Sandon River estuary and Clarence River flats – 4/6 November 2020

I arrived for a few days of fishing in Iluka. With everybody locked in to Australia, it is getting hard to find accomodation in some of my favorite fishing spots – especially at the weekends. So I had booked ahead for this week. Unfortunately the weather did not play ball. A big southerly storm blew in on the night I arrived and the wind was forecast to be blowing around 25 knots for a few days.

Westin Shadteez Slim – great paddletail soft plastic

So on the Wednesday afternoon I decided to get out of the wind on the Sandon River, just to the south of Brooms Head. This is a very shallow estuary that is only worth fishing from about high tide. I set out in my waders about an hour after the tide had started running out. The water was crystal clear and running out quickly. I was fishing with my light spin set up -10lb fluorocarbon leader down to a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I started with the paddle tail soft plastic I am really enjoying using that was recommended to me by Mark Berg. It is from the Scandinavian brand Westin and it is called a Shadteez. I was using the 10 cm/4 inch. It has a great paddletail action but I particularly like the orange belly on the ‘Dirty Harbour’ colour. I hopped it along the bottom and soon found some flathead, but they were all pretty tiny. I swapped to a soft plastic minnow and cast it along the edge of a big weed bank. I caught a couple of small bream but I could not find dinner.

The next day I decided to have a look around in the Clarence River. There are are some good sand flats towards the southern end of Goodwood Island. On the Wednesday morning I drove down to the Goodwood Island Wharf (just downstream of Browns Rocks) and waded out to look for some flathead. I am always amazed at how dramatically the underwater terrain changes in a big river estuary. The tides, current, rain, sun and wind all conspire to make it unrecognisable from one year to the next. Several years ago this area was carpeted in sea grass and muddy yabby banks. Now the seagrass has disappeared completely and the yabby banks are sandier and (thankfully) a little firmer under foot.

The tide had just started to run in strongly and despite the howling south-easterly the water was very clear. I started with a GULP 3″ Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour. I loaded this onto a 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead. I waded in the direction of the river mouth putting in long casts up into the incoming tide and then slowly hopping the lure back towards me along the bottom. I was staying about waist deep in the water. I caught a couple of very small (25cm) flathead that were moving up with the tide.

I was moving slowly and quietly and suddenly heard a ‘boof’ and a splash between me and the river bank. I paused and it happened again, about 10 metres from me in about 25cm of water. Something was chasing the tiny jelly prawns that are currently plentiful in the shallows. I cast in that direction, counted to ten and slowly lifted then jigged up my rod tip. I paused for another ten, then the same drill. On the third lift I hooked the fish. It was a flathead just over 40 cm.

The flathead were clearly here. But as I slowly found out they were mostly very small. I moved between shallower and deeper water. I changed from a slow to fast retrieve and even contemplated pumping some yabbies. But despite frequent soft plastic and hard bodied lure changes, I could not catch another legal sized flathead. I caught plenty of small ones – about 12 in two hours, but most were between 20 and 30 cm long. I had found the nursery. Next session I would be looking for the grown ups.

Brooms Head – 3 October 2015

Saturday

On Saturday we were heading back to Brisbane. The looming thought of returning to work forced a right turn at Brooms Head. This coastal area in the Yuraygir National Park is a land-based fisherman’s paradise. There are plenty of estuaries, rocky headlands and beaches to choose from. You can catch all the common species; tailor, kingfish, mulloway, trevally, dart, bream, whiting and flathead.

We drove up to the Brooms Head lookout. It was a beautiful day and just as we arrived a whale and its calf swam by, stopping for a brief tail slapping session.

Brooms HeadBrooms Head fishingMagnificent view from the lookout

It was just about lunch time but I could not resist getting the fishing rod out and clambering down the rocks for a quick cast. I put on a small soft plastic and felt a few small bream bites, close to the foot of the rocks. After about twenty minutes, I pulled up a tiny wriggling tusk fish of some kind.

The sun was out, the water was crystal clear and I could have stayed here another week – but unfortunately there are bills to pay.

Brooms Head Tailor – 29 September 2012

Thursday / Friday / Saturday

On Thursday I was still at Brooms Head and the northerly wind was forecast to blow hard. This had the advantage of flattening out the sea and, on the southern tip of the headland, you could still fish in the morning.

I started at about 5.15 am, just after first light. I had a look at the Bream spot. The water was not washing over it but with high tide just after dawn it was a bit too dangerous – a rogue wave could easily turn up and leave me soaked, if not worse. I cast a few soft plastics on the inside of the razor back but and lost a few tails but did not hook up with a fish.

The difference however, was the bait. Everytime the lure hit the water, in close to the rocks, bait would go flying everywhere. I thought there might be some Tailor around and another guy confirmed it by catching a 40cm Tailor, on a 65g Raider, on his first cast of the day.

I quickly swapped over to a DUO Tide Minnow in the purple colour, which has caught plenty of fish for me. After a few casts, I came up tight on a small Tailor – around 40 cm. I brought it into the rocks, but I was too keen, with the Catana light rod and I pulled the treble out of its mouth, just as I was about to lift it up.

I carried on casting and the bait kept scattering. A couple of times I even speared a baitfish with the DUO Tide Minnow. I carried on until about 8.30 am when I lost my beloved purple Tide Minnow to a rock. I gave up and vowed to come back the next day.

The northerly had been blowing powerfully all night on Thursday and it was still going on Friday morning but the south side of the Brooms Head platform remained sheltered and if anything, the swell had eased a little. I put on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and cast out next to the ‘razorback’. There was still plenty of push around the rocks so I swapped from a 1/8th 1/0 jighead to a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and cast out again. This did the trick and I soon had another good 32cm+ Bream at my feet. The tide was coming in so I decided to retreat and try casting a few slugs around. I had heard that someone had caught a couple of Kingfish the day before so I was keen to try for one.

I cast a few forty gram slugs and hard bodies and felt a few hits but I could not hook up. The bait was still there, but it was more patchy, hanging around close to the bommies. I think a forty gram slug is about the limit of the Catana’s casting capability and I doubt it would be able to subdue a Tailor or Salmon over about 45cm.

Saturday was my last morning and I was hopeful that the bait would bring in some bigger predators. I decided to try bigger slugs and use the heavy rig, 9’6” the Daiwa Demon Blood with the Shimano Stradic 8000. I found the Tailor but unfortunately they were all about 25cm long. I caught fish after fish on a whole range of slugs but they never got any bigger. Finally I threw out a GULP Jerkshad on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and it was monstered close to the rocks. The fish took off on a solid run but then suddenly it was gone – it had spat the hook. That was it for the day.

I feel I am gradually getting to know this spot. Who knows, in 20 years I may have mastered it.

Brooms Head – 25/26 September 2012

Tuesday/Wednesday

At Brooms Head on Tuesday morning the wind was up from the south east and so was the swell. I could not reach my Bream spot without risking my neck and I was not prepared to do that – especially when there was plenty of fish in the fridge.

Because of the wind and swell I had to switch to a ¼ oz 1/0 jighead. I put on a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I managed to put a few casts out from the top of the ‘Razorback’ towards the Bream spot and after losing a few jigheads, I did hook up with a nice 30cm+ Bream, but the wind and swell made it really difficult to fish and at about 8.00 am I was forced to give up.

The Bream were still there but hard to reach

On Tuesday night we had a thunderstorm and the swell and wind was still up on Wednesday morning. It was a solid south easterly wind. I walked down to the ‘Razorback’ but there was no point fishing. The waves were crashing over the top of the rocks and the whole area was covered in white water. I watched the surf for a while and then decided to head home for a hot cup of tea.

On Wednesday it was just too hard

Brooms Head – The Razorback – 24 September 2012

Monday

Sunday had been pretty breezy so I spent the day with the family – after all, that is what family holidays are about – I suppose. By Monday I had had enough of them and the wind had eased off in the early morning, so I decided to try fishing the rocks on the southern side of the headland.

I started out on a prominent rock that juts out into the water, just north of Back Beach. I fished with the Catana Coastline rig again, using a 10lb leader and various soft plastics. I did not raise any bites but first the dolphins came through and then a magnificent black back appeared out of the water. It was a big humpback and the dolphins played around it for a while.

I watched the show and then decided to head back to the rocks, known locally as the ‘Razorback’ on the southern edge of the headland. This is a very dangerous spot to fish but, if the sea is flattened by a north westerly, as it was this morning, and there is not much swell – it can be approached, safely. Every now and then a big wave comes over the top of these rocks and I have witnessed several people get washed down the barnacles and leave plenty of skin on them. If you see/hear a big wave coming over, it is best to hunker down and hang on, rather than trying to out run it. Your clothes will dry out quicker than the grazes will heal!

I had watched the swell from my other fishing spot for about an hour before I deemed it safe to go out onto these rocks. I had rock boots and a small automatic inflating life vest on. I stuck with the 10lb leader and a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I chose a brightly coloured GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour, for my first cast. The wind was now negligible but there was a slight ruffle on the surface of the clear water. I watched the lure sink and counted to five. As I lifted the rod tip I felt a solid hit and run. The fish took some line but the Catana and drag absorbed the lunges and soon I had a healthy 34cm Bream at my feet.

I lost the jighead on the next cast – snagged tight, as the current wafted it into the rocks. I re-rigged with the same weight jighead and leader but swapped to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Molting colour. I cast this one along the inside of the ‘Razorback’ and it was slammed in close to an opening in the rocks. It was another solid Bream and it was easier to subdue and land on this side. When I got it to my feet I realized it was a monster – pushing 40cm.

I carried on for another 30 minutes and the Bream kept coming. They took all types of small soft plastic – the GULP, 3” Minnow in Smelt, Emerald Shine, Rainbow, Lime Tiger and Pearl Watermelon and the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn and Molting colours. I caught about twelve fish and kept the best four. They were all between 32cm and 40cm. These fish were not fussy.

At about 8.30 am I stopped and cleaned my catch in the rock pools. As I looked down, I could see why the Whales were around. The water was full of tiny see through Krill. There were small shrimp like shapes fluttering around everywhere. I thought this was what the Bream could have been eating, but when I opened their stomachs, I found them all empty. I still could not see any bait in the water but at least now I had found a fishy spot.

Brooms Head – the Lagoon ridge – 22 September 2012

Saturday

It was on to Brooms Head in Northern New South Wales for our family holiday. Fortunately this represented another fishing opportunity. I have fished here a few times and never found it very easy. The terrain looks incredibly fishy but it often fails to deliver. It is also a very exposed stretch of coast, so the swell can make things tough.

Now September can be particularly tricky when fishing from the rocks. The wind keeps changing around and the water can be cool and clear or brown and dirty (if it has rained a lot). Fortunately it was cool and clear at Brooms Head. But it was so crystal clear that it would be difficult to fool the fish.

I started on Saturday morning trying to fish the mouth of the lagoon on the north side of the headland. I say trying because the north easterly was producing enough chop to give me a good soaking every 10 minutes or so. I was fishing with the Shimano Catana Coastline light rod with the Shimano Stella 2500. I soon swapped from hard bodies to soft plastics and from 20lb to 10lb leader.

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I was fishing with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and a GULP 2” Shrimp when I caught the first fish. It was sitting right in the mouth of the lagoon – a Pike – followed by another, on the next cast. I threw them back and then cast out a bit further. I lost a few jigheads to the rocks and then re-rigged with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I cast close into a bommie and let the lure sink. It was hit hard by a small angry Bream. It was about 25cm but would not be much of a meal so I threw it back.

At about 8.00 am I was soaked through, cold and no longer getting any bites so I gave up. A few fish, but not a very promising start.

Brooms Head – The Sandon River – 27 March 2012

Tuesday

On Tuesday afternoon the wind and swell were up again, at Iluka, so I decided to drive down to fish the lunchtime high tide on the north side of the Sandon River – near Brooms Head. This is a very shallow estuary but it is sheltered from the wind and can produce some good fish.

I parked on the roadside, just past the first set of shacks, but before you reach the main camp ground. I arrived at about 12.30 pm, just after high tide. I put on my waders and picked out my light spin rod, the 6’6” Loomis GL2 which I am now fishing with Shimano Stella 2500. This is the perfect light weight estuary combo for flicking soft plastics and small hard-bodied lures.

Along the shore line there is lots of structure left over from the now abandoned oyster leases. There are also plenty of weed beds and sandbanks. It’s a perfect spot for wading around and flicking soft plastics.

I started with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I loaded it on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead, I was not expecting any really big fish so I dropped right down to an 8lb fluorocarbon leader. There are a few oyster covered rocks around but generally it is a sandy bottom.

The tide was just beginning to run out so I cast up river and let the lure sink to the bottom. Then I slowly bumped it back towards me. I gradually moved along parallel with the shore repeating this process. I was wading in a about a metre of water and casting out into no more than two metres.

I soon had a fish – a tiny 25cm Flathead – I released it and carried on. I caught three more over the next twenty minutes – all about the same size. Then, as I reached a patch of slightly deeper water, something hit hard and took off for the middle of the channel. I tightened the drag a little – it was way too fast for a Flathead, and too powerful for a Bream. I tightened up the drag a little more and started to get some line back, but it was still pulling hard. After a couple of minutes, I could see stripes and silver and realized it was a small Trevally. I got it up on the shore, photographed and released it.

I moved further along the shore towards the river mouth. The tide was now running out strongly and the sky was ominously grey. Now I switched to the GULP 3” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour. A few casts with this lure and I finally caught a Flathead that was just about legal size. I decided to let it go and moved on. The next fish was a small Bream and then another Flathead that might also just have been legal.

Buy now the grey skies were on top of me and the rain started spitting so I beat a hasty retreat to the car as the downpour started.

Brooms Head – Plover Island & Bonito – OOPS! Slimey Mackerel – 23 September 2011

Friday

Crystal clear water at Plover Island


It was to be my last fishing day for a while. I decided to try fishing the rocks at the front of Plover Island, at the mouth of the Sandon River, about 10kms south of Brooms Head in Northern New South Wales. At low tide you can walk across to the sand spit to the Island. The northern side has a number of rocky platforms to fish from. I arrived at about 9.30 am, just before low tide and climbed across a rocky causeway to some really fishy looking water on the northern side.

Plover Island causeway


I started with a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour on a 1/8th 1 jighead. I got a couple of hits on the first cast and on the second, I caught a small Butter Bream. I caught a few more of these and then pulled up a 25cm Tarwhine. I fish this spot again at either dawn or dusk. I moved around to another rocky outcrop and caught a few good sized Pike. I made a mental note to come back and fish this spot again at either dawn or dusk, one day.
For the afternoon session I was back at the Brooms Head lagoon. It would be high tide at about 5.00 pm and decided to clamber along the rock ridge at the eastern end of the Brooms Head lagoon.

Plover Island Tarwhine

I rigged up with the favorite soft plastic of the week –the GULP 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow. It was fairly choppy – with a strong south easterly blowing. Was using a 1/8thoz, 1/0 jighead, my light 7’6” spinning rod and a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. The bottom in this area is covered in rocks and kelp, with a few sandy holes in between. If you fish with heavy sinkers/ jigheads – you are doomed.

I pulled up a couple small speckled, green coloured fish that are common in amongst the rocks – not sure what they are – but they seem to like the soft plastics. Then I caught a strange red finned Wrasse of some kind. Then I found a few Pike – they always seem to hit the lure really close into the rocks, just as you are about to pull it clear of the water.

Big toothed green fish

Then I noticed a big shimmering area on the surface of the water about 50 metres away that was moving towards me – I waited for it to get in range and then cast the soft plastic straight into the middle of it. I got a couple of bumps but no hook ups. I cast out again and retrieved the lure quickly, so that it was swimming just below the surface. I could now see it was a good sized school of Bonito. I cast out again and this time I raced the lure back through the school and hooked up. I land a small Bonito and released it. For the next half an hour I had a great time catching and releasing Bonito, every time the school came in range. It was a decent size school and it circled the area for about 45 minutes before being chased further out by the Dolphins.

Slimey Mackerel school enters the lagoon

Slimey Mackerel on the surface

Slimey Mackerel

And that was my last session at Brooms Head. The variety of fish had been fantastic, even if there had been no real trophy fish. We had managed to catch dinner most days and I was quite happy with the diet of fresh Flathead and sea Bream. The weather gods had been very kind and I plan to be back again at the same time next year.

Brooms Head – Red Cliff – 22 Sept 2011

Thursday

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Perfect conditions again, a big contrast to the wild weather of this time last year. I decided to take advantage of the calm waters and have a fish off the rocks at Red Cliff, a few km north of Brooms Head. As its name suggests, it is a large red cliff with a rock platform beneath. The platform offers some excellent fishing spots on the lower half of the tide.

I arrived at about 9.15 am and the tide had been low at 8.50 am. The water was absolutely crystal clear and was able to hop from rock to rock until I reached an outcrop that looked over a couple of holes that were probably about 3 or 4 metres deep. With my polarized sunglasses I could clearly see the Bream sheltering at the base of the rocks in the calmer water. There was virtually now wind.

I decided to cast out towards a spot where the waves were breaking over a rocky promontory. I was fishing with a 1/8th 1 jighead loaded with a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour. This is always a good one to start with and I notice it’s a favorite with a lot of the ABT pros. Hungry Bream can’t resist it. As I hopped it along the sandy bottom towards the rocks, I felt a couple of bites and then a solid grab. I landed a small Bream around 25cm, followed by a couple of slightly bigger ones and then a really solid, 34 cm fish. They had all come from the same spot and perhaps they wised up, because things then went quiet.

I moved round to the other side of the rocks and cast in to some calmer water. I could see the lure float down to the bottom in between a couple of submerged bommies. As soon as I lifted it off the bottom, a small Bream darted out and grabbed it. I wound him in and cast out again, this time they didn’t wait and I was on to a better fish before the lure touched the sand. I landed it and decided to keep it – it was 33 cm long. As I wound it in, it had a couple of other Bream following. After a couple more casts I caught a smaller Bream and then this spot went quiet.

I moved round onto another rocky outcrop and caught a couple more small Bream before calling it quits. It had been a good session and a great opportunity to clearly observe the way the Bream break cover to attack the soft plastic lures. I stopped fishing around 11.30 am.

Brooms Head Lagoon Drain – 21 Sept 2011

Wednesday

It was to be another land based fishing session at Brooms Head just south of Yamba, in Northern New South Wales. At dawn the wind was already gusting strongly from the south-east. It was forecast to blow up to about thirty knots during the morning but the area on the west side of the lagoon was sheltered by the Brooms Head Bluff. I decided it was worth an early morning wade.

Low tide was at 7.30 am and I was wading across the mouth of the lagoon, at the western end, at about 5.45 am. I had broken my lightest rod the day before so I was using my Nitro 7’6” distance spin rod and because of the breeze I had moved up to a heavier 1/8th oz, 1/0 hook jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

I soon found the fish. They were lurking just on the border of the rocky northern wall of the lagoon, where the weed covered rocks met the sand. I started with a Pike and then 30cm Tarwhine and then three of the striped Trevally. I released them all and with nicely chilled nuts, I waded back for a hot shower and breakfast.

Brooms Head / Sandon River – 20 Sept 2011

Tuesday

I was up early on Tuesday and decided to try the other side of the Brooms Head lagoon. Low tide would be at 6.20 am and I set off just after first light, at about 5.30 am. The wind was blowing at 15 knots, west south westerly, but the main bluff gives this area a bit of cover and so it felt like less.

I waded out through the bottom of the tide and scrambled over the rocks on the northern edge of the lagoon until I reached the series of ridges that form the eastern wall. It gets a bit tricky here -there are deep pools between the ridges so you have to get over them. There are points where you can cross but you need good, non-slip rock boots to avoid ending up in the drink.

This area can be reached and fished only either side of low tide

Eventually I was facing east, on the front rock ridge and casting into very fishy looking water. I had the light set up again but had upgraded to 16lb leader as I was hoping for some bigger fish. I used the GULP 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic but rigged it on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead as there was now a bit of swell building up. A few casts produced a few small Pike and a very small Bream and then bang! Something came and grabbed the lure just as I was about to lift it from the water. I had the drag set reasonably tight because of the proximity of the rocks and the whippy Gary Howard Estuary 9’ bent over and line started peeling. The fish took a couple of metres of line then stopped. Then there was another violent surge as it took off again. The rod jerked bent over and I heard the sickening crunch as it snapped just below the join. I attempted to play the fish with the broken rod but it made short work of the leader and soon bit me off. This session was over.

The north east rock ridge in the Brooms Head Lagoon

I trudged back for a shower and breakfast imagining an enormous Snapper. I needed more, but now the wind was howling so I considered the options and decided to drive down to the Sandon River, which is only about 10 kms away. The Sandon River is a small, pristine, shallow river system that holds plenty of Flathead, Bream, Whiting and Luderick. There are lots of points along its banks where you can fish – many, right next to the road. I stopped close to an informal boat launching area that is near an old oyster lease. The remains of the oyster beds have been covered by weed and form good fish holding structure. I stuck with the same soft plastic that had been working well and decided to rig it on a very light 1/16th oz, 1 hook, jighead. I dropped down to a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and I was now fishing with my Nitro 7’6” 2-4kg Distance Spin rod.

The pristine Sandon River


A 50cm Sandon River Flathead


Another Sandon River Flathead


I walked along the bank casting into the run-in tide and bringing the soft plastic back with the current. The tide was running in fast and I just let the soft plastic sink and bump along the bottom with a few jerks and jumps. After working about ten metres of river bank, a fish swallowed the lure. It took a bit of line and then settled into the current. It was a good Flathead just over 50cm long. I put it in the keeper bag and carried on along the river side. I soon found another, this time just over 40 cm. I peppered the same area with casts and found another, smaller Flathead a few casts later. After an hour of fishing, I had dinner and so I gave up and headed home – it was around 11.00 am

Brooms Head – Lagoon Drain – 19 Sept 2011

Monday

The weather was good again. There was a light breeze from the south west. It was sunny and clear and the wind still had some chill in it. The last few sessions, fishing at Brooms Head in Northern New South Wales had suggested light tackle was probably the best option. I decided to fish the drain at the western side of the Brooms Head lagoon. The lagoon sits just north west of the main Bluff and is deepest by the rock ridge at its mouth, to the east. As the tide rises and falls, the water enters and exits close to the beach via a big sandy drain. The drain never fills to more than about waist deep. If you walk across it your reach rocky/ weedy covered bottom that forms the north wall of the lagoon. Further north, where this wall drops off to a sandy bottom is a great fish holding area. They sit here waiting for food to be washed in and out of the lagoon on the rising and falling tides. The area is highlighted in the aerial photo.

Fishing area just north of the Brooms Head lagoon


I was using the Gary Howard 9’ Estuary rod again. I had loaded a very light 1/16th oz 1 hook jighead. I wanted to avoid getting snagged on the rocky weedy bottom. I used about 1.5 m of 10lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader. I used the soft plastic lure that had been successful the day before – the GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I waded out into the water, which was surprisingly warm. I put in long casts out over the rocks to the sandy areas to the north. Every time I lifted the lure over the edge of the rocks there would be a small bite or nudge from a fish. The tide was running in and had been low at about 5.30 am. The incoming tide had also produced the fish the day before.

Looking back from the mouth of the lagoon at low tide - Brooms Head


After a bit of wading around up and down the rocky bottom I was onto a fish. It was a good Bream around 30 cm long. I cast back out in the same spot, and the plastic was slammed as soon as it hit the water. The fish pulled hard and took a bit of line. It felt much stronger than the Bream. It kept turning to run as I waded back into the beach, to land it. I saw the stripes in the water and realized it was a small Trevally. It really had pulled hard on the light rod. I released it and headed back out. It was about 8.30 am and the tide was running in strongly.

Lagoon Bream


Lagoon Trevally

Over the next hour I caught two more small Bream, a Tarwhine, three more Trevally and a couple of Pike. The cold southerly breeze eventually made me too cold to carry on but I was delighted to find a few fish. At around 9.45 am I went back to our cabin for a hot shower. Fishing with lighter gear had paid off.

Brooms Head – Back Beach – 18 September

Sunday

I have my 9 year old daughter with me this week so 4.30 am starts are out of the question. She likes to fish, but not that much! At around 8.00 am I persuaded her to walk from Brooms Head south, past the Brooms Head Bluff to Back Beach. It was already warm and fairly still with a very light northerly wind. Low tide had passed at about 5.00 am.

Brooms Head Sunrise


After a disappointing session with the heavier fishing rod and reel the day before, I swapped down to my favorite light beach rod, a Gary Howard Estuary, 9ft. It is excellent for Whiting, Dart and Bream – very whippy with loads for spring and great at hooking fussy fish. It works best with a 1/8th or 1/6th jighead and although it is really designed for an Alvey, I use a Shimano Seido 2500 spinning reel. I have never really mastered the Alvey. I use 10lb Fireline or Braid and usually a 10 or 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

As the fish had been reluctant to bite the day before and because we were outside ideal fish feeding hours (dawn and dusk) I decided to start with a 6lb leader. I waded out to about waist deep and cast in to the northern corner of the bay, just where the rocks meet the sand. I had loaded up with a 2” GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. I could feel the 1/8th 1 jighead bumping on the rocks and it soon got snagged. I swapped down to a 1/16th 1 hook jighead and put on a 3” GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic. It is not usually possible to cast such a light weight into the surf, but today conditions were calm enough to do it.
After a little while I started to cast over the top of the rocks as the tide was moving up quite quickly. The jighead was now light enough to bump over the top rather than get snagged. Just as the lure reached the edge of the rocks it was grabbed. The rod tip bent over and I had a fish on. It took some line but then swam into the rocks and made short work of the 6lb leader.

I re-rigged with a 10lb leader and cast back out with the same weight jighead and soft plastic lure. After a few casts, I felt a couple of bumps and knocks and then bang, I had a fish. This time the leader held and I steered the fish back up the beach. It was a Bream around 30 cm. I put it in the bag and carried on fishing. About ten minutes later the same thing happened, this time it was a Tarwhine, about the same size, but with much more fight in it.

A Bream from Back Beach at Brooms Head


Now I had dinner so it was time to quit and go for a swim. Conditions were perfect and the water was crystal clear. Even without a mask you could see plenty of Bream swimming around and good schools of bait fish in close to the shore.

Brooms Head – 17 September 2011

Saturday

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We arrived at Brooms Head at about 3.00pm on Saturday. I grabbed the rod and headed straight for the rocks, out the front. There was no wind and it was a hot, still afternoon. There was no swell and the tide would be low at about 5.00 pm. This meant it was quite safe to cross out onto the rocks in front of the main headland and fish over, into the deeper water beyond. I loaded up the 9’ Daiwa Demon Blood with a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead and a 5” GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Black Shad colour. I had high expectations – this area looks very fishy, but I have rarely been able to get close enough to it, to fish. The first cast got snagged and so did the second, so I switched to a ¼ oz jighead. I felt a few small hits and lost the tail on the soft plastic lure.

I gradually changed down through the soft plastics to a 3” GULP Minnow, in the Pearl Watermelon which caught a couple of Butter Bream and eventually a just legal, Bream. Just before dark, I gave up, disappointed and with nothing for supper.

Broomes Head – Sandon River – 23 Sept 2010

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Thursday
The weather was improving but the swell was still up, so fishing the rocks out in front of Broomes Head did not look like a good prospect. I decided to go and have a look at the Sandon River, just 15 minutes drive to the south. This is small river system with a tidal estuary that has patches of mangroves, sandbanks and weed beds. There are also various submerged structures left over from the long abandoned oyster leases. It is very shallow so there is hardly any boat traffic.
I arrived just on dawn and put on a small Gulp 3”Minnow soft plastic lure in the Pearl Watermelon colour. It was almost a full moon and the tide was a fairly high one. High tide would be around 8.00 am. The water was running in fast, so I used a 1/6th ounce, size 1 jighead, which sinks fairly quickly. I waded out into about 70cm of water and started to cast around on the sand flats and in between the weed beds. I started at a small bay, by some broken oyster racks, about 1 km from the mouth of the river, on the north shore. The water was crystal clear and schools of good size mullet and whitebait were everywhere. After a few casts I caught an undersized flathead.
I carried on towards the river mouth and as I reached a stretch of Mangrove lined shore, I came upon a large school of Luderick sitting around the Mangrove roots. They weren’t interested in the soft plastic lures, but just beyond them I caught a better size, 44 cm flathead. After a couple of hours, and one more under-size flathead, I gave up. This is a beautiful, pristine river and in calmer conditions, the river mouth would also offer superb rock fishing. I will definitely be back.

Broomes Head Lagoon – Wild & Windy – 21 Sept 2010

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Tuesday

I am just back from a trip down to Broome’s Head, just south of Yamba, in northern New South Wales. It is typical of the rocky headlands on that stretch of coast. You can fish on either side of the headland depending on the prevailing winds. However last week the weather really made things difficult. On Monday it rained all day while an enormous swell smashed over the rock ledges. I am pretty keen on my fishing but I could not find anywhere I could cast from.

Tuesday was better – well at least the rain had stopped. The seas were still enormous, with a three metre swell. Fortunately the northern side of Broomes Head has a sheltered lagoon. Just on dawn, I waded out into the lagoon and got as close as I could to its mouth. I cast out a 3” GULP Pearl Watermelon minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I wanted to keep my rig as light as possible to avoid getting snagged on the rocky bottom. I got a couple of touches and saw a few Long Toms following the lure in. After a few more casts, I hooked up with a small Bream – around 25cm. Then a couple of casts later I hooked up to a better fish. When I got him to me, he was a small golden Trevally. I hooked a couple more under-size Bream and a Moses Perch from this position before deciding to try to get closer to the lagoon’s entrance.

At its eastern edge the lagoon is filled through a gap in a long ridge of rocks. Here at the mouth of the lagoon there is some deeper water on either side. The outside of the lagoon entrance was far too rough to fish. But by walking out along the rocky ridge I found a spot from where I could cast into the deeper water just inside the lagoon. I started with the 4” GULP Swimming Mullet soft plastic on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I could not really let it settle for more than a few seconds on the retrieve, for fear of losing it to the rocks or kelp beds. I gradually got a feel for where I could stop and start the retrieve and what the sink rate was. After about 30 minutes of peppering the area with casts I caught a very good Bream – just on 35cm. On the next cast I caught another Bream, a bit smaller but also a good fish. Then things went quiet on the fish front and the wind was really howling. I switched to a 3”GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour and cast it out into the wash at the foot of the rocks. Just as I was about to lift the lure from the water it was grabbed by a big dark shape. The fish took the lure down deep into the kelp at the foot of the rocks and then just sat there. I was only running a 10lb leader so I decided to ease off the pressure and let him swim out of his hiding place. I dropped the rod tip and counted to ten then pulled hard. It worked and I slid a very decent fish up on to the rock ledge at my feet. After giving it the once over, I decided it was a Morwong or Mother-in-law fish of some kind and kept it for the table. I later found out it was a Spotted Hind. It did not taste much good and apparently is quite common down here. I now had plenty of fish for a family supper so I headed off for a hot shower.