New Brighton beach fishing – 22 December 2015

Tuesday

In the run up to Christmas I spent a few days fishing on the beach at New Brighton, just north of Brunswick Heads.

On Tuesday I wandered out for an afternoon fish and decided to walk towards New Brighton from South Golden Beach. I started at about 3.00 pm. I was using my Daiwa Air Edge 96L light surf rod and initially fishing with a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The moon was building up to full around Christmas Day, so the tidal flow was quite big. The wind was a fairly lively south-easterly, but the water was warm and still fairly clear.

This beach has very little structure apart from a few rocks half buried in the sand near New Brighton. However there are plenty of deep clearly defined gutters that are formed by the wind, tide and strong rips.

I cast around into the incoming tide. I was fishing with a GULP 3” minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and I concentrated on the areas at the entrances and exits to the gutters. Each time I moved, I would get faint bites on the first couple of casts and then nothing. As the waves rolled over I could see these were coming from tiny dart.

I paused at the exit to another gutter and cast my lure so it would come back past as it was washed out to sea. After a couple of hops a fish grabbed it. There was a brief fight but I soon pulled it ashore. It was bream about 28 cm long.

I moved south and eventually arrived at the small patch of rocks in front of New Brighton.  I swapped to a GULP 3” Shrimp soft plastic in the neutral grey flecked peppered prawn colour. I cast around the rocks and again felt a few small bites.

The wind was now blowing very hard so I moved to the south side of the biggest rock and put a few casts in around its base. This paid off and on about my third one I felt the unmistakeable solid thud of a flathead bite. After another fairly brief fight I landed a 43 cm flathead. I took a few pictures and sent it on its way.

By 4.30 pm the wind was a howling southerly so I decided to give up. As I walked back to South Golden Beach I noticed a young gent throwing a small slug into the surf and witnessed him catch some small dart, as his hungry dog looked on.

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Hat Head – Connors Beach – 1 October 2015

Thursday

Thursday was another clear warm morning. It had rained overnight but the wind had disappeared and there was only a light northerly blowing when I woke up.

I walked round to the corner of Connors Beach again. I started at about 5.30 am with a large River2Sea Dumbbell Popper. This produced nothing so I swapped down to a 65g Raider metal slug. This also could not find any fish.

I swapped down to my Daiwa Air Edge Surf 96 L rod and put on a 1/6th ounce, #1/0 hook jighead and dropped down to 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I loaded the jighead with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. After a few slow retrieves I felt some good bites. The tide was running out and there was a strong current pushing water along a pronounced gutter, at the base of the rocks. I let the soft plastic sink in the fast moving current and the when I lifted the rod tip I had a fish on it. It was a 25 cm bream. The next cast yielded another one – slightly bigger.

Things went quiet for a few casts. Then, at about 6.15 am something grabbed the soft plastic at the base of the rocks and tried to bury itself. It was not particularly quick but it was much more powerful than the bream. It wedged itself down between some rocks so I loosened the drag and gave it some slack. A few moments later, it swam out and I landed it. It was a fairly solid Spotted Hind – a pretty fish that does not taste much good – so I let it go. By about 7.30 am I was not getting any bites so I gave up for the morning.

At about 3.30 pm I came back for an afternoon session. After a few casts the first taker, on the same light rig and soft plastic, was another bream. It was followed by two more – neither was much more than 25cm long and the third one looked like it had been in the wars.

As the sun dropped and we moved closer to 5.00 pm, I tied on a small 45g cheap, cream painted metal slug. I cast out to the north east, in the direction of a patch of semi-submerged rocks. I wound it in fairly quickly and saw a couple of swirls come up behind it, about 15 metres from the shore. I carried on casting for about 20 minutes, varying the speed of the retrieve. I could now see the tailor following the slug in, but they would not bite.

Just as the sun was setting at about 5.30 pm I felt a solid bite and then the rod tip bent over. I dropped the first tailor a few metres from the shore. A few casts later I had another on and this time it was solidly hooked. I landed it and released it. I connected with a couple more but did not land them and at about 6.00 pm, I gave up.

It had been a great week of fishing at Hat Head. The scenery is truly fantastic and I will certainly be back.

Hat Head – mixed bag – 29 September 2015

Tuesday

By Tuesday morning conditions were very different. The wind and swell had almost completely dropped away and the skies were clear. At about 5.00 am I set off for the rocks at the far tip of the Hat Head headland. As I walked along the pathway I could clearly see the current line snaking across the surface of the bay. It would be another very big tide as the moon was huge.

When I reached the spinning ledge I put in a few casts with the 110mm River2Sea Dumbbell Popper, as soon as I could see where I was throwing it. I generally use my Daiwa Demonblood rod to throw this surface lure around. The popper blooped nicely across the shimmering water but there were no hits.

I swapped to the lighter, Daiwa Air Edge Surf 96 L rod, rigged it with a 20lb fluorocarbon leader and tied on a ¼ ounce , size 1/0 jighead. I put on a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the curry chicken colour. The tailor seemed to have vacated the area directly in front of the spinning ledge and the calmer conditions made the rocks further round the headland accessible. I moved around to the front of the headland and reeled in a small bream. I swapped through a few different size and coloured soft plastic and found a few more small bream. Perhaps the calmer seas had turned the tailor off.

I paused to re-rig and as I did so there was a loud blow about 40 metres out in front of me. A whale and its calf arched their black humps and continued past. A few moments after they disappeared, their very fishy blow cloud blew ashore – a wonderful site but a very unpleasant smell.  Next time they surfaced they were about 350 metres away – but they paused to put on a short tail slapping show. A close encounter with a whale is always great and it is about the only time I stop fishing and just watch the ocean for a while.

I decided to change tactics – perhaps the whales and dolphins (who followed them past) where following some fish. I swapped lures to a MARIA Mar Amigo 65mm 15 gram sinking vibe lure. This is another one of those carefully crafted Japanese lures that casts like a bullet, sinks fast and has a great action.

I cast into the foamy wash, just in front of the rocks and after about three casts I felt the mad head shakes of a hooked tailor. It was only a small one, about 30 cm long, but they were clearly still hanging around. They came and went every 15 minutes of so for the next couple of hours. They never got much bigger than 30 – 35 cm so I did not keep any. I swapped to the DUO Realis Jerkbait 110 SP hard bodied minnow which also caught a few, but the smaller profile and deep diving nature of the MARIA lure probably enticed more hits.

 

At about 9.30 am I moved back round to the Spinning Ledge and decided to try a soft plastic again. I chose the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Green Camo colour. I rigged it on a slightly lighter 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and I had swapped down to 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I cast out and let the lure reach the bottom. I paused, then gave it a few hops along the bottom. As I speeded up the retrieve to lift the lure clear of the rocks a fish struck. It put a nice bend in the rocks ad initially I thought it was a decent tailor. It soon slowed however and after a brief fight, I pulled a small trevally clear of the water.

A few more casts in this spot yielded no more fish so at about 10.00 am I gave up for the morning. No trophy fish but plenty of action and plenty of whales to watch.