Iluka – Goodwood Island flats / Browns Rocks – 1/2 December 2020

The swell was building and the rocks were effectively out of bounds during the first week in December. The weather was windy and hot but the edge of a tropical low was about to dump a week of rain on us. I decided to see what I could find fishing in the Clarence River, a few km upstream from Iluka. I would be fishing the sand and mud flats around the Goodwood Island Wharf, near Browns Rocks.

Even though it was hot and the water was warm I pulled on my waders. There are lots of rays and oysters around on these flats and I am not keen on stepping on the various ooglies that inhabit the shallows. All along the south side of Goodwood Island there are patches of beach that slope or drop off into the main Clarence River channel. In winter these are good flathead fishing areas, but you can also catch tailor, whiting, bream and mulloway here.

I would be fishing with my NS Blackhole Amped II 6′ 6″ S-602 Ultralight spinning rod matched to my Daiwa TD Sol III 2500 spin reel. This was loaded with 12lb braid and just over a metre of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I have not had this rod long and it is performing pretty well. I would prefer and even faster tip but you can feel just about everything your soft plastic touches on the bottom. I like a 6 foot short rod so that I can flick lures around in the mangroves and other tight terrain.

The area I was fishing was covered in yabby holes. These ran right to the muddy riverbank that was lined with patches of mangrove. I started at about the top of the tide, casting into water that was about 50 to 60 cm deep. I was using my favorite prospecting soft plastic – the GULP 4″ Minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I was using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. The water was clear and the wind was a 12 to 15 knot north-easterly.

I soon found some fish. They had moved up quite close to the shoreline mangroves, with the incoming tide and they were now gradually retreating. They were flathead. I caught three very small ones in quick succession. All around 25 cm long.

I then spent the next hour wading and casting without getting a bite. Then, as the tidal flow got stronger I found about five more flathead, but they were all tiddlers. I was hot and thirsty so at about 3.00pm I gave up.

The next morning I fished soon after dawn in roughly the same spot. The tide was running in. I swapped through a few slightly bigger soft plastic jerkshads on the same weight jighead. The results were better – of the 12 flathead I caught in a couple of hours, three were big enough to keep – all just over 40 cm long.

That afternoon I tried a quick cast in the late afternoon. I soon caught another small flathead, close to the small rock wall that lines the shore. Then, as I was hopping a soft plastic along the bottom towards me it stopped dead and I thought I had snagged a rock. There was a big swirl and and long slow powerful run. It was a ray and despite trying hard to dislodge my plastic, for some reason I disastrously high-sticked my rod as it came close and that was the end of my NS Blackhole Amped II S-602.

Stingray meets my NS Blackhole Amped II S-602 Ultralight

Bribie Island – The old oyster jetty – 7 May 2012

Monday

I was time to hit the flats and weed beds of Bribie Island. The weather forecast was pretty much perfect – no wind or rain and we would have a low tide at about 4.00 am.

I set out at about 4.30 am. The moon was full and, with a clear sky I did not need the headlamp, as I waded out under the bridge at about 5.30 am. This is a great time of year to be fishing. The mornings are crisp, but not too cold and the sunrises are fantastic.

I started on the mainland side under the bridge. Now I am not a ‘tree hugger’ but like any serious fisherman I care about the environment. Just recently, a large area of woodland has been flattened just behind the old oyster jetty – huge gum trees, pines and mangroves all torn down. The area now looks like a bomb site. Apparently, a new ‘eco’ resort is on its way. I would have thought it could have included some more of the beautiful old trees. I am glad it will provide jobs and I hope what they build will invigorate the area – but I am not convinced.

I waded down out under the bridge cast around in the rocky area, just to the south. I was using a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and my first customer was a Pike. There were plenty of prawns jumping and I presume that is what the Pike and Moses Perch were feeding on, under the bridge lights.
I carried onto the south. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, but the bigger plastic did not get the fish going. After about 15 minutes I swapped down to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. This produced results – on the first cast I felt a solid bite, but could not connect. Three slow retrieves later, in the same spot, I got the fish. It was a small Flathead about 35cm long.

SANDSTONE POINT - SMALL FLATHEAD LOCATIONS

SANDSTONE POINT – SMALL FLATHEAD LOCATIONS

I kept going south and picked up 7 more fish on the flats on either side of the Oyster Jetty, over the next 2 ½ hours, but unfortunately only one was over 40cm. I swapped plastics between the bright and dark colours, big and small. I certainly caught more fish on the 2/3”plastics, I could not get a bite on the bigger ones.

They may have been small today but where there are small fish, there are big mothers – so I will be back out looking for them again soon.