Well, the first week of the recent school holidays was a washout but the second and subsequent weeks have been typical winter weather. Only those few days of rain, then cool, dewy nights and comfortable days. The temperatures have been a little above average and with very little wind. Some of the breezes have come from the west, which can play havoc with the fishing, but there has still been plenty of action over the past few weeks.
I said last month that July is often the month that the big flathead fishing takes off, and luckily, I was right! The rain before the last weekend of June did chill the air and made all the difference to the flathead fishing. Good catches of flathead have been more common with the cold mornings. The clear water over winter has made bait fishing tricky with them but hard-bodied lures and live yabbies or bait fish have certainly been working well.
Ningi Creek has been a favourite spot to try for flathead. Annette caught a 61cm flathead up in Ningi Creek, using prawns. Andrew and Craig also scored well in Ningi Creek. Andrew said it was very dull until the last hour of the falling tide, then they got lucky. He and Craig brought in four flathead, 56, 54, 45 and 45cm, by trolling with Hard-Z lures.
If you’re shore-based, then casting out lures over the flats is a good tactic, using the incoming tidal flow to tempt the fish. Gary’s usual spot is White Patch, often standing up to his thighs in water. One recent morning, he had too big a haul to keep and had to throw some good ones back (maybe still hungry for the next lucky fisher).
One fish that hangs out on the same sandbanks as flathead are flounder. You can pick up a few flounder in the cooler months of the year, which should not be ignored, as they are an excellent eating fish. Graeme enjoyed some lovely flounder, after using his special recipe for bait. Fool-proof apparently; see if it works for you – fillets of chicken soaked in beetroot juice. If it works, it works…
Whiting have been showing all along the yabby-banks of Banksia Beach, as well as north of the Ningi Creek marker. Live yabbies or live worms are the best way to go for winter whiting, but if you’re in the right spot, at the right time, almost anything works. Nick was able to get onto whiting in Ningi Creek, as well as Banksia, using live worms. Tuan, Tom and Pat found them in Ningi Creek as well – “lots of them!”.
The neap outgoing tides over winter are usually a good time to try for tailor. Cold mornings are the best time and pillies or garfish have been the best bait.Watching for birds is a way to find tailor, feeding on baitfish. Look for flocks of terns hovering over the water and frequently looking down or diving into the water. The birds are feeding on the baitfish, which have been forced to the surface, usually by tailor. You can often see the flash of tailor feeding under the surface.
Another bit of entertainment in July and August is to watch the little black cormorants. At this time of year, they gather up in squadrons and push schools of baitfish into tight balls. Then they go crazy, diving and coming up with a fish, quickly swallowing it then diving down again. Great fun!
The real snapper season in the Passage is from June to October. One of the most popular snapper spots is just outside the Pacific Harbour canals, at the Ripples. Early in the morning, especially over the top of the tide, it is common to see boats anchored up or drifting over the Ripples. It is very easy to find when the tide is moving as the water takes on a rough surface appearance – look for the area of “corrugated” water, hence its name. It is here that snapper congregate over winter. Throwing a lure or bait in where you see them chasing baitfish up to the surface often results in a good hook-up.
Out beyond Bribie, Troy and his mates have been finding all sorts of fish, on overnight stays out at Hutchies and Smith’s reefs. The list includes coronation trout, moses perch, sweetlip, snapper, amberjack – all caught with pilchards or mullet.
If you’ve got a spare moment on Thursday, August 8th, head over to Bongaree Jetty for the Fishability QLD Platform Community Fish-off. Fishability QLD is a not-for-profit organisation that creates fishing and leisure activities for disadvantaged, disabled or socially isolated people. It should be a great chance to enjoy community, not to mention the sausage sizzle (just $3 will see you fed!)