Tuesday was my last day at Coffin Bay. I drove round to the ledge and set up in a likely looking spot – looking back towards the boat ramp in town. I was using my Gary Howard Estuary 9’rod, 6lb fluorocarbon leader, 1/12th ounce, size 2 hook jighead and a variety of soft plastics.
I watched as the oyster boats headed out to sea, one after another and marveled at the clear water and blue skies. The weather was now perfect but I had to leave.
Fishing for whiting requires patience and I eventually found that casting out in to the channel and then leaving the rod alone for about 3 minutes seemed to work best. The problem was the fast moving run in tide. It would bury the jighead in the snags. However, after a few lost jigheads this technique paid off and I took up the slack to find a King George Whiting on the line. I repeated the process a few times and each time it caught another whiting. None of them were big enough to keep but I felt like I had learned something. The GULP worms in the Green Camo colour caught a few but so did the GULP Crabbie in the Peppered Prawn colour. The usual small salmon turned up form time to time.
As the tide ran out I stepped into the shallows and collected another mussel supper. I had not found the kingfish but it had been a beautiful few days on the Eyre Peninsula.
On Monday the wind dropped back a bit and the weather warmed up considerably. Everything was blooming and the flies had started buzzing. I drove out to Point Avoid and after catching a few small salmon around dawn, I moved north around the point to fish in the shallow pools, close to shore. The tide was low at about 8.30 am. The wind was now fairly light from the south east but the swell was still big. The rocks further out took the power out of the waves but every 10 minutes or so a huge surge would race up and over everything and then slowly drain out.
I picked a safe spot and cast around with a soft plastic. I was using 12lb leader and a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was using a GULP 3 inch Minnow soft plastic in the Watermelon Pearl colour. There were sandy bottomed pools scattered everywhere and almost everyone had a resident wrasse. I just dropped the plastic and let it sink. Then, as soon as I lifted it off the bottom they would strike. I lost a few of the bigger ones to the rocks, but I must have caught about 10 before the incoming tide pushed me back. In between the wrasse the odd Australian herring also attacked the soft plastic. At about 9.30 am the surges had pushed me too far away from the fishy spots, so I drove back into town.
I had breakfast and then drove round to the other side of the bay to fish the ledge. The tide was coming in and I started off fishing with some GULP worm soft plastics hoping to find a few King George whiting. Try as I might the juvenile salmon were all I could find.
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As I looked around in the shallows I saw a clump of razor fish and quickly harvested a few. I also noticed good sized mussels clumping on the rocks so I collected enough for lunch. I went back to my cabin and cleaned up. I ate the razor fish and the mussels for lunch. Razor fish are delicious – like scallops only sweeter. They are a lot of work for a tiny morsel of edible seafood but it’s worth it. The mussels were also amazing. I just steamed them. The problem with eating really fresh seafood is that it means the shop/ restaurant bought variety will rarely pass muster. I cannot remember the last time I ate fish in a restaurant.
I had a sleep and then drove round to Seal Rock to fish at sunset. The target was the King George Whiting again. I fished through the flies for a couple of hours and eventually, just after dark I caught a couple.
Saturday morning was cold and grey and the low that had passed through the week before had left a big swell behind it. It would be low tide near dawn and although it was cold, it was not raining so I drove back down into the Coffin Bay National Park and round to fish at Point Avoid. I arrived just after dawn. The wind was a howling south westerly and the swell would be too hard to fish in.
I drove back into sheltered Coffin Bay. I bought a coffee and thawed out. The sun came out and I had a fish around the boat ramp with my light Gary Howard Estuary 9’ rod and 6lb fluorocarbon leader. I used a GULP Turtleback Worm in the pumpkinseed colour and a couple of 2 inch Minnows in Smelt and Peppered Prawn, on a 1/16th ounce, size 2 hook jighead. These immediately attracted the attention of the juvenile salmon that swarm around the clear waters of the bay. I caught about ten is quick succession. All about 15cm long.
The sun had come out but the wind was building so I retired to the cabin for a hot shower and a sleep.
On Sunday the wind had died away but the swell was still up. I started in the morning at Point Avoid. I was casting a 40 gram Raider metal slug out in to the surf. Almost from the first cast the bigger salmon were on to it. I caught a couple of 25cm fish and then found myself fighting something bigger. It took a fair amount of line and then started leaping. Each time I thought I had subdued it, it came back to life at my feet and charged off. Australian Salmon are one tough fish – to fight and to eat! This one made about five mad leaps clear of the surf. Eventually I got it to the sandy beach. It was about 55cm long and weighed a few kilos. I released it and carried on fishing.
The smaller salmon kept biting but after a big wave gave me a soaking I decided to retreat. I went back to Coffin Bay and changed into dry clothes. In the afternoon I drove back into the park where I stopped to fish off the high cliffs north of Point Avoid. I was never going to be able to land a significant fish here because the fishing platform is at least five metres above the water, but it just looked so fishy that I had to have a cast.
I started with a 40g Raider metal slug – this almost immediately caught a 30cm salmon – which in turn, regurgitated a small herring (Tommy Ruff). I swapped through a few small metal and vibe lures which all caught fish. I found a good patch of herring but also kept catching the small salmon. They were not particularly interested in the soft plastics – which I also tried for a while. At about 4.00 pm I stopped for the day after continuously catching fish for about 2 hours.
If only this spot had some approachable water I am sure there would be some monsters prowling about at dusk dawn. I will have to keep exploring.
Monday was to be my last day at Coffin Bay. The wind had come up again and when I woke at 5.30 am it was bitterly cold. I wrapped up and drove round to the flats at Farm Beach. In the biting wind I wandered around casting through dawn but apart from a few nibbles, I did not catch anything.
After sun up I drove back round to Mount Dutton Bay and fished in cold crystal clear water. The juvenile salmon were everywhere and they smashed in to just about every soft plastic that I cast at them. The GULP Lime Tiger Fry was particularly popular but I think they would have attacked anything. At about 10 am I gave up and went to thaw out.
In the afternoon I drove round to fish at Seal Rocks on the western side of the peninsula that surrounds Kellidie Bay. The rock ledge here faces west and the sunsets directly in front of it. The locals tell me they catch snapper, kingfish, whiting, gar, flathead, salmon and herring here. I started with a GULP Turtleback Worm in the Banana Prawn colour. I was using a 1/16th ounce 2 hook jighead and 8lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader.
From the first cast the King George whiting attacked the soft plastics. I caught a few but they were all too small to keep – around 25 cm long. I swapped through a few different soft plastics and moved up and down the shoreline casting at any fishy looking spots. Every now and then, a small salmon would get to the soft plastic lure ahead of the whiting, but on many occasions the jighead would come up expertly cleaned, but with no fish on it. I fished through until the sun dropped behind the horizon and then gave up.
In summary – Coffin Bay had produced great salmon, herring and wrasse off the beaches, a few good sized King George Whiting from the shores of the bay and juvenile salmon trout just about everywhere. I will definitely be back.
On Sunday it was cold and wet again, but at least the rain had kept the wind down. I drove out to Point Avoid in Coffin Bay National Park, again and started casting in the pre-dawn light. I had lost a few slugs and now only had a couple of Halco Raiders left. I tied on a 40 gram with some 20 lb fluorocarbon leader. I hooked up after a few casts – a small salmon about 30 cm long. They kept coming and the skies started to clear.
Just after dawn I noticed a seal bounding threw the waves – salmon for breakfast. I kept casting. At about 7.30 am, I hooked a big fish and almost immediately knew I would not be able to stop it. I tightened the drag until the line snapped, but it never slowed. I swapped to the 80mm version of the MARIA MJ Twitch suspending hard bodied minnow. I cast this out and the salmon started smashing it immediately. I caught a few small ones and then a slightly bigger fish unhooked itself on a submerged bit of reef and left the lure there.
I swapped over to a 4” GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I could not cast this lure as far and so it was once again the brown spotted wrasse that grabbed it. I threw a small one back and shook off a couple of small salmon. Then a bigger fish grabbed it and zipped straight under a rock. I could not muscle it out, so I loosened the drag and after a minute or so, it swam out. This time I pulled it in. It was a bigger wrasse with magnificent green lips. After a few pictures I released it and gave up for the morning.
In the afternoon I drove round to fish off the ledge opposite the Coffin Bay boat ramp. The tide was running out the wind had dropped away and it was very cold. I picked a spot where it looked like the main channel was close to the shore. I was fishing with an 8 lb fluorocarbon leader and started with a 2” GULP Crabby in the New Penny colour. This soft plastic looks like a small yabby. I put it on a 1/12th ounce, size 2 hook jighead and cast it out. The salmon appeared and ate a few and then, fortunately moved on. I could feel a few bites from what I thought were whiting, but I could not seem to hook them. I decided to try some patience. I cast the soft plastic out, left the bail arm open on the reel and waited a full 3 minutes. When I flicked it over and took up the slack I had a King George Whiting on the line. It pulled pretty hard and when I landed it and held against the tape it was about 35 cm long. I caught a few more small ones as the sun set and then just as it was getting really dark, I managed two more legal fish, using the same method.
I cleaned them in the cold water and set off for a warm shower.
Having caught plenty of salmon trout inside Coffin Bay it was time to get out on to the surf beaches and find some bigger models. On Saturday morning I was up at 5.45 am and drove into the Coffin Bay National Park. I drove long the winding track out to the west side. It was cold – about 5 degrees, but the wind had dropped a little. It was still a south-easterly and low tide would be at about 8.45am.
I was heading out to fish the beach at the depressingly named Point Avoid. Point Avoid/ Coffin Bay – they obviously did not think much of the place when they drew up the maps. Point Avoid was named by Matthew Flinders and as it is usually lashed by strong winds and has strong currents racing through rocky channels, its probably a fair name.
It was overcast as I walked down onto the beach. Rain looked likely. I loaded up the Lox Yoshi with a length of 20lb fluorocarbon leader and tied on a 20g Raider metal slug. I put a long cast out into the surf and wound fast. On the second cast – bash , bump, bump and then zzzzzzzzzzzzz. I let it have some line and gradually played it out it was a small Australian Salmon. I dragged it slowly to the sand. It was about 35cm long. I let it go and cast out again. I caught three or four at this size and then a bigger one grabbed the lure. I could not stop it and after a short fight, it buried itself in the rocks and snapped me off.
I put on a small popper (about 50cm). I could not cast this as far but it did not matter. On about the fourth cast I saw a shape come up and snaffle it. This was a bigger fish. Fortunately it headed for open water and did some leaping around. I let it run and wear itself out and slowly I steered it back up the beach. This one was about 40 cm long and I decided to keep it. I bled it and left it under a rock. I cast the popper around again. It did not take long to find another decent salmon. This one really pulled hard and put in some good stunts but I managed to hang on to it. It was about 45cm long and had completely mashed the hooks on the popper’s front treble.
I put on a DUO Realis Jerkbait 120 in a purple colour. This lure suspends about 10 to 15 cm below the surface and has a very loud rattle and great action. The smaller salmon knocked this around for a while. Then something different whacked it. It was a brown spotted wrasse, about 30 cm long.
I moved around the corner and walked out on to a rocky promontory that had been revealed by the falling tide. I swapped to a 1/8th ounce jighead and GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I cast around the deep holes in between the rocks. The salmon where here as well but the lure was a bit big for them. I caught a couple more small wrasse.
I hooked what I thought was another salmon but on close inspection I realized it was an Australian Herring known locally as a Tommy Rough. I carried on fishing until the tide turned in, then gave up for the morning