The time of the year I prefer Queensland fishing to down south, has arrived. Trout season is closed, everyone is freezing and we are still up here wet wading in shorts and T-shirts.
The fishing has been mixed lately, but there are good numbers of the staple species around to be caught. Numbers of flathead have started appearing with the big girls showing up, followed by decent-sized 50-60cm males. We’ve had a few good days in the estuaries on the run-out tides but have also found it difficult at times.
Which brings me to the first story. There’s a canal behind my house which has some amazing fish in it depending on the time of year: from metre-long GTs, big schools of bream, barramundi, jacks, queenfish… the list goes on. One of the fish that’s present year-round is flathead and there are some quite big ones; however in this canal, they are difficult to catch. You can polaroid them sitting in amongst the rocks and put the fly right near them but they refuse to take it and then just spook to the depths once the fly gets too close. In the canal are runoff guards that catch debris from stormwater drains around the area – big plastic yellow sheets that form semi circles out into the canal. A few weeks ago, I spooked a good flathead lying right on the outside of one in about 40cm of water. The next time I tried, put a cast over the yellow sheet from where the fish couldn’t see me and fished it for no result. However, the flathead was there all along, as I discovered as soon as I stepped into its view and it shot off!
Then exam week came around and I had some days at home for ‘study’. So each day I went out with a new fly or idea to try to catch this flathead. I would go down and from the outside of the yellow sheeting, I would put a cast in towards it. Day 1, it doesn’t move so I slowly creep closer and closer, casting away until he it sees me and spooks to the depths. In frustration, I put a cast out there and on the retrieve, this bloody fish is following three inches behind the fly! Eventually it spooks once the fly gets shallower.
Day 2: This time the flathead moves from its lie straight to the fly as it lands, and I’m thinking, we’re in! It stops three inches short again, but instead of moving the fly I decide to sit and wait to see what happens. The fish stares at the fly for a few seconds, and then cruises into the depths, not to be seen again. Day 3, I came back to the spot from behind the yellow debris catcher and spotted these small dark eyes looking up from the sand. As I lowered the fly down, the fish shot off again. Day 4, the flathead once more cruises straight over to the fly as it lands , inspects it, then moves back to its lie.
So far, this fish has me beat. I don’t really want to try and catch it at dawn or dusk as the fun part is seeing it. As long as it stays in its spot, I’ll keep trying.
Post exams on Saturday, I got out fishing with friends Peter, Leanne and Louie who were staying at Bribie Island. The day was magic! The fishing was average unfortunately but the weather, scenery and company more than made up for it. The highlight of the morning was a calamari chasing the fly into the boat and grabbing it but we couldn’t quite get the thing close enough to net for a photo. We went around the bottom of the island and found a pod of half a dozen dolphins herding mullet into the shallows and crashing into them. It was like something from an Attenborough doco, mullet flying into the air and dolphins throwing themselves into water so shallow, half their bodies were exposed.
We ended up heading out to fish the channel markers and got a beautiful small cod. We then headed to Moreton Island where we saw a big dugong as well as two large mackerel cruising along a drop off. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a shot before they saw us. The rest of the day was spent polaroiding small trevally on the flats, watching more pods of dolphins, and fishing the incoming tide back at Bribie over the sea grass beds. There were plenty of fish around and we landed a good pike and flathead, yet I had the feeling that we didn’t make the most of it as there was plenty of fish moving around. A bit of local knowledge or low tide recon would make this spot well worth another look next time.
All in all, I’m very glad to be up here at the moment; in fact I’m just going down now to pay that flathead another visit…