Iluka – Shark Bay – More bream and jewfish – 13 June 2015

Saturday

Once more low tide would be in the middle of the day, at around 11.25 am. The wind had dropped considerably over night but showers were still passing through. It was now blowing from the south-east, at about 10 to 12 knots. The new moon was still three days away but it would be a pretty low, low tide, at 0.3 metres.

After a successful session the day before I decided to revisit Shark Bay at Iluka, just north of Woody Head. It was perfect jewfish/ mulloway weather with stirred up seas, grey skies and plenty of tidal run.

When you have a formula that is catching fish it is best to stick with it. I estimated that the rocks I had fished the day before would be accessible from about 8.00 am, so I did not get up for sunrise. I walked out on to the rocks and found a dry spot to leave my gear on. I rigged the light rod with 16lb fluorocarbon leader and put on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I chose the soft plastic that had worked the day before – the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour.

I flicked it out in to the breaking surf and let it sink. The first cast lodged firmly in the rocks and I could not free it. If you are not losing gear you will never catch fish but it always hurts. There is a lot of kelp in this area which is also confusing when retrieving a fairly lightly weighted soft plastic. Initially you think you have found a fish but as it turns to dead weight, you realise it is just vegetation.

I re-rigged with the same terminal tackle and cast out again. This one wafted around for a few seconds and was slammed by a hungry fish. It pulled hard initially but I soon realised it was a big bream, not a small mulloway/ jewfish. It was another solid broad shouldered fish that measured 36cm.

I carried on fishing the same area and after about 10 minutes I felt another solid bite. The fish took off on a long initial run but at a much slower pace than the bream. I let it go and left the drag alone. As soon as it paused I started winding and gradually turned its head. A few minutes later I had a nice school jewfish mulloway at my feet. It was too small to keep at about 65cm – so I photographed it and dropped it in to a large deep rock pool to recover. Once it had calmed down and looked like it had recovered, I picked it up with two hands and speared it back into the surf.

I was not going to change the winning combination but the plastic was pretty mashed up so I swapped it for a new one. After a few more casts. The new plastic was grabbed by another solid bream. I landed it took a few pictures and let it go, I was sure there was another jewfish out there.

The wind had picked up and another shower came over. It was now almost 10.00 am and I was putting long casts out beyond the breaking waves. Suddenly the line pulled tight and I felt a solid fish on it. This one took plenty of line and initially headed straight out to sea. It took three long straight runs before I could turn its head. It started to swim back towards the kelp and the rocks. I used the surf to gradually steer it towards a good landing spot and after a few minutes, I reached down and grabbed it behind the gills.

It was a solid mulloway/ jewfish about 85cm long and it weighed about 6.5 kg.  The jighead was still lodged in the corner of its mouth. This would make several dinners so I dispatched it and cleaned it up in the salt water.

I fished on for an hour or so but the rain kept coming in heavy squalls and I could not find any more fish so at 11.00 am, I decided to pack up for the day.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 75cm flathead – March 29, 2015

Sunday March 29, 2015

I had the bit between my teeth now, so I woke up early on Sunday and drove up to fish the run out tide, on the flats beside the old oyster jetty on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, beside the Bribie Island Bridge.

Last year, March had been a fantastic month for flathead in this location, so I was hopeful. I had planned to arrive in the dark and fish the high water under the bridge but I woke up too late. When I waded out under the bridge, it was already getting light at about 5.30 am. There was virtually no wind and there had been some rain overnight. High tide had passed at 5.05 am.

Local fisherman Colin had beaten me to it and already had a 55cm flathead in his bag. He explained the recent heavy rain (following the cyclones) has slowed things down a bit and the fishing around Bribie is very patchy.

I put a GULP Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and started casting around. There were plenty of prawns skipping on the surface so I dropped down to GULP 2” Prawn in the Banana Prawn colour. Neither of these interested the fish by the bridge so I waded south.

The tide was now slowly running out. I moved along the edge of the mangroves, casting my soft plastic in to a few feet of water and slowly bouncing it along the bottom.  A couple of long toms soon found it and kept snapping at it. They seem to like cruising the shallows in this area.

I was now at the drain that runs round the corner from Sandstone Point, in to the Passage. The terrain has flattened out considerably here and the drain is much less pronounced than it was last year, but there is still a nice sandy hollow in the middle of it.  I was fishing with a new favourite – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Green Camo colour. I had dropped down to a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The long toms where still attacking the lure every so often. I briefly hooked one and it started leaping around before it unhooked itself.

I cast at the centre of the drain and let the plastic sink. Something grabbed it as I lifted it off the bottom, but I struck a little too quickly and missed it. I dropped the rod tip back down and left the plastic on the bottom for about 15 seconds. When I lifted it again the fish slammed it and hooked itself. It slowly took some line, not realising its meal was not all it seemed. As soon as it felt the hook it took off on a long initial run. It paused and then took off again. It was a solid fish and I only had a 10lb leader so I would need to take my time.

This spot is tricky as there are plenty of oyster covered boulders and as the water level drops the tide seems to run faster over them. The fish slowed but the fast running current was helping it. I slowly waded back toward a gap in the mangroves and after a few minutes pulled a big female flathead up on to a pile of washed up seagrass.

I put the tape to her and she was somewhere between 72cm and 76cm (she was not much interested in sitting still). I removed the jighead and soft plastic with my long nosed pliers and then sent her on her way. She paused and then took off.

I snipped off the end of the leader, which was quite frayed and then re-rigged with the same jighead and soft plastic and waded back to the same area to continue casting.

I soon found another 30 cm flathead, hiding on the edge of the weed. I released and carried on wading to the south. I slowed things down and methodically started to cast around in a semicircle. On about my fifth cast a fish hit hard and took off. It soon slowed and turned towards me. It was a 50cm flathead and I safely manoeuvred it into the keeper bag.

I carried on towards the green channel marker. It was now about 7.45 am. I passed by a few cunningly hidden stingrays and a couple of blue bottle jellyfish (this is why I sweat it out in waders). I dropped down to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 2 hook jighead. This instantly produced results and I found a patch of hungry bream. I caught three fish in the next ten minutes. One had had a very hard life and appeared to have half his back missing. All the bream were legal sized but I had flathead for dinner, so I released them.

As the water ran out, it gradually deteriorated in quality and by about 9.00 am it was very murky. I did not get any bites on my way back to the car and at about 9.30 am, I gave up for the day.

Bribie Island – the old oyster jetty flats – 18 June 2014

Wednesday

Here is a very old report that I forgot to post. I am ashamed to say that I did not wet a line in July. It was not just because I was afraid of freezing my nuts off.  The requirement to find some money briefly diverted me from my true purpose. I was out again yesterday, at Bribie and things were very tough and cold. I will post that report later.

So here is a report for 18th of June. I arrived early – about 5.30 am and there had been some very could south westerlies in the preceding days. The forecast was for a 15 knot south-westerly, first thing, but the wind was actually much lighter.

I ran into Dave, a keen local fisherman who works for fisheries. He told me about the fisheries Keen Angler programme – you can find out more at http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/fisheries/monitoring-our-fisheries/recreational-fisheries/get-involved-in-fisheries-monitoring/keen-angler-program. The program website has links to research updates and species population structures, which are quite interesting.

It was a bright clear morning. The water was fairly clear but the big night time high tide had lifted the weed. I waded past a dead flathead carcass in the shallows. Perhaps it was a fish that had not survived a release. The pelicans, kites, cormorants and wobbegongs usually tidy these up pretty quickly. There were a couple of Pelicans cruising the flats and it looked like they were chasing the tiny squid that I keep coming across.

 

Low tide was at 7.37 am. In theory it should have been perfect session. I could access all the fish holding areas at the bottom of the tide and the wind was not strong enough to make things difficult. But, in practice it was pretty tough.

After cycling through a few bigger soft plastic jerkshads I swapped down to a 2” GULP Shrimp (floating) in the grey colour. I understand these new floating GULPS are designed for targeting Bream in the upper water column – but that only works if you put them on zero weight jigheads, which I have always found impossible to cast. I picked them up because I could not find any in my favorite Peppered Prawn colour. The floating ones are made of a different material (to make them more buoyant) and they do not look as appealing.

But Flathead will eat anything and about 30 metres south of the end of the old oyster jetty, I caught a 43cm model. I gradually waded all the way along the big sand bar to the green channel marker and after swapping back to a GULP Pearl Watermelon coloured jerkshad, I found a slightly smaller flathead. I turned back and about half way between the jetty and the marker I caught another, similar sized Flathead on the same soft plastic.

As I waded back to the car the dolphin family arrived and started hurling themselves around under the bridge.  Beautiful day, fantastic scenery but the fish were hard to find.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 16 April 2014

Wednesday

On Wednesday I drove up to Bribie and arrived just before first light at about 5.30 am. On Tuesday night we had a lunar eclipse and the full moon was huge and bright in the west. There was a surprisingly cool south-westerly wind blowing. Low tide had passed just after 4.00 am so by the time I waded out on to the flats, the tide was really running in.

Just before dawn there was some surface action under the bridge lights so I cast a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour around the pylons. This soon produced a couple of small Pike. I witnessed another beautiful sunrise and then continued wading south.

The big moon and meant a fairly big tide. The big tide had lifted all the storm debris from the previous week and it was soon clear that this would be the major obstacle to fishing the incoming tide. Seagrass, weed clumps, bait bags, floats and plastic bottles all started to passed by.

The only advantage of all the floating debris was that it allowed me to examine the water currents in the area. There is obviously a slightly sheltered area just to the south of the old oyster jetty and this is often where you find fish. It is protected by a couple of patches of rocky reef to the east and the tree line, on shore, to the west. At certain points in the tide cycle the water in this area slows right down and the debris gathers in a big clump.

I cast around the edges of this slow moving water looking for fish but I got virtually no bites. Just before 8.00 am it was getting too hard to fish into the strike zone, so I started back for the car. I was casting a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce , size 1/0 hook jighead. Suddenly the line went tight and the rod tip started to wriggle. I set the hook but the fish took a while to register – this often means it’s a big one. It swam towards me for a few seconds and then realised something was amiss. It took off with a long, blistering run towards the jetty. I let it take line and then gradually started to get some back. There were a couple more long runs but after a few more minutes I caught site of a very decent flathead. I steered her up to the beach and took a few photos.  She was just under 70 cm but I let her go. They really can be a bit tough to eat at this size and if I want to still be catching plenty of fish in future seasons, it makes sense to let these big breeding females go.

This final fish rescued what would have been a pretty dismal session. They seem to be far easier to find on the run out tide in this area. The sudden cool south westerly wind may also have put them off their food.

Yeppoon – Fishing Creek – 31 October 2013

Thursday

Time for one last session at Fishing Creek before heading back to work. It would be a late morning low tide with not much wind to start with. There was no need for very early start as the creek would be too full of water to wade along, until about 7.30 am.

I was back to fishing light. I was using my recently acquired Berkley IM6 Dropshot GEN IV 6’6″ Light Spin two piece rod, rated 2-4 kg. I paired it with the Shimano Stella 2500 loaded with 8lb Fireline and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I had a few of my favorite GULP soft plastics and small DUO hard bodied lures, in my chest pack.

I started with the trusty GULP 3″ Minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 2 hook jighead. This soon found a few small flathead. Wherever I found flathead lies in the sand I cast around until I found the fish and it usually worked.

I swapped to a 3″ Minnow soft plastic in the newly available Red Green Sparkle colour. GULP have recently released a few new colours in Australia and this is my favorite amongst the newcomers. The new colours fill in a few gaps in the range. I will not try to describe the colour but have a look at the photos attached to this post. The new colour did not seem to have much trouble and after a few casts, I christened it with a small flathead.

As the tide ran out I followed it about 3.5 kms down the creek. My constant companion was an eagle looking for a free lunch. I kept catching small flathead but there were not many keeper size ones around. I swapped back to the more natural coloured Watermelon Pearl Minnow and this produced a decent estuary cod.

At about 11.30 am, as the wind picked up and I was about to give up for the day, I found a reasonable sized grunter bream. I released it and made the long trek back to the car. Not many big ones, but plenty of fish – which I think makes for a good session.

Rockhampton – Fitzroy River – 27 October 2013

Sunday PM

First stop was the tackle shop in Rockhampton, to find an emergency replacement for my broken light spin rod. The G.Loomis GL2 range has moved on since I bought mine. I found all the available G.Loomis ‘fast’ action rods a little too stiff for my liking. I think this is because the new, higher quality graphite has less give. I decided to look at something cheaper with a little more give. I settled on a 6’6″ Berkley Dropshot, rated 2-4 kg, two piece. It would do, until I could look into a more refined replacement.

With the Barramundi closed season fast approaching I felt I should try another session, land-based fishing in the Fitzroy River, at dusk. The boats were thick and there where plenty of land-based anglers wandering the banks. Everyone was keen to tempt a Barramundi. The tide was running out and had been high at about 4.00 pm. The wind was north-easterly but its was dropping off.

The folks in Barra Jacks (http://www.barrajacks.com.au) had loaded me up with traditional hard bodied suspending minnows and 45 lb leader but the reports from the Barra Bounty competition (a few weeks earlier) had suggested many anglers had been successful using small soft plastics. Obviously, I had a few packets of these as well.

Fitzroy Flathead

Fitzroy Flathead

Rocky seasnake

Fitzroy River seasnake

Fitzroy River seasnake

Lures will catch anything

Lures will catch anything

Nasty

Nasty


I started fishing at about 5.30 pm behind the bowls club on the north side of the river, with a locally made, timber hard bodied suspending minnow lure in a silver colour. There were a few surface slurps and I could see decent bait schools swimming around. As the sun dropped on the horizon I felt some resistance and wound in. I had something but I could not see what. As I pulled it clear of the water I realised it was a sea snake. Is there no end to the predator list up here!

I managed to shake it loose from the line and it slithered off, back to the water. I decided to swap to soft plastic and put on a GULP 3″ Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour, on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. It was now almost completely dark. I walked along the bank casting wherever there was an opening in the tall grasses.

Just before seven I felt a fish grab the plastic and I was hopeful. After a couple of small runs I realised it was a flathead. It came to the surface angrily shaking its head. It was about 45cm long. I released it and gave up for the day.

Iluka – the Rockwall – Bream, Bream, Bream – 10 April 2013

Wednesday

After my success with the Tuna on Tuesday I was keen to get back out fishing on Wednesday. But at 5.00 am it was raining hard and I could not face a dawn fishing session. I waited for it to stop, but it didn’t, so after a few cups of tea, I went into Iluka, to the café, for breakfast. It’s called ‘Sumthin Tastee’ and whatever you order, it tastes good and there is plenty of it – which means it fits my main criteria for a good restaurant.

While I was eating, the sun came out and I decided to drive down to the Iluka rockwall for a quick fish. I ran into a couple of fishermen heading out along the wall. They reported that, the day before, they had dropped a good long tail tuna. They had been fishing with live garfish. The fish shook itself free right at the base of the rocks and was a good size. They had seen a few more, good sized fish landed. They had also heard reports of a few good spanish mackerel being caught off the same spot.

It was noon and I was after something a little easier to land. I rigged up the Shimano Catana with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 2 inch GULP Jigging Grub. I tried on the ocean side of the wall for about 20 mins – in the gutters, close to the shore and I found a couple of small dart. I swapped to the inside of the wall. The tide had turned and was running in. The water was fairly clear but there was an obvious line where the clearer, ocean water met the dirtier river water. I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Banana Prawn and cast it at the edge of the line and let it sink. A small bream grabbed it on the drop. I released the fish and the same thing happened on the next three casts. I cast closer to the base of the wall and after a few bites connected with a slightly bigger fish. I released it and carried on catching a fish every two or three casts, but none of them were much bigger than 25cm.

The rain started again at about 2.00 pm so I gave up. The fish were everywhere and I am sure early morning or dusk would produce some excellent catches here.

Singapore – Tekka Market – 22 January 2013

Apologies for the lack of fishing updates. Landangler has been working again – to pay for all those lures! I found myself in Singapore for a few days and decided to make a quick trip down to Tekka Market near Little India. This is the largest fish market near the centre of Singapore but it has the added advantage of serving one of my favourite Asian breakfasts – roti prata – Indian fried bread with a fierce curry sauce.

I walked around the market and looked at the fish stalls, first. I was struck by how small most of the fish (and crabs) were. We are very fortunate in Australia to have such healthy fisheries. Most of the fish on sale would not have reached Australian size limits. Most of the tuna I saw would only have been considered for Spanish mackerel baits back home! Some stalls had one or two decent size mackerel, a few reasonable sized reef species and plenty of small rock cod. There were piles of smaller fish, – pomfret (a bit like a butter bream), juvenile Trevally, milk fish and lots of tilapia (which is a big favourite).

Largely because of cost considerations and a preference for cooking fish whole – these small fish actually sell very well – which is not a good omen for the future of the local fisheries. Even the tiny fish fry do not escape – they are often dried and then added to curries and stir frys. The waters around Singapore are some of the busiest in the world. With literally thousands of islands off Malaysia and Indonesia, fishing regulations would be virtually impossible to enforce. Fortunately for the fish, poverty and seaways jammed with huge container ships keep bigger trawlers out – but it is certainly not a sustainable model. The authorities are understandably more focused on protecting shipping from piracy (which is a big problem) than developing a sustainable open water fishing industry.The prawns were a different story. There were piles of beautiful looking, huge fresh tigers and other smaller species. These are all farmed in Malaysia and brought in for sale in Singapore, where the best quality will fetch better prices.

I also visited a few supermarkets and was alarmed to see a tiny (20cm) whole NZ Snapper for sale – and lots more packs of very small fish. So next time you have a bad day or consider your catch of a few 28cm bream a bit disappointing – pinch yourself. This is still ‘the lucky country’ as far as fishermen are concerned.

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 – more Tailor & more Jewfish – 7 November 2012

Wednesday

Monday’s rock fishing session had me all fired up. There was plenty of bait around and the Tailor and Jewfish would probably stick around as long as it was there. I set the alarm for 2.45 am and arrived at Fingal Head just after 4.00 am (QLD time).

There was not much swell or wind, but the light breeze was from the north east. I walked out to the rocks and rigged up the heavy rod. I was fishing with 20lb braid and 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a DUO Roughtrail. This is a 130mm sinking, hard bodied, minnow lure. It is designed for tough swell conditions and has a fairly thick bib that keeps the rolling action on track,even in choppy water. It is also a bit tougher than the standard range.

The sun was not yet over the horizon, and it was about 4.50 am when I finished rigging up. The first cast flew away nicely and the lure quickly found its rhythm. On the second, there was an obvious bump, as the lure passed over a submerged bommy. On the third, the line pulled tight and I hooked up. I pulled the fish round the rocks to the north of the platform and landed it – another 50cm Tailor. I took some pictures and bled it. This fish had a treble through its gills so I had to keep it. I quite enjoy eating Tailor when its fresh, but one fish per session is usually enough for me.

I cast out again and a few metres in to the retrieve, the DUO Roughtrail was slammed and line was peeling, this was a bigger fish and it took me straight down into the rocks and released itself. Disastrously, it left the Roughtrail behind – snagged firmly below the water line. I snapped the line and reviewed my tackle options. I was pretty much out of hard bodied minnow lures. I tried a couple of slugs, a 65g and 85g raider, but these did not get any interest. I also tried a big popper, without success.

By 7.00 am I decided to try the light rod and fish with some soft plastic lures. I put on a 16lb leader and a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I chose a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I let the plastic sink, in close to rocks and after a couple of casts I caught a Bream.

I released it and tried casting the plastic so it would float down beside a submerged bommy, about 6 metres out. Just as I was pulling the plastic over the top of the bommy, a fish grabbed it and the rod bent over. The fish was slow and powerful and immediately headed south. I had the light rod, so I had to go with it. I started to exert some pressure but it was still setting the agenda. I assumed it was a Jewfish but I still had not seen it. It swam round into the mouth of the channel, between the rock platform and the mainland and then I caught sight of a 70-80cm Jewfish.

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The fish was nicely hooked but had plenty of kick left in it. Con, the other fisherman on the rocks, came over to assist but with no gaff and a long way down to a point where we could grab the fish, our options were limited. I tried to ease the fish on to some flat rocks that I could get down to, between wave sets. The swell had built up through the morning and was now easily strong enough to knock me in, if I timed it wrong. I pulled the fish clear of the water and it lay, obligingly on a rock about a metre below. Just then a big wave came through and I had to retreat. As I tried to keep the fish on the rocks the leader snapped, but miraculously the fish just lay there for what seemed like ages (probably 30 seconds) until the next set came through and washed it back into the water.

It seemed like fishing light had done the trick but how would I land them? I swapped up to 20lb leader to give myself more of a chance, but I stuck with the light rod and jighead. About 15 minutes later I was on again. This time the fish had struck right at the base of the rocks, on the eastern side of the rock platform. There was a big swell by now, crashing into the rocks every few minutes and the fish took off to the south again. The last one had shown me that south was not a good option. I tightened the drag and pulled hard, hoping to pull the fish round to the north. I made a bit of headway, but then the line went slack and the fish was gone.

I swapped to the heavy rod with 30lb leader and carried on fishing for another hour. I cast all around the platform and tried a few more different soft plastics, but I did not get another bite. At about 9.30am, I cleaned up the Tailor and gave up for the day.

Fingal Head – Plenty of Tailor – 5 November 2012

Monday

The weather looked OK for some rock fishing on Monday. It was forecast as a slight south easterly breeze and swell. It has been a while since we have had the wind from this direction, at dawn. It means that the swell can be difficult but I think the dawn bite is more aggressive when the wind is blowing this way.

I decided on Fingal Head again. I have been catching fish there and it is a beautiful spot even when you are not. I arrived just after 4.30 am to find 3 fishermen out on the rocks already and I could see one was half way through a battle with a decent fish. He had a very light rig and had tempted the fish with a metal slug. He landed it safely and it was a good sized Tailor around 55cm. By now one of the others had hooked up. He was fishing with a shallow diving 110mm Minnow and a wire trace. He landed his fish and several others over the next 30 minutes.

I wasted no time rigging up but in my excitement lost a DUO Beachwalker MD 120 minnow to the rocks, on my first cast. I put on another and moved round to the front of the platform. The wind was stronger than forecast and this made getting down low on the rocks to get the most action out of the shallow diving minnow, difficult. The fish seemed pretty aggressive so I switched to a RAPALA ‘walk the dog’ lure. I got the fish to follow this one and even saw a couple of aborted strikes, but I could not hook up.

In the meantime the other three now had about 6 good fish in the bleeding pond. I swapped again, this time to a the DUO Bay Ruf Manic sub surface stick bait. I had toughened this one up a bit with stronger single hooks and split rings. A fish knocked it out of the water and then there was a good swirl beside it, but I still could not hook up. This was a good bite but the shallow diving minnow was definitely out fishing everything else. I looked for something similar in the tackle box. I found an 18 gram, 90mm, sinking YOZURI Crystal Minnow in a silvery colour and tied this on with 30lb fluorocarbon leader.

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Things had slowed a little and the others had stopped to clean their fish – they had about 10 between them – all between 50 and 60cm. This gave me access to a bit more waterfront. The swell was slapping against the rocks and making it tricky to finish the retrieve without getting the lure snagged. I cast out at 45 degress to the north east of the rock platform and let the lure drop down in the water column. I retrieved it fairly slowly with plenty of pauses. Three casts in and bang – a fish grabbed it. The line slackened momentarily, as it pushed the lure towards me and then it took off. It was a decent Tailor and it put in a few jumps trying to head south. The only place to land them safely when the swell is up, is on the north side of the platform, but the current is usually pulling them round to the south and so you have too subdue them fairly quickly.

I took the sting out of this one and got it round to the north, where the trebles pulled free, just as it came up on to the rocks. Fortunately the fish fell between two rocks and I reached down and grabbed it behind the gills. It was a good Tailor just short of 50cm. I bled the fish and cast out the lure again. I felt another hit in the same spot but on the next retrieve I connected with a rock and lost the lure. I was reminded once again why I should buy shares in lure manufacturers.

I looked through the tackle box and was disappointed to discover that I did not have another shallow diving minnow with me. I tried an 85g and 65g Raider metal slug, but these did not raise a bite. By about 8.30 am I had switched to soft plastic lures and I was fishing on the lighter Shimano Catana rod. I was using a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and because of the swell I had put it on a ¼ ounce 1/0 jighead. As I was finishing a retrieve, a fish hit the plastic right at the base of the rocks. I set the hook and it took off. It broke the surface a few metres out and it looked like a small Tailor. Then it managed to bite through or rub off the 10lb leader I had dropped down to.

At about 9.00am with the swell building so I decided to give up. The hour either side of dawn remains the most consistent fishing time at the moment. I will be back again soon.

Brooms Head Tailor – 29 September 2012

Thursday / Friday / Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hat Head – The Spinning Ledge – 21 September 2012

Friday

Friday was another beautiful but frustrating day. My only real fish producing spot, this week, was at the northern tip of the Hat Head headland. So at 4.30 am I was marching out to this spot with all my gear again.

Sometimes I got the feeling I was being watched

On Thursday there had been some Tuna out there and a couple of guys, fishing on the Spinning Ledge had tangled with some kingfish, but not managed to land one. The wind was light from the northwest in the morning and then turned into a stronger northerly around lunchtime. I was there early and tried the usual routine –starting with hard bodies and then changing over to soft plastic Jerkshads.

I tried everything, but nothing worked. The Dolphins were in close just after dawn and maybe they had scared the fish off or eaten them. I tried a few more spots around the headland and came back to the Jewfish spot at dusk, hoping to take advantage of the 5.30 pm bite. I don’t know what I did wrong, but the fish did not show up.

This was my last session at Hat Head. It had been a great week in a great spot. I had learned the cold water temperatures often mean the clarity improves and fish are harder to fool. I had also confirmed that if there is no bait around then there are no Salmon or Tailor either. I had also proved that there are always fish out there – somewhere.

There are endless rocky headlands to fish along this coast

I will definitely be back here, soon.