Iluka – Woody Head – 9 June 2015

Tuesday

Having confirmed the winter species are well and truly biting at Bribie Island, I decided to head south to Iluka to fish the headlands of the Bundjalung National Park.  I rented a unit for a week and set off on Tuesday morning. I arrived about 1.30 pm, quickly covered all available surfaces with my fishing gear and considered my options. Low tide would be at about 7.30 pm but with not much swell Woody Head looked like a good bet.

I took two set ups with me. The first – my heavy rig – is a Daiwa Demonblood 962H rod matched with a Shimano Stradic FJ 8000 reel. I rigged this with 25lb Super PE braid and a 35lb fluorocarbon leader. This is great for casting metal slugs, bigger poppers and hard bodied lures but it will also work reasonably well with big soft plastic lures on ¼ ounce (and above) jigheads. If you hook a big fish, this rod has the power to drag it up the rocks. The second – my light rig is an N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod. It is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. I match this rod with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. I rigged this with 12lb braid and 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

I walked out on to the Woody Head rock platform and headed for the prominent rock opposite the wooden stairs. The wind was light but the swell was still quite powerful and I watched it for a while before moving forward to fish. I have left plenty of skin on these barnacles over the years so I am now very cautious when I fish here. At any moment a big set of waves can come through with the potential to knock you off your feet. I now wear a lightweight PFD, just in case I end up in the drink.

I started with my heavy rig fishing a 120 mm DUO Realis Jerkbait – this is a shallow diving hard body that has caught plenty of tailor for me. I would use it more, but there are not may spots where you can fish it without fear of losing it to the rocks. After about 20 casts in semi-circle, I had had no hits so I decided to put it away and switch to soft plastics.

 

I switched to the light rod and put on a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead loaded with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour.  I cast in to the wash about 10 metres from the edge of the rock ledge and counted to 10 while I let the soft plastic waft down in the foamy water. As I lifted it a fish slammed it. It was fairly powerful and took a bit of line, helped by the receding wash. I soon had it under control and pulled it over the barnacle covered terrain with the aid of the next wave. It was a very solid bream – about 35cm long. I cleaned it for supper and carried on fishing.

I swapped through a few soft plastics and had a couple of good bites on various jerkshads. I swapped to the GULP Mantis Shrimp in the Lime Tiger colour and caught another smaller bream.

At about 4.45 am the wind had picked up and  the sun had dropped behind the hill so I decided to give up for the day.

Advertisements

Iluka – Woody Head – Middle Bluff – More Tuna – 11 April 2013

Thursday

On Thursday morning I decided to fish from Middle Bluff, just north of Frasers Reef. This is a short drive south from the Woody Head camp ground. I arrived just before dawn and got rained on straight away. I now had a good waterproof jacket on, which helped. The wind was a slight south easterly/ westerly – swapping from one to the other. Low tide had passed at about 2.45 am.

I decided to start with the heavy rod. My theory was that if the Tuna were around, I would have more chance of landing one on my Daiwa 9’ Demonblood with 30lb leader. I have been trying out another couple of excellent hard body lures from DUO, on this trip. I decided to start with the DUO Tide Vib Slim140. This is effectively a large sinking vibe lure. It weighs 32g, has the usual superb DUO paint job and casts like a bullet.

The rain had passed over and I started casting the Tide Vib Slim in a semicircle and retrieving it in long, sideways sweeps, to get the most of the action. Just before sunrise, I felt some solid knocks. I was casting out about 50 metres and the lure was getting attention just after it hit the water and started vibrating. After about ten minutes, there were two big bumps and a bite. I dropped the rod tip, then struck hard and the fish took off. It was another blistering initial run. This time I was fishing with my Stradic 8000 reel and the heavier rod and leader, but that initial run felt just as powerful as the mac tuna, earlier in the week. I just held on and watched 250 metres of braid peel off the spool. I was pretty sure it was another tuna. It went straight out to sea. Eventually it slowed, so I gradually cranked the reel and turned its head. Now it was sitting parallel to the shore, about 200 metres out and the Daiwa Demonblood rod tip was fluttering in time to its tail beats.

I started to gain line but each wind was met with solid resistance – this fish was far from worn out. I left the drag alone and was determined to be patient. With the fish this far out, there was not much structure to tangle with. It made another short run, taking perhaps 50 metres of line, but I just let it go and then started the pressure again. I gave some thought to where I would land it. If I was lucky I would be able to coax it round to some stepped ledges on the north side of the headland and grab it, between wave sets. As it came closer to shore, I started to put more pressure on it but it was hard to move. Every time I brought it within sight of the rocks it took off again. The runs were getting shorter but they were just as powerful.

And then with no real sign of why, the line went slack and it was gone – bugger. I had not felt a bite off or seen any evidence of a bigger predator and I still had the lure, when I wound in. I suspect it had been hooked on the side of the mouth, through some of the softer tissue and I had just pulled the hooks.

I gathered my thoughts, checked my knots and cast out again. Half way through the retrieve, there was a grab followed by zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz pht! The leader snapped and the lure and fish were gone. Not sure what it was, but that was the end of my DUO Tide Vib Slim 140. I have had four of these lures, to test drive this year and they have all hooked fish before disappearing. I am pretty sure two were grabbed by Kingfish, earlier in the year, off Fingal Head and the last two tangled with Tuna. I will definitely be getting more.

I tried casting a popper for a while but this did not produce anything so I decided to swap to a metal lure – a 95g Sniper slug. After ten or so casts, I felt a bit of resistance and realised I had a small fish on. I pulled up a Tailor that was only just longer than the lure. A few more casts with the slug did not yield anything. So I swapped to the lighter Shimano Catana rod and decided to try some soft plastic lures.

I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour on a 3/8th oz, 2/0 jighead. Something hit the plastic on the first cast and took it for a quick run, then dropped it. I got it back with the tail mashed and I guessed it was a Tailor. I dropped down to a 4” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour and after a few more casts, I connected with a better Tailor – about 40 cm long and landed it.

The tide was rising but the swell was very light, so I dropped back to a ¼ oz and then a 1/6th oz, jighead and selected a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I put on a few different colours and caught a few more tailor – the biggest was about 45cm long. I also caught good sized dart and bream.

Things started to slow down so I decided to put on a smaller, 3” GULP Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour, on a ¼ oz, 1/0 jighead. This was the same lure that had caught the mac tuna a few days before. I fished around, varying my casts; some in close to the rocks, some further out. It was now about 8.45 am and another line of rain clouds was lining up and the wind was picking up. I put out a long cast and dropped the lure into the water about 25 metres out.

I felt a few grabs and pulls as the lure sank and suddenly I was connected with another fish. It pulled left, then right and suddenly took off in another blistering run. I was pretty sure it was another tuna as the line kept peeling. I was on the light rod so I just held on. It was another very long initial run but this time the fish was smaller and tired faster. I turned its head and gradually got my line back. I was playing it very carefully as I knew the 16lb leader would not stand any contact with the rocks. I gradually walked it round towards the rock ledges to my left. I checked my watch and I had been fighting the fish for 12 minutes, but it felt like much longer.

Once the fish saw the rocks it took off again. The Catana did not have the strength to apply much pressure but the tuna was gradually tiring. I watched the wave sets. I could see the fish now and it was a small mac tuna. It was on its side but still furiously beating its tail. Unfortunately a big wave set was coming through and I had little choice but to pull the fish up on to the lower ledge with the wave. It came up effortlessly on the surge but once it realised it was out of the water, it went ballistic and before I could get down to it, it had wriggled free of the jighead and bounced down the rocks to freedom – double bugger.

Appropriately, the heavens chose that moment to open above me and add insult to injury by covering me in a downpour. As I squelched back to the car I was rewarded with a great rainbow – but I would rather have had another tuna!

In the afternoon the rain stopped again and so I walked out to the rocks in front of Woody Head to fish “the barnacles” again. Not much happened through the afternoon. I caught a few more dart and bream on soft plastics. A watched as another fisherman caught a few 45cm Tailor casting slugs into the white water zones.

As the sun dropped behind Woody Head, the bite rate increased and I caught three good bream in quick succession. I swapped up to a bigger GULP 4″ Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/4 oz, 2/0 jighead. The swell and wind was picking up a little and it was getting dark quickly. I put in a long cast and let the lure waft down in the swell. As soon as I took up the slack a fish hit it. It pulled pretty hard on the Catana and then a good size tailor leaped out of the water. I subdued it and pulled it in. It was just over 50cm long. By then I had had enough for the day so I cleaned it and headed home for a fish supper.

Iluka – Woody Head – Wild weather and Australian Salmon – 6 December 2011

I am just back from a week of land based rock and beach fishing at Woody Head, in the Bundjalong National Park, just north of the town of Iluka, in Northern New South Wales. As is often the case here, the weather made the fishing pretty tough. Heavy rain freshened the mighty Clarence River and big seas, wind and swells conspired to limit access to the best fishing platforms. But there were some good sessions and some good fish.

To the north-west of the Woody Head rock platform there is a sheltered bay that remains calm in all but the biggest gales. On the afternoon of our second day, there was a light northerly breeze blowing and the tide was running in. There was a heavy swell crashing on the rocks to the south, but the bay was calm. It had been raining, on and off, all day and the water was murky and the sky, overcast. The birds were working furiously, diving into bait schools close to the shore. Just on dusk, I walked down to the beach with my heavy outfit – Daiwa 9’6’ Demon Blood rod, Shimano Stradic 6000 spinning reel loaded with 30lb braid and 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a 45g silver HALCO Twisty slug and cast it about 25 metres, towards the diving birds. After a couple of casts – bang – and line starts peeling. It was a solid fish and then it leapt clear of the water – an Australian Salmon. It did a couple of tail walks and even with the heavy rod, it was hard to subdue. I eventually got it to the beach and it immediately started spitting out mouthfuls small whitebait/anchovies (not actually sure which). This was clearly what had attracted the birds.

A 50cm Australian Salmon at Woody Head

It grabbed a 45g Halco Twisty metal slug - and spat up some Whitebait

It was now dark and raining so, after a few pictures, I released the fish and went to dry off. I have never been able to make these fish taste good, so I have given up keeping them for the table. It may not have been dinner but it was a great fish to open the account.

Bribie Island – Sandstone Point – the Channel Marker to the Bridge – 5 June 2011

Sunday

A great Bribie Island sunrise

Back up to Bribie Island for a quick Sunday morning land based fishing session on the flats. With low tide at 6.00 am, just on dawn and a light south-westerly wind. I took advantage of the exposed flats to walk, then wade all the way down to the green channel marker, by the old oyster leases, at Sandstone Point. Along the way I caught a few more monster Pike.

The bigger Pike have some serious teeth

From about 6.45 am to 8.45 am, I waded slowly back towards the Bribie Island bridge, about 15 metres out from the exposed sandbar, casting all around. I fished with the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curried Chicken colour, rigged on a 1/6th 2/0 jighead and also the 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I caught a total of three Flathead – two keepers; 64cm and 48cm and one that was two small and numerous big Pike, between 30 and 45 cm. I caught the biggest fish just to the south of the channel marker at about 7.00 am. It was lurking on the edge of a weed bank.

I covered a lot of ground for only a few fish, but they can be hard to find when the tide run is fairly weak, as it was today. It’s a good way to keep warm and burn a few calories! I am waiting for my Daiwa Demon Blood to get fixed (I bent a couple of the guides) and then I will head for northern New South Wales to chase some fish from the rocks. It is getting too cold to be standing in that water at 5.30am!!

1770 – Middle Rock – Flat Rock – Deepwater National Park – 15 May 2011

Sunday

On Sunday morning the weather was beginning to change. The breeze was moving round from the south west to the south east. It was much warmer and conditions were good as the south easterly was still light. I had worked out that low tide presented the better fishing opportunities at Flat Rock and Wreck Rock and so, with high tide a few hours after dawn, I headed back to Middle Rock and more specifically the set of rocks in the middle of Middle Rock.

Middle Rock - an hour before high tide pre-dawn

Jupiter and Venus had been bright and visible in the eastern sky just before dawn, all week. Since about Thursday, Mercury was also clearly visible. Venus was so bright that it cast a clear light across the water. It had been similarly bright when I was fishing down at Iluka, in NSW, last month and I wonder if it has an effect on the fish.

I was fishing with the heavy rod – the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood, matched with a Shimano Stradic 6000 reel, loaded with 20lb braid and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I was hoping to encounter some bigger fish at dawn and thought that the cold snap would have got the Tailor going. My camping neighbour had caught a few off the beach to the south of Wreck Rock, the evening before. They had taken cut up Pike baits about an hour after sunset.

I rigged up with a GULP 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad soft plastic lure on a 3/8 oz 2/0 jighead. I cast all round the rocks in the pre-dawn light. I could not raise a bite so I dropped down to a ¼ oz 1/0 jighead and 16lb Fluorocarbon leader and cast around again. Third cast, in very shallow water, only a couple of metres from the beach, I had a fish. It was a Bream about 30cm long. I released it and cast back in the same spot. I hooked up straight away – it was another Bream – slightly bigger at around 34cm. I carried on but all I could not find anything bigger so at 8.00 am I went back to camp for breakfast.

Middle Rock Bream

Whilst there were fish around it was becoming clear that this week was right in the middle of the changeover between the dominance of the warm weather species –Tuna, Mackerel, Dart, Whiting and the emergence of the cold weather species – Tailor, Bream, Flathead. The air temperature had been bitterly cold but the water was still very warm. It was hard work trying to figure out what to try next!

After breakfast I decided I would fish the run out tide at Flat Rock. The moon was almost full so the tide would be very low. I arrived just after 10.00 am and the long rock was already exposed. I waded out and climbed up onto it. I was back to the light spin rod, using a 1/6th 1 jig head, 12lb leader and 2” and 3” GULP Shrimp and Minnow soft plastics. For the next few hours I walked all the way along the rock to the northern end of the beach, casting out over the edge. There was no shortage of fish but the problem was size. Everything seemed to be under 30 cm long. I caught Whiting, Flathead, Bream, Stripy Perch, Dart and Long Toms, but nothing was worth keeping. By 2.00 pm the wind was getting up and the tide was running in so I gave up.