Port Lincoln & Coffin Bay – 20 April 2012


On Friday it was Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay, in South Australia. Unfortunately there was no time to fish in Coffin Bay but I did manage a quick, early morning, land-based fishing session in Port Lincoln. I was staying in the Lincoln Hotel, which is a great spot. I looked over the maps and checked a few online fishing forums and decided I would try fishing for an hour or so, on dawn, at Snook’s Landing.

I drove out in the dark and parked up just as the slight glow began on the horizon. I rigged up with the GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and started casting around. It was a misty morning and again there it was dead calm with no breeze.

As the sun started to illuminate things, I worked out the lay of the land. I was on a rocky foreshore just beside a jetty and a Tuna pen. It did not look like there were any fish in the pen but who knows. A local had explained the day before that the Port Lincoln commercial fishermen actually ‘ranch’ the Tuna here. They find the big schools out to sea and then throw huge seine nets around them. The tuna are not landed at sea but are transferred, by divers into a cage and towed back to the pens in the Spencer Gulf. The tuna are in the pens for only a few months and are fed local baitfish to fatten them up. Then they are gradually harvested and exported, usually for the global fresh sashimi market.

The pen was a few hundred metres away but I hoped its presence would mean there would be some fish hanging around. I moved along the shore casting around and quickly losing a few rigs to the rocky bottom. As the sun blazed over the horizon I saw a few surface bust ups and felt a few bites. Then I saw some prawns skipping along the surface and cast straight in front of them. The fish hit the soft plastic on the drop and took off. There was a bit of head shaking but it was only when I pulled it up on to the rocks that I could see what looked very like a large Pike – which I believe is often confused with the Snook in these waters. I took a picture and sent it on its way.

The sun on the water seemed to have got things going and every now and then, there were surface bust ups and bait jumping close to the shore, as something attacked. I had found my favourite GULP 3” Minnows in the Pearl Watermelon colour and I was now using these. After a few casts I felt a solid hit and line was peeling. Then I saw a tiny Salmon break the surface and start leaping around. I was amazed at its power to strip line despite its tiny size. I pulled it in and released it. It was probably only between 20 and 25cm long!

The pattern was now set and for the next 30 minutes I caught about 10 fish this size. The school of Salmon would swim around the bay; herd the bait towards the rocks and then attack. I would cast into the area and the fish would grab the lure as soon as it hit the surface. Unfortunately, by about 8.30 am I had to go.

Later in the day I did find myself briefly, at Coffin Bay and although there was no time to fish, I watched a few holiday makers catch some nice King George Whiting and, again witnessed the Salmon slamming into the bait schools on the surface. South Australia Cockles (which looked like Pippis in Queensland speak) were the preferred bait. This is a very special spot and Landangler has definitely marked it down for a return visit.


Port Augusta Wharf – A few Salmon – 18/19 April 2012

On Wednesday I found myself in Port Augusta. The estuary was right in front of my motel so I could not resist another attempt at catching a fish in South Australia. Landangler does not get to fish much when he is working but sometimes you just have to go for it.

I had read the stories of massive Kingfish being caught on live baits, down by the Power Station cooling water outlets. I had about an hour free and a light spin rod, so Kingfish were off the agenda. I decided to fish along the rock walls on the eastern side of the estuary, beside the old wharf.
Summer is hanging on in South Australia and the sunrise was instant and bright. The water was clear with a bit of strap weed floating around on the rising tide. I cast around along the rockwall and very soon felt a few bites.

I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader, a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and a GULP Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. After a few casts a fish grabbed the lure at the base of the rocks. My first fish caught in South Australia, was a humble Flathead. They look a little different to the ones I am used to in Queensland but I expect they taste just as good. It looked like it was a little under 40cm and after a few pictures I threw it back.

The sun was well over the horizon now and the flies were already buzzing. I felt a solid bite then hooked a fish which took off like a rocket. I could see it was small but it was really pulling hard. It leapt clear of the water a few times and I could see it was a small Australian Salmon. I got it up to the rocks – photographed and released it.

A local fisherman explained they taste quite good when they are small and they are a common catch here. I carried on fishing for another 30 minutes and caught another tiny Flathead.

I came back the next morning for another try. I started on the rockwall just before dawn and again the first fish was a small Flathead followed by an even smaller Salmon.

I moved down to the end of the wharf, where I could see a few fish feeding. Every now and then the bait would go flying in all directions. I put on a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/12th 1 jighead. The water was clear and still and the tide was very slowly running in. The lighter jighead would let the plastic fall slowly through the water column.

After a few casts there was a solid attack and I was on again. It was another Salmon. As I pulled it in it was followed by the whole school. It was only around 25cm long but again it fought like a fish double the size. I took a few snaps and then threw it back.

I caught about five more as the school moved around the wharf, but at by 8.30am I had to finish my session. It was good to catch something in South Australia.

Adelaide – Myponga Rocks – 15 April 2012

I have just returned from a week of work in South Australia. I did manage a few morning sessions around Adelaide over the weekend but I did not do very well. I fished the rocks on dawn at Myponga on Sunday.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is a beautiful spot about an hour to the south of the Adelaide CBD. All I had was a cheap Finnor reel / Quantum rod spin combo that I picked up at Adelaide Tackleworld. They spooled it with some 8lb braid and I fished with a 10lb leader, 1/8th 1/0 jigheads and various GULP soft plastics. The water was crystal clear and there were lots of nice looking rocks and ledges.

I came across a group of local fisherman who explained they catch Snook (Pike), Small Salmon, Whiting, Drummer, Snapper and the occasional Tuna – mainly using fresh cockles or squid for bait. They had not had a touch as I passed.

I wandered up and down the rocks for a few hours but I could not raise much interest. Occasionally, I would lose the tail of a soft plastic minnow grub or shrimp to a small fish. I had a couple of quite aggressive hits – which I think were Salmon – but who knows?

Like anywhere, you have to put in the time to learn where the fish are and what techniques will be effective. Unfortunately, as a visitor, you rarely have much time but it is always good to get out and have a look around.

Maundy Thursday – Caloundra – Golden Beach – 5 April 2012

Maundy Thursday

Rain, wind, swell, wind, swell – well at least the rain seems to have moved on, but the wind and swell look like they will be sticking around for the whole of Easter. Unfortunately that means that we keen fisherman are all herded in to the few sheltered stretches of estuary that exist along the coast. There are a lot of people looking to wet a line or put the boat, jetski, kayak, dinghy in the water over this weekend and the next one.

My tip for increasing you chances of catching something – start early. Fortunately not everyone is willing to get up in the middle of the night to catch a fish. Most people don’t consider a 4.00 am start relaxing! This means the water is less likely to have been disturbed before you get to it and also means you usually get to fish the calmest few hours of the day – around sunrise.

With all this in mind I set off for Caloundra at about 4.30 am on Thursday morning. It was full moon so it would be a big high tide at around 8.15am. When I arrived, the wind was already starting to rustle the trees and cast a ripple on the surface of the Pumicestone Passage. It has been a while since I have fished here. The water was considerably cooler but much clearer on the top of the tide.

DUO, the Japanese lure manufacturer has sent me some more lures to try out, including the Tetraworks Bivi in a few more colours. This a great lure that has caught a few Flathead for me and with the cooler weather on the horizon, I am sure it will also prove to be a great Bream lure.

It is a hollow body microvibe lure and the colour I was using today was almost black with some rainbow colouring. It is a sinking lure, 3.8 grams and 40mm long. I was back to fishing with my lightest spin rod and reel combo – the Loomis GL2 with a Shimano Stella 2500 reel. I had the reel loaded with 8lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

DUO TETRAWORKS BIVI - Great lure in this darker colour

I started on the sand flats in front of the Caloundra Powerboat Club. The tide was still coming in. I cast all around the area of weed banks that line the edge of the various channels, where the boats are moored. It wasn’t long before I felt a nudge and then a solid hit. I was on to a fish. It took a bit of line and it was moving quite fast. It was a decent Bream – perhaps just under 30cm, but it was only just hooked. I started back towards the shore but just as I got a good look at it – it wriggled free and was gone.

Small Flathead - big soft plastic

I trudged back to the weed beds and carried on peppering the area with casts. About 10 mins later I had another solid knock – so I let the lure drop back down. When I lifted it I had a fish on. It was a small Flathead just under legal size. I took a few pictures and released it. A few cast later I hooked up with a bigger one – but again it wriggled free before I could walk it back to shore.

I decided to swap to a soft plastic and put on a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. This worked but again the fish was too small. I carried on until around 9.15 am but by then the wind was howling again so I gave up.

Caloundra - Pelicans

Iluka – Shark bay – Plenty of Variety – 30 March 2012


Unfortunately the wind and swell were up again so my favorite Rocky spots were out of bounds. It was however, a beautiful clear morning. The wind was from the south at about 10 knots but there were also gusts from the west which made things very cool, once my legs were wet.

I started at Shark Bay with the light rod. I focused on the shallows, on the west side of the rock platform. There is often a Flathead lurking in here, amongst the rock bars and sea weed. I started with a big soft plastic – a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead, with 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I had a few hits and then lost the tail. I moved down in size to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and 8lb fluorocarbon leader.

The down-sizing converted the bites to fish but only tiny Moses Perch and then a Long Tom. I moved along the edge of the platform and there was a bite on almost every cast, but nothing significant. When the Tailor are around this is a great place to cast a 65g slug on the big rod.

I watched another great sun rise and kept catching small fish. Soon it was time to call it quits for the week. It had been a challenging week. The weather had made things tough, as it often does, but I had found some good fish – particularly the Bream. I had seen a few Tailor in the waves but only caught one from the rocks and one in the river. I always think that its a good trip if you are catching stuff and there was plenty of variety.

I managed 10 species this week – Bream, Flathead, Tailor, Luderick, Trevally, Jewfish, Moses Perch, Long Tom, Pike and even a few tiny Whiting. The weather had been too difficult for the hard bodies, so everything was caught on soft plastics.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I drove back to Brisbane in the afternoon and as I unloaded the car, I was already considering my options for avoiding the wind and the Easter crowds to find some fish.

Iluka – Browns Rocks – The Clarence River – 29 March 2012


After a disappointing morning on the rocks, I decided to try fishing the Clarence River in the afternoon. I drove along to the Browns Rocks area. I passed the wharf and drove down to the area in front of the old oyster farm and then put on my waders.

There is a large section of weed beds just to the south of the oyster farm. The weed beds grow on the edge of the main river channel and hold plenty of bait. All the recent rain had left the water murky, but I arrived just before the top of the tide and so the water was as salty as it would get.

I was fishing with my light spin combination and decided to come right down to 8lb fluorocarbon leader. I started with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. The first few casts produced a few hits from small fish. They were very aggressive so I expect they were small Tailor. They often hang around here.

I moved along, parallel with the shore, casting into the run in tide and retrieving fairly fast to avoid getting tangled in the weed. I caught and released a couple of tiny Bream. Then I suddenly had a much bigger fish on. It was not very fast but it had plenty of power. It was not moving like a Flathead and was making plenty of long runs. I walked slowly back to shore and tightened the drag as much as I dared. I saw some silver and some stripes and then realized it was a good sized Luderick. I landed it and decided it would be dinner. I do not get these very often and they taste good. Once more the GULP soft plastic had proved irresistible.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The session continued with a Flathead, a chopper Tailor and a few more small Bream. There were plenty of fish around but no big ones. I should come back to this spot at dawn or dusk – one day!

Iluka – Shark Bay – 5 April 2012


On Thursday morning the weather had improved considerably, with a clearer sky and less wind, but the swell was still up. I decided to start at Shark Bay on the rock platform. There was a bit of west in the wind and it was quite cool.

Sunrise Shark Bay - Iluka

I started on the west side and could not raise a bite. I moved across to the rocks on the east side. There are a number of ridges on this side with small inlets in between each. The surf was smashing into these but it was just possible to cast into the white water. I tried a few bays and caught another couple of good Bream – the bigger of the two was over 35cm. This time I was using the GULP 3” Minnow Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour again, but on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I carried on fishing for a while and dropped a few more fish – which could have been small Tailor or more Bream.

Shark Bay Bream - Light leader and a paddle tail lure

Then I stopped to clean the two Bream in the rock pools. When I had finish I took them over to the surf to rinse them off. I shook them under the water for perhaps ten seconds and when I looked down, two Wobbegongs were ready to steal them. I pulled the fish out of the water and quickly put them away in the keeper bag. I suggest you mind where you tread around here, as they must always be pretty close by.

Plenty of Wobbegongs in the shallows

Iluka – Frasers Reef & the Rockwall – 28 March 2012


No trophy fish yet but plenty of fish around, if the weather would let me get at them. Wednesday morning brought heavy showers and grey skies and a 10 knot southerly wind. The wind had been from the south for a while and the swell was around 2 metres. It was too hard to fish Woody Head or Iluka Bluff, but with a morning low tide I could get out on to the rocks at Frasers Reef.

I walked out on to the rocky promontory just before 6.00 am. Even with a fair swell you can fish the northern edge of these rocks but as usual in these parts, you lose plenty of gear.

I started with the heavy rod, 30lb fluorocarbon leader and a 3/8th 3/0 jighead. I chose a big soft plastic again – the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I lost my first rig to the rocks on the first cast. I re-rigged and moved around casting into the foamy water. After a few casts I felt a solid bite and pulled up the plastic minus its tail.

I put another on and cast back out. This one was hit on the drop but there was no hook up. Then, as I carried on the retrieve, the fish came back for a second swipe and I got it. I played it in on the swell and pulled it over the rocks – a 50cm Tailor – the first Tailor of the week. I was hoping for a few more, but I never found them. I presume they are cruising the headlands all the time, looking for the bait schools. If they are right in front of you, you may have a few minutes to cast at them – then they move on. When I gutted it, it had an empty stomach, like all the other fish I had caught this week. I have not seen any bait schools and maybe there is not much to eat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were no more fish that morning and the swell continued to build so in the afternoon, I decided to fish the Iluka rockwall. The wall is quite sheltered from strong southerly winds and there is currently a good gutter forming where it meets the beach. I was using the light spin rod and started with a few GULP 4” Minnows in various colours. These did not arouse any interest so I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour. I think the grub tail can sometimes stir a bit more interest when fishing in the surf. I was using a ¼ oz 1/0 jighead to overcome the wind and swell and I was rigged with 12lb fluorocarbon leader. After a few casts, I lost the tail on the soft plastic but when I re-loaded and cast out again, I felt a solid tug and then a good run. I had the fish hooked and it took a bit of line. The swell was a challenge, but eventually I pulled another good Bream clear of the rocks.
Then the rain arrived again and I gave up. Only two fish for the day – hardly spectacular but enough to keep me at it!

Brooms Head – The Sandon River – 27 March 2012


On Tuesday afternoon the wind and swell were up again, at Iluka, so I decided to drive down to fish the lunchtime high tide on the north side of the Sandon River – near Brooms Head. This is a very shallow estuary but it is sheltered from the wind and can produce some good fish.

I parked on the roadside, just past the first set of shacks, but before you reach the main camp ground. I arrived at about 12.30 pm, just after high tide. I put on my waders and picked out my light spin rod, the 6’6” Loomis GL2 which I am now fishing with Shimano Stella 2500. This is the perfect light weight estuary combo for flicking soft plastics and small hard-bodied lures.

Along the shore line there is lots of structure left over from the now abandoned oyster leases. There are also plenty of weed beds and sandbanks. It’s a perfect spot for wading around and flicking soft plastics.

I started with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I loaded it on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead, I was not expecting any really big fish so I dropped right down to an 8lb fluorocarbon leader. There are a few oyster covered rocks around but generally it is a sandy bottom.

The tide was just beginning to run out so I cast up river and let the lure sink to the bottom. Then I slowly bumped it back towards me. I gradually moved along parallel with the shore repeating this process. I was wading in a about a metre of water and casting out into no more than two metres.

I soon had a fish – a tiny 25cm Flathead – I released it and carried on. I caught three more over the next twenty minutes – all about the same size. Then, as I reached a patch of slightly deeper water, something hit hard and took off for the middle of the channel. I tightened the drag a little – it was way too fast for a Flathead, and too powerful for a Bream. I tightened up the drag a little more and started to get some line back, but it was still pulling hard. After a couple of minutes, I could see stripes and silver and realized it was a small Trevally. I got it up on the shore, photographed and released it.

I moved further along the shore towards the river mouth. The tide was now running out strongly and the sky was ominously grey. Now I switched to the GULP 3” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour. A few casts with this lure and I finally caught a Flathead that was just about legal size. I decided to let it go and moved on. The next fish was a small Bream and then another Flathead that might also just have been legal.

Buy now the grey skies were on top of me and the rain started spitting so I beat a hasty retreat to the car as the downpour started.