I had managed to arrange a weekend away at Stradbroke Island with the family. Although there would be the inevitable expectation that I would spend some time with them, in the usual holiday fashion, I felt confident of sneaking off at dawn each day for a quick fish.
Thursday had been clear and sunny but with a strong, cold westerly wind. On Friday morning I woke just before first light. It was pretty cold – around 9 Celsius. I put on a few layers and pulled on my Cabela’s stocking foot chest waders. I then put on my felt-soled rock fishing boots, also from Cabela’s http://www.cabelas.com/ . Cabela’s seem to be one of the few retailers that produces excellent quality own label gear. I have yet to find these in Australia, so if you want some you will have go online. This combination works well on both the rocks and the beaches. The felt soles give excellent grip on wet rocks and from the chest down, they keep me completely dry. The water is rarely very cold in Queensland but once you get wet on a breezy day, it feels a lot colder.
I walked down to Deadman’s Beach as the horizon started to glow, just after 6.00 am. It was still cold but the westerly had dropped off and flattened the sea. I was fishing with my light rock/ beach fishing rig. The NS Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod matched with a Shimano Sienna 4000 (a substitute for my Sustain 4000 which is in for an overdue service). Just to prove I will try anything I had loaded the Sienna with ALDI 15lb yellow braid. This stuff looks like you could pull a tractor with it and the breaking strain must be way above 15lb.
I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead tied on with a 14lb fluorocarbon leader. I cast around the rocks and into the gutters as I walked along the beach towards Dune Rocks. At the submerged rocks, about half way along Deadman’s Beach something quick had a couple of grabs at the soft plastic, but did not take it.
As the sun gradually broke the horizon I saw a big flock of birds feeding just out in front of the rocks. I could not cast that far but perhaps there were also fish closer in. I swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the lime tiger colour and cast out as far as I could. Something grabbed the soft plastic just after it hit the water and I soon had it hooked. I assumed it was a tailor and I wound it to a few metres away. But as the swell pulled back and forth the jighead fell out of its mouth. I cast straight back out and was soon connected to another fish. However the line suddenly went slack and I wound in my leader minus my jighead and soft plastic.
I went back to the rocks to re-rig. I tied on some 30lb fluorocarbon leader (the heaviest I had) and a 55g HALCO Twisty metal slug. After a few long casts and a fairly slow and steady retrieve I felt a couple of hits on the lure and then hooked up. This time the fish stayed attached and I had a 35cm tailor at my feet. I released it and cast out again in the same spot. I hooked six fish on the same slug over the next thirty minutes but only managed to get 2 to the shoreline. They were all about 35cm to 40cm long. After a while one of them chewed through the leader and I lost the Twisty. I tied on a YOZURI suspending hard bodied Crystal Minnow lure and cast it around for a while, but this drew a blank.
I did not have another HALCO Twisty but I did have a 65 gram SPANYID Raider metal slug. I tied this on and put in another long cast. It took about three casts to find the fish again. I caught another couple and then things slowed right down. I looked out beyond the rocks and could see the birds had stopped feeding and moved on.
I tried moving around the rocks and tried a few different spots but by about 7.30 am the fish also seemed to have moved on. It had been a great introduction to land-based fishing on Stradbroke Island.