lluka Rockwall – In search of Tuna – 14 April 2010

Thursday

On Wednesday, I had noticed the birds working off Woody Head and seen a few Tuna jumping just out of range. So on Thursday I decided to fish the Iluka rockwall in the hope that they might come past.

I had popped into Big River Bait and Tackle at Maclean and as usual, the future Australian Bream Tournament Champion – Jo, had given me some good local tips. It’s a great tackle store and everyone in there knows their stuff. They are always ready to have a chat and impart some up to date, local knowledge. Jo decided he would join me on the wall for a quick pre-work fish, next day. I readily agreed, seeing this as a great opportunity to learn a few tricks from a local. At 4.45 am he was there waiting at the rock wall parking area. High tide had been at around 4.30am which meant we had plenty of water.

We walked along to where the wall begins to break down, stopped and rigged up. Jo put on a popper and I put on a plastic initially, and then joined him with a popper. As the horizon started to glow we covered the area with casts – but we got nothing. Conditions were perfect but there was no sign of any fish and after 20 mins or so, I decided to clamber on down to the end of the wall. I said farewell to Jo and started walking.

Looking back along the Iluka wall just after dawn


After another 20 mins scrambling over the boulders, I reached the end. The sun was just below the horizon and I started by casting the popper all around. This took about 15 minutes but did not produce any fish. As the sun came over the horizon I swapped to a GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad soft plastic, in the Pink Shine colour. I rigged it on a 1/2oz 3/0 jighead as the tide was now running out with some force. I put a few casts into the ocean side of the end of the wall and then moved round to fish the river side. After a few more casts, I got a couple of good bites, in close to the rocks. I cast out again and let the plastic sink down in the fast flowing water. As I lifted the rod the line came up taught and I had a fish on. I knew it was a Tailor because of the mad shaking. It was around the 40cm mark, I got it to the rocks and as I was about to lift it, it calmly turned its head and dropped the hook.

I tried a few more casts with the Pink Shine plastic and got a few more hits but no fish. They eventually bit the tail off, so I decided to downsize. I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the more natural Pepper Prawn colour. First cast and bang the lure was whacked and line started peeling. A big Tailor 60- 70cm jumped out of the water, ran a bit further and then he was gone – he had bitten straight through my 30lb leader.

I fished for another hour or so, but the Tuna never showed up. Finally just as I was about to give up I caught a decent Tailor, around 45cm long on a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour.

Tailor from the end of the Iluka rockwall

Iluka – The Rockwall – 2 Dec 2010

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Thursday

I went to bed in a heavy rain shower and woke up to yet another one at about 4.00 am. After a while it eased off so I pulled on the (now very wet and fairly malodorous) fishing boots and made a cup of tea. The wind was light from the north east but as I walked out from Woody Head in the half light of dawn, I could see the swell was significant and the rocks were going to be too dangerous. I jumped in the car and headed down to the rock wall that runs out from the northern bank of the mouth of the Clarence River, at Iluka.
Fishing the Iluka rock wall is not for the faint hearted. You need good boots and good knees. It is a long walk from where you park to the best fishing spots. The first half of the wall has a nice pathway along the top, but as you reach about half way, the fill underfoot gets bigger and bigger until you a walking across wobbling boulders. Finally in the last 200 metres all the loose fill has been washed away and what is left is a mass of boulders. If you persist and clamber on, there are a few good flat boulders that make excellent fishing platforms on either side, but the most consistent fish holding spot, for me, is the wash around the base of the wall at the very end. Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side
Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side. I recommend giving both a try. I usually put in a few casts whilst walking out and one of these got smashed at the foot of the rocks by a small Tailor. I was using the GULP 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad soft plastic lure on a 3/8 2/0 jighead. I landed this fish after a short fight and as it was only just legal size at around 35cm, I threw it back. I had a few more casts here with no further action and so I moved on to the end of the wall.
The swell was calming down a bit, but the rain was still blowing over in 10 minute showers. There was too much swell to fish directly off the end of the wall, so I started off fishing the north side of the wall. The tide was running out and I assumed that the fish would shelter from the current on the ocean side of the wall. I switched to a ½ oz 4/0 jighead and put on a GULP 7” Limetiger Crazylegs Jerkshad. This is a great plastic with a split curly tail that flutters, as it sits or sinks, in the current. I was sure there would be some Jewfish around. I put in about 50 or 60 casts without result, so I switched to the river side. Fortunately, the rain was flattening the sea now. After a few casts out into the mouth of the river, the line came up tight and the rod tip started shaking. This is a tricky spot to land a fish. You are a couple of metres above the water line and you just have to heave the fish up. If you are on your own this is your only option. I find a long handle gaff is too hard without someone to hold the rod. I had a good size Tailor on. Tailor have such soft mouths that the final lift is even more difficult. Sure enough, as I tried to raise it clear of the water, I pulled the hook. I put on a fresh soft plastic and cast out in the same spot. After a few seconds I got a solid hit and I dropped the rod tip. When I lifted it I had another fish on. After a short fight, I successfully landed another Tailor. At about 45cm, I decided to keep this one.
I continued to cast in semicircle in the area but the fish had moved on or they had stopped eating because I could not raise another bite. Finally after another rain squall I packed up.