A duck at Fingal Head – 25 April 2011

Easter Monday

All good things come to an end and after a fantastic run of fish – yesterday was a stinker! What made it worse was that I had asked a friend to come along. I have a pretty good fishing average but it seems that every time I invite this chap along – we don’t catch anything. He is beginning to suspect that I am taking him to dud spots to throw him off the scent!

Yesterday, we decided to fish the dawn at Fingal Head, just south of the Tweed River in Northern New South Wales. We parked and walked out to the headland at around 5.30am and crossed over the small causeway to the rocky promontory, just as the sun was rising and a few rain squalls were passing over. We would be fishing the last few hours of the run out tide. The water was fairly churned up and there was a fresh southerly wind blowing. It looked to me like ideal Jewfish weather.

There are also Trevally and Tailor around here, so we started with slugs and poppers. We cast in every direction but got nothing so we switched to plastics. We spent another hour casting all around and neither of us registered a bite. We walked around the headland to the south and tried fishing the soft plastic lures in that location, but also drew a blank.

Finally around 8.00 am we decided to drive up to the south rockwall of the Tweed River. It was just about the bottom of the tide when we arrived. We cast out soft plastics on 3/8thoz 2/0 jigheads. We both were getting nibbles from smaller fish at the base of the rocks and after a few hits I finally hooked a reasonable fish on a GULP 4” Vader minnow. I never got to see it as the leader got caught in the rocks and as the swell bashed against them, it snapped.

We gave up and went home for a Flathead BBQ and a few bottles of red to drown our sorrows.

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Bribie Island – Large Easter Sunday Flathead – 24 April 2011

Easter Sunday

I had a big Easter BBQ planned for Monday. Four Good Friday Flathead was a good start but I would need a bit more fish to make sure my guests didn’t go hungry. That was my excuse for getting out on Easter Sunday!

I arrived at the Bribie Island Bridge at 5.00am and parked on the bank, on the mainland side. I put on my waders and had a few casts around the rocks under the bridge. I caught a small Moses Perch and released it.

Just as it started to get light I moved off to the south. There was lots of surface feeding going on and the tide was running out strongly. Low tide was at around 8.00am. I waded past the oyster jetty with no more bites and then started to fish the drain that runs round from Sandstone Point. I fished all along it without a touch. I moved out to a point where the water was waist deep and started to move north, back towards the bridge.

I was fishing with a new favourite, the GULP 3” Smelt Crazylegs Grub soft plastic. It is a short version of the Crazylegs Jerkshad that has proved so useful. I had it rigged on a 1/6thoz 1/0 jighead. I was using my light spin rod and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

I got a couple of solid bites but could not keep the fish on. Then as I moved towards the oyster jetty a fish grabbed the plastic about a metre away from me. I struck with rod and stepped back. It was a good fish but it did not do much, initially. I decided to walk it back to the shore. I loosened the drag a little, as I did not want a bust off. I started to tow it towards the bank and about half way there it really woke up and made a few powerful runs. As I dragged it up onto the muddy shore the leader snapped, but it was clear of the water.

It was a healthy female Flathead, just under 70cm long. I fished around this area for another hour and caught and released several Flathead that were around the legal size limit of 40cm. At about 8.30 I gave up. It had been great morning land-based fishing in the Pumicestone Passage.

70cm Flathead

Bribie Island – Jew and Flathead – Good Friday – 22 April 2011

Good Friday

I am back in Brisbane for Easter and so I decided to drive up to Bribie to fish, wading the flats, early on Good Friday. I arrived by the bridge on the mainland side, at around 4.45am and low tide would be at about 7.00 am, so there was not much water under the bridge lights.

I cast around in that area using the GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. There was plenty of surface action with Long Toms and a few Pike cruising around. After wading around for a while I felt a light tug and paused. When I raised the rod tip and set the hook – I had a fish. I assumed it was a Flathead but as I saw a flash of silver I realised it was a Jewfish/ Mulloway at 40cm. I took a picture and released it. These are the one species that really love dirty water and after all the recent rain, conditions are currently perfect for them. I could not find any more and so as first light started to glow above the horizon, I waded south.

I passed under the Oyster Jetty and fished the weed beds, rocky bumps and dips, just to the south. I stuck with the same soft plastic and soon found a few Flathead. I caught 6 in this area in the next couple of hours, of which four were between 42 and 56cm. I kept these for the Easter BBQ and the rest went back. Things seemed to slow down with the turning of the tide and just after 8.00 am, I went home.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – School Jewfish – 15 April 2011

Friday

On Friday, the morning high tide meant that fishing Woody Head would not work so I decided to try Middle Bluff. I parked at the Frasers Reef car park at around 5.00 am and walked along the beach. It was still dark and Venus was clearly visible above the sea, in the eastern sky. It cast a bright reflection on the water.

I arrived at Middle Bluff at about 5.15am. High tide would be at 7.00am so I had to watch the swell. I watched as a big wave crashed over the top and checked my watch. I rigged up and with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour on a 3/8th oz 3/0 jighead. At about 5.30 am another big wave crashed over – and that was the pattern. I had about 12- 15 minutes between the big wave sets. In between these I could fish.

I dropped the lure, straight down over the edge, as all the bites this week had been close in. I let it sink and then let the swell wash it under the overhang that runs along the shore. There was a quick tug, a pause and then zzzzzzzzzzzzzz snap, as the fish took the lure down under the ledge. I hurried back to the dry zone to re-rig. That took a couple minutes and then I returned and dropped another lure in the same spot. I cast all around and let the plastic pause right to the bottom but I did not get another bite.

At about six am the sun was about to come over the horizon. I decided to swap plastics to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Vader colour. I dropped this over the edge and let it sink. I let it waft in closer to the edge. I gave it a couple of twitches and paused. When I lifted the rod I had a fish on. I watched the swell and let it help me lift the fish up over the rocks. It was a good school jewfish around 58cm long. I put it in the keeper pool and dropped the lure in again. The same thing happened and after a short fight I had another, similar size fish, at my feet. The soft plastic was mashed up now so I had to change it. I had run out of Vader coloured lures so I put on a 4” Minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour. It took three drops this time, but it worked again. This time the fish was a little smaller, at 48cm.

School Jewfish Hatrick - Middle Bluff

Then they just stopped biting. I cast everywhere for another hour but I did not get a touch – perhaps it was the tide change or perhaps they had wised up. Either way, it had been yet another great land-based fishing session, off the rocks, at Iluka.

lluka Rockwall – In search of Tuna – 14 April 2010

Thursday

On Wednesday, I had noticed the birds working off Woody Head and seen a few Tuna jumping just out of range. So on Thursday I decided to fish the Iluka rockwall in the hope that they might come past.

I had popped into Big River Bait and Tackle at Maclean and as usual, the future Australian Bream Tournament Champion – Jo, had given me some good local tips. It’s a great tackle store and everyone in there knows their stuff. They are always ready to have a chat and impart some up to date, local knowledge. Jo decided he would join me on the wall for a quick pre-work fish, next day. I readily agreed, seeing this as a great opportunity to learn a few tricks from a local. At 4.45 am he was there waiting at the rock wall parking area. High tide had been at around 4.30am which meant we had plenty of water.

We walked along to where the wall begins to break down, stopped and rigged up. Jo put on a popper and I put on a plastic initially, and then joined him with a popper. As the horizon started to glow we covered the area with casts – but we got nothing. Conditions were perfect but there was no sign of any fish and after 20 mins or so, I decided to clamber on down to the end of the wall. I said farewell to Jo and started walking.

Looking back along the Iluka wall just after dawn


After another 20 mins scrambling over the boulders, I reached the end. The sun was just below the horizon and I started by casting the popper all around. This took about 15 minutes but did not produce any fish. As the sun came over the horizon I swapped to a GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad soft plastic, in the Pink Shine colour. I rigged it on a 1/2oz 3/0 jighead as the tide was now running out with some force. I put a few casts into the ocean side of the end of the wall and then moved round to fish the river side. After a few more casts, I got a couple of good bites, in close to the rocks. I cast out again and let the plastic sink down in the fast flowing water. As I lifted the rod the line came up taught and I had a fish on. I knew it was a Tailor because of the mad shaking. It was around the 40cm mark, I got it to the rocks and as I was about to lift it, it calmly turned its head and dropped the hook.

I tried a few more casts with the Pink Shine plastic and got a few more hits but no fish. They eventually bit the tail off, so I decided to downsize. I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the more natural Pepper Prawn colour. First cast and bang the lure was whacked and line started peeling. A big Tailor 60- 70cm jumped out of the water, ran a bit further and then he was gone – he had bitten straight through my 30lb leader.

I fished for another hour or so, but the Tuna never showed up. Finally just as I was about to give up I caught a decent Tailor, around 45cm long on a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour.

Tailor from the end of the Iluka rockwall

Iluka – Woody Head – Jewfish – 13 April 2011

Wednesday

After catching a monster Tailor the day before – expectations were high. I had to go back to the ‘The Barnacles’ at Woody Head. The tide was a bit higher on dawn and therefore made things a bit harder.

I rigged up on a dry rock, in the pre-dawn light, at about 5.30 am. There was a light but cold, south-westerly wind. The water, which came over the rocks and sloshed around my feet, felt very warm in comparison. Unfortunately the tide was higher and I soon got a good soaking from a wave that slapped into the rock face. Now the wind felt really cold.

I started with a GULP 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad on a 3/8th oz size 3/0 hook, jighead. On about my fourth cast, a fish nailed the lure and took off. It head down into the rocks and ping – the leader broke off at the jighead and it was gone. I put on another soft plastic and jighead and a few casts later I had another fish on. This time I got it over the first ledge of rocks and I could see he was a decent Tailor. As I tried to get him over the next set, the leader broke again. The same thing happened twice more in the next twenty minutes.

When I returned to my bag I figured out why. While rigging up earlier in the dark I had grabbed the 16lb, instead of 30lb leader. I quickly tied on the heavier leader. I had now run out of Pumpkinseed coloured soft plastics, so I switched to a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I cast back out. I walked up and down the ledge casting directly in front of me and pausing for as long as I could with the lure in the wash, in front of the rocks. The wind was behind me so I could put in good, long casts.

After a few retrieves another fish grabbed the lure as it sank. It felt like good one and made a slow but forceful initial run. I turned its head, tightened the drag and surveyed the swell. I pulled it to my feet with the aid of the next surge, which soaked me to the waist. I reached down and grabbed it behind the gills – it was a very healthy 70cm Jewfish/ Mulloway. That was enough for me and soaked and cold, I headed home with another nice fish.

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Iluka – Woody Head – 5kg Tailor – 12 April 2011

Tuesday

I was up early on Tuesday and out on the rocks by about 5.00 am. I was actually up too early as the sky was only just beginning to glow on the horizon. I walked south from the Woody Head campground across the rock platform to an area known locally as “The Barnacles”. This is another spot that can only really be safely fished on a run out to low tide with a minimal swell. Fortunately I had both happening this morning.

The Barnacles at Woody Head

It was still too dark to see where I was walking or casting, so I stopped and used my headlamp to rig up my rod about 10 metres back from the edge on a dry rock. I was using the new Daiwa 9 foot 6 inch Demon Blood rod, my Shimano Stradic 6000 reel loaded with 20lb Fireline and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. The pumpkinseed coloured soft plastics have almost always helped me catch good fish around this area, so I started with a Gulp 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad soft plastic.

From about 5.30am I moved up and down ‘The Barnacles’ casting out over the stepped rock ledges, pausing the plastic for as long as I could without getting snagged. As the sun came over the horizon I felt a light tug on the plastic. I dropped the rod tip, paused and then lifted – bang zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz – I had a fish. It was a good fish and it took a lot of line initially. I tried to turn its head and for a while it swam towards me, then it took off again. I tightened the drag but it was still pulling hard. Eventually I truned it back towards me and recovered some line. Fortunatley, the swell was playing on my side and it was just at the right height to wash the fish over the ledges towards me. I lifted it over the first ledge on one wave and then let another wash it over the next ledge. I could now see it was a monster Tailor. I decided to go and meet it. I stepped down and grabbed it behind the gills, pulling it clear of the water.

5 Kg - 90cm Tailor - Woody Head April 2011

It was a beautiful 5.18kg, 90 cm Tailor. That’s a personal best Tailor for me and I doubt I will get one that big again anytime soon. I bled the fish and then hauled it back to the cabin and then into town, to weigh and photograph it.

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