Bribie Island – Sandstone Point Drain – 27 Feb 2011

Sunday

Up early, 3.30am and back to Bribie to see if the Flathead were still around. There was no real wind but officially the wind direction had turned to a northerly. When I arrived at about 4.20am the bridge resembled Scapa Flow submarine base during WW2. There were about ten lines in the water from the north side of the bridge and a couple of cast nets kept splashing over the side. There were also a couple of crab pots hanging off the bridge further along. It was good to see so many land based anglers out fishing but a stealthy approach in this area, was out of the question.

As I was rigging up I ran into a local fisherman who also patrols this area with lures and we waded out under the bridge together. The tide was still running in but as there had been a lot of disturbance on the north side of the bridge, we decided to fish the south side. There were lots of surface breaks and tiny jumping jelly prawns. We both hooked into some Pike – I was also bitten off, but I think it was only and aggressive Pike. They can really chomp as I had a 16lb fluorocarbon leader tied on.

After 30 mins of fishing, neither of us had a Flathead so I decided to move south and my friend headed off to Pebble Beach. I continued south, casting along the shore line in front of me. The surface bust ups continued, but died off as the sun came up. The tide was slowing now and about to turn. I walked south and round the corner towards Sandstone Point.

As the tide started to run out, I positioned myself in the mouth of a big sandy drain that is just on this corner. I took out a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and rigged it on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I cast it into the run out tide and jigged it along the bottom of the drain with the current. A few jumps into my retrieve I felt the unmistakable ‘thud’ of a Flathead bite. I paused, counted to five, then struck – I was on. I pulled it clear of the Mangroves and walked it round the corner to a small bay where I pulled it up onto the sand. It was a 48cm Flathead and it was just after 6.10 am. I released it and went in search of more.

The Long Toms arrived and made a couple of impressive aerial lunges for the plastic, especially when I speeded up the retrieve. After half an hour or so of fishing with the same soft plastic lure, I swapped to a GULP 4” Jigging Grub in the Pepper Prawn colour. This is a fairly robust grub tail soft plastic. The tail vibrates nicely and when the water is not very clear I think this helps the fish find it. It worked this time as it was grabbed on the first cast. In fact, it had hardly hit the water when something ate it. It took a couple of turns of the reel to realise it was hooked and then it made a great tail splash and took a bit of line. Again I gradually walked it back to shore to unhook it. It was another Flathead, around 43cm long.

I photographed and released the fish and carried on for another hour without any luck. The water was very murky, as the big tide had stirred up the all the sediment again. I was pleased to see there were still fish around but I would like a bit of south-easterly wind to come back soon.

Bribie Island – Sandstone Point Drain – 26 Feb 2011

Saturday

After a good session on Thursday, I headed back up to Bribie Island early on Saturday morning. I was wading out under the bridge, on the mainland side, just after high tide, at about 4.30 am. I decided to try some big GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshads, to see if I could find some bigger fish, under the bridge lights. I rigged a pink shine version on a 1/8th 2/0 jig head and cast out to the north side of the bridge. After a few casts, nothing was happening so I moved to the south side. The first cast came up taught as soon as I flicked the reel bail arm over. The fish held on until it was only a couple of metres away and then let the lure go. The same thing happened, a couple of casts later. I could not see what was biting, but I think they were probably Pike or Moses Perch.

As the sun came up I moved south, past the old oyster jetty to the big drain that empties round the corner from the direction of Sandstone Point. The tide was really running out now and I decided to try a 1/5th of an ounce Berkley Big Eye Blade lure. I cast it out let it sink briefly, and jerked it back towards me fairly quickly. To get the right action you really need to keep these lures moving fast. After a few cast, I had a fish. The small, soft hooks on these blades mean I often lose the fish before I can get it back to shore. There was no problem this time. I had a nice Flathead around 48cm.

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After a 15 minutes more fishing with the blade lure, it got snagged and I lost it. I switched to a GULP 3” Minnow Grub soft plastic in the pepper prawn colour and rigged it on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was now fishing along the edge of the big sand bank that channels the water down through the drain. After a couple of hits I cast back in the same spot about 6 times before I finally connected with the fish. It was another, bigger Flathead at 52cm. I wandered around this area for another hour or so. I hooked up with a couple more fish but dropped them or they spat out the lure. Finally I connected with a good size Long Tom who jumped clean out of the water when it realised it was hooked. These really are ugly fish.

Another great morning fishing and as we have plenty of fish in the fridge, they were all released today, some unintentionally!

Bribie Island – Flathead under the bridge – 24 Feb 2011

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Thursday

3.45 am – Rain and wind – but at least it was a south easterly wind, this time. If you like to sleep in, land based fishing in Queensland, in summer, is probably not for you. I drove up to Bribie hoping that the rain would blow over. By the time I got there it was raining harder than ever. I pulled on the rain gear and waders, under cover of the petrol station, then drove down to the mainland side of the bridge and walked down to the bank. The rain had eased a little and I now had the bridge for shelter it was about 4.15 am. The tide was just a little more than half way out.

I was using my light spinning rod and reel – a 6’6” Loomis GL2 (Fast Action – rated 4 to 8lb) and a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel. The line was 6lb/ 2.8kg Fireline, with a 1.5 metre leader of 10lb fluorocarbon. I started with a 1/8th 1/0 jig head and rigged a GULP 4” Minnow in the pearl watermelon colour. I started casting along the line of the mangrove trees, to the north of the bridge, a couple of metres offshore. There was no more than 20cm of water, but after a few casts I hooked my first fish of the day – a 25cm Flathead. I sheltered under the bridge as another rain shower came over and continued to cast the soft plastic up into the run out tide and bump it down towards me. The rain was really pouring but it didn’t deter the fish. After a couple of retrieves, I had another undersize Flathead.

The rain stopped and I moved to the south side of the bridge and swapped soft plastics to the GULP 4” Minnow in the Vader colour. I was still close in to the bank but casting just south of the bridge pylons. The ground is a bit rocky here so you will lose jig heads, but the channels in between the rocks are where the Flathead lie, waiting to ambush the baitfish as they are washed out on the tide. After a couple of casts in this area a fish grabbed the plastic and swam with it, almost to my feet before letting it go. I cast back in the same spot and slowed it all down. After a couple of hops, bang! I had another fish. This one was a keeper at about 45cm.

Given how many sharks are around at the moment and how murky the water is, I decided to put the fish in the keeper bag and hang it on a mangrove branch, rather than slosh around in the water with it. It was now getting light and I started to move out into deeper water, to the south of the bridge, casting up, inside the rocky bommy that is next to the 4th or 5th bridge pylon. I caught another undersize Flathead on the Vader minnow soft plastic and decided to experiment a bit. I put on the GULP 5” Crazy Legs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour and cast it up under the bridge. A few seconds after it hit the water it was smashed. I started losing line but before I had even started to work the reel – ping! It was gone. I think it had pulled the leader onto a rock and rubbed through.

I put the same plastic on again and this time an undersize Flathead grabbed it. I released it, straightened the plastic and cast it back out. A few casts later, I had a better fish on. I carefully dragged it out of the rocky area, and then let it run off a bit of steam. As it was a decent fish I decided to pull it back to the shore. It was another Dusky Flathead – the best of the day at 63cm.

I carried on moving south over the weed beds and also fished the flats to the south of the old oyster jetty. I switched between a few different soft plastics and ended up concluding that they all work when the fish are there and hungry – not much of an experiment. I also caught a few small flounder that seem to like the minnow shaped plastics. I ended up completely soaked but with a full bag of five Flathead from 42cm to 63cm. I released another six undersize flathead and a couple of Flounder. That is a good mornings fishing!

Bribie Island – Old Oyster Jetty – Flathead & Cod – 20 Feb 2011

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Sunday

Back in Brisbane and it was time to go looking for some fish in the Pumicestone Passage at Bribie Island. Conditions looked pretty good for Sunday morning so I was wading out in the pre-dawn light, by the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Bribie Bridge at around 4.45 am.

It was just after low tide and there was no real current flow. The water was very murky with plenty of sediment stirred up by the big tides of the full moon (which was the night before). I started with a 1/8th 1 hook jighead and a GULP 3” minnow soft plastic in the lime tiger colour.

There is plenty of debate about the use of bright coloured soft plastics for murky water. I am yet to be convinced that they work better than natural colours, in these conditions. I think darker, natural colours, which create a clear silhouette in the water, probably work better. I am also a convert to using bright colours in extremely clear water, although this is somewhat counter intuitive and has taken a while for me to accept. Today the lime tiger had produced nothing in the first twenty minutes and as this was the bite window around dawn, I switched to a more natural coloured pearl watermelon minnow in the 4” size.
I waded slowly south, parallel with the shoreline casting in between the patches of rocky reef that are exposed on a low, low tide in this area. I got a couple of bites from what felt like Bream, or perhaps Long Toms, but no hook ups. At about 6.00 am the tide started to flow in with a bit more power and the water began to clear slightly.

At a point about 50 metres to the south of the old oyster jetty, I felt a light thud as I jerked the soft plastic off the bottom. I waited and then struck, but there was no fish. I cast back in the same direction and in the same spot, another thud. I dropped the rod tip slowly and then struck and I got the fish. It was a very small Flathead, around 20cm long, but at least I was off the mark.

The tide was really moving now and it was covering the weed beds very quickly. I found a patch of weed in about one metre of water. I cast up current and let the plastic hop across the bottom. As it reached the weed patch – thud. I set the hook and realized this time I had a better sized fish. I walked it back to the shoreline – it was another Flathead – just over 40cm long. With plenty of fish in the fridge I decided to let this one go.

I waded back out to the same area and over the next hour or so caught three more similar sized Flathead and a 40cm Estuary Cod – all on the same 4” pearl water melon coloured soft plastic. The water had been quite clear for a while at the beginning of the run in tide but now it was full of stirred up sediment again. By 8.45 am it was already around 30 ° C so I stopped fishing and headed for the air con.

Iluka – Final Session – Jewfish – 14 Feb 2011

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Monday

Monday morning was my final fishing session on this trip to Iluka and I wanted to make it count. The northerlies had set in on Sunday and the result had been a couple of really disappointing sessions on the rocks at Woody Head. It was really frustrating. All of the good fishing spots were safely accessible on an afternoon low tide and there was a very gentle swell, but I could not raise a fish.

Around midnight, Monday a southerly change came through and when I got out to Middle Bluff, about 30 minutes before first light, at around 5.15 am, there was a light swell and a cloudy sky. I started fishing with the bright coloured GULP 5” Jerkshad soft plastics that had produced fish all week, rigged on a 3/8th 4/0 hook jighead. I fished like this for about an hour with no success and then switched to the GULP jigging grub in the nuclear chicken colour. After a few casts, the soft plastic was grabbed and bitten off, just beside the big bommy in front of Middle Bluff. I was out of jigging grubs so I put on a 4” minnow in the pearl watermelon colour and as I pulled it past the same spot it was grabbed again – this time it was a smaller fish – a tailor around the 30cm mark. As I was lifting it out of the water it wriggled off the hook and won its freedom. I carried on with this set up, but could not find any more Tailor – they must have moved on.

I switched to a GULP 4” minnow in the vader colour. I have been told these are a great lure for Jewfish/ Mulloway but have not had much luck with them. They are black on top and a crème colour underneath and look pretty much like a pilchard or hardy head. I put a few casts in but did not get a touch. I decided to just drop the plastic in close and just let it wash around at the base of the rocks. This worked – I hooked up and a solid fish took line on its initial run. I turned it round and pulled it towards the ledge. It took off again but without much power. I waited for the swell to lift it to a lower ledge and then pulled it up by the leader. It was a beautiful 58cm Jewfish. It was time to go so after a few snaps, I let it go and headed back to Brisbane.

It had been a good weeks fishing in Iluka. It is a great spot with so many options. The main species this week had been Jewfish but there were also quality Tailor, Bream and Flathead. I will definitely be back.

Bream & Flathead from the Clarence River – Browns Rocks – 12 Feb 2011

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Saturday pm

I decided to have a fish in the Clarence River on Saturday afternoon. I had been concentrating on the rocks and beaches at Iluka, as the river water still looked very dark after the recent floods. I decided to try and fish the north bank of the river just to the east of the Norfolk Island dock, near Browns Rocks. You get to this spot by turning left off the Iluka road at Woombah. There is an area of weed beds and sand flats here. There is also an old oyster farm and a few drop offs into the main river channel.

I arrived about 4.30 pm. The tide was about half way out and it was hot and humid. There was a light northerly breeze and it was fairly cloudy. This area is best approached in a pair of waders. I pulled mine on and rigged up my light spin outfit for soft plastics. It is a 6ft Loomis GL2 spin rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 4000 reel. I had spooled it with 6lb (2.8kg) Fireline and tied on a 1.5m long 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I started fishing with a 1/6th 1/0 jighead, but almost immediately changed down in weight and size to a 1/8th 1 hook jighead when I realized there was not much current flow.

I waded out to the point just short of where the sand flats drop off into the main channel and then turned and waded up river, parallel with the river bank. I was therefore casting up, into the run out tide and bouncing my soft plastic over the bottom, along the edge of the weed banks, right along the drop off.

I was looking for Flathead and that was what I found, in almost plague proportions – I caught twenty in an hour and a half. I was using the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and the 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger and Pear Watermelon colours. They were all catching fish. The problem was size. The vast majority of Flathead were under 20cm long. There were few around the 30cm mark, but only three over 40cm. The best fish was just over 55cm.

There were also plenty of small Bream cruising above the weed beds. Initially, they definitely preferred to hit the Pearl Watermelon minnow but as it got later and darker, they got less fussy. I caught 9 in the session of which three were over 25cm – but I released them all.

Finally around 7.15pm I gave up and drove back to Iluka. It was a great session and shows that there are still plenty of fish in the Clarence River.

Iluka – Frasers Reef – Jewfish/Bream – 12 Feb 2011

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Saturday – am

I woke around 4.30 am Saturday to meet a very sweaty dawn. There had been a northerly wind change overnight and it had brought warmer temperatures. Fortunately the wind was light so I decided to head back out to Middle Bluff to see whether the fish would still be biting.

I arrived on the rocks in the dark and carefully rigged up and edged out for my first cast. I was full of anticipation as the first few casts had produced some good results over the preceding few sessions. I was using the GULP 5” Jerkshad soft plastic in the lime tiger colour as I had run out of the ‘crazy legs’ version. It was rigged on a 3/8th oz 4/0 jighead.

The first cast produced nothing, nor did the next. In fact, after an hour of fishing, I had not registered a touch on the lure. I switched to a 70g HALCO Twisty slug to try and spin up a Tailor, but that technique was also unsuccessful. I reverted to the lime tiger soft plastic and at about 6.30am I connected with a fish. It was a small Jewfish/ Mulloway, just under 45cm so I released it.

I decided to move along the rocks to Fraser’s Reef. You can only reach this rocky outcrop about one to two hours either side of low tide. When the water is calm, there are a number of great spots to fish, particularly on the front of the promontory. In a number of places the waves break into narrow cuttings in the rocks which are constantly filling and draining. These provide great cover for the fish.

It was now around 8.30am and I decided to fish a paddle tail plastic. I chose the GULP Jigging Grub in the Nuclear Chicken colour. I put it in a 3/8thoz 4/0 hook jighead and fished it in as close to the rocks as I could. I would put in a few casts every few metres or so. The water was quite murky at the bottom of the tide – probably because of all the sediment that has been washed out of the Clarence River by the floods.

I cast down into a v-shaped channel between the rocks, as I lifted the rod I felt a double tap, I let the plastic sink again and when I lifted it for the second time, I had a fish on. I played it with the swell and eventually lifted it clear of the water. It was a monster Bream – around 39cm long. I continued fishing all around these rocks for another half an hour, but I could not find any more. At 9.30 am I gave up.

Woody Head – Dusk – 11 Feb 2011

Friday – PM

On Friday afternoon the swell had eased significantly, so I decided to try fishing off the front at Woody Head, another of Iluka’s great rock fishing spots. I started at the rock known as Barnacle Bob. I was casting a ½ oz weight soft plastic but it kept getting snagged and I kept getting soaked so I moved south.

I stopped in every safe place I could and put in casts with various plastics. I lost plenty of jigheads but only one went to a fish. It just grabbed the lure (a 4” minnow) close into the rocks and took off. It ran for no more than 5 or 6 seconds before busting me off. As the sun set I had nothing from a couple of hours of fishing. The wind had turned to a very slight northerly. I decided to give up around 7.30pm and headed home.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – Even more Jewfish – 11 Feb 2011

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Friday

The weather was getting better and on Friday morning the rain had stopped and the wind had dropped. There was virtually no swell so again, I decided to fish at Middle Bluff at Iluka. This time I walked out to the rocks just as the sun was beginning to glow behind the horizon, at around 5.45am. The wind was light from the south east.

I started with a soft plastic on a 3/8 oz 4/0 hook jighead – the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. This plastic has a forked tail that curls in at the ends. The tail creates a flutter effect as it sinks and most fish find it hard to resist. I put in a couple of casts and on the third, the lure was hit very close in. It was still pretty dark but after a short fight I had a 55cm Jewfish/ Mulloway at my feet. Things looked promising.
I cast the same plastic back out, after straightening it on the jighead. It was smashed before it hit the bottom and a solid fish started heading out to sea with it. It was a slow and rhythmic run and it took around twenty metres of line before it paused, then set off again. On the next pause I tried to get some line back but it immediately set off again. I tightened the drag and then it started to swim back towards me. I took up slack as fast as I could but the fish had now got the line round something on the bottom – there was a bit of see-sawing back and forth and then the line snapped.

I re – rigged with the same set up and cast the soft plastic back out. Things went quiet for a while and then at about 6.30 am I got a couple of touches, very close to the base of the rocks. I then got snagged and lost the jighead. I swapped to a Jerkshad in the satay chicken colour and slowed the retrieve right down. After a few more casts I had another fish on. This time it was a smaller Jewfish/Mulloway around 48cm. I threw it in the keeper pool.

I fished on for a couple of hours and caught another two Jewfish of a similair size. At around 9.00 am I stopped and cleaned the fish. It had been a great session fishing from the rocks in Northern New South Wales.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – More Jewfish – 10 Feb 2011

Thursday
After a successful session at Middle Bluff on Wednesday, I was back again by 5.30 am on Thursday morning. There were a few clouds but the sky was much clearer than the day before. The swell was marginally bigger.

It was still pretty dark. I started off with the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the curry chicken colour, this is a red and yellow combination soft plastic lure. I decided to fish it on a ½ oz 5/0 jighead so it could find the bottom, through the heavy swell. I was three jerks into the retrieve on my first cast and bang – I hooked up. The fish took plenty of line, sat in the current then took off again but for a much shorter, slower run. I tightened the drag a bit and took up the slack. As the surge pushed the fish over onto the ledge below – I pulled hard and there was a sickening crack! The rod tip had broken off but the fish was on the lower ledge and still attached. I wound the leader round my glove and carefully dragged the fish up – getting a thorough soaking by the swell, in the process.

5.30 am - 70 cm Jewfish and the rod tip he broke

It was a good sized Jewfish, at just over 70 cm. I unhooked it and dropped it in the keeper pool. I had a look at the rod, my 9ft Rovex Aureus. It had broken between guides three and four – I had not really high sticked it, but perhaps it had been knocked or cracked and this had finished it off. I was disappointed. It is only a couple of months old and has been fairly lightly used. I will take it back and see what Rovex think. The Aureus does not appear to be as tough as the Bario. I jogged back to the car to get the Rovex Bario – 12 Ft, which I have had for about two and a half years. It has performed very well, landing numerous fish in similair conditions. After a 30 minute round trip I was back on the rocks.

This time, I tied on a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the satay chicken colour, this is a pumpkinseed and yellow combination. It was quiet for twenty minutes or so and then just as I was lifting the plastic out of the water, at the base of the rocks – it was pounced on and a significant fish took off with the lure. I turned its head from the initial run but then it ran back past me, heading north, parallel with the shore. I kept the pressure on but it soon had the line rubbing on the rocks and suddenly, ping! It was gone.

Perfect conditions for Jewfish at Middle Bluff


The ledges can help you get the fish safely up the rocks


But the swell can also rob you of the fish


You can only carefully retreat or duck when this happens!

I tied on another jerkshad in the same colour and cast out. As it dropped into the water it was smashed by Tailor. I struck but there was no hook up. I let it sink again and when I lifted the rod I had a fish on. It was a decent Tailor about 55cm long. I landed it and threw it in the keeper pool.

I cast straight back out. Again, just as I was finishing winding in the soft plastic, it was grabbed. This was a good fish. It took off for a long initial run but soon tired. It did this a couple more times but eventually I had it back at the foot of the rocks. I could see it was a nice size Jew (around the 80cm mark). Just then a monster wave came over but when the water flooded away the fish was still on. Unfortunately the wave was part of a set and I had to retreat from the edge. I loosened the drag. The next wave tangled the leader in the sea squirts and as the water rushed away the fish went with it, leaving the jighead lodged in the rocks.

55cm Tailor on a soft plastic jerkshad


Tailor and Jewfish in the holding pool at Middle Bluff

A few casts later I caught another Jewfish around the 50cm and mark and 30 minutes later I caught another one, about the same size. I changed to a Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour and after a short interval I hooked another 50cm fish at the base of the rocks. I landed it and it joined the others. I carried on fishing until about 8.30 am and caught two more fish that were under 45cm and so were released.
I was soaked but it had been a great mornings fishing and I could not wait for the next session.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – Jewfish – 9 Feb 2011

Wednesday

I was early to bed on Tuesday – about 8.00 pm (7.00 pm QLD) – in fact. It still did not seem to make getting up at 4.30am Wednesday any easier, especially as it was raining solidly outside. I pulled on the felt soled rock boots and rain jacket and jumped in the car. I drove down to the beachside carpark for Frazer’s Reef, grabbed my gear and walked north along the beach, in the dark. The rain was gradually easing off, but there was no sign of dawn on the horizon, just dark cloudy shadows.

I passed the rocky peninsula which is actually called Frazer’s Reef and carried on to the next headland which is usually called Middle Bluff. Every now and then, I could hear a big wave slap against the rocks and then hear the water come crashing down. The wind was coming from the south east, but very light.

By about 5.30 am I was in position at the northern end of Middle Bluff. There is a large bommy just off shore here, and it provides a bit of shelter for the fish. There was now a faint glow on the horizon and the rain had turned to a fine drizzle.

I was fishing with the 9’ Rovex Aureus, my Shimano Stradic 6000, 20lb Fireline and about 1.5 metres of 30 fluorocarbon leader. For my first cast I chose the GULP Crazylegs lime tiger jerkshad soft plastic which I rigged on a 1/2oz 5/0 jighead. I cast out into the gloom and let it sink. You can’t leave it long – the bottom is littered with rocks and there are only a few sandy patches in between. There was plenty of swell and it was difficult to tell when the plastic had hit the sea floor. I generally count slowly to about ten then jerk up the rod tip, let it sink and then repeat.

I fished for about three more casts and then the line came up taught. There was a quick initial run and then just a few, slow tail slaps. I lifted the fish clear of the rocks on an incoming wave and got soaked in the process. It was a 51 cm school Jewfish. I unhooked it and dropped it into a rock pool, for safekeeping. It was 5.15 am and only just getting light. I carried on with the same plastic for about half an hour and then switched to a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the satay chicken colour. After a couple of retrieves I caught another school Jewfish, but it was just under 45cm so I threw it back. A few casts later I had another and this one was around 50cm, so it went in the rockpool.

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It was now fully light and the rain had stopped. The tide started running out at about 7.30 am and just as the tide changed I caught another fish – another Jewfish, about 50 cm. As the tide built up flow and the sun started to peek through the clouds, the swell really picked up and I got a good soaking from a couple of waves. At about 8.30 am I stopped fishing, cleaned up my catch and headed back to a hot shower.

Iluka – Shark Bay – 8 Feb 2011

Tuesday

I arrived at Iluka around lunch time and it was raining heavily. I checked into the cabin – too wet for camping – and drifted off to sleep thinking of where to fish that evening. A few hours later I wandered out on to the rocky promontory at the southern corner of Shark Bay. This is a good spot to spin for Tailor in the cooler months, using metal slugs. But at this time of year they can be hard to find. The rain had flattened out the sea and I decided to fish with my light spin rod again – using lighter jig heads and soft plastics lures.

Iluka - Shark Bay - rock promontory

The rain just kept coming and I fished for an hour or so, with little success and plenty of gear lost to the rocks. About 7.00 pm, as it started to get dark, I switched from a 1/4 oz to a 1/6th oz jighead and rigged a GULP 4″ Pearl Watermelon minnow soft plastic. I cast out into the whitewash and bang, a fish grabbed it. There was not much weight to the fish but it used the swell to try to bury its head in the rocks.

Iluka - Shark Bay Bream - 28cm

I pulled it out and wound it in. It was a 28cm Bream but had felt much bigger. I let it go and on the next cast scored another. I caught 3 more over the next half hour, all around the same size and all on the same soft plastic. It was now dark and wet and I was actually feeling cold for the first time in a few months, so I headed home for a hot shower.

Fingal Head – Jew & Trevally – 8 Feb 2011

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Tuesday

I could see that the weather looked reasonable for a few days so I decided to head south. Plenty of showers to come but the wind and swell looked like they were finally calming down.

I was heading for Iluka, in Northern New South Wales, to chase a few Jewfish from the rocky headlands of the Bundjalong National Park. I decided to stop at Fingal Head for a fishing session on my way down, on Tuesday morning. I arrived around 4.45am and crossed the causeway out onto the rock platform and rigged up my light 2-4g 7ft Nitro spin rod. I wanted to try fishing with lighter weighted jigheads – around a 1/4oz – and to do this effectively, I had to dump the traditional heavy rock fishing rod.

Unfortunately the wind was howling (southerly) and the swell was up – fishing a 1/4 oz jighead was not working, so I switched to a 3/8 oz. I was fishing with the GULP Crazy Legs Lime Tiger Jerkshad and using a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I was casting out from the northern side of the rock platform and bumping the lure back along the sand to the base of the rocks. As dawn broke there was a huge school of birds working above a bait school, but they were too far to cast at.

After fishing for about 45 minutes the lure was hit about 6 metres from the rocks and I hooked up. It was a Jewfish – just over 50 cm and after a couple of runs, I landed it safely. I tried for another 30 minutes and then swapped to a more natural GULP 4″ Peppered Prawn minnow soft plastic. The birds were still working but not moving any closer.

I was casting out from the northern tip of the rock platform. The wind and swell was washing the plastic back into the rocks fairly quickly, but it was on the bottom. Suddenly there was a jerk and the line started peeling. There was a blistering initial run and then I tightened the drag and started to get line back. On a decent surge I pulled the fish up, on to the platform. It was a 45cm Big Eye Trevally.

Now it was really blowing, the tide had started to really run and the heavens opened. I took it as an omen and packed up. – Next stop Iluka.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – 5 Feb 2011

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Saturday

Ok – no fish at Fingal. Where next? Well there is no shortage of coastline to try in Queensland. I had loads of excuses for my recent poor performances – warm water, floods, cyclones etc, but I have concluded that this summer, northerly winds have been the key factor in making life hard. The Mangrove Jacks and a few other species that like it humid, are not put off, but I think the fish I usually catch – Flathead, Bream, Tailor, Jew, etc – don’t like them.

I decided to go back up to Bribie Island and see what the water was like now. Was all the silt flushing out of the bay and the Pumicestone Passage? I started under the bridge lights on the island side, just before low tide at 4.15 am. There were small jelly prawns jumping everywhere, especially sitting just on the weed beds, in the shallows. There were also hardy heads and other small baitfish all around. It was new moon and it looked very promising. I rigged up the light spin rod – 1- 3kg and tied on a 10lb leader. I put in a 1/8th 1/0 hook jighead and started by fishing a GULP 2”Shrimp soft plastic in the banana prawn colour. After half an hour of walking up and down and watching surface busts ups, jumping prawns and big bait schools swimming between my legs, I had not had a bite.

I swapped locations and drove down to the saltwater lagoon just in front of Buckley’s Hole, on the southern end of the island. The topography at the mouth of the lagoon has changed dramatically because of the wild weather we have had. It now drains out into the Passage much further north than it did even a few months ago. The tide was just turning and there was a lot of weed in the water. The water is still holding a lot of sediment but as I walked south along the flats it looked quite clear.

I walked south, parallel with the shore, casting and retrieving and again, there was a lot of surface activity. I tried all sorts of soft plastic lures – big and small minnows, minnow grubs, jerkshads and shrimps. I tried bright colours and natural colours, I tried a heavier jighead – nothing. As the tide started to run in it brought a few jellyfish with it and the water clouded up. Obviously the incoming tide now lifts all the sediment that has settled on the bottom.

At around 7.30am I turned around and waded back north. I put on a GULP 3” Minnow in the pearl watermelon colour and started to pull this along the bottom with long pauses between each lift. After about 10 mins, I felt a bit of weight on the rod and the tip started shaking. At last – a fish. It was not a big one but I waded back to the beach and pulled it out onto the sand – it was a Flounder, about 30cm long. It had completely swallowed the jighead so I cut it off and released it.

It was now very hot and the water had turned really brown so I gave up and headed back to the car. There is no shortage of bait in the Passage but the water quality is still very poor – it looks like it may take quite a while for things to settle down.

Fingal Head – Nothing for dinner – 3 Feb 2011

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Thursday

Back to Fingal Head in Northern New South Wales – a big drive down from Brisbane – left around 2.45 am – but the Jewfish from the last session had got me all fired up.

I arrived before dawn – and walked all around the headland casting everywhere. I got a few bites just as the sun came up – probably Dart or Bream and then nothing. I started with GULP Jerkshad soft plastic lures on a 1/2 oz jigheads and also tried a HALCO 70g Twisty metal slug. Nothing produced fish. The swell was a bit bigger than on Tuesday and half an hour after dawn it was already stinking hot. I waited until the tide peaked at around 8.30 am and then gave up.

A great spot but I could not find the fish today. I will blame Tropical Cyclone Yasi which was crossing the coast at Cardwell/ Tully just as I started the session.

Fingal Head – The Lighthouse Rocks – 1 Feb 2011

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Tuesday

With the cyclone bearing down and the prospect of another wet and windy period, I thought I had better get out for a fishing session. So early Tuesday morning I headed down to the Tweed river mouth before dawn. I fished around the end of the rockwall for a couple of hours, either side of dawn but failed get a bite so, at around 6.30 am, I decided to head further south to Fingal Head, to fish the rocks there. There is no shortage of great rock fishing spots in Northern New South Wales. Fingal is another beautiful spot with some unique octagonal rock formations. There are good fishing locations in front of the lighthouse, all along the headland but my favourite area is just to the south of the main rock platform.

I started fishing here at about 7.15am. I was using my ROVEX Aureus 9ft rod with the SHIMANO Stradic 6000. It is spooled with 20lb Fireline and I had tied on a 25lb fluorocarbon leader. I attached ½ oz 4/0 jighead and decided on my favourite soft plastic lure for Jewfish – the GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. On my first cast – I let the plastic sink to the bottom then jerked it back towards the rocks. As I lifted it clear of the water something took a swipe at it – but I could not see what. Next cast I slowed it down even further and let it drift in very close to the base of the rocks. As I lifted it I felt the bite, I dropped the rod tip, paused, then struck hard. I had a fish on and due to the proximity of the rocks I tightened the drag and just winched it up. It was a good size Tarwhine at just over 35cm.

The soft plastic was pretty mauled so I changed it for a new one in the same colour and pattern. I still had about half an hour of run in water before high tide. I got a good soaking from a passing rain squall but that was no hardship as it was so hot and humid. I was standing on the mainland to the south of the narrow causeway that leads out to the main rock platform. The water washes over the causeway at high tide and I was casting in to the area just south of it. The bottom is very rocky so inevitably I lost a few jigheads as my lures got snagged. After a couple of re-rigs I felt the line go taught and then the rod tip started wiggling and I could see silver. I waited for a wave to bring it up over the rocks onto the ledge below me. Then I tightened the drag and pulled the fish up successfully. It was a Jewfish, just on 50 cm long.

Four or five casts later I had the plastic down deep at the base of the rocks and again, I felt a solid bite and then lost a bit of line. Fortunately the swell pulled the fish out from under a ledge and on the next wave I brought it up, out of the water and onto the ledge below. Again, I winched it up to my feet and it was another Jewfish – perhaps a couple of cm smaller than the first.

I carried on for half an hour or so, but then the sky darkened and really heavy rain started, I decided to give up. I presume we will get some fairly big seas and rain as the cyclone passes through up north, but this might bring the Jewfish on in greater numbers. The challenge will be finding somewhere safe to target them.