New Brighton, South Golden Beach – 24 January 2021

The swell, the swell, the swell – its never-ending. But then there was a forecast of lower seas, so I decided to try some fishing in the surf. The swell had created some good gutters and so I drove down to the beach, just south of New Brighton on the north shore of the Brunswick River mouth.

I arrived just before first light at about 5.40 am. High tide would be at about 6.00 am. It would be new moon in about three days. I walked out with my Daiwa Crossfire 1062 (10 foot, 6 inch – 3.2 metre) rod and Shimano Stella 4000 reel. This is spooled with 30lb braid and as I wasn’t expecting anything huge to swim by – a 14lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a 1/4 ounce , size 1/0 hook jighead and loaded it with a GULP 4′ Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour.

The horizon was now lit up and I cast out into what looked like a decent gutter. After a few casts I caught a small (25cm) bream, swiftly followed by a couple more. The fish flicked the plastic off so I tied on a GULP 3″ Paddle Shad in the Nuclear Chicken colour. This is a new shape from GULP and I like it a lot – now we just need them to produce it in my favourite Pearl Watermelon colour. This found its mark after about ten minutes. I felt a bit of weight and the rod tip bent over. This time it was a a flathead, about 45cm long.

The sun was now just coming over the horizon and I swapped to a another Paddle Shad, this time in the pink colour. I moved a little further along to the mouth of the gutter and kept casting. I felt a few urgent bites and drops. Then I caught a dropped a dart and eventually stayed connected to one.

By about 7.30am the swell had stretched out as the tide started to run out and I gave up for the morning.

Brunswick River – Brunswick Heads – 1 September 2020

Thanks to the machinations of our newly powerful state leaders, Brunswick Heads was very quiet in August and September. Despite vanishingly small numbers of locally identified cases of COVID 19, the Queensland border snapped shut. It was soul destroying for our local businesses that rely so much on visitors from north of the border, and further afield. But, every cloud has a silver lining and for once the Brunswick River was very peaceful and largely undisturbed.

I started September with a midday session wading the flats above the highway bridge. The tide was running out to low at about 1-30 pm. I parked up beside the caravan park at Ferry Reserve.

I was using my new light estuary spinning set-up. The guides on my old favorite NS Blackhole trout rod nearly all needed replacing and I had knocked about 10 cm off the tip over the last couple of years – it had to go. I had loved that rod so I decided to go for another NS Blackhole rod from EJ Todd. I chose the ultralight fast action NS Amped II Trout S-602UL rod. It is a 6′ long two piece, rated for 2- 10 gram lures and 2-6 lb (1-3kg) line. I match it with a Daiwa TD-SOL III LT 2500D spinning reel. So far it has met all my expectations. It is ultra sensitive but has the power to stop good sized bream and flathead. It might struggle to turn the head of a decent mangrove jack or snapper, but I rarely run into those. It cost me A$ 149-99 (with free shipping) from Tackle Warehouse and arrived in good shape, three days after I ordered it.

I pulled on my waders and wandered up the inside of Mangrove Island, casting a GULP 3″ Minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead, into the shallow water ahead of me. I found my first tiny flathead close the edge of a weed bed in about 20 cm of water. The tide was running out towards me so I cast at the edge of the weed beds and hopped the soft plastic slowly along the sandy/ muddy bottom, with the tide. I carried on wading up river, around the tip of Mangrove Island and across to the deeper water, in the main channel of the river.

I decided to put on a bigger soft plastic – a GULP 5″ Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I was now just upriver from the tip of the island, about 30 metres from the northern riverbank. My rod tip bent over, I paused and then lifted it. I had hooked a small flathead, just under 40cm. I let it go and gradually moved down river, casting backwards up river. I swapped through a few soft plastics – the GULP 2″ Shrimp also in the Peppered Prawn colour and another 5″ Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, and found three more flathead, all about the same size.

As the tide slackened around 2.00 pm, I gave up and waded back to the car. It was great to have the river virtually to myself, I will have to make the most of it.

Brunswick River, Lighthouse Beach and Mobs Bay Ballina – May 2020

As we entered May we were still in lockdown across Australia. The global economy was a slow motion train wreck, with businesses shuttered and unemployment sky-rocketing. Governments everywhere pumped money into their economies and so, despite their awful future prospects some companies like our banks, Qantas, Afterpay, etc – persuaded our moronic superannuation fund managers to buy even more new shares in them.

In addition to the ever-present threat of the ‘Egyptian Papyrus’ (COV 19 virus), May brought us a delightful mini-plague of noisy green frogs. They were hiding everywhere you looked.

As the weather had cooled the flathead had increased in numbers in the Brunswick River, but they were still frustratingly small. I could be pretty sure of getting a handful on the bottom of the tide near the river mouth, but they were rarely big enough for dinner. The water was crystal clear and so perhaps the bigger fish were harder to fool.

I decided to head to Ballina and try and pick up a few bigger flathead. The strategy paid off and I had success fishing the first few hours of the run out tide. I was wading in the shallows in Mobs Bay and a few other points along the south side of the Richmond River, towards the river mouth. I also had a great session fishing the run out tide in the corner of Lighthouse Beach. The swell had carved out a small gutter at the north end and I caught four flathead in quick succession, on one early morning session.

I fished my light spinning rod with about a 1.5 metre, 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied on to 12lb breaking strain braid and an 1/8th or 1/6th of an ounce, size 1 hook jighead. As usual, the GULP 3″ and 4″ minnow soft plastics in the watermelon pearl and lime tiger colours produced the most fish.

I caught a full bag of five legal sized fish several times and used them to cook a flathead fish pie – which is a firm favorite at home.

Lockdown at South Golden Beach – April 2020

I returned to South Golden Beach at the beginning of April. I realised how fortunate we were to be located in this small town, close to Byron Bay, on the Northern New South Wales coast. Our beaches were not closed, our fishing was not curtailed and social distancing was very simple. The outlook for any kind of paid work looked pretty grim, but there would be plenty of fishing time.

I spent most of April extracting myself from my contracts in Asia and ‘furloughing’ everyone who works with me. Realistically, none of us could work until I could leave Australia and visit our various projects again. And that prospect looked a long way off. Unlike here in the ‘lucky country’ none of my team would receive any welfare assistance, so it was a pretty depressing process.

In between times I had a few fishing sessions in the Brunswick River. For once the river was very quiet. The caravan parks had emptied out and no one was allowed to leave home except for essential activities. Fishing was allowed under the exercise category – which was a relief. I caught flathead under the highway bridge and down by the river mouth, at Christmas Beach. I fished GULP soft plastic minnows and shrimps, using light leaders (10lb fluorocarbon) and light jigheads (no heavier than 1/8th of an ounce). Only about one in five of the flathead was over the legal size limit in New South Wales, which is 38cm. I caught about twenty over three sessions.

I also fished the beach gutters, when the weather was calm enough. I caught a few flathead this way, but not many bream. The northerly winds gradually change over to southerlies and the air temperature dropped. One cool morning I noticed a few abandoned chopper tailor heads on the beach in front of the New Brighton.

Ballina & Broken Head – February 2020

In February I started the month with a couple of morning sessions fishing along the Ballina river bank, close to the centre of town. If you follow the riverside walkway that runs parallel with the main high street you often see big schools of bait fish hanging close to the rocky banks. I worked my way along, casting soft plastics. I caught a couple of small bream and then a few small flathead. The air was still, hot and humid and the water was very clear.

A few days later the rain started and didn’t really stop for a week. The weather turned wild and fresh water poured off the parched paddocks into the estuaries. It looked like the drought was breaking. I went down to the Brunswick River but it was a brown frothy soup.

During a few breaks in the weather I drove down to Ballina to look around. The Richmond was also running brown, full of sediment and other rubbish. There were quite a few dead juvenile flathead, bream and other species floating in the flotsam and jetsam.

When the rain finally stopped it was clear I would have to fish in the ocean as the estuaries would stay dirty and full of fresh water for some time. By the middle of the month the swell had dropped off sufficiently to try fishing at Snapper Rocks at Broken Head. I started by trying to cast soft plastics over the froth churned up by the storms. There was also a lot of weed to contend with, especially when I let the soft plastic reach the bottom. Despite the obstacles, I caught a few dart using a 3 inch GULP minnow soft plastic weighted on a 1/4 ounce jighead. I stuck with the lime tiger colour as this seems to be a favorite with the dart.

A few days later with a light swell I was back in the same spot. I was casting soft plastics again and the dart were there again. I caught a few but then got bitten off by something more aggressive. I changed my leader from 16lb to 25lb flurocarbon and after a few more casts I hooked a tailor, which wriggled off as I tried to pull it up to my feet. Finally, about 20 minutes later I landed one, it was about 45cm long. I caught one more, a little smaller, but then they were gone. I tried a metal slug for a bit but did not get any hits. I swapped back to the GULP Minnow and started casting over to the south and letting the soft plastic float down slowly beside the base of the rocks. I had a couple of hits (presumably from the dart or bream) and then something took off with the lure. It was pulling hard so I tightened the drag a little and just wound in as fast as I could. After a couple of runs a decent trevally came into view. With the aid of the swell I pulled it clear of the rocks and up to my feet.

The next day I was back, to fish the last few hours of the run out tide. I started with a 40 gram metal slug but soon swapped back the same set up that had produced fish the day before; the GULP Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic on a 1/4 ounce size 1/0 hook jighead. This turned the fish on and I caught a dart and then a couple of tailor in quick succession. I fished on and had a few more bites but after a couple of hours I was about to pack up. Just a few more casts and bang zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz – another trevally. This one did its best to bury itself in the cunjevoi covered rocks. We had a fair fight and I thought I had lost it but fortunately it untangled itself and I landed it.

That was it for the day but this is definitely a great spot to fish when there is little swell.

Brunswick River, Lennox Head Beach & Flat Rock – August 2019

In August the weather had warmed up a little but the water had finally cooled down. I tried a few different fishing methods in the Brunswick River, where the bream can be easy to find but hard to catch. I started with small soft plastics, which would mostly just catch small flathead. In the end I worked out that throwing in some burley (small bread cubes) seemed to get the fish in the mood. Once a decent crowd of fish had assembled I would pull a jighead with some bread on it, along the bottom. This method caught a few fish. So I refined it and started floating an unweighted size 6 hook with a small dough cube down towards the fish. This worked better but, overall it was hard work and most of my catch was barely big enough to keep.

Brunswick River bream like bread
Clearwater and plenty of food makes the bream hard to catch
The Brunswick River

I was only fishing the river when the swell made fishing the beaches or rocks to tricky. Whenever I found a good gutter on the beach between the northwall of the Brunswick River and South Golden Beach, I would go down at dusk and try flicking soft plastic lures around. I found a few little flathead using this method (but not many keepers) and no tailor.

On a couple of calmer mornings, I fished the beach at Lennox Head. There is plenty of structure here and if the swell permits, it is great to fish the gaps in the rocks for flathead and bream. Over a few days I caught trevally, bream and flathead, all on soft plastic minnows. The back half of the run out tide was the most productive time to fish.

Lennox Head mixed bag

I also took advantage of the lighter swell to have a fish at Flat Rock, just north of the Richmond River mouth, near Ballina, in August. This is a great fishing platform but it requires wind, tide and swell to be friendly – to deliver the fish. I started off fishing the eastern side on a falling tide and caught a beautiful elegant wrasse on a soft plastic. A little later, as the tide turned to run in I caught a few bream on the same lures.

I then moved round to the southern side, where I have seen fishermen catch some very good tailor and jewfish. I was using my Daiwa Crossfire Surf 1062 rod matched with a Shimano Stella 4000 reel. I wrigged them with 20lb braid and a 16lb fluorocrabon leader. This rod is just big enough to throw a 40 gram slug and so I tied one on and threw one out over the reef ledge into the surf. After a few casts I hooked a fish which I though was a very solid tailor. It pulled really hard. When i finally go a look I was very surprised to see it was a small kingfish about 45cm long. I released it and carried on casting but did not get another.

I rounded out the month with a trip across the river on the ferry to South Ballina. I fished my lighter spinning rig along the south rockwall and caught a few flathead and bream. The end of the wall always seems to produce good bream and there are usually flathead around, as you move upriver and the water gets shallower.

Sharpes Beach, Ballina and North Head, New Brighton – July 2019

It took a long time for winter to arrive in 2019. In fact, the water stayed warm pretty much all through June and July. I persisted with exploring the beach fishing to the north of the Brunswick River mouth, whenever possible.

I also had a few sessions on the headlands between Lennox and Ballina. I did quite well fishing soft plastic minnows at the north end of Sharpes Beach. Over a few mornings I caught some 35cm + bream, trevally and even a few jewfish, one of which was just over 70 cm long and therefore big enough to keep.

As most of my followers will know I love to fish with soft plastics and light rigs. I was catching the odd flathead and bream in the surf on a traditional jig head rigged soft plastic minnows and shrimps, but I was putting in a lot of casts for very few fish. So in July I experimented with rigging my GULP 4″ minnows, unweighted on a regular baitholder or trueturn hook at the end of about 30 cm of 20lb fluorocarbon leader, running up to a small swivel and sinker. This seemed to be more successful and I had a few quite good bream sessions on the beach.

Bream on a soft plastic without a jighead

As we moved towards the full moon in the middle of the month, I noticed a few keen local anglers fishing for tailor on dusk, on the beach near North Head. On the evening of the full moon I decided to join them and with a GULP 4″ minnow rigged on a size 4 Trueturn hook with a size 1 sinker further up the leader. I was using my 3.6m / 12 foot Daiwa Crossfire Surf 1202L, 20lb braid and a 20lb flurocarbon leader. I was casting out as far as I could and letting the plastic waft around. I started about 40 minutes before sunset. Just after sunset I felt the rod tip start to bend and as I took up the slack I realised there was a fish on. This rod does not have much power so I had to be patient but after about 15 minutes of back and forth in the swell I pulled up a chunky tailor about 55cm long.

North Head Beach tailor

So on reflection there was plenty of variety on June and July, especially in the run up to the full moon

Brunswick River – Broken Head – Dart, Flathead, Tailor – May, June 2019

There was no time for fishing in April but May and June saw me back down at my new HQ near Brunswick Heads on the Northern New South Wales coast. I am still finding my feet in this area so my sessions are often hit and miss. I still have not found any consistent spots where I can catch supper. Its almost as if there is too much choice – the beaches, the river or the rocks? I keep my ever expanding tackle supplies and a few rods in the boot of car and I am generally driven by the wind, swell and tides.

I fished the area near the mouth of the Brunswick River on a few evenings in the run up to the June full moon and I caught a few flathead on each occasion, but they were all around the 30 cm mark, so I released them. There must be plenty of fish around here as the dolphins are frequent visitors. The last hour of the run out tide was most successful.

On other days I put in the hours in the beach gutters to the south of New Brighton for pretty poor results. I was chucking a slug just pre-dawn and after dusk which was not very successful and then big plastics with light leaders, which did land the odd bream and small tailor, later in June.

I clambered down the cliff at Broken Head (south of Byron Bay) on a couple of afternoons, but the swell made fishing quite tricky. I persisted and ended up with some good sized dart on soft plastic minnows.

I am still working it out, another 50 years and I will have mastered it!

Brunswick River – Mullet and flathead – August 2018

In August the almost non-existent winter continued with warm water and not much rain. There were lots of mullet and small flathead in the Brunswick River. I fished around with soft plastics and light leaders and occasionally snagged some of the mullet. Even the smallest flathead seem unable to resist a soft plastic, pulled across the sandy bottom in front of them.

The river is a beautiful spot but is best fished at dawn or dusk, mid-week. The rest of the time it is quite busy with boats and swimmers and the fish tend to settle in the quieter areas. Of course, there is always one inconsiderate knobhead who decides to put his jetski in (they are prohibited in the river). I console myself in the knowledge that karma being what it is, jet skiers will be reincarnated as baitfish in the next life, and give them a wave.

Brunswick Heads, Skennars Head and Broken Head – May 2018

May rolled in and we finally got a few cold nights but the weather soon turned warm again. We had a good south-easterly blow and a few days of rain at Brunswick Heads early in the month. In the rough weather some good gutters formed at North Head on the north side of the Brunswick River mouth.

On a couple of nights Tailor reportedly turned up and everyone caught fish. Unfortunately, they were not the nights I was fishing. I did manage a couple of 40 cm choppers, just as the sun fell, using my trusty gold/brass coloured 40g Halco Twisty metal slug.

In the stormy weather I fished the north side of the north wall with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. I was so desperate for a fish that I dropped down to 8lb leader and loaded the plastic on to a size 4, unweighted hook. I let it wash around at the base of the rocks and to my surprise I hooked a solid luderick.

A few days later I moved up river a little and fished at Christmas Beach (just short of the Brunswick River Mouth, on the north side). The tide was running out and the water was a tannin stained brown colour. I was fishing with my light estuary rod, with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and was jigging a GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon coloured minnow along the sandy bottom. The jighead was a 1/8th ounce weight with a 1/0 jighead. As usual the fish were close to the rocks. The first flathead I caught was in a sandy gully between two rocky outcrops. It was just over 40 cm, so I kept it for dinner. It seems ridiculous that we can have different size limits for flathead in New South Wales (36cm) and Queensland (40 cm). I am sticking with the 40cm, as that is about the minimum size I would consider worth filleting. I carried on as the tide ran out and caught two more from similar spots. I also lost two or three jigheads to the rocks.

On one of the calmer days I had a morning session fishing from the rocks at Skennars Head. As the sun rose I hooked a couple of good sized dart, again using soft plastic minnows. These were quickly followed by two 30cm + chunky bream, close to the base of the rocks. I then put on a bigger 4 inch minnow soft plastic and after a few casts, caught a 40 cm tailor. I caught all the fish before 7.30 am, after which I did not get a bite.

In the light swell I also had a few afternoon sessions fishing down at Broken Head. In the first I found a few small trevally and in the second I caught good sized bream and dart. The dart were in big schools swimming up and down in front of the rocks. Occasionally they would break the surface to feed on smaller fish schools. I cast a slug around but could not connect with any tailor.

Not many big ones but there were plenty of fish on offer in May.

Brunswick River – Flathead, Bream – March 2018

It was back to work in February so there was little time for fishing. In March the hot days continued with no sign of autumn on the horizon. The usual wind pattern was a light south easterly or south westerly in the morning, turning around to a strong northerly in the afternoon. The water stayed pretty warm.

The Brunswick River was crystal clear. In the transparent warm water, I resorted to casting out almost unweighted 3 inch minnow soft plastics on very light 6lb leader, in order to entice the bream to bite. I caught a few keepers this way but I lost plenty of soft plastics to either bigger bream, cod or perhaps mangrove jacks. There were a few flathead around but most were about 30cm to 40 cm long, so I released them.

There was about a week of heavy rain later in the month. The water running off the surrounding swamps turned the Brunswick River brown for all but an hour around high tide. This increase in fresh water in the system changed things and I had a few sessions where all I caught were grunter bream. I caught them all on 3 inch soft plastics, using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. They were mostly too small to keep, but one or two were close to 35 cm.

So there were plenty of fish in March and the river had plenty of bait but there were not many big enough for supper.

 

Bribie flats & Mooball Creek, Pottsville – January 2017

In January I fished a couple of dawn sessions on the flats in front of the Sandstone Point Hotel jetty, at Bribie. I caught a few flathead, mainly on the bottom half of the run out tides. I also fished the mouth of Pacific Harbour which produced a few good sized flathead on various coloured jerkshad soft plastics.

Later in  the month I spent some time at Pottsville and Hastings Point. The Hastings Point headland always looks very fishy, but during the holidays it is a pretty busy spot. I tried a few daytime sessions with small soft plastics there, but only caught a few Butter Bream on light line.

On the bigger tides I fished in Mooball Creek (behind the beach). This is a sandy bottomed shallow creek that has a few holes and bends with some deeper water. I found plenty of small flathead, fishing with a 3″ GULP Minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th and 1/12th ounce, size #1 hook jighead. I stuck to 10lb leader and eventually found a couple of flathead that would have been been big enough to keep. There were also plenty of small bream and whiting in the clear water.

South Golden Beach – Marshalls Creek – 23/24 December 2015

Wednesday

On Wednesday morning I was up before dawn to have another shot of catching something decent in the surf. The wind had changed to a strong northerly over-night. When I walked out on to South Golden Beach at about 4.45 am, I could see the water was pretty stirred up.

The wind was up and gusting between 10 and knots. As the water hit my feet I noticed it had cooled down considerably overnight. I was fishing with my Daiwa Air Edge rod and Shimano Sustain reel combination again. This time I tied on about 1 metre of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The wind and surf was going to make it very hard to cast a lightly weighted soft plastic lure any distance, so I decided to rig up a hard bodied lure.

I chose the DUO Realis Vib 62. This is a Bass lure made by my favourite Japanese lure manufacturers DUO – http://www.duo-inc.co.jp/bass/en/realis/vibration62/ . I have tried plenty of cheaper imitations but I keep coming back to this one. It is an 11g sinking vibe lure with a loud rattle and comes in some great colours. There is something about its action and its ability to instantly find its rhythm that I really love. Even when bumping along a shallow, sandy bottom it keeps vibrating. The other advantage in the surf is that it casts like a bullet. I have found these lures at Jones Tackle http://jonestackle.com.au/ and also at Motackle http://www.motackle.com.au/. I understand that DUO has just secured a new Australian distribution deal so I hope this means they will become more widely available.

I wandered south as the horizon started to light up. I felt a few bumps and nudges in each new gutter but did not connect. At about 5.00 am the sun came over the horizon. I was now standing at the south end of a very long gutter that had a pronounced sand bank lip. I could see the small dart shadowing the lure as I pulled it towards me. I put in a long cast and started to jerk the lure back towards me. After about three pulls something smashed into the lure. I struck hard but the line felt slack. Then I realised the fish was just swimming towards me. It changed direction and I could feel that it was solidly hooked. It travelled sideways for a bit. I had the drag fairly loosely set. This is important in the surf as the pull of the waves will snap a light leader very easily.  I soon had a respectable 30 cm bream at my feet. I released it and looked for some more without any luck.

On Christmas Eve I decided to fish the big incoming morning tide in the section of Marshalls Creek that is open to fishing. This is a very beautiful stretch of water just off the Brunswick River. Its lower reaches are closed to all types of fishing but there is a section opposite the New Brighton shop where fishing with rod and line is still permitted. This area is fairly shallow on all but the biggest tides but it looks very fishy. There are big sand bars, overhanging trees and dense mangroves. I waded around through the early morning high tide and got a few bites. I saw plenty of bream, luderick and mullet swimming around but I could not hook any. It was peak holiday time and there was a constant flow of small boats which did not improve my chances of catching anything. After a few hours I gave up, but I will definitely be back.

Happy Christmas to all

New Brighton beach fishing – 22 December 2015

Tuesday

In the run up to Christmas I spent a few days fishing on the beach at New Brighton, just north of Brunswick Heads.

On Tuesday I wandered out for an afternoon fish and decided to walk towards New Brighton from South Golden Beach. I started at about 3.00 pm. I was using my Daiwa Air Edge 96L light surf rod and initially fishing with a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The moon was building up to full around Christmas Day, so the tidal flow was quite big. The wind was a fairly lively south-easterly, but the water was warm and still fairly clear.

This beach has very little structure apart from a few rocks half buried in the sand near New Brighton. However there are plenty of deep clearly defined gutters that are formed by the wind, tide and strong rips.

I cast around into the incoming tide. I was fishing with a GULP 3” minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and I concentrated on the areas at the entrances and exits to the gutters. Each time I moved, I would get faint bites on the first couple of casts and then nothing. As the waves rolled over I could see these were coming from tiny dart.

I paused at the exit to another gutter and cast my lure so it would come back past as it was washed out to sea. After a couple of hops a fish grabbed it. There was a brief fight but I soon pulled it ashore. It was bream about 28 cm long.

I moved south and eventually arrived at the small patch of rocks in front of New Brighton.  I swapped to a GULP 3” Shrimp soft plastic in the neutral grey flecked peppered prawn colour. I cast around the rocks and again felt a few small bites.

The wind was now blowing very hard so I moved to the south side of the biggest rock and put a few casts in around its base. This paid off and on about my third one I felt the unmistakeable solid thud of a flathead bite. After another fairly brief fight I landed a 43 cm flathead. I took a few pictures and sent it on its way.

By 4.30 pm the wind was a howling southerly so I decided to give up. As I walked back to South Golden Beach I noticed a young gent throwing a small slug into the surf and witnessed him catch some small dart, as his hungry dog looked on.

New Brighton – the beach – 19 October 2105

Monday

On Monday I decided to fish the beach a little further north of the Brunswick River mouth, between South Golden Beach and New Brighton. When there is a fairly regular wind pattern some good gutters form along this stretch of beach. There are also a few small patches of exposed rocks which are good to fish on the higher tides.

This time I woke before first light and walked out onto the beach about 20 minutes later. I was hopeful that something big might be hanging around so I started fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The dart were everywhere. I felt hits from the first cast. They were small but this did not stop them attacking the big jerkshad. I caught a few but they were all tiny.

As the sun came over the horizon I decided to drop down to a smaller 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour. The dart attacked this but they were still only an average of 15 cm long.

I reached a small patch of exposed rocks and swapped to GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. I cast this around the rocks and felt a few bites. I started to let the plastic sit on the bottom, between hops for longer periods – hoping there might a flathead lurking nearby.

After a few casts there was suddenly some dead weight on the end of the line. Then the rod tip started to wiggle and I realised it was a fish. I thought it might be a ray of some kind as it was moving very slowly. I let it take line initially but soon turned its head and had it swimming towards the beach. As I pulled it clear of the surf and up the beach I could see it was a very strange looking fish called a stargazer. As soon as it was clear of the water it gradually buried itself in the soft sand. I had to wait for another wave to cover it, so that I could dislodge it from the sand. I am told these fish taste delicious (often referred to a ‘poor mans lobster’) but they just look far too weird to eat. I took a few snaps and then sent it on its way.

That was it for another tough beach/ surf fishing session. I am not much good at this type of fishing but that just gives me a good excuse to keep at it, until I am.

Brunswick Heads – the beach – 18 October 2015

Sunday

Half way through October, I managed to get down to Brunswick Heads for the weekend and had a few mornings fishing on South Golden Beach. Earlier in the year, in the cooler water, I had found plenty of tailor and bream down here.

The moon was in its first quarter and the tides were not big. The wind was a light south easterly, turning northerly in the afternoons. As you all know I love to fish with soft plastics lures. On the beach, success with plastics requires a bit of persistence – especially in the warmer months.

As usual you have to be up early or be prepared to fish through dusk. I prefer the dawn session, as I am an early riser and you know the water has not really been fished/ surfed/ disturbed overnight.

In spring and summer I fish with very light gear. The predominant summer species; dart, whiting, bream can be very picky and the water is often clear. I rarely use more than a 12lb fluorocarbon leader and will often go down to 8lb to get the bites. This means you have to have a good, functioning drag on your reel and make sure it is set correctly. You will certainly lose a big bream/ or dart in the surf, if your drag is set to tight. If you get a fish hooked you have to bring it in patiently, using the rhythm of the surf. If a big mackerel is passing through, your are doomed, but that is fairly unlikely.

I like to use small brightly coloured soft plastics when the water is clear. My favourite for dart is the GULP 3” Minnow in the lime tiger colour. If the water is stirred up I swap to paddle and grub tailed soft plastics in darker colours. In these conditions it is often the vibration that will bring the fish to the lure.

On Sunday, I decided fish the rocks and beach on the north shore of the Brunswick River mouth. There is often a nice big gutter here and the rocky/ reefy area on the north side of the river rock wall also provides some good structure to fish around. I arrived at the carpark at about 5.30 am, just after first light.

The water was a little stirred up so I started with a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was using my Daiwa Air Edge 96L light surf rod and initially fishing with a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader. After a while I was not getting any bites, so I swapped down to a lighter 1/8th ounce jighead. I moved a little closer to the rocks.

The fishing was tough. I had a couple of bites from what I assume were dart. Low tide had passed at about 5.40 am and the water was now starting to run in. Perhaps this was the catalyst for action and I hooked a small bream (about 25cm long) and then another.

There was a pause of about 20 minutes then I caught a few more. At about 8.15 am the sun was high in the sky – and my fishing spot was right at the start of the surfer route out to their favoured spot. They kept, very politely, swimming through the fishing zone, so I decided to give up for the morning.

Brunswick Heads – Birds Working – 3 August 2015

Monday

People often ask me about birds and what do fishermen mean by “look out for the birds working”. Whilst fishing off the beach at Brunswick Heads recently I managed to film a good example.

It is hard to say exactly what was going on but the most like scenario is that there is a large school of bait – mullet, anchovies or something similair, that has drawn the attention of a big school of tailor that are migrating north to spawn. The tailor are attacking the bait school from below whilst the birds are dive bombing from above. Pretty soon this leads to a lot of blood and fishy residue in the water and the larger predators, sharks, trevally, mackerel will start to get involved.

The key challenge for the land based fisherman is getting a cast out to where the action is. You can watch this type of activity going on all day but it often is just out of reach. My advice is to make sure you tie on a very tough leader and a heavy metal lure and then hurl it out in the direction of the fish. There is often a big school under the water that you cannot see and it could be a hundred metres ahead of where the birds are.

If you can get you lure in amongst this kind of action you are definitely going to hook something.

Brunswick Heads – tailor time – 3 August 2015

Sunday – Monday

I had managed to get a few days down at South Golden Beach in Northern New South Wales and was very keen to see if the Tailor where around on the beaches.

On Sunday morning I was up before dawn. I wrapped up in warm clothes and pulled on my waders. The house we were staying in was right behind the beach and I had seen a few fisherman pull in some small Tailor the night before, using pilchards.

As I came out on to the beach conditions were very calm. I had noticed a long wide gutter the day before so I tied on a 55g HALCO Twisty in the brassy/ gold colour and started putting in long casts towards the mouth of the gutter. I was doing a fairly fast steady retrieve and this soon warmed me up. Just after first light I briefly hooked a fish but it shook itself free after a few seconds. I carried on for another 30 minutes and just before the sun came over the horizon, I felt the rod tip bend over. It was a fair way out but I gradually pulled it in. It was soon at my feet in the surf, but as I pulled it clear of the water the treble pulled out of its lip and it was gone. I put in a few more casts before changing to a jerkshad soft plastic but I did not find another fish.

On Monday morning I decided to explore the mouth of the Brunswick River. I picked the rock wall on the north side and arrived just after first light at about 5.45 am. It was another fantastic sunrise with the whole horizon glowing a rich orange colour. I walked to the end of the rock wall with my light rock fishing rig. The NS Blackhole rod and Shimano Sustain 4000 reel, 15lb braid and 30lb fluoro-carbon leader. I tied on a 55g HALCO Twisty and cast it diagonally across the river mouth. I cast about 15 times in various directions with no luck. I swapped to a suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow hard bodied lure and cast this across the same area. On my third cast a fish hit the lure and I set the hooks. It was a small (approx.35cm long) tailor. I photographed and threw it back. On the next cast a fish hit the lure again but I did not connect. I continued for another 20 minutes in this spot with no further action so I decided to swap to a small soft plastic lure.

I moved a little way back along the rock wall, up river. I dropped the fluorocarbon leader down to 12lb, tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/ hook jighead and loaded it with a GULP 2.5 cm Crabbie in the Chocolate sparkle colour. This immediately attracted the attention of some Bream, I caught a couple and threw them back, both were between 25cm and 30 cm long.

The wind had picked up but I could see a big flock of birds dive bombing a little way up the beach. I decided to go and investigate. They were about 300 metres offshore but gradually moving in closer around the small rocky platform, just north of the rockwall. There was clearly a big school of bait with something feeding on it from below, which had attracted their attention. I walked along the beach and found a long gutter that runs up to the rocky platform. This looked about 1.5m deep at its deepest point and the main channel was very well defined. When I got level with the birds I started casting my soft plastic. The first takers were a few small dart, close to the beach. Then something bigger grabbed the soft plastic and started shaking its head. It presume it was a tailor and it soon chewed through the leader. I tied on the 30lb leader again and rigged up a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour and threw this out. A fish grabbed it almost as soon as it hit the water. This time I pulled it almost to the wave break, then it wriggled free.

I decided treble hooks would give me a better chance of landing a fish so I swapped back to the suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow. My strategy paid off. The lure was slammed as soon as I started the retrieve. I managed to get this tailor, safely up the beach. Now the fish were clearly feeding in the gutter and almost every cast hooked up. I caught somewhere between 10 and 15 fish over the next 40 minutes. The largest was 48cm long. I dropped plenty before they reached the beach, but kept a couple of bigger ones. Then just after 9.00 am, I hooked up again but the YOZURI Crystal Minnow was bitten clean off after just a few reel turns. I tied on the HALCO 55g Twisty again and landed a couple of smaller tailor with this lure, but then the same thing happened.

At about 9.15 am I swapped to a larger floating YOZURI Tobimaru 130mm hard bodied bibbed minnow. I tied this on with a 40lb rated wire trace and threw it out. More or less as soon as it landed I felt the fish bashing it around and about 2-3 metres into the retrieve I hooked up. I turned the reel a couple of times and then the line went slack. Clearly there was now something very toothy out there and I am not sure I really wanted to catch it, so at about 9.30 am I gave up for the morning.

It had been a great tailor session and confirmed for me that they will eat anything when they are feeding in big schools like this. I think lure choice was fairly unimportant but I did get the slightly larger fish on the hard bodied minnows, rather than the metal slugs.