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.
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.