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.

Iluka – Frasers Reef/ Middle Bluff – 9 February 2013

Saturday/ Sunday

I woke at about 4.30am on Saturday, to a big storm. I must be getting less keen. In the past I would have put my wet weather gear on and headed straight out to fish the dawn. Instead, I rolled over and slept for another hour. When I woke up the rain had stopped so I pulled on my fishing boots and drove down to Fraser’s Reef.

As I pulled in to the car park the sun was well and truly up. My late arrival was underscored when a local acquaintance – John, appeared with a bag full of Blackfish. He had caught them all using the green string weed and had already finished for the day. He did not tap his fingers on his watch but he may as well have. It was about 8.30 am and I was only just starting.

I walked out to Middle Bluff, which is the headland to the north of Fraser’s Reef. The swell may have herded the Blackfish into a few holes where they could be easily extracted, but it made fishing for anything else pretty difficult. I started with the heavy rod and a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour , which I rigged on a 3/8th oz, 3/0 jighead. I cast out a few times but the sweep and swell threw the lure around and I could not really control it. I worked through a few more soft plastic lures in various colours and shapes. I tried the heavier, ½ oz, 3/0 jigheads, but these just kept getting snagged.

In a repeat of the conditions of the day before I just could not get the lure into the area close to the base of the rocks where, I was pretty sure the school jewfish would be hiding. While I was trying, I had to retreat a couple of times to avoid a soaking but, inevitably, I soon copped a drenching from a big wave set. You cannot run across these rocks and the recent rain and big seas means there is a thick coating of black green slippery, slimy weed. If you have barnacles under foot you are ok, but the black and green stuff is like ice. I use felt soled rock boots from Cabelas in the US, but even these can slip in the slime.

I swapped down to the light rig and put on a GULP Jerkshad, in the Pumpkinseed colour on a ¼ oz, 2/0 jighead. I threw this into the foamy swell and hoped it would sink a few feet before getting washed against the rocks. It did and as I took up the slack I felt a fish on the line. I did not have to do much, as the swell more or less threw the fish at me. It was a good sized Bream, just over 34cm long. I moved along the headland trying to fish in a few spots but as the morning went on, the swell got worse and I gave up at about 10.30 am.

In the afternoon, the tide was low at about 3.40 pm so I tried to fish around the Frasers Reef headland, but this yielded nothing except a lot of lost gear. I could see bait in close to the rocks, jumping ahead of my lure but I could not leave the lure in the strike zone long enough. I had caught dinner and avoided a duck but only just.

I tried the same spots on Sunday morning. This time I was in position to see the sunrise. The swell had eased a little but it was still making it pretty tough to fish. The wind dropped off around dawn but then gradually built up again until it was blowing at about 15 knots from the east. I tried a few spells with some big hard bodies and slugs but these did not tempt the fish.

In the afternoon I tried fishing off the rock platform at Woody Head but the wind and swell made it impossible. So after an hour of trying and losing gear, I gave up. So on Sunday I scored a duck and went for dinner at the pub. I went to bed on Sunday night hoping that the wind and swell would ease off soon.

Iluka – Woody Head – Golden Trevally & Bream 26 June 2011

Sunday

Sunday morning was slightly less grey and cold. I arrived at ‘the Barnacles’ on the Woody Head rock platform around 9.00 am. The wind was a little stronger than the day before, but had swung round to blow from the north-west. Low tide would be around 11.00 am. The swell was under a metre.

I started with a GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Pink Neon colour. I had it rigged on 3/8 oz 3/0 jighead. First cast and bang, a fish grabbed it, as I was about to lift it out of the water, just at the edge of the rock shelf. I ran up and down the ledge a couple of times and then I lifted it over the edge with a surge of water. It was a Trevally, around 40cm long. It had tea coloured flecks all over it – so I suppose it was a tea leaf Trevally.

The plastic was smashed so I bit the head off and loaded it back on to the jighead. A few more casts and I was snagged. I pulled the rod slowly backwards in a straight line until the leader and jighead separated. Fishing these ledges is expensive. The fish are always very close in so you get snagged in the rocks regularly. I put another plastic on, cast out and a fish hit it a couple of times on the retrieve. On the next retrieve in the same spot – bang – zzzzzzzzzz as a fish grabbed it. After a few runs it washed up at my feet and I could see it was a Golden Trevally – about 50cm long. A couple of casts later I caught another about the same size.

I fished on for an hour or so and caught a few good Brea, between 28cm and 35cm – on a range of GULP soft plastics, both big and small. The Bream were a consistent catch all along the rocks and I think they are all schooling up to spawn now. I gave up as the tide started to run back in again at lunch time. It had been another great land based fishing session, off the rocks at Woody Head.

Bribie Island – Bridge & Sandstone Point – 3 March 2011

Thursday

Thursday was set to be another hot day with a possible thunderstorm. There would be a slight northerly wind in the Pumicestone Passage, which would freshen through the day. I decided to keep looking for Flathead, as these have been the only consistent fish for me, in recent weeks.

I started under the bridge on the Island side about 4.15 am. The tide was running in and there was about 30cm of water at the base of the rockwall by the shore, to the north of the bridge. There was not much surface action and I think the Pike prefer a little more depth, to feel safe. I cast out a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and bounced it along the bottom under the lights. Three casts later, after a pause on the bottom, the line came up tight. There were a few head shakes and a short run and then the fish was gone. A couple of casts later; same soft plastic, same place, maybe the same fish, I hooked up again. This time I got him to the rocks – a Flathead – around 45cm, but as I was lifting him in to the bag, he spiked me and slithered out of my grip to freedom.

Dawn by the Bribie Island bridge - the fish come to the lights

After 30 minutes more, prospecting both north and south of the bridge, I could not find any more fish so I decided to change location. Just as the sun was coming up, I drove round to Pebble Beach and walked along the beach to the far end, towards Sandstone Point. The water was fairly high but there were still a couple of hours before high tide. It was a beautiful, calm, still morning. The thunderstorms had passed over earlier and there were still a few flashes of lightning as they moved in land, but the sky was bright red.

A very calm morning

At the end of the beach, I walked out in front of the fringing Mangroves and cast out over the rubble and boulders that dot the ground. I was aiming for the sandy patches in between the rocks, where the Flathead often shelter. As I moved nearer to the corner I had a few encounters with the Long Toms, who kept grabbing and then dropping, the lure. When one finally did get hooked it started leaping and splashing and effectively shredded the 16lb Fluorocarbon leader I was using. I re- rigged and tied on a new leader and put on a GULP 4” Jigging Grub soft plastic in the Pepper Prawn colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. A few cast later as the lure bumped over the rocky bottom, a fish grabbed it and took off. It only made a small run and then settled in the current. I pulled it on to some rocks – a 48cm Flathead – I released it and carried on casting. A few casts later I had another on the same plastic, this time it was just over 50cm.

After working the corner thoroughly I move round it, heading north and on to the broad flats of Sandstone Point, which almost form a tidal lagoon. With another hour to go before a 2.3m high tide, I could still wade out to the middle of the area and cast back in towards the Mangrove roots along the shore. The Long Toms where patrolling and I had a couple of tussles with them. After 30 minutes, the water was getting too deep to stay in the middle so I turned and headed south, in closer. I switched to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour and put in long casts parallel with the shore. A fish grabbed the lure as it landed and this time it was a Flathead, I dragged it in under the Mangroves – it was around 40cm – and after a quick picture, I unhooked it and sent it on its way.

That was the last fish for the morning and even thought it was only 8.15 am, it was already blisteringly hot. I dumped the gear in the car and had a quick swim before heading home. Another good session, the water is still full of sediment on these big tides but there is plenty of bait around and so the fish will come.

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Tweed River – The Rockwall – Tailor / Trevally – 14 Jan 2011

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Friday

Living on the north side of Brisbane – meant that I was thankfully completely unaffected by the floods. With the Gateway motorway now open and easy to access, I decided to make a trip down to the Tweed River mouth again.
I arrived to meet a fairly strong east south east wind and a good two metres of swell. I walked out to the end of the north rock wall at about 4.00 am. It was a beautiful dawn sky and as the tide was still running in – the water was not too discoloured.
I started with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour and rigged it on a ¾ oz 4/0 jighead. I am now using a ROVEX Aureus 9 Ft rod (the Aureus is just the new name for the old Bario) with the SHIMANO Stradic 6000 reel. I have loaded this with 20lb Fireline and a 40lb fluorocarbon leader.
The wind made it hard to cast but after a couple of attempts, I had the plastic just about where I wanted it – right at the base of the rockwall. As I was about to lift the plastic clear of the water it was slammed and I was onto my first fish of the day. I had no chance with this one. It put its head down and went straight for the rocks and a big wave washed the leader onto the sharp edges and ‘ping’, it was gone.
Another local rock fisherman had a couple of Taylor by now – on a slug – so I switched to a 90g slug for a few casts but then lost it to the rocks. Back to the soft plastic lures. This time I tried the same pattern in a more natural colour – sardine. This did not seem to tempt them, so I switched to the brighter lime tiger again. First cast I got a couple of hits and the tail was bitten off. I threw it out in to the surf again and as soon as it hit the water (minus the tail) it was grabbed. Landing the fish is always a challenge here and it is even worse when the swell is up. With a bit of luck and a fairly tight drag setting, I got the fish safely up the rocks. It was a Tailor just on 50cm.
I put a new soft plastic on and cast it straight back out in the same spot. There were plenty of bites and I thought I had a fish on at one point, but then it either let go or wriggled off. I pulled up the jighead with only ½ a inch of soft plastic left on it. I lost another two or three plastics in this way, over the next 20 minutes.
By now it was about 6.30 am. The tide was running out strongly and the brown slick of the Tweed River was gradually spreading out from the mouth. I put another plastic on, this time on a 1 oz jighead. I cast right out in front of the rock wall and again felt a series of knocks and nudges on the retrieve. I kept pausing but I could net connect with a fish. About fifteen minutes later the line finally came up taught and I had another fish on. I played it round to the ocean side of the rock wall and used a surge to get it safely up to my feet. It was a 40cm Big Eye Trevally. The swell gave me a couple of soakings and I lost a few more plastics, so at around 7.00 am I packed my bags and headed back to Brisbane.
With a cyclone passing out to sea, big swells are forecast for the next few days – the weather is not giving us many breaks this year!

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole – 17 Sept 2010

Friday
I am off to Broomes Head in northern New South Wales next week so I thought I would get a quick fishing trip in before departure.
I headed up to Bribie and straight for the flats to the south of Buckley’s Hole, arriving around 9.30 am. The water was fairly clear and the tide was running in. I put a 3” GULP Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic on a 1/6th ounce weight, size 1 hook, jighead. I then waded south gradually from Buckley’s Hole, casting up into the run-in tide, just on top of the ledge that runs parallel with the shore.
It was not long before I found the fish. First a couple of Pike attacked the lure and then, a few minutes later I found the flathead. They were in just about 60cm of water sitting in the hollows in the weed beds that are just starting to sprout. In that first spot I caught two undersize flathead, both around the 35cm mark.
I moved on and kept putting in long casts out over the sand flats. Suddenly the lure was slammed, the line started peeling and the rod tip was rattling. I had a chopper Tailor on the lure, about 30 cm long. The water was crystal clear and as I wound him towards me, I could see a monster (70cm plus) Flathead following him. Was he going to eat the Tailor or had been following the plastic? I was hopeful, although not quite sure how to play it. I did not have to wait and see as, at that moment, the Tailor munched his way through the 10lb leader and was off. The Flathead sat there, looking disappointed. Then I cast the lure at the sand a metre or so in front of him, but he just turned and swam slowly away into deeper water.
I carried on towards Red Beach and caught another three flathead in similar terrain. Two were just legal size at around 43-44cm, and one was smaller. After a couple of hours of good fishing I headed back to Brisbane.
I will be posting my Broomes Head reports when I get back on the 27th September.

Bribie Island – Whitepatch – 29 August 2010

Sunday Morning
The advantage of fishing from the shore is that provided you are prepared to wrap up, you can still fish in a 15 knot wind. Especially if you chose somewhere like the Pumicestone Passage which has a few, fairly sheltered areas. The other advantage of fishing at these times is there is almost zero boat traffic. All the wise boaties are tucked up in bed having lie in or just listening to Nugget’s fishing show and cursing the weather gods. I am not sure that I subscribe to the idea that there are less fish around in the estuaries than there were 20 years ago – but I do believe the massive increase in boat traffic and other noise and disturbance, has a big effect on our ability to find and catch the fish that are there.
On Sunday morning there was plenty of wind forecast but when I arrived at Whitepatch on Bribie Island, the water was reasonably calm. It was about 5.15 am and the wind had dropped away as the sun was about to come up. This hour around dawn nearly always produces slightly calmer weather. It was just on low tide and I started fishing on the slack water with virtually no tidal flow. I often find this is a slow time. I presume the fish are beginning to reposition themselves and are slightly confused as to where to lie in wait to ambush prey. Sunday was no exception and nothing of note happened until about 45 minutes later when the tide really started running in.
I was fishing a 3” GULP Minnow soft plastic lure in the Banana Prawn colour on a 1/6th 1 jighead. This is another great lure for bream but will tempt almost anything. There is a sizeable drop off all along the shoreline at Whitepatch – it is perfect to fish for about two hours either side of low tide. I had parked at the last car park before the entrance to the Bribie National Park and I was wading south, along the shore, casting up into the run in tide. I caught a few Pike and then a tiny Moses Perch and then I got a touch, a pause, another touch and then bang – the blistering run and head shakes that had to be a Snapper. Over the course of each year, in this spot, I catch perhaps two or three legal size snapper and many more just undersize. Unfortunately this one was in the latter category. He measured up at 28cm and I threw him back, after a quick mug shot. What is uncanny is the consistent way I get these fish when the start of the run in tide coincides with dawn.
I switched to a 2” GULP Shrimp plastic, also in the Banana Prawn colour. I was fishing with about a metre and a half of 10lb fluorocarbon leader, tied onto a spool of 1.8kg Fireline. About 40 minutes after catching the Snapper, I found a patch of Bream. I caught three fish in quick succession. The largest was approximately 30 cm long. Shortly afterwards I reached a large drain with weed beds on either side. These were now covered by approximately a metre of water. I cast out, methodically in a semicircle and caught several Pike and then a very small (25cm) Flathead. I moved on and about 30 minutes later reached a similar drain. I used the same tactics and was rewarded with another Flathead that was just on 40cm. Like all the other fish, I released it. By 9.30 am the water was now effectively too high to continue fishing over the edge of the drop off and the wind was steadily building, so gave up for the day.