Bread and Butter Species Thrive
  |  First Published: December 2011

December - They don’t call it the silly season for no reason. However the silliest thing you could do is leave your boat on dry land and the fishing gear in the shed. If you’re not boating this month, you’re not living.

It can get warm out there so slip, slop, slap and drink heaps of water, not alcohol. Painted boats can help cut the heat and glare by 20% compared to bare aluminium crafts. This equates to less sun burn and fatigue at the end of a long day on the water.

Grunter bream are being caught in good numbers on bait but seem to be very hard to target on plastics. A session on the plastics may only land you one or two and they are only a random by-catch, but they can pull line and are very welcomed in my tinny. Bait on the other hand can land you 10 or more. Try to chase the high tides, fish up onto the flats and into the mangroves using live yabbies or small live prawns. If your prawns are dead just make sure they are fresh and remove the shell.

The bread and butter fish are three of the hardest and most pressured target species in the passage; everybody wants a piece of the pie and nine times out of ten you can get it with ease.

The whiting seem to be moving around a lot. Where you caught them one day you won’t catch them there the next, but keep moving until you find them and keep ultra quiet especially in the skinny water areas. Using an old bicycle tube to cover your anchor chain works a treat. Feed the entire length of chain into the tube and zip tie it in place, it’s the oldest trick in the book and works well.

Bream have been steady and reliable targets. These guys are very much like the grunter bream feeding up with the tides well into the mangrove system. Keep your line as light as possible and your bait ultra fresh. If you’re not getting the number of bites you desire, pull in and change your bait for a new one. Always remember fresh is best. I always keep my old bait for back up in case I run low at the end of the session or you can use them for berley. However you also have blades, plastics and hard bodies - they never go stale and bring results. The results vary from angler to angler, whether it be luck or perseverance, knowledge and or skill, I myself don’t like to rely on luck too much as it can leave long gaps between fish.

If you haven’t had your fair share of fun with flathead yet you need to hop to it. They are awesome fun especially on plastics. Remember the bag limit is five per person. Try your catch and release skills on them as there is no better feeling than letting them swim away to pull line another day. Be sure to handle them with care, it ensures their survival.

When you find these guys and they decide to chew you can catch up to 50-60 fish in an outing with ease. This kind of action can take its toll on your hooks and leader material, so keep a close eye on them and replace on a regular basis. The sheer numbers of flathead will drop right back in these warmer months but you can still tangle with your fair share. The average size is normally better than the numbers of fish mainly due to the warmer water.

There has been the odd tailor being caught with the size being up there but the numbers not. They are more just a by-catch. The queenfish and trevally have been thin also with few reports but there have been a few landed off the Caloundra board walk and a handful under the Bribie bridge.

There have been plenty of jew around; most have been just on legal or under size. I hope we are all doing the right thing with these gorgeous specimens remembering anything under 75cm must be released. They’ve been landed on large 7” plastics, blades and live baits like poddy mullet or herring. Keep your lures in the natural colours as these fish are some of the smartest in the passage.

The jacks and estuary cod are often found in the same location where there is plenty of line busting structure. These guys can take up many man hours to target and make you wonder why you do it, and then you land one and all you can say is wow, that’s why I do it! It doesn’t matter whether you use lure or bait as long as you get right in amongst the rough stuff. Bribie and the Caloundra canals are some of the best areas to fish, just remember when trying to choose bait or lure they both have pros and cons. Lures can cover a lot more area in a short space of time where bait can bring out some of the shyest smartest fish going. Any of the creeks with structure present will normally house these line burners.

The crabs have been hot and cold. If you’re willing to do the work you will eventually get results. The sand crabs have been fairly reliable from Toorbul all the way down to the Bribie Bridge and into the bay. For muddies on the other hand, you will need to go in the opposite direction, north up the passage and into the creeks. Just watch the share farmers as they can become quite active this time of year. I know we shouldn’t have to worry about it but unfortunately we do.

There are still plenty of dolphins and turtles around and I even saw some wild horses up around Mission Point camp ground on Bribie Island so keep your eyes open, take it easy and have fun out there. Keep safe and have a very Merry Christmas, preferably a fishy one.

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