Bribie – the Sandstone Point flats – 21 January 2016

Thursday

The forecast was for a 10 knot northerly wind which looked good for a quick fishing session. So I drove up to Bribie, to fish the run out tide on the old oyster jetty flats. It was a few days before full moon and the tides were getting big. It had been a 2.39m high tide at 7.35 am. Ideal fishing time on the flats would therefore be between about 10.00 am and 1.00 pm.

I started fishing at about 9.30 am. I rigged up my light spin ring and waded out under the bridge. There was still plenty of water so I cat around under the bridge for a while. I did not get any bites and the high tide meant there was a lot of weed floating around so I decided  to wade south alongside the mangroves and fish around the corner on the Sandstone Point flats.

On a big tide these flats are covered in 2 metres of water in places and there is plenty of structure and food for the fish that move up into these areas. There are a number of piles of oyster covered rocks and the remains of some old fish traps and old oyster racks.  There are also some big weed beds and patches of sandy bottom.

Today I could see some big mullet schools finning around and as I came around the corner I saw a couple of small tuna, of some kind, chase a school of smaller baitfish into the shallows. I was initially fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime tiger colour. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I saw a few long toms grabbing at the plastic and hooked and then dropped one. They seem to love this area.

The wind was picking up and now coming from the north-east at about 20 knots. I was about waist deep behind a mangrove island and fishing alongside a small submerged rockwall. I felt a solid bite but struck a little too quickly and probably pulled the lure out of the fish’s mouth. I cast back in the same spot about five times and on the sixth the fish struck again. This time I dropped the rod tip for a full ten seconds and when I lifted it again I hooked the fish. It was a healthy looking 45cm flathead and I kept it for dinner.

It was now about 10. 45 am and I could not find any more fish around the mangrove island so I wandered back towards the main channel. There was still plenty of bait around and a cormorant was successfully fishing in the shallows. I waded along the sand bar that runs down towards the green channel marker, casting along the edges of the weed. I was now in less than a metre of water and the tide was running out quickly.  I felt a very aggressive smash and grab and a fish took off with the same Lime Tiger Minnow. It was a bigger fish and after a short fight I pulled it up onto the sand. I later measured it at 63cm.

By about 11.45 am the wind and weed were making fishing just too hard. I am sure the fish were there but I did not have the patience to carrying on battling the elements to find them.

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Muscat, Oman- fishing in the Middle East – 9 January, 2016

Sunday

In early January I was fortunate enough to travel to Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, on the Arabian Gulf. I had heard there was some great fishing. So I packed my Berkley Nomadic travel rod and reel and a few bags of soft plastics, jigheads and a couple of hard bodied lures.

After a few days in Muscat I visited the wet fish market in Mutrah. There were tuna of several types, which are caught from the Gulf, using long lines. There were many other familiar looking species – trevally, queenfish, snapper, small sharks, and piles of anchovies/ whitebait. There was a large fish that looked a little like a grunter bream that they call Hamour or Kingfish. There was also the head of what had obviously been an enormous garoupa.

This visit had me fired up so the next morning I decided to walk south, in front of the resort, along the long flat Al Ghubra beach. Oman has very little fresh water so there is an enormous desalination plant at the southern end of the beach which constantly discharges warm water into the Gulf. I was sure this flow would attract fish so I walked in that direction.

The morning call to prayer comes at 5.30 am and is a useful alarm call for a light sleeping fisherman like me. As I walked along the beach in the pre-dawn light the locals were making the most of the cooler northern hemisphere weather for morning exercises. Typical temperatures at this time of the year are between about 18 and 25 C, but there is very little humidity – so it feels quite cool. One lady had decided to read her Koran looking out over the waves and it looked like a pretty calming way to start the day. Despite the cooler weather both women and men were fully covered up – Men in their long white dishadashas and small caps and women in their black abayas and head scarves. The only thing their outfits had in common with a typical Aussie exercise kit was the occasional pair of Nikes, poking out under their robes.

There is virtually no swell in the Gulf but the wind can kick up a few small waves. There were a few patches of flat rock sticking out from the shore but the rest of the beach was flat and sandy. The tide was coming in and would be high at about 8.20 am. Sunrise would be at 6.15 am. The water felt very warm on my feet and the new moon was a few days away.

The Berkley Nomadic NMS761 rod is a five piece – so it will comfortably fit in my suitcase. It is rated 2-4 kg and 7’ 6” long. The action on the rod is a little slower than I would like. I prefer a very flexible, fast (whippy) tip, but this is very difficult to achieve in a 5 piece rod. It’s a pretty good compromise and has enough power to stop a reasonable fish. I rigged up with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader, tied on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead, loaded a 4” GULP Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic lure and started casting.

 

It took a little while to get used to the feel of the rod and the jighead was a little light for this rig but I gradually found my rhythm and started to feel a few small bites. As the sun came up I could see tight schools of what looked like small mullet finning around on the surface. Every so often they would scatter as something came at them. I swapped soft plastic to a smaller 3” minnow in the New Penny colour. Just as I was about to pull the lure out of the water on the first retrieve, a fish grabbed it. It pulled and splashed and was brown and sandy coloured. When I got it to the beach it could see it was a lizardfish or grinner (as we know them in Australia). I released it and carried on.

A few casts later I was on to a fish again and imagine my surprise when a small sand/ bar-tailed flathead came wriggling up the beach. It was now a bright morning and getting warm. I caught another grinner and as I moved back along the beach, another small flathead.

I swapped back to the bigger 4” minnow in the Lime Tiger colour and after about 10 minutes I was on to another flathead. By now I was back in front of the resort. The cleaners who were raking the beach and sweeping the paths watched intently. This was a better fish, about 45 cm long. As I landed it one rushed over and asked if he could have it. I was happy to oblige. A few moments later, I caught another and by now, the team had found a bucket and were keenly following my progress along the beach.

I caught two more big grinners which they also happily accepted and one small flathead that I felt I should release, much to their disappointment. I finished up and declined the kind invite to a curried fish supper.

What a great session – remember – wherever you are, it’s always worth wetting a line.

1770 – Wreck Rock – 2 December 2014

Tuesday

Once again I apologize for not writing up my fishing reports sooner but Christmas got in the way.  This one and the few that I will publish over the next few days, are from early December 2014 – better late than never.

I managed to get a few days off in Gladstone in early December. That enabled me to shoot back down to Agnes Water and 1770. Once again Gavin and Kim found me a great deal at Loka Santi – through http://www.1770beachaccommodation.com.au/. These apartments could easily become my home away from home.

I started at Wreck Rock on Tuesday morning. Low tide would be mid-morning and there was a light north-easterly wind blowing. It was a bright sunny day and the water was fairly clear. I was using my NS Blackhole light surf/ rock fishing rig and started with 12lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was fishing on the northern set of rocks.

I started at about 9.20 am but did not get a bite until around 10.00 am. I was using a GULP 3” Minnow in the Sardine colour. I was right at the north end of the line of rocks that are exposed as the tide runs out. Over my last few trips there have always been fish at the end of this set of rocks. Last time, it was mostly dart and stripey perch but in the cooler months it is often tailor, trevally and bream. You regularly see the tuna further out but they very rarely come close enough to cast at.

Today the first fish was a small trevally. It was followed by two more, in quick succession. None of them were more than about 35 cm long. Then things went quiet so I walked over to the rocks at the south end of the bay. I fished all round these and even dropped right down to 10lb fluorocarbon leader, but I did not get a bite.

By noon the easterly wind was making things tough so I gave up for the day.

Iluka – Woody Head – Middle Bluff – More Tuna – 11 April 2013

Thursday

On Thursday morning I decided to fish from Middle Bluff, just north of Frasers Reef. This is a short drive south from the Woody Head camp ground. I arrived just before dawn and got rained on straight away. I now had a good waterproof jacket on, which helped. The wind was a slight south easterly/ westerly – swapping from one to the other. Low tide had passed at about 2.45 am.

I decided to start with the heavy rod. My theory was that if the Tuna were around, I would have more chance of landing one on my Daiwa 9’ Demonblood with 30lb leader. I have been trying out another couple of excellent hard body lures from DUO, on this trip. I decided to start with the DUO Tide Vib Slim140. This is effectively a large sinking vibe lure. It weighs 32g, has the usual superb DUO paint job and casts like a bullet.

The rain had passed over and I started casting the Tide Vib Slim in a semicircle and retrieving it in long, sideways sweeps, to get the most of the action. Just before sunrise, I felt some solid knocks. I was casting out about 50 metres and the lure was getting attention just after it hit the water and started vibrating. After about ten minutes, there were two big bumps and a bite. I dropped the rod tip, then struck hard and the fish took off. It was another blistering initial run. This time I was fishing with my Stradic 8000 reel and the heavier rod and leader, but that initial run felt just as powerful as the mac tuna, earlier in the week. I just held on and watched 250 metres of braid peel off the spool. I was pretty sure it was another tuna. It went straight out to sea. Eventually it slowed, so I gradually cranked the reel and turned its head. Now it was sitting parallel to the shore, about 200 metres out and the Daiwa Demonblood rod tip was fluttering in time to its tail beats.

I started to gain line but each wind was met with solid resistance – this fish was far from worn out. I left the drag alone and was determined to be patient. With the fish this far out, there was not much structure to tangle with. It made another short run, taking perhaps 50 metres of line, but I just let it go and then started the pressure again. I gave some thought to where I would land it. If I was lucky I would be able to coax it round to some stepped ledges on the north side of the headland and grab it, between wave sets. As it came closer to shore, I started to put more pressure on it but it was hard to move. Every time I brought it within sight of the rocks it took off again. The runs were getting shorter but they were just as powerful.

And then with no real sign of why, the line went slack and it was gone – bugger. I had not felt a bite off or seen any evidence of a bigger predator and I still had the lure, when I wound in. I suspect it had been hooked on the side of the mouth, through some of the softer tissue and I had just pulled the hooks.

I gathered my thoughts, checked my knots and cast out again. Half way through the retrieve, there was a grab followed by zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz pht! The leader snapped and the lure and fish were gone. Not sure what it was, but that was the end of my DUO Tide Vib Slim 140. I have had four of these lures, to test drive this year and they have all hooked fish before disappearing. I am pretty sure two were grabbed by Kingfish, earlier in the year, off Fingal Head and the last two tangled with Tuna. I will definitely be getting more.

I tried casting a popper for a while but this did not produce anything so I decided to swap to a metal lure – a 95g Sniper slug. After ten or so casts, I felt a bit of resistance and realised I had a small fish on. I pulled up a Tailor that was only just longer than the lure. A few more casts with the slug did not yield anything. So I swapped to the lighter Shimano Catana rod and decided to try some soft plastic lures.

I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour on a 3/8th oz, 2/0 jighead. Something hit the plastic on the first cast and took it for a quick run, then dropped it. I got it back with the tail mashed and I guessed it was a Tailor. I dropped down to a 4” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour and after a few more casts, I connected with a better Tailor – about 40 cm long and landed it.

The tide was rising but the swell was very light, so I dropped back to a ¼ oz and then a 1/6th oz, jighead and selected a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I put on a few different colours and caught a few more tailor – the biggest was about 45cm long. I also caught good sized dart and bream.

Things started to slow down so I decided to put on a smaller, 3” GULP Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour, on a ¼ oz, 1/0 jighead. This was the same lure that had caught the mac tuna a few days before. I fished around, varying my casts; some in close to the rocks, some further out. It was now about 8.45 am and another line of rain clouds was lining up and the wind was picking up. I put out a long cast and dropped the lure into the water about 25 metres out.

I felt a few grabs and pulls as the lure sank and suddenly I was connected with another fish. It pulled left, then right and suddenly took off in another blistering run. I was pretty sure it was another tuna as the line kept peeling. I was on the light rod so I just held on. It was another very long initial run but this time the fish was smaller and tired faster. I turned its head and gradually got my line back. I was playing it very carefully as I knew the 16lb leader would not stand any contact with the rocks. I gradually walked it round towards the rock ledges to my left. I checked my watch and I had been fighting the fish for 12 minutes, but it felt like much longer.

Once the fish saw the rocks it took off again. The Catana did not have the strength to apply much pressure but the tuna was gradually tiring. I watched the wave sets. I could see the fish now and it was a small mac tuna. It was on its side but still furiously beating its tail. Unfortunately a big wave set was coming through and I had little choice but to pull the fish up on to the lower ledge with the wave. It came up effortlessly on the surge but once it realised it was out of the water, it went ballistic and before I could get down to it, it had wriggled free of the jighead and bounced down the rocks to freedom – double bugger.

Appropriately, the heavens chose that moment to open above me and add insult to injury by covering me in a downpour. As I squelched back to the car I was rewarded with a great rainbow – but I would rather have had another tuna!

In the afternoon the rain stopped again and so I walked out to the rocks in front of Woody Head to fish “the barnacles” again. Not much happened through the afternoon. I caught a few more dart and bream on soft plastics. A watched as another fisherman caught a few 45cm Tailor casting slugs into the white water zones.

As the sun dropped behind Woody Head, the bite rate increased and I caught three good bream in quick succession. I swapped up to a bigger GULP 4″ Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/4 oz, 2/0 jighead. The swell and wind was picking up a little and it was getting dark quickly. I put in a long cast and let the lure waft down in the swell. As soon as I took up the slack a fish hit it. It pulled pretty hard on the Catana and then a good size tailor leaped out of the water. I subdued it and pulled it in. It was just over 50cm long. By then I had had enough for the day so I cleaned it and headed home for a fish supper.

Bribie Island – The Oyster Jetty flats – 15 October 2012

Monday

A week away from fishing is far too long. I had time for a quick fish on Monday morning, so I drove up to Bribie at about 4.00 am and arrived just after first light at about 4.50 am. The tide was coming in. It would be a 2.3m high at about 9.00 am. The wind was forecast to be a southerly but it seemed to be a cool south-westerly.

A quick look at the flats on the mainland side of the bridge showed that I would be able to fish along the edge of the weed banks, to the south of the (newly repaired) Oyster Jetty, for an hour or so, as the tide came in. It is nearly new moon so it would be coming in fast.

The tide would run in fast


I was fishing with my Loomis GL2 light spin rod again. Unfortunately there was plenty of snot weed around, especially close to the jetty. I started with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour (red and yellow). I had a 12lb leader on, in case I came across any Tailor. The water was warm but the wind was cold.

The grey cloud masked the sunrise


The Loomis lets you feel everything the jighead touches and it took some time to get used to it. After a while, I could tell that the difference between a nibble and a jighead stuck in the weed again. Then, about 50 metres south of the jetty, just before 6.00 am, I had a solid bite and the line pulled tight. I was too eager and wrenched up the rod tip, pulling the jighead out of the fish’s mouth. Patience, patience – sometimes you have to go back to the beginning and slow everything down. If it was a Flathead, it was probably still there, or one of its friends was. I cast back in the same spot and after two hops I felt the faintest of bites. I dropped the rod tip and counted slowly to 10, then lifted it sharply. I had it this time. It was a small Dusky Flathead – just about 40 cm long. I let it go, hoping the fishing Gods would reward me with a better fish.

Back amongst the Flathead


Suddenly, there was a big surge about 10 metres away to the north and the baitfish went flying everywhere. Then there was another, about 5 metres further away. I wound in furiously and hurled the plastic in the direction of the splashes. It went quiet for a few minutes and then the same thing happened to the south of me. This time I saw the broad shoulders of a good size Tuna as it smashed into some Herring. I cast where I thought they were travelling but again I could not tempt them – they were moving too fast.

Swallowed that

I carried on casting around for Flathead, walking gradually further south. At about 7.30 am I was considering giving up when there was a swirl a few meters in front of me and another bait spray. Then I saw a good size Tuna coming right for me. I thought it would hit me but it swerved at the last minute and the small school flashed by, on either side of me. I was wading in just over a metre of water.

I have hooked Tuna from the rocks and beach but I have never landed one – so this got me really fired up. I have to get back out again soon with some heavy gear and bigger lures! Watch this space

Wreck Rock – Deep Water National Park 1770 – 13 May 2011

Friday

Having seen the Tuna working just offshore, all afternoon the day before, at both Wreck Rock and Flat Rock, I decided to spend dawn on Friday casting slugs from the southern tip of Wreck Rock. The tides where getting bigger in the run up to the full moon. Low tide would be at 11.10 am, so there would be plenty of water close into the rocks, at dawn.

The south end of Wreck Rock at dawn

The southern tip of the Wreck Rock bay has a couple of rocky outcrops and submerged bommies. At low tide there is only about a metre of water in front of them, but at high tide, this can increase to almost 4 metres. South of these rocks is a long, almost completely uninterrupted beach ( Rules Beach), that runs all the way down to the mouth of Baffle Creek. At the moment, the big seas and storms through the summer months have created a very steep, sloping beach with a few nice wholes and gutters. This means there is good deep water on high tide, all along this section.

Looking south from Wreck Rock - towards the mouth of Baffle Creek

It was another bitterly cold morning, the sky was crystal clear, but there was a light south-westerly wind blowing. As the sun came up I was casting a 90g slug from the rocks. I then tried a River to Sea – Dumbbell Popper and various heavy blades and big hard bodies. I could not interest the fish. I could see the Tuna, in small groups, smashing into the bait fish and the birds diving in to get a free breakfast, but they stayed at least 800m away the whole time.

Wreck Rock bay - just after dawn


I switched from the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood rod, which I use for slugs and poppers, to the light spin rod and rigged a soft plastic on a ¼ oz 1 jighead. I chose the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. After about 30 minutes I had caught two tiny Dart and a Long Tom. At about 8.30am I headed back into my camp to thaw out with a hot cup of tea and some breakfast.

Mackerel, Trevally, Tailor and a few reef species all cruise around these rocks at the southern end of Wreck Rock bay


I considered my options and spoke to another keen fisherman who was camped nearby. He too had seen the Tuna and was planning to spend the day casting slugs at them. As low tide approached I decided to head out the rocks on the southern tip of Wreck Rock bay. The Tuna were there but always just out of reach. They would swing in tantalizingly close and I would cast slugs at them then they were gone again. As the tide dropped I moved as far as I could out onto the exposed rocks to the south. I cast out at about 45 degrees to the shoreline and as my slug landed a huge circle of bait scattered around it. Then ‘zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ….fftt’ and the fish was gone. I wound the line back in and it looked like a clean bite through the 40lb leader. I presumed it was a Mackerel or some other toothy species. I rigged a wire trace and carried on, but after twenty more casts I was still without a decent fish.

The bait that shelters around this bommy at Wreck Rock, attracts all sorts of predators

I switched from the slug rod to the light spin rod again and rigged a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I wanted to cast a bit of distance, but I also wanted to make sure the lure wafted around in the strike zone for as long as possible. I settled on a ¼ oz 2/0 jighead and downgraded to 16lb fluorocarbon leader. First cast was hit on the drop but then the fish dropped it. Third cast and I had a solid hook up. The fish took line in a couple of fast blistering runs then swam round in front of the rocks into a good position. On the next surge I tightened the drag and pulled it up to my feet (getting soaked in the process). Then I grabbed the leader and pulled the fish clear. It was a Giant Trevally around 50cm – no monster, but a decent fish. Cold and wet, I decided I had enough – it was just after noon.

Finally a decent fish - 50cm GT at Wreck Rock

As always when fishing an area that you have not been to for a while, you need to spend a few sessions figuring out what works and where the fish are. It was my fourth day and I finally felt I understood when and where to concentrate. I headed back to camp for some fish cleaning.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Another Duck

My lure arsenal for the Tweed rockwall

Saturday

Oh dear , oh dear , oh dear – another morning with no fish. As I have said before, this is the worst time of the year for me. The main estuary species – Flathead & Bream – have long finished spawning and as the water temperature climbs and weather patterns get more unpredictable they get harder to find. Add to that – flooded river systems and constant changes in wind patterns and I get stuck focusing on the ocean rock walls and ledges.

In these locations the fish come and go with the bait and the wind. Tailor, Trevally, Kingfish, Queenfish and even good sized Mackerel and Tuna will all come in close to the rocks if the bait is around. The Tailor are particularly voracious in these situations and you can catch them on almost any type of lure or bait. The Trevally are sometimes harder to please, often limiting their feeding period to an hour or so either side of dawn and dusk. The other species require you to be in the right place at the right time and this means putting in the casting hours – and it can be a long time between fish!

This morning I arrived at the north rockwall, at the mouth of the Tweed River at around 4.00 am. The horizon started to glow just as I rigged up and I started by fishing soft plastic lures through the last of the run out tide. I switched to a surface popper for about 30 casts and put in 50 casts with an 85 gram metal slug. Nothing I used produced results. At one point a fellow fisherman caught a 30cm Tarwhine on a fresh beach worm, but that was the only fish I saw caught.

Apparently a few decent Trevally had been caught at dusk, on Friday and everyone was hopeful that this mornings session would produce fish – But it didn’t! I gave up around 7.30 am as another of this summer’s rain showers arrived.