1770 – Flat Rock – Dart, Perch, Flathead – 15 May 2016

Sunday

Sunday was my second morning at 1770 and the weather looked like it was going to be pretty good. The wind was forecast at about a 7 knot southerly on dawn and would pick up a little later on. The moon was 67% full in its waxing gibbous phase. Low tide would be at about 10.45 am.

Once again I drove down the four-wheel drive track into Deepwater National Park. They are carrying out fuel reduction burns in this section and several small fires still were still burning from the day before and the smell of burning gum trees was all around.

Today I decided to fish at Flat Rock beach. As it names suggest it has a long flat rock that runs parallel with the beach and makes for a great fishing platform. The long rock is accessible across a sandy bottomed gutter from about half way through the run out tide to about half way through the run in tide.

It was a cool morning (17 C) but not cold and the water was still very warm. When I arrived in the pre-dawn light at about 6.00 am the flat rock was almost completely submerged so I started fishing in the sandy gutter. I started with fishing with the Daiwa Air Edge rod and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and squeezed on a GULP 3” Minnow shaped soft plastic in the lime tiger colour. The first takers where a couple of very small sand / flag /bar tailed flathead. These are pretty fish. They sit right at the base of the wave break and think nothing of trying to swallow soft plastics that are almost as big as they are.

As the sun came up and the tide receded I walked north along the beach stopping to cast at the spots where the water was rushing out through the breaks in the rock. I reached beach marker number 10 and spent a while trying to cast the DUO Vib 62 hard bodied vibe lure over the top of the flat rock into the deeper water beyond. This did not really work and I soon lost another of my favourite lures.

As the water dropped I climbed on to the rock and started casting around with a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the Cajun Chicken colour. I was now casting directly into the water beyond the rock and starting to feel a few bumps and knocks from the small perch and dart that patrol this area. After perhaps 25 casts I dropped down to a smaller GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. Thi attracted a flurry of bites and after a few casts I hooked a small moses perch. I little while later I swapped back to the GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I moved north along the edge of the rock until a nice dart slammed the soft plastic and took off with it.

By now I was about level with beach marker 8. I straightened the soft plastic on the jighead and let it waft around on the bottom in front of the rock for as long as I could. Something grabbed it and immediately took off underneath the rock. After a few see saws the leader snapped. Perhaps it was a cod or a bigger stripey perch.

I tied on a length of 20lb fluorocarbon leader and put on a bigger, 4“ Minnow soft plastic in the same Lime Tiger colour. I started casting in the same spot. Perhaps 10 casts later – smash, then zzzzzz as the fish did exactly the same thing. This time I had a tougher leader on. I initially loosened the drag and then, when I felt the fish swim out, tightened it and tried to pull the fish out. I obviously did not tighten it enough and it swam straight back under the rock, despite my furious but futile.

I turned around and walked back to the south. I swapped down to a couple of smaller soft plastic minnows and caught a steady stream of dart, Moses perch and tiny flathead.

By low tide the wind was picking up and I was getting cold so I decided to give up for the morning.

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1770 – Middle Rock, Wreck Rock -14 May 2016

Saturday

I had some work to do in Gladstone in mid-May and this year I have decided to add fishing to work, at every opportunity.  I was driving up and decided a few days of land based fishing at 1770 would be a good move. I rented a unit from Gavin and Kim at the Loka Santi appartments (nestled in the sand dunes behind the beach) which are my favorite place to stay.  You can book through http://www.1770beachaccommodation.com.au/. I packed the car full of rods and lures (and reluctantly my work boots).

I arrived late on Friday, looked at the weather for the next few days and planned where I would fish. Failing to plan means you are planning to fail, so they say. There is certainly some truth in this. Optimum fishing times (in my opinion) are dawn and dusk. If the change of tide coincides with dawn and dusk, even better. If it’s the lead up to the full or new moons, even better again. The week looked prett,y good with light south-easterly winds in the morning rising in strength through the days. The moon was about half full.

For my first session, I drove along the four wheel drive track just south of Agnes Waters into Deepwater National Park. I set off before dawn in order to fish through first light and sunrise at 6.21 a.m. I rigged up my Daiwa Air Edge rod, Shimano Sustain 4000 reel. I was using the 8lb Aldi braid and I started with a 20lb fluorocarbon leader to give myself a chance against a bigger fish if one was around. Low tide would be at 9.43 am and there was not much swell.

There are lots of submerged rocks in this spot and I have caught stripey perch, trevally, bream, flathead, whiting and morwong/slatey bream here. I started by casting a DUO Realis Vib 62 (a sinking vibe lure) all around the rocks using the 9′ the Daiwa Air Edge rod. This did not get a bite. After 15 minutes, I swapped to 12lb leader, a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP 4-inch Minnow soft plastic lure in the Lime Tiger colour. As soon as it hit the water this was attacked by the ugly local long toms.

About 7.30 am I jumped back in the car and drove down the track to Wreck Rock. I walked out on the rocks at the north side of the small bay and started casting again with the same set up. The long toms were here as well.  I swapped through a couple of small and big GULP soft plastics, gradually moving further out along the rocks as the tide receded. At about 8.30 am the wind started to pick up from the south east. By now I was fishing with the GULP Cajun Chicken Jerkshad (black and pink colour). I was hopping it along the sandy bottom between the rocks, when I saw a fast shape swim up and grab it, at the foot of the rocks. Line started peeling and in the blink of an eye it was a silver flash in the waves 25 metres away. I tightened the drag a little which did little to slow it. But the fast action, fairly whippy Daiwa Air Edge rod soaked up the lunges. After a few minutes I had a 50 cm trevally at my feet. It had completely swallowed the soft plastic.

I bled the fish and re-rigged but could not find anymore. I swapped to a MARIA MJ Twitch suspending hard bodied minnow. This seemed to drive the long toms crazy but did not entice any other fish. By 10.15 am the wind had picked up to about 15 knots from the south east and the tide had turned, so I gave up.

Perth -Fremantle – Australian Salmon – 20 April 2016

Wednesday/ Thursday

On a Wednesday morning in April, I found myself up early (as always) and in Perth. I was here for a week and although I would not get to Ningaloo Reef or the more glamorous WA fishing spots, I would have time for a few early morning sessions near Perth.

I checked the internet for land based fishing spots near Perth CBD and realised that North and South Mole (the big rockwalls at the entrance the Port of Freemantle) were my best option. Dawn is refreshingly late in Western Australia at this time of year and so I woke at about 5.30 am and drove out to Fremantle.

I had packed a light spin rod and reel – Berkley Dropshot 7”, 1-3 kg IM-6 Dropshot and my Shimano Sustain 4000 reel. The mainline was 8lb Aldi yellow braid and I started with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. It was just before sunrise when I clambered over the rocks on the right side of North Mole Drive and I was amazed at how many cars and fisherman were already there. The water was flat, crystal clear and there was virtually no wind.

I rigged up a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and put on a GULP 4” minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just before sunrise I caught a small bream. I could now see fishermen everywhere with a variety of rigs including slugs/ baits and both big and small rods. I asked a guy next to me, what was going on and he explained big schools of Australian salmon had been coming through, so everybody had come down to catch one. All around me fishermen were casting metal slugs, hard bodies, poppers and baits.

I swapped down to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. Right on cue, on about my third cast I felt the bite, followed by the charge. A good sized Australian salmon soon came leaping out of the water, trying to spit the jighead out. It was well hooked but with a very light rod and 12lb leader, I was not in charge.

Things were made more complex by the fact that I was going to have to go with him. Which meant walking initially north, along the rock wall. There were lines to the right and left and interestingly no one seemed particularly interested in winding them in, to avoid a tangle. Somehow I only got tangled with one and we soon managed to undo the crossover. The fish was still leaping around but it was slowing. The small rod had no power but by gradually tightening the drag I managed to tire the fish.

No one had a net but the lack of swell meant I could get down safely to the base of the rocks, which I gradually did. I had been playing the fish for about 15 minutes when it started to come in much closer. I chose my spot and started to pull the fish in towards it. At the last minute it revived and put its head down in the weed around the rocks. That was all it needed to knock the lure out and it was gone.

Dejected but excited I then had to give up for the day and go and do some work. But the next morning I was back. This time with 20lb leader (the heaviest I had). I decided to fish the other side of the North Mole, at the entrance of the small harbour, facing the mouth of the river.

I arrived pre-dawn and cast around some big and small soft plastics and small metal slugs, without much success. I could see fisherman on the other side casting in to the main channel and catching a salmon, every now and then.

At about 7.00 am I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour, on a ¼ ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I kept getting hits close to the base of the rocks. Eventually something connected with the plastic and took off. It felt quite powerful but was faster than a salmon. As it came in to view I could see it was a junior samson fish (I presume this is, or is from the Amberjack family). It pulled very hard and took a little while to subdue. I photographed and released it. A little while later, Tom, a keen local angler caught a good salmon on a hard bodied minnow, right next to me. Fortunately another angler had a landing net that enabled me to help him get it safely up the rocks.

I swapped to one of my favourite small hard bodied lures – the DUO Realis Vib 62. This is a bass lure made in Japan, but fortunately fish have an open mind when it comes to trying foreign dishes. It is a sinking vibe and casts a long way. I started casting it out, into the main channel. It did not take long to get some interest. I felt a few knocks and then watched a big salmon follow it all the way to the base of the rocks before whacking it.

Today I was better prepared. Although the rod could not really put much pressure on the fish, the stronger leader meant I could pull a bit harder. It jumped around, as salmon do, but a treble was quite firmly lodged in its cheek. I was also lucky to have Tom’s assistance with the net. We soon landed the fish.

By now the rock walls were packed, but it was time for me to go to work again. I packed up and gave the fish to the guy who provided the net. Nice to catch a fish in Western Australia – I hope I will be back.

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

Bribie – the old oyster jetty shark adventure – 02 January 2014

Thursday

After a short break from fishing over Christmas and far too many mince pies and hangovers, I was anxious to clear my head and wet a line.

Some big blows were forecast but the best weather looked like Thursday morning. I did not have much time, so I decided I would carry on at Bribie, on the flats around the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage.

The new moon had arrived on Wednesday. As a result we are in the middle of some very big daytime high tides which provide advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, my experience suggests the fish feed more confidently when there is good tidal flow. Also, as a land-based fisherman you get to examine more of the terrain you regularly fish, as more of it is exposed on the really low tides that follow/ precede the big highs. On the negative side, the water and the fish move very quickly, so you often can only fish safely in one spot, for about 30 minutes. The big flows also lift a lot of sediment, weed and other debris – which can make the water very cloudy.

I walked out to the water’s edge, under the Bribie Bridge, in the dark, at about 4.15 am. Low tide had passed at about 3.30 am and there water was fairly still. There was not much weed floating around so I decided to fish with the DUO Realis Shad 59 MR. As I have mentioned, I have tried a few alternative,  small hard-bodied lures but I keep coming back to this one. It is a shallow running, suspending bibbed minnow, I was using the bronze colour and even on the first cast, the small moses perch attacked it. I was standing ankle deep in the water, casting into the shadows around the bridge pylons. On the next couple of cast the nudges and bumps from small fish continued. I think the rattle in this lure really gets them fired up.

After about 10 more casts I waded out a bit further, to about waist deep and put in a long one to the north of the bridge. As the lure hit the water I gave it a couple of pulls to get it running below the surface. Then there was a slight feeling of tension and it was gone. I wound in to find the leader cut cleanly by something.

I was fishing with only 10lb fluorocarbon leader, so I upped it to 14lb, the heaviest I had, and tied on a GULP soft plastic jerkshad on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead in the Lime Tiger colour. I lobbed this out to approximately the same spot and on my second cast, the same thing happened. I re-rigged and it happened again. There was something toothy out there so I backed up a little.

The sun was now peeping over the horizon and the tide was running in, fast. I decided to move quickly to the south of the old oyster jetty and look for some fish. Just after first light I caught a 40cm flathead on the GULP Lime Tiger jerkshad soft plastic. At this point, I realised I had my camera but I had forgotten to put the battery back in.

I moved further south, casting in to the incoming tide. There was now a lot of weed around and it was hot and still. The water was very murky. As the birds flew over the shallows they spooked some big bait schools. For an hour I swapped soft plastics and fished along the edge of the sand banks, but I could not get a bite. At about 5.30 am, I noticed a bit of movement in the water about 30 metres to the south, in the shallows. I thought I saw a few fins but assumed they were just the tips of rays’ wings which you often see in this area.

By 6.00 am I still had not had a bite. The tide was now running in quickly and I was standing about 3 metres from the edge of the long weed bank that runs along this part of the flats. At the edge of the weed there is a sloped sandy drop off. The water beyond the drop off is only a couple of metres deep but this is where the bait tends to school up.

As I stopped to swap plastics again, a fin broke the surface just a few metres in front of me. At first I thought it was a dolphin, but then I saw the tail fin and realised it was a decent sized bull shark, moving very slowly along the edge of the bank. I immediately started slowly wading backwards from the edge. It was followed by another shark, a couple of metres behind that was also swimming with its fins above the surface.

After covering a few metres I looked back and to my disappointment I realised that the tide had been coming in so fast that I now had a good 30 metres of waist deep water to walk through, before I could reach the safety of the sand bank. I waded as fast as I dared and as you can imagine, I covered the ground pretty quickly.

From the safety of the sand bank, I counted at least 8 fins – so perhaps four sharks – in the group. I expect there were a few more.  On reflection it is difficult to work out how big, but they were certainly all over 2 metres and the first one that I saw quite clearly would have been 2.5 + metres long. I knew there was plenty of bait around but they did not seem to be hunting. They just cruised slowly up and down the edge of the banks and the fins would only break the surface when the water got too shallow. They stayed over the sandy areas and did not seem to venture up over the weed beds. I watched them for 30 mins and decided I would leave that area to them.

I waded back to towards the bridge and stopped under it to have a few casts in the shallows. I was now fishing with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic on the Banana Prawn colour, on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was back down to 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I was about ankle deep in the water (I was reluctant to go any further – for obvious reasons). I was standing to the north of the bridge and I cast close to the pylons and hopped the shrimp back to me, across the rubble on the bottom. As the lure hopped over a sandy patch, no more than 20 cm deep, there was a big surge and something grabbed it and turned away.

 

The tide was running fast across these shallows and the fish drifted with it for a few metres. I then lifted my rod tip and set the hook. It carried on drifting for a few moments and then it took off towards Caloundra. The rod tip bent over and the reel started screaming.  There was rubble on one side, mangroves on the other and the barnacle covered bridge pylons in the middle (and probably a selection of sharks, further out). I walked north with the fish, away from the bridge and let it take line. It was very heavy and slow and initially I thought it might be a ray. The two initial runs were long and powerful but the rod kept soaking up the lunges and eventually it calmed down. After about 5 minutes of steering I had it close enough to the shore to grab the leader. As soon as the leader took the full weight of the fish it snapped but I was able to push it onto the shore with my boot.

I was now under the bridge, so I raced to the car that was now only a few metres away and grabbed the phone and tape measure. I measured her at about 77 cm, and after a couple of pictures, she swam away, unharmed. It had been quite an eventful session. Wherever you are fishing take care!