Iluka – Frasers Reef – 27 March 2012

Tuesday

There had been some very heavy showers through the night and at 5.30am, when I left the cabin, it was still pitch black with low cloud cover. But the wind seemed to have dropped so I headed for the rocky headland just to the north of Frasers Reef.

First light was well after 6.00 am but I could tell from the sound of the sea and the lack of spray crashing over the top of the rocks that I was in with a chance. I waited for about 20 minutes and watched the swell as the waves sets came in. It was a fairly light sea with the swell below 1.5 metres, but every 15 minutes or so a bigger set of waves would come through and soak everything. As it was just past the dark of the moon the tidal variation was still very big. On the turn of the tide, which had been at around 5.30 am, the swell can also behave erratically – so you always have to keep your eye on it.

I have felt-soled rock fishing boots which I ordered online from Cabelas in the US – http://www.cabelas.com. I currently have the Cabelas Ultralight 2 Felt-soled Wading Boots and I am very happy with them, so far. With the high Australian dollar they are currently reasonably priced at about A$80.00 a pair. They provide excellent grip even on the slimiest surfaces and also provide good ankle support. My last pair lasted about 3 years which I think is pretty good considering the work out I give them.

I started with the heavy rod and loaded up with a 3/8th 2/0 jighead, 30lb fluorocarbon leader and a Gulp Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Lime Tiger Colour. I fished around in the pre-sunrise light for a bit, lost a few jigheads to the rocks and copped a soaking from a few waves. It is rarely easy fishing this spot.

As the sun came over the horizon I switched to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Vader colour – which has been successful here before. On the first cast I felt a tug, on the second I had a fish. It was a small Jewfish, about 43cm long. I snapped it and let it go. I peppered the same area with casts and about five minutes later I felt a solid bite. The fish took a bit of line and I thought it was well hooked. I put some pressure on but then the line went slack and it was gone. It was no monster but probably a bit larger than the previous one. Now I was fired up but repeated lure changes could not raise another fish and after an hour I moved further south along the rocks – in the direction of Frasers Reef.

I was now fishing with the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Vader colour again, still with the same weight jighead and leader. I cast out into the foamy water at the base of the rocks and felt a solid hit. I was probably 4 metres above the water line so I slowly tightened the drag and lifted the fish up onto the rocks – it was another good sized Bream – about 35cm long. The rain and perhaps the dark of the moon seemed to have the big Bream fired up. I continued to fish all along these rocks but could not find anymore and at about 10.00 am I gave up and went in search of breakfast.

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Iluka – Shark Bay – 26 March 2012

Monday

Iluka is pretty much fishing heaven – but even in fishing heaven you still have to deal with the weather. I was up early – way too early. I found myself standing on the beach looking out into the dark at Frasers Reef at about 5.15 am. When I say dark, I mean pitch black. There was virtually no moon and there was plenty of low cloud. There wasn’t much wind, a light south easterly, but I could tell from the sound of the crashing waves, there would be too much swell to fish the rocks safely here.

I walked back to the car and drove along to Shark Bay – a couple of kms to the north. When the wind is blowing and the swell is up you can still fish off the rocky outcrop here. It is sheltered from the big seas by Woody Head. I started with the big rod, the Daiwa 9 foot Demon Blood, a 3/8th oz 3/0 jighead, 30lb leader and 20lb braid. I put on a 5” Gulp Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I cast out from the rock platform, over the kelp into the foaming water. I almost instantly got snagged. That is the problem in this location. I tried a spinning a 65g raider for a while, but I soon lost that too.

I switched to the lighter rig – a 7’6’ Nitro spinning rod, ¼ oz 2/0 jighead, 12 lb leader and 8lb braid. I put on a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour and tried again. It was now about 6.30 am and the sun had just come over the horizon. Low tide had been at about 5.15 am. The lighter jighead pulled through the kelp and got snagged less easily. After a few casts, a fish hit my plastic. It felt pretty solid. I let it take line and then pulled it over the kelp beds with the aid of the swell. It was a good size bream – just over 35cm.

I carried on in this location for another 30 minutes and then moved to the southern side of the rock platform. I stuck with the lighter rod and the same soft plastic. I concentrated on the foamy water, in close to the rocks and after a few casts I had another fish. This one was fighting hard and there were rocks everywhere. I took it slow and let it take line when it needed too. I gradually increased the drag pressure and pulled it towards a gap in the rocks where I could land it. I saw a flash of silver and on the next wave I pulled it on to the rocks. Another Bream – a thumper at just under 40cm.

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I carried on fishing here for another hour. I had a few more hits but could not hook any more fish. Eventually, the tide and swell pushed me off this headland and, as I cleaned the two Bream, the heavens opened and I got soaked. I had managed two good fish in less than ideal conditions – not a bad start to the week.

Ballina – The Richmond Estuary – 25 March 2012

Sunday

After far too long working, I am now back fishing and I decided to start with a trip down to Iluka, to fish from the rocks. The weather does not look very promising this week, but sometimes you just have to go for it.

I left Brisbane on Sunday morning and decided to stop off at Ballina on the way down. The wind was howling but I had never fished the Richmond River, so I pulled out my soft plastics rod and reel and wandered out onto a promising sand bank on the north side of the Richmond River Estuary. It was about 10.30 am and the tide was running out. I found a stretch of mangrove lined shore and walked along the edge casting and retrieving a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour on 1/8th 1/0 jighead.

The Mullet were everywhere – they were so thick that the plastic kept knocking against them as I retrieved it. Every now and then it would come back with a few Mullet scales on. I worked my way along the bank and I was surprised at how clear the water was, considering how much rain has fallen recently. I felt a few hits but I think these were just the curious Mullet or whiting.

After an hour or so I felt a solid bite and struck. There was not much weight but I had a fish – a tiny cod. I put it back, packed up and headed on to Iluka. Hopefully the weather will be kind enough to make fishing the rocks a possibility when I get there.

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Bribie Island – The Museum Drain – 4 March 2012

Sunday

I am still working, and slowly getting used to just fishing at the weekend. It’s not much fun is it? Still I can’t complain – I have nearly finished my work project and will be back fishing, full time, in a few weeks.

This morning I drove up to Bribie Island for an early start. It would be a 2.1m high tide at about 6.30 am. I arrived a bit before 5.00 am and started fishing under the bridge on the Island side of the Passage. The tide was running in strongly and was approaching high. The session started with a soaking from an early morning shower. I fished around under the bridge with a soft plastic minnow and had a few bites but could not hook anything. The tide had lifted the weed and, as usual it was floating around in the eddies and clogging up the lure. After 20 minutes, I decided to move on.

I drove down to the drain in front of the new museum. I walked down the rockwall and out, along the sand bank, that runs along the southern edge of the drain. As dawn broke there was a bout of surface feeding, just at the mouth of the fresh water drain. I put on a GULP 3” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and positioned myself just to the north of the drain, about 10 metres from the shoreline. I then cast back towards the drain mouth. When there is a 2m high tide the drain mouth is covered by about 1.2m of water. The predators move up in to this area on the rising tide, very quickly, to feed on the fish, crabs, worms and grubs that are washed out through the mouth of the drain. Once the sun was up I could clearly see where the tea- tree stained, run off meets the sea water coming up the Passage. This is a good area to concentrate on. I cast up, under the bridge over the drain and slowly bumped the lure along the bottom. I lost a couple of tails to small fish and changed for a new plastic, each time.

The surface attacks continued, something was feeding on the bait schools that were siting just out of the current, close to the shore. A few more casts and I felt a bite. I struck a bit too soon and pulled the lure out of the fish’s mouth. I dropped the rod tip again and paused for a count of five, then struck. This time it was on and it took off. Fortunately it swam away from the clump of mangroves. I played it out and when it seemed tired enough I pulled it slowly up the rock wall for a few photos. It was a Flathead just over 50cm long. I let it go and went looking for more.


A few more casts in the same spot and I had another fish on. It was a smaller Flathead this time – just over 45cm. I measured, photographed and released it. I cast around closer to the bank and felt a few bites, close to the bridge structure. Then the line went tight on a smaller fish. It was a Moses Perch and I suspect these were what had been causing the commotion on the surface earlier.

I only had a few hours so I had to stop at about 7.00 am. The water was fairly clear and although the midges were buzzing around everywhere, conditions were pretty much perfect. I am looking forward to getting back out again soon.