Iluka – Shark Bay – Jewfish – 19 March 2016

Saturday would be my last morning in Iluka for a while. Despite praying for calmer weather the wind was forecast to pick up. I had a lie in as low tide would not be until 2.30 pm. I arrived at Shark Bay at about 10.30 am.

All week I had been expecting the stirred up seas to reveal a few Jewfish/ Mulloway. There was lots of bait around and previous trips, at this time of year have nearly always produced a few. The big seas had made it difficult to reach my favourite spots – perhaps the fish were there but I just could not get to them.

With this in mind I decided to start on the southern side of the Shark Bay rock platform. I would be casting straight in to the south-easterly wind so I needed to fish with something fairly heavy. There are lots of rocks on this side of the platform so I was not confident I would keep my lure.

I have a couple of Rapala 13g, 6cm Clackin Raps, lipless vibe lures which have been rattling around the bottom of the tackle bag for ages. I have never caught anything on these lures so I was not too worried about losing them. I rigged up the lighter of my rock fishing rods (the Daiwa Air Edge) and tied the lure on to my Aldi braid and 20lb fluorocarbon carbon leader. I cast the lure into the surf and waited for it to sink. The sea was very lively and I could only just feel the juddering vibrations as I yanked the lure along. After about three casts the lure pulled tight on something and I thought I had hit some kelp. I pulled the rod tip up and then line started peeling. I knew it was a Jewfish straight away. It made three long powerful steady runs and then started swimming back towards me. The game of cat and mouse continued for about 10 minutes. The rod was not powerful enough to force the issue, so I just had to be patient. After a couple more minutes the fish popped over on its side, a few meters from the shore. It looked as if it was beaten, so I tightened the drag a little and tried to pull it over the rocks with the next surge. Either the wave or sense of impending doom caused it to suddenly wake up and it put its head back down and tried to bury itself. The leader slipped down between the cunjevoi and I could not free it. I could see the fish and lure hanging on by just the single big hook on the front treble, a few metres in front of me, but could not get to it. Another big wave came over and when it receded the fish was gone and the lure was lodge firmly in the cunjevoi. They always getting bigger in your memory but I think it was about a 6kg fish. I realised I did not have my camera with me – perhaps that’s why I could not hold on to the fish.

Rapala

I had another, bigger Clackin Rap and I cast this around without success. As the tide lowered I moved to the front of the rock platform, also on the southern side. I swapped to a soft plastic on a ¼ ounce 2/0 jighead. I needed the weight to cast against the wind. I put on a GULP Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I lost the first to the rocks and tied another one on. After a few casts this was slammed in the surf, close in. The fished pulled hard and when I finally subdued it, I was surprised to only see a small Trevally.

The challenge in this spot was losing gear to the rocks and I lost a few more rigs over the next hour or so. I swapped to a Gulp Jerkshad soft plastic in the Sweet and Sour Chicken colour and when I got this one in to a good foamy patch of water just beyond the rocks, I almost instantly hooked up. This time it was a 55cm tailor and I managed to pull it in.

I finished the session casting the long DUO Pressbait Saira hard body off the northern end of the rock platform. As it had done all week the lure found lots of long toms and a few more small tailor.

Just after low tide I stopped for the day. It had been another great week of fishing at Iluka.

1770 Getaway Beach, Flat Rock & Wreck Rock – 6/7 November 2014

Thursday/ Friday

The weather stayed good at 1770 on Thursday and Friday. The winds were light northerlies and the sea flattened out. Unfortunately the low tide was in the middle of the day which meant the fishing timetable was not ideal. Low tide just after dawn and dusk would be my favourite, but you cannot have everything you desire.

I fished at Flat Rock and Wreck Rock on the dawn high tides without much luck. As the tide ran out towards lunch time, I found more and more fish. But they were generally small dart, stripey and moses perch and the odd whiting. During these middle of the day low tides I had to drop down to a 1/8thounce, size 2 hook jighead, 8lb fluorocarbon leader and GULP 3” Minnow soft plastics to entice the fish into action. Typically each session would produce a couple of good size dart and I kept a few for dinner.

Dart is really about the only fish I enjoy eating raw. It needs to be bled soon after capture, filleted and refrigerated and then left for about 12 hours.Then comes the tricky bit – take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature, before you eat it. The flesh is firm and perfect with a little chilli soy or fish sauce and lime.

Incidentally, the more I catch fish the less I eat it in restaurants. When you know the texture, feel and taste of really fresh fish, it is very hard to eat something that has been sitting around, even a few days. I encourage everybody to catch some bream, whiting or flathead during the holidays, fillet them and eat them. Yes, it’s a bit of a hassle to take the fish home and clean it up, and sometimes it hardly seems worth it – but you will definitely taste the difference. It is also often the smaller fish like dart and whiting, that taste the sweetest.

In desperation I even tried a tiny popper at Flat Rock – hoping to tempt some larger whiting. Instead, this just caught another small dart. A constant stream of small fish still made the fishing fun and as usual the scenery and sunrises were spectacular.

Bribie – The old oyster jetty flats – 31 October 2014

Friday

On Friday I was back on home turf and had a few hours clear in the morning. I set the alarm for 4.00 am and drove up to Bribie to see what I could find. I passed through a few showers on the way up from Brisbane, but by the time I waded out under the bridge, at about 5.00 am, the rain had stopped.  The tide would be running out and would be low at 8.20 am. There was not much of a sunrise but the sky was getting lighter, as I waded south towards the old oyster jetty. I was fishing with my light spin rig – Loomis TSR rod, Shimano Stella 2500 reel, 10lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I started by fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. This is always what I start with when I am not sure what to start with. It’s a consistent performer and looks just like a small pilchard or mullet.  I was using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0  hook jighead. At about 6.15 am, I was 30 metres to the south of the jetty, I felt the tug of a flathead, dropped the rod tip and paused. I lifted and hooked it. It was a decent fish just over 50cm, I photographed and released it.

The clouds thickened and I got a light soaking. I waded further south. The bites were few and far between. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour and this produced a bite on the first cast. I threw it back in the same direction and paused for a little longer. This time I hooked it. It was a small flounder. I have never really found one big enough to eat here, but I live in hope.

By about 7.00 am I had reached a point about half way to the green channel marker. I was hopping the jerkshad along the bottom towards me. Just as it reached me a flathead popped up and engulfed it. It turned as it tried to swallow and hooked itself. It was a very solid fish, so I let it take some line and started slowly wading back to the sand bank, behind me. It pulled hard but after a few determined runs it gave up and came with me. It was a great flathead probably just under 70 cm. I took a few pictures and released it.

I returned to about the same spot and swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour. After a few more cast, this lure caught another 45cm flathead and, a few casts later, a slightly smaller one. It was now about 7.30 am so I waded back towards the bridge. I caught two more very small flathead on the way.

By 8.00 am  with more rain threatening and a slowing tide, I gave up.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – 29 September 2104

Sunday – Morning

It was another mild morning in Iluka. A light northerly wind was doing its best to flatten the sea. I decided to fish Middle Bluff again and see if I could find a legal sized mulloway (jewfish).

At this point I will say my piece about the raising of the jewfish size limit in NSW. I have read a bit about the surveys that were done to determine whether or not the existing limit of 45 cm, was adequate to protect the species. They were very small surveys that relied on a lot of subjective judgments by local fisherman and fisheries officers, but it would have been financially impossible for them to be developed any other way. After putting together these surveys, NSW fisheries concluded that fish at 45cm were not having a chance to reproduce before being caught, so they have raised the legal size to 70 cm and set a bag limit of two. Commercial fishermen also have to obey by the new rules, although they are allowed to keep some smaller fish, under by catch rules. If I have got any of this factually wrong, please comment and correct me.

If we want sustainable fish stocks we need to carry out credible scientific research. Our duplicated state fisheries departments do not need any more boats, trailers, life jackets, uniforms or rulebooks. They need scientists and scientific rigour in their research processes. The science used to support this decision may be proved right but I would have liked to see much more comprehensive studies. We now have the ridiculous situation where on one side of the Tweed River the Mulloway size limit is 70cm and on the other, it is 75cm.

It was another spectacular sunrise at Middle Bluff. I decided to fish with the light rig from the beginning and stick to the soft plastics. I was using 16lb fluorocarbon leader and a ¼ ounce, size 1/0 hook Nitro jighead. I loaded up with a GULP 4” Minnow in the new Green Camo colour.

The sun came over the horizon at about 5.30am and by 5.45am, I had my first fish. It was another mulloway/ jewfish, but it would not be dinner because it was only about 45cm long. I unhooked it in a rock pool and took a few pictures, then speared it back down in to the wash. It had grabbed the plastic very close to the rocks again.

I put in plenty of casts but could not get another. I swapped down to a lighter 10lb fluorocarbon leader and put on a GULP 2” Shrimp, also in the Green Camo colour. I moved a little further north along the rocks and cast down into the wash. I let the soft plastic waft around, but I left it too long and got snagged. I re-rigged and put it back in the same spot. After a couple of casts I felt a solid hit and the rod bent over. Fortunately, the swell was light and I was able to get down quite close to the water. I let the fish take some line then tightened the drag a little and lifted it up, onto the rocks with the help of a wave. It was a very solid 37cm bream. So I would have something for dinner.

 

 

I fished on for another hour but the wind picked up and the tide started in, making fishing a bit hard. At about 9.00 am, I cleaned up the bream and walked back along the beach to the car.

Sunday Afternoon

On Sunday afternoon I decided to wade out on the stretch of the Clarence River – just in front of the Anchorage Holiday Park. There are sand banks and weed beds and it looks like an ideal flathead spot. I started just before 5.00 pm. The tide was running out and I waded across the sandy and muddy bottom until I came to the weed banks that fringe the deeper main river channel. As I was exploring, I started by fishing with a soft plastic that I am very confident using – the GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was fishing with my estuary light spin rod, 10lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead.

It did not take long to find the fish. I caught a couple of small flathead first and then a legal one (40cm), that was sitting in a sandy hollow. I waded up river and decided to switch to a DUO Realis Shad 59 MR hard bodied lure. This is a medium diving lure and the flathead and bream love it. As the sun set, I caught a couple more small flathead on this lure.

I had fished at dawn and dusk and caught fish at both sessions – and had a nice bream for dinner – living the dream!

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 Island – the old oyster jetty flats – 20 June 2014

Friday

Sorry readers but I need to post one more very old report for the sake of the historical record. In a thousand years, when the new inhabitants of our planet decipher this blog from a fossilized hard drive, they will be truly perplexed. Imagine the discussion: ‘Yes it appears they wandered around in shark infested waters in long rubber trousers and then used brightly coloured plastic fish to try to catch more fish…….. and when they did finally catch them, they usually let them go!’

So cast you mind back to late June and a cold snap. The flathead fishing had been good but was gradually slowing. The temperature had been down to 9 Celsius overnight and the water was very cold. A light, cold, south westerly wind was forecast. The moon was 50% full and waning. There had been some very light showers overnight and after sun up, the sky was grey and cloudy.

I waded out under the Bribie Bridge at about 6.00 am. Low tide would be at about 9.00 am, so there was still plenty of water covering my favourite target areas. The first taker was a 40 cm flathead, lurking under the lights to the north of the bridge. It swallowed a GULP Pearl Watermelon Jerkshad at about 6.20 am. I was fishing with a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and using 10 lb fluorocarbon leader. I let the fish go and moved on.

The sky looked ominous. I moved south towards the old oyster jetty. It took about an hour to find the next fish. 45 cm long, it was sitting on a sandy patch of bottom, in the middle of the weed beds, just east of the big sand bank and south of the jetty. I then caught three more fish from the same patch of sandy bottom, in quick succession. They were all just over 40 cm long.

I carried on wading south. After no luck for a while I swapped to a Zman Minnowz paddletail soft plastic, in the Opera colour. This one stirred up another flathead, after a few casts. It was probably about 35 cm long. I carried on with this plastic for another 20 minutes and kept moving. Then I swapped again, this time to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Sardine colour. Once more the change of offering produced a fish – but again it was under the 40cm legal size limit.

As low tide approached I had to give up for the day. Despite the cold water and wind, there were still a few fish around.

Bribie Island – the old oyster jetty flats – 18 June 2014

Wednesday

Here is a very old report that I forgot to post. I am ashamed to say that I did not wet a line in July. It was not just because I was afraid of freezing my nuts off.  The requirement to find some money briefly diverted me from my true purpose. I was out again yesterday, at Bribie and things were very tough and cold. I will post that report later.

So here is a report for 18th of June. I arrived early – about 5.30 am and there had been some very could south westerlies in the preceding days. The forecast was for a 15 knot south-westerly, first thing, but the wind was actually much lighter.

I ran into Dave, a keen local fisherman who works for fisheries. He told me about the fisheries Keen Angler programme – you can find out more at http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/fisheries/monitoring-our-fisheries/recreational-fisheries/get-involved-in-fisheries-monitoring/keen-angler-program. The program website has links to research updates and species population structures, which are quite interesting.

It was a bright clear morning. The water was fairly clear but the big night time high tide had lifted the weed. I waded past a dead flathead carcass in the shallows. Perhaps it was a fish that had not survived a release. The pelicans, kites, cormorants and wobbegongs usually tidy these up pretty quickly. There were a couple of Pelicans cruising the flats and it looked like they were chasing the tiny squid that I keep coming across.

 

Low tide was at 7.37 am. In theory it should have been perfect session. I could access all the fish holding areas at the bottom of the tide and the wind was not strong enough to make things difficult. But, in practice it was pretty tough.

After cycling through a few bigger soft plastic jerkshads I swapped down to a 2” GULP Shrimp (floating) in the grey colour. I understand these new floating GULPS are designed for targeting Bream in the upper water column – but that only works if you put them on zero weight jigheads, which I have always found impossible to cast. I picked them up because I could not find any in my favorite Peppered Prawn colour. The floating ones are made of a different material (to make them more buoyant) and they do not look as appealing.

But Flathead will eat anything and about 30 metres south of the end of the old oyster jetty, I caught a 43cm model. I gradually waded all the way along the big sand bar to the green channel marker and after swapping back to a GULP Pearl Watermelon coloured jerkshad, I found a slightly smaller flathead. I turned back and about half way between the jetty and the marker I caught another, similar sized Flathead on the same soft plastic.

As I waded back to the car the dolphin family arrived and started hurling themselves around under the bridge.  Beautiful day, fantastic scenery but the fish were hard to find.

Bribie – the oyster jetty to the channel marker – 10 April 2014

Thursday

I only had time to fish the afternoon run-in tide on Thursday. I arrived at the mainland side of the Bribie Island Bridge at about 12.30 pm. It was a hot, humid day.  It had rained again, in the morning and there was a light northerly wind. Low tide had passed at 12.20 pm. It was a hot still afternoon.




Clumps of weed everywhere

I waded south past the oyster jetty. The water was hardly moving but it was very dirty. As the tide started to run in, it became difficult to fish as the jighead caught on clumps of black, rotting weed. I swapped through a few different soft plastic lures and decided to stick with the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken (black & pink) colour.

Just one keeper

It was hard work and I waded further south. As the tide picked up pace, I caught a 45 cm flathead, about 50 metres to the south of the jetty. It was now about 1.30 pm. I carried on towards the green channel marker and caught another 30 cm flathead at about 2.00 pm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I swapped to the Mad Scientist Optishad paddletail soft plastic and I got a few bites on this but could not stay connected with anything. Just to the north of the big exposed sand bar I felt a bite. I hooked the fish but it was a slurping, spitting spiny puffer fish. This reminded me why I wear waders. I carefully retrieved my lure with the aid of my pliers.

Porcupine puffer

By about 2.30 pm the incoming tide was pushing me off the edge of the weed beds so I gave up and waded back to the car. It had been a tough session in the middle of the day.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 8 April 2014

Tuesday

Stormy weather

Stormy weather

A massive storm hit Bribie Island on Sunday – dumping significant rain and really stirring things up. So I left it until Tuesday to go fishing again. It was now about half way between the new moon and the full moon. The wind was forecast to be a light south-westerly. It felt noticeably cooler as I got out of the car, by the bridge at about 5.30 am. The water was definitely cooler, as I waded out on to the flats beside the old oyster jetty. Low tide would be at about 10.30 am.

Just to the south of the jetty I concentrated on a patch of weed that has produced a few flathead in the past. I was fishing with a Gulp 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I had it rigged on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. As it is now possible that there are a few Tailor around, I am consistently fishing with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. This won’t stop big fish but it might give me a chance with some good sized choppers.

At about 6.00 am, I felt a few very aggressive bites but did not hook up. I persisted in the same spot and after about 10 minutes, I felt a solid yank and line started peeling. I had hooked a big Long Tom and it promptly leapt out of the water for the camera. I let it get rid of some energy then released it, recovered my jighead and chewed soft plastic. The leader was completely lacerated. So I cut off the last 10 cm and tied my jighead back on. I straightened the soft plastic and carried on casting.

The fishing was very tough. I tried a couple of small hard bodies and jerkshads with no success. By about 7.15am I had dropped down to a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. I managed to catch a couple of very small flathead on this plastic.

I waded all the way down to the big sand bar beside the green channel marker, but the fish were elusive.  I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour and this enticed another 30 cm flathead, but it was a long time between bites.

As the tide continued to run out I waded back closer to the oyster jetty and decided to swap to a Z Man Minnowz soft plastic in the Red Bone colour. As I have mentioned before I am no longer a fan of the Headlockz Jigheads. They hold the lure in place but I think they are a bit clunky for this type of estuary fishing. I therefore chose to put the plastic on a Nitro Bream Pro 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I hoped the vibration of the paddletail might be more obvious to the fish. It took a while, but after about 30 minutes I did finally catch a 45cm flathead. I swapped to a Minnowz in the Opening Night colour and after about another 30 minutes I caught another, about the same size.

By 10.00 am I had had enough and the wind had picked up. As I waded back towards the bridge a came across plenty of flathead lies – so the fish are around, somewhere. It had been another tough session.

Bribie Island – The Seaside Museum flats – 26 July 2013

My apologies for taking so long to post this report but standing waist deep in cold water finally took its toll last week and I caught a miserable man cold. At least 50% or more of my readers will be aware that this is, typically, far more serious than the milder colds that women contract. Frankly, I was surprised at my own courage and resilience. I battled my way out of bed to the sofa each morning and kept operating the remote control with no fuss at all. After about four days I had run out of fishing videos to watch and I realised I was better.

Cold and grey again

The weather has been very poor through to the end of July but the fish have been around if you can brave the elements. Hopefully things will settle down soon.

On the Friday in question, I decided to see if there were anymore bream or jewfish lurking around the mouth of the freshwater creek drain, at Bongaree, on Bribie Island. I arrived just before dawn. Unfortunately, there was another fairly strong cold south-westerly breeze blowing. Once more, nothing happened until the horizon started to glow behind me.

I was looking for bream so I started with a GULP 3″ Minnow in the pearl watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with my Loomis GL2 light spin rod and using 12lb fluorocarbon leader, in case the jewfish were around.

As the sun came up I felt couple of hits but could not hook a fish. At about 6.30 am, a fish grabbed the lure, as I pulled it over the edge of the drop off that runs parallel with the shoreline. It was a good one – over 30 cm long. I released it and went looking for more.

Found the first Bream at about 6.30 am

Found the first Bream at about 6.30 am

Should be plenty of bream around at the moment

Should be plenty of bream around at the moment

The wind was bitterly cold from the south west and it was building up. Low tide had passed at 6.03 am and the tide was running in slowly. I fished for another 2 hours, but all I managed was one more small flathead and at about 9.00 am I gave up.

Too cold and windy!

A small flathead could not resist the GULP Shrimp A small flathead could not resist the GULP Shrimp[/caption

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 15 July 2013

Monday

Another fishing opportunity – and another miserable weather forecast, cold wet and windy. You just have to get on with it. I could not start early but I was able to reach the Bribie Island Bridge just as the tide was starting to really run in, at about 9.00 am. Low tide had passed at about 7.45am. There was a thick grey band on the horizon and a cool south-westerly breeze.

I wandered out past the jetty, heading south to my usual stomping ground. As I did so, the wind dropped and the drizzle started. I only had about an hour before the incoming tide would push me back, away from the weed banks.

A few weeks ago there were some good mullet schools in this area, but they seem to have moved on. I waded quickly south, to one of the more productive spots, along a big weed-covered sandbank. There are nearly always fish of some kind here. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour – bright orange and yellow with a black fleck. I was fishing with 8lb leader and a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead. The water was still and fairly clear despite the wild weather so I was trying a high contrast soft plastic.

It did not take long. After a few casts, I felt a very slight grab. It could have been weed, but it felt a bit more solid. I dropped another cast in the same spot……….. nothing, except a clump of weed. I gave it one more try and bang, a flathead grabbed it and took off. The rod bent over and line peeled smoothly off the spool. The drag on the Shimano Stella 2500 had been expertly fixed by Neil at Jones Tackle – http://jonestackle.com.au/. It just required the adjustment of a small spring.

It was not a huge fish – about 50 cm, but it had plenty of fight in it. By the time it drew level with me, I could see it had completely swallowed the soft plastic. I pulled it over snipped the leader and slipped it into the keeper bag.

I re-rigged with the same plastic and peppered the area with casts. I did find another flathead so I moved about five metres further south. I put in a long cast and almost as soon as the soft plastic splashed through the surface of the water, there was a tug and then the line went slack. I wound it in to find the soft plastic Jerkshad and jighead gone. No idea what that was.

I tied on another Orange Tiger and cast it out. It was grabbed before it reached the bottom by an enormous Pike. It took plenty of line and made a few leaps, but it was nicely hooked in the side of the mouth, so the rod and drag soaked up the acrobatics. When I dragged it up close to me and unhooked it, I measured it at about 45cm.

I swapped over to a Zman Minnowz soft plastic in the Houdini colour. I thought the paddle tail might stir up the flathead. The tide was moving up fast and the drizzle kept falling. I only had 20 minutes left and then I would be pushed to far back to see where I was casting. After a few minutes of working the Zman I felt stop dead on the bottom. Then the fish started swimming. For the first time in ages I had a good fish hooked and I realised how little work my drag had been doing. I decided to pull it back to the shoreline – it was too big to grab while wading. After several good runs, I pulled a good 60cm flathead up, on to the sand and put it in the keeper bag.

The tide was now too high to carry on here, so I finished fishing at about 12.00 noon.

1770 – Baffle Creek – Flat Rock Ramp – 10/11 June 2013

Monday/ Tuesday

By Monday work was done and I was on my way back to Brisbane. I did have time for a quick stop at 1770. The weather was far from encouraging with heavy rain and persistent strong southeasterly winds. So on Monday morning I trekked round to the stretch of coast between Workman’s Beach and the beach I call Getaway Beach. This area is quite sheltered in a strong southerly. The top of the tide was just before dawn and I tried everything, big and small soft plastic and hard bodies – nothing raised a bite. The water was stirred up and murky and the swell made things tough. Every time I fished with heavy lures, I pulled up lots of weed and displaced rubbish from the bottom. When I fished lighter, I could not keep the lures in the water. After a few hours I gave up.

The weather looked good for Jewfish at 1770

The weather looked good for Jewfish at 1770

Tried everything in the tackle bag

Tried everything in the tackle bag

In the afternoon I decided to drive back to Brisbane, via Baffle Creek. I arrived at the Flat Rock boat ramp, just after lunch, at the top of the incoming tide. The wind was still a strong southerly and the rock bars to the east of the boat ramp were all covered in at least 30 cm of water. This area took a pummeling from the flooding, earlier in the year and there was plenty of evidence, with grass and debris still high up, in the mangroves. The ramp and picnic area were badly damaged but have now been repaired.

I waded out on the biggest rock bar just west of the picnic area and cast around the edges. The tide turned and started to run out just after 1.00 pm. There are big rock bars on either side of this channel. They form a funnel in the middle and on a big tide the water really races through. The water was quite clean at high tide, but got dirtier and dirtier as it ran out.

I started with GULP and Zman soft plastic on 1/6th oz, 1/0 jigheads. I had a few bites and watch the bait fish follow the lures in. Across from me on the other side of the channel, something was feeding in the eddies, formed by the opposite rock bar. I tried to land a few long casts in the right spot but I could not tempt them.

After about an hour, I move back upstream to the west of the boat ramp and cast around in the shallows. I was now fishing with my all-time favourite plastic, the humble 4 “ GULP Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour, on a 1/8th oz, 1 jighead. I was now down to 8lb leader, in the hopes of attracting a fish. After a few casts I did. It was a small dusky flathead. I continued along the sandy banks, casting at the base of the mangroves and soon found some more. I caught six in the next hour, but only two would have been just over 40 cm.

At about 3.00pm it was time to pack up. Overall, I had had a pretty disappointing couple of weeks on the fishing front. The fish had been small and hard to find. However, I had enjoyed exploring some new territory and as always, learning what does not work can be as important as learning what does. I found that when the going gets tough small, natural coloured soft plastics, like the GULP 4/3″ Minnows and light leaders, still produce results. The Zman Minnowz did not produce a fish on this trip – and they had plenty of outings. I will have to try their natural coloured minnow shaped range, but I still think the GULP scent and softer texture give their lures the edge. The weather had made things very hard but I believe the big flush out will set the area up for some great fishing in late winter. I am planning to get back up here as soon as I can.

Yeppoon – Byfield National Park – Kellys Landing – 8 June 2013

Saturday

On Saturday, I was back in Byfield National Park, so I decided to try fishing further up Water Park Creek, near Kelly’s Landing. There are thick mangroves lining the creek with only a few openings on to the muddy banks, along this stretch. A few visitors had arrived to camp beside the river and although we are well into the ‘dry’ season, the day started with rain patches, grey skies and drizzle.

This is another muddy spot and I was soon ankle-deep in the stuff. I squelched up river, using the same technique as I had on Wednesday. I was fishing with 8lb fluorocarbon leader, my light spin rig, small soft plastic minnows and shrimps on a 1/8th ounce, # 1 hook jighead. It was a new moon so there was a big, powerful outgoing tide.

The water was fairly shallow but formed some deeper channels close to the bank. In a few places there were oyster covered rocky outcrops and I settled in the mud, a few metres short of one of these and concentrated my efforts casting close to it.

I was using the GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon Colour. This was as close as I could get to the small bait fish. They were cruising up and down beside the rocks in small schools. After a few minutes, there was a surge and splash as something hit them from below.

I dropped my lure as close as I could to the rocks and let it sink. After about 10 seconds, I hopped it up, off the bottom and felt some resistance. I had a small flathead, about 35cm long. I persisted, casting along the edge of the mangrove roots and I soon had another – a bit over 40cm. I had found a patch and I caught three more over the next 30 minutes, all about the same size, in the same general area.

I kept fishing this spot for more than hour. As the tide went out I was able to climb onto the rocks and cast further upstream, from them. I was soaked, muddy, cold and kept losing gear to the oyster covered rocks and mangrove roots. I was pondering the long squelch back to the car when a freight train smashed the soft plastic, very close to the base of the rocks.

The fish took off, but fortunately it swam out into mid-stream. I only had 8lb leader on so I left the drag alone but did everything I could to keep the fish way from the rocks. It darted back into the mangrove roots and I thought it was gone. I kept the pressure on, but did not try to pull it out – I would just have snapped the light leader. After what seemed like a few minutes but was most likely 30 seconds, I saw the leader wiggle and the fish swam out. I pulled it a little further out and then tightened the drag and quickly lifted it clear of the water. It was a handsome mangrove jack – no monster – about 30 cm long. I took a few pictures and released it.

I decided to finish the session on a high note and so I gradually squelched and slid my way back to the car. On the way, I caught a couple more small flathead. Despite several interludes with the Zman Minnowz, I had not been successful with them – it was a GULP day today. Perhaps a different profile Zman would have worked as well as the GULP Minnow, but I think in the muddy water, the GULP scent may have been an advantage.

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 23 May 2013

Thursday

I was back in Brisbane and keen to fish at Bribie Island again. I wanted to see if the Flathead were still around, so I drove up, just after dawn on Thursday morning. The wind was light, but cold from the southwest. I had come through lots of fog on the drive up but by the time I reached the Bribie Bridge, the sky was clear.

I started on the island side of the bridge, fishing from the bank, without my waders on. The water was very clear and the tide was slacking off. It was about 6.30am and it would be high tide at 7.32 am. I tried a few plastics here and felt a few bites, then lost a few tails form various soft plastic lures. Small Tailor or Pike are usually the culprits in this location.

At 7.30 am I decided to warm up with a coffee while the tide turned. This period of slack water does not produce many fish for me so I decided to wait 30 minutes. Then, I drove back over the bridge, to the mainland side and pulled on my waders.

It was now about 8.15 am and there was still plenty of water at the mangrove line. As I waded out into the clear water I was shocked at how cold it had turned in just a few weeks. Unfortunately, the bright sunshine and clear days have triggered the algal bloom (snot weed) in the weed beds and this will soon be a pain in the neck.

There was plenty of bait in the shallows and I waded south to the oyster jetty. I started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. My legs were already cold after ten minutes in the water and I backed out on to the shoreline to warm up.

In the crystal clear water I could see a very fresh looking flathead lie. I paused at the jetty and put in a few casts just south of it in the shallows. On the second cast a fish hit the plastic hard and then dropped it. I dropped the rod tip hoping it would have another go – and it did. It took off but was nicely hooked. When I subdued it and pulled it closer I could see a nice, 60cm flathead in the clear water. I pulled it up on to the shoreline and put it in the bag for supper.

I moved to the south and swapped over to a Zman Minnowz in the Rednone colour and fished around the base of the mangroves, near the drain that empties off the flats. After a few casts I had another good flathead – this on measured just over 50cm.

As the tide receded I moved further south, towards the channel marker. Over the next three hours I fished with both the Zmen and the Gulps and caught another 9 flathead. I kept 3 more, all around 45cm, to fill my bag for a good family fish feed. Of the 9 only two were undersize.

The fish had been quite spread out but they kept coming. It was a couple of days before the full moon and the tide I was fishing had been the smaller of the two on that 24 hour period. This moon and tide combination seems to be proving pretty a pretty successful fishing period for me.

1770 – Eurimbula Creek – 6 May 2013

Monday

Where did the weather come from? I had checked the forecast before I left Brisbane and apart from a bit of south-easterly wind there was virtually no rain forecast for the week. I woke up on Sunday night to a massive rain storm at 1770. By dawn on Monday the rain was pouring down and the wind was blowing 20 knots from the south-east.

At about 10.00 am I went for a drive down towards 1770 to try and fish the north, sheltered side of the headland. I parked by the Captain Cook monument and walked down the water’s edge. The water was already brown and muddy after all the rain and the tide was about half way through the run out. I fished for 30 minutes and then another heavy shower came over and soaked me so I gave up.

I dried off and drove back out of Agnes Water and down the track to the mouth Eurimbula Creek. This area is pretty flat and there was plenty of water over the road at various spots along the route. A few hours of solid rain and the drains and creeks soon fill up. I got through alright and parked at the edge of the camp ground. Unsurprisingly there were no campers around.

The sky looked ominous but it had briefly stopped raining. Eurimbula Creek mouth is also a bit sheltered from a south-easterly. The water was just as dirty as Round Hill Creek and the tide was still running out. As the tide drops it reveals a steep mangrove lined bank on the south side of the creek mouth. This is great fish holding structure but it is a little difficult to get to and fish from. The tide runs out fast creating some good eddies around the fallen trees and mangrove roots.

I fished with a few different soft plastics – bright colours, natural colours, paddle tails, shrimps and minnows. I had a few bites and whenever I pulled a lure in, it was surrounded by bait but I did not catch anything.

I swapped to a DUO Tetraworks Bivi, a small sinking vibe lure and hoped the vibrations might stir the fish up. There had been a few surface bust ups, so there were some fish around. The DUO Bivi weighs 3.8 grams and 40mm long. It casts like a bullet and has a great action. I cast it out, up-stream towards the far bank and let it sink. I then hopped it along the bottom with the current and tried to swim it as close to the snags as I could. I repeated this a few times and felt a few bumps. After about 20 minutes of fishing this lure, it was smashed close to the snags. Fortunately the fish took off towards the middle of the stream. I was fishing with the light spin rod so I did not have much power. The fish used the current and felt decent. After a little bit of back and forth, I pulled a trevally up the sandy bank. It was hooked through the tail.

That was it for the day – the rain came pouring down again and I headed home.

Bribie – oyster jetty to the channel marker – 28 April 2013

Sunday

When the fish have been biting in a particular spot it is hard to tear yourself away, so it was back to Bribie Island. It is also good to fish the same spot for a few weeks, so that you can see if any patterns appear in fish behaviour.

Sunday looked more promising than Friday had been. The moon was still pretty full but low tide was at 5.21 am. I would not be able to fish much of the run out tide, but I could reach my favourite target area, for a couple of hours, as the tide started to run in. In general, I have had more success on the ‘run out’ rather than ‘run in’ tide, in this area, on the edge of the main channel. The moon is also a factor. As I mentioned in my previous post the big moon means a very big tidal flow and this is not very helpful here.

There are a different current flows that run over and around the sand banks, at different times of the tide. You feel this very obviously in your waders, as you move between cold water – rushing in from Moreton Bay and warmer water, flowing out, off the sand flats and shallows, from the Pumicestone Passage. This can make deciding which direction to cast in, quite confusing. If possible, you should always cast up, in to the current and hop the lure back along the bottom, towards you.

I started early, around 5.30 am and made straight for the green channel marker. It took about 20 minutes to get out there and I started by fishing with GULP Jerkshads in various colours, but these did not find the fish. I swapped down to a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I was using a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and the usual 10lb fluorocarbon leader. By 6.45 am the tide was running in and I found a small flathead in a sandy patch, about half way between the channel marker and the oyster jetty. I could only find one in this spot so, after 10 minutes of casting, I moved on.

It took more than hour to find the next one – at about 8.00 am. This one was over 40 cm, but I was releasing them all today. I covered the surrounding area with casts but could not find any more.

The incoming tide was now starting to push me out of reach of the main edge of the weed beds. I swapped to the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – black and pink colour. At 8.15 am I caught another small flathead – about 35cm long.

At about 9.00 am I was back at the bridge and had not caught any more. The combination of full moon and incoming tide had stirred the sediment in the water up and it was very murky again. I had only caught three fish. It seems that fishing the incoming tide is not working so well for me. We will have to see what happens when I get a chance to fish the ‘run out’ tide, next week.

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 24 April 2013

Wednesday

The tide was all wrong but the fish were around, so I decided on Bribie again. We would have a 2.2m high tide at 8.05 am. This would mean the tide would be just over half way in, at first light.

I arrived just before sunrise and wandered south along the shoreline, on the mainland side of the bridge. I passed the oyster jetty, casting soft plastics on the flats on either side. I felt a few tugs in the area just south of the oyster jetty, but I could not hook up with anything. I was fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I find the last of the run-in tide the hardest to fish, land-based, at Bribie. You can no longer reach the various drop offs on either side of the Pumicestone Passage. The fish move up quickly but suddenly there is no obvious structure for them to hide in; they spread out over the open expanse of flats and it is difficult to know where to concentrate your efforts.

As I thought about where to fish a huge flock of cormorants came into land. I have never seen a group as big as this before. They settled on the water for a few minutes then took off again.

In this area the only obvious structure is the slight drain that runs round the corner from Sandstone Point. Even this seems to be gradually silting up at the moment. This is where I decided to focus my efforts. The water was flowing round the corner from the south. I stood beside the mangroves and cast to the south, in the direction of the long, now submerged, sandbar.

It was now about 7.00 am. After a couple of casts, a fish grabbed the plastic, made a short run then it let it go. This also happened on the next cast and I saw the familiar snout of a long tom, following my lure in. I cast a little more towards the south east and when I took up the slack I had a fish on the line. I set the hook and it took off with the current. I soon had it under control and waded back to a gap in the mangroves. It was a good flathead, about 50cm long. I let it go.

I waded back to the same spot and cast out again. I continued fishing this area as the tide came up. I swapped to GULP Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. After a few casts the line pulled tight again and I had another flathead, about the same size. It was about 7.30 am. In the next twenty minutes I dropped two more fish and caught one smaller one.

Things went quiet around the tide change so I decided to wait out the slack water over breakfast and coffee. I waded back to the car and went off for breakfast. The wind was picking up from the south-east, but it was a beautiful morning.

By 10.00 am I had waded back to almost the same spot that I had been fishing earlier. The water level was much lower but I put in a few casts anyway. After about 10 casts, I caught another 45+ cm flathead, on a GULP Jerkshad, in the Satay Chicken colour.

The tide was now running out strongly and the big sand bar, down by the green channel marker, was clearly in view. With the wind behind me, I could reach the edge of the main channel and the sea grass beds, with some long casts. I started to make my way towards the green channel marker, casting as I went. I hooked a stingray which towed me around for a while and then broke me off. I also connected with an spiky puffer fish which grunted, spat jets of water at me and fluttered round in circles for a while before cut the line and got rid of it.

I re-rigged with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. The water was now really running and lifting more and more sediment as the tide got lower. This did not seem to bother the fish. I averaged one every 15 minutes or so, for about the next three hours. The colour of plastic did not seem to matter. Most were around the 40 to 45 cm size, but there were several more 50+ cm models amongst them.

At about 1.30 pm, I had to tear myself away – always hard to do when you are catching fish. I had caught more than 15 flathead through the morning and it does not get much better than that!

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats again – 22 April 2013

Monday

After a good session at Bribie last week, I was keen to get back out there. The wind was light and the moon phase was good, with the tides getting bigger in the run up to the full moon, on Friday. I could not fish the dawn, but I could fish the run out tide for a few hours before low tide, at about 1.00 pm.

I arrived just before 9.00 am and decided to keep fishing the flats on the mainland side of the Bribie Bridge. There had been plenty of flathead around and I presumed they would still be there. There was not much wind and the sky was cloudy.

I understand it is New South Wales school holidays this week so I expected a bit more boat traffic than normal but as I walked out at about 9.30 am, there were crab pots as far as the eye could see. As I waded south from the bridge, they were everywhere. I counted 50 in sight before I gave up. It made casting a little difficult, in places. There were plenty of sand crabs around, as I kept kicking them. However the density of pots meant that there was a boat arriving to; figure out which were theirs, check them and reset them, every five minutes.

This did not do much for the fishing but after all the crap weather we have had, is was good to see boats out and about and the odd pot being pulled up with a few keepers in it. I decided to stay in the shallows and find some undisturbed areas to fish.

The tide was running out quite fast and so the boats and pots gradually retreated, leaving me to fish the edge of the sand and weed banks, which were now covered in only 800 mm of water. This is where I concentrated my casts. I tried to pause my retrieve right at the edge of the banks. This was where my first fish of the day hit just before 10.00 am. I was using a GULP Jerkshad in the red and yellow Curried Chicken colour on a 1/8th, 2/0 jighead. It was a good flathead but the sand banks where not yet exposed so I had nowhere to land it. I tried the tricky manoeuvre of pulling the fish into my body then grabbing it with a rag. The fish promptly spiked me hard, unhooked itself and wriggled free. It was a good spike right in the middle of my thumb. I could not rub some slime into it to ease the sting, as the fish had gone and taken all its slime with it! I wrapped it up in a bit of rag.

When you get spiked like this the blood does not clot very quickly, as the venom in the spike is slightly anti-coagulant. So if you are not careful, you end up dripping blood everywhere. This is not ideal in waist deep water! The thumb calmed down after a while and I carried on casting. I kept peppering the same spot with casts and I soon hooked up again. This was a slightly smaller fish and made sure it was tired out before pulling it in close and grabbing it with the rag. It ended up being a bit over 45cm.

I moved further south and was soon close to the green channel marker. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken – the black and purple colour. I used the usual technique along the edge of the sand bank and soon caught two more undersized (35cm) flathead. I persisted in the same area and after about ten more casts, I felt a good bite. I paused and dropped the rod tip. When I lifted it I had another fish on. This one was about 45 cm again, and I safely grabbed it and put it in the bag.

It was now about 12.45pm and I turned back and waded towards the bridge. In the shallows, just short of the jetty, I hooked another flathead and pulled it up to the shore. It was also a keeper, at about 50cm long.

Three little flathead went swimming one day...

Three little flathead went swimming one day…

I had to give up at about 1.15 pm, just as the tide stopped moving. I had forgotten the camera today, so only one snap of the keepers is included, from my phone. Considering the late start and all the boat traffic, it had been another good session.

Bribie Island – Sandstone Point flats – 26 March 2013

Tuesday

A good run of predominantly south-easterly winds and not much rain had me feeling confident on Tuesday morning. It was also full moon which meant plenty of tidal flow. It would be a 2.3m high tide at 8.46 am, at Sandstone Point, on the mainland, opposite Bribie Island. The wind was forecast to switch from east-south-east to north easterly in the middle of the middle of the morning.

I arrived at about 4.45 am and found the water lapping around the feet of the third set of bridge pylons and just covering the patch of reef to the south of the fifth set. The pylons are smooth and polished and the cleaning / survey process has created a few new holes around the footings.

I started with soft plastics – the GULP 2” Shrimp in the peppered prawn colour on a 1/8th, size 1 hook jighead. I cast around north and south of the bridge without result. There was not really enough water here yet.

I moved south, past the old oyster jetty and stuck with the shrimp soft plastic. The tide was not moving very fast so I dropped back to 1/16th oz , size 1 hook jighead. I aimed at the sandy drain area, just south of the jetty. I was casting at around in just less than a meter of water. The sun came over the horizon at about 6.00 am and I immediately started to get a few hits. I caught a small bream about 25cm and then another two. The peppered prawn shrimp was hanging off the jighead, so I swapped to a banana prawn coloured version.

After a few casts, this produced a big Pike – perhaps 35cm long. Then, at about 6.45 am I felt a bigger fish attack the shrimp, as it sank. It took a little bit of line and then settled down. It had a strange tail beat and I could not figure out what it might be. After a few lunges I pulled it in closer and could see it was a nice tarwhine – about 35 cm long. It’s strange action in the water was probably due to the fact that it only had half a tail. I kept the tarwhine and caught a few more bream, all in the same spot, before the incoming tide pushed me back towards the mangrove line.

On a full moon the flats towards Sandstone Point are covered in a metre of water for a solid couple of hours around the high tide. This gives the fish plenty of time to move up in to the area looking for bait. I decided to wade along the mangrove line, in the direction of Sandstone Point and see if I could find them. I stuck with small GULP soft plastics in the natural colours, smelt, pearl watermelon, peppered prawn and banana prawn. There were plenty of long toms cruising around and they were the first takers. They are hard to hook but once they are solidly connected they put on an impressive aerial display – thrashing and leaping around. More often than not their sharp teeth just sliced through my 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

By about 8.00 am I had waded all the way round to Sandstone Point and the water was so deep that it was only just possible to continue fishing along the mangrove line. I turned around and started wading back to the north east. I pulled up one small (less than 35cm) flathead, who was lying close to the edge of the mangroves but the rest of the fish interaction was with the long toms. By the time the tide turned at 8.45 am I was back on the corner at the sandy drain.

As the tide started to run out I focused on this area. I tried a few brightly coloured GULP jerkshads but these did not produce anything so I swapped back to a natural coloured offering – the GULP 2” shrimp in the banana prawn colour. I also swapped to a heavier 1/8th 1 jighead, as the tide started to run out. This did the trick and after a few long tom hits, I connected with a sold fish that turned out to be a 55cm flathead. I kept casting around this area and after another ten minutes, I found two more 45cm versions.

By about 9.45 am I was close to the old oyster jetty again. I was now using a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The water is still full of sediment on these big tides and the bridge cleaning barge was out again, further stirring things up. I was fishing from memory, aiming my casts at areas where I thought the weed beds thinned out and dropped off to sandy bottom. I pulled up another good flathead, about 60cm.

As I reached the bridge area I put in a few final casts with the same soft plastic and found my fifth keeper – a flathead – about 50cm long. My apologies, I did not have my camera with my while I was fishing today. You will have to make do with a couple of pictures of the bagful that I took with my phone, when I got back to the car.

It looks like the south-easterlies are gradually bringing the water temperature down which is firing up the traditional winter species. If the weather behaves there should be some great fishing over Easter.

Iluka – Woody Head – The Barnacles – 12 February 2013

Tuesday

It rained hard over night and I actually woke up cold on Tuesday morning. I made a huge mug of tea and fished out a long sleeve t-shirt. It was just after 5.00 am. The wind had already moved round from the south-west to blow from the east, but it was still fairly light. Low tide had been at 4.13 am. The swell might have eased a little overnight so I decided to start on the rock platform, out front at Woody Head. I walked out to the ‘Barnacles’ in the pre-dawn and things looked promising. There was only the occasional wave coming over the top and I would have an hour or so to fish before the tide got too high. It looked like it would even be possible to put out a few casts in front of ‘Barnacle Bob’.

The day before I had noticed the 20lb Fireline had started to fray on the heavy rod and I had lost a fair amount of the 10lb Platil Millenium braid, on the light rod. The Platil braid was getting a bit water-logged and heavy and not casting well. I decided neither was working particularly well in these conditions, so I drove into Big River Bait and Tackle at Maclean and asked for some suggestions on re-spooling. They were all a bit fed up after the floods. The Clarence River was still black and smelly and logically the fish looked like they had all fled out to sea for a while. The Clarence is a huge system and it will be a couple of weeks before the river improves.

As usual, the team gave me some good advice and suggested I re-spool both with 20lb Super PE braid. This would be thin enough to cast well on the light rig, but robust enough to handle a decent fish on the heavy rig. Best of all, they stripped off the old line and re-spooled both reels while I went off for a Pot Belly Pie (a local speciality) and a coffee.

So back at Woody Head the next morning I was fishing with perfectly loaded reels. This makes a huge difference when casting in difficult conditions. Every line change takes a little getting used too but the Sunline Super PE was a massive improvement. I started with the heavy rod and a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour on a ¼ oz, 3/0 jighead. I moved out carefully over the rocks to a spot just in front of ‘Barnacle Bob’. This has been the scene of a couple of big fish captures for me and whenever it’s safe I try a few casts here. I put the lure exactly where I wanted it but after five or six casts I had not found anything. I swapped through a few more soft plastic colours, but these did not produce any interest.

I moved south along the front of rocks to a safer spot and swapped down to the lighter rod. I put on a 1/6th oz, 2/0 jighead and tied on a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I decided to try a different soft plastic lure. I have never been a fan of the pure white lures, I have always assumed they are an offshore, deep water idea. But I had a packet of GULP jerkshads in white and I was not having much luck, so I decided to give them a try.

It was a wise choice; I cast out wide and let the lure waft in on the swell. I left it as long as I could and it got snagged. I re-rigged with the same set up. This time, right at the base of the rocks, I felt a bite, dropped the rod down and then struck. I had a fish. I let the swell wash it up. It was a nice Bream, well over 30 cm long.

I cast out again and felt another bite, but did not hook up. I carried on for a few more casts, using exactly the same technique. About five minutes later at 6.15 am I felt a gentle tug and then a solid bite. A wave came crashing over the top and I thought the fish was gone but as the water drained, the line was still tight. On the next swell I tightened the drag a little and pulled hard. A school Jewfish came into view. It had a bit of fight left in it and I only had a 12lb leader so I let it swim back out again. The next wave was a big one and it washed the fish over the rocks and back, past me into the drain behind me. I waited for the water to drain away again and when it did the fish was stranded and I grabbed it.

It was the first school jewfish of the week and it had been lurking right at the base of the rocks waiting for dinner. It was no monster at about 50cm long (NSW size limit is 45cm) but it would make a good meal. I despatched it and put it in a keeper rock pool. I looked for more and fished for another two hours but could not find any. I lost plenty of gear trying to get my lures into the strike zone but as the tide rose and the wind picked up, it became harder and harder. At about 8.45 am the water was sloshing over the rocks with every surge and I had to retreat.

Jewfish stomach contents

I went back to wash clean up the jewfish. I gutted it and had a look in the stomach. It was full of the tiny whitebait I had seen jumping by the rocks. As I was doing this I was standing in the shallow rock pool. After a few minutes of cleaning and scaling, I nearly jumped out of my skin as I heard a loud snap and splash, just behind my heal.

I found a big hungry wobbegong already in attendance. It had swum up a series of very shallow rapids to reach the pool, just below where I had lay the jewfish. The blood and guts had attracted him. I hopped out of the water and quickly found another (stranded) patch of water to finish the cleaning. By the time I finished cleaning the bream there were four of them swimming around, like toothy puppies waiting for lunch.

I had cut off the bream’s head as I intended to pan fry it on my camp stove. I left it on the edge of the rock pool and was amazed as two of the wobbegongs wriggled out of the water, in their attempts to reach it. Eventually the bigger of the two lunged forward and inhaled the head, with a loud snap.

In the afternoon I came back to the same spot as soon as the tide would allow, at about 2.30 pm. I fished all through the afternoon but the swell and wash made it difficult again. I caught one good Bream, about 33 cm and dropped a bigger one, both on a smaller GULP 3” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour, on a 1/6th, 1/0 jighead, around 3.00pm. There was plenty of bait, jumping, in close to the rocks but I just could keep the lure where I wanted it.

By 5.00 pm I was soaked through and decided to give up and head for the wood fire, fried bream and a bottle of red.