Fingal Head – Moses Perch, Tailor, Bream & Dart – 26 March 2015

Thursday

I was delighted that my cousin’s visit had shamed me into carving out time for another fishing session and we decided to drive south to fish the rocks at Fingal Head in northern New South Wales, on Thursday morning.

I usually find the hour either side of dawn most productive in this location. This means an early start, so we left at about 4.30 am. The weather was grey and rainy for most of the drive down and we arrived at about 5.30 am, close to first light. Fortunately the rain had stopped.

We walked up to the lighthouse and down to the small causeway the leads out to the rock platform.  The headland was first spotted and recorded by James Cook in 1770, and its strange regular shaped basalt pillars were pushed up by the long extinct Tweed volcano. The advantage of the overnight rain was a light swell and virtually no wind.

I was fishing with my N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rodlight rock fishing rod matched with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. The rod is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. This is rigged with 15lb braid and I usually fish it with a 12lb to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. Today, I started with 12lb leader. I provided cousin Joe with a similair set up based on a Shimano Coastline Light rod of the same length.

Flushed with recent success fishing the GULP 3’ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour we decided to start with this soft plastic again. We both rigged up with 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jigheads. After a few casts the fish were tapping at the lure and it did not take long for Joe to hook and land a small 30cm ‘chopper’ tailor. He learned the ‘wet’ way about getting too close to the edge and was given a good soaking by a decent set of waves. The rain then started pouring down so I got nicely soaked, in sympathy.

I moved around to the front of the rock platform and tried a few different shapes and sizes of soft plastics before something grabbed my GULP 3 inch Lime Tiger Minnow, very close to the base of the rocks. I am not sure what it was but it moved around slowly at first, suggesting it did not know it was hooked. Once it realised something was wrong it headed for the nearest bommy and snap went my hopelessly light leader.

I re-rigged and Joe moved into position in roughly the same spot, with the same soft plastic lure pattern. A few casts later a fish struck at the base of the rocks. The Shimano Catana bent over and ot took some line. Joe was not going to let this one go. As he moved closer to the edge of the rocks I had visions of him floating up on a beach, face down, somewhere near Ballina.  Fortunately the swell was light and when he did get a soaking, it was a fairly gentle one.  The fish was doing its best to bury itself in the barnacle covered rocks but Joe swung it round and I grabbed the leader. It was a chunky 33 cm bream and would be dinner.

I tried a few different larger soft plastics but it was the 3 inch minnow that was consistently getting hit. I caught a few small Moses perch and then swapped to a 3 inch minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour. After a few casts something grabbed it and headed straight for the rocks. It felt like a good sized fish but when I pulled it clear of the water it was just a small, but very fat, Moses perch.

Over the next hour we pulled out a few more dart, one of which was missing its tail. As we got further away from sunrise the fishing slowed and at about 9.00 am we gave up and went for breakfast.

Christmas Eve – Mulloway – Fingal Head – 24 December 2012

Christmas Eve

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the House – not a creature did stir – not even a mouse – except for a man with rod – who snuck out of the house.

I found myself awake at 2.30 am dreaming not of sugarplums, but of big fish. I loaded up my gear and arrived at Fingal Head at about 4.00 am. There were already a few cars in the car park. Clearly, some other fisherman needed their pre-Christmas fix.

The wandered out to the rocks to find a cloudy sky, virtually no breeze and a very big south-easterly swell rolling through. The tide was running in and would be high about 8.00 am QLD time. It took a while to cross the causeway out to the fishing platform – I watched the wave sets carefully and eventually found a gap. There were some big swells crashing through. A couple of fishermen were already out there and as the sky brightened I could see rods sticking up all along the headland.

The big swell made it pretty difficult to fish the front of the platform and I soon got a soaking from a big wave. At this time of year the water is warm enough to not be a problem – the risk is getting knocked off your feet.

I started with my heavy rod – the 9ft Daiwa Demonblood. I was using 20lb Fireline and a 25lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a RAPALA XRS 12 in the ghost colour and cast around. The other fishermen pulled up a couple of 35 to 45 cm tailor. They were casting directly to the north of the platform. They caught their fish on lures, one on an XRAP hard body and one on a Shimano Waxwing lure. I could not find anything on the XRS12, so I swapped to a smaller, suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow in a silver colour. This produced a bite – in fact I had contact with a few fish before I finally set the hook in one. It was only a small tailor – probably between 25 and 30cm long.

The swell was creating plenty of white water; a bird kept diving and coming up with fish so I knew there was bait around. We are now in the run up to the full moon so I was pretty sure there would be some jewfish / mulloway around. I stuck with the heavy rod and put on a ¼ oz jighead with a 2/0 hook and rigged up a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour. I cast around the south east side of the rock platform – withdrawing to a safe distance, every time a big wave set came through. As I started to cast more east than south, I felt a tug and then a bite and the rod bent over. The fish decided to swim north which immediately posed problem. With swell crashing straight against this side of the rock platform there was nowhere to land the fish. I moved it a little way north but as huge wave set was coming in I had to retreat, keep contact and hope for the best. I survived a few waves but now the fish was getting bashed against the rocks and soon, the line snapped.

I re-rigged, this time with a soft plastic that I have been meaning to try out for ages – a Powerbait 4” Ripple shad Swimbait. I had it in the black and white ‘natural’ colour. I wanted to try it because when there is lots of foamy water I think a paddle tail vibration can attract the fish more effectively than the simple minnow shapes. I also decided to use a heavier 3/8th oz, 2/0 jighead. I moved back round to the south side and cast into the mouth of the channel that runs up to the causeway. I let the soft plastic lure sink to the bottom and then retrieved it, in short bursts. The swell was throwing the plastic around but I could still feel the paddle tail vibrating. After about three casts I felt a solid hit and the drag went to work. This time the fish stayed in the channel and I gradually walked it back towards the causeway. In a big swell this was the only place I would be able to land it.

I let it play itself out as I did not want it thrashing around once I was pulling it clear of the water. I soon had it close to the causeway and, with the aid of a big surge, I pulled it up on to the rocks at the bridge. It was still in the swell zone so I watched the waves and then stepped down and grabbed it behind the gills and lifted it to safety. It was a nice jewfish/mulloway – just over 70cm long.

While I was re-rigging I spotted a rod bend over from the top of the cliff, on the mainland. Peter, a local fisherman, had a long surf rod/alvey combination and was fishing with worms. He clearly had a good fish on his line, but he was going to really struggle to find somewhere to land it. He played it for a few minutes from the top of the cliff then slowly slid down to a lower rock platform. A few more minutes went by and although he was now closer to the fish, the swell was crashing in and he was at least 3 metres above the water.

A big surge lifted the fish onto a rock ledge. But as Peter tried to lift the fish by the leader, the line snapped or the hook pulled. The fish was pretty tried, so it just sat on the ledge – Peter was not going to let this one get away. He climbed along the rocks and down to the fish. He grabbed it behind the gills just as he was completely obscured by a huge wave. It crashed over the top of him. Somehow, when the water drained away, he was there, drenched but still holding his jewfish and clinging to the rocks. He made his way to safety and we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was a good fish – I would estimate it was about 90cm long.

Landangler’s advice – don’t try this at home!

It seems the jewfish/ mulloway love the rough water and stirred up conditions, especially if it is near the full moon. It had been a very exciting morning and was not even 7.30 am. I left, off to find a Christmas recipe for stuffed jewfish.

Happy Christmas to all and please remember rock fishing can be very dangerous – so take sensible precautions, wear good boots and a flotation vest, fish with a mate and stay safe.

Fingal Head – Tailor – 7 December 2012

Friday

On Friday I decided to give Fingal Head another try. Perhaps the bait would return. The northerly wind was up again, but it had a bit of west in it. It was a grey morning and there was not much of a sunrise. The swell had picked up overnight and there was plenty of foamy water.

I started at about 4.10 a, just after first light. The swell would make fishing with a soft plastic too hard until I could see what I was doing. So I decided to start with the RAPALA SXR 12 hard bodied minnow, that has been tempting the tailor.

I cast out from the northern side of the platform, as this was the only area safe from the swell. The lure caught quickly in the current that was sweeping round to the south. The water was moving fast so it started to wiggle nicely as I retrieved. High tide had just passed at 3.30 am and the moon was about 50% full.

After three or four casts, I felt a couple of bumps and knocks and then, on the next cast, a fish grabbed to lure. As usual it tried to make its way round to the south, using the sweeping current, but it was not a big fish and I soon subdued it. It was a 45cm tailor.

The cloud blocked out the sun as it came over the horizon. It was a gloomy morning but as it got lighter it was clear that the bait schools that had been hugging the rocks, had disappeared. The water was choppy and foamy but clear – perfect conditions for tailor.  But the sun eventually peeked through the clouds it was clear that the fish were off the bite.

A few other locals arrived and we fished on, hopefully for another couple of hours, but the fish did not materialise.

Overcast with lots of white water

Overcast with lots of white water

A 45cm tailor

A 45cm tailor

The RAPALA SXR12 strikes again

The RAPALA SXR12 strikes again

Fingal Head – Where has the bait gone? 5 December, 2012

Wednesday

The trouble with land based fishing is that once you find a good spot its difficult to stay away or risk going elsewhere. So it was back down to Fingal Head to look for the Jewfish again. Wednesday looked good, although the moon phase was no longer very exciting. Light northerly wind was forecast. I arrived around 4.00 am and caught a small 30cm Tailor just before the sun came over the horizon. I was using a RAPALA SXR 12 in the ‘ghost’ colour.

Another fantastic sunrise

Another fantastic sunrise

There did not seem to be any more around so I swapped over to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic, on a 1/4 oz, 1/0 jighead. There was a much bigger swell than I had been expecting and there was a lot of weed floating around. It had rained hard the night before and it was close to low tide. But the biggest problem was that the schools of tiny bait fish, that have been hugging the rocks for the last few weeks, had disappeared.

I fished for about 4 hours with every plastic I had. I changed down to the lighter rod, lighter leader and jigheads, but none of this helped. Eventually, I crossed the causeway and walked along the headland to the south side to get out of the northerly wind. I stuck with the light rod and the GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow. After a few casts I felt a couple of double tap bites. I persisted in the same spot, making sure that the plastic was on the bottom before I started the retrieve. After a few more casts, I had a fish – a 25cm Bream. It had been a tough morning.

The 4" Minnow can be tempting

The 4″ Minnow can be tempting

I hope the bait has only disappeared temporarily.

Fingal Head – More Jewfish – 30 November 2012

Friday

A northerly wind to flatten the seas, a full moon and plenty of bait around the rocks – what more could a fisherman want? A few more hours of sleep, perhaps. Low tide would be at 3.20 am at Fingal Head and that is where I decided to go.

I arrived just before 4.00 am and walked out onto the rocks to find a few good size piles of scales – jewfish scales. The moon was still very bright in the sky. I started with soft plastic lures. I was sure the jewfish would still be around and I am convinced that their favourite food is big Jerkshads. So I started with a big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Blackshad colour – black and white, with a split curly tail. I was using my heavy rig and cast it out on a ¼ oz, 2/0 jighead hook. I had 30lb leader on.

After a couple of casts I hooked a fish in the half light – a small Tailor about 35cm long. By the time I released the fish, there was only about an inch of the plastic left, I put on a new one and carried on fishing. It was only 4.25 am and the sun had not yet crossed the horizon. I was concentrating on the area at the south end of the rock platform. There has been a big school of small baitfish sitting here for a few weeks and the jewfish have never been far away.

Con arrived and confirmed that he had found some good jewfish the day before – around the 85cm mark. He had caught one on a soft plastic, but had been surprised when one took his Shimano Waxwing hard bodied lure, the previous afternoon. Steve, another local arrived and finally decided to give the plastics a go. His was a cheapy from Kmart which included the jighead. As we were talking fishy rubbish he cast it out a few times, to the south of the rock platform. On about his third attempt a fish grabbed the plastic and took off. After a quick run around it tried to wedge itself under the rocks but Steve played it patiently and let it swim out. He lifted it clear and was delighted with his first jewfish. It looked about 60 to 70cm long and was in great condition.

Now Steve found his rhythm and over the next hour he land two more good jewfish. I was getting just a little jealous and beginning to wish I had never mentioned soft plastics. I had been fishing all through and had had a few bites but could not seem to hook up. I put on a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Smelt colour and just dropped it straight down beside the rocks and counted to 10. My lure would either be snagged or get a fish and luckily for me, it was the latter. It fought hard initially but I had the heavy rod and it soon tired. With the sea fairly flat I climbed down the stepped rocks to the water and lifted the fish clear. It was another jewfish, just on 65cm.

I continued fishing around that same ledge. I lost a few jigheads and plastics to the rocks and swapped down to a lighter, 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I was now using my old favorite GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. At about 5.50 am there was a tug and then another and then line started peeling. This one wanted to swim out to sea initially and then turned north. I went with it and followed it round to the eastern edge of the platform. It was about the same size as the first and I soon had it up they rocks.

I swapped to a RAPALA SXR 12 for a bit and felt a few knocks from small Tailor but by 6.30am, the jewfish had gone off the bite. I fished on until eight, trying lighter gear but then, with the sun beating down, I cleaned the fish and went in search of a cold drink.

Tailor & Mulloway/ Jewfish – Fingal Head – 26 November 2012

Monday

I had fished on Sunday morning at Bribie and managed not to catch anything at all. I had tried a range of soft plastics and small hard bodies and nothing raised a bite. The water was warm and still and the breeze was from the north. It is a while since I have scored a duck and I did not like the feeling. So on Monday I decided I needed to get back down to Fingal Head where I have been finding fish.

I arrived at 4.00 am and walked out to the rocks with a faint glow beginning to show on the horizon. Northerly, northerly, northerly wind was the forecast – not too strong but consistently from the north. I started with the battered RAPALA SXR 14 hard bodied minnow. When it is still fairly dark you have to be careful at the end of the retrieve not to get snagged on the rocks. I worked the lure around in a semi-circle on the northern side of the rock platform. It did not take long to get a hit – about 5 casts. It turned out to be the biggest Tailor of the day, as the first fish often is. It was about 50cm long. It was 4.50 am. A few casts later I caught another, smaller fish. This one was pinned in the mouth and back and was slightly smaller. Then things slowed down.

The sun was now over the horizon and I could see the large schools of tiny bait fish in close, hugging the rocks. Interestingly, most of the birds were missing from the beach or rocks. I decided to swap over to a soft plastic lure. I stuck with my Daiwa Demonblood heavy rod and tied on a 30lb fluorocarbon leader and 3/8th oz, 2/0 jighead. I chose a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I walked over to the south side of the platform. With not much swell and the sea flattened, by the northerlies I had a good chance of landing anything I hooked up with.

Once again it did not take very long. After about three casts the line tightened and the rod bent over. It was a Jewfish, sitting close to the edge of the rocks. I played it round to the front of the rocks and hauled it up. It was just under 50cm long. I tried again in the same area for a while but I could not locate another. It was now about 6.00 am. I got snagged a few times and then decided to move round to the east side of the platform. This area has a lot of bommies and rocks but I think there is an overhang under which the jewfish school. This spot did not produce but I was sure the fish were down there somewhere.

I swapped back to a slightly smaller RAPALA SXR12 – hard bodied minnow, in the red headed ‘clown’ colour. I cast out and slowed down my retrieve, so that I could only just feel the vibration as the lure slashed from side to side. After about six casts a fish hit the lure next to some submerged rocks. I subdued it and pulled it in. It was a smaller Tailor, which I threw back.

By 7.00 am I was back on the east side of the platform fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I had dropped down to a 20lb leader but was still using my heavy rig. I managed to put in about 5 casts and retrieves without getting snagged. I was just lobbing the plastic out about a metre and letting it waft around next to the rocks. I let it sink for 5 – 10 seconds then jigged it up from the bottom. On one of these retrieves the bait went flying and the fish grabbed the soft plastic centimetres from the rocks.

This one was a little bigger than the last but I was in a good position. I played it out and then hauled it on to a flat rock. I waited for a gap in the wave sets and jumped down and picked it up. It was another jewfish in beautiful condition.

That was it for the day as I had to get back to Brisbane. I am sure there were more fish around and I will be back soon to have another go at them.

Fingal Head predator – 21 November 2012

Wednesday

A couple of big storms over the weekend and this week, the wind was back to blowing from the south east. The tailor have been pretty solid at Fingal Head and despite the long drive and the early start, that looked like the best option on Wednesday. The wind was forecast to gradually drop through the morning, from about 15 knots down to 10 knots. Low tide would be just before 8.00 am.

I arrived about 4.15 am (QLD time) and it was already past first light. There was a small shower of drizzle as I walked out to the rocks. It was cloudy and overcast but the south easterly was blowing a good deal harder than 15 knots.

I rigged the heavy rod – I am still using the 20lb Fireline and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader, for the first casts of the day. I tied on the RAPALA SXR 14 hard bodied minnow. After only a few rock fishing sessions it is looking a bit battered, but I always think you should try the biggest, most daring lure in the bag for your first cast, as it might just tempt something which has been lurking around all night.

It hit the water and bait sprayed in all directions which was a great sign. They were tiny smelt coloured anchovies about 3cm long. They certainly did not look much like a red headed RAPALA SXR 14 but on the next cast – tug, tug – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. That’s how the tailor seem to play. Sometimes I think a couple of fish hit the lure at about the same time and that’s why there is a slight delay before they start running. It’s only when the faster/ more aggressive fish wins and clamps down on the lure that the fun starts. This one tried to head south but with the heavy gear I turned its head and soon had it round on the north side and safely landed. It was another very handsome Tailor – just over 50cm long. It was spitting up plenty of the 3cm bait fish.

It had given the RAPALA SXR 14 a good work over. As I have mentioned, I like these lures – great action, good colours, consistent swimming depth and tough trebles and rings but the paint job and their lack of overall durability lets them down. This one had now lost more than 50% of its paint, it was missing a chunk off its rear end and the wire frame was bent sideways. It had caught three or four fish and was only in its third session. This not a cheap lure at approximately A$20, so it should be tougher than it is. I straightened out the wire frame and peppered the areas with casts again. But I did not get another hit.

After about 10 minutes, I swapped to a smaller RAPALA Clackin Rap CNM11 hard bodied minnow. This lure is 110mm long and weighs 20 grams. I had it in the Grey Ghost colour. RAPALA describe it as ‘slow sinking’ which really means it suspends in a big swell. The ‘clack’ is caused by a big ball bearing that rattles on a cylinder across the body of the lure. It has a lighter set of trebles and, on the back treble, one of the hooks is slightly elongated. It has a fairly standard slashbait /minnow action. The smaller profile or the louder rattle obviously did the trick because I hooked up on the first cast. It was a smaller tailor – about 35cm long.

By 6.30 am things had gone quiet, so I decided to try a soft plastic lure. I tied on a 3/8th ounce, 2/0 hook, jighead and loaded it with a GULP 4” minnow in the pearl water melon colour. I still had the heavy rod but I had dropped down to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I dropped the lure down close to rocks on the eastern side of the rock platform. I could see a thick school of bait sitting there. I let it sink to the bottom and immediately got snagged. I broke off the line and re-rigged. This time I cast out a bit further and let the plastic waft in, close to the rocks, as I retrieved it.

Just before I lifted it from the water there was a big bait spray and a Jewfish engulfed it. The fish turned and took off. I had got a clear look and it looked like a 10kg fish. At first it started heading north but it soon turned south, in the direction of a load of rocky snags. Even with the big rod and a fairly tight drag, it was taking plenty of line. After a few minutes of sustained pressure I brought it to the surface, close to the rocks. Landing it would be very tricky, but the problem was solved before I had to think about it. With a shake of its head, it spat the bent hook out and was gone.

I swapped the bent jighead and mangled soft plastic for a tougher one and cast out again. After a few casts and a couple more jigheads lost to the bottom, I hooked up again. I did not get a look at it this time. It swam straight around the corner to the south and broke the leader on the rocks. This was getting frustrating.

Con – another local rock fisherman was spinning with a ’waxwing’ lure on the north side of the rocks. He gave me a shout and I went over. He had hooked a small tailor and something had decided to eat half of it on the way in – ouch. I tried a few casts in the area with a soft plastic but could only manage to catch a dart and then a long tom, neither of which seemed like likely suspects for the tailor robbery. Something bigger was prowling around but despite trying every lure in the bag, neither of us could tempt it.

At about 8.30 am I gave up for the day and drove back up to Brisbane. Still plenty of bait and plenty of fish around.

Fingal Head – Trevally, Tailor, Dart and Bream – 16 November 2012

Friday

The weather was going from one extreme to the other. On Monday the strong south-easterly had lifted the seas and made things tough. By Friday a howling north easterly was forecast. I managed to find a space for a quick fish but with the wind forecast to be blowing at 30 knots, I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it.

I wanted to have another try with the RAPALA lures I had been sent so I woke at 2.45 am and went outside to see what the wind was doing. In Brisbane there was no breeze at all so I decided to go for it. By the time I reached the rocks at Fingal Head, an hour and a half later, the wind was well and truly up.

I tried to walk over the headland to the rock platform and nearly got blown over. There was no point trying to fish off the rock platform so I had a look to the south for a more sheltered spot. The northerly had completely flattened the swell. I climbed down on to a ledge just to the south of the main platform.

I tied on the RAPALA SXR 14 – a 140mm hard bodied minnow. They describe it as a ‘slashbait’. This just means that it will move more violently from side to side than a normal minnow, but you need to work it, quite aggressively, to achieve this type of action. I had it in the ‘Clown’ colour – red head and yellowish body. I picked the size 14 as it looked like it would be the only one heavy enough to cast against the wind. It weighs 43 grams but with the wind blowing this hard from the north, my attempts to cast against it were fruitless.

The sun was just coming over the horizon and now all I could do was cast to the south and retrieve against the wind. The tide was just past low and would be high at 11.00 am so I was not fishing in much water.

After a couple of casts I felt a really powerful hit and then line started peeling. The drag was set pretty tight but the fish had no trouble stripping line. Initially it went south, with the current and wind, but then it turned north which helped me. I got back some line and climbed down as close to the base of the rocks as I could. It was not a tailor – it was too calm and powerful. I played it for few minutes but still could not get a look at it. Each time I got it towards the foot of the rocks it took off again. Eventually it came into view – a good looking trevally. It was pretty tired now so I used a wave to lift it onto a safe looking ledge and then hopped down and picked it up. It was a very handsome grunting fish, just about 70cm long. After a few pictures, I pulled out the treble and let the fish swim away.

I carried on fishing the SXR 14 and a few casts later it hooked a small tailor. Then all went quiet – except for the wind which just got stronger and stronger. I decided to switch locations and move round to the more sheltered southern side of the headland. There is not much sea bed structure here but there are a couple of large rock pools that are constantly filling and draining. I cast around these with the SXR 14 and then tried an 85g Raider. Neither produced a fish so I decided to swap down to the light rod.

I swapped over to the DUO Tetraworks Yurameki lure. This is a small bibless sinking lure. It has a tight action. It weighs 6.3 grams and is 48mm long. Normally it sinks fairly fast but with the wind blowing a big bow in the line, it dropped very slowly. I could see the Bream come up to look at it but they did not strike. I cast around and got a few hits further out. I persisted in the same area, leaving the lure for a long time, to make sure it had reached the bottom before I started the retrieve. After a long wait I lifted the lure for its first hop and a fish hit it. It pulled hard on the light rod and as it came to the surface I saw it was a swallowtail dart. It was a good size and another species notched up on the DUO Tetraworks Yurameki. I threw it back and carried on battling the wind.

I eventually swapped over to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic lure, on a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead and this got the bream going. I kept feeling them hit the plastic but could not hook up. Eventually I caught one and then another, and another but they were only just legal size, at about 28cm. The wind was now too difficult to deal with so, at about 10.00 am, I gave up and headed home.

More Tailor from the rocks – Fingal Head – 12 November 2012

Monday

A big south easterly blow had stirred things up over the weekend and it was still forecast to be blowing at 15-20 knots on Monday morning. It looked like I only had one day to fish this week, so I had to go for it. The recent rain would make the estuaries dirty, so I decided to drive back down to Fingal Head and fish the rocks.

I arrived at about 4.15 am and although the wind had calmed a little, there was at least a 2 metre swell. The horizon was grey with a hint of orange, as the sun started to appear. The swell would make it hard to fish but the Tailor love the white water and there was plenty available. I had to carefully time my hop across the causeway, between the big swells.

I rigged up the heavy rod. The reel is a Shimano Stradic 8000 FJ and I have generally used the pink Bionic 20 or 30lb braid on it. This is great line that lasts well but it has started to fray and so I have replaced it with a spool of 20lb Fireline, in the luminous green colour. I find this colour stands out better than all the others, especially in low light. Fireline has advantages and disadvantages. When its new it can be a little stiff but as it is a fused line, it does not take in much water and it slides through the rod guides very easily. Unfortunately, just as it becomes supple enough to be perfect for fishing and knot tying, it starts to fray. It is certainly much tougher than its advertised breaking strain.

For the first cast of the day I usually start with 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I am out of DUO Minnow lures at present but fortunately RAPALA have sent me a box XRS 12s. I love most of the RAPALA lure range, especially their smaller hard bodies for Trout and Bream. But I am not sure they have the build quality of the DUOs, especially in the larger suspending and floating minnows. When you are fishing from the rocks, the lures get knocked around so they need to have a durable paint job. The X-Rap is nicely shaped and has a good action but after half an hour and a few knocks, the paint starts peeling, the loose flakes catch in the water and this changes the lures action. To get it to swim right you then start peeling off the rest of the paint – which is not ideal.

I tied on an XR12 in the Silver colour and cast out. I have tried different speed retrieves but I generally prefer to go fairly quickly, jerking the rod to the side in long sweeps until I can feel the vibration coming back up the line. On the second cast a fish hit the lure and I hooked up. It was a good Tailor about 50cm long. I took a few pictures and threw it back. Shortly afterwards I lost the lure to the rocks. I tied on another in a different colour but after 30 minutes this had not produced anything. I tried a smaller YOZURI Crystal Minnow but the swell was too much for it and I could not get it to run right. I put on a 65g Raider metal slug and fished it for a while, but it did not find a fish. Then I tied on a cheap, bottom of the tackle box, sinking vibe lure. I cast it out about ten times until it was grabbed at the base of the rocks by another 45cm Tailor.

The swell was pounding over the rock platform, so I could not stand on the eastern edge and cast at the area where the fish have been holding. I decided to give a heavier, 85g Raider metal slug a try. I would be able to cast this further and pull it over the area where I though the fish were. After a few casts I had another fish on. I pulled it round the rocks to the north and landed it. It was another 45cm Tailor. On the next two casts I hooked and then lost fish. A few minutes I hooked yet another.

I got it to the base of the rocks and then it shook itself free. When I pulled up the slug I could see the fish had broken off one of the hooks on the treble and the split ring was looking severely stretched. When the Tailor attack they really get stuck in.

By 9.00am the sun had come up but the swell was still crashing over the front of the rock platform. Even if I hooked more fish it would be very tough/dangerous landing them, so I gave up for the day.

The temperatures are up and it is mid-November but there are still plenty of Tailor about. I wonder how much longer they will hang around?

Fingal Head – Jew & Tailor – 1 November 2012

Thursday

I was up early again – full moon had passed on Wednesday. Low tide would be just before 4.00 am. It would still be a pretty big tidal flow. A northerly blow was forecast but it would be calm around dawn. I decided to drive back down to Fingal Head.

I arrived in between dawn and first light – just a little late. It was cloudy but as the northerly picked up it turned into a beautiful morning. I started with DUO Beachwalker MD 120 hard-bodied minnow in the orange colour. I had swapped back to treble hooks. There were bumps and splashes on each of my first three casts. On the fourth cast I hooked something. It pulled pretty hard and I thought I had connected with a good fish and then I realised it was a small Tailor – hooked through the back. I let it go and carried on casting but could not hook anything else.

I swapped over to a 65g Raider metal slug and moved round to the north edge of the rock platform and cast as far as I could. After about 20 casts I felt a knock at the base of the rocks. Then, on the next cast, a fish hit the lure right at the base of the rocks. It was a small Tailor – around 40cm long. I let that one go. I decided to try some soft plastics on the lighter rod and reel combo – the Shimano Catana Coastline light rod, 2500 reel, 6lb braided main line and 10lb leader.

A local fisho, Bill arrived with his Alvey and big rod and threw out a fresh prawn. His first cast produced an excellent Tarwhine, which looked to be about the 1kg mark. There were definitely fish around.

The strong northerly was making it easier to fish on the southern side of the rock platform now. I cast out a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour, on a 1/6th 1 jighead and let it slowly sink. I cast in all directions and did not get any interest for about an hour. The water was very clear and just in the mouth of the channel that separates the causeway from the mainland; there was a school of small baitfish, hugging the rocks. There is a slight overhang here and some deeper water close to the rocks. I dropped the plastic into the middle of the channel and thought I felt the faintest of bites. I flicked the bail arm over and released a metre or two of line. As I slowly retrieved it, it flicked tight and the rod bent over. Line started peeling and I started thinking – how and where will I land this?

I decided from the slow and powerful runs it was not a Tailor. I would try to coax it round the rocky outcrop, to the front of the rock platform. The northerly had flattened the sea and it was safe to jump down a few steps to the wash area, to grab a fish between waves, if I could get it that far. It did not want to come round the rocks and with the light rod and 10lb leader I could not apply much pressure. I left the drag quite light and just kept winding. Eventually I dragged the fish round the rocks and saw it was a small Jew. I used the surge to get it onto a flat rock at the water line and then hopped down and picked it up, between waves. It was a good looking 55cm fish. I slit its throat and put it in the keeper pool.

The plastic and leader was a bit gnarled but OK, so I threw it back out. Two or three casts later and I was on again. This time it was a much bigger fish and initially I really was not making much of an impression. But Jewfish tire quickly and after a while the fish was beaten but the swell was still making things tricky. I aborted a couple of attempts to pull the fish round the rocks but eventually it swam in the right direction. I got it on to the same ledge as the previous one, jumped down and grabbed it under the gills. This was a much bigger fish at about 75cm. I decided to keep this one as well. It was 8.15 am.

I swapped the soft plastic for bigger one – a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Black Shad colour. I stuck with the 10lb leader and the 1/6th 1 jighead. After about 10 more minutes of casting and retrieving, close to the overhang – bang, I was on to a fish. This one was bigger again and after a long tussle I got it to the same spot. But this one was too much for the 10lb leader and as I pulled the fish onto the rock ledge, it snapped.

I decided to upgrade to the bigger rod and use 20lb leader. I stuck with the 1/6th 1 jighead and the same soft plastic. I carried on or another hour but did not get another bite. Was it the heavier leader or had I spooked them? I am not sure. All the fish were caught in no more than 2m of water – the Jewfish certainly don’t mind feeding in the shallows.

At about 10.00am I left the platform to Bill, cleaned up the Jewfish and went in search of ice.

Fingal Head – Tailor – 30 October 2012

Tuesday

I never get bored of catching fish but I have enough Flathead in the fridge so it was time for a change of scene. I decided to drive down to Fingal Head on Tuesday morning, to fish the rocks around the lighthouse and the causeway.

My view is there are some things you can be late for – work, submitting your tax return, your wedding, the births of your children, etc – and then there are some things you must never be late for – fishing. I am ashamed to admit that I was late on Tuesday morning. I was up at 3.45 am and on the road south, a few minutes later, but the sun was well over the horizon as I pulled into the car park, at Fingal Head l. It was just before 5.00 am (QLD time). I quickly pulled my rock boots on and hiked out to the causeway and promontory, below the lighthouse. The skies were grey and rain was on the way. The wind was from the south east, initially.

There were a couple of guys fishing and plenty of fresh blood in the rock pools. This just emphasised for me, the need to arrive just before dawn (rather than just after). One of the fisherman confirmed they had landed a good Tailor just after first light.

I rigged up one of my DUO hard bodied favorites – the Beachwalker Mid120. This is a fairly shallow diving minnow. I have swapped a few of my lures over to single hooks to see how this affects my hook up and capture rates. I think trebles may connect with more fish but bigger, single hooks give you a better chance of landing the fish, from the rocks, once it is hooked. I was using a bright orange coloured DUO Beachwalker and after a few casts I saw the small Tailor following it in. There were some splashes behind the lure and a couple of knocks but I did not hook up.

I swapped to a soft plastic GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Black shad colour on a 3/8th oz, 3/0 jighead and threw that out. I was fishing with my Daiwa Demonblood, 9’6” rod, 30lb braid and 20lb fluorocarbon leader. The soft plastic did not seem to interest the fish. In fact, I did not even lose the tail to the smaller fish, which is what usually happens here.

I swapped through a few more plastics and hard bodies but could not connect with anything. At about 8.15am I swapped down to my lighter Shimano Catana Coastline rod and 2500 size reel 8lb Fireline Exceed and 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I tried fishing a few smaller soft plastics on light jigheads but they did not attract any fish.

I swapped over to another of my DUO lures – the Bay Ruf Manic 115. This is an 18 gram stick bait that is cleverly weighted to cast long distances and sink slowly. At only 18 grams it is a little light to cast with my big rig but it is perfect with the Catana. I had left the original trebles on this one. It does not look like it has much action but on closer inspection, it has a very tight sub-surface wobble which leaves a pulsing wake.

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I cast it out and let it sink for a few seconds. On the first retrieve I saw a fish come up behind it then turn away. On the next cast a fish grabbed it right at the base of the rocks and took off. It was at this moment that I remembered the rod is called the Shimano Catana Coastline LIGHT. It bends over nicely and is a great shock absorbed but it cannot apply much pressure to decent sized Tailor. After a few frenetic runs, I started to get a bit of line back. The fish jumped and I saw it was going to be a headache to land – it was a good Tailor well over 50cm.

I steered it round the rocks and tried to pull it in close to a ledge where I might be able to grab the leader and pull it up. I increased the pressure and tightened the drag but then the lure pulled free of the mouth and the fish was gone. I pulled up the lure which had scale on it and a slightly bent rear treble. Things went quiet again and I had a chat with another angler – Steve. We were distracted from our chat by a few swooping birds who started dive bombing the swell, a few metres out in front of us.

We both chucked a lure at the boil – I had the Bay Ruf Manic and Steve had a 45g metal slug. We both hooked up straight away. After a brief fight I had a 50cm Tailor at my feet and Steve had landed a slightly smaller model. The Bay Ruf Manic had lost its tail-end treble – half of which I later found lodged in the roof of its mouth. DUO lures had produced for me again.

By this point my shoulders and back were killing me, so I decided one fish would do. I walked back to the car – covered it in ice and drove back to Brisbane.

Fingal Head and the Tweed South Rockwall – Jewfish/ Dart – 13 September 2011

Tuesday

Tuesday morning looked windy again and the swell would be up. Ideal Jew conditions – if I could find a safe spot to fish. I started on the south rock wall at the Tweed River mouth, just before dawn. The tide was coming in and there was a cold westerly blowing. It would be high at about 8.30 am. I cast all around the end of the wall with soft plastics, slugs and a big hard bodied minnow lure, but did not find any fish.

I decided to move down to Fingal Head. The swell was building up and when I arrived I was in two minds about crossing over on to the causeway, to fish. I watched for half an hour and then finally got across and stashed my gear on some dry rocks. The swell was now crashing in and there was white water all around. I rigged up a 5” GULP Black Shad Crazylegs Jerkshad on a 1/2 oz, 2/0 jighead. I was fishing with my 9’ Daiwa Demon Blood and Shimano Stradic 6000, loaded with 30lb Bionic braid and a rod length of 30lb Fluorocarbon Rock – leader. I had to stay at the back of the promontory as the front was getting a bashing. I cast out and felt a few tugs on the retrieve. On the next cast I had a fish, it was a Dart – just about big enough for the table.

The got the hang of the waves and concentrated on fishing during the calmer period, in between the big sets. There were birds everywhere and I presume there were some Tailor somewhere nearby. After a few more casts, I felt a solid hit as the lure sank. I lifted the rod but did not hook up. I dropped it again and paused. When I lifted it again the rod tip bent over and line started peeling off the reel. This wasn’t a Dart. Fortunately the swell was working for me and pushing the fish in. After a couple of strong runs I saw Jewfish. I pulled it up the rocks, with the aid of a surging wave and got my hand in, under its gills. It was a good fish at around 80cm, in excellent condition. There was nothing in its stomach. It was just after 8.00 am.

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I cast back out in all directions, but I could not find another so, at about 9.00 am I gave up, cleaned the fish and crossed back over the causeway. After too many disappointing sessions recently it was great to be carrying a decent fish back to the esky.

Fingal Head – Dart & Tailor – 4 September 2011

Sunday

The wind played up at Bribie on Saturday and my fishing results were not that impressive. On Sunday, I decided to go back down to Fingal Head to fish off the rocks. September should be Tailor time but the last few sessions here have been a bit disappointing.

Low tide was around 6.30 am and so it was easy enough to skip across to the causeway, between waves. I arrived about 5.30 am but I was not the first there. As ever, I was hopeful that the one hour either side of dawn, would produce a few fish.

All I caught with the soft plastics was this Dart

Well it did, but not for me. Just on dawn a chap to the left of me pulled out a 40cm Tailor on a hard bodied minnow lure and a few casts later, he got another. Then the chap to my right got one on a small slug. I fished on with a soft plastic minnow and was eventually rewarded with a decent Dart, but no Tailor. The chap to the right caught another Tailor, also on a hard bodied Rapala minnow.

Lee with his good Tailor

The wind picked up just after dawn and carried on rising until it was probably a 20-25 knot south-easterly. The water looked very fishy but there was not much bait around. At about 7.00 am, Lee, the Scotsman to my right, who already had a couple of Tailor, hooked into a solid fish. He held on tight and copped a soaking from a big wave but managed to land it. It was a great Tailor – I would guess around 2.5kg.

The Tailor were going for hard bodied minnows

I carried on fishing, using every colour of soft plastic in the box, but I could not tempt them. In fact, no one could and at around 9.30 am I climbed back up to the lighthouse and headed for the car. It was good to see few people catching Tailor. According to all the reports they are certainly around, in numbers, in the Tweed River. They must start feeding around the headlands soon.

I tried a fair range of colours and shapes

Fingal Head – a lone Tailor – 28-08-2011

Sunday

The only Tailor caught - but not by me


Back to Brisbane and off down to look for some Tailor at Fingal Head. It was a beautiful morning but the fishing was poor. I arrived just before dawn, hopped across the causeway and rigged up a Jerkshad soft plastic on a 9g 3/0 jighead on a 30lb leader. I was soon joined by another fisherman who was casting a slug. Half an hour later there were about seven of us standing on the rocks.

This stretch always looks so 'fishy'


I lost the tails of a few plastics and had a couple of solid bites, but no hook ups. The chap with the slug, dropped a small Tailor at the base of the rocks. This all happened around 6-30 am. Then it all went quiet. I swapped plastics and tried a few different weights of jighead. Just before 9.00 am one of the other fisherman caught a decent 45cm Tailor. We all cast out in the same direction for another hour and I tried all up down the headland, but could not find a fish. It’s now been a while since I have taken a fish home. I will have to see what is going on at Bribie, next weekend.

Fingal Head – Salmon, Tailor, Bream – 11 August 2011

Thursday

Tuesday was a fishing disaster but somehow I just could not believe that the Tweed Rockwalls could ‘shut down’. So on Thursday, I found myself driving back down across the New South Wales border for another session. When I arrived at the north rock wall there was no swell and a slight breeze from the south-west. I started about 5.30 am. It was cloudy and very overcast and it looked like it would rain.

I started fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, rigged on a ½ oz 2/0 jighead. The heavy skies seemed to have completely flattened the water. The cloud blocked out the sunrise. As I cast all around the front of the rock wall the south-westerly breeze started to lift and it was very cold.

By 7.00 am I had not had a bite so I decided I had to switch locations. I drove down to Fingal Head. I walked out across the small causeway on to the rocky promontory. I decided to make the first cast count. It is so often the first cast in a new location that produces a fish. I checked and double checked my knots and decided on a GULP 7” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, rigged on ½ oz 5/0 jighead. The south-westerly wind was picking up and the tide was running out. I cast straight out in front of the promontory and let the lure sink. Before it hit the bottom I felt a solid bite. I dropped the rod head and then struck hard. I was on to a good fish – it was not frenetic, like a Tailor but felt a bit too lively to be a Jewfish. It took plenty of line but I gradually tightened the drag until I had it at the foot of the rocks. It was only as I lifted it clear of the water, on a helpful surge, that I saw it was an Australian Salmon. It was a good size fish – just under 70cm long. I photographed it and then released it. I will eat almost any fish but I have never been able to make one of these taste good.

I thought there would be more, so I re-rigged the same soft plastic and cast back in to the same area. Nothing – I tried up and down the rock ledge and after a while switched to a smaller 5” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I covered the whole area with casts but they had moved on.

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I moved round to the north side of the ledge and cast out into the corner of the Fingal Head beach. The water is crystal clear but I could not see much bait around. After another 30 minutes, I hooked a small Tailor – around 30cm which I quickly released. I then switched to a Gulp Jigging Grub in the Pink Shine colour and swapped down to a 9 gram 2/0 jighead. After a couple of casts, I caught a small Bream , very close to the base of the rocks.

It was now around 10.00 am. I had caught a few fish and it had been a better session than Tuesday but I still had nothing for dinner. Maybe it is time to get back up to Bribie Island and see if the Flathead are biting again.

A duck at Fingal Head – 25 April 2011

Easter Monday

All good things come to an end and after a fantastic run of fish – yesterday was a stinker! What made it worse was that I had asked a friend to come along. I have a pretty good fishing average but it seems that every time I invite this chap along – we don’t catch anything. He is beginning to suspect that I am taking him to dud spots to throw him off the scent!

Yesterday, we decided to fish the dawn at Fingal Head, just south of the Tweed River in Northern New South Wales. We parked and walked out to the headland at around 5.30am and crossed over the small causeway to the rocky promontory, just as the sun was rising and a few rain squalls were passing over. We would be fishing the last few hours of the run out tide. The water was fairly churned up and there was a fresh southerly wind blowing. It looked to me like ideal Jewfish weather.

There are also Trevally and Tailor around here, so we started with slugs and poppers. We cast in every direction but got nothing so we switched to plastics. We spent another hour casting all around and neither of us registered a bite. We walked around the headland to the south and tried fishing the soft plastic lures in that location, but also drew a blank.

Finally around 8.00 am we decided to drive up to the south rockwall of the Tweed River. It was just about the bottom of the tide when we arrived. We cast out soft plastics on 3/8thoz 2/0 jigheads. We both were getting nibbles from smaller fish at the base of the rocks and after a few hits I finally hooked a reasonable fish on a GULP 4” Vader minnow. I never got to see it as the leader got caught in the rocks and as the swell bashed against them, it snapped.

We gave up and went home for a Flathead BBQ and a few bottles of red to drown our sorrows.

Fingal Head – Jew & Trevally – 8 Feb 2011

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Tuesday

I could see that the weather looked reasonable for a few days so I decided to head south. Plenty of showers to come but the wind and swell looked like they were finally calming down.

I was heading for Iluka, in Northern New South Wales, to chase a few Jewfish from the rocky headlands of the Bundjalong National Park. I decided to stop at Fingal Head for a fishing session on my way down, on Tuesday morning. I arrived around 4.45am and crossed the causeway out onto the rock platform and rigged up my light 2-4g 7ft Nitro spin rod. I wanted to try fishing with lighter weighted jigheads – around a 1/4oz – and to do this effectively, I had to dump the traditional heavy rock fishing rod.

Unfortunately the wind was howling (southerly) and the swell was up – fishing a 1/4 oz jighead was not working, so I switched to a 3/8 oz. I was fishing with the GULP Crazy Legs Lime Tiger Jerkshad and using a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I was casting out from the northern side of the rock platform and bumping the lure back along the sand to the base of the rocks. As dawn broke there was a huge school of birds working above a bait school, but they were too far to cast at.

After fishing for about 45 minutes the lure was hit about 6 metres from the rocks and I hooked up. It was a Jewfish – just over 50 cm and after a couple of runs, I landed it safely. I tried for another 30 minutes and then swapped to a more natural GULP 4″ Peppered Prawn minnow soft plastic. The birds were still working but not moving any closer.

I was casting out from the northern tip of the rock platform. The wind and swell was washing the plastic back into the rocks fairly quickly, but it was on the bottom. Suddenly there was a jerk and the line started peeling. There was a blistering initial run and then I tightened the drag and started to get line back. On a decent surge I pulled the fish up, on to the platform. It was a 45cm Big Eye Trevally.

Now it was really blowing, the tide had started to really run and the heavens opened. I took it as an omen and packed up. – Next stop Iluka.

Fingal Head – Nothing for dinner – 3 Feb 2011

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Thursday

Back to Fingal Head in Northern New South Wales – a big drive down from Brisbane – left around 2.45 am – but the Jewfish from the last session had got me all fired up.

I arrived before dawn – and walked all around the headland casting everywhere. I got a few bites just as the sun came up – probably Dart or Bream and then nothing. I started with GULP Jerkshad soft plastic lures on a 1/2 oz jigheads and also tried a HALCO 70g Twisty metal slug. Nothing produced fish. The swell was a bit bigger than on Tuesday and half an hour after dawn it was already stinking hot. I waited until the tide peaked at around 8.30 am and then gave up.

A great spot but I could not find the fish today. I will blame Tropical Cyclone Yasi which was crossing the coast at Cardwell/ Tully just as I started the session.

Fingal Head – The Lighthouse Rocks – 1 Feb 2011

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Tuesday

With the cyclone bearing down and the prospect of another wet and windy period, I thought I had better get out for a fishing session. So early Tuesday morning I headed down to the Tweed river mouth before dawn. I fished around the end of the rockwall for a couple of hours, either side of dawn but failed get a bite so, at around 6.30 am, I decided to head further south to Fingal Head, to fish the rocks there. There is no shortage of great rock fishing spots in Northern New South Wales. Fingal is another beautiful spot with some unique octagonal rock formations. There are good fishing locations in front of the lighthouse, all along the headland but my favourite area is just to the south of the main rock platform.

I started fishing here at about 7.15am. I was using my ROVEX Aureus 9ft rod with the SHIMANO Stradic 6000. It is spooled with 20lb Fireline and I had tied on a 25lb fluorocarbon leader. I attached ½ oz 4/0 jighead and decided on my favourite soft plastic lure for Jewfish – the GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. On my first cast – I let the plastic sink to the bottom then jerked it back towards the rocks. As I lifted it clear of the water something took a swipe at it – but I could not see what. Next cast I slowed it down even further and let it drift in very close to the base of the rocks. As I lifted it I felt the bite, I dropped the rod tip, paused, then struck hard. I had a fish on and due to the proximity of the rocks I tightened the drag and just winched it up. It was a good size Tarwhine at just over 35cm.

The soft plastic was pretty mauled so I changed it for a new one in the same colour and pattern. I still had about half an hour of run in water before high tide. I got a good soaking from a passing rain squall but that was no hardship as it was so hot and humid. I was standing on the mainland to the south of the narrow causeway that leads out to the main rock platform. The water washes over the causeway at high tide and I was casting in to the area just south of it. The bottom is very rocky so inevitably I lost a few jigheads as my lures got snagged. After a couple of re-rigs I felt the line go taught and then the rod tip started wiggling and I could see silver. I waited for a wave to bring it up over the rocks onto the ledge below me. Then I tightened the drag and pulled the fish up successfully. It was a Jewfish, just on 50 cm long.

Four or five casts later I had the plastic down deep at the base of the rocks and again, I felt a solid bite and then lost a bit of line. Fortunately the swell pulled the fish out from under a ledge and on the next wave I brought it up, out of the water and onto the ledge below. Again, I winched it up to my feet and it was another Jewfish – perhaps a couple of cm smaller than the first.

I carried on for half an hour or so, but then the sky darkened and really heavy rain started, I decided to give up. I presume we will get some fairly big seas and rain as the cyclone passes through up north, but this might bring the Jewfish on in greater numbers. The challenge will be finding somewhere safe to target them.