Yeppoon – Emu Park – 29 October 2013

Monday

Up early and back out to Emu Park to see if I could find more fingermark. I had the replacement Berkley Dropshot and the Shimano Stella 2500 was pretty well suited to it. I upped my leader to 14lb fluorocarbon, mainline was original fused Fireline, rated 8lb.

I have probably said this before, but I love the original fused Fireline in the fluoro/yellow colour. It casts well, I can see it in low light and it is extremely tough. The only downside is that I need a new spool of it after every 5/6 sessions, when its starts to fray and breakdown. I have tried Berkley Exceed and Nanofil but these are not an improvement on the original. Just make the original more durable please Berkley.

I arrived just after 5.00 am and there was a bit more water over the rocks and the wind was up. It was an easterly, blowing about 10 knots. There were a few clouds around, but rain was unlikely. The moon was a waning crescent with the new moon not due for about a week. The tide was running out and would be low just before 10.30 am.

The first fish was a tiny striped perch who grabbed the soft plastic, in close to the rocks. Next came the obligatory small cod. I fished for 30 minutes and caught a few more small cod. Perhaps the Fingermark had moved on.

Just after 6.00 am I found them again – maybe they were having a lie in. The first one made a tentative nudge at the soft plastic lure as it sank (a GULP 4” Minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour), then it (or one of its companions) followed it in to the shore and thumped it right at the edge of the rocks. It took off and the added strength of the Berkley Dropshot was immediately apparent. It was a good size fish so I actually loosened the drag a little to avoid straightening the hook or pulling it out, and let the fish wear itself out. A minute or two later I had it at my feet. It was another very nice fingermark, well over 50cm long.

I released it, tidied up the soft plastic lure, re-positioned it on the jighead and cast it out again. Two lifts of the rod tip and bang, I was on again. It was another slightly smaller fingermark. The fish were definitely eating now. I released it and cast out again. This time the soft plastic did not reach the bottom. A fish walloped it and took off for New Zealand. A couple of times I felt that I might be slowing it down, but it was probably just pausing for a rest. I gradually tightened the drag but it did not make much difference. This fish was big and I could not really apply any pressure. Eventually the line went slack and I pulled in a bent jighead.

The jighead was a TT Headlockz series; 1/8th ounce , size 2/0 hook. These carry a GULP Minnow 4” soft plastic very nicely. I have however, straightened a few of them. I think the heavier gauge hook necessary for the Headlockz system gives the impression they are heavier duty than they actually are. In my experience the original fine gauge Tournament Series TT/ Gamakatsu jigheads (in the orange backed packet) are actually tougher than the Headlockz. Having said that, I would probably not have landed this fish with a 6/0 heavy duty jighead – it was just too powerful.

I re-rigged, this time with a bigger GULP 5” Jerkshad but after 10 minutes, this produced nothing. I swapped back to the smaller GULP 3” Minnow first in Peppered Prawn and then in Watermelon Pearl colour. I caught three smaller fingermark on each, over the next 30 minutes. It seems lure size was important to these fish.

At about 7.30 am I caught a small estuary cod and that was it – everything suddenly went quiet. I tried a few different soft plastics and moved to a few other spots around the headland, but it seems the fish had shut down again.

Another great session and a good way to warm up a new rod.

Yeppoon – Emu Park – 27 October 2013

Sunday

Finally a morning with virtually no wind forecast. I decided to head for Emu Park to fish the rocks. Low tide would be around 9.30 am and the moon was in its last quarter. I started at one of the headlands towards Zilzie and climbed out on to the rocks just after first light, at about 5.00 am.

There was virtually no wind and the sea was still. The water was not particularly clear and there was the bad smell of a recent algal bloom on the rocks. I was fishing light – actually I did not have a choice – as I had noticed, the night before, the tip on my heavier rod had snapped off during my recent travels.

I rigged up with 12lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I was using my trusty Loomis GL2 light spin rod and Shimano Stella 2500. I have fished here a few times in the cooler months and found some good Bream. This morning the first taker was a tiny greedy estuary cod. I caught a few of these and swapped through a few colours and styles of soft plastics.

After about 45 minutes the cod where the only thing biting, so I moved round to the rocky outcrop in front of the ‘Singing Ship’ at Emu Park. It was now about 6.15 am and already getting warm. I stuck with the same light rod but swapped to a lighter, 1/12th ounce, size 1 hook, jighead. I put on a 3” GULP Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. I positioned myself right on the end of the outcrop and cast to the north of a large bommy that sits a few metres offshore. If you are fishing land-based, you can only reach this spot for a few hours either side of low tide.

After a couple of casts in various directions, I felt a very solid and obvious thud as the lure sunk. I paused and then lifted the rod tip fairly quickly. I had hooked the fish and now it took off for the submerged rocks and caves, which are all over the seafloor in this area. I could not really muscle it in with my light rod, so I let it take line when necessary and very slowly tightened the drag. I gradually started to move it towards me. It managed to get behind the rocks a couple of times but, on both occasions I let it swim out and then successfully took up the slack.

It was soon in the wash at my feet and I could see it was a good sized Fingermark with the tell-tale black dot on its side. I grabbed the leader and pulled the fish clear of the water. I recovered the soft plastic with the aid of my pliers. It was a long way down its throat. The fish was about 50 cm long and it looked like the perfect size for dinner, so I put it in a nearby rock pool that was big enough to act as a live well.

I re-loaded the soft plastic on the jighead and cast into the same area. Just a few retrieves later, I was on to another fish. This one was bigger and put up a more spirited fight. My 2 to 4 lb Loomis rod was working pretty hard. I saw a big tail flap over and thought I had it, but as I increased the pressure the jighead came free.

I re-rigged – same small 1/12th ounce jighead, same small soft plastic. 12lb leader was all I had with me, so that had to do. Things went quiet for 30 minutes and I mover around the rocks in either direction looking for more good spots. I had another solid bit but did not hook the fish.

Just after 7.00 am I was back where I had caught the first fish. I lobbed out a long cast and again, as I lifted the plastic off the bottom I felt that very solid whack! This was another good fish. It did not do much initially but as soon as it realised something was wrong, it went mad and leapt clean out of the water. It remained on the line but tried to bury itself under a weedy ledge. After a few minutes I pulled it clear with a great lump of weed on its nose. It was about 55cm – so I added it to the live well. I decided to stay in this spot and was soon rewarded with another smaller Fingermark – about 40cm. I let this one go and carried on fishing.

It was now about 7.30 am. I lobbed a cast up close to the edge of the bommy and let it sink. I paused and gave it a couple of slow lifts and then paused again. Next time, I felt a very light tap as I lifted the rod tip and then a solid whack! The fish took the lure and turned for open water. It stripped perhaps 25 metres of line in two long, straight runs and I began to think it might be some kind of pelagic. I held on, tightened the drag as much as I dared and held the spool to slow it ever so slightly, each time it to tried run again. I gradually tired it out and fortunately it had stayed clear of the worst structure. After a few minutes it was close to the sloping rock where I had pulled the other fish ashore. Bit this would be tricky. Its tail flapped over and I could see it was a big Fingermark. I waited for a surge in the light swell and heaved the fish up. Crack! My beloved G.Loomis GL2 light spin rod made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. It snapped just above the join but the leader was intact and still attached to the fish. I grabbed the line and pulled the fish up the rocks and it just reached safety before the leader also snapped.

I sat clutching the fish with one hand and broken rod in the other, with my heart still pounding from the fight. It had been a fantastic capture and it was a marvellous fish. We do not get to sample much reef fish in my house, so I decided to keep the three in the live well. The big one measured in at 63cm and it probably weighed in somewhere between 3 and 4 kg – maybe more.
Needless to say that was the end of the session – but what a session it had been!

Yeppoon – Double Head – 31 July 2012

Tuesday

I was up before dawn and headed straight back down to Double Head, beside Rosslyn Bay Harbour to see if I could have a return match, with the fish that robbed me the day before. I started with the heavy rod again. This time I re-tied the leader and checked everything was solid.

Definitely the best time of the day to fish

I tied on a 3/8th 2/0 jighead and loaded a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. The horizon was glowing red and the water was calm. High tide would be at about 8.00 am and it was now just after 6.20 am. I cast out and moved the plastic quite quickly, to stop the heavier head getting snagged. About two metres out there was a bite, and then, close to the rocks the fish grabbed it and headed for its hole.

A 40cm Fingermark

This one was not so big, and after a few moments, I got it clear of the rocks and up to my feet. It was a 40 cm Fingermark. It had pulled hard but it was not the monster of the day before. I continued fishing for another two hours, but I could not find anymore. In fact. I did not get another bite.

Fantastic scenery – Double Head

It was time to move on. I was pleased to have a decent fish from such a beautiful spot and hoped to get back again in a few days.