Fingal Head – Jew & Tailor – 1 November 2012

Thursday

I was up early again – full moon had passed on Wednesday. Low tide would be just before 4.00 am. It would still be a pretty big tidal flow. A northerly blow was forecast but it would be calm around dawn. I decided to drive back down to Fingal Head.

I arrived in between dawn and first light – just a little late. It was cloudy but as the northerly picked up it turned into a beautiful morning. I started with DUO Beachwalker MD 120 hard-bodied minnow in the orange colour. I had swapped back to treble hooks. There were bumps and splashes on each of my first three casts. On the fourth cast I hooked something. It pulled pretty hard and I thought I had connected with a good fish and then I realised it was a small Tailor – hooked through the back. I let it go and carried on casting but could not hook anything else.

I swapped over to a 65g Raider metal slug and moved round to the north edge of the rock platform and cast as far as I could. After about 20 casts I felt a knock at the base of the rocks. Then, on the next cast, a fish hit the lure right at the base of the rocks. It was a small Tailor – around 40cm long. I let that one go. I decided to try some soft plastics on the lighter rod and reel combo – the Shimano Catana Coastline light rod, 2500 reel, 6lb braided main line and 10lb leader.

A local fisho, Bill arrived with his Alvey and big rod and threw out a fresh prawn. His first cast produced an excellent Tarwhine, which looked to be about the 1kg mark. There were definitely fish around.

The strong northerly was making it easier to fish on the southern side of the rock platform now. I cast out a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour, on a 1/6th 1 jighead and let it slowly sink. I cast in all directions and did not get any interest for about an hour. The water was very clear and just in the mouth of the channel that separates the causeway from the mainland; there was a school of small baitfish, hugging the rocks. There is a slight overhang here and some deeper water close to the rocks. I dropped the plastic into the middle of the channel and thought I felt the faintest of bites. I flicked the bail arm over and released a metre or two of line. As I slowly retrieved it, it flicked tight and the rod bent over. Line started peeling and I started thinking – how and where will I land this?

I decided from the slow and powerful runs it was not a Tailor. I would try to coax it round the rocky outcrop, to the front of the rock platform. The northerly had flattened the sea and it was safe to jump down a few steps to the wash area, to grab a fish between waves, if I could get it that far. It did not want to come round the rocks and with the light rod and 10lb leader I could not apply much pressure. I left the drag quite light and just kept winding. Eventually I dragged the fish round the rocks and saw it was a small Jew. I used the surge to get it onto a flat rock at the water line and then hopped down and picked it up, between waves. It was a good looking 55cm fish. I slit its throat and put it in the keeper pool.

The plastic and leader was a bit gnarled but OK, so I threw it back out. Two or three casts later and I was on again. This time it was a much bigger fish and initially I really was not making much of an impression. But Jewfish tire quickly and after a while the fish was beaten but the swell was still making things tricky. I aborted a couple of attempts to pull the fish round the rocks but eventually it swam in the right direction. I got it on to the same ledge as the previous one, jumped down and grabbed it under the gills. This was a much bigger fish at about 75cm. I decided to keep this one as well. It was 8.15 am.

I swapped the soft plastic for bigger one – a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Black Shad colour. I stuck with the 10lb leader and the 1/6th 1 jighead. After about 10 more minutes of casting and retrieving, close to the overhang – bang, I was on to a fish. This one was bigger again and after a long tussle I got it to the same spot. But this one was too much for the 10lb leader and as I pulled the fish onto the rock ledge, it snapped.

I decided to upgrade to the bigger rod and use 20lb leader. I stuck with the 1/6th 1 jighead and the same soft plastic. I carried on or another hour but did not get another bite. Was it the heavier leader or had I spooked them? I am not sure. All the fish were caught in no more than 2m of water – the Jewfish certainly don’t mind feeding in the shallows.

At about 10.00am I left the platform to Bill, cleaned up the Jewfish and went in search of ice.

Hat Head – The Spinning Ledge – 19 September 2012

Wednesday

Flushed with success in the Jewfish department – I was up just before 4.00 am and marching out to the spinning ledge , imagining enormous Jewfish. New batteries in the headlamp made a big difference and the track was a little more familiar today.

The tide was running in and would be high at 10.15 am. There was a light north easterly breeze and virtually no swell. I arrived at about 4.45 am and rigged the heavy rod with a 30lb leader. I wanted a bit more light before going further round the head to try the Jewfish spot – casting and climbing around that rocky area, in the dark, was a recipe for disaster.

So in the half light, I decided to cast a DUO hard body minnow – the Beachwalker MD 120 which has been catching a few Tailor for me, lately. I love this lure it has great action and swims just about 30cm below the surface for most of the retrieve. I was casting to the north from the spinning ledge. I started with a slow retrieve; this did not attract any interest so, after ten casts, I started to retrieve the lure much faster, with pauses and twitches, all the way in. I felt a hit, but did not hook up. I cast straight back out and this time the fish hit it. It was just a small Trevally and I soon had it at my feet. I quickly threw it back and cast out again. I got another couple of knocks and one hard strike, but could not hook up. Then the fish moved on or wised up – either way, they stopped attacking the lure.

It was now light enough to move further round, nearer to the tip of the headland and try for another Jewfish. The swell was lighter today, so there was less foamy water and the tide was a little lower. I rigged up with the same GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Black Shad colour, that had caught fish the day before. I stuck with a 3/8th oz 2/0 hook, jighead but dropped back to a 20lb fluorocarbon leader, as conditions were a little less rough.

I fully expected to hook up instantly, but the fishing gods had sprung their cunning trap and absolutely nothing happened. I tried every colour and shape of soft plastic, lightened the leader and threw a few hard bodies, fruitlessly, into the rocks – where they remained. I fished for almost an hour before I figured out they definitely were not there or, more likely, were not eating.

I walked back to my cabin at about 9.30 am to strategize for the afternoon session and have breakfast/ lunch. I spent the afternoon exploring the ledges around the headland before Connors beach, to the south of Hat Head. There are plenty of spots to fish here, but it would be a serious struggle to land a big fish on any of these ledges.

At about 4.00pm I set off again to fish the same spot at dusk. This fishing lark keeps you fit (if it does not kill you). The trip out to the Spinning Ledge is about 5km return – do it twice a day and you sleep well! I arrived at about 4.45pm and cast around on the Spinning Ledge with a GULP Jerkshad with no result.

As the sun dropped behind me, I moved back round towards the Death Hole. There was a stronger northerly wind blowing now and there was a little more swell. The tide was in the first half of the run in. As I had no luck in the morning, I had decided to fish lighter at dusk, with my new Shimano Catana Coastline Light. This is a 10’ 6” rod, rated 3-5kg. I use it with my Shimano Stella 2500 spooled with 8lb Fireline Exceed. I tied on 16lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/6th oz, 1/0 jighead.

I put on various coloured 5” GULP Jerkshads and cast around without success for about 20 mins. Then at about 5.35 pm, just as the sun had dropped behind the headland I felt a very solid bite. The fish was a good size and the lighter rod was no match for it. It soon had the line snapped. I re-rigged with the same set up. First cast and I had another fish on. This one was more manageable and I was able to play it out and slowly swing it over the rocks onto a ledge below and then pull it up by the leader. It was a school Jewfish – just under 50cm. It had what looked like a tag in its back. I was only going to carry one fish back over the rocks tonight and I was confident I could do better, so I let it go.

I was now fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the curry chicken colour (red and yellow). I was still using the 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I had another bite and run, but no hook up. Then, about 15 minutes after landing the first fish, I had another solid fish on. I let this one have its head but tightened the drag enough to keep it away from the rock overhangs. I let it run off steam and watched the swell. When things looked calm I moved down closer to the water, tightened the drag and pulled the fish round the rocks to a point where I could grab the leader. The leader broke almost as soon as it took the full weight of the fish, but fortunately it fell between two rocks and I could reach down and get it. This was a nice fish about 70cm long.

It was now getting dark so I quickly gutted it and then packed up. I carefully climbed back round to the track and carried my gear and the fish back to the cabin. Dawn and dusk had produced the only fish today. I was surprised at how cold the water is and I was also surprised that I had not found any Bream on the lighter set up. Apart from a few Whitebait, where I caught the Jewfish, I saw virtually no bait, the whole day. After a quick bite and clean up I was in bed at 7.30pm!

Fingal Head – Tailor, Bream, Dart, Dolphins – 5 September 2012

Wednesday

A duck on Monday, but I was having fun and close encounters with fish are better than no encounters with fish. So on Tuesday night I could not sleep and I was up at 3.30 am, Wednesday and back in the car, driving down to Fingal Head.

I arrived about 4.45 am, loaded up and walked out, onto the rocks to the usual fantastic view. The wind was a north westerly, as forecast. It was less than 10 knots when I arrived and stayed very light through the sunrise, as it often does. The horizon was bright orange by 5.10 am and there was plenty of light to rig up in. I had my usual heavy spinning rig; 9’6” Daiwa Demonblood rod, Shimano Stradic 8000 FJ reel, 30lb braid and 30lb fluorocarbon leader. The tide had just turned and was running in. It would be high just after 11.00 am.

There was to be no messing about with the poppers this morning – we needed a fish for dinner. I decided to stick with what had been working – the DUO Beachwalker MD 120 hard bodied, shallow diving minnow. I have lost a few of these recently and only have two more in the box, so I tied it on very carefully.

I moved round to the eastern edge of the platform and cast out towards the south east. The water was foamy but clear. The sun was not yet over the horizon. I put in about 30 casts with no result. I moved around the platform, casting in every direction. Finally, just as the sun was breaking the horizon, I was back where I started. I threw out another long cast. I retrieved it slowly, with 5 second pauses between jerks of the rod. About 3 metres out, I felt the solid tug of a fish and then line was peeling. After a few runs the fish jumped and I could see it was a Tailor, I brought it to the foot of the eastern side of the rocks and grabbed the leader. I had changed all my split rings for tougher models and there was no problem lifting the fish up the rocks. It was a fat 48cm Tailor – dinner was secure.

I carried on with the same lure for another hour with no luck. The dolphins arrived in a pod of 10 and did a bit of surfing but then just sat about 40 metres off the rocks – ready to intercept any unlucky fish that passed by. I saw another small school of Tailor swim by – perhaps 10 or 12 fish, but I was re rigging at the time so did not get near them. I tried slugs and big and small soft plastics but I could not get any more interest.

I decided to move a little further to the south side of the Fingal headland. The sun was now high in the sky and it was just after 9.00 am. The wind was now blowing about 20 knots from the north but this side of the headland was fairly sheltered. I swapped over to my Shimano Catana Coastline Light 3.2m 3-5kg rod to which I attach a Stradic 3000 reel. This is a great rod for casting lighter lures – particularly from the beach. The water was crystal clear and the swell was crashing against the barnacle covered rocks. With each surge I could see plenty of bait, close in to the rocky edge.

I decided to try one of my smaller DUO lures; the Spearhead Ryuki 45S. This is another perfectly crafted small sinking lure for bream, bass, trout, etc. It is ideally suited to Australian estuary fishing. It has quite a thick, solid shape and a very tight action. It weighs just 4.0g and is 45 mm long. Like all the DUO lures it casts very well. It is just about robust enough to throw around with the lighter Shimano Catana rod.

I cast it out parallel with the shoreline, counted to ten, to let it sink. The water was clear enough to see a steady procession of bait fish following behind it, on each retrieve. After about five minutes the line pulled tight and there was lunge. I had caught a small Bream – and yet another DUO lure had scored for Landangler. I caught two more using a similar technique but they were all around 25cm, so I let them go. I made a mental note to try the Spearhead Ryuki 45 out on the Flathead and moved further along the rocks.

There was a big group of birds working about 800 metres off shore – they were very slowly moving towards me but they never got close enough to cast at. The Dolphins took up residence between me and the birds, just to make sure I had no chance.

I swapped to a small GULP soft plastic 3” Minnow and threw it around in the wash, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I lost the tail after a few casts and put on another. A fish grabbed the new plastic almost as soon as it hit the water and took off. It was not big but it was fast. After a few pulls it settled down and I pulled a 35cm Dart out of the water.

By 11.00 am it was time to get the Tailor on ice, so I packed up. It had been an interesting morning and once more the DUO range had delivered. Northerly winds rarely leave me with a great fishing experience but this morning had been ok. It would appear that the real bite is only between about 5.00 am and 7.00 am, at the moment – so if you want to catch them, get used to no sleep!!

Fingal Head – Tailor – 31 August 2012

Friday

It was time for a change of scene. Despite the clear sunny days the water is still very cold. I wanted to give the waders a rest and fish from dry land. It was full moon and I had heard a few reports of decent Tailor on the Gold Coast beaches. I looked at wind and tides and thought the rocks around Fingal Head would be as good a place as any to try. The wind was forecast to blow hard from the south and then drop off for a few hours around dawn. High tide would be at 8.00 am.

I arrived just before first light and walked across the causeway on to the main platform. There were a couple of keen anglers already in position. But no-one had landed anything yet. Now the good folks at DUO lures sent me a great selection of big hard bodied lures to try out. On recent trips, conditions have not been right for them, but I have been itching to get them in the water. This morning looked perfect.

I started with the Beachwalker Vib 100. This is a 100mm sinking vibe lure with a very tight action. It casts like a bullet and weighs 21g. I had the Chigamori Sardine colour (silver/blue). I was fishing with my heavy rock fishing rig. The reel is a Shimano Stradic 8000 spooled with 30lb Platypus braid and a 30 lb fluorocarbon leader. The rod is the 9’6” Daiwa Demonblood. This rig is great for throwing lures from about 10g to 85g, from the rocks. I cast the Beachwalker Vib 100 and let it sink, a little. I took up the slack and retrieved the lure in short jerks, to get the most out of its tight action.

The sun was about to come over the horizon and I felt the lure get nudged a couple of times. I moved round from the eastern side to the northern side but kept casting parallel with the edge of the rock platform. There was not much swell but the wind was picking up fast from the south and this was creating plenty of foamy water, at the base of the rocks.

I had been casting for a good half an hour and the arms were getting tired. Then, suddenly a fish slammed the Beachwalker Vib about three metres from the rocks and took off. It’s been a while since I tussled with a Tailor and there is plenty to remember, especially when trying to land them from the rocks. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that Tailor have soft mouths, so you need to apply constant but steady pressure. If you lock up the drag and try to use brute force you will just pull the hooks out. But you must balance this slow and steady approach with the need to get the mad, leaping, head shaking fish out of the water, before it snaps your line on the rocks or shakes itself free. Both trebles on the Beachwalker Vib 100 had lodged in this fish so I did not have too much trouble. I gradually worked the fish to the base of the rocks and then grabbed the leader. It was a 44cm Tailor. I bled it and then started looking for another.

After a few casts I lost the Beachwalker Vib 100 to a rock on the bottom so I had to try something else. One of the other fisherman had just caught a slighty bigger tailor on a 45g slug. I looked at my DUO selection and decided to stick with the DUO Beachwalker range. I pulled out the Beachwalker 120 MD. This is essentially a sinking Minnow designed to swim about 1m below the surface. It has three trebles, weighs 21g and is 120mm long. It is specially designed with internal Tungsten weights to cast well in windy conditions. It proved itself immediately as I cast it directly into the southerly wind that was now up at about 20 knots. It travelled almost as far as 60g slug would have. I had chosen a rainbow coloured model with a red belly, black back and just about every other colour down the sides.

I moved around to the northern edge of the platform to get out of the wind. I cast around without success so I decided I would have to brave the wind on the eastern edge. I moved over and cast to the east. The lure shot straight out into the wind. DUO had sent the lures without hooks so I had added the split rings and the trebles. I felt a solid hit and the fish was on for a while then it was gone. When I pulled in the lure, the middle treble was missing. I checked the split rings and realized they that I had put on some lightweight, Force 10 ones. The Tailor had just pulled the treble off the lure buy straightening the ring. I did not have replacements so I carried on. On the next cast, the fish hit the lure a few moments after it hit the water. It was another Tailor, about the same size as the previous one – about 45cm. I played it carefully to the rocks and pulled it clear of the water. The trebles had held but the split rings were starting to stretch.

The rough water on the eastern edge seemed to be where the fish were. I cast slightly south-east and could see the dark silhouette of the lure wobbling its way over the sandy bottom. I repeated this trajectory about 4 times and then, about 5 metres from the rocks I saw three fish swerve up to attack the Beachwalker 120 MD. One connected and I was on. This was a bigger fish and the swell and steeper rocks on this side of the platform made landing it more difficult. I got it to the foot of the rocks but as I lifted it, by the leader, another of the split rings gave way and it dropped down into a crevice. I grabbed it through the gills and got a knee full of barnacles, as I did so.

This was the best fish of the day at about 55cm. The wind was now howling and the Beachwalker 120 MD only had one treble left on it so it was time to give up. The DUO lures had performed well. They are superb quality and really do what DUO say they will. They seem to consistently catch fish for me so I would not hesitate to recommend them. I see they are now appearing on the shelves in many more tackle stores in Australia and a few online retailers are also stocking them. If you want to know more about the range – contact Steve at sales@swldistributions.com.au.

I went home to nurse my knee and change the split rings on all my DUO lures (my fault, not theirs). It had been a great session and I will be back for more soon.