Thursday’s fishing had not been that great but when I woke up on Friday I was confident that the fish would be there. The moon was virtually full and it would be a big high tide at about 8.30 am. More importantly the wind had dropped off considerably.
I decided to fish the first half of the run out tide at Whitepatch on Bribie Island. On a big tide the water comes right up to the tree line and the fish will often move up with it. There are often good whiting in the shallows here and where there are whiting there are usually flathead.
I started at the north of end of Whitepatch beach, fishing with a GULP 3 inch Minnow in the New Penny colour. I waded off to the north casting in the direction of the outflowing tide and then hopping the lure back towards me. I soon caught a tiny flathead that was sitting right next to a ledge of coffee rock at the foot of the tree lined beach. When I cast the lure out further it was grabbed a few times by what I think where the cruising long toms. I fished for about two hours but could not find any more fish.
At about 11.15 am I moved down to the old oyster jetty flats. The tide was still fairly high so I waded along close to the mangrove line, casting out towards deeper water. I was now fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. The wind was picking up and there was lots of weed floating around. The tide was running out fast and by about 12.30 pm I was about 30 metres to the south of the old oyster jetty. I felt a solid bite and hooked a nice 55cm flathead. When I pulled it in it had a nasty scar on its back.
I carried on towards the channel marker and about 40 minutes later picked up another 45cm flathead. As I moved south I caught two more, a 48 cm and a 50cm in fairly quick succession. By 2.00 pm I was hot and knackered and the wind was really blowing so I decided to give up. It had been a long session but I had found some decent fish.
I started fishing at about 9.15 am – not ideal, but sometimes life gets in the way of my true calling. It was a fantastic Queensland day with bright sunshine and light breeze from the North West. I was at my usual haunt – Bribie Island. I headed up to Whitepatch where I had caught a few fish on Sunday. The tide was about half way out with low tide forecast for around 12.45pm.
I rigged up with a very light 1/32 oz jig head and put on a Gulp Sandworm in the Camo colour. I was trying for a few whiting. There were plenty around – I suspect their favourite food is the soldier crabs that come out on to the flats, in huge numbers, at low tide.
I caught a couple of very small Whiting and then decided to look for something bigger. There was plenty of bait in the water – whiting, garfish etc. I upgraded to a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and put on a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered prawn colour. I walked up and down the ledge that runs all along this section of the Passage and cast alternately; one over the edge and one out in front of me, into the shallow water on top of the ledge. I did this for well over an hour without success. At one point a hungry Pike made a great lunge at the lure just as I lifted it out of the water, but I did not get it.
At this stage I think it is fair to point out that I usually find November, December, January and February by far the toughest months to fish the Queensland estuaries from the shore. If I look back through my diaries there is a dramatic drop off in my catch rate after the Flathead finish spawning and the water warms up. However, summer brings the possibility of rarer, but exciting species such as Mangrove Jack and Sweetlip and even the occasional pelagic, like Tuna or Mackerel. It is a different style of fishing and requires a bit more work. You have to find them and this means lots of long casts and long walks/ wades.
I decided to switch spots and drove over to the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge. I waded out onto the muddy weed banks just to the south of the old oyster jetty. By now these were only covered with about 60cm of water. I put on the Gulp 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – I stuck with the 1/6th 1/0 weight jighead. I was aiming at the sandy patches in between the weed and the edge of the rubble piles that dot the area. There was a bit of weed floating around but not enough to make the fishing difficult. About 40 metres to the south of the jetty I cast into a piece of clear sandy bottom and just as the plastic hit the edge of the weed, I felt a dull thud. Finally, after three hours of fishing I was on to a reasonable fish. I gave it plenty of line and gradually towed it back to the shore to unhook. It was too valuable to try to risk grabbing while wading around in the water. When I got it up and away from the water it was a respectable 46cm Flathead. It was now right on low tide and after a few more casts to see if the fish had any friends around, I gave up.
The fishing is getting harder but the harder they are to find, the sweeter they taste!
After a month away from fishing, I was keen to get a line in the water as soon as possible. I decided to head up to Bribie Island and was on the road from Brisbane at 3.30 am. A lot changes in 4 weeks – the water has warmed up, sunrise is a good deal earlier and there has been plenty of rain. As I waded out under the bridge, on the island side, the first thing that struck me was the murky water and the lack of surface activity. Then I gradually realised that the plus side of all the rain and the northerly winds, was distinct lack of weed floating around.
I started by casting my old favourite soft plastic – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – in close to the Bribie Island bridge pylons. Not much happened for half an hour or so. I had a few nudges and bumps, but no hook ups. Finally, I put a cast right into the foot of the second pylon and it scraped the barnacles as it went into the water. Next thing the line went taught but with not much weight on it. I wound in the line and had my first fish of the morning a 10cm Moses Perch! As the sky lightened I caught a couple of small Pike. At about 5.30 am I decided to move on.
I drove down to the sand flats at Buckley’s Hole, at the southern tip of Bribie Island. High tide had been at 3.30 am and now the tide was running out strongly. The water here was very cloudy. I think this is due to the hollowing out of the banks at the mouth of the tidal lagoon. You can see where the current has washed the sand away and revealed the mud underneath. During the run out tide this further clouds the water. Despite the discolouration there was plenty of surface activity and there were Whiting everywhere. On many casts my plastic would land in the middle of a school and send them jumping in all directions. There were also plenty of herring and other small bait fish around. Perhaps because there was so much bait in the water, I was still casting around after an hour or so with no fish. There were plenty of jellyfish around, no doubt blown in on the northerly winds. The turtles were also out in force and at about 6.30 am a Dugong swam past.
I changed plastic to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour which I was fishing on a 1/6th 1/0 hook jighead. I was using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied to 2.8kg Fireline. I had my favourite Loomis GL2 Light spin rod with a Stradic 3000 reel. About 300 metres south of the mouth of the tidal lagoon I got a couple of hits that I took for a Pike or Bream. I cast back again into the same spot and almost instantly felt the solid bite of a Flathead. I was so excited I nearly catapulted him out of the water on to the shore. He was just under the legal size limit so I snapped him and put him back. In the attached pictures you can see just how cloudy the water was. I carried on for another 30 mins without success and then decided to change spots.
I drove up to Whitepatch beach, further up on the inside of Bribie Island. It was now almost low tide, so I stayed out of the water, initially. I cast out the same soft plastic shrimp on to the ledge that forms the edge of the Pumicestone Passage, all along this beach. There was only about 50cm of water covering the ledge and again, the water was very murky. On the third or fourth cast, a fish slammed the soft plastic shrimp and took off over the ledge. I let it have some line then moved down to the edge, tightened the drag a little and pulled it up and over. I then dragged it up on to the sand. It was a nice 52cm Flathead and it went straight into the bag for dinner.
As the tide started to run in, I decided to try my Snapper theory for this spot. My experience suggests that they often feed in this area during the first half hour of the run in tide. This seems to be especially true when these are the conditions just after dawn. I prefer a plastic with a curly tail for Snapper but I didn’t have one, so it was back to the trusty GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The fish are usually in close to the ledge but I cast a fair way out, let the plastic sink then skip it across the bottom fairly slowly, increasing the pause to five seconds or so, as the plastic comes close to the ledge. Right on cue, on the third cast the rod bends over and I am losing line to something that can only be a Snapper. After a quick tussle and a slight tightening of the drag I successfully pulled it up on to the sand. It was just under legal size at around 34cm but this is a good fish for this spot. As I photographed it, I noticed it had lost one of its fins – it’s a tough ocean out there! I let it go and decided to pack up for the day.
It was 9.00 am and I had fed my craving – watch this space – I will be back out there again soon.
Well just to show that I am not a ‘good news only’ fishing blogger, Saturday morning was a disaster. It went like this – I had high hopes for a good catch, with a big tide and good weather. I started off under the Bridge on the island side at Bribie. It was just on 4.00 am. I cast soft plastic lures up against the pylons – I tried paddle tails, shrimps and minnows in various colours, with no luck.
Ok, onto Plan B. As the sun came up I drove down the island, through Bongaree to fish the coffee rock ledge in front of the saltwater lagoon, at Buckley’s Hole. This is a great position on low tide, the lagoon empties out and the fish usually congregate just south of its mouth. It was around slack water on dawn, with low tide at 5.20am. I walked up and down, up and down but I could not even raise a bite.
Ok, on to Plan C. I jumped back into the car and drove north, up to Whitepatch. The tide was just starting to run in. I walked down the wooden staircase to the spot I have christened ‘Pike Rocks’ and put on a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I cast out as fair as I could and let it sink for 10 seconds or so. I then began a slow and steady retrieve. Well at least the Pike did not let me down. About 4 metres from the shore I got a hit, then another and then a hook up with a fairly small Yellow fin Pike. I started to move south along the sand flats, casting out over the rock ledge and bouncing the plastic along the bottom. About 15 minutes passed and the 2” Shrimp plastic I had switched to was slammed as it came up over the ledge. After a good tussle I was disappointed to find it was only a 20cm Moses Perch. I carried on along this stretch until the run in tide drove me to far from the ledge and my lure kept getting snagged. I turned around and waded back to the car. I was now casting my lure on top of the ledge. By 9.30am I still had nothing for dinner.
Ok, on to plan D. I climbed back into the car and drove down to the old Oyster Jetty on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, to the south of the bridge. By 10.30 am I was wading along the edge of the weed banks just south of the jetty casting a 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th 1 jighead. That big tide I had been looking forward to was now, unfortunately stirring everything up, so just to add to my woes, the jighead was constantly getting clogged with weed. I walked round the corner and cast out over a big sand bank. The tide was streaming in and I felt sure the flathead would have moved up to sit in the cover offered by the sandbank. There was a bit of surface activity with bait jumping so I wound in and cast at it. There were a couple hard bites so I dropped the rod tip for a few seconds and then struck. There was a load of splashing and then I saw the unmistakable writhing thin silver body of a Long Tom. I took this as an omen and decided to give up for the day. It was 11.45am. There was plenty of bait around and the water was fairly clear, the tide was good – I just could not find the fish.
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.