Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 24 April 2013

Wednesday

The tide was all wrong but the fish were around, so I decided on Bribie again. We would have a 2.2m high tide at 8.05 am. This would mean the tide would be just over half way in, at first light.

I arrived just before sunrise and wandered south along the shoreline, on the mainland side of the bridge. I passed the oyster jetty, casting soft plastics on the flats on either side. I felt a few tugs in the area just south of the oyster jetty, but I could not hook up with anything. I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I find the last of the run-in tide the hardest to fish, land-based, at Bribie. You can no longer reach the various drop offs on either side of the Pumicestone Passage. The fish move up quickly but suddenly there is no obvious structure for them to hide in; they spread out over the open expanse of flats and it is difficult to know where to concentrate your efforts.

As I thought about where to fish a huge flock of cormorants came into land. I have never seen a group as big as this before. They settled on the water for a few minutes then took off again.

In this area the only obvious structure is the slight drain that runs round the corner from Sandstone Point. Even this seems to be gradually silting up at the moment. This is where I decided to focus my efforts. The water was flowing round the corner from the south. I stood beside the mangroves and cast to the south, in the direction of the long, now submerged, sandbar.

It was now about 7.00 am. After a couple of casts, a fish grabbed the plastic, made a short run then it let it go. This also happened on the next cast and I saw the familiar snout of a long tom, following my lure in. I cast a little more towards the south east and when I took up the slack I had a fish on the line. I set the hook and it took off with the current. I soon had it under control and waded back to a gap in the mangroves. It was a good flathead, about 50cm long. I let it go.

I waded back to the same spot and cast out again. I continued fishing this area as the tide came up. I swapped to GULP Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. After a few casts the line pulled tight again and I had another flathead, about the same size. It was about 7.30 am. In the next twenty minutes I dropped two more fish and caught one smaller one.

Things went quiet around the tide change so I decided to wait out the slack water over breakfast and coffee. I waded back to the car and went off for breakfast. The wind was picking up from the south-east, but it was a beautiful morning.

By 10.00 am I had waded back to almost the same spot that I had been fishing earlier. The water level was much lower but I put in a few casts anyway. After about 10 casts, I caught another 45+ cm flathead, on a GULP Jerkshad, in the Satay Chicken colour.

The tide was now running out strongly and the big sand bar, down by the green channel marker, was clearly in view. With the wind behind me, I could reach the edge of the main channel and the sea grass beds, with some long casts. I started to make my way towards the green channel marker, casting as I went. I hooked a stingray which towed me around for a while and then broke me off. I also connected with an spiky puffer fish which grunted, spat jets of water at me and fluttered round in circles for a while before cut the line and got rid of it.

I re-rigged with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. The water was now really running and lifting more and more sediment as the tide got lower. This did not seem to bother the fish. I averaged one every 15 minutes or so, for about the next three hours. The colour of plastic did not seem to matter. Most were around the 40 to 45 cm size, but there were several more 50+ cm models amongst them.

At about 1.30 pm, I had to tear myself away – always hard to do when you are catching fish. I had caught more than 15 flathead through the morning and it does not get much better than that!

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Bribie – Oyster jetty flats again – 22 April 2013

Monday

After a good session at Bribie last week, I was keen to get back out there. The wind was light and the moon phase was good, with the tides getting bigger in the run up to the full moon, on Friday. I could not fish the dawn, but I could fish the run out tide for a few hours before low tide, at about 1.00 pm.

I arrived just before 9.00 am and decided to keep fishing the flats on the mainland side of the Bribie Bridge. There had been plenty of flathead around and I presumed they would still be there. There was not much wind and the sky was cloudy.

I understand it is New South Wales school holidays this week so I expected a bit more boat traffic than normal but as I walked out at about 9.30 am, there were crab pots as far as the eye could see. As I waded south from the bridge, they were everywhere. I counted 50 in sight before I gave up. It made casting a little difficult, in places. There were plenty of sand crabs around, as I kept kicking them. However the density of pots meant that there was a boat arriving to; figure out which were theirs, check them and reset them, every five minutes.

This did not do much for the fishing but after all the crap weather we have had, is was good to see boats out and about and the odd pot being pulled up with a few keepers in it. I decided to stay in the shallows and find some undisturbed areas to fish.

The tide was running out quite fast and so the boats and pots gradually retreated, leaving me to fish the edge of the sand and weed banks, which were now covered in only 800 mm of water. This is where I concentrated my casts. I tried to pause my retrieve right at the edge of the banks. This was where my first fish of the day hit just before 10.00 am. I was using a GULP Jerkshad in the red and yellow Curried Chicken colour on a 1/8th, 2/0 jighead. It was a good flathead but the sand banks where not yet exposed so I had nowhere to land it. I tried the tricky manoeuvre of pulling the fish into my body then grabbing it with a rag. The fish promptly spiked me hard, unhooked itself and wriggled free. It was a good spike right in the middle of my thumb. I could not rub some slime into it to ease the sting, as the fish had gone and taken all its slime with it! I wrapped it up in a bit of rag.

When you get spiked like this the blood does not clot very quickly, as the venom in the spike is slightly anti-coagulant. So if you are not careful, you end up dripping blood everywhere. This is not ideal in waist deep water! The thumb calmed down after a while and I carried on casting. I kept peppering the same spot with casts and I soon hooked up again. This was a slightly smaller fish and made sure it was tired out before pulling it in close and grabbing it with the rag. It ended up being a bit over 45cm.

I moved further south and was soon close to the green channel marker. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken – the black and purple colour. I used the usual technique along the edge of the sand bank and soon caught two more undersized (35cm) flathead. I persisted in the same area and after about ten more casts, I felt a good bite. I paused and dropped the rod tip. When I lifted it I had another fish on. This one was about 45 cm again, and I safely grabbed it and put it in the bag.

It was now about 12.45pm and I turned back and waded towards the bridge. In the shallows, just short of the jetty, I hooked another flathead and pulled it up to the shore. It was also a keeper, at about 50cm long.

Three little flathead went swimming one day...

Three little flathead went swimming one day…

I had to give up at about 1.15 pm, just as the tide stopped moving. I had forgotten the camera today, so only one snap of the keepers is included, from my phone. Considering the late start and all the boat traffic, it had been another good session.

Bribie Island – Oyster Jetty to the channel marker – 18 April 2013

Thursday

At last the cooler (and hopefully drier) weather is beginning to show itself. I love this time of year. Dawn is later so I become slightly less nocturnal and the fishing improves exponentially with the cooling water temperatures and the more consistent south-easterly winds.

It was back to Bribie Island – my home fishing territory. I was in position under the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at 5.00 am, about an hour before dawn. Low tide would be just before 9.00 am. This is the ideal tide situation for fishing these flats. The tide is about halfway out and running nicely. The fish have moved up into the shallows during the night with the high tide and are now gradually retreating. They stay in shallower water in the pre-dawn light, as they still feel fairly safe.

I cast around but the water was already too shallow directly under the bridge lights, to warrant fishing that area, so I gradually moved up, past the old oyster jetty and concentrated on an area of weed banks, about level with the end of the jetty. There are sandy hollows in the weed and when the water depth is just right the flathead like this spot.

I started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and my Loomis GL2/ Shimano Stella 2500 spinning outfit. It was still dark. It was now just before 6.00 am. There was just a faint glow on the horizon. I put a few casts out into the shallows and the fun started. The first fish was a good one – a flathead, just over 55cm long. I was going to release them all today but this one had half a tackle shop hanging out of its mouth, so I put it in the keeper bag. It looked like it had swallowed at least one hook and had some pretty heavy trace with another broken hook hanging off it.

I cast out again and felt another bite, but did not connect. On the next cast, I caught it – another Flathead – but this one was just a baby – about 30cm long. I kept going in the same spot and about 5 minutes later, I felt a good fish connect. This was another good fish, a little over 60 cm.

The sun was now up and I gradually moved further to the south. There were a few long toms around and these would occasionally attack the soft plastic. I caught another undersized flathead at about 6.30 am and then things went quite for about an hour.

By 7.30 am I was about half way to the green channel marker. I had swapped to a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour. The water had started fairly clear but as we got closer to low tide it became murkier. Suddenly I felt a solid bite and I was on to another fish. I pulled it on to the sand. It was about 45cm. I then caught a couple more, of about the same size, on the same soft plastic.

I was sure there were more fish in the area but after another 20 minutes of casting, they seemed to have calmed down or perhaps, grown wary of the soft plastic. I swapped over to a small hard-bodied lure – the DUO Realis Shad 59MR. I have had success with the lure in this area before, but today I was using a new colour – purple/ silver called HD Gill. It is a 4.7 gram, 59mm suspending minnow with a great action. It will hover for a few seconds at the end of a swim and maintain its depth, to about 1.5 metres below the surface.

This soon stirred the fish up. I worked it along the edge of the weed beds, out by the channel marker and soon started hooking up. The first couple of fish were small. I turned back and covered the same ground I had been over with the soft plastic jerkshad and after an hour and half, I had caught six more flathead. They were all over 45cm and had all attacked the Realis Shad 59MR.

By about 9.45 am I was back at the bridge. I had three of the better fish in the keeper bag for a meal and I had really enjoyed the session. Early in the tide the water had been very clear and there had been no rain – let’s hope the fishing and weather stays this good.

Iluka – Shark Bay – Tailor, Tailor, Tailor – 12 April 2013

Friday

Friday was my last morning in Iluka. The weather had been good for fishing – light winds and swell. But it had been miserable for camping, with endless rain showers and no time to dry out in between. Fortunately, I had been in a cabin.

A big south-easterly blow was forecast for the weekend and on Friday morning; it was already about 15 knots on the Woody Head platform. The seas had not really picked up yet but it would be too hard to cast from ‘ the Barnacles’ so I decided to give the Shark Bay rock platform a try. This is a great spot in a south-easterly wind, as you can cast off the north tip with the wind behind you.

I arrived just after 6.00 am. The sky was fairly clear, initially. Low tide had been at about 3.40 am. The wind was blowing hard so it would only be possible to fish on the north edge and cast to the north-west. These were perfect conditions to get some long casts out of some hard bodied lures.

I knew there might be some big fish around but I have really enjoyed fishing with the lighter 10 ft Shimano Catana Coastline Light, this week – so I stuck with it. It is rated 3-5kg, but as long as you have a tough leader and a good drag, it can land some pretty hefty fish. When I break it (which I inevitably will) I will look for a better quality alternative – but so far, so good.

It has a poor reputation for durability and most coastal tackle shops have put their fair share of new tips on. Despite this, it is a very nicely balanced rod and I particularly like the way you can feel the action of the lighter hard bodied lures through the tip. I really wanted to catch some fish using my latest favourite DUO lure – the Realis Jerkbait 120SP and the Catana is perfect for it. The Realis Jerkbait 120SP is a clever sub-surface suspending lure that you can get down to about a metre below the surface without too much trouble . It is long (120mm) thin and flat sided, which accentuates light reflection, as it moves through the water and it has both a good slow and fast action. I have had a few of these in some great colours and lost them all to fish.

Now I was down to my last one, in a yellow/ cream/ gold colour known as S70 – Dead Ayu. I have swapped the trebles for single hooks, in the hope of hanging on to the lure for a bit longer! I had lost one to a good fish a few days before so I was determined to land something with this one.

I cast to the northwest into the choppy, white water. There is a patch of reef that breaks the surface, about 125 metres to the north-west of the rock platform. I aimed at this and with the wind behind me, I was able to put in a very respectable long distance cast. I started the retrieve, jerking the lure along for a few metres, then pausing and allowing it to suspend. There was action behind the lure on the first cast with splashes and surges, but it took about six casts to hook up.

I am fairly new to single hooks and my view is that they do not connect with as many fish as trebles do, but once they do connect, the fish stays hooked. That was the case this time and I soon had a 40cm tailor at my feet. I cast straight back out and watched as another tailor knocked the Realis Jerkbait 120SP out of the water but then failed to get hooked. Almost every cast was getting hit. Sometimes I could see the snouts and tails of long toms but usually, it felt like tailor.

About 10 minutes after the first tailor, I was on to another better one. This one put on an acrobatic performance with several jumps, before I tamed it. It was just over 60cm and the best of the week. There then followed a good tailor session with the DUO Realis Jerkbait 120SP accounting for six tailor around the 40 to 45cm mark, over the next 20 minutes. It also pulled up a couple of over enthusiastic long toms.

At about 7.00 am things went quiet so I swapped to a 65g Raider metal slug. I tried this for about twenty casts with no result, so I swapped to a soft plastic lure. I started with the small GULP 3” Minnow in Lime Tiger, that had proved so appealing to the mac tuna. I put it on a ¼ oz, 1/0 jighead and cast it out. There were no more tuna but after a few retrieves another good bream took it. I landed it and then caught another.

There was another quiet spell so I swapped to a bigger GULP Jerkshad in the Sweet & Sour Chicken colour. The tailor must have been passing through again because after a number of bites, pulls and aborted runs, I hooked up again. It was another 40cm fish.

The tide was now almost up to my waist so it was time to retreat. It had been a great session and good way to end the week. Bream, dart, tailor, tuna, trevally and flathead – another great week of fishing in Iluka.

Iluka – Woody Head – Middle Bluff – More Tuna – 11 April 2013

Thursday

On Thursday morning I decided to fish from Middle Bluff, just north of Frasers Reef. This is a short drive south from the Woody Head camp ground. I arrived just before dawn and got rained on straight away. I now had a good waterproof jacket on, which helped. The wind was a slight south easterly/ westerly – swapping from one to the other. Low tide had passed at about 2.45 am.

I decided to start with the heavy rod. My theory was that if the Tuna were around, I would have more chance of landing one on my Daiwa 9’ Demonblood with 30lb leader. I have been trying out another couple of excellent hard body lures from DUO, on this trip. I decided to start with the DUO Tide Vib Slim140. This is effectively a large sinking vibe lure. It weighs 32g, has the usual superb DUO paint job and casts like a bullet.

The rain had passed over and I started casting the Tide Vib Slim in a semicircle and retrieving it in long, sideways sweeps, to get the most of the action. Just before sunrise, I felt some solid knocks. I was casting out about 50 metres and the lure was getting attention just after it hit the water and started vibrating. After about ten minutes, there were two big bumps and a bite. I dropped the rod tip, then struck hard and the fish took off. It was another blistering initial run. This time I was fishing with my Stradic 8000 reel and the heavier rod and leader, but that initial run felt just as powerful as the mac tuna, earlier in the week. I just held on and watched 250 metres of braid peel off the spool. I was pretty sure it was another tuna. It went straight out to sea. Eventually it slowed, so I gradually cranked the reel and turned its head. Now it was sitting parallel to the shore, about 200 metres out and the Daiwa Demonblood rod tip was fluttering in time to its tail beats.

I started to gain line but each wind was met with solid resistance – this fish was far from worn out. I left the drag alone and was determined to be patient. With the fish this far out, there was not much structure to tangle with. It made another short run, taking perhaps 50 metres of line, but I just let it go and then started the pressure again. I gave some thought to where I would land it. If I was lucky I would be able to coax it round to some stepped ledges on the north side of the headland and grab it, between wave sets. As it came closer to shore, I started to put more pressure on it but it was hard to move. Every time I brought it within sight of the rocks it took off again. The runs were getting shorter but they were just as powerful.

And then with no real sign of why, the line went slack and it was gone – bugger. I had not felt a bite off or seen any evidence of a bigger predator and I still had the lure, when I wound in. I suspect it had been hooked on the side of the mouth, through some of the softer tissue and I had just pulled the hooks.

I gathered my thoughts, checked my knots and cast out again. Half way through the retrieve, there was a grab followed by zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz pht! The leader snapped and the lure and fish were gone. Not sure what it was, but that was the end of my DUO Tide Vib Slim 140. I have had four of these lures, to test drive this year and they have all hooked fish before disappearing. I am pretty sure two were grabbed by Kingfish, earlier in the year, off Fingal Head and the last two tangled with Tuna. I will definitely be getting more.

I tried casting a popper for a while but this did not produce anything so I decided to swap to a metal lure – a 95g Sniper slug. After ten or so casts, I felt a bit of resistance and realised I had a small fish on. I pulled up a Tailor that was only just longer than the lure. A few more casts with the slug did not yield anything. So I swapped to the lighter Shimano Catana rod and decided to try some soft plastic lures.

I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour on a 3/8th oz, 2/0 jighead. Something hit the plastic on the first cast and took it for a quick run, then dropped it. I got it back with the tail mashed and I guessed it was a Tailor. I dropped down to a 4” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour and after a few more casts, I connected with a better Tailor – about 40 cm long and landed it.

The tide was rising but the swell was very light, so I dropped back to a ¼ oz and then a 1/6th oz, jighead and selected a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I put on a few different colours and caught a few more tailor – the biggest was about 45cm long. I also caught good sized dart and bream.

Things started to slow down so I decided to put on a smaller, 3” GULP Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour, on a ¼ oz, 1/0 jighead. This was the same lure that had caught the mac tuna a few days before. I fished around, varying my casts; some in close to the rocks, some further out. It was now about 8.45 am and another line of rain clouds was lining up and the wind was picking up. I put out a long cast and dropped the lure into the water about 25 metres out.

I felt a few grabs and pulls as the lure sank and suddenly I was connected with another fish. It pulled left, then right and suddenly took off in another blistering run. I was pretty sure it was another tuna as the line kept peeling. I was on the light rod so I just held on. It was another very long initial run but this time the fish was smaller and tired faster. I turned its head and gradually got my line back. I was playing it very carefully as I knew the 16lb leader would not stand any contact with the rocks. I gradually walked it round towards the rock ledges to my left. I checked my watch and I had been fighting the fish for 12 minutes, but it felt like much longer.

Once the fish saw the rocks it took off again. The Catana did not have the strength to apply much pressure but the tuna was gradually tiring. I watched the wave sets. I could see the fish now and it was a small mac tuna. It was on its side but still furiously beating its tail. Unfortunately a big wave set was coming through and I had little choice but to pull the fish up on to the lower ledge with the wave. It came up effortlessly on the surge but once it realised it was out of the water, it went ballistic and before I could get down to it, it had wriggled free of the jighead and bounced down the rocks to freedom – double bugger.

Appropriately, the heavens chose that moment to open above me and add insult to injury by covering me in a downpour. As I squelched back to the car I was rewarded with a great rainbow – but I would rather have had another tuna!

In the afternoon the rain stopped again and so I walked out to the rocks in front of Woody Head to fish “the barnacles” again. Not much happened through the afternoon. I caught a few more dart and bream on soft plastics. A watched as another fisherman caught a few 45cm Tailor casting slugs into the white water zones.

As the sun dropped behind Woody Head, the bite rate increased and I caught three good bream in quick succession. I swapped up to a bigger GULP 4″ Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/4 oz, 2/0 jighead. The swell and wind was picking up a little and it was getting dark quickly. I put in a long cast and let the lure waft down in the swell. As soon as I took up the slack a fish hit it. It pulled pretty hard on the Catana and then a good size tailor leaped out of the water. I subdued it and pulled it in. It was just over 50cm long. By then I had had enough for the day so I cleaned it and headed home for a fish supper.

Iluka – the Rockwall – Bream, Bream, Bream – 10 April 2013

Wednesday

After my success with the Tuna on Tuesday I was keen to get back out fishing on Wednesday. But at 5.00 am it was raining hard and I could not face a dawn fishing session. I waited for it to stop, but it didn’t, so after a few cups of tea, I went into Iluka, to the café, for breakfast. It’s called ‘Sumthin Tastee’ and whatever you order, it tastes good and there is plenty of it – which means it fits my main criteria for a good restaurant.

While I was eating, the sun came out and I decided to drive down to the Iluka rockwall for a quick fish. I ran into a couple of fishermen heading out along the wall. They reported that, the day before, they had dropped a good long tail tuna. They had been fishing with live garfish. The fish shook itself free right at the base of the rocks and was a good size. They had seen a few more, good sized fish landed. They had also heard reports of a few good spanish mackerel being caught off the same spot.

It was noon and I was after something a little easier to land. I rigged up the Shimano Catana with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 2 inch GULP Jigging Grub. I tried on the ocean side of the wall for about 20 mins – in the gutters, close to the shore and I found a couple of small dart. I swapped to the inside of the wall. The tide had turned and was running in. The water was fairly clear but there was an obvious line where the clearer, ocean water met the dirtier river water. I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Banana Prawn and cast it at the edge of the line and let it sink. A small bream grabbed it on the drop. I released the fish and the same thing happened on the next three casts. I cast closer to the base of the wall and after a few bites connected with a slightly bigger fish. I released it and carried on catching a fish every two or three casts, but none of them were much bigger than 25cm.

The rain started again at about 2.00 pm so I gave up. The fish were everywhere and I am sure early morning or dusk would produce some excellent catches here.

Iluka – Woody Head – “the Barnacles” – Tuna – 9 April 2013

Tuesday – Morning

Tuesday was another cool morning at Woody Head. It rained just before dawn and there was a very light south-westerly wind blowing. The rain stopped just after first light and I wandered out to the rock bar on the edge of Woody Bay, just after 6.00 am.

I was fishing the last couple of hours of the run in tide with my light spinning rig. I was wearing my Cabela’s stockinged feet, chest waders. I can wear my felt-soled rock boots over the top of these, which means I get a better grip on the rocky bottom. I also stay completely dry underneath. I ordered both the waders and the boots from Cabelas – http://www.cabelas.com – in the US. The latest boots are the best I have had. They are called the Men’s Ultralight 2 Wading Boots and they grip well (felt soles) and dry fast.

Cabelas rock fishing boots

Cabelas rock fishing boots

The sun broke through the clouds briefly, just after dawn and then disappeared again. I started with a small GULP Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour on a 1/8th oz, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader. After a few casts, I caught a small bream – about 25cm long. Over the next hour, I caught three more fish about the same size. Every now and then I would also see the long toms follow my lure in. At about 7.45nam the rain started again so I gave up for the morning.

Tuesday – Afternoon

The rain showers kept coming but the sun came out in between each one. There was not much wind so, as low tide approached at 1.30 pm, I decided to have a fish with the Shimano Catana light rod, off the front of ‘the barnacles’ at Woody Head. I tied on a 12lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/6th 1/0 jighead, loaded with a GULP Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. After a few casts, I felt a couple of bites, very close to the rocks. On the next few, I paused for as long as I could in the strike stone and after a few more tries, I connected with a decent bream – about 35 cm long.

I fished through the afternoon with a few different soft plastics and caught a few more bream and a few small dart. By about 5.00 pm the sun was close to dropping behind the hill and I decided to swap to a hard bodied lure. I pulled out a DUO Realis Jerkbait 120 SP. This is a fairly narrow, flat sided suspending minnow with a low pitched rattle. It has the usual excellent DUO paint job which gives it a very clever flashing appearance, as it rolls from side to side in the water. It weighs 18 grams and casts beautifully from the Catana rod.

On the third cast something grabbed it, dropped it, grabbed it, dropped it, grabbed it and then took off – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The Catana is flexible but does not have much grunt so I had to let the fish run. When it paused I tried to apply some pressure but I could not turn its head. As I reached the backing line I started to hold the spool, to try and slow it, but I knew I had to tighten the drag. I turned it a few clicks and the fish slowed. I gradually got about 10 metres of line back but then the fish lunged again and the line went slack. I don’t know what happened but I could see the lure was gone and the leader was bitten through, once I wound in the line.

I did not have any more of the DUO’s with me so I put on a suspending Yozuri Crystal Minnow and upped my leader to 16lb – the heaviest I had. I cast out and started a fairly slow retrieve. I saw a good size Tailor or perhaps Trevally grab it, a few metres from the rocks and take off. I think it was a Trevally, as it headed straight for cover, under the rock ledge. It managed to wedge the trebles from the lure into the rocks and free itself.

I was frustrated – the bite was hotting up and I felt like I had brought a knife to a gun fight. My gear was not heavy enough for these fish. I tied on another leader and put on a sturdy ¼ oz 1/0 jighead and loaded it with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. Perhaps this would attract a more manageable fish. How wrong I was!

After about three casts, I felt the on again/off again bite. It was probably a few fish all trying to attack the same lure. Then there was a solid bite and a brief tug and suddenly zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, as the fish realised it was hooked. This one had serious power, just like the one that took the DUO lure, previously. It was heading north and east, out to sea. I had the drag a little tighter this time but I moved along the rocks with the fish. After a couple of solid initial runs it paused and I could see the rod tip beating – it had to be a tuna. I estimated it had taken just over 100 metres of line in the initial two runs. I looked down at the spool. It was a fair way through the backing line, so I took back as much as I could. The fish took off again but with a little less power. The Shimano Sustain reel’s drag was doing a good job but the Catana rod was not strong enough to really apply much pressure to the fish. I had to wait this one out. The fish would pull hard then sit in the current with the rod tip beating.

I calmed down and looked at my options for landing it. The tide was coming in and it was safe to spend a bit of time down on the lower rock ledges but I was definitely going to get wet. With the light rod and leader, my only option was to use the surf to wash the fish over the lower ledges and then go down and grab it. The fish was tiring but I still had not seen it. Every few metres of line I gained were taken back with another short, but determined run. As it came close to the rocks I got a look at it. It was a small mac tuna. It was rolling over on its side which was a fairly good sign it was nearly spent.

I watched the swell and moved down to the lower ledge. I tried to apply some pressure with the rod but as soon at the fish saw the rocks it set of for New Zealand again. I let it run and hunkered down as a large wave crashed over me. A few moments later there was another good wave and I used it to heave the fish over the ledge. The fish was now behind me in small draining pool vigorously beating its tail in an attempt to follow the remaining water back out to sea. I checked my footing, looked at what was coming at me and tightened the drag. I pulled the fish on to the sloping edge of the pool, grabbed its tail and clambered back up the rocks.

It was my first tuna off the rocks and even though it was a fairly small model – just over 60cm long, I was delighted. The jighead and plastic were nicely lodged in the corner of the fish’s mouth. I was soaked but stoked! I have tangled with these fish at various points on the east coast but never been able to land one. I have usually ended up wishing the fish I had on the end of my line was slightly smaller, so I would have a chance of landing it. Today it all came together and that is why I love fishing!