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

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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.