Fingal Head – Salmon, Tailor, Bream – 11 August 2011

Thursday

Tuesday was a fishing disaster but somehow I just could not believe that the Tweed Rockwalls could ‘shut down’. So on Thursday, I found myself driving back down across the New South Wales border for another session. When I arrived at the north rock wall there was no swell and a slight breeze from the south-west. I started about 5.30 am. It was cloudy and very overcast and it looked like it would rain.

I started fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, rigged on a ½ oz 2/0 jighead. The heavy skies seemed to have completely flattened the water. The cloud blocked out the sunrise. As I cast all around the front of the rock wall the south-westerly breeze started to lift and it was very cold.

By 7.00 am I had not had a bite so I decided I had to switch locations. I drove down to Fingal Head. I walked out across the small causeway on to the rocky promontory. I decided to make the first cast count. It is so often the first cast in a new location that produces a fish. I checked and double checked my knots and decided on a GULP 7” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, rigged on ½ oz 5/0 jighead. The south-westerly wind was picking up and the tide was running out. I cast straight out in front of the promontory and let the lure sink. Before it hit the bottom I felt a solid bite. I dropped the rod head and then struck hard. I was on to a good fish – it was not frenetic, like a Tailor but felt a bit too lively to be a Jewfish. It took plenty of line but I gradually tightened the drag until I had it at the foot of the rocks. It was only as I lifted it clear of the water, on a helpful surge, that I saw it was an Australian Salmon. It was a good size fish – just under 70cm long. I photographed it and then released it. I will eat almost any fish but I have never been able to make one of these taste good.

I thought there would be more, so I re-rigged the same soft plastic and cast back in to the same area. Nothing – I tried up and down the rock ledge and after a while switched to a smaller 5” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I covered the whole area with casts but they had moved on.

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I moved round to the north side of the ledge and cast out into the corner of the Fingal Head beach. The water is crystal clear but I could not see much bait around. After another 30 minutes, I hooked a small Tailor – around 30cm which I quickly released. I then switched to a Gulp Jigging Grub in the Pink Shine colour and swapped down to a 9 gram 2/0 jighead. After a couple of casts, I caught a small Bream , very close to the base of the rocks.

It was now around 10.00 am. I had caught a few fish and it had been a better session than Tuesday but I still had nothing for dinner. Maybe it is time to get back up to Bribie Island and see if the Flathead are biting again.

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!

Iluka – Middle Bluff – Tailor – 11 April 2011

Monday – am

I have just got back from a week fishing the rocks at Iluka in Northern New South Wales. The weather was fantastic with only a couple of showers and very little swell, the whole week. For the beginning of the week we had early morning low tides, which also made it possible to fish some usually inaccessible spots. The week produced some great fish, as you will see.

I started on Monday morning at Middle Bluff in the Bundjalong National Park, just north of Iluka Bluff and Frasers Reef. I arrived around 5.00 am and faced a mild swell and a very light northerly wind. Low tide would be at about 7.00 am. I watched a few big waves slap over the rocks and decided to wait for better light to start fishing. At about 5.30 am I could see my feet and had got a feel for the wave pattern, so I started casting.

Dawn at Middle Bluff - Iluka

I bought a new rod for this trip – the Daiwa Demon Blood 9ft 6. The Rovex Bario 12ft and Aureus 9ft have served me well, off the rocks, but I needed a rod with a faster action and more sensitivity when casting lighter weighted jigheads. I also broke the 9ft Aureus while landing a decent Jewfish a few months back and although Rovex backed the rod with a replacement straight away, I have lost a bit of confidence in it. The Daiwa is a much pricier rod but it is really light and should also be able to lift big fish – we will see.

I started with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour rigged on a 3/8/ 3/0 jighead. I was using my Shimano Stradic 8000, loaded with 20lb Fireline and about 2m of fluorocarbon leader. I join the mainline to the leader with a uni to uni knot. The first half an hour produced nothing. I used a few other large plastics in fairly bright colours but nothing got a bite. It had been raining on and off, for about three weeks before we arrived and the Clarence River was pumping out a solid stream of sediment. As a result the water was very murky and got dirtier as we approached low tide.

At about 6.00 am I decided to put on a GULP 4” Minnow in the Vader colour – this has a black back and crème coloured underside. On my second cast it was grabbed close to the rocks. There were plenty of head shakes and then a decent Tailor leapt clean out of the water as it tried to shake the jighead from its jaw. The swell helped wash him up the ledges and after a short fight, I had him safe at my feet. It was a great way to christen the new rod – a 55 cm Tailor.

55cm Middle Bluff Tailor

I bled the Tailor, dropped it in a rock pool and cast out the rather mashed Vader Minnow again. Before I had lifted the rod tip – bang – a fish grabbed the lure and took off. It was a good size and peeled line for 10 seconds or so before – ping – it snapped the leader on a rock. I was out of Vader Minnows so I switched to a 4” Minnow in the Rainbow colour. This soft plastic is very similar to the Vader pattern but with a slight silvery sparkle on its underside. Second cast and I was on again this fish gave me plenty to think about by lodging itself down low in the rocks. I loosened the drag and as the line wafted free of the rocks I thought I had lost the fish. I started to wind in and bang – it was off again. This time it did not have much strength and with the next big wave I had it up on the rocks – another good Tailor at about 60cm.

60cm Middle Bluff Tailor

I fished on for another hour or so through the tide change without another touch. I gave up around 8.00 am and headed home. A great start to the week.