Iluka – Woody Head – 20/21 November 2020

We had great conditions on the Friday and Saturday with an early morning low tide and light wind from the northwest. There was about a metre swell forecast and we were about 5 days past the new moon.

Another early start
Woody Head – the Barnacles

I went straight back to fish “the Barnacles” at Woody Head, through dawn, on Friday. I walked out onto the rock platform at about 4.30 am. The sun was starting to glow below the horizon and the swell was pleasantly light, as forecast.

I started with soft plastics. I find it very difficult to fish a big hard bodied lure in the dark/ twilight. I tend to lose it to the rocks pretty quickly. I was fishing with the heavy rig – Daiwa Demonblood 962H rod, Daiwa TD SOL III LT6000 DH reel, 40lb braid, 40lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a Nitro Saltwater Pro 3/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and loaded it with a GULP 4″ minnow soft plastic in the lime tiger colour.

There are plenty of brands of jigheads out there. It is important to carry a range of weights and hook sizes, so that you can vary your selection according to the swell/wind/terrain and what is biting. Be aware that whilst they all have standard weights (1/4, 3/8, 1/2 ounce, 7,10, 14 grams) marked on them, if you weigh them they are all actually a little different in weight. This is because some include the hook in the weight and some don’t and they vary considerably in their design. There is also the complication of metric vs imperial weights and what they choose to put on the packaging. Strength is an important factor, especially when fishing from the rocks. The Nitro Saltwater Pro jigheads on Owner hooks rarely give at all and are very unlikely to straighten, but if you need a stealthy presentation, for shy fish, they are not the right choice. The kingfish had not been shy around dawn in my last few sessions.

I cast the soft plastic out towards the glowing horizon and saw the bait spook as it landed. I was in the right spot. On the first few casts I tend to rush my retrieves a little as I work out where the submerged ledges start and finish and how far I am likely to be able to cast. After ten minutes I had not had a touch and thought of changing lures. I put in one more cast; about 45 degrees out to the north east of the rock the locals sometimes refer to as “Barnacle Bob”. I left it to sink and counted slowly to ten, then started my retrieve. I felt it rub along the bottom as I lifted it, but on the second hop – the line pulled tight and there was a fish there. It swam fairly slowly towards me and as I wound in, I assumed it was a decent bream. Then it saw the ledge coming or realised it was hooked and took off in a long hard run. The rod tip was pulsing, but not frantically – so it was not a tailor. It made several small arcs and then I landed it with the aid of a wave surge. It was 60cm kingfish.

That started a great morning of fishing with 10 kingfish hook ups over the next few hours, interspersed with a couple of dart and bream. I landed 6 of them. A few times I tried to tempt them with a hard bodied lure and a popper but whilst they would follow the bigger lures, they just would not bite. I swapped back to the soft plastics and I hooked up immediately. The most prolific soft plastics where the GULP 4″ Pink Paddleshad and the GULP 4″ Lime Tiger Minnow. Unfortunately none of the Kingfish were over 65cm, so I released them all.

At about 6.30 am the tide was running in and pushing me back from my favorite spot, so I moved further south along the Woody Head platform to the spot known as “Snapper Rock”. I got snagged and lost my jighead after a few casts and so I picked up my lighter Daiwa Crossfire 1062 rod with a lighter 25lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/4 oz, size 1/0 hook jighead. I put on another Lime Tiger Minnow. I cast out and as the plastic sank a fish ate it and headed straight down into the rocks. I tightened the drag and manage to pull it out. It was a small snapper, about 35 cm long. I threw it back and cast out again. The sea was fairly flat but the wind was now picking up from the north. I kept casting and hooked another kingfish. the fight was longer and harder because of the light rod – these fish just never give up. Eventually I landed it with the help of the swell, and got a fair soaking in the process. At about 7.30 am I gave up battling the wind.

Small Snapper

The next morning the wind was light again from the northwest and there was almost no swell. I started fishing at “the Barnacles” with the GULP 4″ Paddle shad in pink colour. I caught a decent 35cm + bream. It was a very dark colour but pretty fat. I cast all around but the Kingfish were either not there or not eating. A couple of other anglers joined me and we threw every kind of popper, hard body, bait and soft plastic, without success. Then, just before 7.00 am, we saw them feeding on the surface on a school of bait. I hurled a single hooked 40g brass coloured Halco Twisty (metal slug) at them, retrieved it fast and hooked one. It pulled hard but I eventually got it right up to my feet. Then, almost in slow motion the single hook came loose, and it swam away with the next wave.

A great couple of sessions, but the weather was closing in again for a big south-easterly blow, so it was time for a rest.

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Iluka – Frasers Reef & the Rockwall – 28 March 2012

Wednesday

No trophy fish yet but plenty of fish around, if the weather would let me get at them. Wednesday morning brought heavy showers and grey skies and a 10 knot southerly wind. The wind had been from the south for a while and the swell was around 2 metres. It was too hard to fish Woody Head or Iluka Bluff, but with a morning low tide I could get out on to the rocks at Frasers Reef.

I walked out on to the rocky promontory just before 6.00 am. Even with a fair swell you can fish the northern edge of these rocks but as usual in these parts, you lose plenty of gear.

I started with the heavy rod, 30lb fluorocarbon leader and a 3/8th 3/0 jighead. I chose a big soft plastic again – the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I lost my first rig to the rocks on the first cast. I re-rigged and moved around casting into the foamy water. After a few casts I felt a solid bite and pulled up the plastic minus its tail.

I put another on and cast back out. This one was hit on the drop but there was no hook up. Then, as I carried on the retrieve, the fish came back for a second swipe and I got it. I played it in on the swell and pulled it over the rocks – a 50cm Tailor – the first Tailor of the week. I was hoping for a few more, but I never found them. I presume they are cruising the headlands all the time, looking for the bait schools. If they are right in front of you, you may have a few minutes to cast at them – then they move on. When I gutted it, it had an empty stomach, like all the other fish I had caught this week. I have not seen any bait schools and maybe there is not much to eat.

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There were no more fish that morning and the swell continued to build so in the afternoon, I decided to fish the Iluka rockwall. The wall is quite sheltered from strong southerly winds and there is currently a good gutter forming where it meets the beach. I was using the light spin rod and started with a few GULP 4” Minnows in various colours. These did not arouse any interest so I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour. I think the grub tail can sometimes stir a bit more interest when fishing in the surf. I was using a ¼ oz 1/0 jighead to overcome the wind and swell and I was rigged with 12lb fluorocarbon leader. After a few casts, I lost the tail on the soft plastic but when I re-loaded and cast out again, I felt a solid tug and then a good run. I had the fish hooked and it took a bit of line. The swell was a challenge, but eventually I pulled another good Bream clear of the rocks.
Then the rain arrived again and I gave up. Only two fish for the day – hardly spectacular but enough to keep me at it!