Rockhampton – Fitzroy River – 27 October 2013

Sunday PM

First stop was the tackle shop in Rockhampton, to find an emergency replacement for my broken light spin rod. The G.Loomis GL2 range has moved on since I bought mine. I found all the available G.Loomis ‘fast’ action rods a little too stiff for my liking. I think this is because the new, higher quality graphite has less give. I decided to look at something cheaper with a little more give. I settled on a 6’6″ Berkley Dropshot, rated 2-4 kg, two piece. It would do, until I could look into a more refined replacement.

With the Barramundi closed season fast approaching I felt I should try another session, land-based fishing in the Fitzroy River, at dusk. The boats were thick and there where plenty of land-based anglers wandering the banks. Everyone was keen to tempt a Barramundi. The tide was running out and had been high at about 4.00 pm. The wind was north-easterly but its was dropping off.

The folks in Barra Jacks (http://www.barrajacks.com.au) had loaded me up with traditional hard bodied suspending minnows and 45 lb leader but the reports from the Barra Bounty competition (a few weeks earlier) had suggested many anglers had been successful using small soft plastics. Obviously, I had a few packets of these as well.

Fitzroy Flathead

Fitzroy Flathead

Rocky seasnake

Fitzroy River seasnake

Fitzroy River seasnake

Lures will catch anything

Lures will catch anything

Nasty

Nasty


I started fishing at about 5.30 pm behind the bowls club on the north side of the river, with a locally made, timber hard bodied suspending minnow lure in a silver colour. There were a few surface slurps and I could see decent bait schools swimming around. As the sun dropped on the horizon I felt some resistance and wound in. I had something but I could not see what. As I pulled it clear of the water I realised it was a sea snake. Is there no end to the predator list up here!

I managed to shake it loose from the line and it slithered off, back to the water. I decided to swap to soft plastic and put on a GULP 3″ Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour, on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. It was now almost completely dark. I walked along the bank casting wherever there was an opening in the tall grasses.

Just before seven I felt a fish grab the plastic and I was hopeful. After a couple of small runs I realised it was a flathead. It came to the surface angrily shaking its head. It was about 45cm long. I released it and gave up for the day.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – 30 January 2012

Monday

The rain stopped – briefly, on Sunday night. It stopped long enough for me to convince myself Monday morning might be worth a fish. So I jumped in the car and drove up to Bribie Island on Monday at about 8.30 am. I drove through several heavy showers but fortunately, when I arrived at Bongaree, the sun was just peeking through the clouds.

The tide was running in and would by high around noon. There was no breeze. The water was a brownish colour but not too murky. There was also not much weed floating around. I suspect it has all been washed out into the bay.

I started with a GULP 3” soft plastic Minnow in the Lime tiger colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I assumed the fish would be fussy, so I started with an 8lb fluorocarbon leader. I waded around on the sand spit in front of the saltwater tidal lagoon, casting over the flats. On about my fifth cast something took off on a blistering run with the plastic. I tightened the drag a little and turned its head, but there were no head shakes – just a dead weight gradually coming towards me. It was a ray and after a few pulls it snapped the 8lb leader. I tied on a new leader and felt a few more nibbles but could not hook anything. I switched to a bibless vibe hard bodied lure – a silver Berkley Frenzy, but this didn’t produce any fish.

I swapped back to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic, in the Peppered Prawn colour. I noticed some gulls swooping a few hundred metres to the south. They gradually flew closer and were obviously following something. I kept casting but increased the speed of my retrieve. I felt a solid bite and lost the tail of the plastic to the fish. I quickly re-rigged and this time the lure was grabbed, as soon as it hit the water. There was a brief tug and then, snap – the lure was bitten off.

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I moved further south, casting in all directions. I fished for a couple of hours with only a few small bites. Then the birds appeared again and I cast into their path. I felt a bite and struck hard. This time I had the fish hooked but it jumped free, before I could pull it up the beach. It was a small Tailor, no more than 25cm long. I cast out again in the same spot and started a faster retrieve. A few cranks into it and I felt the attack and then the hook up. This time I got it to the sand – another tiny Tailor.

It was encouraging to catch a few fish but I could not find dinner. It should not take long for the water to clear if the rain holds off. I will be back out here again soon.

Bribie Island – Bridge to Boat Hire Jetty – 2 June 2010

Thursday

The weather forecast was not great, but a fishing day should never be given up on! I started on the island side of the Bribie Bridge, just after 5.00 am. It was cold but the south-westerly breeze was light and the tide was about half way out. There were prawns jumping everywhere. They were under the bridge lights, in close to the pylons, but the first couple of soft plastic lures I tried – the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and the 4” Minnow in the Vader colour – did not get any bites.

Big Pike lurk around the Bribie Bridge lights

I switched to a 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. I was fishing it on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and using a metre of 12lb fluorocarbon leader, tied on to 10lb Fireline mainline. It was almost first light now and I am not sure if it was the light or the colour change, but I immediately started catching fish. The first was a monster Pike – around 40 cm, then an undersized Flathead and then a small Chopper Tailor, then more Pike. After a fish a cast for about 20 minutes, I finally found a 42cm Flathead that I could keep for dinner.

A 42 cm Flathead

As the sun came up I waded north, towards the boat hire spot and after plenty of casts and plenty of Pike, finally got another Flathead that was just over 40 cm. By 8.30am the wind was a solid south-westerly and I had had enough.

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole & Sandstone Point – 1 Sept 2010

Wednesday
I was off to a late start on Wednesday and arrived at Buckley’s Hole at Bongaree, on Bribie Island at about 9.30am. Low tide had passed at around 7.30 am and so it was getting on for half way into the run in tide. This gave me about an hour to wade out and fish over the coffee rock ledge that runs all along the edge of the Pumicestone Passage.
My first cast was hit on the drop –it was a Yellowfin Pike. I was fishing a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic lure in the Banana Prawn colour on a 1/6th 1 jighead. The next cast produced the same result and so did the next, and the next. I moved along the ledge and the Pike moved with me – or they were resident all along the 50 metre stretch that I fished. I tried bigger plastics, heavier jigheads, but I just could not get past the Pike. After an hour or so, I retreated and decided to go back across the Bribie Bridge to the mainland and fish the second half of the run in tide on the sand flats around Sandstone Point.
I parked up and wandered out past the old oyster jetty and carried on south to the mouth of a mini channel that has quite a good flow on a run in tide. I had my usual estuary fishing outfit. A Loomis GL2 6ft 6” Fast Action spin rod. I have matched it with a Shimano Stradic 2000 reel. I was using 2.8kg Fireline with just over a metre of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I tie the main line to the leader using a uni to uni knot. I could probably fish lighter but if I am lucky enough to find the odd Snapper or Jewfish, I still have a chance of landing them with this set up. I switched to a GULP2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. I walked along the edge of the channel, casting up into the current and bumping the lure along the bottom back towards me. Third cast and I felt the definite dull thud of a fish. I paused and struck but there was nothing there. I cast back in the same spot and, in exactly the same position – thud. This time I wanted to be sure so with great patience, I counted to ten and then struck hard. Now I was on and even though it was not a huge flathead, I was delighted it wasn’t a Pike. I got it close and could see it was solidly hooked so I decided to grab it with the glove. That worked and I measure it against the 40cm tape marker on the rod – just legal – dinner at last. I did not take it to the bank to unhook as I didn’t want to lose my position. I have regularly dragged a nice fish back to the shore and then been unable to figure out where I need to get back to, to catch its mates. I put it in the keeper bag and cast out again in the same location. After a few more casts, I caught an almost identical size flathead, just a few feet to the left.
The tide was getting up now and there was a good 70cm of water around the base of the mangroves. I turned around and headed back towards the car casting in as close as I could to the edge of the new mangrove shoots. After 20 minutes or so this paid off with another just legal flathead. At around 1.00pm the westerly wind was really howling so I gave up and drove home.

Iluka – Frazers Reef Tailor – 13 August 2010

Friday brought a slightly warmer morning so I headed back to Frazer’s Reef at Iluka to see if there were anymore Jewfish to be had. I was fishing with a mate who is yet to land one and expectations were high. The conditions were still very good but the wind had turned around to a light northerly. We started just in the pre-dawn light and predictably lost a few jigheads to the bommies. Just on dawn my mate’s rod goes off and he is on to a very solid fish. It had better be a Jewie – me thinks – but it looked a bit too lively and it was taking plenty of line. Then it jumped and we realised it was an Australian Salmon. The fun of the capture made up for it not being a Jew – well that’s what I told him anyway. He pulled it up via a few rock ledges and weighed it at 3kg. He was using the GULP 5” Crazy Legs in the Lime Tiger colour on a 3/8 3/0 jighead on 20lb leader. These fish taste awful but everyone takes the first one home just to see for themselves and this one was no exception – yes, it went home and yes, it tasted like rubber. However we made sure the kids were starving before dinner – so they scoffed most of it.
Back to work and we were still hopeful that the Jewfish would come back on the bite. I was now fishing with the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. When things get slow I often find switching back to the more natural colours can tempt a reluctant fish. Sure enough on about the 5th cast with this lure, I scored a solid hook up. The rapid head shakes and frenetic runs suggested it was a Tailor and with the aid of a big wave I had it up on the ledges before it could chew its way up the plastic to bight through the 25lb leader. It measured up at just over 50cm.
We fished on but the Jewfish did not put in an appearance. It was interesting to note that all the fish we gutted during the course of the week had virtually nothing in their stomachs. There was plenty of bait around so one can only assume they were not really feeding.
I decided to walk right around Frazer’s Reef putting in casts wherever I could. After half an hour, this strategy paid off and I caught another similar sized Tailor. I hooked him quite a long way out and through the very clear water, I watched his mates take several snaps at the plastic that was hanging from his mouth. They followed him right to the base of the rocks.
We retreated to stop ourselves from being caught by the tide and although we did not find the Jewies we had seen some good action.