Iluka – Iluka Bluff – Snapper – 13 March 2016

Sunday

I had managed to bunk off for a few days to fish the rocky headlands of the Bundjalung National Park at Iluka in Northern New South Wales. I drove down through several big rain showers on Sunday morning.

As usual in this spot, the weather would not be ideal. There would be a pretty steady 1.6m swell all week. This would make fishing the exposed headlands difficult. It really needs to be lower than that to be comfortable and safe. The forecast showers would also make sure it was a wet week. The only advantage of the rain was that it might dampen down the wind.

I arrived at Iluka at about lunch time. I unpacked and drove out to Iluka Bluff at about 3.00 pm. The skies were full of grey clouds and the rain was falling intermittently. I had a look at the conditions and assessed that I could safely fish off the front of the bluff. We were about mid-way through the moon phase so it would not have much influence. Low tide would be at 7.34 pm, so the tide was half way out.

I started fishing with my heavy rig –  Shimano Stradic FJ 8000 reel, 9’6” Daiwa Demonblood rod, 20lb braid, 30lb fluorocarbon leader, 3/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the red and yellow, Curry Chicken colour. I cast this around for about 30 minutes but the wind was onshore and I could not get the soft plastic comfortably beyond the rock ledge. I lost a few rigs to the rocks and decided to change strategy.

I tied on a River2Sea 110mm Dumbell Popper in DP-06 pink and silver colour. This one weighs 26.6 grams but the dumbbell shape means it casts much further than a typical popper of this size. On about my third cast there was a big swirl behind the popper and a flash of silver. A few casts later a fish slammed the popper on the edge of the rock ledge. It took off to the south. I went with it for a minute or two but then the line caught in the cunjevoi covered rocks and leader and lure separated.

Back to the tackle bag – this time I pulled out an 80mm Halco Roosta Popper in the white redhead colour, I cast for about another twenty minutes when suddenly I suddenly saw another swirl, just behind the lure. On the next cast I slowed things down and increased the pauses. This did the trick and a fish grabbed the popper just as it came over the ledge. Once more it put its head down and set off to the south. I had the drag quite a bit tighter this time but I could not slow it. It followed the trajectory of its predecessor and I lost another popper.

I did not have any more poppers so I swapped to my lighter surf rig – the Daiwa Air Edge Surf 96L with a Shimano Sustain 4000 reel. I was using 8lb braid and 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a ¼ ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and loaded a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The lighter rod, line and leader meant that I could cast the soft plastic much further and let it waft around past the submerged rock ledge, in the strike zone.

At about 5.00 pm something grabbed the soft plastic. After a short fight I lifted a 33cm Snapper clear of the water. Fortunately the size limit for Snapper in NSW is 30 cm so I had something for supper. The heavens opened, so I quickly cleaned the fish and headed home. An exciting start to the week.

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!

Bribie Island – Bridge, Buckleys Hole and Whitepatch – 14 Nov 2010

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Sunday

After a month away from fishing, I was keen to get a line in the water as soon as possible. I decided to head up to Bribie Island and was on the road from Brisbane at 3.30 am. A lot changes in 4 weeks – the water has warmed up, sunrise is a good deal earlier and there has been plenty of rain. As I waded out under the bridge, on the island side, the first thing that struck me was the murky water and the lack of surface activity. Then I gradually realised that the plus side of all the rain and the northerly winds, was distinct lack of weed floating around.
I started by casting my old favourite soft plastic – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – in close to the Bribie Island bridge pylons. Not much happened for half an hour or so. I had a few nudges and bumps, but no hook ups. Finally, I put a cast right into the foot of the second pylon and it scraped the barnacles as it went into the water. Next thing the line went taught but with not much weight on it. I wound in the line and had my first fish of the morning a 10cm Moses Perch! As the sky lightened I caught a couple of small Pike. At about 5.30 am I decided to move on.
I drove down to the sand flats at Buckley’s Hole, at the southern tip of Bribie Island. High tide had been at 3.30 am and now the tide was running out strongly. The water here was very cloudy. I think this is due to the hollowing out of the banks at the mouth of the tidal lagoon. You can see where the current has washed the sand away and revealed the mud underneath. During the run out tide this further clouds the water. Despite the discolouration there was plenty of surface activity and there were Whiting everywhere. On many casts my plastic would land in the middle of a school and send them jumping in all directions. There were also plenty of herring and other small bait fish around. Perhaps because there was so much bait in the water, I was still casting around after an hour or so with no fish. There were plenty of jellyfish around, no doubt blown in on the northerly winds. The turtles were also out in force and at about 6.30 am a Dugong swam past.
I changed plastic to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour which I was fishing on a 1/6th 1/0 hook jighead. I was using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied to 2.8kg Fireline. I had my favourite Loomis GL2 Light spin rod with a Stradic 3000 reel. About 300 metres south of the mouth of the tidal lagoon I got a couple of hits that I took for a Pike or Bream. I cast back again into the same spot and almost instantly felt the solid bite of a Flathead. I was so excited I nearly catapulted him out of the water on to the shore. He was just under the legal size limit so I snapped him and put him back. In the attached pictures you can see just how cloudy the water was. I carried on for another 30 mins without success and then decided to change spots.
I drove up to Whitepatch beach, further up on the inside of Bribie Island. It was now almost low tide, so I stayed out of the water, initially. I cast out the same soft plastic shrimp on to the ledge that forms the edge of the Pumicestone Passage, all along this beach. There was only about 50cm of water covering the ledge and again, the water was very murky. On the third or fourth cast, a fish slammed the soft plastic shrimp and took off over the ledge. I let it have some line then moved down to the edge, tightened the drag a little and pulled it up and over. I then dragged it up on to the sand. It was a nice 52cm Flathead and it went straight into the bag for dinner.
As the tide started to run in, I decided to try my Snapper theory for this spot. My experience suggests that they often feed in this area during the first half hour of the run in tide. This seems to be especially true when these are the conditions just after dawn. I prefer a plastic with a curly tail for Snapper but I didn’t have one, so it was back to the trusty GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The fish are usually in close to the ledge but I cast a fair way out, let the plastic sink then skip it across the bottom fairly slowly, increasing the pause to five seconds or so, as the plastic comes close to the ledge. Right on cue, on the third cast the rod bends over and I am losing line to something that can only be a Snapper. After a quick tussle and a slight tightening of the drag I successfully pulled it up on to the sand. It was just under legal size at around 34cm but this is a good fish for this spot. As I photographed it, I noticed it had lost one of its fins – it’s a tough ocean out there! I let it go and decided to pack up for the day.
It was 9.00 am and I had fed my craving – watch this space – I will be back out there again soon.