Perhaps La Nina is coming in after all, just as the Bureau of Meteorology promised. There have been a couple of good dumps of rain in the past little while and it has certainly started to make a difference in the fishing, although it had already picked up from the ‘tween season lows.
Mangrove jacks, as well as some good flathead, have been turning up in the creeks and around the mangroves and oyster leases. Ningi Creek is the first creek on the left (mainland) side as you travel north from the bridge. As you explore the mouth of this creek on a low tide you will soon realise why locals love this area so much; but be careful not to get stuck on any of the sandbanks! The entrance is marked by a yellow cross beacon 2km north of Spinnaker Sound Marina. The mouth of Ningi Creek is a popular area for flathead, and also sand crabs through the summer months (any month that has an “r” in it, is the usual saying). Along the oyster leases in that area is also good for bream but be careful not to interfere with or damage the working oyster leases.
The deep water in the middle of the Passage between the mouth of Ningi Creek and the bridge holds lots of grassy sweetlip and moses perch over the summer. The tidal run through there will be strong, especially over the last few days of December-early January, with the full moon, so you might have to fish on the drift. If you want to anchor, try to choose a period of time over the change of tide.
Just north-west of Pacific Harbour at the Avon Wreck, there are reports of decent whiting and bream. Jan and Alan got onto several big bream and a couple of good grunters, with prawns. The catch got them over the line, to both win championships at the Everton Park Fishing Club, so they were pretty happy! Shag Island lies behind the wreck looking northward and the relatively deep-water channel between them is always known to hold good fish, although it can leave you in shallow water with no obvious exit if you don’t watch the tide.
Heading another 2km north of the Pacific Harbour entrance, on the Bribie side of the Pumicestone Passsage is White Patch. White Patch is nicely protected from northerlies and northeast/easterlies. Anchoring in towards Wright’s Creek will also offer shelter from the regular south-easterlies! This spot holds juvenile snapper, bream, flathead, occasional trevally and mulloway and sand crabs. Trevally in particular, are showing up in numbers. The northern end of the White Patch gutter narrows and drops out quickly, so be careful of the big tides.
The start of the school holidays always gets the young local lads going, and some of the night-time bridge action has been interesting. Ethan, Connor and ben tell me that they caught a 39cm sweetlip and three around the 35cm mark, using squid and garfish as bait. The next night, they caught a 45cm snapper, but they thought the closed season was still on, so threw it back! The closed season is from July 15th-August 15th, annually, so they missed out on that one. I’ve been told the bream are plentiful around the bridge lately, as well – they’re a good source of information, the bridge fishers, all we need now is for them to clean up after themselves!
Of course, you can also fish under the bridge, from a boat. Bee scored himself a snapper and a lovely school mackerel before the rains, “a bit of berley helped”. Cameron has his own special recipe – 3-day salted prawns. He used them to catch a 45cm bream and a 45cm sweetlip, under the bridge.
The Pumicestone Passage’s mudflats and protected wetlands also support many species of wading birds. During summer, huge numbers of migratory birds use Bribie Island and the Pumicestone Passage as their nesting-place; others use the area as a resting-place on their migratory path. Be aware of the no-go zone known as Kakadu bird-roost, on the north side of Pacific Harbour and marked on the Bribie Island Boat Charters’ chart – we all need to help protect these birds after their long-haul flights from Siberia and other northern climes.
Jimmy drifted past Kakadu and the nearby Oyster Regeneration project, bringing home two 40+cm snapper, using prawns as bait. He also had crab-pots out, so he had seven sand crabs for dinner as well. Sand crabs and muddies will be enjoying this change of weather, so get those pots out; just make sure they have plenty of line and good labelling.