Fingal Head – Moses Perch, Tailor, Bream & Dart – 26 March 2015

Thursday

I was delighted that my cousin’s visit had shamed me into carving out time for another fishing session and we decided to drive south to fish the rocks at Fingal Head in northern New South Wales, on Thursday morning.

I usually find the hour either side of dawn most productive in this location. This means an early start, so we left at about 4.30 am. The weather was grey and rainy for most of the drive down and we arrived at about 5.30 am, close to first light. Fortunately the rain had stopped.

We walked up to the lighthouse and down to the small causeway the leads out to the rock platform.  The headland was first spotted and recorded by James Cook in 1770, and its strange regular shaped basalt pillars were pushed up by the long extinct Tweed volcano. The advantage of the overnight rain was a light swell and virtually no wind.

I was fishing with my N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rodlight rock fishing rod matched with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. The rod is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. This is rigged with 15lb braid and I usually fish it with a 12lb to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. Today, I started with 12lb leader. I provided cousin Joe with a similair set up based on a Shimano Coastline Light rod of the same length.

Flushed with recent success fishing the GULP 3’ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour we decided to start with this soft plastic again. We both rigged up with 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jigheads. After a few casts the fish were tapping at the lure and it did not take long for Joe to hook and land a small 30cm ‘chopper’ tailor. He learned the ‘wet’ way about getting too close to the edge and was given a good soaking by a decent set of waves. The rain then started pouring down so I got nicely soaked, in sympathy.

I moved around to the front of the rock platform and tried a few different shapes and sizes of soft plastics before something grabbed my GULP 3 inch Lime Tiger Minnow, very close to the base of the rocks. I am not sure what it was but it moved around slowly at first, suggesting it did not know it was hooked. Once it realised something was wrong it headed for the nearest bommy and snap went my hopelessly light leader.

I re-rigged and Joe moved into position in roughly the same spot, with the same soft plastic lure pattern. A few casts later a fish struck at the base of the rocks. The Shimano Catana bent over and ot took some line. Joe was not going to let this one go. As he moved closer to the edge of the rocks I had visions of him floating up on a beach, face down, somewhere near Ballina.  Fortunately the swell was light and when he did get a soaking, it was a fairly gentle one.  The fish was doing its best to bury itself in the barnacle covered rocks but Joe swung it round and I grabbed the leader. It was a chunky 33 cm bream and would be dinner.

I tried a few different larger soft plastics but it was the 3 inch minnow that was consistently getting hit. I caught a few small Moses perch and then swapped to a 3 inch minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour. After a few casts something grabbed it and headed straight for the rocks. It felt like a good sized fish but when I pulled it clear of the water it was just a small, but very fat, Moses perch.

Over the next hour we pulled out a few more dart, one of which was missing its tail. As we got further away from sunrise the fishing slowed and at about 9.00 am we gave up and went for breakfast.

Bribie Island – The old Oyster Jetty & Buckley’s Hole drain – 17 July 2011

Not much to say – a crap mornings fishing. I started about 6 am. I waded down to the big sandbar south of the old oyster jetty. Low tide had been at 4.15 am – so the tide was running in, strongly. The wind was low at first but gradually built to a 15 knot south-westerly as the sun came up. It had been blowing a south easterly the day before and we had had a bit of rain. There were tufts of algae weed floating around everywhere.

It was the day after full moon. The Bream should have been in full swing and there should have been a few Flathead and Tailor around. But after 3 1/2 hours of fishing, I had only had one serious bite, which I think was a Chopper Tailor. I was fishing with my trusty GULP soft plastics and tried every colour and shape in the bag. The weed and wind did not help and perhaps the ABT competition, the day before, may have slowed things down, but it was no fun at all.

I eventually gave up and went for a coffee and a bacon sandwich – scoring a duck is never a good feeling!!

Bribie Island – A bagful of Flathead – 27 May 2011

Thursday

Back up to Bribie Island, in search of Flathead. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived around 5.00 am. It really was not too cold and the south westerly wind was far lighter than the predicted 15 knots. High tide had been at about 4.00 am so there was still plenty of water around the bridge pylons. I decide to start on the island side and as soon as arrived I could see and hear the Pike and Chopper Tailor breaking the surface as they grabbed smaller baitfish/ shrimps.

Small Flathead - under the bridge on Bribie Island side

I started with the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour, rigged on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I was using a 12lb leader and fishing with my Loomis GL2 light spin rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel. After a couple of casts I caught a small Flathead – just about 40cm. It must have been lying in the shadows beside the first pylon, in no more than 40cm of water. I released it. The next cast gave me a Pike that was bigger than the Flathead and then, a few casts later, a 25cm Chopper Tailor.

Choppers - Juvenile Tailor under the Bribie Island bridge lights

Before the tide got too low I decided to go back over to the mainland side and fish around the pylons under the bridge lights. I stuck with the same soft plastic and jighead and worked my way around the pylons. I waded quietly, stopping frequently to pepper the spots where I have caught fish before. This soon paid off and just south of the bridge, about 6 metres from the mangrove line, I caught another Flathead. It was around 50cm long so it went in the keeper bag.

A Flathead from the mainland side about 50 cm

There was the glow of dawn on the horizon but the sun was still not up. It was cold now, but this area is shielded from the westerly breeze. The water looked fairly clear so I switched to a bigger GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour – basically a flecked combination of pink and yellow with a forked curly tail. After a couple more casts I caught another fish – despite the bigger lure it was a much smaller Flathead at around 42cm – Keeper No.2.

Bigger lure but a smaller fish! around 42cm

The sun came up and I continued wading south, past the old oyster farm jetty. I walked right along the big sand bar – that is exposed at low tide, casting on either side. I reached the pole that warns boats about the remains of the old oyster racks and then turned north again and started wading back, alongside the sandbar, in waist deep water. I swapped back to the Pearl Watermelon Minnow. I was casting back at the sand bar and after about 50 metres I hooked another fish. It was another Flathead, about 48cm long –Keeper No.3. I dragged it up onto the sand and then resumed my course towards the oyster jetty. Over the next half an hour I got two more slightly bigger Flathead (Keepers 4 & 5) and a monster Pike – well over 45cm – which I kept for the cat.

When water covers this spot the Flathead sit along this lip

A bag of five Bribie Flathead and a big Pike for the cat

I now had my bagful of fish and so I decided to call it quits. The forecast wind was really arrived and was starting to blow so I headed back to the car and then the gutting table. It had been another good fishing session in the Pumicestone Passage.

Bribie Island – Wild & Windy – 30 Sept 2010


Friday
With the SSE wind gusting to at least 25 knots this morning; I really should have stayed in bed. However there is something in all diehard fishermen that makes us think it might not really be that bad.
When I arrived at Bribie Island at 4.45 am it really was that bad. In fact, it was probably worse! The wind was howling from the south east, so the only option was to try and fish the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. I waded out under the bridge at Bribie, on the island side, just before the first glow of dawn. There was no surface activity under the bridge lights – not a good sign. However things looked up after a couple of casts, as I caught a few Pike. I was using the 4” Gulp Minnow in Pearl Watermelon on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader.
There is some good submerged structure in this area. Between the third and the sixth bridge pylons there are some rocky outcrops. These are just visible at low tide. In amongst them are a few channels with a sandy bottom, dotted with clumps of tall sea weed. This area is just below the bridge lights and at night it is often a hive of activity. There are usually Flathead on the sandy bottom looking for the Pike and other baitfish that are drawn to the lights, on the surface. The dolphins often come surging in here, following the Pike.
This morning I walked round to the south and then cast up, into the run out tide, so that my lure was floating back with the current. I got snagged a few times in the weed and rocks but always managed to pull the jighead free. Just on dawn there was some surface commotion and I flicked the soft plastic straight into a jumping boil of Pike. A fish hit the lure instantly and the mad shaking and running indicated a chopper Tailor. I was right and I wound him in quickly. I did not want him to munch his way up through the leader. As soon as I got him to shore he shook the hook free. He was probably just legal size, but I released him after a couple of pictures. We are all still eating Flathead (see previous posts).
The wind was building as was the swell and after an hour or so, I had really exhausted my fishing options in this area. I headed home, cursing the weather gods all the way.

Bribie Island – Choppers, Snapper & a few Flathead – 7 Sept 2010

Tuesday
I headed north from Brisbane very early on Tuesday. I wanted to get fishing under the Bribie Bridge an hour before first light. I was on the road at 3.45am and in position on the island side right under the bridge lights by about 4.30 am. As usual there was plenty of surface action with Chopper sized Tailor and Pike feeding on the smaller bait that is drawn to the lights. Unfortunately the rain and westerly breeze had washed a huge amount of weed up against the beach but this gradually moved away as the tide started to really get running. Low tide had been at about 3.30 am.
Perhaps predictably the first fish I caught was a Pike. I was using my usual light estuary rod and reel (see previous posts) and fishing a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic lure in the Peppered Prawn colour on 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I cast out again and found another one. I moved north along the bank and put in a long cast towards the foot of the third bridge pylon. I let it sink for about ten seconds then jerked the plastic up. Smash – it got hit on the drop and the ferocious jerking and splashing indicated Tailor. Sure enough, a minute or so later, I had a 30cm Tailor on the sand – I took it up to the light and pavement for few snaps and off it went. I decided to move further north to the sand banks that sit beneath the lights of the seaside path. If there is enough water here it is an excellent flathead spot. Unfortunately, today it was covered with a floating mass of weed in the shallows. I waded a bit further out and cast out into the current. The first glow of light was showing over my shoulder. As I retrieved the lure it was slammed just metres from my feet. The fish took off but the self contained, persistent head shakes suggested snapper and so it was. Despite the rod bend and solid fight, when I finally subdued it and got it too the sand, it was just too small – so back it went. The fishing was good but there was nothing for dinner yet.
As dawn broke I jumped in the car and moved up to Whitepatch and fished the sandbanks until the top of the tide. I waded up and down casting out so that the plastic was landing just on top of the coffee rock ledge, at the edge of the main channel. The Pike were consistent all the way along but, after a while I decided to switch to a 1/5th oz blade lure. Predictably, the Pike loved it and I had a hit, but no hook up with something larger. The weed was a problem so I dumped the blade and put the GULP Shrimp plastic back on. As the tide got higher I walked closer to the shore. I was now casting into 70 – 90 cm of water. At the edge of a drain I hooked a just legal flathead at 40 cm. I carried on peppering the area with casts and after about 5 more, I caught another, better fish at 50 cm. It was a two metre high tide which meant that the water was right up to the tree line. As I walked along I caught another three undersize Flathead on the same soft plastic before things seemed to slow down.
As the high tide peaked and the weed started to stand still in the water, I decided to give up for the day. Although I only had a couple of keepers, the fishing had been very varied and entertaining! Once more the Snapper capture had coincided with the start of the run in tide and the first glow of dawn.