Hat Head – Connors Beach – 1 October 2015

Thursday

Thursday was another clear warm morning. It had rained overnight but the wind had disappeared and there was only a light northerly blowing when I woke up.

I walked round to the corner of Connors Beach again. I started at about 5.30 am with a large River2Sea Dumbbell Popper. This produced nothing so I swapped down to a 65g Raider metal slug. This also could not find any fish.

I swapped down to my Daiwa Air Edge Surf 96 L rod and put on a 1/6th ounce, #1/0 hook jighead and dropped down to 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I loaded the jighead with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. After a few slow retrieves I felt some good bites. The tide was running out and there was a strong current pushing water along a pronounced gutter, at the base of the rocks. I let the soft plastic sink in the fast moving current and the when I lifted the rod tip I had a fish on it. It was a 25 cm bream. The next cast yielded another one – slightly bigger.

Things went quiet for a few casts. Then, at about 6.15 am something grabbed the soft plastic at the base of the rocks and tried to bury itself. It was not particularly quick but it was much more powerful than the bream. It wedged itself down between some rocks so I loosened the drag and gave it some slack. A few moments later, it swam out and I landed it. It was a fairly solid Spotted Hind – a pretty fish that does not taste much good – so I let it go. By about 7.30 am I was not getting any bites so I gave up for the morning.

At about 3.30 pm I came back for an afternoon session. After a few casts the first taker, on the same light rig and soft plastic, was another bream. It was followed by two more – neither was much more than 25cm long and the third one looked like it had been in the wars.

As the sun dropped and we moved closer to 5.00 pm, I tied on a small 45g cheap, cream painted metal slug. I cast out to the north east, in the direction of a patch of semi-submerged rocks. I wound it in fairly quickly and saw a couple of swirls come up behind it, about 15 metres from the shore. I carried on casting for about 20 minutes, varying the speed of the retrieve. I could now see the tailor following the slug in, but they would not bite.

Just as the sun was setting at about 5.30 pm I felt a solid bite and then the rod tip bent over. I dropped the first tailor a few metres from the shore. A few casts later I had another on and this time it was solidly hooked. I landed it and released it. I connected with a couple more but did not land them and at about 6.00 pm, I gave up.

It had been a great week of fishing at Hat Head. The scenery is truly fantastic and I will certainly be back.

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Hat Head – Connors Beach– 30 September 2015

Wednesday

On Wednesday conditions where calm again with a light northerly wind blowing. First light was about 5.00 am. I could not face another tramp out to the spinning ledge so I decided to try fishing the rocks at the north eastern corner of Connors Beach.  This area always looks very fishy and there is often a long gutter that drains out through a group of rocky bommies, from the northern corner of the beach.

There are a couple of rocky outcrops that you can safely stand on in light seas. About 45 metres to the east of these ledges there is a circle of large rocks which are riddled with overhangs and caves. They are pretty hard to cast at, but they are full of fish.

I started with a 65g Raider, tied on to the main line with 30lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader. I was using the heavy rod – Daiwa Demonblood, and I was casting a metal slug about 40 to metres out towards the edge of one of the semi submerged rocky outcrops. I was reeling in line pretty quickly on my retrieve.

The sun was not yet over the horizon, at about 5.20 am, when I hooked and landed the first tailor of the day. This was quickly followed by a few more. Then, as the sun up and the glare started to build, the bites slackened off and having caught four 40 cm tailor in quick succession, it took an hour to catch another.

By about 7.30 am all was quiet. The water was crystal clear and my metal slugs, hard bodied minnows and poppers could not rustle up a bite. I decided to give up for the morning.

At about 5.00 pm I came back and carefully climbed down the rocky headland that sticks out between Gap Beach and Connors Beach. There is a small inlet here that looks very fishy and with a fairly light swell I could cast right into it.

I started with a 40g HALCO Streaker metal slug. I cast it out into the foamy water around the rocks.  After a few casts, I hooked a fish but it wriggled off at the base of the rocks. I hooked a couple more that also got off. At about 5.30 pm, just as the sun was dropping to the horizon I finally held on to one. It was another 35cm tailor. As the sun set I hooked what felt like a smaller fish. After a short fight I was surprised to see a solid bream on the end of the Streaker.

I fished on through the amazing sunset but did not catch anything else.

Hat Head – The Spinning Ledge – 21 September 2012

Friday

Friday was another beautiful but frustrating day. My only real fish producing spot, this week, was at the northern tip of the Hat Head headland. So at 4.30 am I was marching out to this spot with all my gear again.

Sometimes I got the feeling I was being watched

On Thursday there had been some Tuna out there and a couple of guys, fishing on the Spinning Ledge had tangled with some kingfish, but not managed to land one. The wind was light from the northwest in the morning and then turned into a stronger northerly around lunchtime. I was there early and tried the usual routine –starting with hard bodies and then changing over to soft plastic Jerkshads.

I tried everything, but nothing worked. The Dolphins were in close just after dawn and maybe they had scared the fish off or eaten them. I tried a few more spots around the headland and came back to the Jewfish spot at dusk, hoping to take advantage of the 5.30 pm bite. I don’t know what I did wrong, but the fish did not show up.

This was my last session at Hat Head. It had been a great week in a great spot. I had learned the cold water temperatures often mean the clarity improves and fish are harder to fool. I had also confirmed that if there is no bait around then there are no Salmon or Tailor either. I had also proved that there are always fish out there – somewhere.

There are endless rocky headlands to fish along this coast

I will definitely be back here, soon.

Hat Head – ‘The Death Hole’ & ‘The Island’ 20 September 2012

Thursday

Hat Head was turning into a Jewfish expedition. Apart from a single Trevally, I had caught only Jewfish. On Thursday, I was determined to explore some different spots around the headland and hopefully, catch some different species. There was distinct lake of bait around and the water was very cold, perhaps this was making it hard to catch anything else.

I started at the Jewfish spot (could not resist), at dawn. This produced nothing but I did watch a small pod of Tuna swim by just after dawn – of course, they stayed well out of casting distance. By 7.00 am I had not had a bite. The wind was a light northerly so I decided to take the track over to the other side of Hat Head and have a look at the ledges around ‘the Island’.

The Island is on the eastern side of the headland and is reached down a steep path. It’s logical to fish this side during strong northerly winds, as it is sheltered. You can walk across a sand spit to reach the Island at low tide but by the time I arrived it was the second half of the run in tide and I could not get out to it.

There are rock ledges, channels and drains all around. They looked like they would all hold fish but, try as I might, I could not get a bite. Admittedly, it was neither dawn nor dusk but I was really surprised that there was nothing around.

I carried on to the rock ledges around Connors Beach and fished the one known as ‘No.1’. This also looked very promising but produced nothing. After wandering around all day, I had nothing so I marched back to the Jewfish spot, in time for dusk.

I arrived about 5.00 pm. I had the heavy rod this time and was fishing with a GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a ¼ oz 2/0 jighead. I was using 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I fished for half an hour with no result and then, right on 5.30 pm, I felt a solid bite. I paused and then struck and there was a fish on the line. I played it out and pulled it round to the easier landing point, at my feet and gently pulled it up the rocks. It was another keeper sized Jewfish – about 60 cm long. There was enough in the fridge, so I released it. I fully expected a few more, but that was it, all over. I fished on for 45 minutes, until it was completely dark and tried a range of soft plastics without another hit.

I had wandered around fishing from dawn to dusk for only one fish. It appears I could have rested my weary legs and just fished half an hour at dusk, to achieve the same result. But that is how fishing works, you put in the hours of exploring so that next time, you will have more idea of where to fish and when to fish.

I fell into bed after a shower, a few Jewfish fillets and a mug of red wine. Only one fish but that is all you need sometimes.

Hat Head – the Spinning Ledge – 18 September 2012

Tuesday

A few bad days fishing and a distinct lack of trophy fish this year, combined to convince me I needed to go exploring. I have always wanted to go and fish the rock ledges at Hat Head in New South Wales and so I drove down from Brisbane on Monday. It’s a long way 500+ kms but Hat Head has almost legendary status among rock and land based game fisherman so I wanted to see it and, hopefully catch a few fish.

I arrived late afternoon Monday and checked into a cabin at the caravan park. Rain had been threatening all day and a strong northerly was blowing. It was about 4.30 pm, so I decided to walk the track around Korogoro Point (Hat Head) before dark so I could get an idea of where to fish in the morning. It takes about an hour to walk around the headland and the track is pretty good.

Next morning I was glad I had done the recce. I was up at 3.30 am and loaded up with light and heavy rods and all my gear and marching across the small foot bridge from the township to the National Park at about 4.00 am. The new moon had emerged on Monday so there was virtually no light. The track was difficult to make out with just my headlamp, so I was glad I had a general idea of where I was going. It was a bit cloudy, but with no moon the stars were pretty impressive.

I carried my rods out front to avoid a face full of overnight spider webs. I had decided to fish first on the ‘Spinning Ledge’ on the north east side of the headland. This is probably the safest fishing spot on the headland and seemed like the best place to get acquainted with local conditions. I followed the path slowly along the north side of the headland and arrived at about 4.45 am, just as the horizon was showing a hint of light.

I sat down well away from the water’s edge and rigged up while watching the swell. There was lots of foamy wash so I decided to start with the heavy rig and throw a few large DUO shallow diving hard bodied minnows. I was fishing with the Shimano Stradic 8000FJ and Daiwa Demon Blood 962H rod, 30lb braid and initially, a 30lb fluorocarbon leader.

First on the scene was a whale, less than 50 metres off shore, I heard it blow and scanned the water. I just caught site of its shiny black back as it submerged. A minute or so later it reappeared. It hung around for about 15 minutes surfacing every now and then. I started fishing, but after about thirty casts I had not had a bite on the hard body, so I decided to swap to a soft plastic lure.

I stuck with the big rod and tied on a 3/8th oz 2/0 hook jighead and chose a GULP 4” Smelt Minnow. I did not get any bites for about 15 minutes. I then felt a solid hit at the base of the rocks, but did not hook up. I pulled the plastic up and it had a big bite mark. I peppered the area with casts but came up blank.

I moved a little further round the rocks towards the area known cheerily as the ‘Death Hole’. There is an inlet here which looks like it has a cave at the back. The mouth of the inlet looked very fishy so I changed soft plastics to a GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Black Shad colour. I cast out into the middle of the inlet and let the lure sink.

When I started the retrieve I thought it was snagged, in fact I think a fish had eaten it and taken it under a ledge. I tightened the drag and gave a solid heave to try and break it off and then it came out and started fighting. I loosened the drag a little and looked at my options for landing the fish. It did not look good, the water was a few metres below me and there was a flat wall down to it. I tried to pull the fish around to the front of the mouth of the inlet to a more sloped ledge, where I could grab it.

But the fish would not give up, I tightened the drag again but it just kept taking line as I tried to turn its head. Then I saw it – it was a very decent Jewfish – around 10 to 15 kg. Try as I might I just could not get it round to the landing point and after a decent fight it eventually got its head down under a rock and the leader sawed through.

I caught my breath, re-rigged with the same soft plastic and thought a bit more carefully about where to land a fish, if I found another. I cast out my offering and the fish took it before it reached to bottom. This was a much smaller Jewfish and I was able to lift it up with the rod. It was just over 50 cm, so I put it in the keeper bag. It was now about 6.45 am and high tide would be at about 9.30 am.

I cut the head off the soft plastic, put it back on the jighead and chucked it back out. Three casts later and I was on to another fish. This one was bigger so I let it take a few runs in the wash before coaxing it round to the sloping rock. Then I tightened the drag and pulled it up the sloping rock with a decent wave. I grabbed the leader and gently pulled it up to my feet, where the leader snapped. I grabbed the fish. It was another Jewfish that measured just under 70cm.

Over the next hour, I had a few more bites but no hook ups. I got snagged and lost the last of the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshads in the tackle bag, so I swapped to a regular Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour and dropped down to a 20lb leader. A few casts later I felt a solid hit and I was hooked up again. This was another small Jewfish, around 45 cm. I landed it safely, took out the lure and put the fish back. I carried on until about 8.30 am and then decided it was time to get the fish back to the fridge.

It was a long walk back with about 5kg of fish and all my gear, but it had been a great introduction to Hat Head.