Magnetic Island – Townsville – 27 August 2011

Saturday AM

I was up early for a quick morning fish at Bremner Point on Magnetic Island. The climb out, over the boulders to reach the fishing zone was pretty tough. My knees are not that effective as shock absorbers anymore, but I managed to arrive just before dawn, at around 5.30 am.
The first cast produced a small pike and the next a small Stripy Perch. I carried on casting, gradually moving north around the front of the headland. I caught a few more Perch and a few more cod. They were all very small but pulled hard on the light rod.

After a slightly more solid fish bit me off I put a GULP 4” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour on a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead and cast it out. I was now standing on a flat rock above a ‘V’ shaped inlet. Things had slowed down a bit and I was letting the plastic slowly waft around in close to the shore. As I wound in the plastic and was about to lift it out of the water, a great silver shape came shooting up from beneath and in one clean movement, turned over on top of the plastic, swallowed it and took off. It was a good size Giant Trevally and line started peeling. The tiny rod was never going to stop it so reluctantly I gradually tightened the drag. The fish slowed for a bit and then as it took off again the line went slack. I wound it in to find a jighead with a thoroughly straightened hook.

I carried on fishing around the headland until I reached Alma Bay at about 11.00 am – where I stopped for a quick swim. Outgunned by the fish again.

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Saturday PM

This was to be my last session on Magnetic Island and I decided to try the north rockwall, in front of the main harbor at Nellie Bay. I tried a number of different soft plastics but nothing really happened until the sun dropped behind the hills. Then the familiar routine started up again. Just as the plastic reached the edge of the rocks, a fish would dart out, grab it and drag it back down. I think these fish were better sized cod and I did not manage to win my fight with any of them. Just as it was really getting dark I pulled one clear of the water, only to find the orange/ brown eye of a small barramundi staring back at me – it was no more than 25cm long and had grabbed the GULP 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/8th oz 1/0 jighead. Its skin was almost black and that was why I had mistaken it for a cod.

The session ended abruptly as the tip of the Pflueger rod snapped on the next cast. I had put it through its paces over the last few days but it should be made of sterner stuff – so I will be taking it back to BCF. It had been a great introduction to land based fishing on Magnetic Island. I will be back again soon,but next time I will go properly prepared!

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Magnetic Island – Townsville – 26 August 2011

Friday PM

The benefit of working from time to time is that you sometimes end up on Friday in a good fishing spot. That was the case yesterday. I was in Townsville and decided to take the ferry across to Magnetic Island in search of some good land-based fishing.

I only had my recently purchased Pflueger Travel Spin Combo – 6’6″, 5 Piece light rod, so I knew I would be in trouble if I came across anything big. I started off looking at the map of where I could fish. Many of the bays are green zones, but fortunately you can fish off almost all the rocky headlands. So after a knee trembling boulder scramble, I arrived at the tip of Bremner Point – the headland at the northern end of Geoffrey Bay. It was around 5.15 pm and I put on a GULP 4” Jigging Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour. The first cast produced a nice solid bite, but no hook up. The next cast had the rod bent over. Whatever it was – it headed straight for the rocks and that was the last I saw of it. A couple of tugs and the 20lb leader snapped. I re-rigged and tightened the drag. The same thing happened but this time I heaved the fish straight up, out of the rocks and up to my feet. I think it was a small Fingermark (see photo).

Bremner Point is reached by scrambling over the boulders beyond this archway

I scrambled over a few more boulders to another promising looking spot and cast out. I was now fishing with a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead and using a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. After a few casts I was onto another fish but again it went straight down into the rocks and unhooked itself. I could see I was going to lose plenty of fishing gear. I re-rigged and a few casts later I caught a glimpse of a large black and white reef fish heading down into the rocks with my soft plastic. Once again I could not pull it out. I moved again and found a couple of small Stripy Perch and a tiny cod with a big appetite. The sun was now dropping behind the hills and I decided to climb back over the boulders while I could still see. I walked back to my hotel thinking about what might have been if I had brought the proper rod!

Bowen – 19 August 2011

Friday

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Weather and work can be the keen anglers’ two worst enemies. Work slowed me down a bit last week but also gave me the opportunity to get out for a quick fish at Bowen, on the Whitsunday coast. I was lucky enough to be spending the night there, on my way home from work. I grabbed a cheap rod and real combo, a couple of packets of jigheads and plastics on Thursday night and drove out to fish the rocks, around Horseshoe Bay, just as the sun was setting.

I was fishing a reel pre-loaded with 12lb monofilament line and tied on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I loaded it with a GULP 4” Jigging Grub. There is a series of bays along this section of coast, all divided by rocky out crops. They are covered in smooth boulders and are very easy to access. The locals tell me there are all sorts of reef species hiding down at the base of the rocks. They pull out plenty of Coral Trout and cod. The Mackerel and Trevally are also cruising up and down, at this time of year.

My expectations were high but I doubt I could have landed any significant fish on the light rig I had. I walked along the boulders, casting out about 3-5 metres and trying to pause the plastic just at the base of the rocks. After a few casts and a few snags, I caught a small Stripy Perch and then another. As usual with fishing, it took a while to figure out where the fish would be and unfortunately darkness beat me to it.

The next morning I went back to another rocky outcrop, a bit further south, to fish through the sunrise. I used the same technique and tried a few different coloured, paddle tailed GULP soft plastics. The first fish was a Stripy Perch again, next was some kind of tiny spotted Cod and then a more familiar Pike. They were all tiny. Then something kept biting and releasing the plastic. As the sun came up I could see it was a group of squid floating over the rocky bottom. I tried but I could not hook one.

I had a plane to catch so, after an hour I gave up. The sunrise over Gloucester Island was spectacular, even if the fishing was not. As is often the case, this quick session has just confirmed that I need to get back up here for a real fishing trip!

Bribie Island – Tailor, Tailor, Tailor – 14 August 2011

Sunday

I drove up to Bribie Island for a quick early morning fishing session. Rain was threatening as I arrived, at around 5.30.am. The tide was running in and I decided to start under the bridge in the shallows, on the island side.

I started with a GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. After a few casts and solid bites, a fish bit the tail off. I re-rigged with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was fishing with a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and my light spin rod. After a couple of casts I caught a small Tailor – just around the 30cm mark. I let it go and cast out again, under the bridge lights. Bang – the fish grabbed the lure as soon as it hit the water – it was just before dawn. It was another small Tailor. I let it go and re-rigged with a brighter coloured soft plastic – the GULP Jigging Grub in the Pink Shine colour. After a couple of casts this also brought up another Tailor.

As the sun came up I decided to move down to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole, at Bongaree. I waded out into the tide, which was now running in strongly. I cast out the Pink Shine soft plastic and as it sank I felt the line go tight. There were lots of head shakes and a few moments later I had the biggest Tailor of the morning at around 35cm. I fished on for around 30 minutes and finally gave up at about 7.30am.

There are clearly plenty of Tailor around at the moment and the surf beaches and rocky headlands should produce some good fish over the next few weeks.

Fingal Head – Salmon, Tailor, Bream – 11 August 2011

Thursday

Tuesday was a fishing disaster but somehow I just could not believe that the Tweed Rockwalls could ‘shut down’. So on Thursday, I found myself driving back down across the New South Wales border for another session. When I arrived at the north rock wall there was no swell and a slight breeze from the south-west. I started about 5.30 am. It was cloudy and very overcast and it looked like it would rain.

I started fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, rigged on a ½ oz 2/0 jighead. The heavy skies seemed to have completely flattened the water. The cloud blocked out the sunrise. As I cast all around the front of the rock wall the south-westerly breeze started to lift and it was very cold.

By 7.00 am I had not had a bite so I decided I had to switch locations. I drove down to Fingal Head. I walked out across the small causeway on to the rocky promontory. I decided to make the first cast count. It is so often the first cast in a new location that produces a fish. I checked and double checked my knots and decided on a GULP 7” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, rigged on ½ oz 5/0 jighead. The south-westerly wind was picking up and the tide was running out. I cast straight out in front of the promontory and let the lure sink. Before it hit the bottom I felt a solid bite. I dropped the rod head and then struck hard. I was on to a good fish – it was not frenetic, like a Tailor but felt a bit too lively to be a Jewfish. It took plenty of line but I gradually tightened the drag until I had it at the foot of the rocks. It was only as I lifted it clear of the water, on a helpful surge, that I saw it was an Australian Salmon. It was a good size fish – just under 70cm long. I photographed it and then released it. I will eat almost any fish but I have never been able to make one of these taste good.

I thought there would be more, so I re-rigged the same soft plastic and cast back in to the same area. Nothing – I tried up and down the rock ledge and after a while switched to a smaller 5” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I covered the whole area with casts but they had moved on.

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I moved round to the north side of the ledge and cast out into the corner of the Fingal Head beach. The water is crystal clear but I could not see much bait around. After another 30 minutes, I hooked a small Tailor – around 30cm which I quickly released. I then switched to a Gulp Jigging Grub in the Pink Shine colour and swapped down to a 9 gram 2/0 jighead. After a couple of casts, I caught a small Bream , very close to the base of the rocks.

It was now around 10.00 am. I had caught a few fish and it had been a better session than Tuesday but I still had nothing for dinner. Maybe it is time to get back up to Bribie Island and see if the Flathead are biting again.

Tweed River – South Rockwall – Nothing – 9 August 2011

Tuesday

On Tuesday I drove back down to the south rockwall at the Tweed River mouth. I was hoping for more Tailor, Jew, Trevally or Snapper. I had recently encountered all of these species down there and I had pretty high expectations.

It was high tide around 4-15 am and the wind had changed around to a light westerly. Just on dawn a few Tailor turned over in the water, behind my soft plastic. I got a look at them but could not hook one. It was all downhill from then on. I fished from about 5.30 am through to 9.00 am without a bite.

A fisherman along the rocks caught plenty of Bream, using mullet gut for bait. He kept the five biggest which were all around the 30 to 35cm mark. Where had the Tailor , Jew, Trevally gone – who knows? The main change had been the wind – perhaps that was it. Another duck for the Landangler!

Tweed River – South Rockwall – Tailor and Jewfish – 7 August 2011

Sunday

Back down to the south rockwall, at the mouth of the Tweed River. I arrived around 5.30 am, just as a hint of dawn appeared on the horizon. There was a fair swell and about 10 knots of north-westerly breeze. The tide was running out and would be low at about 8.00 am. The moon was about half full. A few boats were loitering in the river mouth. I suspect they were not keen on crossing the Tweed bar, which looked a bit lively.

I loaded a ½ oz 3/0 jighead with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. I cast it out into the river mouth, let it sink and slowly hopped it along the bottom, back towards the rocks. Right at the base of the rocks, on the first cast, bang – a fish grabbed it. It was a 45cm Tailor – a good start. The chap fishing just along from me also got one on a GULP 7” Jerkshad, in the Cajun Chicken colour. We bled our fish and cast back out. A few casts later he got another. I felt a couple of solid bites and pulled up a mangled, tailless soft plastic. Things were looking good. A few casts later the other fisherman got another Tailor, about the same size. This time he was using a white 7” Jerkshad soft plastic.

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Then, at about 7.00 am it all went quiet. I tried changing colours, weights, etc. – but nothing would raise a bite. Finally, just before 9.00 am something grabbed my lure, right at the base of the rocks. By now I was using a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Vader colour, on a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead. After a brief fight I pulled up a small Jewfish, just over 45cm long. For some reason I felt it I should let it go as I was fishing so close to the Queensland border (where the size limit for keeping Jew is 75cm). I took a quick picture and threw it back.

Catching the Jew fired me up for another ½ an hour but by 10 am I had really had enough and drove back up to Brisbane. The Tailor only seem to be active in this area right on dawn, at the moment – perhaps they will thicken up as we get into September.