Brooms Head – Plover Island & Bonito – OOPS! Slimey Mackerel – 23 September 2011

Friday

Crystal clear water at Plover Island


It was to be my last fishing day for a while. I decided to try fishing the rocks at the front of Plover Island, at the mouth of the Sandon River, about 10kms south of Brooms Head in Northern New South Wales. At low tide you can walk across to the sand spit to the Island. The northern side has a number of rocky platforms to fish from. I arrived at about 9.30 am, just before low tide and climbed across a rocky causeway to some really fishy looking water on the northern side.

Plover Island causeway


I started with a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour on a 1/8th 1 jighead. I got a couple of hits on the first cast and on the second, I caught a small Butter Bream. I caught a few more of these and then pulled up a 25cm Tarwhine. I fish this spot again at either dawn or dusk. I moved around to another rocky outcrop and caught a few good sized Pike. I made a mental note to come back and fish this spot again at either dawn or dusk, one day.
For the afternoon session I was back at the Brooms Head lagoon. It would be high tide at about 5.00 pm and decided to clamber along the rock ridge at the eastern end of the Brooms Head lagoon.

Plover Island Tarwhine

I rigged up with the favorite soft plastic of the week –the GULP 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow. It was fairly choppy – with a strong south easterly blowing. Was using a 1/8thoz, 1/0 jighead, my light 7’6” spinning rod and a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. The bottom in this area is covered in rocks and kelp, with a few sandy holes in between. If you fish with heavy sinkers/ jigheads – you are doomed.

I pulled up a couple small speckled, green coloured fish that are common in amongst the rocks – not sure what they are – but they seem to like the soft plastics. Then I caught a strange red finned Wrasse of some kind. Then I found a few Pike – they always seem to hit the lure really close into the rocks, just as you are about to pull it clear of the water.

Big toothed green fish

Then I noticed a big shimmering area on the surface of the water about 50 metres away that was moving towards me – I waited for it to get in range and then cast the soft plastic straight into the middle of it. I got a couple of bumps but no hook ups. I cast out again and retrieved the lure quickly, so that it was swimming just below the surface. I could now see it was a good sized school of Bonito. I cast out again and this time I raced the lure back through the school and hooked up. I land a small Bonito and released it. For the next half an hour I had a great time catching and releasing Bonito, every time the school came in range. It was a decent size school and it circled the area for about 45 minutes before being chased further out by the Dolphins.

Slimey Mackerel school enters the lagoon

Slimey Mackerel on the surface

Slimey Mackerel

And that was my last session at Brooms Head. The variety of fish had been fantastic, even if there had been no real trophy fish. We had managed to catch dinner most days and I was quite happy with the diet of fresh Flathead and sea Bream. The weather gods had been very kind and I plan to be back again at the same time next year.

Brooms Head – Red Cliff – 22 Sept 2011

Thursday

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Perfect conditions again, a big contrast to the wild weather of this time last year. I decided to take advantage of the calm waters and have a fish off the rocks at Red Cliff, a few km north of Brooms Head. As its name suggests, it is a large red cliff with a rock platform beneath. The platform offers some excellent fishing spots on the lower half of the tide.

I arrived at about 9.15 am and the tide had been low at 8.50 am. The water was absolutely crystal clear and was able to hop from rock to rock until I reached an outcrop that looked over a couple of holes that were probably about 3 or 4 metres deep. With my polarized sunglasses I could clearly see the Bream sheltering at the base of the rocks in the calmer water. There was virtually now wind.

I decided to cast out towards a spot where the waves were breaking over a rocky promontory. I was fishing with a 1/8th 1 jighead loaded with a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour. This is always a good one to start with and I notice it’s a favorite with a lot of the ABT pros. Hungry Bream can’t resist it. As I hopped it along the sandy bottom towards the rocks, I felt a couple of bites and then a solid grab. I landed a small Bream around 25cm, followed by a couple of slightly bigger ones and then a really solid, 34 cm fish. They had all come from the same spot and perhaps they wised up, because things then went quiet.

I moved round to the other side of the rocks and cast in to some calmer water. I could see the lure float down to the bottom in between a couple of submerged bommies. As soon as I lifted it off the bottom, a small Bream darted out and grabbed it. I wound him in and cast out again, this time they didn’t wait and I was on to a better fish before the lure touched the sand. I landed it and decided to keep it – it was 33 cm long. As I wound it in, it had a couple of other Bream following. After a couple more casts I caught a smaller Bream and then this spot went quiet.

I moved round onto another rocky outcrop and caught a couple more small Bream before calling it quits. It had been a good session and a great opportunity to clearly observe the way the Bream break cover to attack the soft plastic lures. I stopped fishing around 11.30 am.

Brooms Head Lagoon Drain – 21 Sept 2011

Wednesday

It was to be another land based fishing session at Brooms Head just south of Yamba, in Northern New South Wales. At dawn the wind was already gusting strongly from the south-east. It was forecast to blow up to about thirty knots during the morning but the area on the west side of the lagoon was sheltered by the Brooms Head Bluff. I decided it was worth an early morning wade.

Low tide was at 7.30 am and I was wading across the mouth of the lagoon, at the western end, at about 5.45 am. I had broken my lightest rod the day before so I was using my Nitro 7’6” distance spin rod and because of the breeze I had moved up to a heavier 1/8th oz, 1/0 hook jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

I soon found the fish. They were lurking just on the border of the rocky northern wall of the lagoon, where the weed covered rocks met the sand. I started with a Pike and then 30cm Tarwhine and then three of the striped Trevally. I released them all and with nicely chilled nuts, I waded back for a hot shower and breakfast.

Brooms Head / Sandon River – 20 Sept 2011

Tuesday

I was up early on Tuesday and decided to try the other side of the Brooms Head lagoon. Low tide would be at 6.20 am and I set off just after first light, at about 5.30 am. The wind was blowing at 15 knots, west south westerly, but the main bluff gives this area a bit of cover and so it felt like less.

I waded out through the bottom of the tide and scrambled over the rocks on the northern edge of the lagoon until I reached the series of ridges that form the eastern wall. It gets a bit tricky here -there are deep pools between the ridges so you have to get over them. There are points where you can cross but you need good, non-slip rock boots to avoid ending up in the drink.

This area can be reached and fished only either side of low tide

Eventually I was facing east, on the front rock ridge and casting into very fishy looking water. I had the light set up again but had upgraded to 16lb leader as I was hoping for some bigger fish. I used the GULP 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic but rigged it on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead as there was now a bit of swell building up. A few casts produced a few small Pike and a very small Bream and then bang! Something came and grabbed the lure just as I was about to lift it from the water. I had the drag set reasonably tight because of the proximity of the rocks and the whippy Gary Howard Estuary 9’ bent over and line started peeling. The fish took a couple of metres of line then stopped. Then there was another violent surge as it took off again. The rod jerked bent over and I heard the sickening crunch as it snapped just below the join. I attempted to play the fish with the broken rod but it made short work of the leader and soon bit me off. This session was over.

The north east rock ridge in the Brooms Head Lagoon

I trudged back for a shower and breakfast imagining an enormous Snapper. I needed more, but now the wind was howling so I considered the options and decided to drive down to the Sandon River, which is only about 10 kms away. The Sandon River is a small, pristine, shallow river system that holds plenty of Flathead, Bream, Whiting and Luderick. There are lots of points along its banks where you can fish – many, right next to the road. I stopped close to an informal boat launching area that is near an old oyster lease. The remains of the oyster beds have been covered by weed and form good fish holding structure. I stuck with the same soft plastic that had been working well and decided to rig it on a very light 1/16th oz, 1 hook, jighead. I dropped down to a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and I was now fishing with my Nitro 7’6” 2-4kg Distance Spin rod.

The pristine Sandon River


A 50cm Sandon River Flathead


Another Sandon River Flathead


I walked along the bank casting into the run-in tide and bringing the soft plastic back with the current. The tide was running in fast and I just let the soft plastic sink and bump along the bottom with a few jerks and jumps. After working about ten metres of river bank, a fish swallowed the lure. It took a bit of line and then settled into the current. It was a good Flathead just over 50cm long. I put it in the keeper bag and carried on along the river side. I soon found another, this time just over 40 cm. I peppered the same area with casts and found another, smaller Flathead a few casts later. After an hour of fishing, I had dinner and so I gave up and headed home – it was around 11.00 am

Brooms Head – Lagoon Drain – 19 Sept 2011

Monday

The weather was good again. There was a light breeze from the south west. It was sunny and clear and the wind still had some chill in it. The last few sessions, fishing at Brooms Head in Northern New South Wales had suggested light tackle was probably the best option. I decided to fish the drain at the western side of the Brooms Head lagoon. The lagoon sits just north west of the main Bluff and is deepest by the rock ridge at its mouth, to the east. As the tide rises and falls, the water enters and exits close to the beach via a big sandy drain. The drain never fills to more than about waist deep. If you walk across it your reach rocky/ weedy covered bottom that forms the north wall of the lagoon. Further north, where this wall drops off to a sandy bottom is a great fish holding area. They sit here waiting for food to be washed in and out of the lagoon on the rising and falling tides. The area is highlighted in the aerial photo.

Fishing area just north of the Brooms Head lagoon


I was using the Gary Howard 9’ Estuary rod again. I had loaded a very light 1/16th oz 1 hook jighead. I wanted to avoid getting snagged on the rocky weedy bottom. I used about 1.5 m of 10lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader. I used the soft plastic lure that had been successful the day before – the GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I waded out into the water, which was surprisingly warm. I put in long casts out over the rocks to the sandy areas to the north. Every time I lifted the lure over the edge of the rocks there would be a small bite or nudge from a fish. The tide was running in and had been low at about 5.30 am. The incoming tide had also produced the fish the day before.

Looking back from the mouth of the lagoon at low tide - Brooms Head


After a bit of wading around up and down the rocky bottom I was onto a fish. It was a good Bream around 30 cm long. I cast back out in the same spot, and the plastic was slammed as soon as it hit the water. The fish pulled hard and took a bit of line. It felt much stronger than the Bream. It kept turning to run as I waded back into the beach, to land it. I saw the stripes in the water and realized it was a small Trevally. It really had pulled hard on the light rod. I released it and headed back out. It was about 8.30 am and the tide was running in strongly.

Lagoon Bream


Lagoon Trevally

Over the next hour I caught two more small Bream, a Tarwhine, three more Trevally and a couple of Pike. The cold southerly breeze eventually made me too cold to carry on but I was delighted to find a few fish. At around 9.45 am I went back to our cabin for a hot shower. Fishing with lighter gear had paid off.

Brooms Head – Back Beach – 18 September

Sunday

I have my 9 year old daughter with me this week so 4.30 am starts are out of the question. She likes to fish, but not that much! At around 8.00 am I persuaded her to walk from Brooms Head south, past the Brooms Head Bluff to Back Beach. It was already warm and fairly still with a very light northerly wind. Low tide had passed at about 5.00 am.

Brooms Head Sunrise


After a disappointing session with the heavier fishing rod and reel the day before, I swapped down to my favorite light beach rod, a Gary Howard Estuary, 9ft. It is excellent for Whiting, Dart and Bream – very whippy with loads for spring and great at hooking fussy fish. It works best with a 1/8th or 1/6th jighead and although it is really designed for an Alvey, I use a Shimano Seido 2500 spinning reel. I have never really mastered the Alvey. I use 10lb Fireline or Braid and usually a 10 or 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

As the fish had been reluctant to bite the day before and because we were outside ideal fish feeding hours (dawn and dusk) I decided to start with a 6lb leader. I waded out to about waist deep and cast in to the northern corner of the bay, just where the rocks meet the sand. I had loaded up with a 2” GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. I could feel the 1/8th 1 jighead bumping on the rocks and it soon got snagged. I swapped down to a 1/16th 1 hook jighead and put on a 3” GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic. It is not usually possible to cast such a light weight into the surf, but today conditions were calm enough to do it.
After a little while I started to cast over the top of the rocks as the tide was moving up quite quickly. The jighead was now light enough to bump over the top rather than get snagged. Just as the lure reached the edge of the rocks it was grabbed. The rod tip bent over and I had a fish on. It took some line but then swam into the rocks and made short work of the 6lb leader.

I re-rigged with a 10lb leader and cast back out with the same weight jighead and soft plastic lure. After a few casts, I felt a couple of bumps and knocks and then bang, I had a fish. This time the leader held and I steered the fish back up the beach. It was a Bream around 30 cm. I put it in the bag and carried on fishing. About ten minutes later the same thing happened, this time it was a Tarwhine, about the same size, but with much more fight in it.

A Bream from Back Beach at Brooms Head


Now I had dinner so it was time to quit and go for a swim. Conditions were perfect and the water was crystal clear. Even without a mask you could see plenty of Bream swimming around and good schools of bait fish in close to the shore.

Brooms Head – 17 September 2011

Saturday

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We arrived at Brooms Head at about 3.00pm on Saturday. I grabbed the rod and headed straight for the rocks, out the front. There was no wind and it was a hot, still afternoon. There was no swell and the tide would be low at about 5.00 pm. This meant it was quite safe to cross out onto the rocks in front of the main headland and fish over, into the deeper water beyond. I loaded up the 9’ Daiwa Demon Blood with a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead and a 5” GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Black Shad colour. I had high expectations – this area looks very fishy, but I have rarely been able to get close enough to it, to fish. The first cast got snagged and so did the second, so I switched to a ¼ oz jighead. I felt a few small hits and lost the tail on the soft plastic lure.

I gradually changed down through the soft plastics to a 3” GULP Minnow, in the Pearl Watermelon which caught a couple of Butter Bream and eventually a just legal, Bream. Just before dark, I gave up, disappointed and with nothing for supper.

Fingal Head and the Tweed South Rockwall – Jewfish/ Dart – 13 September 2011

Tuesday

Tuesday morning looked windy again and the swell would be up. Ideal Jew conditions – if I could find a safe spot to fish. I started on the south rock wall at the Tweed River mouth, just before dawn. The tide was coming in and there was a cold westerly blowing. It would be high at about 8.30 am. I cast all around the end of the wall with soft plastics, slugs and a big hard bodied minnow lure, but did not find any fish.

I decided to move down to Fingal Head. The swell was building up and when I arrived I was in two minds about crossing over on to the causeway, to fish. I watched for half an hour and then finally got across and stashed my gear on some dry rocks. The swell was now crashing in and there was white water all around. I rigged up a 5” GULP Black Shad Crazylegs Jerkshad on a 1/2 oz, 2/0 jighead. I was fishing with my 9’ Daiwa Demon Blood and Shimano Stradic 6000, loaded with 30lb Bionic braid and a rod length of 30lb Fluorocarbon Rock – leader. I had to stay at the back of the promontory as the front was getting a bashing. I cast out and felt a few tugs on the retrieve. On the next cast I had a fish, it was a Dart – just about big enough for the table.

The got the hang of the waves and concentrated on fishing during the calmer period, in between the big sets. There were birds everywhere and I presume there were some Tailor somewhere nearby. After a few more casts, I felt a solid hit as the lure sank. I lifted the rod but did not hook up. I dropped it again and paused. When I lifted it again the rod tip bent over and line started peeling off the reel. This wasn’t a Dart. Fortunately the swell was working for me and pushing the fish in. After a couple of strong runs I saw Jewfish. I pulled it up the rocks, with the aid of a surging wave and got my hand in, under its gills. It was a good fish at around 80cm, in excellent condition. There was nothing in its stomach. It was just after 8.00 am.

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I cast back out in all directions, but I could not find another so, at about 9.00 am I gave up, cleaned the fish and crossed back over the causeway. After too many disappointing sessions recently it was great to be carrying a decent fish back to the esky.

Bribie Island – Whiting & Flathead – 11 Sept 2011

Sunday

The weather was going to be a challenge again. I wanted to fish at Bribie but the tides would be far from perfect. I like to fish my favorite Bribie Island haunts in the 6 hours around low tide. This is because the best land-based fishing spots are most accessible during this period. There are still usually plenty of fish around at high tide but, by then, I cannot reach the structures that form their permanent cover.

On Sunday, low tide would be just after 3.00am and this meant that by first light at about 5.15am, I would probably only have about an hour before I would be forced out of reach of the best areas, by the incoming tide. It also looked like the wind would blow up again soon after dawn.

I decided to fish the area around the old oyster jetty on the mainland side. I soon realized I had made a mistake. The fierce westerly winds from Saturday had obviously stirred up all the weed and sediment and as the water flooded in over the flats it lifted it all up. It was a mucky swamp of weed and mud and I could not cast without catching a large clump of debris.

I went back to the car and drove back across to the mouth of the tidal lagoon, at Bongaree, in front of Buckley’s Hole. The wind was now howling. The tide had moved up and I could only fish above the drop off, on the sand flats. After a couple of hits in the same spot, I pulled up a very ambitious Whiting – which had attacked my GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow. I moved further along the sand banks to the south. I was fishing with a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. Finally, I caught a 44cm Flathead on a GULP 3” Pumpkinseed Jigging Grub. With the wind now up around 20 knots I decided to give up and head for home.

Fingal Head – Dart & Tailor – 4 September 2011

Sunday

The wind played up at Bribie on Saturday and my fishing results were not that impressive. On Sunday, I decided to go back down to Fingal Head to fish off the rocks. September should be Tailor time but the last few sessions here have been a bit disappointing.

Low tide was around 6.30 am and so it was easy enough to skip across to the causeway, between waves. I arrived about 5.30 am but I was not the first there. As ever, I was hopeful that the one hour either side of dawn, would produce a few fish.

All I caught with the soft plastics was this Dart

Well it did, but not for me. Just on dawn a chap to the left of me pulled out a 40cm Tailor on a hard bodied minnow lure and a few casts later, he got another. Then the chap to my right got one on a small slug. I fished on with a soft plastic minnow and was eventually rewarded with a decent Dart, but no Tailor. The chap to the right caught another Tailor, also on a hard bodied Rapala minnow.

Lee with his good Tailor

The wind picked up just after dawn and carried on rising until it was probably a 20-25 knot south-easterly. The water looked very fishy but there was not much bait around. At about 7.00 am, Lee, the Scotsman to my right, who already had a couple of Tailor, hooked into a solid fish. He held on tight and copped a soaking from a big wave but managed to land it. It was a great Tailor – I would guess around 2.5kg.

The Tailor were going for hard bodied minnows

I carried on fishing, using every colour of soft plastic in the box, but I could not tempt them. In fact, no one could and at around 9.30 am I climbed back up to the lighthouse and headed for the car. It was good to see few people catching Tailor. According to all the reports they are certainly around, in numbers, in the Tweed River. They must start feeding around the headlands soon.

I tried a fair range of colours and shapes

Bribie Island – Oyster Jetty Flats – 3 Sept 2011

Saturday

I have been catching fish but not catching dinner. A few trips to unfamiliar fishing locations and my inability to land anything decent , closer to home, has left the fridge empty. I decided to head up to Bribie Island for a land based fishing session on Saturday.

Unfortunately the weather was not kind. I arrived around first light to be greeted by a 20 knot southerly wind which showed no signs of easing off. I tried to fish the mouth of the lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole but the wind made it too hard.

I crossed back over to the mainland to fish on the flats around the old oyster jetty. You get a bit of shelter from the southerly wind here. Low tide was around 6.30 am and the water was slowing, as I waded along the exposed flats. The sea grass beds are just beginning to grow up through the ‘snot ‘weed. Hopefully in a few weeks it should start to disappear.

I waded south casting along the edge of the weed banks. I fished for an hour or so, with only a couple of bites, which I think were Pike. I stopped for a chat with a fellow fisherman, who was also not having much luck casting soft plastics. Around 8.00 am, just as the tide started to run in properly I felt a good bite and dropped the rod tip. A few seconds later I lifted it and had a fish hooked. It was a small Flathead that was just about legal size. I decided to let it go.

I was fishing with the GULP 4” minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. This lure is about as close as you can get to a replica of a small mullet or pilchard and often seems to produce a fish when nothing else can. I was fishing with a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I fished on for another hour but I could not find anymore. The fridge remains empty of fish!

Fingal Head – a lone Tailor – 28-08-2011

Sunday

The only Tailor caught - but not by me


Back to Brisbane and off down to look for some Tailor at Fingal Head. It was a beautiful morning but the fishing was poor. I arrived just before dawn, hopped across the causeway and rigged up a Jerkshad soft plastic on a 9g 3/0 jighead on a 30lb leader. I was soon joined by another fisherman who was casting a slug. Half an hour later there were about seven of us standing on the rocks.

This stretch always looks so 'fishy'


I lost the tails of a few plastics and had a couple of solid bites, but no hook ups. The chap with the slug, dropped a small Tailor at the base of the rocks. This all happened around 6-30 am. Then it all went quiet. I swapped plastics and tried a few different weights of jighead. Just before 9.00 am one of the other fisherman caught a decent 45cm Tailor. We all cast out in the same direction for another hour and I tried all up down the headland, but could not find a fish. It’s now been a while since I have taken a fish home. I will have to see what is going on at Bribie, next weekend.