the Long Toms must be snapping at the soft plastic. I could not find a flathead in the drain so I moved on.

I waded along the gradually emerging sand bank until I was almost at the green channel marker. I stuck with the same soft plastic all the way. I then turned back to walk along the edge of the weed beds, in the direction of the jetty.

About half way back to the jetty, I felt a solid hit and paused. When I lifted it, the fish was hooked. It was another, slightly smaller 45cm flathead. I now had two in the bag, but would need at least one more to feed my mob.

I slowly moved north, casting and casting. After another 1 hour I still only had two fish. I was back at the jetty and the water was clear and almost still. It was now about 9.30 am and nearly low tide. I out in a few casts alongside the jetty. On about the third cast a very angry flathead slammed my soft plastic.  I subdued it and carefully pulled it ashore.

That was enough for me. Three fish, four nice fillets from each, that’s twelve good pieces of fish – which makes a very decent family meal. It took 3 hours to catch and about 12 minutes to eat. Good to be back on my home turf.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – 30 September 2014

Tuesday – Morning

I had not given up on finding a keeper size mulloway at Iluka, so at 4.45 am on Tuesday, I walked along the beach towards Middle Bluff. I surprised a couple of Kangaroos who were up on the rocks. Conditions were similair to the day before (light northerly) but the sea seemed a little more stirred up and foamy. Low tide would be at about 5.20 am – just on sunrise. The beginning of the run in tide offers good fishing in this spot, so I was hopeful.

I started with my big rod and a big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour, on a ¼ ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I flicked this around, close to the base of the rocks and it soon came back minus its curly tail. I swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The sun was up and the sky and water were very clear. After about 20 casts with the GULP Minnow I was getting pretty good at leaving it in the wash at the base of the rocks, without getting snagged. As I was about to lift it, at the end of a retrieve, I felt a grab. The fish swam for a bit with the plastic then let it go. A few casts later I connected with another fish. This time I dropped the rod tip as soon as I felt the resistance and paused. When I struck, the fish was hooked. Once more the light swell made things easy and I soon had a mulloway/ jewfish of about 48cm at my feet. I took a few pictures and threw it back.

I was starting to see a bit of bait jumping around close to the base of the rocks and it all looked pretty small.  I dropped down to my lighter rod and a 14lb fluorocarbon leader. I swapped down to a 2 inch GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the new Green Camo colour, but stuck with the ¼ ounce jighead.

A fish struck this hard on the first cast, but I did not hook up. About ten minutes later, I swapped to a 3 inch GULP Minnow in the New Penny colour. I had another hit on the first cast. This fish was not big but by the way it started pulling, I knew it was a tailor. They thrash about very hard and never give up. It was only small, about 35 cm long. It was good to see they are around. I took a picture and threw it back.

It had mashed up the plastic so I put the 2 inch GULP Shrimp in Green Camo on again. The tailor had obviously moved on. But after about 20 minutes of cast into the wash, I felt a good bite and was onto another fish.  This time it was another solid bream – a little over 34cm. I decided to keep this one for supper.

I continued fishing and kept felling small bites. Eventually I pulled up a butter bream. I had caught no trophy fish but had found great variety. The session had been a good example of how changing soft plastics can often produce results. At about 9.30 am I gave up and walked back to the car.

Tuesday  – Afternoon

In the afternoon I waded back out on to the flats beside the Clarence River, at dusk. They are covered in yabby holes which is a good sign for a fisherman. I flicked around a GULP Jerkshad in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I caught three flathead – the first would have been big enough to keep, the rest were too small. The sun dropped behind the trees on the horizon at about 5.40 pm and the midges and mozzies became unbearable, so I waded back to the cabin.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole to Red Beach and back – 7 June 2011

Tuesday

With the wind forecast to kick up to a 15 knot south-westerly around 7.00 am on Tuesday, I had no real choice but to fish in the Pumicestone Passage again. When I arrived at Bribie at around 5.00 am the wind was nowhere near that level, so I decided to fish on the island side of the Passage.

Bribie Island Bridge - Chopper

Low tide would be at about 7.30 am. I started under the bridge with a GULP 4” Turtleback worm in the BBQ Chicken colour on a 1/6th 2/0 jighead. As I waded, quietly in the shadows, there was no surface action and everything was very quiet. I realised why, when two dolphins popped up less than 5 metres away. They usually do a good job of eating or scaring the fish. They were wallowing around in less than a metre of water, they must have known I was there but it did not seem to put them off. A third one joined them and they headed over to the other side of the bridge. I moved to the south and caught a few Pike. After about twenty minutes I moved back north of the bridge and caught a few small Tailor. Then the dolphins came back again so I decided to move on.

The Flounder seem to love the GULP Minnow soft plastic lures

It was now just after first light – about 6.15 am. I drove down to the car park beside the saltwater lagoon that sits just in front of Buckley’s Hole. This lagoon and the drain at its mouth, has been completely transformed by the wild weather of the last year or so. The mouth has gradually moved further north, towards the main Bribie Island Jetty. The drop off into the main channel of the Passage is only a few metres from the shore at low tide. I walked out of the car park and on to the sand.

I started by casting just over the drop off and walking along it, heading south. As the current slowed there was weed everywhere, this made things difficult. I was hoping for a few Bream, as they like to school up by this drop off, when they are spawning. Initially, all I caught were a few Pike.

I waded all the way down to the corner of Red Beach. On the way I landed a couple of Flounder and I kept the biggest of them. By now I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I waded and cast for about 3 hours without much success. I walked back towards the car park and carried on north towards the Bribie Island main jetty.
I had now switched to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. I had also swapped to a lighter jighead – a 1/8th 1 hook. I was using 10lb leader. About 100 metres short of the jetty I caught a small bream – around 27cm.

Then I found the Flathead. The tide was running in, solidly and the weed had cleared up. Just after 10.00 am, I caught the first one – around 30cm long. It was quickly followed by a couple of 40cm + fish. I switched to a Gulp Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. I caught a couple more undersize fish and then two good ones – at 48cm and 54cm. All the fish were caught on the same 30 metre stretch of sand and by 11.30 am, I had a full bag limit of five.

A full bag of Bribie Flathead from 41cm to 54cm

It had been a cold and blustery morning and I had put in a lot of hours before I found the good fish, but eventually I located them. It may have been the tide change that encouraged them to feed. Once I had my five I decided to head for home and thaw out.

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.