Fingal & the Tweed River – 12 September 2012

Wednesday

The wind is messing my fishing around. There was no swell forecast for Wednesday and a light south easterly. I arrived at Fingal head to find the wind howling and a massive south easterly swell crashing against the rocks. Another keen local angler caught a decent (45cm) Tailor just after first light, but all I could manage where blue jellyfish. There were hundreds of them.

After four hours of battling the swell with hard bodies, slugs and soft plastics, I had caught nothing and I was worn out. I decided to look for some fish in the Tweed River, so I drove down to Dry Dock Road, pulled on the waders and went to fish the southern end of Boyds Island. A few hours either side of low tide you can wade through the mud shallows to reach the edge of the main channel.

Flats around Boyds Island

It was hard work in places but eventually I found some firm ground and started casting a GULP 4” Swimmow in the Sardine colour along parallel with the edge of the weed beds. I felt a bite and thought I had a fish, but just as I caught sight of it – a Flathead about 40 cm – it wriggled free. It was now just after 11.30 am and the tide was about to turn in again.

Hiding by the weed

Tweed Flathead

I kept moving up river and twenty minutes later I caught my first fish of the day – after about six hours. It was another 40 cm Flathead and it ate the GULP 4” Swimmow and stayed hooked. I released it and waded back to the car.

Fingal Head – Tailor, Bream, Dart, Dolphins – 5 September 2012

Wednesday

A duck on Monday, but I was having fun and close encounters with fish are better than no encounters with fish. So on Tuesday night I could not sleep and I was up at 3.30 am, Wednesday and back in the car, driving down to Fingal Head.

I arrived about 4.45 am, loaded up and walked out, onto the rocks to the usual fantastic view. The wind was a north westerly, as forecast. It was less than 10 knots when I arrived and stayed very light through the sunrise, as it often does. The horizon was bright orange by 5.10 am and there was plenty of light to rig up in. I had my usual heavy spinning rig; 9’6” Daiwa Demonblood rod, Shimano Stradic 8000 FJ reel, 30lb braid and 30lb fluorocarbon leader. The tide had just turned and was running in. It would be high just after 11.00 am.

There was to be no messing about with the poppers this morning – we needed a fish for dinner. I decided to stick with what had been working – the DUO Beachwalker MD 120 hard bodied, shallow diving minnow. I have lost a few of these recently and only have two more in the box, so I tied it on very carefully.

I moved round to the eastern edge of the platform and cast out towards the south east. The water was foamy but clear. The sun was not yet over the horizon. I put in about 30 casts with no result. I moved around the platform, casting in every direction. Finally, just as the sun was breaking the horizon, I was back where I started. I threw out another long cast. I retrieved it slowly, with 5 second pauses between jerks of the rod. About 3 metres out, I felt the solid tug of a fish and then line was peeling. After a few runs the fish jumped and I could see it was a Tailor, I brought it to the foot of the eastern side of the rocks and grabbed the leader. I had changed all my split rings for tougher models and there was no problem lifting the fish up the rocks. It was a fat 48cm Tailor – dinner was secure.

I carried on with the same lure for another hour with no luck. The dolphins arrived in a pod of 10 and did a bit of surfing but then just sat about 40 metres off the rocks – ready to intercept any unlucky fish that passed by. I saw another small school of Tailor swim by – perhaps 10 or 12 fish, but I was re rigging at the time so did not get near them. I tried slugs and big and small soft plastics but I could not get any more interest.

I decided to move a little further to the south side of the Fingal headland. The sun was now high in the sky and it was just after 9.00 am. The wind was now blowing about 20 knots from the north but this side of the headland was fairly sheltered. I swapped over to my Shimano Catana Coastline Light 3.2m 3-5kg rod to which I attach a Stradic 3000 reel. This is a great rod for casting lighter lures – particularly from the beach. The water was crystal clear and the swell was crashing against the barnacle covered rocks. With each surge I could see plenty of bait, close in to the rocky edge.

I decided to try one of my smaller DUO lures; the Spearhead Ryuki 45S. This is another perfectly crafted small sinking lure for bream, bass, trout, etc. It is ideally suited to Australian estuary fishing. It has quite a thick, solid shape and a very tight action. It weighs just 4.0g and is 45 mm long. Like all the DUO lures it casts very well. It is just about robust enough to throw around with the lighter Shimano Catana rod.

I cast it out parallel with the shoreline, counted to ten, to let it sink. The water was clear enough to see a steady procession of bait fish following behind it, on each retrieve. After about five minutes the line pulled tight and there was lunge. I had caught a small Bream – and yet another DUO lure had scored for Landangler. I caught two more using a similar technique but they were all around 25cm, so I let them go. I made a mental note to try the Spearhead Ryuki 45 out on the Flathead and moved further along the rocks.

There was a big group of birds working about 800 metres off shore – they were very slowly moving towards me but they never got close enough to cast at. The Dolphins took up residence between me and the birds, just to make sure I had no chance.

I swapped to a small GULP soft plastic 3” Minnow and threw it around in the wash, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I lost the tail after a few casts and put on another. A fish grabbed the new plastic almost as soon as it hit the water and took off. It was not big but it was fast. After a few pulls it settled down and I pulled a 35cm Dart out of the water.

By 11.00 am it was time to get the Tailor on ice, so I packed up. It had been an interesting morning and once more the DUO range had delivered. Northerly winds rarely leave me with a great fishing experience but this morning had been ok. It would appear that the real bite is only between about 5.00 am and 7.00 am, at the moment – so if you want to catch them, get used to no sleep!!

Fingal Head – Popper Frustration – 3 September 2012

Monday

Friday had wet my appetite and I still had a load of new lures I wanted to experiment with. So on Monday, I chose Fingal Head again. I was hoping to find the Tailor, once more. We are back at that time of year again – the sun is coming up sooner and the starts are getting earlier. To get down to Fingal Head, from Brisbane, for a fish at first light, you need to wake up at about 3.45am – that’s early, even for me.

Bit lively at Fingal Head

It was now three days on from full moon. Low tide had passed at about 4.00 am and I arrived just before first light at about 5.10 am. There was a light southerly breeze blowing as I safely crossed the causeway on to the rock platform. I love fishing with poppers and I don’t often get the opportunity. This morning looked good so I tied on my favorite – the 110mm River to Sea Dumbell Popper in a silvery colour. I have yet to find a popper with a better action than this one. It only weighs approximately 30 grams but its casts beautifully. I have tangled with plenty of Trevally, Tailor and Kingfish on this lure. I have not landed many fish on it because when it does entice a strike – the fish is often too big to subdue from the rocks.

Tailor like the rough stuff

I started casting to the east and after a few retrieves I saw a big bow wave behind the popper and then some serious shoulders broke the surface. It looked like a big Tailor but it could have been anything. It didn’t strike. I cast out again and this time there was a boil and a splash as a good sized Tailor narrowly missed the lure. A few casts later, another big fish knocked the popper clean out of the water and then another tried to hit it in mid-air, but no hook up. Exciting stuff – but I had not connected with a fish.

Crystal clear water at the moment

After another 15 minutes without a hit, I swapped to an 85g Raider metal slug, but got no interest. I then worked my way through the DUO hard bodies but also could not raise a bite. By 6.00 am with the sun now blazing and the wind picking up – the action was finished. I fished on with soft plastics and every other lure in my tackle box but the fish did not come back. At about 11.00 am I had to admit defeat and record a duck.

Fingal Head – Tailor – 31 August 2012

Friday

It was time for a change of scene. Despite the clear sunny days the water is still very cold. I wanted to give the waders a rest and fish from dry land. It was full moon and I had heard a few reports of decent Tailor on the Gold Coast beaches. I looked at wind and tides and thought the rocks around Fingal Head would be as good a place as any to try. The wind was forecast to blow hard from the south and then drop off for a few hours around dawn. High tide would be at 8.00 am.

I arrived just before first light and walked across the causeway on to the main platform. There were a couple of keen anglers already in position. But no-one had landed anything yet. Now the good folks at DUO lures sent me a great selection of big hard bodied lures to try out. On recent trips, conditions have not been right for them, but I have been itching to get them in the water. This morning looked perfect.

I started with the Beachwalker Vib 100. This is a 100mm sinking vibe lure with a very tight action. It casts like a bullet and weighs 21g. I had the Chigamori Sardine colour (silver/blue). I was fishing with my heavy rock fishing rig. The reel is a Shimano Stradic 8000 spooled with 30lb Platypus braid and a 30 lb fluorocarbon leader. The rod is the 9’6” Daiwa Demonblood. This rig is great for throwing lures from about 10g to 85g, from the rocks. I cast the Beachwalker Vib 100 and let it sink, a little. I took up the slack and retrieved the lure in short jerks, to get the most out of its tight action.

The sun was about to come over the horizon and I felt the lure get nudged a couple of times. I moved round from the eastern side to the northern side but kept casting parallel with the edge of the rock platform. There was not much swell but the wind was picking up fast from the south and this was creating plenty of foamy water, at the base of the rocks.

I had been casting for a good half an hour and the arms were getting tired. Then, suddenly a fish slammed the Beachwalker Vib about three metres from the rocks and took off. It’s been a while since I tussled with a Tailor and there is plenty to remember, especially when trying to land them from the rocks. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that Tailor have soft mouths, so you need to apply constant but steady pressure. If you lock up the drag and try to use brute force you will just pull the hooks out. But you must balance this slow and steady approach with the need to get the mad, leaping, head shaking fish out of the water, before it snaps your line on the rocks or shakes itself free. Both trebles on the Beachwalker Vib 100 had lodged in this fish so I did not have too much trouble. I gradually worked the fish to the base of the rocks and then grabbed the leader. It was a 44cm Tailor. I bled it and then started looking for another.

After a few casts I lost the Beachwalker Vib 100 to a rock on the bottom so I had to try something else. One of the other fisherman had just caught a slighty bigger tailor on a 45g slug. I looked at my DUO selection and decided to stick with the DUO Beachwalker range. I pulled out the Beachwalker 120 MD. This is essentially a sinking Minnow designed to swim about 1m below the surface. It has three trebles, weighs 21g and is 120mm long. It is specially designed with internal Tungsten weights to cast well in windy conditions. It proved itself immediately as I cast it directly into the southerly wind that was now up at about 20 knots. It travelled almost as far as 60g slug would have. I had chosen a rainbow coloured model with a red belly, black back and just about every other colour down the sides.

I moved around to the northern edge of the platform to get out of the wind. I cast around without success so I decided I would have to brave the wind on the eastern edge. I moved over and cast to the east. The lure shot straight out into the wind. DUO had sent the lures without hooks so I had added the split rings and the trebles. I felt a solid hit and the fish was on for a while then it was gone. When I pulled in the lure, the middle treble was missing. I checked the split rings and realized they that I had put on some lightweight, Force 10 ones. The Tailor had just pulled the treble off the lure buy straightening the ring. I did not have replacements so I carried on. On the next cast, the fish hit the lure a few moments after it hit the water. It was another Tailor, about the same size as the previous one – about 45cm. I played it carefully to the rocks and pulled it clear of the water. The trebles had held but the split rings were starting to stretch.

The rough water on the eastern edge seemed to be where the fish were. I cast slightly south-east and could see the dark silhouette of the lure wobbling its way over the sandy bottom. I repeated this trajectory about 4 times and then, about 5 metres from the rocks I saw three fish swerve up to attack the Beachwalker 120 MD. One connected and I was on. This was a bigger fish and the swell and steeper rocks on this side of the platform made landing it more difficult. I got it to the foot of the rocks but as I lifted it, by the leader, another of the split rings gave way and it dropped down into a crevice. I grabbed it through the gills and got a knee full of barnacles, as I did so.

This was the best fish of the day at about 55cm. The wind was now howling and the Beachwalker 120 MD only had one treble left on it so it was time to give up. The DUO lures had performed well. They are superb quality and really do what DUO say they will. They seem to consistently catch fish for me so I would not hesitate to recommend them. I see they are now appearing on the shelves in many more tackle stores in Australia and a few online retailers are also stocking them. If you want to know more about the range – contact Steve at sales@swldistributions.com.au.

I went home to nurse my knee and change the split rings on all my DUO lures (my fault, not theirs). It had been a great session and I will be back for more soon.

The Tweed River Estuary – Boyds Island – 19 January 2012

Thursday

Fortunately the worst of the rain went somewhere else, but it had dumped plenty into our estuaries, so the options for fishing were not that good on Thursday morning. I decided to head south, for the Tweed River mouth. The tide would be high at about 6.00am (NSW) and would be running out all morning.

I started out on the north rock wall, at the river mouth. I was fishing with my heavy rig and from dawn through until about 6.45 am, I threw slugs and big soft plastics lures in all directions. I did not get a touch, so I decided to change tactics.

I went back to the car and drove around to Dry Dock Road to fish around the Mangroves and weed beds by Boyds and Turners Islands. I got out the light spin rod and reel and pulled on my waders. This area is fairy shallow but with a few deeper channels and gutters. It is good to explore on a falling tide, so that you don’t end up swimming back to the car. I waded along the edge of the Mangroves, casting soft plastics and small hard bodied lures. Despite the recent rain, the water was still clear and there was no shortage of small fish. Mullet, Whiting, Bream and small Herring were everywhere. Every now and then, I would come across a decent Bream, hovering beside a weed bed, but by then, I was too close to cast at them. I had a couple of bites and runs but after a few hours, I had covered plenty of ground and still not landed a fish.

The weather was perfect. The sun had come out and there was now a light breeze. I reached a point to the south where the water runs out of this area, back in to the Tweed River. It runs over a long sand bank in to the main channel. I loaded a fresh 3” GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and start to cast and retrieve it along the edge of the sand bank. First cast, I felt a decent bite, but I struck too soon and pulled the lure from the fish’s mouth. I cast back in the same spot and slowed everything down. Two jerks of the soft plastic and I felt another bite – I paused, counted to 10 and when I lifted the rod there was a fish on it. Nothing spectacular – a 43cm Flathead, but after about 3 ½ hours of fishing I was pleased to see it.

I then caught a few more, smaller Flathead. I moved along the bank stopping every few metres and casting into the shallows. There were plenty of fish here. Over the next 40 minutes I caught another six, but only two were big enough to add to the keeper bag.
It was now about 10.30 am and I made my way back to the car. Sometimes you need to cover a lot of ground to find them, but this is such a pleasant spot that it really was no hardship. I will be back here again soon.

Tweed River – The North wall and upstream – 29 November 2011

Tuesday

I decided on a trip down to the north wall of the Tweed River. This spot is another one that only really seems to fire for me on dawn or dusk, so it was another early start. I walked out along the north wall just after first light at about 4.15 am. It was another warm morning with virtually no breeze and a cloudy sky. Low tide would be at about 4.30am (QLD Time).

I was using the Daiwa Demon Blood rod (2.4m) with a Stradic 800 reel, 30lb braid and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I started by casting big soft plastics on 3/8th 3/0 jigheads, all around the end of the rock wall. This produced nothing so I switched to a 110mm Popper – nothing again. I put on a 75g slug – nothing. I tried a few hard bodied shallow running minnows – also nothing. By 6.30 am, the sun was beating down and it felt like lunchtime. I decided to swap locations and techniques; put on the waders and try to find some fish in the Tweed River.

I drove down to the Tweed Heads Rowing Club and parked beside the boat hire place, just by the bridge. I wanted to fish the sand banks and weed beds around the north end of Boyds Island. You can wade out to this area, for a few hours, either side of low tide. The rest of the time the creek mouth gets too deep to cross – so keep an eye on the tide.

Tweed Heads - Rowing Club - Flathead Patch

Even with less than a metre of water in the creek mouth there were plenty of small Flathead hanging around. I was back down to my light spin rod – the Loomis GL2 with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel, 8lb braid and about 1.5 metres of 10lb fluorocarbon, for a leader. I started with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic lure in the Pearl Watermelon colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. On the first cast I felt a grab but there was no hook up. I slowed it all down and pulled the plastic back past the same spot. This time I felt the bite and paused. A few moments later, as I struck, I saw the white belly of the Flathead roll over under the water but it wasn’t hooked. I moved south west across the mouth of the creek to the weed banks which were now under about 60cm of water.
Over the next hour I caught 11 Flathead from the edges of the weed banks. Unfortunately not one of them was big enough to keep. I move slowly along the shore, casting just over the edge into the main channel and letting the lure pause, in close to the weed.

Another small Flathead snaffles a soft plastic

The Flathead usually find the soft plastic minnow hard to resist

Looking towards Boyds Island

There must be some bigger Flathead close by

I decided to try something different and put on one of the DUO lures – which I have been sent to try out by the manufacturers in Japan. They are beautifully crafted and so far they have proved deadly on the Flathead. I tied on a DUO Tetraworks Yurameki – a small bibless sinking pencil lure that weighs about 7 grams and is just under 5 cm long. I had the Redhead colour. This lure casts like a bullet but also keeps its head down on a long retrieve – this is great when you don’t want to get too close to the area you are fishing.

DUO Tetraworks Yurameki in the Redhead colour

After a couple of casts it was hit, but the angry fish shook the trebles free after a couple of lunges. A few metres further upstream, I caught another and this time it stayed hooked. It was only a small fish but the DUO lure had proved itself again. If you are interested in these lures, they are distributed by http://www.swldistributions.com.au – visit the website for more information. I Caught a few more undersized Flathead on the Yurameki.

Flathead on a DUO Tetraworks Yurameki lure

Only just hooked - the Tetraworks Yurameki lure from DUO

I then decided to try another of my recent favourites – the CULTIVA Miravibe. This lure is made by Owner and is another great sinking bibless vibe. It has a tight action, but does tend to rise up if worked too fast. It also has no action if worked too slow. It can often provoke a strike when the plastics are not working and after about five casts, I was onto a fish. It was the best of the day – after more than 20 fish, I finally had a Flathead over 40cm long. Given how long it had taken to find it, I did not fancy my chances of getting another, so I released it.
There had been no big fish but as long as you are catching something, you can’t complain. I had explored a new spot and I am sure that the bigger Flathead will be lurking round there somewhere. I will definitely be back.

The CULTIVA Miravibe also caught a few fish today

Tweed River – South Rockwall – Nothing – 9 August 2011

Tuesday

On Tuesday I drove back down to the south rockwall at the Tweed River mouth. I was hoping for more Tailor, Jew, Trevally or Snapper. I had recently encountered all of these species down there and I had pretty high expectations.

It was high tide around 4-15 am and the wind had changed around to a light westerly. Just on dawn a few Tailor turned over in the water, behind my soft plastic. I got a look at them but could not hook one. It was all downhill from then on. I fished from about 5.30 am through to 9.00 am without a bite.

A fisherman along the rocks caught plenty of Bream, using mullet gut for bait. He kept the five biggest which were all around the 30 to 35cm mark. Where had the Tailor , Jew, Trevally gone – who knows? The main change had been the wind – perhaps that was it. Another duck for the Landangler!

Tweed River – South Rockwall – Tailor and Jewfish – 7 August 2011

Sunday

Back down to the south rockwall, at the mouth of the Tweed River. I arrived around 5.30 am, just as a hint of dawn appeared on the horizon. There was a fair swell and about 10 knots of north-westerly breeze. The tide was running out and would be low at about 8.00 am. The moon was about half full. A few boats were loitering in the river mouth. I suspect they were not keen on crossing the Tweed bar, which looked a bit lively.

I loaded a ½ oz 3/0 jighead with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. I cast it out into the river mouth, let it sink and slowly hopped it along the bottom, back towards the rocks. Right at the base of the rocks, on the first cast, bang – a fish grabbed it. It was a 45cm Tailor – a good start. The chap fishing just along from me also got one on a GULP 7” Jerkshad, in the Cajun Chicken colour. We bled our fish and cast back out. A few casts later he got another. I felt a couple of solid bites and pulled up a mangled, tailless soft plastic. Things were looking good. A few casts later the other fisherman got another Tailor, about the same size. This time he was using a white 7” Jerkshad soft plastic.

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Then, at about 7.00 am it all went quiet. I tried changing colours, weights, etc. – but nothing would raise a bite. Finally, just before 9.00 am something grabbed my lure, right at the base of the rocks. By now I was using a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Vader colour, on a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead. After a brief fight I pulled up a small Jewfish, just over 45cm long. For some reason I felt it I should let it go as I was fishing so close to the Queensland border (where the size limit for keeping Jew is 75cm). I took a quick picture and threw it back.

Catching the Jew fired me up for another ½ an hour but by 10 am I had really had enough and drove back up to Brisbane. The Tailor only seem to be active in this area right on dawn, at the moment – perhaps they will thicken up as we get into September.

Tweed River – South Rockwall – Tailor, Trevally – 6 Aug 2011

Saturday

I have not been doing so well at Bribie Island lately so I decided to fish the Tweed River mouth on Saturday morning. I chose to fish the southern rock wall which you reach by driving through Fingal Head.

The forecast was for a light northerly wind and low tide would be just before dawn. You have to be in this spot before dawn, as the light change often brings the fish on to the bite – often just for half an hour or so. I left Brisbane around 3.45 am and arrived just after 5.00 am. I walked out the end of the rock wall and rigged up with my headlamp. I try to keep the light off the water when I am doing this.
I rigged up a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – this is a black soft plastic with a purple/ pink underbody. I put it on a ½ oz 3/0 hook jighead. I had the Daiwa Demon Blood 9 foot rod loaded with 40lb braid and about 2 metres of 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I had a couple of casts in the dark, but with no bites, I decided to wait for some light.

A choppy morning on the South Rockwall at the Tweed River mouth

About 10 minutes later, I could see what I was doing and I cast my soft plastic straight out into the river mouth. It landed about 15 metres off shore and slowly sank, as it ran out with the tide. Before it reached the bottom I felt a couple of solid strikes. I jerked the lure up and then paused and let it sink again. As I started to repeat the process there was a solid pull on the end of the line and the rod tip started wiggling. The fish took some line and then raced out towards the middle of the river. It was moving fast and then broke the surface with a vertical, head shaking leap. It was a good size Tailor – probably around 60 cm long. I tightened the drag a little and played it to the base of the rocks. I tightened the drag some more and gradually heaved it up the rocks towards me – just as I grabbed the leader the hook pulled from its mouth and it was gone. Bugger!

I checked the plastic – it was pretty mauled but serviceable, so I cast it back out. This time the action was instant – bitten off, as soon as it hit the water. I re-rigged – same colour plastic, same weight jighead. First cast – nothing, but I hooked up again on the second. This time it was a small Tailor – about 40cm and I pulled him safely over the rocks. I presumed they had just moved up the river and would be back again shortly but they did not return. It was just before 7.00 am and it had all gone quiet.

A Tweed Tailor grabs the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad

I finished the session with this Trevally

I moved around the front of the rockwall casting in a broad semicircle. I changed to different colored plastics, I tried lighter jigheads. I tried various minnows and grub shapes. By 8.00 am the sun was up and the choppy swell had started to settle down a bit. The tide was now running in again. I had dropped right down to a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead and I was using a 4” Gulp Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just as I was about to flick it up, out of the water, at the base of the rocks, a Trevally grabbed it. It was around 40cm long and I landed it safely. I hoped there would be more but after another 30 minutes without a bite I decided to pack up and head home.

Tweed Rockwall – Tailor – 4 August 2011

Thursday

On Thursday morning conditions looked perfect – light north-westerly breeze, low tide just before dawn, not much swell and not much moon. I went to bed early but sleep was elusive, the big Snapper encounter of Tuesday morning was playing on my mind. By 3.00 am I gave up on sleeping any longer and decided to go back down to the Tweed River north rockwall. By 4.30 am I was walking along the rockwall under a fantastic night sky. There were a few clouds but no moon so the stars formed and impressive canopy.

I stopped at couple of points along the wall, on the ocean side and put in a few casts. I find fishing these locations on a moonless night pretty difficult. You cannot see where you cast lands or keep track of how fast / slow you are retrieving line. You have to estimate when to ‘jump’ the plastic over the rocks at the end of the retrieve. I caught the line in the rocks a few times, snapped it off and re-rigged. It was now about 5.30 am and I had not had a touch from a fish.

I was fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour rigged on a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead. I had about 2 metres of 30lb fluorocarbon leader tied onto 40lb braided main line. This set up will work well with both a heavily weighted soft plastic lure and a metal slug or popper, so it is great for fishing the rock walls.

I moved on to the end of the wall as the horizon began to glow. The first few casts produced nothing. There was no surface action – things did not look good. The hour around dawn is always the most productive for me, in this location – if nothing happens in the first few casts, it is often the same for the rest of the session. I cast all around the end of the rock wall, I changed the plastic from a bright colour to a dark silhouette, from a Jerkshad to a Paddletail, and tried heavier and lighter jigheads – still nothing.

Finally at around 6.00 am, just before the sun came over the horizon, I felt a couple of touches. I was now fishing with the trusted GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was casting into the river mouth and letting the last of the run out tide sweep the soft plastic around the end of the rock wall. I got another solid hit, then another and I struck. It was a Tailor – just over 35cm – nothing spectacular but at least I had a fish. I confidently let it go – hoping for something bigger. A fish also hit the next cast but there was no hook up – just a solid bite mark through the plastic.

A 35cm Tweed rockwall Tailor


Despite numerous further casts, that was it. I fished on for another hour or so, but there was no further action and needless to say, the Snapper did not reappear. Finally around 8.00 am I gave up. If fishing was easy it would be no fun – but right now, I am struggling with just how hard it can be!

Tweed Rockwall – Trevally and a Snapper encounter – 02 Aug 2011

Tuesday

I was fed up with the weed in the Pumicestone Passage so this morning, I decided to head south from Brisbane and spend the morning fishing the north side of the Tweed River rock wall. Conditions were perfect – a light breeze, low tide just before dawn and very little swell.I arrived about 5.30 am and walked to the very end of the wall in the dark. I used my head lamp to rig up. I was fishing with the big rod – the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood and the Shimano Stradic 6000 reel. I had it loaded with 40lb braid and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I decided to start with a soft plastic and chose a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. I rigged it on a Squidgy fish-shaped jighead – 9 gram, 2/0 hook.

Tweed Rockwall - Trevally

The first glow of dawn was on the horizon but sunrise was still about 30 minutes away. There was virtually no moon and the sky was pretty clear. I cast out about 15 metres and counted to 10 while I let the lure sink. As I picked it up there was a solid ‘thud’ as something took a swipe at it. Next cast there were a couple of bites and then, as I paused, a hook up. It was a small Trevally , I released it and cast out in the same spot. A few casts later I caught another about the same size. I lost the next one – which was a bit bigger, as I tried to haul it up the rocks. I switched to a Gulp 5”Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I caught yet another small Trevally.

Another Tweed Trev


I moved round to the river side of the rock wall and cast out into the river. The sun was just over the horizon now. A big fish grabbed the soft plastic as it sunk. It took line for about ten seconds, in a solid run back around towards the ocean side of the rockwall. It soon had my line tight against the rocks and after a couple of seconds the line snapped. I tied on a new 40lb fluorocarbon leader and another of the same jigheads. I decided to try a different plastic – the GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I cast out into the same spot and bang – the lure was slammed on the drop. This time I put the pressure on straight away and kept its head out of the rocks. It had plenty of power but it was not fast like a Tailor or Trevally. I thought it might be a Jew but it kept making determined attempts to burrow down into the base of the rockwall. It was too fast for a Jew. After about 10 minutes of play I had the fish coming round to the ocean side of the wall where I thought I might be able to grab the leader. I slid down the rocks on my backside to the lowest rock that was fairly dry. I tightened the drag a little and heaved – suddenly a big pink tail slapped the surface of the water – it was a Snapper. It was a good size with a big knobby forehead, perhaps 60 or 70 cm long. It was exhausted but still had plenty of kick. It lolled over on its side and I grabbed the leader just as a surge washed it over the rocks at my feet and pushed it down into a gap in the rocks, behind me. It was now temporarily stuck but out of reach. I had no gaff and therefore no choice but to try to pull the fish out by the leader. As I tried to pull it up, another surge washed over and it wriggled off the hook. With the next set of waves it wriggled free – and slowly swam off! I rarely get Snapper from the rocks and to lose a great fish like this was heart-breaking. Still he is there for someone else to catch now.

Close but no Snapper


I sat trembling for 10 minutes or so and then re-rigged and put in a few more casts. By now my heart was not really in it. Just out of casting distance the birds were working over a bait school that was being smashed from beneath. I put on a slug but I could not reach them. Around 8.30 am I headed home – but I’ll be back!

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.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Another Duck

My lure arsenal for the Tweed rockwall

Saturday

Oh dear , oh dear , oh dear – another morning with no fish. As I have said before, this is the worst time of the year for me. The main estuary species – Flathead & Bream – have long finished spawning and as the water temperature climbs and weather patterns get more unpredictable they get harder to find. Add to that – flooded river systems and constant changes in wind patterns and I get stuck focusing on the ocean rock walls and ledges.

In these locations the fish come and go with the bait and the wind. Tailor, Trevally, Kingfish, Queenfish and even good sized Mackerel and Tuna will all come in close to the rocks if the bait is around. The Tailor are particularly voracious in these situations and you can catch them on almost any type of lure or bait. The Trevally are sometimes harder to please, often limiting their feeding period to an hour or so either side of dawn and dusk. The other species require you to be in the right place at the right time and this means putting in the casting hours – and it can be a long time between fish!

This morning I arrived at the north rockwall, at the mouth of the Tweed River at around 4.00 am. The horizon started to glow just as I rigged up and I started by fishing soft plastic lures through the last of the run out tide. I switched to a surface popper for about 30 casts and put in 50 casts with an 85 gram metal slug. Nothing I used produced results. At one point a fellow fisherman caught a 30cm Tarwhine on a fresh beach worm, but that was the only fish I saw caught.

Apparently a few decent Trevally had been caught at dusk, on Friday and everyone was hopeful that this mornings session would produce fish – But it didn’t! I gave up around 7.30 am as another of this summer’s rain showers arrived.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Tailor & Dart – 18 Jan 2011

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Tuesday

I went down to the Tweed River mouth again on Thursday morning hoping that the swell would have eased. As I arrived about 4.00 am (Qld time), the wind had dropped away and the swell had completely disappeared. The tide was running in and the water was very clear. It was a big high tide and the water was running around the end of the rockwall and up into the river with considerable force. For the first time in ages the sun came over the horizon like a great flaming ball and there was not a cloud in sight.

Conditions seemed perfect so I went through the usual drill. Just before the sun rose I tried a 110mm RIVER 2 SEA Dumbell popper for about twenty casts, with no luck. I then switched to a GULP 5” lime tiger jerkshad on a 5/8th 4/0 jighead for about 20 minutes – again no luck. Then I put a HALCO 70g Twisty slug on and put in about 40 casts, in all directions – again, nothing. Perhaps the conditions were too good.

I moved round to fish in the river mouth for the last of the run in tide. I decided to switch to a more natural coloured soft plastic so I chose the GULP 5”banana prawn jerkshad. I cast it out and let it sink to the bottom. I let it drift for about 15 seconds and then lifted it slowly off the bottom and let it drop again. The second time I did this I got a solid bite, but no hook up. On the next retrieve I tried the same technique. As I lifted the plastic off the bottom it was hit hard again. I dropped the rod tip for a few seconds and when I lifted it – I had a fish on. I landed it safely, after a short fight. It was a small Tailor just on 30 cm, so I threw it back. I cast back again in the same spot and over the next 20 minutes, I had a few more strikes but did not land any fish.

I carried on casting the plastics until the tide turned and started to run out. I used some lighter jigheads with smaller hooks and plastics and managed to catch a few small Dart at the base of the rocks. Overall the weather was great but the fishing was not so good. Perhaps it was the wind change, the lack of swell, the fullish moon, the big tide – who knows?

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Tailor / Trevally – 14 Jan 2011

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Friday

Living on the north side of Brisbane – meant that I was thankfully completely unaffected by the floods. With the Gateway motorway now open and easy to access, I decided to make a trip down to the Tweed River mouth again.
I arrived to meet a fairly strong east south east wind and a good two metres of swell. I walked out to the end of the north rock wall at about 4.00 am. It was a beautiful dawn sky and as the tide was still running in – the water was not too discoloured.
I started with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour and rigged it on a ¾ oz 4/0 jighead. I am now using a ROVEX Aureus 9 Ft rod (the Aureus is just the new name for the old Bario) with the SHIMANO Stradic 6000 reel. I have loaded this with 20lb Fireline and a 40lb fluorocarbon leader.
The wind made it hard to cast but after a couple of attempts, I had the plastic just about where I wanted it – right at the base of the rockwall. As I was about to lift the plastic clear of the water it was slammed and I was onto my first fish of the day. I had no chance with this one. It put its head down and went straight for the rocks and a big wave washed the leader onto the sharp edges and ‘ping’, it was gone.
Another local rock fisherman had a couple of Taylor by now – on a slug – so I switched to a 90g slug for a few casts but then lost it to the rocks. Back to the soft plastic lures. This time I tried the same pattern in a more natural colour – sardine. This did not seem to tempt them, so I switched to the brighter lime tiger again. First cast I got a couple of hits and the tail was bitten off. I threw it out in to the surf again and as soon as it hit the water (minus the tail) it was grabbed. Landing the fish is always a challenge here and it is even worse when the swell is up. With a bit of luck and a fairly tight drag setting, I got the fish safely up the rocks. It was a Tailor just on 50cm.
I put a new soft plastic on and cast it straight back out in the same spot. There were plenty of bites and I thought I had a fish on at one point, but then it either let go or wriggled off. I pulled up the jighead with only ½ a inch of soft plastic left on it. I lost another two or three plastics in this way, over the next 20 minutes.
By now it was about 6.30 am. The tide was running out strongly and the brown slick of the Tweed River was gradually spreading out from the mouth. I put another plastic on, this time on a 1 oz jighead. I cast right out in front of the rock wall and again felt a series of knocks and nudges on the retrieve. I kept pausing but I could net connect with a fish. About fifteen minutes later the line finally came up taught and I had another fish on. I played it round to the ocean side of the rock wall and used a surge to get it safely up to my feet. It was a 40cm Big Eye Trevally. The swell gave me a couple of soakings and I lost a few more plastics, so at around 7.00 am I packed my bags and headed back to Brisbane.
With a cyclone passing out to sea, big swells are forecast for the next few days – the weather is not giving us many breaks this year!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – A bit better – 7 Jan 2011

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As a committed fisherman – or perhaps a fisherman who ought to be “committed” – I have to work around this awful weather. Mid week I thought I might be able to get back out in the estuaries but then the rain arrived again and everything turned to chocolate. So on Friday morning I was off down to the Tweed River rockwall again at 3.00 am.
The forecast was for 10 knot East South East wind but when I arrived it was considerably more than that and gradually building. There was a faint glow of red as the sun came up and then a three mad souls headed out over the river bar in what looked like a very small boat. I thought I was brave standing on the rocks!
The wind made throwing a surface popper lure too difficult so I started by casting an 85g SPANYID raider slug out in a semicircle around the end of the rockwall. I tried fast and slow and jerking the slug around a bit but after about 50 casts I decided to change tactics. I put a GULP 7” jerkshad in the pumpkinseed colour, on to a 1oz 4/0 jighead and started to cast it around at the base of the rocks. Even the 1oz head could not really hold the bottom, as the wind was catching the line and holding the jighead too high in the water column. It was, however, just heavy enough to get nicely snagged in the rocks. I put on a 5/8oz 3/0 jighead and switched to a GULP 4” jigging grub in the peppered prawn colour. I was trying to get the plastic in close to the base of the rocks without getting snagged. This was proving increasingly difficult. I was about to give up at around 7.00 am, when I got a hit, right in the foamy wash. I dropped the rod tip and when I lifted it, I had a fish. The drag was set pretty tight for a Tailor or Trevally so I did not have much trouble winding it in. When I got it to safety it was a Stripey Snapper. Not what I was expecting but at least it was a fish. It was just over 35cm long.
Next cast I was hopeful but the wind was now blowing the barnacles of the rocks and the swell was give me a soaking now and then. When the rain started I finally took the hint and walked back to the car. Another frustrating morning on the rocks but that’s fishing.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Zilch! – 3 Jan 2011

Monday

At some point you have to be reminded that fishing is a dark art and certainly not a science. It was my turn this morning, I was up early and fishing at first light (4.15am QLD) off the north wall of the Tweed River mouth. Conditions were good, with a slight northerly breeze, forecast to change to a southerly later. There was no rain, no swell, a run in tide and the water was really clear. It was hot and humid.

I started with 110mm Popper and got nothing from 20 casts. Then I put on a GULP 7″ soft plastic jerkshad – no joy. Then I put in about 100 casts with a 70 gram slug – still nothing. I witnessed one surface bust up, close into the rocks at about 6.30 am. Finally I got one hit, but no hook up, on a GULP crazy legs jerkshad in the watermelon colour, at around 6.45 am. I tried every weight of jighead from 3/8 oz to 1 oz and I tried all the slugs from 40g to 95g.

By 7.30 am I decided it wasn’t going to happen and so I headed home. Every now and then you have to score a duck! What a woeful start to 2011!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Jewfish/ Tailor Round 2 – 29 Dec 2010

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Wednesday

With rain flooding into all our river systems, the estuaries are full of fresh water, mud and other rubbish. Therefore, the only real fishing option for a land based angler is to look for a river mouth rockwall or rocky headland, where you can still find some cleaner water. This is why I have been so focused on the Tweed River rockwall lately.

I arrived there on Wednesday morning, just before dawn and unfortunately there was a fairly fresh south easterly breeze blowing. As the sun came up I could see the extent of the milky tea coloured cloud that was pouring out from the mouth of the river. I started with a soft plastic but as the sun moved a bit higher in the sky a sizeable flock of birds started feeding on the surface about 125m north east of the wall. There was a school of something busting up out there and the birds started to move nearer with it. I tied on an 95g SPANYID Sniper and started casting as far as I could. It was the usual story – they stayed just out of casting distance.

I decided to put in a few casts off the end of the wall, into the milky tea. Half way through the retrieve I realised I had a small fish on. When I got it to the rocks I was pretty surprised to see a 30cm soapie Jewfish had grabbed the slug. Back he went and I continued to cast at the birds. Eventually after about 30 mins of arm stretching casts the birds came within casting range and after two or three more casts, into the middle of the boil, I was on to a fish. I had switched to an 85g SPANYID Raider by this stage.  The fish did not give me much trouble and I got him safely up the rocks – a Tailor around 40cm. He went back and after another ten minutes I had one more similar sized fish at my feet.

All along the wall land based anglers were picking up similar size Tailor on bait, slugs and even hard bodies. Just one or two every half an hour or so, as the school moved in close. It was great to see that when the fish are there and they are hungry, you can catch them with almost any technique.

At about 8.00 am I walked back to the car. Just as I was leaving a NSW fisheries officer arrived and walked off to the rockwall. The weather obviously meant he could not be out checking boats – there weren’t any, so he had decided to come and spread his good cheer amongst the land based anglers! I hope everyone had their fishing licenses with them!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Jewfish Weather – 27 Dec 2010

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Monday

Rain – will it ever end? You have to look on the bright side – Jewfish/Mulloway must be hanging around all the mouths of our rivers and creeks in that murky, turbulent water that they love. They also love big soft plastic lures. With this in mind, I decided to brave the rain on Monday and drive back down to the mouth of the Tweed River to fish the north rockwall.

It was the usual drill, up at around 3.00am and on the rocks (in the rain) by about 4.15 am. As the faint glow on the horizon began to illuminate the river I could see it was a caramel coloured soup, with plenty of debris floating out on the last of the run out tide. I set up my rod and reel – 11’Ft Rovex Bario (which I think is now called the Aureus) matched with a Shimano Stradic 6000 reel. I had filled the spool with 20lb breaking strain, hi-vis yellow Fireline, with 2 metres of 30lb fluorocarbon leader. Jewfish love a plastic right on the bottom so I put on a ¾ oz jighead, to make sure that is where my lure would end up. I think Jewfish are not too fussy when it comes to colour. If you can find them and they are feeding – pretty much anything will do. But in low light, a dark silhouette seems to work well for me, so I started with a GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the watermelon colour.

I cast out, due north from the end of the rock wall. Before my lure hit the bottom I had a fish. The frenetic activity suggested a Tailor and a couple of leaps confirmed it for me. I tightened the drag and safely hauled it up to where I could grab the leader. It was around 45cm long. We have been spoiled with plenty of fish in my house lately and there is enough ham and turkey around to feed a football team, so I put it back. It would be catch and release today.

A few more casts and then I decided to change soft plastics to the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the peppered prawn colour. The dirty, fresh water was running out round the end of the rockwall, where it met the clear saltwater water, to the left. There was a clear line marking the boundary between the two and this is where I was casting. There was a surface bust up every now and then and it looked like a school of mullet was breakfast for something. I decided to cast straight out the front into the dirty water for a while. The ¾ oz jighead enabled me to cast a good twenty metres or so. I let it sink and counted to 20 before starting the retrieve. On about the fifth cast I lifted the rod to start the retrieve and it was very heavy. It took a while for the fish to realise it was hooked and then it took off in a long solid run. I had the drag pretty tight but this was no real deterrent. Fortunately, initially it was heading out to sea. I let it go then started to get some line back. It began to come back to me but of course that meant it was also heading for the rocks. I had some success pulling it round to the left but it was too powerful and every time I got its head up, it just turned and, with couple of powerful tail pumps got back down into the rocks. After a minute or two the swell lodged the leader in the rocks and snap – it was gone. I only saw a flash of silver, but from the long slow runs and the rhythmic tail pumps I am pretty sure it was a decent Jewfish/ Mulloway. I checked the leader that had been rubbed through down near the jighead. It had also been thoroughly stretched, so I tied on another. I decided to stick with the same colour soft plastic lure but this time I switched to the 3” Shrimp shape. After three or four casts I was on again and we had a re-run of the first fight only this time, it was over even more quickly. It was a much bigger fish and the initial run was longer. But once I turned it round it paused in the current for ten seconds or so then dived straight down to the foot of the rock and ping – the leader was snapped.

I decided to go back to the clearer water. I put on a GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad plastic in the pinkshine colour and was hit by a small Trevally right at the base of the wall. He managed to wriggle off. I carried on for a while and then decided to switch to a slug as there where now surface bust ups happening all around. I put on a 95g Spanyid Sniper metal lure and cast it out along the line between the dirty and the clear water. After about five retrieves I was on – another Tailor, about the same size as the first. I put in another twenty casts but could not find anymore. Back to plastics – it was time to try out the new GULP 4” Jigging Grub in the peppered prawn colour. I decided to go a bit lighter and rigged it on a 1/2oz 2/0 jighead. After a few casts – knock, knock and bang – I had a fish. It was another small Tailor. I released it and as the rain started to pour down again, I decided to give up. It was great session, I will land a jewfish in this spot eventually – I just need to find a smaller one!

NB – The end of the Stradic drag catch has snapped off again. The drag still works but now it is silent. Fortunately the chaps at Jones Tackle will fix it for me – but come on Shimano – they need to be made of tougher stuff – This is my third one in less than a year!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Tailor & Queenfish – 23 Dec 2010

On Wednesday morning – the rain looked like it would stop for a bit and as the wind was forecast to come from the south for a while, I decided to go for one more Tweed rockwall session before Christmas. The couple of hours either side of dawn has always been the most productive for me in this spot, so I was up at 3.00 am again. I drove down from Brisbane and was at the end of the rockwall, watching the red glow on the horizon at about 4.15 am.
There was a light south westerly blowing and it was quite cool. There was a little more swell as a result. I started with a River 2 Sea 110mm Dumbell Popper in the Pilchard colour. I was blooping it back slowly across the front of the rockwall. Suddenly there was a boil on the surface so I cast out, in that direction. The popper was knocked out of the water by a marauding fish but there was no hook up. After several more casts and hits – but no connections. I quickly tied on a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. I used a ½ oz 4/0 jighead. As soon as it hit the water is was snaffled by a solid fish. I had the drag fairly tight and got the fish round to the left (north) side of the rockwall, fairly quickly. Its head was shaking and then there were a few leaps and I could see it was a Tailor. I got it up the rocks and it measured up at just over 60cm.
Then everything went quiet. I switched from popper to metal slug, to plastic, several times but I could not raise a bite. I could not find any Kingfish but after another hour or so, I had another hook up on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. This time it was a tiny Queenfish. The range of species in this spot is amazing. After a quick snap I returned it to the water. I carried on for another ½ hour without success and finally headed home around 7.30 am.
Happy Christmas to all and I wish you the best of luck for your holiday trips. Get out there (in your rain gear) and find some good fish. Even if it is raining, the fish still have to eat!