Like most fishing spots, the Pumicestone Passage and waters around Bribie Island fish better in some seasons than others. The winter months offer some of the best opportunities of the year, and not only the fishing is good lately - so is the weather.
Almost all our rain has fallen during the night over the past month and has never been enough to muddy the brilliant water clarity. Cool mornings and early afternoon sea breezes have made for very pleasant fishing days.
As the wind has been changing from east to west, the best fishing has swung from one side of the Passage to the other. There have been some impressive Venus tusk-fish caught near Turner’s Camp, but Elijah found his 35cm tusk-fish on the Bribie side of the Passage, using prawns for bait. There have been plenty of them, particularly at or near the top of the tide, on a light wind. The next new moon, in mid-July, should be the time for targeting this excellent table-fish, even if it is almost too pretty to eat! Try some mullet fillet on a smallish hook, with a nice strong leader.
The real snapper season in the Passage is from June to October, and our first good-sized snapper was brought in on June 1st. A lot of mainly undersize snapper live in the Passage all year round but in winter bigger snapper move in and can make life much more interesting. One of the most popular snapper spots is just outside the Pacific Harbour canals, which is on Bribie, 2km north of the bridge. Situated directly at the mouth of Pacific Harbour is the famous area called The Ripples. Early in the morning, especially over the top of the tide, it is common to see locals anchor up around 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, The Ripples. It is here that snapper congregate over winter. Throwing a lure or bait in when you see them chasing baitfish up to the surface often results in a good hook-up.
Interestingly, there have been quite a few reports of mackerel catches in the Passage – we’ve seen a few brought in, between 50-60cm. The bridge and the Ripples are the two spots we’ve heard of.
There has been a continuation last month’s run of flounder. They are being caught on all of the sandbanks, north and south of the bridge, usually keeping company with flathead. A few good mud flatheads have been coming in, but mainly sand and bar-tailed flathead, which need only to be 30cm. One muddie, 65cm long, was caught (and released) at Turner’s Camp recently – some good technique was required, because it was just a light rig and only 6lb line. Chris and Tondra also did well in the same spot last weekend, with a 50cm flathead. They also caught a 1metre+ shovelnose shark, so it made the cool, windy day out, worthwhile. Lures are having less success of late, probably because of the water clarity, but casting in towards the mangroves on a rising tide is still doing the trick.
The bigger bream are fussy eaters at this time of year, and they have been hard to find. Grassy sweetlip are around the bridge and just north of it.
There has often been just too much westerly wind to be comfortable in the Bay, but tailor and whiting have been consistent catches at Cook’s Rocks and on the drift towards Red Beach. Fishing from Red Beach itself has been a frustrating exercise over the past couple of weeks, but there are some decent winter whiting for the taking.
While you’re at Red Beach, you might come across some 4wds and boats parked up on the sand. They belong to the local mullet fishermen – hardy fellows who spend hours on the beach each winter’s day, watching and waiting, then hauling nets in, full of mullet.
Some of these men are 4th or 5th generation, catching mullet in much the same way as their forefathers (but now with the occasional help of modern technology, in the way of drones!).
The local mullet fishery has been vital to Bribie Island; so much so, that there used to be an annual mullet festival, complete with the Bribie Mullet Queen. It is still an important industry – good for the local economy and a lucrative export product.
Go on up and say hello to the hard-working locals – they’re always happy to show you what they do.