Fish & Colours – by Dr. David Ross

I came across this article recently. Although it primarily relates to choosing colours for fly fishing, it is an excellent scientific explanation of how fish view colour. I thought I would share it just to give everyone another excuse to buy some different coloured lures!

Fish Eyesight: Does Color Matter?

by David Ross
Read this article and you may never look at your flies the same way again.

Do fish see color?IS COLOR IMPORTANT? This is a serious question for fly tiers and fly fishermen to ask. Some anglers maintain that the choice of color is critical, while others say it is not important. Scientifically speaking, there is evidence to suggest that both points of view may be correct. There is good evidence that picking the appropriate color or colors will, under certain conditions, improve your chances of attracting fish, but science can also show that in other situations, the color of your fly is of limited value or no importance whatsoever.

Fish have been around for more than 450 million years and are remarkable creatures. Over the thousands of centuries, they have made many superb adaptations to survive in the marine environment. Living in the world of water is not easy, but it does present some environmental opportunities as well as serious challenges. Sound, for example, travels almost five times faster and much better in water than it does in air. The ocean is actually a very noisy place. Fish capitalize on this by having an excellent sense of hearing, using both their inner ears and lateral lines to detect prey or avoid enemies.

Water also contains unique chemical compounds that fish utilize to identify other members of their species, tell when reproduction time has arrived, find food, detect predators, and perform other functions. Fish have evolved a remarkable sense of smell that is thought to be about one million times better than that of humans.

Water, however, presents a serious challenge for fish and fishermen when it comes to vision and color. Many characteristics of light quickly change as it moves through water. The first thing to realize is that the color of your fly in the water is almost always different from what it is in the air. I have to be a little technical to explain this, but I think if you bear with me, you’ll have a better understanding of how fish perceive color and how this impacts the flies we tie and use. And while I mostly refer to fish and fishing in salt water, these same principles apply to the freshwater environment.

Attenuation of Light

The light that humans see is just a small part of the total electromagnetic radiation that is received from the sun. We see what is called the visible spectrum. The actual colors within the visible spectrum are determined by the wavelengths of the light: the longer wavelengths are red and orange; the shorter wavelengths are green, blue, and violet. Many fish, however, can see colors that we do not, including ultraviolet.

When light enters water, its intensity quickly decreases and its color changes. These changes are called attenuation. Attenuation is the result of two processes: scattering and absorption. The scattering of light is caused by particles or other small objects suspended in the water — the more the particles, the more the scattering. The scattering of light in water is somewhat similar to the effect of smoke or fog in the atmosphere. Coastal waters generally have more suspended material due to river input, material stirred up from the bottom, and increased plankton. Because of this greater amount of suspended material, light usually penetrates to a lesser depth. In relatively clear offshore water, light penetrates to a greater depth.

Light absorption is caused by several things, such as the light being converted into heat or used in chemical reactions such as photosynthesis. The most important aspect for fishing is the influence of the water itself on the absorption of light. The amount of absorption is different for different wavelengths of light; in other words, various colors are absorbed differently. The longer wavelengths, such as red and orange, are absorbed very quickly and penetrate into the water to a much shallower depth than the shorter blue and violet wavelengths.

Absorption also restricts how far light penetrates into the water. At about three meters (about 10 feet), roughly 60 percent of the total light (sunlight or moonlight) and almost all the red light will be absorbed. At 10 meters (about 33 feet), about 85 percent of the total light and all the red, orange, and yellow light have been absorbed. This has a direct bearing on how a fish perceives a fly. At a depth of 10 feet, a red fly appears gray, and it eventually appears black as the depth increases. With the increasing depth, the now dimming light becomes bluish and eventually black when all the other colors are absorbed.

The absorption or filtering out of color also works in a horizontal direction. So again, a red fly that is only a few feet from a fish appears gray. Similarly, other colors also change with distance. For a color to be seen, it must be hit by light of the same color and then reflected in the direction of the fish. If the water has already attenuated or filtered out) a color, that color will appear gray or black. (Fluorescent colors, which I will come to shortly, behave a little differently.)

It should now be clear how the depth of the water or distance from a fish affects the visibility of your fly. In extremely shallow and very clear water, colors may look similar to their appearance in the air; as your fly gets just three feet deep or three feet away from a fish — or less if the water has limited clarity — the colors will start to change, often with surprising results.

What Do Fish See?

Scientists really do not know exactly what fish see, or in other words, what images reach their brains. Most research on the vision of fish is done either by physical or chemical examination of different parts of their eyes or by determining how laboratory fish respond to various images or stimuli. Making broad generalizations about a fish’s vision is complicated by the fact that different species may have different vision capabilities and that laboratory results may not represent what happens in the real world of an ocean, lake, or river.

Physical studies of the eyes and retinas of fish show that the majority can obtain a clearly focused image, detect motion, and have good contrast-detection ability. A limited number of experiments have shown that a minimum level of light is necessary before a fish can recognize colors. Another finding, but one that needs more study, is that some fish favor a specific color. This point may contradict or affirm your own fishing experiences, but remember that the attractiveness of your fly is a combination of many things, including its motion, shape, and color, as well as the scents in and depth of the water.

Most fish have an adequate sense of vision, but this is usually not so impressive as their sense of smell and ability to detect vibrations through their lateral lines. Fish usually use their sense of hearing or smell to initially perceive their prey, and then use their vision only in the final attack. Most fish can see in low-light conditions or dirty water, and a few can see objects over moderately long distances. Fish such as tuna have especially good vision; others less so. Fish are usually nearsighted, although it is believed that sharks are farsighted.

The majority of fish have developed eyes that will detect the type of colors typical of their environment. For example, inshore fish have good color vision, whereas offshore pelagic fish have limited color vision and detect only a few if any colors other than black and white. This is not surprising from an evolutionary point of view, because nearshore waters are lit with many colors; offshore waters, on the other hand, are mainly blue or green and contain few other colors.

The actual ability of a specific color to attract or even repel fish has fascinated both anglers and scientists. While there are no uniform answers, scientists have conducted experiments on this interesting question. For example, studies of sticklebacks during their spawning season have shown that males, which then have bright red coloring on their bellies, become very aggressive to decoys that also have bright red bellies. Similarly, decoys with extended bellies, which look like females carrying eggs, attract the males. But it isn’t that simple: it wasn’t just the case of a perfect decoy imitation, but rather the color or shape of the decoy. In addition, it was noted that a passing red car, seen from the fish tank, also excited male sticklebacks.

Color Suggestions

This is perhaps the most important point to remember: Most gamefish detect their prey by seeing the contrast of the forage against various colored backgrounds. The level or type of contrast depends upon many factors: time of day, type of bottom, transparency of the water, whether it is cloudy or sunny, and perhaps even the time of year. I wish I could be more specific, but such scientific information is not available. The best I can do is provide some general suggestions and information; determining the right color or color combinations will take a lot of fishing and experimenting under various conditions. Keep these ideas in mind the next time you tie or select flies.

  • Try to consider what the colors in your fly will look like at the depth you are fishing, and chose appropriately. For example, since red is the first and blue is the last color absorbed, it makes more sense to use a blue fly when fishing deep.
  • If you are trying to match a particular bait, the color of your fly should match the color of the bait for the depth you are fishing. In other words, try to match the underwater color rather than the color of the bait in air.
  • Many fish feed by looking up toward the surface of the water. In doing so, however, they have difficulty distinguishing specific colors, and the contrast of the prey against the surface becomes more important. When a feeding fish is looking up, a dark silhouette, even against a dark night sky, provides the maximum contrast and is attractive to predators. Selecting a fly based on contrast, rather than on specific colors, is often the key to enticing a fish to strike.
  • Black is the least transparent color and gives the best silhouette at night. Black is probably the most visible color under most conditions.
  • If your fly has two or more colors, the darker color should be over the lighter colors. Almost all baitfish have this color arrangement, and dark over light usually produces good contrast.
  • Different colored flies may be equally effective or ineffective simply because they are similar in color at the depth the fish see them.
  • If you are fishing your fly in deep water, the motion and any noise or disturbance it makes might be much more important than its color.
  • Increase the contrast of the fly if the water is dirty; decrease the contrast if it is clear.
  • A good profile is important when vision conditions are low (nighttime or dirty water). Black and red flies offer good profiles.
  • Some colors, such as chartreuse, always seem to work better than other colors. Yellow-and-white and chartreuse-and-white are also favorite pairings. Red and white, which provide good contrast under many conditions, is a popular combination for many anglers.

Understanding Polarized Light

Recent research shows that many fish sense polarized light. Humans do not have the ability to separate polarized from regular light. Regular light vibrates in all directions perpendicular to its direction of travel; polarized light, however, vibrates only in one plane. When light is reflected off many nonmetallic surfaces, including the ocean surface, it is polarized to some degree. This explains how polarizing sunglasses work: they block out the horizontally reflected polarized component of light from the ocean surface which causes most of the glare but permit the vertically reflected component to pass through.

It is not fully understood why some fish have the ability to sense polarized light, but there are interesting possibilities. Being able to detect polarized light might help fish in their migrations and ability to swim closely with others of the same species. The ability to sense polarized light must certainly be related to the fact that when light is reflected off surfaces, like the scales on a baitfish, it is polarized. Fish that can detect polarized light have an advantage in finding food. Polarizing vision can also enhance the contrast between almost transparent prey and the background, making the prey easier to see. Another conjecture is that having polarizing vision can let fish see objects that are farther away — perhaps three times the distance — as fish without this ability. If this speculation is correct, it may answer the question why some fish can feed under very low-light conditions. And there is more polarized light at dawn and dusk, which might explain why some fish, such as striped bass, seem to feed more aggressively at these times of the day.

If the ability to sense polarized light helps fish to find food, then it follows that flies that reflect polarized light should be more attractive to such fish. Some natural fly-tying materials, such as polar bear fur, are especially good reflectors of polarized light. Bucktail, on the other hand, is a relatively poor reflector of polarized light. There are artificial materials that simulate fish scales and various tinsels that claim to be excellent reflectors of polarized light. Flies with irregular surfaces may reflect more polarized light than smooth flies. I suspect that in the coming years, as we learn more, there will be an increased use of polarizing materials in flies and lures.

Fluorescent Colors Increase Visibility

Fluorescent colors, especially chartreuse, are very popular with saltwater fly fishermen. I almost always start fishing with a chartreuse Half & Half, even if it’s just to see if there are any fish in the area. Under the right conditions, fluorescent colors, which are not naturally found in nature, can be very visible under water and seen for considerable distances. A fluorescent color is one that will be bright when exposed to light having a shorter wavelength. For example, fluorescent yellow appears as bright yellow when exposed to ultra-violet, blue, or green light. Alternatively, fluorescent yellow does not appear yellow when struck by red light that has a longer wavelength. Because of this unique characteristic of fluorescent colors, they do not have as dramatic a change of color when they are fished deeper.

The fluorescence of fluorescent colors is mainly due to ultraviolet (UV) light, a color that is invisible to us. Humans cannot see UV light, but we can see how it brings out the fluorescence in certain colors. Ultraviolet light is especially dominant on cloudy or gray days, and when UV light hits something having fluorescent material, its color becomes especially visible and vibrant. On bright sunlit days, the fluorescent effect is considerably less, and of course if there is no light, there will be no fluorescence.

Research shows that fluorescent colors are visible and distinct for longer distances than regular colors, and that a fly with fluorescent materials often attracts fish. To be more precise, a fluorescent color having a slightly longer wavelength than the color of the water has better long-distance visibility. For example, in greenish waters, the brightest colors would be fluorescent green or chartreuse. As good as fluorescent colors may be, they will usually not work if the fish are actively feeding on a specific bait, since it is highly improbable that the fluorescent color will resemble any color in that bait.

As you can see, light and color can get pretty complicated. But let’s not forget what we are trying to do: have our flies imitate pieces of fish food. Fish are not very clever, and they attack prey — or flies — as an instinctive behavior motivated (or so we think) by one or more stimuli. These stimuli include movement, shape, sound, contrast, smell, color, presentation, and certainly other things unknown to us. Successful flies should probably include some of these stimuli, and then we need to consider other variables such as the time of day, the tide, and the presence of other fish or fishermen. This is a complicated venture, of which color can sometimes be an important aspect, but only if the fish can see the color.

MidCurrent Fly Fishing

Dr. David Ross is a scientist emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the author of The Fisherman’s Ocean (Stackpole Books). He is also a regular columnist for Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine. He can be contacted atDRoss@whoi.edu. This article first appeared in Fly Tyer Magazine. Copyright © 2005-2006 Dr. David A. Ross and Fly Tyer Magazine.
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1770 – Flat Rock – Slatey Bream, Dart & Stripy Perch – 6 April 2015

Monday

I managed to persuade the family that my beloved 1770 would be a good place to spend some of the Easter school holidays. Fishing was strictly rationed, but I did get a few sessions in.

We drove up from Brisbane and passed through some monster storms on Sunday. We visited Cooks Monument and walked out to the tip of the headland on arrival. You could see there had been plenty of rain. The dirty water was clearly visible, running out into the sea from the creek.

Dirty Water at the bottom of the tide 1770

On Monday morning the skies had cleared and the wind had dropped so we drove down to deserted Flat Rock beach in Deepwater National Park. Despite the recent heavy rain and lots of Easter holiday visitors the sandy four wheel drive track down through the park was in good order.

I like to fish this spot on a falling tide and anything can happen. Locals have told me they have caught saltwater barramundi, mackerel, tuna and jewfish here. I have caught the bread and butter species – stripey perch, estuary cod, dart, tailor, bream, whiting, flathead, all along the flat rock that runs parallel with the shore. I have also been bitten off by plenty of powerful predators, but I have never landed any trophy fish here.

I find the best time to start fishing is about an hour after high tide, through to about an hour before low tide. I wade out to the Flat Rock and walk along it fishing over the edge into the surf which breaks on its front edge. There are a couple of places where the rock breaks and the water runs out. These are great spots, the fish accumulate to feed on what is being washed out from the beach gutter.

The tide reveals Flat Rock

I was fishing with my lighter rock fishing rod and reel setup – the NS Blackhole Cabin 2 S862L, rated 8-14lb, 2.59 m long matched with a Shimano Sustain – 4000 reel. I use 12 lb braid and a 12 lb fluorocarbon leader.

I started by choosing my current favourite fish finding soft plastic lure – the GULP 3” Minnow in the lime tiger colour. I rigged it on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and cast out. Within a few minutes I caught a small dart and then a small moses perch. I had started fishing at the side of one of the breaks in the rock and the water was gushing through the gap. I kept casting the soft plastic just on to the edge of the Flat Rock and let the water push it out through the gap.

After about half an hour a fish grabbed the soft plastic and shot under the rock. I had the drag fairly loose and by the time I tightened it, the fish had tucked himself right in. I tried to put a bit of pressure on it but the light leader quickly snapped.

I tied on another Lime Tiger Minnow but it did not tempt another fish. After another 20 minutes, I swapped to a GULP Mantis Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour and a slightly heavier, 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook, jighead. It was now just before 1.00 pm and the resident sea eagle who had been watching me form the tree line, was getting restless. I cast out the Mantis Shrimp and let it sink and be carried off by the fast running tide. I paused for about 15 seconds, to make absolutely sure it was on the bottom, then slowly lifted the rod tip and started hopping the soft plastic back towards me. On about the 3rd hop, a fish snaffled it and turned to run out to sea. It was not very fast but it was powerful. It took plenty of line but eventually I slowed it down and it just sat in the current, about a metre from the rocks. I used the light swell to heave it over the rocks and on to the beach. It was a slatey bream (painted sweetlip) with magnificent red flashes behind its lips and around its gills. It was about 40 cm long. As long as they are quickly bled and carefully filleted, these fish taste great. They have flaky white fillets and are great fried in a little olive oil. This one was coming home for supper.

It was now lunch time and the fainthearted tourists (my family) had had enough of watching me fishing, so we packed up.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 75cm flathead – March 29, 2015

Sunday March 29, 2015

I had the bit between my teeth now, so I woke up early on Sunday and drove up to fish the run out tide, on the flats beside the old oyster jetty on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, beside the Bribie Island Bridge.

Last year, March had been a fantastic month for flathead in this location, so I was hopeful. I had planned to arrive in the dark and fish the high water under the bridge but I woke up too late. When I waded out under the bridge, it was already getting light at about 5.30 am. There was virtually no wind and there had been some rain overnight. High tide had passed at 5.05 am.

Local fisherman Colin had beaten me to it and already had a 55cm flathead in his bag. He explained the recent heavy rain (following the cyclones) has slowed things down a bit and the fishing around Bribie is very patchy.

I put a GULP Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and started casting around. There were plenty of prawns skipping on the surface so I dropped down to GULP 2” Prawn in the Banana Prawn colour. Neither of these interested the fish by the bridge so I waded south.

The tide was now slowly running out. I moved along the edge of the mangroves, casting my soft plastic in to a few feet of water and slowly bouncing it along the bottom.  A couple of long toms soon found it and kept snapping at it. They seem to like cruising the shallows in this area.

I was now at the drain that runs round the corner from Sandstone Point, in to the Passage. The terrain has flattened out considerably here and the drain is much less pronounced than it was last year, but there is still a nice sandy hollow in the middle of it.  I was fishing with a new favourite – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Green Camo colour. I had dropped down to a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The long toms where still attacking the lure every so often. I briefly hooked one and it started leaping around before it unhooked itself.

I cast at the centre of the drain and let the plastic sink. Something grabbed it as I lifted it off the bottom, but I struck a little too quickly and missed it. I dropped the rod tip back down and left the plastic on the bottom for about 15 seconds. When I lifted it again the fish slammed it and hooked itself. It slowly took some line, not realising its meal was not all it seemed. As soon as it felt the hook it took off on a long initial run. It paused and then took off again. It was a solid fish and I only had a 10lb leader so I would need to take my time.

This spot is tricky as there are plenty of oyster covered boulders and as the water level drops the tide seems to run faster over them. The fish slowed but the fast running current was helping it. I slowly waded back toward a gap in the mangroves and after a few minutes pulled a big female flathead up on to a pile of washed up seagrass.

I put the tape to her and she was somewhere between 72cm and 76cm (she was not much interested in sitting still). I removed the jighead and soft plastic with my long nosed pliers and then sent her on her way. She paused and then took off.

I snipped off the end of the leader, which was quite frayed and then re-rigged with the same jighead and soft plastic and waded back to the same area to continue casting.

I soon found another 30 cm flathead, hiding on the edge of the weed. I released and carried on wading to the south. I slowed things down and methodically started to cast around in a semicircle. On about my fifth cast a fish hit hard and took off. It soon slowed and turned towards me. It was a 50cm flathead and I safely manoeuvred it into the keeper bag.

I carried on towards the green channel marker. It was now about 7.45 am. I passed by a few cunningly hidden stingrays and a couple of blue bottle jellyfish (this is why I sweat it out in waders). I dropped down to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 2 hook jighead. This instantly produced results and I found a patch of hungry bream. I caught three fish in the next ten minutes. One had had a very hard life and appeared to have half his back missing. All the bream were legal sized but I had flathead for dinner, so I released them.

As the water ran out, it gradually deteriorated in quality and by about 9.00 am it was very murky. I did not get any bites on my way back to the car and at about 9.30 am, I gave up for the day.

Fingal Head – Moses Perch, Tailor, Bream & Dart – 26 March 2015

Thursday

I was delighted that my cousin’s visit had shamed me into carving out time for another fishing session and we decided to drive south to fish the rocks at Fingal Head in northern New South Wales, on Thursday morning.

I usually find the hour either side of dawn most productive in this location. This means an early start, so we left at about 4.30 am. The weather was grey and rainy for most of the drive down and we arrived at about 5.30 am, close to first light. Fortunately the rain had stopped.

We walked up to the lighthouse and down to the small causeway the leads out to the rock platform.  The headland was first spotted and recorded by James Cook in 1770, and its strange regular shaped basalt pillars were pushed up by the long extinct Tweed volcano. The advantage of the overnight rain was a light swell and virtually no wind.

I was fishing with my N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rodlight rock fishing rod matched with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. The rod is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. This is rigged with 15lb braid and I usually fish it with a 12lb to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. Today, I started with 12lb leader. I provided cousin Joe with a similair set up based on a Shimano Coastline Light rod of the same length.

Flushed with recent success fishing the GULP 3’ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour we decided to start with this soft plastic again. We both rigged up with 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jigheads. After a few casts the fish were tapping at the lure and it did not take long for Joe to hook and land a small 30cm ‘chopper’ tailor. He learned the ‘wet’ way about getting too close to the edge and was given a good soaking by a decent set of waves. The rain then started pouring down so I got nicely soaked, in sympathy.

I moved around to the front of the rock platform and tried a few different shapes and sizes of soft plastics before something grabbed my GULP 3 inch Lime Tiger Minnow, very close to the base of the rocks. I am not sure what it was but it moved around slowly at first, suggesting it did not know it was hooked. Once it realised something was wrong it headed for the nearest bommy and snap went my hopelessly light leader.

I re-rigged and Joe moved into position in roughly the same spot, with the same soft plastic lure pattern. A few casts later a fish struck at the base of the rocks. The Shimano Catana bent over and ot took some line. Joe was not going to let this one go. As he moved closer to the edge of the rocks I had visions of him floating up on a beach, face down, somewhere near Ballina.  Fortunately the swell was light and when he did get a soaking, it was a fairly gentle one.  The fish was doing its best to bury itself in the barnacle covered rocks but Joe swung it round and I grabbed the leader. It was a chunky 33 cm bream and would be dinner.

I tried a few different larger soft plastics but it was the 3 inch minnow that was consistently getting hit. I caught a few small Moses perch and then swapped to a 3 inch minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour. After a few casts something grabbed it and headed straight for the rocks. It felt like a good sized fish but when I pulled it clear of the water it was just a small, but very fat, Moses perch.

Over the next hour we pulled out a few more dart, one of which was missing its tail. As we got further away from sunrise the fishing slowed and at about 9.00 am we gave up and went for breakfast.

Bribie Island – Jan to March 2015 – Catch Up – 24 March 2015

I am ashamed to admit that January to March 2015 has been a fishing black hole as far as the Landangler Blog is concerned. I apologise to those of you who check back here regularly for a fishing fix.

Once more the irrational requirements of modern society – funding for food, clothing and shelter – have diverted me from the most noble of pursuits. I have fished a few sessions at Bribie since returning from 1770 in December, but I have largely been overseas working.

As usual, when you increase the time between fishing sessions it gets much harder. You lose track of which tides work best and where and when the fish are feeding.  You lose your touch with the rod and start to forget what a snag feels like and what a fish feels like. Fishing is often a process of elimination. If you fish in one general location for three or four sessions in a row, in a short time frame, you get a far more accurate idea of what works and what does not. So the moral of this story is fish as often as you can!

In late December 2014 I had a couple of session on the flats beside the old oyster jetty at Bribie and caught a few flathead on each occasion. There were always flathead lies under the bridge after the big night time high tides and because there had not been much rain, up to that point, the water was fairly clear. The GULP 4” Minnow in the New Penny colour proved successful as did the 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I rigged both on 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jigheads with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and I was using my light spinning rod and reel combination.

My next session was a beautiful morning in early February. Conditions were good with an early morning run out tide and a light south easterly wind, but I fished the same area for dismal results. There was no evidence of bait around and no lies under the bridge lights. I fished from pre-dawn to low tide with all sorts of soft plastics and hard bodies. The only thing I caught was a tiny foul hooked whiting. At low tide it was very clear that the consistent summer wind pattern of early morning south easterly followed by afternoon northerly had flattened out the terrain quite considerably. This could also be a result of the cleared area where the new resort is being built creating a wind tunnel.

My next session was early March on Red Beach at Skirmish Point, on the southern tip of Bribie Island. I fished the last of the low tide on a beautiful hot morning. I did not start until after 9.00 am and stuck with a light leader and 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead. I was using the ‘dart slayer’ soft plastic – the GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. This plastic seems to really work well off the beach. After a few casts I hooked, then dropped, a small flathead. I found the point where the current flows from either side of the island meet and started casting in to it. I could see plenty of small garfish schools and every now and then something would send the schools of smaller bait flying in all directions. The soft plastic lure was getting bumped and snapped at and I soon caught a small dart and then a bigger dart. The next taker was a tiny chopper tailor. They continued to nibble but I did not get any more and left when the tide turned.

In late March I returned to the same spot at about the same time of day with almost identical results. My cousin was visiting from the UK and I was keen to put him onto a fish or two. A great gutter had formed along the beach at Skirmish Point. At its mouth there was constant activity with garfish and other small bait schooling up. There was virtually no breeze, but the tide was coming in this time. I caught a small dart and half an hour later I was delighted to see cousin Joe land a feisty bigger dart. That was it for the day.

Cousin Dangler

Hooked up on a Skirmish Point dart

 

That’s a quick round up of the story so far this year. I hope to be posting more regularly now – sharks permitting.