Skennars Head – Jewfish – November 2018

In November I spent a few sessions exploring the rocky headlands around Lennox and Skennars Heads in Northern New South Wales. I was fishing soft plastics lures on my new favorite outfit – a Daiwa Crossfire 1062 matched with a Shimano Stella 4000. I generally rigged a 12 to 20lb fluorocarbon leader and 20lb braid, for main line. As usual I was losing plenty of gear to the rocks as I felt around the rocky outcrops and bommies. My soft plastic of choice is still the GULP 4″ Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. It is as close to a pilchard as anything and pilchards catch plenty of fish. I keep the jighead as light as I can – a sixth of an ounce or even an eighth, if the swell will still let it sink.

On most sessions I found a bream or a dart or two, but on a couple of occasions I found some Jewfish/ Mulloway, hugging the base of the rocks. They appeared to be schooled up under the overhangs. Only one was big enough to keep but I was glad to have made contact.

Skennars Head fishing spot
Skennars Head
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Bribie and Iluka – Bream – July 2017

July

I agree with the general sentiment that a clear sunny winter day in Queensland is hard to beat. Ok, so the mornings can be chilly but there is something great about needing a beany at sunrise and a cold shower at noon.

July provided some good weather and some great bream. I started the month fishing on the Bongaree side of the Pumicestone Passage at Bribie and I soon found good sized spawning bream. Gulp 3-inch minnow soft plastics in the Pearl Watermelon or Smelt colours worked best, fished on 1/8th ounce, size 1 and 2 hook jigheads and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. This set up also caught a few flathead for me.

Later in the month I had a few days fishing at Iluka, in Northern New South Wales. In fact, it was the good bream catches at Bribie that persuaded me I need to get down there. The rocky headlands of the Bundjalung National Park hold plenty of good bream all year round but in the run up to the big winter full moons they can be everywhere.

During my trip to Iluka I fished at Shark Bay, Iluka Bluff, Frazers Reef and Woody Head. Frazers Reef and the Middle Bluff – just to the north, produced solid catches of bream, as did Shark Bay. I tried for some tailor most mornings using 50/ 60 g slugs. I caught a few small choppers but they were very patchy. When I swapped down to big and small DUO hard bodied lures, I just caught more bream.

The swell made things hard at Woody Head and I could not really fish safely off the front. There must have been Jewfish around and I had a couple of bust offs that may well have been jewfish. Beautiful sunrises and loads of birds  and other wildlife to watch made for a great few days.

Bribie – Bongaree & the oyster jetty – 14 September 2016

Wednesday

On Wednesday I was fishing again in the morning but I decided to try the other side of the Pumicestone Passage and fish along the shore at Bongaree. This area has a sandy ledge that runs down to a drop off of a few metres. There are fish to be found all along the ledge at various stages of the tide.

I arrived and started fishing in my waders at about 9.30 am.  I started with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The first fish I caught was a small bream about 30cm long. It grabbed the soft plastic just as I hopped it up, over the coffee rock ledge and into the shallows. I released it and caught two more in the next few minutes.

A hungry Pelican swam over to see if it could secure a free lunch but all the bream swam away unharmed. The next taker was a pike, then at about 11.30 am things went quiet.

I drove back over the bridge and had a quick cast around under the bridge and along by the old oyster jetty at Sandstone Point. As the wind picked up and conditions got difficult I managed to hook one 48 cm flathead on the Mad Scientist Optishad.

By 1.00 pm it was too windy so I gave up for the day.

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – 23 August 2016

Tuesday

On Tuesday I drove back up to Bribie for another early morning fish before the forecast wind picked up. I arrived just after low tide and sunrise at about 6. 30 am. The moon was on the wane and about 70% full.

I had given up on the LOX Yoshi Rod for this type of fishing. It is fine on a windless day, but there are very few of these. I was finding my casts kept tangling around the end of the rod unless casting with the wind directly behind me. I swapped back to another bass rod – my G Loomis SJR6400 5’4” Mag Light/ Extra Fast. This is a short rod but still casts a loaded 1/8th ounce jighead a long way. Once you have a fish on it does not have a long enough tip to have the subtlety of the LOX, but it still soaks up the lunges.

This morning I had to cast for a while to find a flathead. In fact, I was fishing for more than an hour before I had my first bite. I was using a GULP 4 inch Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead.  I was standing well south of the jetty casting over the weed, aiming to land the soft plastic on the sandy patches beyond. As I hopped the soft plastic towards the weed edge, the fish grabbed it. It was a solid 50 cm flathead.

I cast around to see if there were more nearby but I could not find them. I carried on wading south as the tide rolled in. I swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour. At the spot where the water first comes over the big sand bank I found another fish. It was a little larger than the first and had only taken ten more minutes to locate.

I thought things were looking up but it took 45 minutes to find another flathead and this one was quite a bit smaller at only just over 40cm. By about 9.30 am the incoming tide had forced me away from my favourite spots and the wind was really blowing, so I gave up for the morning.

Coffin Bay – Mt Dutton Bay – 10 June 2016

Friday

In mid-June work took me to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. I was itching to fish the rugged coast around Coffin Bay and I managed to get a few days off to do so. The weather was forecast to be fairly wild, with rain and changeable winds. The advantage of fishing around Coffin Bay and Port Lincoln is you can get out of the wind by crossing the various bays and headlands.

The first challenge was what I could take with me to fish with. I was pretty sure there would still be some King George Whiting around but I was also hoping to catch some Australian Salmon on the ocean beaches. So I needed a heavy rod and a light rod. I decided something new was needed and had a look around at what I thought would work well casting small slugs in the surf but also be light enough to catch the odd whiting. I looked at what everyone locally had and settled on a Lox Yoshi LS7623-II from BCF (see Lox fishing) . It’s a 7’6”ultra-light spin rod, rated 1-3 kg. It has a very fast tip but would be tall enough to cast into the surf. I also took my NS Blackhole light trout rod. I took soft plastics and light jigheads and some small slugs, poppers and hard bodies.

As is often the case in this part of the world the weather would be fairly wild. It would predominantly south easterly winds with a couple of northerlies thrown in. On the first morning it was cold and blowy so I drove round to Mount Dutton Bay. I started with the new Lox Yoshi rod, a 1/8th ounce, 1 hook jighead and a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. This is a wide open bay with a long jetty. In parts it has flat foreshores and in others there are sandstone/ coffee rock ledges and overhangs. I cast at the sandy areas between the weed and sand. As soon as the soft plastic hit the water something was hitting it. After a few casts I hooked a 20 cm juvenile salmon, known around here as a salmon trout. I released it and over the next 30 mins caught about 10 more.

I moved around the bay and tried a few different soft plastics, including some worm patterns, but could not find anything other than the salmon. At about 10.30 am it started raining so I drove back into Coffin Bay.

In the afternoon I fished in Coffin Bay. I put in a few casts alongside the oyster racks. This time I was using the GULP 3” minnow in the Green Camo colour. The result was the same and I caught three small salmon from three casts. The water was clear and cold and despite lots of floating sea grass, the salmon kept grabbing the soft plastics. At about 5.30 pm I gave up for the day.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 28 April, 2016

Thursday

I was back in Brisbane and it was time to get amongst the flathead. This has traditionally been a very productive time on the flats around Bribie Island. But this year I have fished far less in this area than usual. The weather has also been very warm and fairly dry, which may have affected the movement of the flathead.  In my last few sessions I had found fish, but not in the big groups that have been around in the last few years. I think this may change as the water cools down.

The moon was 67% full. The day would start with a light south-westerly wind, that would turn south-easterly later in the day. Low tide would be at 7.17 am and I was fishing with my light spinning rod and reel (Shimano Stella 2500 and NS Blackhole 6′ SGII 602L trout rod). This was loaded with the ALDI 8lb yellow braid and I had tied on a 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

I arrived, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage at about 5.30 am and waded out on to the sandy/ muddy flats under the bridge. The horizon was beginning to glow and the water had a slight ripple on the surface from the cool breeze. The tide was running out quickly. I cast some big and small GULP soft plastics around the reefy area, just to the south of the bridge, without success.

As dawn approached I moved south and started fishing the area south of the old oyster jetty. I was now using the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. It was 5.50 am. A fish grabbed the lure and scurried off. Then it felt like it was stuck. This is typical estuary cod behaviour. I loosened the drag and dropped the rod tip. After about 30 seconds the leader started moving and the fish swam out. I re-tightened the drag and soon had a 40 cm cod on the surface. I released it and moved on.

About thirty minutes later I was casting around the weed beds by the drain that comes off the Sandstone Point flats and I felt a solid bite. I dropped the rod tip, paused and hooked a 43cm flathead. It went in the bag for dinner. There did not appear to be much bait around.  I put on a bigger GULP soft plastic Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour.  I connected and then dropped what I thought was a flathead, just after 7.00 am.

I continued to the south. The sun came up through the clouds and I moved along the edge of the weed beds. I felt another good bite but did not hook up and then things went quiet. The tide was slowing and the water was now fairly murky. I waded all the way down to the green channel marker without another bite.

At about 7.30am as the tide turned back in, I turned around and walked back towards the bridge. I was now fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead.  My next catch was a blue swimmer/ sand crab that took a swipe at the soft plastic.

About half way back to the bridge I caught another, bigger flathead about 50cm, which I also kept. I kept moving and stuck with the same soft plastic. Frustratingly, I dropped two more flathead before hanging on to a third, just north of the bridge. At about 10.00 am I left the water with three keepers in the fishing bag.

It had felt like hard work but on reflection, there were plenty of fish around.

Iluka – Shark Bay – Tailor / Bream – 17 March 2016

Thursday

On Thursday the weather was much the same and low tide was not until 11.20 am. Most of my favourite fishing points around Iluka are low or falling tide spots, so I decided to have a lie in. Of course a fisherman’s lie in just means getting up at dawn, rather than 90 minutes before dawn, but it was nice to get a full 8 hours sleep.

At about 8.30 am I drove round to Woody Head to have a look at conditions. Although the tide was far enough out to make fishing possible, the swell was still bashing up against the rocks. The swell had been a steady 1.5/ 1.8m all week. It was caused by the slow moving tropical storm that had missed the Queensland coast the week before, but stirred everything up. Discretion is the better part of valour and I was not going to risk my life for a fish, so I walked back to the car.

I drove round to Shark Bay again. I walked out onto the rock and tied on 55g HALCO Twisty in the brass/ gold colour. I catch far more fish on the brass/ gold colour of this lure than the silver colour – no idea why. I started with big long casts on the heavy rod and after five or six casts, I had a 30 cm tailor. A few casts later I had another…. and another. I swapped up to an 80mm HALCO Roosta Popper in the Fluoro Pink colour. I blooped this back towards me, making plenty of splashes and stopped for a few seconds every now and then. After a few bloops, a bigger tailor grabbed it and I soon had a 50cm tailor at my feet.

It was now about 11.00 am and I swapped to the lighter rod, 14lb fluorocarbon leader, a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP 4 inch Minnowp soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The first cast was smashed by a tailor which then spat it out. The second, attracted a few snaps from a long tom, which followed the soft plastic right back to me. After about ten more minutes of casting I caught another 30cm bream.

I decided to try the other side of the rock platform but neither soft plastics nor slugs could raise anything there so at about 12.00 noon, I gave up.