Iluka – Shark Bay – April 2017

April 2017

April offered the opportunity to get a few days off after Easter. Unfortunately, the heavens opened and we faced a wet week at Iluka, in northern New South Wales. It was quite a challenge to get there as the Pacific Highway was closed at high tide at Chinderah. We slowly drove on as ankle deep water gradually drained off the nation’s main highway. We turned off for Iluka but had to wait for an hour or so at Woombah, until the local SES agreed it was safe to go through. We arrived in the dark and it started raining again.

There were a few breaks in the heavy rain and the sun came out a few times but the water turned in to churned up brown soup. I fished on a couple of mornings at Shark Bay – it was the only place where the swell would not knock me off my perch. I tried my two favourite lures for tailor and both caught fish, all between 35 and 50 cm. The first is the HALCO Twisty metal slug in the brass colour – either 55g or 70g. The brass colour often seems to get a fish in this spot when plain silver slugs don’t.  The other great lure for tailor is the DUO Pressbait Saira – a long solid sinking hard body that looks very like the garfish that often hang about at Shark Bay.

I was sure the jewfish were present and when fishing the eastern end of the Shark Bay headland with a large jerkshad, I think I hooked one. Unfortunately I was fishing with the light rod and after a few minutes of fight the 16lb leader got stuck on something and the fish was gone.

I look forward to another Iluka trip soon.

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Iluka – Shark Bay – Jewfish – 12 June 2015

Friday

On Friday the wind was a 10-15 knot south-westerly. I woke to heavy rain at about 5.00 am and it was cold. I had decided to go back to Shark Bay but low tide would not be until about 10.00 am, so there was no hurry. I had breakfast and put on a few layers.

I drove down to Shark Bay again and headed out to the northern end of the rocks. It was about 6.30 am by the time I reached the fishing spot.I rigged up a DUO Realis Jerkbait 110 SP – which is a shallow running hard body that has caught tailor here for me before. I tied it on with 35lb fluorocarbon leader and threw it out. On about the third cast I felt a grab and then some resistance but it did not feel like a Tailor. I kept winding and was surprised to see a big bream attached to the lure.

I carried on fishing with the DUO lure, but it did not find me any tailor so I swapped to a DUO Pressbait Saira. DUO call this a ‘slim and long-bodied jig minnow’. It is basically a 50 gram, 175mm long slug with a wobble tail action. The long baitfish profile means it should attract everything from tailor to tuna, but today after about 30 casts, it had attracted nothing.

I switched down to the lighter rock fishing rig and a soft plastic Jerkshad on a ¼ ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. I fished this around, the drop off and in amongst the kelp beds. I felt a few grabs but could not connect so I dropped down to a small 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. This soon found another smaller bream.

I moved south to the other side of the rocks. I started with the heavy rod and big soft plastics and gradually dropped down to the light rod and GULP 3” Minnows in various colours. I was now fishing 16lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. It was about 30 minutes to low tide and the swell seemed to be picking up. I changed up to a heavier 1/6th ounce 1/0 hook fine wire Breampro jighead and loaded up with a GULP Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour.

This is a colour I have never tried before and subsequent events suggest it pays to try something new, from time to time. The bigger plastic and slightly heavier jighead meant I could put in a slightly longer cast. On about my third attempt, I landed it beyond the breaking waves and waited for it to sink. As it floated down I felt a gentle tug. I paused for a few seconds then lifted the rod tip and felt a fish. It took off along the line of the surf towards some kelp covered rocks. I played it for a while and it felt like a jewfish. Unfortunately, it managed to find a good tuft of kelp to wrap itself around and the line went slack.  When I got the jighead back the fine wire hook had straightened so I tied on a heavier gauge one and put on another BBQ Chicken Jerkshad.

It did not take long, perhaps 3 or 4 more casts, then I was on to another fish.  This one was a little smaller and less powerful. It made a long initial run but then I was able to turn its head and use the wave surges to bring it in. It was a beautiful school jewfish but I was not sure if it was big enough, so I took out the tape and checked. It was 73cm long and therefore big enough to keep for dinner in New South Wales.

I threw a few more casts and felt a few more bites but as the tide slackened, the bites stopped. Another rain shower came over so I cleaned up my fish and decided to make for the car.

Iluka – Woody Head – 1 October 2014

Wednesday

Many claim it was Einstein who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But there is no evidence that he ever said it, thought it or wrote it.  However as with all good clichés, there is an element of truth in it, especially for fishermen.

For this reason I decided not to return to Middle Bluff on Wednesday morning and to go instead to Woody Head – the next headland to the north. When the swell is light and the tide is low or falling, there are few better fishing spots.

I parked up and walked out on to the rock platform at about 5.00 am. The wind had stayed a northerly and the swell was fairly gentle, but there was still the odd large set of waves coming through. Boots with felt soles or studs, or both are essential, if you intend to venture out here, as is a PFD. The tides ensure almost every surface is a suitable home for green and black slimy weed and the barnacles here are responsible for plenty of long term scar tissue. So it is only relatively safe when the swell is under 1 metre and the tide is about half way out and falling.

It was another magnificent sunrise. I wandered out to the front of the rock platform to a spot called the Barnacles. I rigged up the light rod (NS Blackhole) with 14 lb fluorocarbon leader and ¼ ounce, 1/0 size hook jighead and a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad, in the Curry Chicken colour. I lost the first rig to the rocks – fishing is expensive in this kind of terrain. I rigged up again with the same set up. I cast out and let the jig head sink. I left it as long as I dared and then hopped it in a little closer to the rocks. As I lifted it again I felt it stop and then line started peeling. The fish ploughed off to the south, parallel with the rocks. This was tricky as I could not stay lined up with it for long. I Let it run and then fairly quickly took back some line and tightened the drag a little. It turned but tried to bury itself at the foot of the rocks. It was now weakening but the leader was caught on some rocks and I could feel it rubbing. I loosed the drag right off and waited. Fortunately it swam out and freed the leader. Now I tightened again and pulled it up on the next surge of water. After a couple more waves I had it at my feet. A solid mulloway –  it was 76 cm and legal size in both Queensland and NSW. At last we would have a taste of the fish I had been catching all week and releasing.

I dispatched it, gutted and cleaned it. Then I headed back to the rocks for another try. It had destroyed my last GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad so I put on a 4” Minnow in the Green Camo colour. Back to the same spot – bang, first cast and I have a fish on again. The drag was still set too tight from the final stages of the fight with the last one and after a big initial run, before I realised, it found a rock and snapped me off.  I assume it was another mulloway. I re-rigged and continued fishing for another 30 minutes with no result. The swell was building and the tide rising. So at about 7.45am, I gave up and took my prize back to the cabin.

Iluka – Shark Bay – 26 March 2012

Monday

Iluka is pretty much fishing heaven – but even in fishing heaven you still have to deal with the weather. I was up early – way too early. I found myself standing on the beach looking out into the dark at Frasers Reef at about 5.15 am. When I say dark, I mean pitch black. There was virtually no moon and there was plenty of low cloud. There wasn’t much wind, a light south easterly, but I could tell from the sound of the crashing waves, there would be too much swell to fish the rocks safely here.

I walked back to the car and drove along to Shark Bay – a couple of kms to the north. When the wind is blowing and the swell is up you can still fish off the rocky outcrop here. It is sheltered from the big seas by Woody Head. I started with the big rod, the Daiwa 9 foot Demon Blood, a 3/8th oz 3/0 jighead, 30lb leader and 20lb braid. I put on a 5” Gulp Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I cast out from the rock platform, over the kelp into the foaming water. I almost instantly got snagged. That is the problem in this location. I tried a spinning a 65g raider for a while, but I soon lost that too.

I switched to the lighter rig – a 7’6’ Nitro spinning rod, ¼ oz 2/0 jighead, 12 lb leader and 8lb braid. I put on a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour and tried again. It was now about 6.30 am and the sun had just come over the horizon. Low tide had been at about 5.15 am. The lighter jighead pulled through the kelp and got snagged less easily. After a few casts, a fish hit my plastic. It felt pretty solid. I let it take line and then pulled it over the kelp beds with the aid of the swell. It was a good size bream – just over 35cm.

I carried on in this location for another 30 minutes and then moved to the southern side of the rock platform. I stuck with the lighter rod and the same soft plastic. I concentrated on the foamy water, in close to the rocks and after a few casts I had another fish. This one was fighting hard and there were rocks everywhere. I took it slow and let it take line when it needed too. I gradually increased the drag pressure and pulled it towards a gap in the rocks where I could land it. I saw a flash of silver and on the next wave I pulled it on to the rocks. Another Bream – a thumper at just under 40cm.

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I carried on fishing here for another hour. I had a few more hits but could not hook any more fish. Eventually, the tide and swell pushed me off this headland and, as I cleaned the two Bream, the heavens opened and I got soaked. I had managed two good fish in less than ideal conditions – not a bad start to the week.