Part II: Dreaming of Donnybrook
  |  First Published: December 2008

Following on from last month, Ivor King relives the dreamy days of Donnybrook.

Day Two

After the first cold night I planned an early start for Friday morning, again targeting the oyster lease to the east of the park.

The water temp was still 16ºC as dawn broke and I cast my first popper toward the lease. The run was an hour later today so there was more water over the lease for the fish to forage.

Working over the corner that served up the large bream yesterday morning produced nothing. It wasn’t looking good as I threw cast after cast. I tried a surface walker for a while but to no avail. With the sky brightening fast I went back to the popper.

Finally! Blooping an area of lease that bordered a weed bed, my lure got whacked by a 24cm to the fork bream. Releasing it back on the lease, I moved away to a 3m deep channel that flowed along the mainland near the lease. I didn’t think that this was a bream location, but it was such a beautifully calm morning with the sun peeking above the horizon, I was just happy casting and retrieving the lure and savouring the atmosphere.

After a while, I nearly dropped the rod when a fast, long-silver-flash hit and missed the blooping lure. Wow! I thought, what was that? Probably a yellow tailed pike for sure. These pike have a very bad habit of slicing through light leaders and stealing lures.

However, it’s impossible to not throw a lure back at a fish you just missed, lure stealer or not. Next cast and two bloops later, I saw something torpedo in from my right and take the lure for a ride as it hooked up. This time line peeled from the reel as the light rod bent to the water. This was no bream that’s for sure.

One thing was certain though, it had teeth if it was a surface predator and the odds were greatly on the side of the fighting fish. Luckily, and luck was with me, a tailor of 37cm came to the boat and went into the esky. Nine times out of ten a tailor would have cut me off on the initial strike, or would have gained its freedom during the fight. I was very chuffed with its capture.

One more small bream was caught before the area went quiet. I decided to go back to the Cowrie Banks area and try a deep rock bar between the mainland and a small nearby island. There were plenty of options here.

At high tide, the water covers the very shallow rock rubble right up to the trees that grow on these islands. I love fishing my lures up into water only 10cm’s shallow, and even better if that water is lapping the trees and bushes. Bream come up into these depths hunting worms, crabs, tiny prawns and yabbies.

To see if there’s fish in an area, and if they’re on the bite, I like to use a Gulp Shrimp. My reasoning is that if you can’t get a bite on one of them, then there’s not much about. So casting from side to side, working the different depths, I drifted with the tide. Working from shallow to deepwater, targeting rock, sand and weedy patches, I managed to snare seven bream from 22cm to 28cm to the fork and two flathead, one at 47cm and the other at 50cm. Then the wind increased from calm to 20 knots from the south southeast.

The beauty of the Pumicestone Passage is that it covers such a large area; around 45km from Caloundra to the southern end of Bribie Is. The many islands, twists and turns means that there’s always somewhere to get out of the wind to fish.

Of course the wind can also be used to your advantage. This is the time to tie on those very light crankbaits, like little Ecogear SX40 and Tweeny Wee Crawdads. Placing your back directly into the wind, you make high lob casts. The wind catches your lure and takes it twice the distance that you’d ever cast it normally. Also, the wind causes wave action on the water surface and this helps in disguising your presence in the area.

However, I’d caught enough from here over the last two days and I wanted to get out of the wind, so it was time to steam back to Lime Pocket again. Today however, I was going to fish the deep fast running water beside Bribie Is. In days gone by my Dad used to anchor up the net boats here overnight and would tell me of the kilo-plus bream he’d catch with a set rod out the back of the boat while he was cooking up dinner.

This area has some large trees that have fallen from the bank into the water with patches of coffee rock on the bottom and the sides of the drop-offs – very fishy country. You can go through a fair bit of gear in this country but if you’re not loosing some tackle then you’re not where the fish are hanging.

Drifting with the tide and using the electric to slow me down, I flicked my 2g jighead with a 2” Gulp Shrimp in new penny colour hard up against the edge and slowly jigged the Shrimp as it drifted down the sheer drop-off into 5-6m. The first bream came a few minutes later. The Shrimp had sunk about 1m and was still hard up against the side of the bank when I saw the belly in the line straighten up. Lifting the tip set the thin wire hook into a nice 24cm fork bream.

Things went quiet for about 50m until a cast reached the bottom in 6m of water. Lifting the rod to work the lure, I found it heading off at right angles to the boat. This turned out to be a flathead of 47cm.

Saving the best snag on the bank for last, my side imaging Humminbird sounder told me that the thick branches went deep underwater. Positioning the boat downstream of the snag and tight up against the bank, I tossed the new penny Shrimp into the slack water behind the branches, letting it sink down beside the timber before beginning my retrieve.

I thought I’d snagged up as I lifted the rod and it came up short and stopped dead in my hands. Then as the hook sunk into the fish, it took off for the bottom. And it didn’t muck about either, peeling line from the reel with wild abandon. I was down on my knees with half the rod in the water trying to steer the fish away from the wood, and all I could think was that I’m a goner for sure. With the boat slowly drifting back with the tide, and my effort with the rod, the fish was turned into clean water and it became just a matter of him tiring.

My first glimpse of colour confirmed it was a bream, and a nice one at that. My last cast for the trip resulted in a bream of 33.5cm to the fork and 880g. My best bream to date on plastics.

The total for the day was 11 bream, one tailor, four flathead and a pike.

Retrieving the crab pots on the way back to the Donny ramp resulted in lots of jennies and three legal sized buck sandies.

What can I say? It was just a great two mornings fishing and I barely scratched the surface of the area that’s available. I’ll be fishing Pumicestone Passage a lot more from now on. – Ivor King

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