Iluka – Shark Bay – Tailor, Tailor, Tailor – 12 April 2013

Friday

Friday was my last morning in Iluka. The weather had been good for fishing – light winds and swell. But it had been miserable for camping, with endless rain showers and no time to dry out in between. Fortunately, I had been in a cabin.

A big south-easterly blow was forecast for the weekend and on Friday morning; it was already about 15 knots on the Woody Head platform. The seas had not really picked up yet but it would be too hard to cast from ‘ the Barnacles’ so I decided to give the Shark Bay rock platform a try. This is a great spot in a south-easterly wind, as you can cast off the north tip with the wind behind you.

I arrived just after 6.00 am. The sky was fairly clear, initially. Low tide had been at about 3.40 am. The wind was blowing hard so it would only be possible to fish on the north edge and cast to the north-west. These were perfect conditions to get some long casts out of some hard bodied lures.

I knew there might be some big fish around but I have really enjoyed fishing with the lighter 10 ft Shimano Catana Coastline Light, this week – so I stuck with it. It is rated 3-5kg, but as long as you have a tough leader and a good drag, it can land some pretty hefty fish. When I break it (which I inevitably will) I will look for a better quality alternative – but so far, so good.

It has a poor reputation for durability and most coastal tackle shops have put their fair share of new tips on. Despite this, it is a very nicely balanced rod and I particularly like the way you can feel the action of the lighter hard bodied lures through the tip. I really wanted to catch some fish using my latest favourite DUO lure – the Realis Jerkbait 120SP and the Catana is perfect for it. The Realis Jerkbait 120SP is a clever sub-surface suspending lure that you can get down to about a metre below the surface without too much trouble . It is long (120mm) thin and flat sided, which accentuates light reflection, as it moves through the water and it has both a good slow and fast action. I have had a few of these in some great colours and lost them all to fish.

Now I was down to my last one, in a yellow/ cream/ gold colour known as S70 – Dead Ayu. I have swapped the trebles for single hooks, in the hope of hanging on to the lure for a bit longer! I had lost one to a good fish a few days before so I was determined to land something with this one.

I cast to the northwest into the choppy, white water. There is a patch of reef that breaks the surface, about 125 metres to the north-west of the rock platform. I aimed at this and with the wind behind me, I was able to put in a very respectable long distance cast. I started the retrieve, jerking the lure along for a few metres, then pausing and allowing it to suspend. There was action behind the lure on the first cast with splashes and surges, but it took about six casts to hook up.

I am fairly new to single hooks and my view is that they do not connect with as many fish as trebles do, but once they do connect, the fish stays hooked. That was the case this time and I soon had a 40cm tailor at my feet. I cast straight back out and watched as another tailor knocked the Realis Jerkbait 120SP out of the water but then failed to get hooked. Almost every cast was getting hit. Sometimes I could see the snouts and tails of long toms but usually, it felt like tailor.

About 10 minutes after the first tailor, I was on to another better one. This one put on an acrobatic performance with several jumps, before I tamed it. It was just over 60cm and the best of the week. There then followed a good tailor session with the DUO Realis Jerkbait 120SP accounting for six tailor around the 40 to 45cm mark, over the next 20 minutes. It also pulled up a couple of over enthusiastic long toms.

At about 7.00 am things went quiet so I swapped to a 65g Raider metal slug. I tried this for about twenty casts with no result, so I swapped to a soft plastic lure. I started with the small GULP 3” Minnow in Lime Tiger, that had proved so appealing to the mac tuna. I put it on a ¼ oz, 1/0 jighead and cast it out. There were no more tuna but after a few retrieves another good bream took it. I landed it and then caught another.

There was another quiet spell so I swapped to a bigger GULP Jerkshad in the Sweet & Sour Chicken colour. The tailor must have been passing through again because after a number of bites, pulls and aborted runs, I hooked up again. It was another 40cm fish.

The tide was now almost up to my waist so it was time to retreat. It had been a great session and good way to end the week. Bream, dart, tailor, tuna, trevally and flathead – another great week of fishing in Iluka.

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

Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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