Fishing this month has been up and down, as usual for this time of year. Still making our way towards summer, the weather has been slightly cool, with daily temperatures hovering in the low-mid twenties, which is about 2 degrees cooler than average. Apart from that big drop in the first week of October, the rain has been enough to stir the water up a bit but not enough to flush out the creeks. Afternoon breezes, coming from the SE, have been the standard.
Mid to late Spring is a great time of year to fish for flathead and this past month has seen some really impressive catches. The flathead have been found in all the usual places – on the Bribie side sandbanks, from White Patch down to Sylvan Beach; on the drift past the mouth of Ningi Creek, but especially around the second green marker, south of the bridge. Will was at that spot when he showed his mates how to bring in a flathead, using a soft plastic lure, on the rising tide.
Two Saturdays ago, the weather cleared up in time for Tom and Nick to catch three big ones. Again, all of them went for soft plastics, near the second marker. It was good to know that these fish were released, because the bigger flathead are usually female, who should be spawning eggs over the late spring.
Flathead are pretty keen to eat anything on offer, at this time of year – Dave and his mates used chicken thighs to catch three of them. Soft-plastics, however, are an easy and interesting way to fish for them and much cheaper to lose than a hard-bodied lure. Look for sandy sections that are a bit weedy, with a bit of drop-off, for the boat to drift along in the current. If you cast towards the shallows and “hop” the lure gently back in, you might be able to tease a flathead into striking. You’ll know when you do! Just get the landing net ready and keep the line tight and you’ll have something to show for your effort.
Flathead have been the star of recent fishing, but plenty of bream are also showing up in good sizes. Prawns have been a favoured bait, but worms and squid have also been doing the trick. If there is a rising tide, try the area north of Ningi Creek, or on the falling tide, drifting south from Shag Island. The bridge has also been a good spot for bream, just on the south side at the mainland end, over the change of tide - Cassiee and Dylan say there was a lot happening at the bridge last weekend, including shovel-nose and red-eye, and there good bream among them.
Crabbing is picking up, as the water warms. Some nice, heavy mud crabs are coming in from Ningi and Elimbah Creeks. As we move towards the bigger tides of summer, it’s a good idea to check that your pots have enough rope to stay on the bottom and are heavy enough to stay put against a strong current. So many times, the cry goes out that some-one’s crab pot “has been stolen”, when most likely it hasn’t been weighted down or has too short a rope, so it has danced off on the rising tide! Another thing to remember is to properly label the pot and the float, with your name and contact details – I hear the Fisheries blokes have been checking that both pots and floats carry correct markings.
There was a lot of interest in the Emergency Services Expo, held a couple of weekends ago at VMR. One of the most intriguing displays was a double tank that showed the amazing efficiency of oysters, in filtering and clearing water. It was used to promote the oyster reef restoration trial, called Restore Pumicestone Passage. I’ve just read the latest report on the Oyster Reef Project, situated outside Pacific Harbour. Six types of experimental reef structures are being monitored, to find a way to reintroduce oysters into the Pumicestone Passage. This fantastic work is showing early promise, which is “likely to lead to increased fisheries productivity” and a healthier local environment. The biggest threat to these reefs is something we can all help to prevent: anchor damage. Let’s get the word out there - look for the sign above the reefs, just off Kakadu Beach and remember - drifting is fine but please do not anchor.