1770 – Flat Rock at Baffle Creek and Wreck Rock – 23 October 2014

Thursday

On Thursday the seas were still up and low tide would not be until about 2.30 pm. The wind would hopefully have dropped by then and I could try fishing the beaches and rocks again. In the morning I decided to drive back out to Flat Rock on Baffle Creek and see if I could have some more fun with the Tarpon.

It takes about an hour to drive south from 1770, down the four wheel drive sand track, past Flat Rock, Middle Rock and Wreck Rock beaches, across Deepwater Creek and on to Flat Rock boat ramp on Baffle Creek.

By the time I arrived, the sun was already up and the insects were humming in my ears. You need plenty of insect repellent in these parts! The wind had dropped away and the tide was coming in. It would be high at about 9.00 am.  There were a few surface strikes and the bait was jumping around. I worked through a few different soft plastics on the light rod. The usual minnows, jerkshads and shrimps did not work, so I swapped to a Watermelon coloured GULP Minnow grub. I slowed the retrieve and let it flutter around in the current. After a few casts, there was a solid bite and I hooked up. The fish headed for the rocks and immediately tried to get under them. I was still fishing with 14lb leader so I tightened the drag and pulled it out. It was an estuary cod – about 45cm long. I released it and after another hour with no luck, I went off to the Baffle Creek Township, to find some breakfast.

The wind had dropped off so I decided to make my way to Wreck Rock to fish the last few hours of the run out tide. It would not be possible to get out to the spots I like to fish there, until two to three hours before low tide, from about 10.30 am onwards. So I drove back up the sand track and stopped for a nap in a shady spot. I woke to some rustling and found a mother emu and three chicks walking past. This really is a very unspoilt spot!

I drove on to Wreck Rock and walked out on to the beach. The sun was out and there was no one else around. The wind was now a 10 to 15 knot north-easterly and the swell was dropping. I decided to stay with the light spinning rod and 10lb leader. It was the middle of the day and I thought the fish would be fairly picky.

I started fishing on the calmer side of the rocky peninsula that sticks out to the north of the little bay. I put on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead with a 2” GULP Shrimp soft plastic, in the Banana Prawn colour. After a few casts, the first taker was a small stripey perch, this was followed by an equally small bream. Both these fish where sitting at the base of the rocks in a few feet of water. About 20 minutes later, I dropped a bigger bream, as I tried to land it.

It was pretty warm so I decided to risk getting wet and wandered a bit further out along the rocks. I wanted something chunkier to throw out into the breaking waves, in front of the rocks and I chose a GULP Jerkshad in the Waremelon Pearl colour. I also upped my jighead to a slightly bigger 1/6th ounce with a 1/0 hook. I cast this out in to the gaps between the rocks and let it sink for as long as I could before hopping it back towards me. I lost a couple of rigs to the rocks and gradually moved further out as the tide dropped. At about noon I was almost at the end of the rocky peninsula. I cast clear of the rocks and let the jerkshad sink. On the drop, it was slammed and line started peeling. The swell was still significant and this fish new how to use it. As soon as I applied some pressure, it took off. There were rocks everywhere and I had a 10lb fluorocarbon leader on the end of a very light, fast action trout spinning rod. Patience – Patience – Patience would be necessary. I got a little line back and tightened the drag, very slightly. I watched the swell and used the waves to steer the fish towards me. I took several tries but eventually I had it out of the water and at my feet. It was a trevally, about 50cm long.  I love to eat fresh trevally, so I killed and bled it and put it in a keeper pond, about 10 metres back from the shoreline.

A climbed back out along the rocky peninsula and put on another Jerkshad soft plastic. This time it was in the green and orange Lime Tiger colour. I cast around for another trevally but could not find any out the front. I started casting into the foamy water right at the end of the line of rocks. Small dart kept attacking the soft plastic just as it reached the rocks and on a few occasions they almost beached themselves trying to eat it. On the next cast there was a solid hit and then a clean bite off. I re-rigged with 14lb fluorocarbon leader and put the same soft plastic/ jighead combination on again.

I cast out wide again and let the jighead sink but then I added some urgency to the retrieve, a few quicker, more violent jerks. This did the trick and just before I got the soft plastic back to the rocks, a fish grabbed it, dropped it, and then grabbed it again. I felt the hook set in the jaw and then the fish went ballistic. I knew it was a Tailor before I could see it and I suspect this was what had bitten me off, before.

 

I pulled up a wriggling 40 cm tailor – I photographed it and released it. I shortened the mashed soft plastic then cast it out again. After a few jerks of the rod tip I had caught another slightly bigger one. Over the next 20 minutes I caught 4 more and dropped a few. The biggest was about 45cm. I am not sure how long they would stay in this area, but I suspect they are nearly always around until the water really warms up.

By 1.30 pm I was soaked and the fish seemed to slow a bit, as the wind and swell picked up again. I waded back towards the keeper pool, where I had left my trevally but I could not find it. Then I saw a big brahminy kite circling the shallows, about 50 metres away towards the beach. I watched as it swooped and plucked up the trevally – which it or another bird must have dropped halfway back to its nest. It struggled to get airborne again but eventually it got its full wingspan deployed and made it to the tree line. That was the end of my fish supper.

I decided to give up for the day and drove back up to 1770.

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1770 Round Hill Creek – 20 October 2014

Monday – Dusk

On Monday afternoon, the south easterly wind was blowing hard and the beaches south of 1770 were impossible to fish. I decided to fish on the northern side of the 1770 headland, in Round Hill Creek. I drove to the car park by Captain Cooks Monument and followed the path down to the creek.

1770 is one of the few places you can actually see great sunrises and sunsets. I started fishing with small soft plastics at about 4.00 pm. I moved along the shoreline towards the mouth of the creek. At one point a small school of what looked like trevally came by, busting up into some bait on the surface. As is so often the case, they remained just out of casting range.

The shoreline is rocky, interspersed with patches of sandy bottom. As with everywhere in this town it looks very fishy! I swapped to a slightly bigger 4” GULP Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. As I pulled this carefully over the top of the submerged rocks a small cod shot out and grabbed it. It did its best to bury itself in the rocks but I just let the pressure off and waited for it to swim out. It was about 30 cm long – so I sent it on its way.

 

I swapped to a bigger soft plastic a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I was still fishing with my light rig – 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th, 1/0 jighead. After a few casts, I felt a solid bite at the foot of the rocks and was sure I had a fish on for a few seconds. But it must have dropped the soft plastic. I carried on along the shore and turned back as the sun began to drop towards the horizon. I stopped where I had felt the bite previously and put in another cast. I slowed it all down and let the plastic sit on the bottom for a good 10 seconds. I then hopped it back towards the shore. On the third attempt the fish hit the plastic hard.  It hooked itself and started thrashing around in the fairly shallow water. I let it make a few runs then tightened the drag and pulled it up on to the pebbly beach. It was another flathead – but a dusky this time. It was a little bigger the mornings version at about 55 cm. By the time I had photographed and released it, I had a violent red sunset to watch.

Nothing spectacular but a decent fish and sunrise at the beginning of the day and a decent fish and sunset at the end of the day – perfect!

Bribie Island – the old oyster jetty flats – 14 September 2014

Sunday

After a pretty good session on Friday, I decided to go back up to Bribie and try again on Sunday morning. Low tide would be a couple of hours later at 6.39 am. The moon was in the waning gibbous stage – about half full. The wind was light from the south west and there were a few clouds around.

I was fishing the flats by the old oyster jetty, as usual and as I waded out under the bridge, there were plenty of flathead lies on the sandy bottom. I was pretty confident but my first fish was a tiny whiting, just north of the jetty.

I put on a larger Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic and started flicking it around, to the south of the jetty. This is a paddle tailed soft plastic which the flathead seem to love. The water was very shallow and clear. After a few casts, I felt a good bite. I paused and set the hook. It was a flathead just under 40 cm. I released it and moved on.

Then things went very quiet for about an hour. I waded all the way down to the green channel marker, gradually changing through a few soft plastic lures. As the tide started to run in, I was fishing with a GULP 2” Shrimp in the peppered prawn colour. First I caught a couple of small Pike. Then, a few casts later. I found a 30cm flathead.

I turned back and started wading back towards the bridge. I felt a couple of hits on the shrimp soft plastic and then a double tap and the rod tip bent over. It was a solid 32cm bream. I released it and carried on back towards the jetty.

 

On the way out I had felt a couple of bumps as I moved my soft plastic over a sandy hole in the weed beds. I stopped to give it another try. On the first cast I felt another light tap, then nothing. I was sure a fish was lying there. I put in about 20 more casts with no response. I was about to give up, when I decided try a different soft plastic. I swapped to a 3” GULP Minnow in the Sardine colour. On my first cast, with the new plastic – bang – a massive hit and an instant hook up. This was a solid flathead and it angrily came to the surface straight away, shaking its head and trying to spit the lure. It stayed hooked and I slowly turned towards the shore. It made a couple of determined runs but it was nicely hooked. I pulled it into the shallows and paused to admire it. It was a big female, well over 75 cm. I unhooked her and she paused momentarily before swimming away (see video).

That was it for the day. I waded back to the bridge with nothing for supper, but it had been a great session.

Bribie – the bridge and the old oyster jetty flats – 12 September 2014

Friday

Another late report – but it may be relevant for anyone planning to fish at Bribie over the school holidays, to get a feel for what is going on. I am planning to get down to Iluka in the next few weeks, so watch this space for a bit more variety.

So I drove back up to Bribie Island to fish my favourite spot on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. I arrived just after first light at about 5.00 am. Low tide would be at 5.25 am. There was a light southerly wind blowing and it was cloudy.

There was a fair amount of bait jumping around under the bridge lights so I decided to start fishing in that area. As I walked out under the bridge I noticed plenty of ‘lies’ showing where the flathead had moved up to feed on the night time high tide.

I started with a small 3” GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt (Grey & white) colour. This plastic looks like just about any small profile bait fish and has a nice soft texture. I cast it towards the edge of the reef, just to the south of the fifth bridge pylon. I waited for it to sink to the bottom and as I lifted, a fish attacked. There was no hesitation and this one hooked itself, as soon as it bit down. It can be a challenge to keep your fish in this area. There are lots of big clumps of weed and rocky outcrops. This fish was a good size and it wrapped itself around a few large weed clumps. Fortunately, the water was shallow enough and I was able to walk up close and free it. After a few minutes of back and forth, I pulled it safely to shore. A solid 57cm flathead, on my first cast – it was a great start.

 

I tried in the same area for another, but I think my wading around had spooked any remaining fish. It was now low tide and the water was not really moving. I waded to the south. I moved past the old oyster jetty and swapped to the paddle tailed Mad Scientist 6” Optishad soft plastic. I was fishing with a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. At about 6.30 am, I found another flathead, about 40cm long. Then about ten minutes later another smaller fish.

As the tide started to run in, I made my way slowly down to the channel marker, casting into the current and found four more fish – all on the Mad Scientist soft plastic. Only two were about 45cm so I added these to the first one for a family supper. At about 9.00 am I stopped for the day.

 

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 – from the oyster jetty to the channel marker – 17 – 19 March 2014

Monday & Wednesday

As the low tide progressed through the day, I timed my fishing sessions to coincide with it. So on Monday, I found myself driving up to Bribie Island, at lunch time to fish for a few hours, through to the low tide at 1.50 pm.

There had been a big northerly blow on Sunday and temperatures had risen again. As I arrived, just before 1.00 pm, the wind was moving round to blow for the east again. The tide was running out and I went off to fish to the south of the jetty, towards the green channel marker.

The fishing was initially a little tougher than it had been but once I found the flathead, they kept coming.  I only had a few hours but again I caught more than 20 fish, the majority of which were over 40cm long. I stuck with the Gulp Jerkshads in various colours; Pink Shine, Satay Chicken, Lime Tiger and Cajun Chicken – they all caught fish.

On Wednesday I was back to fishing the early morning. I could not resist a return to the same area. I arrived at 5.15 am and waded out, under the bridge. Low tide had passed at 4.55 am. I would be fishing the beginning of the run in tide but the water was more or less still, at first light.

I waded to the south of the jetty and started casting around with a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour. At about 5.30 am I caught a 45cm flathead that was sitting in no more than 20 cm of water. I caught a few more, similar sized fish in this area and then moved south, as the sun came over the horizon.

I decided to try a small DUO hard bodied Shrimp imitation called the DUO Tetra Works Ebikko. I had it in the ‘Terminator’ colour – chrome with a white belly. This is a 47 mm, 3.3 gram sinking lure with a simple fluttering motion. I just hop it along the sandy stretches of bottom, hoping to entice a bite. It is pretty light so you need fairly calm conditions to keep in touch with it.

I had a couple of bites. The first taker was a pike. At present, I am only fishing it with one rear treble as I think the two trebles on such a light lure are overkill.  The pike followed behind the lure, snapping, until it connected with the treble. I had a couple of solid bites which I think where flathead but I could not hook up so I swapped back to soft plastics.

I was now about half way between the end of the oyster jetty and the channel marker and decided to work my way through all the remaining soft plastics to see what did and didn’t work.

 

It was now just after 7.00 am. I pulled out a packet of Japanese soft plastics – an Ikajako 3 ½ “ Powerworm in an orange flecked colour with a twin prong tail. On the first cast, the plastic sank and then a fish grabbed it, as soon as I lifted it off the bottom. I released the fish and swapped to a Slider 3” Bass Grub soft plastic. A couple of casts later this one caught a fish. I swapped to an Atomic Ripperz 2.5” Paddle Tail soft plastic , same thing happened, a Powerbait 3” red tailed  Rippleshad, same again. I ran through eight more different Gulps, Zman and no name soft plastics and they all caught fish within a couple of casts. They are not fussy at the moment.

At about 8.30 am the incoming tide forced me from the main edge of the weed beds and I waded back to the car. I caught a couple more fish by casting at the sandy patches, as I waded back towads the bridge.

It is clear that there are plenty of fish around and once you locate them they will eat just about anything. If you want to catch a flathead now is the time.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – again – 12 March 2014

Wednesday 12th

I paused, reluctantly, to dry out the fishing bag and finish filleting and skinning a few flathead, on Tuesday. By Wednesday I had spotted an opening for another fishing session. I was working around the low tide on the flats at Bribie.

I drove up to arrive at about 10.00am – very civilised. We had the same wind pattern as we have now had for about ten days – a 10 to 15 knot east-south easterly wind. It was a bright, sunny day and the wind was building. The water was clear and running out and the full moon would be on Saturday. Low tide would be at 1.10 pm.

I started to fish the small patch of reef just south of the Bribie Island Bridge, on the mainland side. The rocks were just visible above the receding tide. I started the day with a soft plastic. As you will have noticed I prefer to prospect with a soft plastic lure – once I find the fish I will then start to experiment. Today I chose the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I was fishing with 12lb fluorocarbon leader and using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook, jighead.

I soon found a fish, just to the south of the bridge. This flathead was just below 40cm long. I would release everything I caught today – there is plenty of fish in the fridge. I cast back in the same area and found another, smaller fish.  I moved closer to the jetty and caught 3 more, before wading under the jetty.

As with the previous sessions, the fish kept coming. I swapped from soft plastics to hard bodies and these were even more successful. I caught a 60cm flathead on the MARIA 90 mm MJ Twitch suspending minnow and a 66 cm fish on a RIO Prawn lure, in the 13 g size. The DUO range chipped in with some good flathead on the DUO Tetraworks Toto and, my current favourite – the suspending DUO Realis Shad 59 MR. This one really is a flathead slayer – the action and rattle seems to drive them wild.

I fished from 10.30 am to about 1.30 pm and I rarely went 5 minutes without a fish. I finished the session with some good sized flathead on the Powerbait 5” Rippleshad paddle tail soft plastic, in the black and gold colour (which I usually reserve for chasing Jewfish).

For the fish to be here in such numbers I can only conclude that they are feeding up to spawn. A few of the fish I kept last week were full of roe. It is early but apparently flathead can choose to spawn at any time and do not do it on mass, like bream.

Whatever the reason, I hope they stay for a while –  it’s a great time to be out there fishing.