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.