Iluka – Middle Bluff – Shark Bay – Iluka Bluff – Tailor – 16 June 2015

Tuesday

Tuesday morning was dry but the big swell was still hanging around. I decided to try fishing for some more Tailor at Middle Bluff and set off before dawn. The walk from the Frasers Reef carpark along the beach to Middle Bluff in the pre-dawn light is always great. The sky is usually beginning to glow and I am conjuring visions of huge jewfish, tailor and tuna in my mind.

The wind was light from the east and not particularly cold. It was the day of the new moon so it would be a big tide. High tide would be at 7.45 am so I had to watch the rising water levels and surges carefully.

I started fishing at about 6.20 am with the River to Sea 110mm Dumbbell Popper. I cast this around until my shoulders were sore and did not get any hits. I swapped over to the 50g DUO Pressbait Saira jig/ slug and started to put in some long casts, off the north end of the headland. This soon paid off and at about 7.00 am, just before the sun came over the horizon, I hooked up and then dropped two tailor before finally holding on to a chunky 50 cm model.

I carried on spinning the Pressbait until the inevitable happened and I lost it to the rocks. I decided to try a soft plastic and rigged up a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour on a ¼ ounce, size 3.0 hook jighead. I was using my heavier Daiwa Demonblood rod with a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. You really need to tie on at least a ¼ ounce jighead to make this combination work. Anything lighter and you cannot feel the jighead or cast it past the rocks close that line the shore. By way of proof, even with the ¼ ounce weight, I lost the first rig to the rocks on the first cast. I re-rigged and cast out again.

The sun was up but it was still cloudy and it was just after 7.30 am. After a few casts I felt a solid thump and then another and another. I let the plastic go for a few seconds then pulled the rod up hard and I had a fish on. It managed to keep it on and pull it, wriggling hard, over the rocks with the help of the swell and landed it safely. It was another bigger Tailor about 55 cm long.

I noticed the tailor had a good sized bite mark on its back (probably from another fish in the same school). I photographed and released it and re-rigged with a fresh Crazylegs Jerkshad. I fished around for another hour, but the rising tide made things very difficult so at about 8.30 am I gave up.

I went for breakfast and then thought I would try the Shark Bay jewfish spot again. The sky had clouded over again but with a new moon and big swell I thought I had a pretty good chance of catching another jewfish/ mulloway. I arrived just after 1.00 pm and fished around with the heavy rod and leader and some big jerkshads, without much luck. I swapped down to the light rod and 12lb leader. This did the trick and I caught another stonker 38 cm bream on a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad. The rain arrived again and forced another break.

At about 4.00 pm it had eased off so I decided to try fishing at Iluka Bluff. A keen Korean fisherman from the Gold Coast had been there all afternoon and had caught a few good sized silver trevally and some small giant trevally and also been bitten off a couple of times. The swell was tricky and the tide was running, I was tired and had only brought my light surf rig with me form the car. I rigged up a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour. As I pulled it close to the rocks on the retrieve it was slammed and the fish took off. I had no chance and after a few seconds I was bitten off.

I re-rigged with 20lb leader and cast out the same colour soft plastic. After a few casts I was hit again and this time I held on to the fish. It was a 45cm silver trevally. The other fisherman was regularly broadcasting berley and had been doing so all afternoon which may well have brought the fish in.

I decided to try a small 18g MARIA Duplex hard bodied sinking minnow. This lure is only about 60mm long and has a tight action. It casts like a bullet. I threw it around for about ten minute. On about the sixth cast something absolutely slammed it and took off.  I immediately regretted having only brought the light rod. It bent over and the line continued to peel. The fish was moving straight and fast out to sea and I was very quickly into the backing line. I held the spool and tried to slow it and then turned the drag slightly tighter. None of this made any difference and the fish was still running. I tightened the drag and pop, the line went slack. It was faster than a jewfish but I have no idea what it actually was. It was certainly the biggest fish I had interacted with all week but I did not have the right gear to face it. The leader was still attached when I wound in but there was no sign of the lure.

It was getting dark and I did not have another lure so I gave up for the day.

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Iluka – Woody Head and the Clarence River – 15 June 2015

After a few good sessions Monday was tough day. I went out to Woody Head at dawn and fished through until about 10.00 am. The skies had cleared and the sun had come but the swell was still up. I fished a big River to Sea Dumbbell Popper to try to entice a tailor for about 30 mins through dawn. This produced nothing so I swapped the light rod and a big soft plastic jerkshad. This also produced nothing.

At about 9.00 am a big pod of dolphins came swimming by. The swell was making it very difficult to fish so I decided to give up for the morning.

In the afternoon I walked along the edge of the Clarence River just to the south of the Anchorage Caravan Park and with my light rod. I fished with a GULP Banana Prawn 2” Shrimp and various other soft plastics. There were plenty of small fish around and I caught 2 small flathead (under 30cm) and a tiny trevally. The sunset was a spectacular consolation for a poor days fishing.

Iluka – Middle Buff – Tailor – 14 June 2015

Sunday

The wind had picked up from the south-east on Saturday afternoon and then dropped off again overnight. I was not sure where to fish on Sunday morning. The swell had made the fishing tricky all week. I decided to try Middle Bluff, the headland between Frazer’s Reef and Woody Head, in the Bundjalung National Park.

I was up early and was pleased to walk out on to the beach to only a light breeze. It was about 6.00 am and the remainder of the moon was clearly visible as the horizon started to glow. I disturbed a couple of big kangaroos who were standing around down at the water’s edge. They took off into the undergrowth.  The broken clouds made for a fantastic pre-dawn with the red sun taking a quite a while to break through. The tranquillity was soon broken by the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks. The wind was light but the swell was definitely still up.

I walked round to the northern end of Middle Bluff and watched the surf for a while. Fishing safely off the front of the Bluff was going to be impossible. I decided to move to plan B and try spinning for some Tailor.

I rigged up the heavy rod. I wanted to try the DUO Pressbait Saira 175. This is effectively just a beautifully crafted and weighted 175mm, 50g sinking metal slug/jig. I fish it just like any other metal slug – long casts with a mixture stop/ start, continuous, slow or fast retrieves depending in the conditions and terrain. I was sure this would appeal to the tailor, if they were around.

The rocks protrude a long way into the bay at this spot so you need to put in long casts and keep the lure moving. I was now using a fairly short (0.6m) 30 lb leader tied on to 20lb braid with a long, solid uni-knot. The DUO Pressbait Saira is nicely weighted so you really do not need to hurl it out there. You just let gravity do the work.

I started casting at about 6-30 am, well after first light but before the sun had come over the horizon. On very long casts it is difficult to keep contact with the lure. The long length of line means there is a fair amount of slack which often initially disguises a hook-up. The rod tip only starts wiggling as the line gets really tight. After a few long casts and high-speed retrieves I felt a bit of weight and then the rod tip bent over. I had found a tailor. Frustratingly, about 20 metres from the shore it started leaping around and managed to free itself. I cast out in roughly the same location and after a few turns of the reel I had another fish. This one stayed hooked and I landed it successfully. I took a few pictures and threw it back, then cast out again.

Things went quiet for a while and the sun came over the horizon. At about 7.00 am I had the lure about 40 metres from the shore when something grabbed it and the reel started screaming. I held on tight but after taking about 15 metres of line the fish was gone and so was the Pressbait. I wound in a severed leader. I re-rigged with a 65 gram Raider metal slug and tried to find the fish with this. After another 30 minutes I had had no luck and I was exhausted.

I walked down to the corner of back beach and cast some soft plastics around in the shallows, I watched as a few schools of garfish follow and grab at the lures but I did not hook any. The swell showed no signs of calming down so at about 8.30 am I went off to find breakfast.

Iluka – Shark Bay – More bream and jewfish – 13 June 2015

Saturday

Once more low tide would be in the middle of the day, at around 11.25 am. The wind had dropped considerably over night but showers were still passing through. It was now blowing from the south-east, at about 10 to 12 knots. The new moon was still three days away but it would be a pretty low, low tide, at 0.3 metres.

After a successful session the day before I decided to revisit Shark Bay at Iluka, just north of Woody Head. It was perfect jewfish/ mulloway weather with stirred up seas, grey skies and plenty of tidal run.

When you have a formula that is catching fish it is best to stick with it. I estimated that the rocks I had fished the day before would be accessible from about 8.00 am, so I did not get up for sunrise. I walked out on to the rocks and found a dry spot to leave my gear on. I rigged the light rod with 16lb fluorocarbon leader and put on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I chose the soft plastic that had worked the day before – the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour.

I flicked it out in to the breaking surf and let it sink. The first cast lodged firmly in the rocks and I could not free it. If you are not losing gear you will never catch fish but it always hurts. There is a lot of kelp in this area which is also confusing when retrieving a fairly lightly weighted soft plastic. Initially you think you have found a fish but as it turns to dead weight, you realise it is just vegetation.

I re-rigged with the same terminal tackle and cast out again. This one wafted around for a few seconds and was slammed by a hungry fish. It pulled hard initially but I soon realised it was a big bream, not a small mulloway/ jewfish. It was another solid broad shouldered fish that measured 36cm.

I carried on fishing the same area and after about 10 minutes I felt another solid bite. The fish took off on a long initial run but at a much slower pace than the bream. I let it go and left the drag alone. As soon as it paused I started winding and gradually turned its head. A few minutes later I had a nice school jewfish mulloway at my feet. It was too small to keep at about 65cm – so I photographed it and dropped it in to a large deep rock pool to recover. Once it had calmed down and looked like it had recovered, I picked it up with two hands and speared it back into the surf.

I was not going to change the winning combination but the plastic was pretty mashed up so I swapped it for a new one. After a few more casts. The new plastic was grabbed by another solid bream. I landed it took a few pictures and let it go, I was sure there was another jewfish out there.

The wind had picked up and another shower came over. It was now almost 10.00 am and I was putting long casts out beyond the breaking waves. Suddenly the line pulled tight and I felt a solid fish on it. This one took plenty of line and initially headed straight out to sea. It took three long straight runs before I could turn its head. It started to swim back towards the kelp and the rocks. I used the surf to gradually steer it towards a good landing spot and after a few minutes, I reached down and grabbed it behind the gills.

It was a solid mulloway/ jewfish about 85cm long and it weighed about 6.5 kg.  The jighead was still lodged in the corner of its mouth. This would make several dinners so I dispatched it and cleaned it up in the salt water.

I fished on for an hour or so but the rain kept coming in heavy squalls and I could not find any more fish so at 11.00 am, I decided to pack up for the day.