HOT LAPS: Cobby Cobby Island
  |  First Published: April 2010

Please note that some of the areas talked about in this article may encroach on green zones as the article was penned prior to the green zone creation. While we have tried to minimise this possible conflict, make sure you are aware of the MNP30 green zone boundaries before and while you are fishing near Cobby Cobby Island.

Cobby Cobby Island is currently gazetted as Green Zone Marine National Park 30 in the Moreton Bay Marine Park. Unlike most other green zones in the southern part of Moreton Bay, MNP30’s boundary is actually the low water line (see page 38 of the Moreton Bay Marine Park User Guide printed and distributed by the EPA). However, if you can work out exactly what the low water line is on any given tide, please let me know.

For a full list of Marine Park zones in the Moreton Bay Marine Park log onto www.epa.qld.gov.au as it is the angler’s responsibility to know where the boundaries are, not the EPA’s responsibility to clearly mark them for Bay users. – Ed

Cobby Cobby Island is one of a dozen islands situated in the maze of waterways between the Southern Bay and southeast Queensland’s famed Jumpinpin. Surprisingly, the island’s surrounding fishery is only lightly pressured and comprises of secluded back creeks that offer great trolling runs and casting opportunities that are protected from the wind and the waves.

Not as famous as it should be, this region has been home to many cruising and fishing adventures for Brisbanites. In my Mum’s teen years she spent countless afternoons on serious fishing and crabbing aboard her parents’ bay cruiser. In my teens, the region was all about tiny tinnies, centre consoles and targeting flathead.

Fortunately I get to visit the region regularly on visits back home and I’m happy to report the fishing is as good as ever. Catching half a dozen to a dozen flathead per outing on lures is still fairly typical in season, with the best fishing consistency being from April through to October.

From the various boat ramps available down the Pin, there are a few options to get started, from a cloverleaf of ‘laps’ or island circumnavigations.

When fishing from the boat ramp at Cabbage Tree Point the hottest fishing lap starts at the ramp, heads up to Rocky Point, with a side trek around the flats to the northern end of the Mosquito Islands. Then fish the edge of the channel along the southern end of Russell Island before heading into the back creeks.

I try to avoid most of the main channels because as a kid my dingy was nearly sunk by a large planning cruiser that flew past at speed. The wave it tossed up hit the edge of the sand bank and dumped in my boat, which capsized only centimetres away. You do have to run the main channels at low tide to access the good fishing spots so please keep an eye out for the big boats.

Some of the prime fishing spots in the Cobby Cobby region include the following:

south eastern end

Cobby Passage is the waterway between Russell Island and Cobby Cobby Island. Little Cobby Passage is the back creek around the southern and western sides of Cobby Cobby Island.

A great flathead spot is at the eastern end of Little Cobby Passage. There’s a nice gutter between the shallow sandbank and the mangroves of Cobby Cobby Island. Working lures around this area on high tide is a good tactic. When my luck is in I’ve caught fish after fish on consecutive casts, which leads me to believe that the fish school up on these flats and that they don’t get annoyed by too much boat traffic.

The Deep Hole

There is a seriously deep hole at the eastern junction of the crescent side creek and main channel in Little Cobby Passage. This hole is a well known hot-spot for bream and school mulloway in winter. Run over the hole with your sounder on and marvel at the baitfish schools, as well as a few big fish shows.

Around the Rock Bar

At the western junction of the side creek and Little Cobby Passage there are two rock bars: one from the northern side and the other from the point of the little island on the southern side. There is a small break in the middle, so navigate with caution and preferably by paddles.

Fish unweighted yabby baits at high tide on the eastern side of the wall for bream in winter. Don’t be shy about casting some surface poppers across the top of the wall at high tide – slow retrieves with regular pauses are typically the most productive for bream and jacks. Faster retrieves will work better for trevally and tailor, if they are around.

The Drains

Both sides of Little Cobby Passage in particular are intersected by gutters that drain the water out of the islands on each falling tide. Typically these drains are at their most productive, especially for ambush feeders like flathead, during a falling tide when the water is actively flowing out of them.

This means that when the tidal fall is a fairly large drop in height then there is, towards the end of the tide, likely to be a time when all the water has already run out of the drain. After this time you can expect that the predatory fish activity level will have tapered off and you are less likely to find a hot bite happening.

Playing the percentage game, it will often be the time of greatest flow that you’ll get the most bites from the biggest fish if you are casting lures around the outflow of the drain. On either side of the peak flow, particularly as the rate of flow is building up, you’ll start to encounter fish biting activity.

Remember ‘dead low, no flow, fish slow’; you’d be better off running your lures down a deep channel, or hole nearby and crossing your fingers.

There are also many drains and gutters across the flats, particularly in the Mosquito Islands region. At high tide the drains fill and the fish spread out across the flats behind the drains. If you can get access to the flats or the holes and gutters then this is a good time to fish them, which unfortunately is no easy feat.

At low tide put some effort into looking for flats with high flathead-attracting habitat, like yabby beds, mud and weed. Sandy areas will generally be less productive unless there is quality structure around, such as fallen trees, hard steep drop-offs and mud clumps.

At certain times of the year the concentrations of predatory fish like flathead, mulloway and tailor will often be associated with bait activity; particularly from the prawn schoolings around April through to the mid-year and winter baitfish runs. When the bait is there you’ll often find predators focused on it, even if it takes them well away from their lairs.

At other times of the year I don’t find the presence of bait as reliably important, and I tend to find the predators close to their preferred ambush structure, such as the drains and weed beds near drains.

The Mosquito Island Flats

This is a great fishing area. The channels (gutters would be a better description) between these islands are legendary for XOS photo opportunity flathead well over the legal limit, as well as 50-60cm keepers. Dead slow troll (DST) is my favourite trolling speed for flathead through this area. When drifting and casting, the ideal pace is governed by the prevailing breeze and either the occasional kick of a trolling motor or a push-pole’s gentle guidance.

Around these flats you’ll also encounter trevally. My experience is that summer is the best time for them with poppers and soft plastics a standard offering for keen lure casters.

Little Rocky Point

There are some good rocky structures on the mainland at Little Rocky Point, plus the outflow from the nearby prawn farms can provide a reasonable berley stream. Trolling lures through the area has produced tailor and trevally big enough to win category prizes in local fishing tournaments.

Oak Island

The little watercourse that separates Oak Island from the northeastern end of Cobby Cobby is not really navigable in a boat. You just might get a kayak through there on a super high tide but I’ve never managed it – I tried once but got turned around by the tide of sandflies.

Both entrances at the northern and eastern ends of this tiny gutter are certainly worth a flick. Neither of them are hotspots of note, but it only takes five minutes to stop off and give them a go.

The eastern end is quite attractive but it doesn’t have the flow rate of a double ended creek, which tends to be an important prerequisite for flathead. Nevertheless you can still catch a fish or two when your luck is in.

The northern end of Oak Island has a nice deep gutter around 6m deep up against it, with fallen timber littering the sea floor. It makes a good spot to bounce weedless stand-up jigs on the bottom, but lure losses can be high if you forget your lure retriever.

Lure Choice: Fatties for Flatties

The following is a refinement of the jellybean principle: troll lures in water less than 2m deep and pull lures that run somewhere between top and bottom. In this depth of water an aggressive flathead will happily rise off the bottom to nail a lure, especially one that is running around 1.5m depth. And the beauty of running a lure at such a depth is that it is less likely to get weeded than one that is touching the bottom.

Small lures perform to this running depth criteria with no problems at all. The small short fat lures will cast better than short skinny lures, which makes them perfect for casting while either drifting or using the electric motor.

I favour using fat ‘bass’ style crankbaits because of several factors: they cast further for their length; they have a strong fish attracting wobbling action; and, they are very stable across a wide range of trolling/retrieve speeds – running true straight out of the box.

More important than the colour of the lure, is that you have a cross section of lures that dive to different depths, such as 0-1.5m, 1.5-3m and 3-5m, especially when combing a new area. Until I get a better feel for which lure to use when and where, I’ll run all three depth capabilities behind the boat. That way at least one is likely to be in the strike zone just above the bottom.

The Hot Lap

A fishing lap, either trolling or casting, from the Cabbage Tree Point boat ramp through the Mosquito Islands on high tide, around Cobby Cobby Island including Little Cobby Passage on the first part of the actively falling tide and back to the ramp takes around five hours. Give or take an hour either way, this makes the lap the ideal half day outing, or it can be the first of two laps for a full day in summer.

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