Dead Whale – Shark Bay – Iluka – 6 November 2020

While I was fishing the Clarence River at Goodwood Island a dead whale had washed up on the beach at Shark Bay in Iluka. I drove past the beach entrance and found it closed with a large cohort of National Parks trucks in attendance and a 30 tonne excavator just being delivered. I parked up and walked out onto the beach to have a look.

It was amazing to see this huge creature washed up. It had obviously only recently died as there was no smell or predator damage. Two chaps from the Coffs Harbour Dolphin Marine Research Centre were on hand to cut it open and see what it had died of. It was covered in more than normal numbers of sea lice, which they said meant it had probably been sick for some time. The plan was to move it up the beach with the excavator so that the high tide would not carry it away before they could conduct their a post mortem, the next day.

There is no easy way of getting rid of a dead whale. So it was decided it would be sent to landfill after the postmortem. Not a very dignified end. I think it would be more noble to tow it out to sea and let the other predators ‘recycle’ it. However there was a risk it would keep washing back in and the sharks would be around for months following it, so it was cut up and sent to landfill.

I had hoped the blood and guts might bring the fish in but the excavator crew did a pretty good job of tidying up and the next day there was little trace on the beach. Just a few barnacles and dead sea lice.

Dead Whale – not easy to shift

That evening in another howling south easterly wind I tried to fish the north side of the Shark Bay rock platform. I cast metal slugs and hard bodies and eventually dropped down to small minnow and other soft plastics. I found a few fish but not what you would expect –  a big pike, butter bream and a few small bream. Finally something crunched through my jighead in the shallows – I suspect a wobbegong.

I am hoping that the wind will stop blowing soon.

Dune Rocks – Tailor – North Stradbroke Island – 15 July 2015

Saturday

I was still on North Stradbroke Island and delighted with my first session, the day before. It was still cold and fairly breezy on Saturday morning. The wind was blowing from the south-west but it would slacken off through dawn before turning south-east and picking up, mid-morning. Low tide had passed at about 3.00 am. It had rained overnight.

I walked down on to Deadman’s Beach just after first light and headed for Dune Rocks. It was about 5.45 am. I had decided that I would fish the pre-dawn period with a popper. It is my experience that the fish are more comfortable attacking a surface lure in the pre-dawn light. I stayed slightly to the north of where I had been fishing the day before.

There was already a keen fisherman in position reeling in a tailor on a metal slug, as I came round the corner. I joined him on the rocks and threw out the River2sea 110mm Dumbbell Popper in a pink colour. I had upgraded to 40lb fluorocarbon leader. Almost as soon as I started the retrieve, the lure was being pulled in all directions by a number of different fish, I kept up the pace of the retrieve and eventually solidly hooked one of them. It was a tailor about 35cm long. I threw it back and cast again. For the first few casts the fish whacked the popper as soon as it hit the water. Then they eased off a little. I slowed the retrieve and added a few long pauses after each big bloop of the popper. This got them fired up and they would hit the lure each time it paused. In the 30 minutes between first light and dawn I had tangled with 12 fish but landed only 4. They were all between 35 cm and 45 cm.

Post dawn by about 6.30 am the popper was no longer working. I tried a soft plastic jerkshad which was grabbed by something close to the rocks but I could not set the hook – cold have been anything – bream/ butter bream/ dart.  There were now a few fisherman on the rocks and they were still catching tailor from time to time. A curious Kangaroo also appeared to watch the fishing show.

I cleaned up my fish and walked back to the car at about 7.15 am.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – 30 September 2014

Tuesday – Morning

I had not given up on finding a keeper size mulloway at Iluka, so at 4.45 am on Tuesday, I walked along the beach towards Middle Bluff. I surprised a couple of Kangaroos who were up on the rocks. Conditions were similair to the day before (light northerly) but the sea seemed a little more stirred up and foamy. Low tide would be at about 5.20 am – just on sunrise. The beginning of the run in tide offers good fishing in this spot, so I was hopeful.

I started with my big rod and a big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour, on a ¼ ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I flicked this around, close to the base of the rocks and it soon came back minus its curly tail. I swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The sun was up and the sky and water were very clear. After about 20 casts with the GULP Minnow I was getting pretty good at leaving it in the wash at the base of the rocks, without getting snagged. As I was about to lift it, at the end of a retrieve, I felt a grab. The fish swam for a bit with the plastic then let it go. A few casts later I connected with another fish. This time I dropped the rod tip as soon as I felt the resistance and paused. When I struck, the fish was hooked. Once more the light swell made things easy and I soon had a mulloway/ jewfish of about 48cm at my feet. I took a few pictures and threw it back.

I was starting to see a bit of bait jumping around close to the base of the rocks and it all looked pretty small.  I dropped down to my lighter rod and a 14lb fluorocarbon leader. I swapped down to a 2 inch GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the new Green Camo colour, but stuck with the ¼ ounce jighead.

A fish struck this hard on the first cast, but I did not hook up. About ten minutes later, I swapped to a 3 inch GULP Minnow in the New Penny colour. I had another hit on the first cast. This fish was not big but by the way it started pulling, I knew it was a tailor. They thrash about very hard and never give up. It was only small, about 35 cm long. It was good to see they are around. I took a picture and threw it back.

It had mashed up the plastic so I put the 2 inch GULP Shrimp in Green Camo on again. The tailor had obviously moved on. But after about 20 minutes of cast into the wash, I felt a good bite and was onto another fish.  This time it was another solid bream – a little over 34cm. I decided to keep this one for supper.

I continued fishing and kept felling small bites. Eventually I pulled up a butter bream. I had caught no trophy fish but had found great variety. The session had been a good example of how changing soft plastics can often produce results. At about 9.30 am I gave up and walked back to the car.

Tuesday  – Afternoon

In the afternoon I waded back out on to the flats beside the Clarence River, at dusk. They are covered in yabby holes which is a good sign for a fisherman. I flicked around a GULP Jerkshad in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I caught three flathead – the first would have been big enough to keep, the rest were too small. The sun dropped behind the trees on the horizon at about 5.40 pm and the midges and mozzies became unbearable, so I waded back to the cabin.