Iluka – Shark Bay – Jewfish – 12 June 2015

Friday

On Friday the wind was a 10-15 knot south-westerly. I woke to heavy rain at about 5.00 am and it was cold. I had decided to go back to Shark Bay but low tide would not be until about 10.00 am, so there was no hurry. I had breakfast and put on a few layers.

I drove down to Shark Bay again and headed out to the northern end of the rocks. It was about 6.30 am by the time I reached the fishing spot.I rigged up a DUO Realis Jerkbait 110 SP – which is a shallow running hard body that has caught tailor here for me before. I tied it on with 35lb fluorocarbon leader and threw it out. On about the third cast I felt a grab and then some resistance but it did not feel like a Tailor. I kept winding and was surprised to see a big bream attached to the lure.

I carried on fishing with the DUO lure, but it did not find me any tailor so I swapped to a DUO Pressbait Saira. DUO call this a ‘slim and long-bodied jig minnow’. It is basically a 50 gram, 175mm long slug with a wobble tail action. The long baitfish profile means it should attract everything from tailor to tuna, but today after about 30 casts, it had attracted nothing.

I switched down to the lighter rock fishing rig and a soft plastic Jerkshad on a ¼ ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. I fished this around, the drop off and in amongst the kelp beds. I felt a few grabs but could not connect so I dropped down to a small 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. This soon found another smaller bream.

I moved south to the other side of the rocks. I started with the heavy rod and big soft plastics and gradually dropped down to the light rod and GULP 3” Minnows in various colours. I was now fishing 16lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. It was about 30 minutes to low tide and the swell seemed to be picking up. I changed up to a heavier 1/6th ounce 1/0 hook fine wire Breampro jighead and loaded up with a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour.

This is a colour I have never tried before and subsequent events suggest it pays to try something new, from time to time. The bigger plastic and slightly heavier jighead meant I could put in a slightly longer cast. On about my third attempt, I landed it beyond the breaking waves and waited for it to sink. As it floated down I felt a gentle tug. I paused for a few seconds then lifted the rod tip and felt a fish. It took off along the line of the surf towards some kelp covered rocks. I played it for a while and it felt like a jewfish. Unfortunately, it managed to find a good tuft of kelp to wrap itself around and the line went slack.  When I got the jighead back the fine wire hook had straightened so I tied on a heavier gauge one and put on another BBQ Chicken Jerkshad.

It did not take long, perhaps 3 or 4 more casts, then I was on to another fish.  This one was a little smaller and less powerful. It made a long initial run but then I was able to turn its head and use the wave surges to bring it in. It was a beautiful school jewfish but I was not sure if it was big enough, so I took out the tape and checked. It was 73cm long and therefore big enough to keep for dinner in New South Wales.

I threw a few more casts and felt a few more bites but as the tide slackened, the bites stopped. Another rain shower came over so I cleaned up my fish and decided to make for the car.

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Iluka – Shark Bay – 11 June 2015

Thursday

As is so often the case in Iluka – the weather was not easy to deal with. The week before it had looked good with light winds and no rain forecast. I woke up early on Thursday to a howling south-easterly wind and intermittent rain, so I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. That did not really work so I got up, had breakfast and then thought about where to fish in a powerful south-easterly. The northern edge of the rock platform at Shark Bay, at low tide was the only option, so I set off.

The mullet fisherman were waiting at the corner of Shark Bay looking out for some late season schools. Apparently it has been a terrible season. With the big rain events last month flushing out all the fish. One keen fisherman was on his way back from the rocks with a 40 cm tailor in his bag. He had spun it up on an 85 g Raider metal slug, just after dawn.

I spun an 85 g Raider for about 25 casts but could not raise another tailor so I swapped to the light rod and tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and GULP Mantis Shrimp soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour. I was using 16lb fluorocarbon leader. In this area there is a kelp covered drop off about 10 metres out from the edge of the rock platform at low tide. This is where the bream sit. I felt a couple of solid bites as I pulled the soft plastic over the ledge, but did not hook up.

I swapped to 3“Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and kept casting. In exactly the same spot a small bream grabbed it and I had my first fish of the day. It was now about 9.45 am and I was soaked and cold.

The wind had dropped a little so I moved south across the rock platform to fish on the southern edge. This area is full of kelp covered rocks but there are some deep, sandy bottomed holes and I have caught good bream here in the past.

I swapped plastics to a GULP Swimmow in the dark green Emerald Shine colour. This was getting hit on the first cast but it took a while to actually connect with a fish. At about 11.00 am after slowing everything down I connected with another bream. This was a good one – well over 35 cm long. I continued with the Swimmow soft plastic for another 20 mins and was rewarded with another, about the same size.

I swapped back down to a 3“Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and  this produced another big bream, at about 11.30 am.  The rain started again and I decided to give up. It had been a tough session but there had been constant action and I had caught three excellent fish –  the largest of which later measured 38 cm.

Iluka – Woody Head – Bream & Tailor – 10 June 2015

Wednesday

Woody Head had been promising on the previous afternoon so I decided to go back the next morning. The wind was a light south-westerly but was forecast to turn into a very strong south-easterly in the early afternoon.

I arrived before first light at about 5.45 am and walked out on to the rock platform.  I walked carefully to the south with my headlamp on. Moving very slowly across the slimy rocks. By the time I reached the spot I know as Snapper Rock it was about 6.00 am and the horizon was glowing.

I thought the tailor might be around so I started with my heavy rod and a big red and white Halco Roosta popper. I threw about 25 casts in all directions with no luck. I was joined on the rocks by another keen fisherman and he effortlessly landed a good-sized bream of fresh bait, right next to me.

I decided to swap to the other extreme. I picked up my lighter rig and tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was using 20lb fluorocarbon leader and I chose a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. This was slammed as it sank and line started peeling. I kept in touch with the fish but the light rod did not give me the power to force the pace and the swell kept crashing in against the rocks. It was pulling hard but in the low light I could not be sure what it was. With the help of a wave I got it up one ledge but then it buried itself in a small valley in the rocks and left me snagged as it swam away. It had a yellowish dorsal fin so I think it may have been a small kingfish or amberjack.

So back to the heavy rig, 35lb leader, a 1/6th ounce 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. It took a couple of casts but then I was on again. The drag was set quite tight and the fish pulled a fair amount of line with ease. I tried to apply some pressure and then the line went slack. I pulled it in and saw that the hook on the jighead had straightened. I re-rigged again with a heavier hook jighead but it seemed the fish had moved on.

I moved down to the area known as ‘Mossies’ and fished various plastics for about an hour with no luck. I then moved back to ‘the Barnacles’ towards the north edge of the rock platform. It was now 8.30 am, just about on low tide and the wind was building from the south-east. I was fishing with the GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour, but I had put on a heavier ¼ ounce jighead to cope with the rising swell. I was using the light rod with 20lb leader. I cast the plastic out and counted to five, a ¼ ounce jighead would sink very fast so I had to try to keep it moving with only the briefest of pauses. After about two pauses I felt a solid knock then another, and another and as I pulled the rod tip up, it bent over and started shaking. It was a 40cm tailor, well hooked and so I soon had it at my feet. I bled it and put it aside for supper.

I cast out again and the soft plastic was thumped, as it landed in the water. This was a bigger fish but it buried itself in the rocks and left me snagged. I re-rigged and after a few cast this happened again.  I decided to move back to a spot where I had a better chance of pulling the fish clear of the rocks.

I swapped to the GULP Mantis Shrimp in the Lime Tiger colour, a few casts with this produced a solid 36cm bream, at the base of the rocks. I continued for another hour but only had a few bites and soon the south-easterly wind made fishing impossible for the rest of the day.

Iluka – Woody Head – 9 June 2015

Tuesday

Having confirmed the winter species are well and truly biting at Bribie Island, I decided to head south to Iluka to fish the headlands of the Bundjalung National Park.  I rented a unit for a week and set off on Tuesday morning. I arrived about 1.30 pm, quickly covered all available surfaces with my fishing gear and considered my options. Low tide would be at about 7.30 pm but with not much swell Woody Head looked like a good bet.

I took two set ups with me. The first – my heavy rig – is a Daiwa Demonblood 962H rod matched with a Shimano Stradic FJ 8000 reel. I rigged this with 25lb Super PE braid and a 35lb fluorocarbon leader. This is great for casting metal slugs, bigger poppers and hard bodied lures but it will also work reasonably well with big soft plastic lures on ¼ ounce (and above) jigheads. If you hook a big fish, this rod has the power to drag it up the rocks. The second – my light rig is an N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod. It is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. I match this rod with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. I rigged this with 12lb braid and 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

I walked out on to the Woody Head rock platform and headed for the prominent rock opposite the wooden stairs. The wind was light but the swell was still quite powerful and I watched it for a while before moving forward to fish. I have left plenty of skin on these barnacles over the years so I am now very cautious when I fish here. At any moment a big set of waves can come through with the potential to knock you off your feet. I now wear a lightweight PFD, just in case I end up in the drink.

I started with my heavy rig fishing a 120 mm DUO Realis Jerkbait – this is a shallow diving hard body that has caught plenty of tailor for me. I would use it more, but there are not may spots where you can fish it without fear of losing it to the rocks. After about 20 casts in semi-circle, I had had no hits so I decided to put it away and switch to soft plastics.

 

I switched to the light rod and put on a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead loaded with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour.  I cast in to the wash about 10 metres from the edge of the rock ledge and counted to 10 while I let the soft plastic waft down in the foamy water. As I lifted it a fish slammed it. It was fairly powerful and took a bit of line, helped by the receding wash. I soon had it under control and pulled it over the barnacle covered terrain with the aid of the next wave. It was a very solid bream – about 35cm long. I cleaned it for supper and carried on fishing.

I swapped through a few soft plastics and had a couple of good bites on various jerkshads. I swapped to the GULP Mantis Shrimp in the Lime Tiger colour and caught another smaller bream.

At about 4.45 am the wind had picked up and  the sun had dropped behind the hill so I decided to give up for the day.

Bribie – a bagful of flathead – 2 June 2015

Tuesday

I have concluded that the bottom of the tide is my best chance of catching a fish on the flats around Bribie Island.  The fish must still be around on the higher tides but they seem to disperse over a larger area and it is much harder to know where to look for them. So on Tuesday I decided to only fish the last few hours of the run out tide.

I drove up to Bribie and waded out under the bridge at about 11.00 am. Low tide would be at about 3.00 pm but it was full moon, so it would be a fast running tide and would run out very quickly to a lower than usual low. I was fishing with my new G.Loomis short, light spinning rod with 8lb braid and a 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I had promised the Mrs a few fish for a family event and she was relying on fresh flathead fillets for her recipe. This is usually the kiss of death for my fishing sessions, but not today.  I decided to try a different soft plastic and had found my last packet of Lucky Craft Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic lures. Now everybody knows I love my GULPs but they really do not yet have a good paddle tail soft plastic. Their Swimmow shape is pretty good but a little too small and the Shaky shad is very hard to load on to a jighead. The Mad Scientist Optishad is a brilliant shape and size and comes in some great colours. I load it onto a 1/8th ounce size 1/0 hook jighead. As with so many good lures you probably will not find them in the big stores and may need to order them online.

 

By 11.05 am I had my first flathead on the end of the line – just to the south of the old oyster jetty. It was about 38cm,  so I let it go and moved on. I caught another a few minutes later and this one was big enough to go in the bag. The next was about 55cm, close to the mouth of the drain that runs out from the Sandstone Point flats. Things slowed down. There was lots of very small bait around, sitting just over the weed beds. I swapped to a GULP 3“Minnow in the Smelt colour, which pretty closely resembled these small fish. A few casts later I found the biggest fish of the day – a 58cm flathead.

I continued to the channel marker, swapped back to the Mad Scientist Optishad and caught a couple of 45 cm long fish, just beside it.  I now had a full bag so I turned for home. On the way back to the car I caught and released another 8 flathead, most of which were legal size.

It seems that the fish have are now around in large numbers so it’s time to get out there.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 26 May 2015

Tuesday 26 05-2015

 

There is not really enough time for fishing at the moment but you have to keep your hand in. I told everybody I had a conference call and bought myself a few hours on Tuesday morning.

It was a cold and I had a little trouble waking up. I did not arrive at Bribie until about 6.45 am.  Low tide would be at 9.45 am and there was a light south-westerly breeze. It was a clear day and the water was cooler again. I waded out under the bridge on the mainland side of the bridge. I started with the GULP Swimmow soft plastic in the Emerald Shine colour on a 1/8th ounce, size  1/0  hook jighead. By the time I reached the jetty I had caught one flathead, but it was too small to keep.

I waded under the jetty and noticed that the tables have been put out in front of the new Sandstone Point Hotel. The old oyster shed is being done up and I have heard it will be a coffee shop – so I will soon have a direct audience, when I am fishing here.

I swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Green Camo colour. I stuck with the 10lb fluorocarbon leader and the 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I caught another small flathead that was just over 40 cm. The tide was almost all the way out so I walked down to the green channel marker and started to make my way back towards the old oyster jetty. I found the edge of the weed beds and caught three more flathead, only one of which was just over 40 cm.

As I got closer to the jetty I dropped back down to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Sardine colour. This smaller profile soft plastic attracted a few Pike. At about 10.30 am I caught another just legal sized flathead before giving up for the day.

Persistence and changing you bait/ lure offering regularly is the only real strategy when the fish are spread out like this. There are a few fish to be caught but they do not seem to be grouped together for spawning just yet.

Bribie – A few flathead from the oyster jetty flats – 12 May 2015

Tuesday

Up to Bribie Island again to find some more flathead. The cooler months – from March through to September – are traditionally a very good time to fish on south east Queensland. The pike, bream and flathead all fire up and occasionally the mulloway also arrive.

On Tuesday morning I was up early and wading out under the bridge at about 5.30 am. It was before first light so I decided to have a cast around under the bridge lights on the mainland side. There is always plenty of bait in this location and this morning was no exception. The water was cool and the Pike were surging around having a snap at the smaller fish.

The tide had been high at about 3.45 am and was running out. I cast at the areas of dark water just on the edge of the halo from the lights. I was working the area just north of the bridge around eth mangrove roots. I was fishing with the new Loomis light sin rig and a10lb fluorocarbon leader. I had loaded it with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook, jighead. The first taker was a small flathead, about 35cm long, who was sitting in the shallows. I released it and a few minutes later connected with a series of hungry pike.

As the sky turned red I moved south. The sun came over the horizon at about 6.20 am and soon afterwards I found another flathead. This one was big enough to keep at about 43 cm long. I released it and moved under the jetty.

I could see something moving in the water a little beyond the end of the jetty and heard a blow a little like the sound the turtles sometimes make when they surface. About a minute later I heard it again and turned to see a swirl in the same spot. I realised it was a dugong sitting in the 2.5m deep channel that runs through the rocky/reefy area in front of the jetty. I stopped and watched it surface and sink for about 10 minutes. I have never seen one moving along these sea grass beds but I am sure they come and go fairly regularly.

I moved south and left the dugong to its business. There were lots of swirls on the surface and I realised there was a big school of mullet swimming around over the weed. I waded round the corner towards Sandstone Point and watched as the resident long toms harassed my soft plastic lure. There were mullet schools everywhere here but I could not find anything lurking beneath them. I waded around following them for the next ninety minutes with no luck.

I moved back towards the big sandbank and started casting along its edge. I had now swapped to a GULP 5” Jerkshad soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour.  At about 8.20 am I felt a grab but did not hook up. I cast back in the same spot and this time I hooked another just legal flathead. I released it and peppered the area with casts but there were no more takers in the area.

I moved down to the edge of the major weed banks that line the main channel, in the direction of the green channel marker. At about 8.40 am I found another flathead, also about 45cm long. Once more, I could not find any others in close proximity. I turned back towards the jetty and waded along the edge of the sandbanks, casting as I went. At 9.00 am I caught my final flathead of the session just short of the jetty.

I waded back to the car. I had caught a few fish but it had been fairly hard work and they had been very spread out. The amount of bait in the water was very encouraging but I could not find the flathead bunched up anywhere – maybe next time.