Iluka – Woody Head – 22nd to 29th September 2020

I always keep an eye on the weather forecast, looking for a period of low swell that will allow me to safely fish the rocks – which is currently my favorite fishing style. In late September three or four days of low swell were forecast for Northern New South Wales. The school holidays were about to start and despite (or maybe because of) all the COVID 19 travel restrictions, all the accomodation in Northern New South Wales would soon be booked out for a fortnight.

So I grabbed my chance and on the 22 September I drove down to Iluka along the newly opened section of the Pacific Highway.  The highway now bypasses the small towns of  Wardell, Broadway and Woodburn and reduces the drive south from Byron to Iluka, to less than 90 minutes.

The reason the sea had flattened out was the arrival of northerly and north-westerly winds. The full moon was about a week away and the low tide would be early in the mornings. We were about to swap from winter to summer and the fishing often goes off a little as the weather becomes a bit more erratic. I dropped into Iluka Bait and Tackle when I arrived – https://www.facebook.com/Iluka-Bait-and-Tackle-608266152650241/. Apparently winter has been excellent for tailor, jew and bream fishing but things had slowed down a little in the couple of weeks prior to my arrival. I always drop in to see Ross at the store. He is a great source of up to date info and has an excellent range of lures/ bait terminal tackle, jigheads and soft plastics. Unlike many small local fishing shops, his prices are also very reasonable.

I was up early everyday and out fishing at Woody Head just before dawn.  It was calm enough to fish right off the front of the rock platform.  I fully expected a few tailor or jewfish, but they were nowhere to be found. There were a few bream and dart, but the dominant predator was the Australian Salmon. This was a surprise as these have been missing from these waters for a few years.

I started off in the mornings fishing at the northern end of the Woody Head rock platform, at the spot known locally as ‘the Barnacles’.  On the first day I fished through dawn with large hard bodies and then dropped down to a 6o gram brass coloured Halco Twisty metal slug. I was using 30lb braid and 30lb fluorocarbon leader.

This hook was not up to its task

I had a few bumps on a big hard body and could see the bait jumping around in front of my lure but I did not hook anything. Once I put the Halco Twisty on, things improved. I felt a grab and then another and  finally, on about the tenth fast retrieve, I hooked a solid fish. It fairly quickly lept out of the water revealing it was an Australian Salmon. I tightened my drag and got some line back. It was a heavy fish and they fight hard. They don’t have much in the way of teeth but they do jump a lot, so you have to keep the line tight. I got it up to just below the ledge and got soaked by a wave, trying to heave it up next to me. On the next surge I tried to muscle it over the edge but it gave a powerful slap of its tail and spat the hook out, just as it came to my feet. It then left with the next wave. I checked my lure and realised I had a fairly light, fine wire single hook on it – which had now bent open. I put on another slug but I could not find anymore.

What is this?

I swapped to my lighter rock fishing rig – 20lb braid and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. On my way down, I had dropped in to BCF in Ballina to find lots of packets of the GULP Lime Tiger Jerkshads and GULP Nuclear Chicken shrimp soft plastics marked down to $5 a packet. I know these catch fish, so I grabbed as many as I could and added them to the tacklebox.  I loaded up a 1/4 ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour and started casting. I cast it all around and eventually caught some kind of small wrasse with bright red fins. I swapped to the GULP 2″ Shrimp in the Nuclear Chicken colour and threw that out and this snared a couple of small bream.

The next morning I decided to cast some GULP jerkshads around on dawn, to see if I could tempt a jewfish. Unfortunately all I found was another small red finned wrasse. When I swapped to a smaller soft plastic, I caught a small speckled rock fish and a few more bream.

I swapped to a 40g DUO DragMetal Cast Slow lure. This is a slow jig and although you cannot exactly ‘slow jig’ it off the rocks, it is a a bit more exciting than a plain metal slug. I hop it back to me fairly quickly, but give it time to reach the surface, then flutter down again. I saw a boatie, about 100 metres out, hook something and start a fairly serious fight. I cast in his direction and felt a hit on the retrieve. I cast again. This time I made sure to exaggerate the hops and it paid off. Line started peeling and I let the fish run. It was another Australian Salmon, but this time it was solidly hooked and I managed to land it. It was just on 60cm long. As I was de-hooking it it spat up another large baitfish.

I have tried but I can’t make Australian Salmon taste good. I hear they are usually netted and used for pet food by the professional fisherman. I decided to cut out the middleman and keep this one for the cat.

The next day I followed a similar drill. I caught nothing much around dawn but at about 7.30 am I managed to find the Salmon with a new soft plastic – the GULP 4″ Paddle Shad in the Silver Mullet colour. This one has just appeared in the GULP range and I like it. We plastics fisherman have always lacked a decent scented paddle tail lure and this one is great. Now we just need them to make it in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I lost another Salmon to the rocks a little later, using the same soft plastic.

On my final day the wind was strong and cold, from the west, but the swell was still light. I fished a little further along the Woody Head rock platform, to the south. Around dawn I caught a couple of decent bream and a good dart. I had broken the tip on my Daiwa Crossfire 1062 rod, so I had I matched my Daiwa TD SOL LT 6000 DH with my NS Black Hole Cabin II S862L rod, 30lb braid and 16lb fluorocarbon leader. At about 8.30am, I was fishing with a GULP 4′ Minnow soft plastic in the Watermelon Pearl colouring on 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I cast it out towards the tip of rocky out crop and let it sink. As I lifted the rod I felt some weight and something started taking line. Almost straight away it leaped out of the water trying to spit out the soft plastic. It was well hooked and after a couple of big leaps and runs it calmed down and I used the swell to land it.

That was it for my trip. Summer is coming and it is time to change tactics.

Great fun

South Ballina – 7 September 2020

In early September the wind began to signal a change of seasons. The northerlies kept creeping in but they were often tempered by a persistent cool westerly, in the mornings.

On the first Monday of the month I decided to fish off the rockwall at South Ballina. The moon was in its waning gibbous phase and would be 77% full. An easterly wind was forecast and the swell was still stubbornly high, so I wasn’t expecting much. Low tide had passed at about 5.00 am. I took the Burns Point Ferry across the Richmond River, just after it started running at 5.30 am and walked out to the end of the south wall at about 6.00 am. The sun had broken the horizon a few minutes earlier but almost immediately been obscured by a band of low cloud. I said good morning to the two resident ospreys who were surveying the beach gutter from their rocky perch.

Cloudy start to a South Ballina fishing session

I started with my heavier rock fishing rig with a 30lb leader and a 60g slug. I cast out to the north east and ripped the lure back pretty quickly. After two or three casts, I felt a fish grab it, drop it, grab it and then I hooked up. It was a 35cm tailor and I pulled it up safely to my feet, un-trebled it and threw it back. I carried on casting the slug for a while and had a few more bumps and grabs but no hook ups, so I decided to change tactics.

Tailor on a 60 g slug

I tied on a 3/8th ounce 1/0 hook jighead and loaded a GULP 4″ Minnow in the Smelt colour. I would always rather fish with a lighter jighead, so that the soft plastic spends more time sinking but the easterly onshore wind would have made casting anything lighter a real challenge. As it was, I could only get the jighead to land 10 to 15 metres out. On my first cast it was hit on the drop. Unfortunately I did not hook up but instead pulled up a soft plastic with a neat bite mark but no fish.

How did I miss ?

I put another of the same plastic on and cast out. It only took a couple of hops and I was on to a fish again. This time it was a small bream with a big appetite. I threw it back. The bream kept biting the tails off the minnow or pulling the soft plastic off the jighead. So I swapped to a 5″ GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. These tend to stay on the jighead better and I was hoping the bigger profile might attract a bigger fish.

On about my fifth cast with a bigger plastic, I felt a hit at the base of the rocks but jumped the lure up quickly, thinking I might be snagged. A few minutes later I felt a similar hit and I paused to let the fish eat the plastic. It obliged and took off. Initially it ran out to sea but as I had to keep the tension on the line, the swell soon pushed it back in to the base of the rocks. It was a school jewfish, it looked around 70 to 80 cm long. It was soon washed in between the rocks at the base of the wall and I could feel the leader rubbing against the rocks. Then – snap, and it was gone and was gone.

I re-rigged with a stretch of 45lb leader (the toughest , I carry) and the same set up and cast out again. About five casts later and a found another one in the same spot (that’s why they are called ‘school’ jewfish). I tried to wear it out and pull it gently up to me but the hook bent and pulled out and it dropped back to the water and swam off. I worked through a few soft plastics and they nearly all found a fish in this same spot but I could not land any of them. I need to buy, and learn to use, a gaff.

I was frustrated but the fish were clearly biting so I swapped back to a metal lure. I chose the 40 gram DUO Drag Metal Cast Slow (I assume this sounds more catchy in Japanese). This is a slow jigging lure that can be used like any other metal slug. My Japanese angling friends say it is great to use from the shore as it flutters around a lot, even at very low retrieve speeds. I have been trying it whenever I think the tailor are around, to see if they like it. I cast it out towards the centre of the river mouth and jigged it back towards me. After two or three casts I hooked up, quite a long way from the shore. This lure has two assist single hooks at one end and a single hook at the other. I was making progress but then my line went slack. I picked up the retrieve again and a few moments later I had hooked up again. This time the hook stuck but the fish felt more powerful. I backed off the drag a little and let the fish run. I then gradually retrieved line and tightened the drag again. It was a decent tailor and it leaped clear of the water a couple of times but stayed hooked. Fortunately, two of the hooks had pinned the fish and I was able to pull it up to my feet. It was just over 50 cm long. One of the three hooks on the lure was gone, perhaps the first fish that hit it, took that one. Much as I would have liked a jewfish, it would have to be tailor for dinner.

IMPORTANT NOTE – Last time I visited South Ballina – in early October, 2020 – the road out to the rockwall had been closed by National Parks. They have had it surveyed and the initial finding is that it is no longer safe for vehicles. This means fishing at the end of the wall requires a 1300m walk before and after – see photo)

South Golden Beach – Marshalls Creek – 23/24 December 2015

Wednesday

On Wednesday morning I was up before dawn to have another shot of catching something decent in the surf. The wind had changed to a strong northerly over-night. When I walked out on to South Golden Beach at about 4.45 am, I could see the water was pretty stirred up.

The wind was up and gusting between 10 and knots. As the water hit my feet I noticed it had cooled down considerably overnight. I was fishing with my Daiwa Air Edge rod and Shimano Sustain reel combination again. This time I tied on about 1 metre of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The wind and surf was going to make it very hard to cast a lightly weighted soft plastic lure any distance, so I decided to rig up a hard bodied lure.

I chose the DUO Realis Vib 62. This is a Bass lure made by my favourite Japanese lure manufacturers DUO – http://www.duo-inc.co.jp/bass/en/realis/vibration62/ . I have tried plenty of cheaper imitations but I keep coming back to this one. It is an 11g sinking vibe lure with a loud rattle and comes in some great colours. There is something about its action and its ability to instantly find its rhythm that I really love. Even when bumping along a shallow, sandy bottom it keeps vibrating. The other advantage in the surf is that it casts like a bullet. I have found these lures at Jones Tackle http://jonestackle.com.au/ and also at Motackle http://www.motackle.com.au/. I understand that DUO has just secured a new Australian distribution deal so I hope this means they will become more widely available.

I wandered south as the horizon started to light up. I felt a few bumps and nudges in each new gutter but did not connect. At about 5.00 am the sun came over the horizon. I was now standing at the south end of a very long gutter that had a pronounced sand bank lip. I could see the small dart shadowing the lure as I pulled it towards me. I put in a long cast and started to jerk the lure back towards me. After about three pulls something smashed into the lure. I struck hard but the line felt slack. Then I realised the fish was just swimming towards me. It changed direction and I could feel that it was solidly hooked. It travelled sideways for a bit. I had the drag fairly loosely set. This is important in the surf as the pull of the waves will snap a light leader very easily.  I soon had a respectable 30 cm bream at my feet. I released it and looked for some more without any luck.

On Christmas Eve I decided to fish the big incoming morning tide in the section of Marshalls Creek that is open to fishing. This is a very beautiful stretch of water just off the Brunswick River. Its lower reaches are closed to all types of fishing but there is a section opposite the New Brighton shop where fishing with rod and line is still permitted. This area is fairly shallow on all but the biggest tides but it looks very fishy. There are big sand bars, overhanging trees and dense mangroves. I waded around through the early morning high tide and got a few bites. I saw plenty of bream, luderick and mullet swimming around but I could not hook any. It was peak holiday time and there was a constant flow of small boats which did not improve my chances of catching anything. After a few hours I gave up, but I will definitely be back.

Happy Christmas to all

Iluka – Woody Head – 27 November 2014

Thursday

It was another grey and humid start on Thursday morning in Iluka. There had been several showers overnight and the rain seem to have stifled the wind and swell. I had been doing well at Woody Head so I drove back out there, before dawn.  It would be an early morning low tide – which is pretty much perfect for fishing the rock ledges.

The recent bite offs suggested there was something big and toothy around so I tried again with a big shallow running hard bodied lure – the DUO Jerkbait 120 SP. I cast it around all through dawn but could not stir anything up.

I moved south along the rocks and swapped to a GULP 3 “ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was now on my lighter rock fishing NS Blackhole rod. I was using 14 lb fluorocarbon leader. I caught a small bream at about 5 am, from the spot which I believe the locals call the ‘Jew Hole’. It is a large inlet with a deeper channel in the middle, to the south of the area known as the ‘Barnacles’, where I usually start my fishing.

The sun came over the horizon and there was a brief glow of red before it got lost again, in the thick cloud. At about 5.30 am I hooked a fish and it took off. It was moving fast and I caught a flash of silver and realized it was a solid dart. I soon subdued it.  I caught another on the next cast and about 4 more, smaller ones over the next 20 minutes.  Then, I swapped to a GULP 3“ Minnow in the Green Camo colour and caught another, bigger dart. I bled the two bigger dart and left them in a rock pool that had a ledge overhanging it. Hopefully the various freeloaders – kites, pelicans, crows, crabs and wobbegongs, etc, would not find them.

Things slowed down a little so I moved further south to an area known as ‘Mossies’. This is a large, flat set of rocks covered in ankle deep green weed, at the southern end of the Woody Head platform. It is really only safe to fish here in gentle conditions, around low tide.  It was now about 6.00 am and low tide had been at 5.51 am. The first fish to grab the plastic was another solid 30 cm + bream. Another bream followed, on the next cast.

I was now almost as far south as I could go on the Woody Head rocks. I cast out the Green Camo minnow and let it waft down beside the ledge. Before it hit the bottom something smashed it. It took off to the south with a blistering run then turned back and torpedoed into the base of the rocks and snap went the leader.

I looked for tougher leader but I had used it all, so it was 14lb or 10lb. I tied a strong knot with the 14lb and put the same soft plastic minnow on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I cast back in the same spot and after a couple of tries, I was on to a fish again. I had the drag set tighter this time and I pulled pretty hard from the minute I hooked up. It was a tough fish but this time I kept it out of the rocks. After a few minutes it was tired and I landed it with the aid of the swell. It was a small king fish (or possibly an Amberjack – not sure) about 55cm long. I took some pictures and threw it back. A few casts later I was on to another one. This one was slightly smaller but put up just as tough a fight.

Next taker was a golden trevally which was longer than the king fish but not quite as mad. It was still a tough fight on the lighter rod and great fun. It was not even 6.30 am and I had caught four species. That is the beauty of Iluka.

I fished for another hour until the sun was really out and the cloud had burned away. Things slowed down a little but the bream and dart kept coming. I ended up keeping a few of the bigger dart, the trevally and a couple of bream, to make a mixed fish fried rice. I find using different flavoured and textured fish is great for this kind of dish. I fillet the fish and fry it, then add it to the cooked rice with some fried spring onions, crushed garlic, fresh coriander, Thai fish sauce and fresh lime juice.

By 8.00 am I was back at the car after a great mornings fishing.

Fish stealing friends – Shark Bay – November 2014

Every time I fish at Shark Bay, near Iluka in Northern New South Wales,  I clean my fish in the rock pools. It is not uncommon to have an octopus stick a tentacle out and grab some floating fish guts or watch a crab sneak out to grab a free meal. But without fail, about three to five minutes after first drawing blood, the wobbegongs arrive.

Last time I was down there I caught a tiny moses perch on a big DUO lure and got mugged as I reeled it in. Watch where you are paddling in those rock pools!

 

Bribie Island – The old oyster jetty flats – 4 September 2014

Thursday

By Thursday I had time for a morning fishing session. I have been hoping to get down to Fingal Head or Iluka to chase some bream, tailor and mulloway. But I just cannot seem to carve out the time at present, so it was back up to Bribie.

It was another mid-morning low tide at 10.20 am. The moon was about 60% full. Strong southerlies had been blowing for a few days but these were forecast to drop off by lunchtime. It was a bright, sunny morning, when I arrived at about 8.00 am.

I did not really have time for exploring so I waded straight out under the bridge on the mainland side. The tide was already a fair way out and I could see plenty of fresh flathead lies in the sandy area, under the bridge lights. They were not big fish but there were plenty of them. There were also plenty of track marks from cast nets. There must be some prawns or squid around.

The water was very cool but clear. I headed straight for the sandy depressions just north of the old oyster jetty. This area is not as peaceful as it used to be. The new hotel is going up fast just behind the jetty and cement trucks are constantly coming and going.

I decided to start with a small hard body for a change. I selected the DUO Realis Shad MR62. A small diving minnow. After a few casts, something grabbed it, but after a few violent headshakes, it was off. On the next cast I found another fish and this time it stayed connected. It was about 45cm so it went in the keeper bag.

I was feeling confident. I stuck with the hard bodied lure for about another 15 minutes but I could not find any more. I changed to a GULP Jerkshad and then a GULP Shrimp soft plastic, but neither of these got a bite. It was turning into another fairly tough session.

After about an hour, I was using the GULP 3“ Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with about a metre of 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied on to a 10lb braid. I was now about halfway between the old oyster jetty and the green channel marker. I found a few sandy patches amongst the weed and hooked another flathead. This one was a more significant fish at about 55cm – another one for dinner. It was a confidence boost but I had to wait another 30 minutes to find another fish and this time it was just undersize, at about 38 cm.

At about 11.30 am the dolphins came in close and chased a bit of bait around. I had also seen some quite significant squid through the morning. It’s good to see a plentiful food source in the area.But the tide had turned and not much was happening so I made my way back to the bridge.

Just after noon I reached the bridge and stopped to cast around the pylons. This paid off and I caught another small flathead on the 3” Smelt Minnow. It was just under 40cm so I released it. That was it for the day.

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 1 January 2013

New Year’s Day – Tuesday

The wind was calming down and the low tide around dawn meant that fishing the Passage again would be a good option. I decided to go and have a look around on the flats in front of the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side.

I arrived beside the bridge just after 4.30 am. Low tide would be at 5.12 am so I started fishing in the slack water. The strong south-easterly had died away in the night and there wasn’t much breeze. I waded south, along the exposed sand spit, towards the green channel marker.

About half way between the end of the oyster jetty and the channel marker, I waded out to just short of the edge of the weed beds. I started with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Just after 5.00 am the water started to run in. I waded towards the channel marker, casting into the water, as the tide picked up pace. At about 5.30 am I felt a couple of hits and could see some bait scattering around my lure. I kept casting in the same location and 5 minutes later I had my first flathead of the day. It was a dark coloured weed dweller, just over 45cm. I was releasing everything today – as we are still struggling through the Christmas ham!

I did not want to change a winning formula so I threw the same soft plastic lure back out, in the same direction and after a few casts, I had another. This one was a little bigger – perhaps 50cm. I let it go and persisted in the same general area. The next fish hit the soft plastic on four separate casts before it finally got serious. I had slowed everything down and lengthened the pause in the area that I estimated it had reached. After a long pause, I lifted the rod and the plastic was half way down its throat. This one was also about 45cm. I moved gradually south and caught two more undersized flathead within 10 meters.

I decided to see if I could tempt them with one of my small DUO hard bodies. The DUO Ryuki Spearhead 70S is a 70mm, 9g, sinking, flat-sided minnow designed to catch trout in fast flowing streams. Once the current is running it will swim in one spot with a great action and good rattle, just from the water flow. It is built to the usual DUO high standards and comes in some great colours. There is a pink stripy silver one which I selected, which looks like it would be the perfect flathead lolly.

The lure has a bit more weight than the shorter version and therefore casts well on my light spin combo. I decided to cast with the current flow and then retrieve the lure back through the run-in tide to get the most of the action. I kept plenty of long pauses in the retrieve and it was as I lifted the lure off the bottom, for about the fifth time on the first cast, that the flathead struck. The fish always seem angrier when they hit a hard bodied lure – maybe it’s the treble hooks. I hauled this one back to the sand to release it. It’s is never a good idea to try removing a treble from a wriggling flathead that you have clutched to your chest whilst wading, better to deal with it on the sand with a good set of pliers.

I let it go and then waded back out to where I had been fishing, along the edge of the weed beds. The next fish took a while to find but about twenty minutes later, I had another on the same DUO lure. It was also somewhere between 40 and 50cm.

The tide was now running in strongly and lifting plenty of sea grass. This gradually made it impossible to keep fishing with the hard body lure. The tide was also pushing me back from the edge so, at about 8.00 am I decided to give up.

I had travelled from flathead famine to feast in 48 hours. Was it the strong south-easterly blow that had brought the fish in, or the run in tide, or the lure choice – that is the trouble with fishing – too many variables!

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 – Popper Frustration – 3 September 2012

Monday

Friday had wet my appetite and I still had a load of new lures I wanted to experiment with. So on Monday, I chose Fingal Head again. I was hoping to find the Tailor, once more. We are back at that time of year again – the sun is coming up sooner and the starts are getting earlier. To get down to Fingal Head, from Brisbane, for a fish at first light, you need to wake up at about 3.45am – that’s early, even for me.

Bit lively at Fingal Head

It was now three days on from full moon. Low tide had passed at about 4.00 am and I arrived just before first light at about 5.10 am. There was a light southerly breeze blowing as I safely crossed the causeway on to the rock platform. I love fishing with poppers and I don’t often get the opportunity. This morning looked good so I tied on my favorite – the 110mm River to Sea Dumbell Popper in a silvery colour. I have yet to find a popper with a better action than this one. It only weighs approximately 30 grams but its casts beautifully. I have tangled with plenty of Trevally, Tailor and Kingfish on this lure. I have not landed many fish on it because when it does entice a strike – the fish is often too big to subdue from the rocks.

Tailor like the rough stuff

I started casting to the east and after a few retrieves I saw a big bow wave behind the popper and then some serious shoulders broke the surface. It looked like a big Tailor but it could have been anything. It didn’t strike. I cast out again and this time there was a boil and a splash as a good sized Tailor narrowly missed the lure. A few casts later, another big fish knocked the popper clean out of the water and then another tried to hit it in mid-air, but no hook up. Exciting stuff – but I had not connected with a fish.

Crystal clear water at the moment

After another 15 minutes without a hit, I swapped to an 85g Raider metal slug, but got no interest. I then worked my way through the DUO hard bodies but also could not raise a bite. By 6.00 am with the sun now blazing and the wind picking up – the action was finished. I fished on with soft plastics and every other lure in my tackle box but the fish did not come back. At about 11.00 am I had to admit defeat and record a duck.

Bribie Island – The Seaside Museum Drain – 30 June 2012

Saturday

On Saturday morning everything had calmed down and the weather looked perfect again. The fish were singing to me in my sleep and I woke up at about 4.00am. It was a cool morning but not as cold as forecast. There was a slight breeze from the west.

I decided on Bribie Island again and started under the bridge on the island side at about 5.30 am. I could not find anything here so just before first light I moved down to Bongaree, in front of the old seaside museum. It was just about on the 1.9m high tide and I waded out along the sand bank beside the mouth of the drain. The water here was still slowly running in.

I started with the GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour, on a 1/8th oz 1/0 jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I cast all around but I could not yet reach over the edge of the drop off that runs along here. The water slowed down. There were a few bust ups at the edge of the main channel and there was a large flock of birds following a school of something around. I could not find anything. I tried a few other plastics then reverted to the Smelt Minnow again.

It was now about 7.30 am and the tide was really running out, I cast nearer to the edge of the drop off and felt a bite. I paused then struck. It was a Flathead about 35cm long. It was nothing spectacular but it was good to get started. I released it and cast back in the same spot. After a few more casts I was on to another fish. This time it was about 40cm long. I let it go and then things wnet quiet. There was still too much water to fish where I wanted too so I went and bought a cup of coffee. I came back to the water and sat on the sloping rockwall, just in front of where I had been fishing. The water was clear and as I sipped my coffee, I looked down to see a couple of big swirls right at my feet. The water was less than a metre deep and cruising slowly along the bottom of the wall was a large (80cm plus) Jewfish. I was stunned and by the time I got the rod, it was long gone.

Recharged, I grabbed my rod and waded across to the sand bar, to the south. I stuck with the GULP Smelt Minnow and after a few casts and slow retrieves to the north, I felt a solid bite. I paused and set the hook. This time it was a bigger Flathead at about 45cm. I waded back out and on the next cast, in the same spot, the lure was hit on the drop. It was another Flathead, 50cm long. Things were now going in the right direction.

I tried for more but could not find any, so at about 10.00 am I moved across to the mainland side, to fish the sand/ mud flats, by the Oyster Jetty. I decided to try out another of the DUO hard bodied lures I have in the tackle bag. It is another beautifully crafted fish tempter called the DUO Tetraworks Toto 42. It is a 42mm long, 2.8 g sinking, bibbed lure with a tight rolling action. As with all of the DUO range it has a great action and finds its rhythm as soon as it hits the water. It comes in a range of hues but I was using a bronze backed, orange bellied TS03 colour. It is a very light lure and therefore it suspends in the water column quite effectively.

I cast along the edge of the weed beds and predictably, as we approached the bottom of the tide, the water turned murky. I kept picking up weed, but you need to be close to the weed to find the fish. After about 30 minutes of wading and casting, and a few Pike, I found my target. I felt a whack on the lure and then an angry head came shaking out of the water as the trebles bit. It was another good Flathead – just over 50 cm long. DUO strikes again!

It had been another perfect fishing day – plenty of fish and fantastic weather – get out and catch them while you can!

Bribie Island – The bridge and surrounds – 5 June 2012

Tuesday

I was back on local turf and although the wind did not look promising at least the rain was holding off. At 4.30 am I set off for Bribie Island to see if I could find some Flathead. Looking back over the blog and my fishing diaries, May to October have produced by far the best catches of Flathead for me. I have been busy with other things this year, so I hardly fished in April and May and I am planning to make up for it in June / July.

I started under the bridge on the mainland side with my light spin rod and reel: Loomis GL2 and Shimano Stella 2500. I was using 6lb braid and a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I started with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour.

It was about 5.15 am and the tide was just starting to build up momentum for the run out. There were a few jumps on the surface under the lights. I cast at them and felt the odd bump and grab, as the smaller fish made their inquiries. I caught a small pike that jumped clear of the water to grab the plastic. Then I got snagged on the small piece of reef just south of the bridge, so I decided to give the small DUO Tetraworks Bivi vibe lure a try. I picked an orange coloured model and tied it on. I love this lure. It has a great action at low speed and a good profile. Fish will often grab it as it is paused on the bottom. In this terrain I had to keep it moving or I would lose it to the rocks. After a few casts, it did the trick – a tiny Flathead grabbed it, just to the north of the bridge. I got rid of the fish and carried on. I caught a few more Pike but could not find a better fish.

After about 30 minutes of peppering the area with casts, I moved across to the other side of the bridge and had a fish around the lights. The tide was running in now but the wind was blowing all the weed and debris across into this area, so it was difficult to fish with the Bivi lure. There is now a nice ridge in the sandbank along here and some good weedy patches. There are nearly always Pike along here and I caught a couple. Then a small Whiting grabbed the Bivi lure – there was no shortage of variety.

As the sun came up I moved down to the sandy drain in front of the Seaside Museum, towards Bongaree. I fished along the edge of the tea tree stained water that was running out of the drain. I had been monstered by a big fish here, a few weeks ago. It had grabbed a big plastic (Jerkshad) and taken off. I only had the light rod and could not subdue it. Today, I started with the DUO Tetraworks Bivi and, after a few casts it produced another fish. Unfortunately, it was another tiny Flathead. I swapped back to a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Satay Chicken colour. I cast around, gradually moving to the south, along the drop off. I felt a few bites and lost the tail from the Jerkshad. I swapped down to a GULP3” Minnow in the Nuclear Chicken colour and something grabbed it on the first cast. It was another small fish and I could tell by the mad headshakes it was a Tailor.

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The water was now too deep to fish along here. I stopped for a chat with Colin – who always has his finger on the Bribie fishing pulse and he brought me up to date on what is biting where. It is good to know someone is keeping the Flathead on their toes. There have also been a few bigger Tailor and the occasional Jewfish around. As the water temperature drops there should be a few more Tailor.

By now, the wind was up but I was too cold. I went off to find a hot cup of coffee. It was a beautiful, if breezy day and the massive full moon had been clearly visible all morning. Nothing for dinner though! I think I am paying the price for not putting in the hours – fishing can be a hard taskmaster.

Maundy Thursday – Caloundra – Golden Beach – 5 April 2012

Maundy Thursday

Rain, wind, swell, wind, swell – well at least the rain seems to have moved on, but the wind and swell look like they will be sticking around for the whole of Easter. Unfortunately that means that we keen fisherman are all herded in to the few sheltered stretches of estuary that exist along the coast. There are a lot of people looking to wet a line or put the boat, jetski, kayak, dinghy in the water over this weekend and the next one.

My tip for increasing you chances of catching something – start early. Fortunately not everyone is willing to get up in the middle of the night to catch a fish. Most people don’t consider a 4.00 am start relaxing! This means the water is less likely to have been disturbed before you get to it and also means you usually get to fish the calmest few hours of the day – around sunrise.

With all this in mind I set off for Caloundra at about 4.30 am on Thursday morning. It was full moon so it would be a big high tide at around 8.15am. When I arrived, the wind was already starting to rustle the trees and cast a ripple on the surface of the Pumicestone Passage. It has been a while since I have fished here. The water was considerably cooler but much clearer on the top of the tide.

DUO, the Japanese lure manufacturer has sent me some more lures to try out, including the Tetraworks Bivi in a few more colours. This a great lure that has caught a few Flathead for me and with the cooler weather on the horizon, I am sure it will also prove to be a great Bream lure.

It is a hollow body microvibe lure and the colour I was using today was almost black with some rainbow colouring. It is a sinking lure, 3.8 grams and 40mm long. I was back to fishing with my lightest spin rod and reel combo – the Loomis GL2 with a Shimano Stella 2500 reel. I had the reel loaded with 8lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

DUO TETRAWORKS BIVI - Great lure in this darker colour


I started on the sand flats in front of the Caloundra Powerboat Club. The tide was still coming in. I cast all around the area of weed banks that line the edge of the various channels, where the boats are moored. It wasn’t long before I felt a nudge and then a solid hit. I was on to a fish. It took a bit of line and it was moving quite fast. It was a decent Bream – perhaps just under 30cm, but it was only just hooked. I started back towards the shore but just as I got a good look at it – it wriggled free and was gone.

Small Flathead - big soft plastic


I trudged back to the weed beds and carried on peppering the area with casts. About 10 mins later I had another solid knock – so I let the lure drop back down. When I lifted it I had a fish on. It was a small Flathead just under legal size. I took a few pictures and released it. A few cast later I hooked up with a bigger one – but again it wriggled free before I could walk it back to shore.

I decided to swap to a soft plastic and put on a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. This worked but again the fish was too small. I carried on until around 9.15 am but by then the wind was howling again so I gave up.

Caloundra - Pelicans

Iluka – Woody Head – More Salmon – 7 December 2011

Wednesday

Wednesday morning was windy again – a light south-easterly with squalling showers. I walked round to the rocks on the eastern side of Woody Head, at day break but the swell was still sending big sets crashing over the top.

I gave up on the mornings fishing and drove off into Maclean for breakfast and a chat with the helpful folk at Big River Bait & Tackle. They confirmed the presence of a few Jewfish around the rocks but also pointed out the weather would be my biggest obstacle for the next week.

I drove back to Iluka to find the birds working, out in the calm waters off Woody Bay. They were staying too far off shore initially, but gradually through the afternoon, they moved closer in. The netters showed up on the beach at about 2.00 pm and as the whitebait came closer to the shore, they rowed out with a long net to encircle them. They clearly got a good haul as it was too heavy to pull up on the beach. They dragged it along through the water, back to the boat ramp. Then they winched the bulging net up.

The commercial netters row out their net

Another decent Salmon from the Woody Head Beach

Two more Woody Head Salmon

By about 2.30 pm the birds had followed another school in close enough to cast at and a group of beach fisherman had come down to try and catch a few. Suddenly the Salmon started to bash into the school, sending Whitebait flying everywhere. I put on a HALCO 65g Twisty and fired a cast over the boiling water. After a couple of cranks I had a fish on. It was another solid Australian Salmon which put on a great display of acrobatics. As I landed it I saw my son was stuck into another but was turning into hard work as he only had my light Nitro 6’6” spin rod. All along the beach the kids were hooking up. The fish destroyed plenty of gear, but the patient fishermen eventually landed a few decent sized Salmon. My son got his after an epic battle. The fish had grabbed a GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic, attached to a 10lb leader. It was just under 50cm.

Australian Salmon on the light rig

A few more casts with the HALCO Twisty failed to hook up so I decided to try out some of the bigger DUO lures I had brought with me. The first one that had been calling to me from the tackle box, is called the DUO Tide Vib Slim. It is a 32g, 140 mm sinking Vibe lure. Once again, it is a beautifully engineered lure with a very high quality finish. It is comparatively light for its length but has a great action. Although it is very slim it still contains a decent internal rattle. I think this will prove to be big hit with the pelagic species – especially Tuna. I had it in the Qantas colours – red head with a white body. I cast it about fifteen metres off shore and played around until I found what I considered was the ideal retrieve speed – which was fairly slow. I was using the Daiwa Demon Blood rock/ beach rod with a 30lb fluorocarbon leader.

This one fell for the DUO Tide Vib Slim

Tide Vib Slim - weighting system

The Qantas colours often work well - DUO Tide Vib Slim

It did not take long to catch a fish – on the fourth cast a Salmon knocked it out of the water and then lunged at it again and was hooked. It took plenty of line on a very determined initial run and then put in a few leaps and rolls but eventually, I had it safely on the beach. It was a bit over 60cm long.

I caught two more with this lure and then things went quiet again. The soft plastics were still catching fish but I decided to try out another DUO hard bodied lure – the Tide Minnow 105LD. The Tide Minnow is one of their long established best sellers in Japan. It is also used extensively in Europe to target Sea Bass. It looks like a fairly standard sinking minnow but its internal ball bearing weighting system means it casts like a rocket. Consistently with the rest of the range, it is finished to a very high standard. I had it in a shiny purple colour with a dark underbody. It finds it rhythm easily in the surf and it has a rolling body with a wiggling tail action. The fish were thick and did not have to wait long. After about five casts another Salmon slammed the lure just a few metres from the shore. I landed it and cast out a few more times and then, bang I was on to another fish. This one was a little larger and took longer to subdue, but eventually I got him up the beach.

I should point out that these DUO lures have been provided to me at no cost to test drive but as with all freebies, I will only write them up positively if they catch fish. So far the DUO range have delivered fish for me and so I am happy to recommend them. If you want to know more about them contact Steve at http://www.swldistributions.com.au

Australian Salmon on DUO Tide Minnow

Australian Salmon on Tide Vibe Minnow

Another Salmon grabs the DUO Tide Minnow


Suddenly, after an hour or so of mayhem, the fish were gone. The birds were still circling and occasionally diving for the odd, wounded Whitebait, but the Salmon had moved on or stopped eating. It had been a great session and over the course of an hour I had witnessed five guys catch about 25 Australian Salmon between them and lose plenty more. They may be awful to eat but they are great fun to catch.

Caloundra – Bulcock & Golden Beaches – a big Flathead and a runaway – 15 November 2011

Tuesday

Ok – forget about the wind, I told myself. Yes it would be from the north – but the fish must still be there – somewhere, and it was not forecast to pick up until about 9.00 am. Low tide would be at 4.00 am at Caloundra and the top end of the Pumicestone Passage is a little more sheltered than the bottom end, in a Northerly – so that was my destination.

It would have to be an early start – first light would officially be at about 4.15 am , but over the last few weeks, the fish appear to be out hunting for their breakfast as soon as the horizon starts to glow – from about 3.45am. So I set out from Brisbane at 2.45am and reached the rocks on Bulcock Beach at about 3.50 am.

There was no wind and the tide was still running out, but beginning to slow. I started with a GULP 5” Lime Tiger Jerkshad on a 1/6th 2/0 jighead. I cast around the base of the rocks and then waded a fair way out into the shallows. The sand gives way under foot and is constantly moving so you have to watch your step. I was casting just on the edge of the rock bar, which skirts the bank beneath the boardwalk and the car park. I got snagged and re-rigged.

A couple of seconds after the soft plastic hit the water a fish hit it. It must have been slowly sinking down the water column. Unfortunately, after a few days fishing with my heavier spin rod (Nitro 2-4kg) I had swapped back to the light one – the Loomis GL2. It was bent over and the reel was screaming. I had a 12lb leader and the knots would probably hold but I could not exert any pressure on the fish, through the rod. It was running all over the place, out in the middle of the channel. I tightened the drag but it made little difference. It went where it wanted. After about a minute and a half, it changed tactics and headed back in towards the rock bar. As soon as it got next to the rocks, the line went slack and it was gone. I think it had just knocked the jighead and plastic loose on the rocks. Given the powerful runs and its speed, I would think it was a Trevally – who knows?

I cast around hoping there might be a school of them but there were no more takers. I moved into the shallows and decided to try another of the DUO lures I have been sent from Japan. This time I would be using the REALIS VIBRATION 62. It is another beautifully crafted lure. It is a blade shaped vibe lure made of resin with a clever weighting system that means a really consistent swimming action, even when retrieved quickly. The rattle is loud and effective – I think it annoys the hell out of the Flathead – and can stimulate a strike from a fish that would not otherwise be feeding. It weighs 11 grams and is 62mm long, so it can be cast a fair distance and hugs the bottom, even on a fairly fast retrieve.

I carefully worked the REALIS lure over the sandy patches, I could hear the rattle from several metres away. I felt a bite – or was it a snag? I kept it moving pretty fast as I did not want to lose it. The next cast, across the same piece of sand was definitely grabbed and then dropped. Third time lucky – I cast back out and this time the fish made no mistake. There was a splash and head shake as it realized it had eaten something prickly, but it was solidly hooked. I pulled it up on the sand, it was a 52cm Flathead.

I went back to the same area and worked the lure closer and closer to the rocks until, inevitably, it got caught amongst the rocks and that was that. This seems to happen to a lot of my lures!

I took the hint and moved down the Passage to fish amongst the weed beds and sandbanks around Diamond Head. The water had just started to cover the weed along the edge of the channel. I walked across the sand bar to the green channel marker that marks the deeper water in the main channel. There were small flathead lies all over the sand bar, clustered in little groups. I cast around and caught a few small Flathead on a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour – between 25 and 35 cm.

After an hour of wading along the edge of the main channel, I decided to drive back up to Golden Beach and try my luck there. The tide was now almost high and the weed banks in front of the Powerboat Club looked like a good target. I waded north from the club, casting along the edge of the sand banks. It was now about 10.30 am and the Northerly wind was starting to pick up, roughening the surface of the water. I waded slowly, changing the soft plastic lure regularly and making sure I moved carefully and quietly. It may be choppy on the surface but it is calm down below. After 45 minutes of this I felt a nice solid bite close in to a clump of weed. I paused, counted to ten, then struck. There was a long slow pull, then a pause, then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I checked the drag, it was set right with a fair bit of pressure – this was a decent fish. I started to get some line back and moved towards the shore. There were plenty more solid runs but eventually I got a look at a very good Flathead. I kept the rod tip bent and slowly dragged the fish up on to the sandy beach. It was a big female that measured in at just under 75cm. I thought about it, but she was too good-looking to keep for dinner. The lure was now a long way down her throat so I decided to cut the line and leave it to be digested. After a few snaps, she swam away. She had been caught on GULP Lime Tiger coloured 5″ Jerkshad on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

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Despite the northerly wind it had been a good session with a cracker of a fish to finish up. I’ll be back!

Caloundra – Golden Beach – 10 November 2011

Thursday

Northerly winds again and forecast to be blowing 25 knots by lunchtime. Fortunately the winds would be light from dawn through until about 10.00 am. I chose to fish at Caloundra again.

Pelican Waters Bridge


Still and hot in the Pumicestone Passage


I arrived about 4.00 am – just before first light and decided to put in a few casts under the bridge at the entrance to the Pelican Waters development. There were plenty of herring and other bait fish jumping around. Low tide had been just after 1.00 am so it was now about halfway through the run in phase. The moon was full. I have been fishing with a 2/4 kg 7’6” Nitro spin rod for the last few sessions – just in case I find a good Trevally, Tuna or Queenfish amongst the Flathead. It does not quite have the sensitivity/ flexibility of the Loomis GL2 (my usual estuary rod) but it can apply a little more pressure, if I hook up with a bigger fish. I rigged up with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour and cast it all around the bridge pylons. Finally as the sun was coming up I hooked up with a 28cm Flathead.

The first good Flathead of the day - Caloundra

I released it and decided to cross back over the bridge to fish the weed beds in front of the Power Boat Club. I waded out along the sand bank that was now partially covered with water. There were rays everywhere, scattering in all directions as they felt my feet, coming towards them. I waded quietly down to the southern end of the sand bank and then turned around and cast over the weed beds into the incoming tide. I jumped the soft plastic along the bottom, back towards me. I was now using a GULP 5 “Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. After a few casts I hooked a fish but, as I pulled it towards me, the line went slack and it was gone. I cast back in the same spot and a few casts later I felt the solid thud of another bite. This time I paused and slowly counted all the way to ten, before I struck. This one was properly hooked. I dragged it back to the sand and photographed it. It was about 55cm long. It was just after 6.00 am.

TETRAWORKS YURAMEKI sinking pencil lure


The water was still and the sun was already hot. I decided to fish with another of the Japanese DUO hard bodied lures I had been sent to try out. The DUO TETRAWORKS YURAMEKI is a small sinking pencil lure, 48mm long, weighing 6.3g. Once again, it is nicely weighted and beautifully finished to produce a clever, wriggling tail action. It casts like a bullet and so it’s ideal for covering large areas, when you are prospecting for fish on the sand banks. I knew there were Flathead around and it did not take long – less than five minutes later I felt the bite and hooked up. The Flathead broke the surface and started shaking its head furiously but the treble hooks were lodged. I took the fish back to shore. It was a 46cm Flathead and it swam away unharmed, after I removed the trebles with some pliers. The DUO lure had produced the goods again – two fish from two try outs – pretty impressive.

This Flathead fell for a DUO TETRAWORKS YURAMEKI hard bodied lure

It was very warm but the northerly breeze was starting to pick up. I decided to move down to Golden Beach and fish the edge of the channel that runs out from Diamond Head. There is a big drop off here and I did not want to lose the TETRAWORKS YURAMEKI lure – I only have one and there are too many snags in this area. So I switched back to a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic lure in the New Penny colour on a 1/8th oz 1/0 jighead. I worked the edge of the channel all the way out to the green channel marker. Finally, just as I reached the drop off into the main channel, I got a bite. I paused, and then I struck. I had securely hooked another fish – I brought it in close and released it – a 35cm Flathead.

By now the wind was too strong to cast and there were white caps on the waves, so I waded back to the shore and gave up for the day.

Caloundra – Some new ground and a new lure – 1 November 2011

Tuesday

I started early and I could see from the rustling trees that the strong southerly wind had not really dropped off. I set off at 3.30 am, from Brisbane, arriving at Caloundra at about 4.30 am. My trip up here last week had got me interested in the land-based fishing opportunities at this end of the Pumicestone Passage, so I was back to do a little more exploring.

Low tide would be at 7.20 am, with first light just before 5.00 am. The low tide would be better for establishing where the possible fish hiding places would be. I was looking for the rock bars, sand banks and sea grass beds.

I started at the far northern end of the Passage, where it runs out into the ocean. The Caloundra side of the mouth has lots of exposed rocks at low tide. It has a few shallow tidal lagoons, that you need to cross to reach the main channel, nearer to the northern tip of Bribie Island. The water was running out much too fast to fish the main channel.

At about 4.45 am I started casting a 4” GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic lure, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead back, against the run out tide and then retrieving it along the sandy bottom, close to the submerged and semi-submerged rocks. I could not stop for long as the plastic would get wedged into the rocks by the quick running water. I lost of few jigheads, but that is the price of exploration. I moved a bit further out on to the sandy area and cast into the eddies, where the water had slowed down a little. This paid off and suddenly I felt the solid thud of a Flathead. I paused and forced myself to count to ten, then I struck. I had hooked it and played an angry fish back to the shoreline, It was a 63cm Flathead. As it grew gloomier and the wind picked up, the sky started to spit big splashing rain drops. I decided to wade back to the car and wait until the squall blew over.

It only took about 10 minutes and then I was back out on the rocks, this time I put on a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I moved back along the Pumicestone Passage in the direction of Golden Beach. I was casting around in the shallow water – about 20 cm to 1 metre deep. Every now and then, I would lose a jig head to a patch of rock. I gradually found patches of smaller Flathead and caught 5 fish that were about 35cm long, over the next hour.

Another shower threatened so I decided to move round to the sand flats, just north of the Power Boat Club – near Golden Beach. The rain had passed by the time I arrived. Just in front of the club there a few clumps of sea grass, in a line, about 25 metres from the shore. The tide was now running in and the water was beginning to cover them. I waded out and cast all around them. I was using the 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I soon caught another fish – a Flathead about 55 cm long. It was lying a metre off the weed beds in about 40cm of water.


Those of you who are regular readers will know that I am hopelessly addicted to soft plastic lures, but I also fish with blades and, more recently, with hard bodied lures. A nice gentleman from DUO Lures in Japan recently asked if I would try some of their products and I agreed. I explained my usual rules which are – if I have been given something for free, to try out, I let my readers know and I will also let them know how the try out goes, good or bad. He was happy with that and confident that his products would catch fish.

He sent me a few lures and I particularly liked the look of one called the TETRAWORKS BIVI. It is basically a nicely weighted 3.8g resin blade. It has a bit more substance than a metal blade but seems to retain the traditional vibe action. As I now knew there were fish in the area, I decided I would give it a try. The colour was a semi-transparent silver on top and a bright yellow underneath. It looked good in the clear water and skittered nicely over the sandy bottom.

I decide I would give it 30 minutes to prove itself. I waded along the weed beds casting all around and trying a few different retrieves. There was a still a bit of sea grass floating around and the wind was now blowing strongly from the south east, but I kept the lure in the water and it did not get clogged up very often. After about 20 minutes I felt a bit of resistance. I thought it might be a clump of weed but then the line went taught and there was some furious splashing. It was another good Flathead about 60 cm long. When I landed it, I saw the lure had got a good grip through the corner of the fishes mouth. So full marks to DUO for this one – you can have a look at the range on their website http://www.duo-inc.co.jp/en/ and now I know they work, I will find out who supplies them in Australia and let you know.