As the weather slowly warms up, a lot of predatory fish species start to become quite active and begin making a show again in our local estuaries. This, coupled with the fact that many winter species such as tailor and bream are fishing at their biggest and best, can make for some excellent catches.
Bait and lure anglers can successfully target some of the larger fish like mangrove jack, flathead and trevally, all of which start entering the shallow tidal creeks and river systems. With the water temperature rising and tiny little poddy mullet appearing virtually everywhere, chances are that a nice fresh livebait or well-worked lure will start producing quality fish.
For me, Nundah Creek is one of those early spring hotspots that can really turn it on. This is a perfect spot for Brisbane-based anglers who don’t want to travel far to be in the running for some great fishing.
Nundah Creek is located at Shorncliffe and runs approximately 20km through the Boondall Wetlands until it joins Cabbage Tree Creek. Both creeks are around 10-15 feet deep but can be as shallow as 2 feet in parts, which makes them ideal for small watercraft such as canoes, kayaks and tinnies.
Low tide can make it a bit tricky for bigger boats getting in and out of the area so you should watch the tides if you have a larger vessel.
Anglers travelling from Brisbane can expect about a 20-minute drive to the ramp. The quickest route is via Sandgate Road: turn right down Board Street at Sandgate, take another right on Rainbow and follow the signs to the ramp. Be careful because the boys in blue will nine times out of ten have speed cameras set up along Board Street and copping a ticket either coming or going from a fishing trip can really put a dampener on things.
With recent upgrades to the Shorncliffe ramp – including stainless steel, undercover fish cleaning tables with running water, three-car boat launching and toilets – anglers are well catered for. The creek itself is directly opposite the ramp so travelling distances are very short. If the weather turns bad or in the unlikely event of strong winds making their way up the creek, you can head back to the ramp in no time at all. There’s even a fish co-op that sells local bay prawns and does a mean fish and chips if your fishing doesn’t quite carry you through to a feed!
Tide plays a pretty big part in most fishing areas and Nundah and Cabbage Tree creeks are no different. In past trips I’ve found that an incoming tide seems to fish better than others but the reverse outgoing can also produce good fishing.
One of my favourite types of fishing is targeting flathead with soft plastics and micro-sized hard-bodied lures. This place is a great lizard fishery. I start any flatty spinning session on the incoming tide and begin directly opposite the boat ramp. Slightly to the left of the launching ramp, at the mouth of Nundah Creek, there is a series of moored catamarans. These are a semi-permanent feature as they seem to be rarely used and flathead love to sit underneath and wait for small prawns and other food items to be washed through. I use 3” Berkley PowerBaits in pearl shad, watermelon or pumpkinseed colours rigged on 2-3g jigheads, and can usually pick up a couple of school-sized fish without too much searching.
Big specimens are occasionally encountered, usually on dark. With a tell-tale solid bump, a couple of head shakes and a fierce run, the larger fish will let themselves be known and will almost always try to wrap you around the anchor ropes of boats, so be ready!
By using the incoming tide you can drift and cast your way upstream and nine times out of ten you’ll score a feed. Fishing with the tidal flow can improve your results, as fish will be facing the current looking for food and are more likely to hit lures drifting down towards them than ones sliding up from behind. A gentle lift and drop of the rod tip while slowly winding in the slack line is the best way to fish any plastic you decide to use.
A quick tip when handling the smaller flathead is the TOB or Thumb on Bum hold. The angler flips the fish over so it’s upside down and very gently presses down on the fish’s lower stomach area. Flathead become very manageable and rarely struggle, so hooks or trebles can be easily removed without fuss and without using towels that rub the sensitive layer of slime off the fish.
Other likely encounters in Nundah Creek or Cabbage Tree Creek are bream and jacks. I have been left sitting speechless in my canoe wondering what happened after a rogue jack or XOS bream has simply blown me away on light gear. By targeting the rocks at the mouth of Nundah at dark, you will really increase your chances of hitting a jack. If it’s high tide, look for the bird watching hut on the right (if heading upstream) and you’ll be almost directly in line with the underwater structure.
Sometimes a trip out at dead low is a good idea just to see the terrain that’s usually covered at high tide and get a mental picture of the bottom. Another spot worth having a look at is underneath the resident trawlers right next to the ramp. The deep water leading off the rocks between the boats themselves can also be home to some big bream. I generally use small hard-bodied lures such as C-Lures’ Jack Snack in gold and orange or River 2 Sea’s Static Shads when targeting jacks around this area, as plastics get snagged up. However, the resident bream will hit soft plastics and if you decide to use them, I suggest choosing a reasonably small model to increase your chances of a hook-up.
My favourite ultra-light estuary lure is the Teeny Deep Rebel Crawdad in a dull brown colour or bright orange. By removing the middle treble and changing the rear to a chemically sharpened Owner or Gamakatsu, even fish that bump the lure will connect. This will also add to the lure’s buoyancy.
Monster flathead will maul these little micro offerings as well, so they’re a very good lure when fishing the Nundah Creek. By working the lure down onto the bottom and, most importantly, by retrieving very slowly with occasional pauses, you’ll get good results. If you do hit a snag, just give the lure some slack and a little sideways jiggle with the rod tip and they’re usually buoyant enough to float right off. I’ve even had fish pick up snagged lures at times and save me the trouble!
Nundah is also a great crab potting spot in the warmer months, with good catches of muddies. And when the prawns are running it’s not unusual to be able head down with a cast net and sort yourself out for prawn cocktails for a week or two!
All up, Nundah Creek is a brilliant local fishing hole that suits serious all-day angling sessions as well as simply relaxing and throwing in a line after work. So as the weather starts to warm up, why not head down for a look and a fish? I’ll see you out there!Reads: 9753