Fingal Head – more Tailor & more Jewfish – 7 November 2012

Wednesday

Monday’s rock fishing session had me all fired up. There was plenty of bait around and the Tailor and Jewfish would probably stick around as long as it was there. I set the alarm for 2.45 am and arrived at Fingal Head just after 4.00 am (QLD time).

There was not much swell or wind, but the light breeze was from the north east. I walked out to the rocks and rigged up the heavy rod. I was fishing with 20lb braid and 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a DUO Roughtrail. This is a 130mm sinking, hard bodied, minnow lure. It is designed for tough swell conditions and has a fairly thick bib that keeps the rolling action on track,even in choppy water. It is also a bit tougher than the standard range.

The sun was not yet over the horizon, and it was about 4.50 am when I finished rigging up. The first cast flew away nicely and the lure quickly found its rhythm. On the second, there was an obvious bump, as the lure passed over a submerged bommy. On the third, the line pulled tight and I hooked up. I pulled the fish round the rocks to the north of the platform and landed it – another 50cm Tailor. I took some pictures and bled it. This fish had a treble through its gills so I had to keep it. I quite enjoy eating Tailor when its fresh, but one fish per session is usually enough for me.

I cast out again and a few metres in to the retrieve, the DUO Roughtrail was slammed and line was peeling, this was a bigger fish and it took me straight down into the rocks and released itself. Disastrously, it left the Roughtrail behind – snagged firmly below the water line. I snapped the line and reviewed my tackle options. I was pretty much out of hard bodied minnow lures. I tried a couple of slugs, a 65g and 85g raider, but these did not get any interest. I also tried a big popper, without success.

By 7.00 am I decided to try the light rod and fish with some soft plastic lures. I put on a 16lb leader and a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I chose a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I let the plastic sink, in close to rocks and after a couple of casts I caught a Bream.

I released it and tried casting the plastic so it would float down beside a submerged bommy, about 6 metres out. Just as I was pulling the plastic over the top of the bommy, a fish grabbed it and the rod bent over. The fish was slow and powerful and immediately headed south. I had the light rod, so I had to go with it. I started to exert some pressure but it was still setting the agenda. I assumed it was a Jewfish but I still had not seen it. It swam round into the mouth of the channel, between the rock platform and the mainland and then I caught sight of a 70-80cm Jewfish.

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The fish was nicely hooked but had plenty of kick left in it. Con, the other fisherman on the rocks, came over to assist but with no gaff and a long way down to a point where we could grab the fish, our options were limited. I tried to ease the fish on to some flat rocks that I could get down to, between wave sets. The swell had built up through the morning and was now easily strong enough to knock me in, if I timed it wrong. I pulled the fish clear of the water and it lay, obligingly on a rock about a metre below. Just then a big wave came through and I had to retreat. As I tried to keep the fish on the rocks the leader snapped, but miraculously the fish just lay there for what seemed like ages (probably 30 seconds) until the next set came through and washed it back into the water.

It seemed like fishing light had done the trick but how would I land them? I swapped up to 20lb leader to give myself more of a chance, but I stuck with the light rod and jighead. About 15 minutes later I was on again. This time the fish had struck right at the base of the rocks, on the eastern side of the rock platform. There was a big swell by now, crashing into the rocks every few minutes and the fish took off to the south again. The last one had shown me that south was not a good option. I tightened the drag and pulled hard, hoping to pull the fish round to the north. I made a bit of headway, but then the line went slack and the fish was gone.

I swapped to the heavy rod with 30lb leader and carried on fishing for another hour. I cast all around the platform and tried a few more different soft plastics, but I did not get another bite. At about 9.30am, I cleaned up the Tailor and gave up for the day.

Fingal Head – Plenty of Tailor – 5 November 2012

Monday

The weather looked OK for some rock fishing on Monday. It was forecast as a slight south easterly breeze and swell. It has been a while since we have had the wind from this direction, at dawn. It means that the swell can be difficult but I think the dawn bite is more aggressive when the wind is blowing this way.

I decided on Fingal Head again. I have been catching fish there and it is a beautiful spot even when you are not. I arrived just after 4.30 am to find 3 fishermen out on the rocks already and I could see one was half way through a battle with a decent fish. He had a very light rig and had tempted the fish with a metal slug. He landed it safely and it was a good sized Tailor around 55cm. By now one of the others had hooked up. He was fishing with a shallow diving 110mm Minnow and a wire trace. He landed his fish and several others over the next 30 minutes.

I wasted no time rigging up but in my excitement lost a DUO Beachwalker MD 120 minnow to the rocks, on my first cast. I put on another and moved round to the front of the platform. The wind was stronger than forecast and this made getting down low on the rocks to get the most action out of the shallow diving minnow, difficult. The fish seemed pretty aggressive so I switched to a RAPALA ‘walk the dog’ lure. I got the fish to follow this one and even saw a couple of aborted strikes, but I could not hook up.

In the meantime the other three now had about 6 good fish in the bleeding pond. I swapped again, this time to a the DUO Bay Ruf Manic sub surface stick bait. I had toughened this one up a bit with stronger single hooks and split rings. A fish knocked it out of the water and then there was a good swirl beside it, but I still could not hook up. This was a good bite but the shallow diving minnow was definitely out fishing everything else. I looked for something similar in the tackle box. I found an 18 gram, 90mm, sinking YOZURI Crystal Minnow in a silvery colour and tied this on with 30lb fluorocarbon leader.

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Things had slowed a little and the others had stopped to clean their fish – they had about 10 between them – all between 50 and 60cm. This gave me access to a bit more waterfront. The swell was slapping against the rocks and making it tricky to finish the retrieve without getting the lure snagged. I cast out at 45 degress to the north east of the rock platform and let the lure drop down in the water column. I retrieved it fairly slowly with plenty of pauses. Three casts in and bang – a fish grabbed it. The line slackened momentarily, as it pushed the lure towards me and then it took off. It was a decent Tailor and it put in a few jumps trying to head south. The only place to land them safely when the swell is up, is on the north side of the platform, but the current is usually pulling them round to the south and so you have too subdue them fairly quickly.

I took the sting out of this one and got it round to the north, where the trebles pulled free, just as it came up on to the rocks. Fortunately the fish fell between two rocks and I reached down and grabbed it behind the gills. It was a good Tailor just short of 50cm. I bled the fish and cast out the lure again. I felt another hit in the same spot but on the next retrieve I connected with a rock and lost the lure. I was reminded once again why I should buy shares in lure manufacturers.

I looked through the tackle box and was disappointed to discover that I did not have another shallow diving minnow with me. I tried an 85g and 65g Raider metal slug, but these did not raise a bite. By about 8.30 am I had switched to soft plastic lures and I was fishing on the lighter Shimano Catana rod. I was using a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and because of the swell I had put it on a ¼ ounce 1/0 jighead. As I was finishing a retrieve, a fish hit the plastic right at the base of the rocks. I set the hook and it took off. It broke the surface a few metres out and it looked like a small Tailor. Then it managed to bite through or rub off the 10lb leader I had dropped down to.

At about 9.00am with the swell building so I decided to give up. The hour either side of dawn remains the most consistent fishing time at the moment. I will be back again soon.