Iluka – Browns Rocks – Mid-December 2020

From about the 12th to the 17th December, the big swell and northerly winds were replaced by a tropical low. The rain was relentless for the best part of five days. I sat watching tv in my cabin. As I could not fish I drove down to Motackle https://www.motackle.com.au/ at Coffs Harbour to replace my broken ultralight spin rod. I tried everything – there was a G.Loomis XMS I liked the look of, but then there always is! With no job and a rapidly dwindling savings account I would have to settle for something a little less pricey. The team at Motackle were great and found me a Samaki Zing Gen II SZG 562 SXL for about $130. Its 5′ 6″ with a very fast action and so far I love it.

Eventually, I ventured out when there was a break in the rain. In the first few days the river stayed surprisingly clean and on the top of the tide I caught a few more very small flathead. There were a lot of jelly prawns in the shallows.

Initially the water stayed quite clean

By day three the water was a brown muddy soup full of debris. The big tides had coincided with the torrential rain and the occasional whole tree floated by. Below is picture showing the water colour and level, before and after the rain at the Goodwood Island Wharf.

I could not catch anything once it turned this murky.

The wind and swell was unlikely to drop off and the river would now probably be dealing with all the fresh water run off for a couple of weeks, so I decided to quit the fishing and head home for Christmas.

Iluka – the Clarence River and Iluka Bluff – 24 November 2014

I woke up to a rising 25 knot north-easterly wind. So I could not fish the rocky headlands. I would have to find some shelter from the wind. I decided to go back to where I had been fishing the night before.

So just after first light, I walked along the top of the rock wall, to the south of the boat ramp. I started with my light spin rod and a GULP 3 “ Minnow soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. I caught a tiny bream after a couple of casts and then saw a school of fish come through the gap in the rocks. They splashing and gulping on the surface and I realized they were small tailor. I suddenly understood the term ‘choppers’ as this is exactly what they were doing to the surface of the water. I cast into them and got a bite but no hook up. When I retrieved my lure its tails was missing.

Clarence River tailor The gap in the rockwalls Clarence River

As I re-rigged a trailer boat came through the gap. The owner of the boat left his two-stroke running while he jigged for bait in the gap a few times. He did not get anything and after a few more goes he revved up and took off. Not surprisingly the fishing went quite for about 20 minutes. Then the choppers were back.

This time I cast my soft plastic 3” minnow right into the middle of the school and let it sink. It was whacked about three times as it floated towards the bottom. I jerked the rod tip up and connected with a fish. It was a small (30cm) ‘chopper’ tailor and it was soon jumping around in the mud at my feet.

Another boat came through and repeated the process that the first one had, with similair results. I had not realized this gap in the rocks was such a heavily used thoroughfare. The water must be consistently deep as a couple more boats soon came hurtling through. I decided it was getting a bit too noisy for the fish to hang around so I went back to find a coffee in town.

The wind kept howling all day. At about 3.30 pm I decided to see if the sheltered side of Iluka Bluff was worth fishing. A couple of other keen fisho’s were also braving the wind. They already had a couple of good-sized (45cm+) tailor from the foamy water. I big popper in the Qantas (red and white) colour had been the most successful. I did not have a popper with me so I tried a DUO Jerkbait 120 SP sub surface shallow diving hard bodied minnow. After few casts I lost this to the rocks. I tried a few plastics but the wind just blew them away. After 30 minutes of battling I finally decided that the day was not suitable for fishing and headed for the pub.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – 30 September 2014

Tuesday – Morning

I had not given up on finding a keeper size mulloway at Iluka, so at 4.45 am on Tuesday, I walked along the beach towards Middle Bluff. I surprised a couple of Kangaroos who were up on the rocks. Conditions were similair to the day before (light northerly) but the sea seemed a little more stirred up and foamy. Low tide would be at about 5.20 am – just on sunrise. The beginning of the run in tide offers good fishing in this spot, so I was hopeful.

I started with my big rod and a big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour, on a ¼ ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was fishing with 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I flicked this around, close to the base of the rocks and it soon came back minus its curly tail. I swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The sun was up and the sky and water were very clear. After about 20 casts with the GULP Minnow I was getting pretty good at leaving it in the wash at the base of the rocks, without getting snagged. As I was about to lift it, at the end of a retrieve, I felt a grab. The fish swam for a bit with the plastic then let it go. A few casts later I connected with another fish. This time I dropped the rod tip as soon as I felt the resistance and paused. When I struck, the fish was hooked. Once more the light swell made things easy and I soon had a mulloway/ jewfish of about 48cm at my feet. I took a few pictures and threw it back.

I was starting to see a bit of bait jumping around close to the base of the rocks and it all looked pretty small.  I dropped down to my lighter rod and a 14lb fluorocarbon leader. I swapped down to a 2 inch GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the new Green Camo colour, but stuck with the ¼ ounce jighead.

A fish struck this hard on the first cast, but I did not hook up. About ten minutes later, I swapped to a 3 inch GULP Minnow in the New Penny colour. I had another hit on the first cast. This fish was not big but by the way it started pulling, I knew it was a tailor. They thrash about very hard and never give up. It was only small, about 35 cm long. It was good to see they are around. I took a picture and threw it back.

It had mashed up the plastic so I put the 2 inch GULP Shrimp in Green Camo on again. The tailor had obviously moved on. But after about 20 minutes of cast into the wash, I felt a good bite and was onto another fish.  This time it was another solid bream – a little over 34cm. I decided to keep this one for supper.

I continued fishing and kept felling small bites. Eventually I pulled up a butter bream. I had caught no trophy fish but had found great variety. The session had been a good example of how changing soft plastics can often produce results. At about 9.30 am I gave up and walked back to the car.

Tuesday  – Afternoon

In the afternoon I waded back out on to the flats beside the Clarence River, at dusk. They are covered in yabby holes which is a good sign for a fisherman. I flicked around a GULP Jerkshad in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I caught three flathead – the first would have been big enough to keep, the rest were too small. The sun dropped behind the trees on the horizon at about 5.40 pm and the midges and mozzies became unbearable, so I waded back to the cabin.