Hat Head – More Tailor – 27 September 2015

Sunday

The rain came back for a little while on Sunday morning, so I stayed in bed. The rest of the day was clear but the strong southerly winds were pretty consistent. As I walked along the beach, I had seen birds working on schools of bait a long way out. The commercial netters were also parked on the beach, so the fish were still around.

I headed for the same location as the day before – the spinning ledge. I arrived about 4.00pm. The moon was full, huge and clearly visible. The skies were clear but the strong southerly wind was still blowing and there was a very big swell. I ran in to Hat Head local, Tim. He and a couple of relatives had been there most of the afternoon, catching 30 to 45 cm tailor on 40 to 60g metal slugs. He gave me quick update on what was being caught. No one had been boat fishing due to the bad weather but it had certainly stirred up the tailor, who were cruising around all the local rock platforms feeding on tiny whitebait.

When I know the fish are around I like to experiment to see what works and what does not. My first choice was a large River to Sea Popper in the Qantas (red & white) colour. I had swapped up to my heavier Daiwa Demonblood rod and Shimano Stradic 6000 combo to throw this lure around. The others were still pulling in tailor on the metal slugs but the fish would not hit the popper. Next, I tried the big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad that had worked the day before. This enticed a few hits and eventually lost its tail, but I could not get a hook up with it. I then swapped to a large 65g HALCO Twisty in the bronze/ gold colour. I slung this out and started pulling it back towards me at a fairly quick pace. I felt it getting knocked around and then there was a brief tightening of the line and it went slack. I had a look at the leader and it was a clean bite off.

I re-rigged with 40lb fluorocarbon leader and my last 65g HALCO Twisty lure. About three casts later a fish walloped the lure, a fair way out. It stayed connected and turned out to be a 35 cm tailor. The birds were circling now but they were finding it hard to hold their positions in the strong southerly wind. We could see big bait balls almost breaking the surface very close to the shore. The sun was just dropping below the horizon and the tailor kept smashing in to the bait. Unfortunately, I chose this moment to snag the Twisty on the rocks and had to re-rig.

I tied on one of my favourites. The DUO Realis Jerkbait 120 SP hard bodied minnow. This is a beautifully designed bibbed minnow lure with a loud rattle. I tend to swap the trebles for a set of single hook on these. I am not sure that it makes a hook up more / less likely but it means I lose less to the rocks. The great advantage with the DUO range is their casting distances. With smooth knots you can cast these aerodynamically designed minnow shapes almost as far as a metal slug.

On my first cast I was attached to a fish in seconds and they kept coming. I caught about 4 in the next 20 minutes. Now we were all catching fish again, as the latest school of tailor passed the headland. All the fish were between about 30 and 45 cm long with the exception of one very fat looking fish (60 cm +)  that wriggled off Matt uncles’ bent treble hook, at the base of the rocks.

It was great fun and we carried on until things seemed to slow down a little after dusk. The full moon was so bright that it lit the walk back but by the end, I needed my headlamp to make sure I did not blunder off the path. Another great session of rock fishing at Hat Head.

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