Winter fishing is just around the corner, here at Bribie. The change of seasons is obvious to us all, with average temperatures dropping by about 6°C over the past fortnight.
Water clarity is fair but not great, considering we’ve had precious little rain of late (although light showers are being predicted as this report goes to print). The daytime SW winds have been stirring up the waters of the Passage a little more than usual for May, which is usually the least windy month of the year in the SouthEast. Water temperature has dropped too. Interestingly, the windy weather around May 8th caused water temperature to plummet about 3°C, which coincided with a noticeable drop in fish catches being reported. Thank goodness it was only for a day or two!
Flounder has been the big winner this month. From the shore, south of the bridge, up the Passage on both sides – just about any sandbank is holding flounder. Sizes have been big enough, too, with plate-sized flounders common. Nori caught a big one using prawn bait, and Ian’s crew caught one each! They anchored up around the Turner’s Camp sand bank. It’s a great spot for land-based fishing, too – with lots of room during low tide. Paul caught his flounder a little further north; he’s a squid fan and never uses anything else. Jake’s flounder also took squid at the entrance to Ningi Creek, but Ben caught a great specimen all the way out at the South cardinal!
Flounder are a comical-looking fish and it’d be easy to underestimate them, but they are ambush hunters like flathead and will chase a good grub-lure or a bit of bait. Using a flathead rig and fishing the same sandflats that hold flathead will probably get you a few nice flounder as well, during the colder months.
A lot of flounder get thrown back, because people don’t know what to do with them. They’re not hard to clean and can be cooked whole, and the larger ones are easy to fillet. A bit of butter, a squeeze of lemon, some crumbs if you like and in the pan for just a few minutes on each side – tah dah!!
Fishing the same sandbanks, will nab just as many flathead, or even more. Flathead have been keeping the flounder company, especially sand and bar-tailed, but also some impressive duskies. A lot of the flathead have been caught on hard-bodied lures, some on soft plastics. Ben’s best flathead, from the sandbanks at Buckley’s Hole, chased a hard-bodied fishshaped lure. Nori used a winter whiting for bait and Paul’s tally of 7 total (3 kept) were all taken with squid, which he said, “really hammered ‘em out there!”. Fishability Qld brought in three, all 5ocm+. Their bait was baby blue pilchards, which generally hold firmer than the bigger ones.
Brendan says that they were fishing for 6 hours off a sand bank near White Patch and had nothing, “just about given up” – then at the turn of low tide – “it was on!”. Using an oily-coloured soft plastic (fish-shaped again), casting over where the water was rippling in and winding back over the sandbank – “Whack! A flathead took it!”. All 9 flathead, between 40-52cm in size (and a just-legal bream) were caught in the last twenty minutes of fishing. It was not just a case of what you know, but where you know; Brendan wouldn’t reveal exactly where they were.
There are some bigger bream being caught. Alicia had a 32cm bream and Bob’s was 27cm, both caught on peeled prawns, on a windy day up in Ningi Creek. Bream numbers are usually on the increase at this time of year, in the creek mouths, Pacific Harbour and along the Bribie side of the Passage. A couple of women put their rental houseboat on a mooring just south of Pacific Harbour, because of the windy weather. They had a great time there – lots of bream!
Big bream will be a bit cannier, and not always easy to tempt – try using mullet strips; leaving a few scales on often attracts the bigger bream. Of course, there’s the ever-popular chicken fillet, great bait for the kids to use.
Crabbing is still worth trying, although it’s past the end of the traditional season. Armani and family kept ten big, rusty mudcrabs out of a total thirty in six pots, well up past Mission Point. Dakota was goggle-eyed, telling me about his dad pulling one out of a crab-hole in the bank – it was a jenny, but good fun anyway. Johnny had pots at Lime Pocket and near Pacific Harbour. The mudcrabs from Lime Pocket were all huge jennies but with no eggs. He did keep plenty of sandcrabs though, from both spots.