I am just back from a week down at Iluka. There were fish around but the weather did its best to stop me catching any. The consistent northerly winds created a constant swell at most of the rock fishing spots and the rain just kept coming.
I arrived last Tuesday, 30th Dec and, in hindsight, the conditions that day were the best. I started early in the morning, just on dawn, looking for some jewfish from the rocks around Frasers Reef. The swell was just fishable but every now and then I got soaked by a surge that slapped up against the rocks and came straight down on top of me – at least it was warmer than June and September. The tide was about half way in.
Any plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour is a firm favourite with the locals and I rigged a GULP 5” Jerkshad which has worked well for me in this spot. The swell was big and after a few casts with a 3/8 oz jighead, I switched to a heavier ½ oz jighead. Soon after sun up I got a few bites and nudges at the foot of one of the bommies that I like to cast at from the shore. As always, it is very difficult to get a plastic down on the bottom and leave it there for any length of time. If you jerk it off the bottom too quickly the fish don’t find it and if you leave it too long you get snagged. Add in the swell and the murky water and things did not really look promising.
I persisted and got soaked and snagged a few times and then switched to a smaller GULP. I also changed down from 30lb to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. It started to rain. A couple of casts later I had a fish on. I played it for a bit and then noticed a huge wave building, about fifty metres offshore. I tightened the drag and made an effort to get the fish up on the preceding, smaller wave, but I just could not pull it up. I crouched and the wave smashed against the rocks. The plume of water went straight up for 5 metres or so before absolutely soaking me. But as the water receded, I was delighted to hear some tail slapping and just beside me there was a small school jewfish, just about legal in NSW, at a little more than 45cm. I decided to release this fish in the hope of finding a better one. I removed the jighead without too much trouble and speared the fish back into the foam.
About twenty minutes later I had another one on and despite the strong current, it felt a bit bigger. I decided to walk it round to a more sheltered landing spot and got another soaking in the process. I managed to hold on and let the swell lift it onto a ledge. I then grabbed the leader and pulled it up. It was a better fish at around 50cm long, but it was no monster. This one I kept for dinner and after cleaning it up in the rain I decided to give up at around 9.30 am.