After a few delays and cancellations, I decided it was time for an Iluka fishing trip. I had a booking at Woody Head for the week before, but with the Clarence River pouring out mud, I delayed it for a week. By Friday the weather looked reasonable, so I decided to go for it.
I arrived at Woody Head at about lunchtime and set up camp. When I camp, I use the Oztent RV2 as it is quick to set up and very durable. It took about 20 minutes to get sorted and then ten more to get my fishing boots on and light and heavy rods rigged.
For the purposes of rock fishing I use the following outfits:
Heavy – Daiwa Demonblood rod, Stradic 8000FJ reel, 20lb Fireline and usually a 25lb or 30lb fluorocarbon leader.
Light – Shimano Catana Coastline Light rod, Sustain 4000 reel, 10lb Platil Millenium braid and 10lb or 12lb fluorocarbon leader.
I usually carry both out to the rocks with me. My general plan is to start with the heavy rig, throwing big lures or soft plastics and gradually work through to the lighter rig. It is amazing how often down-sizing in this way, produces fish.
I walked round the headland to a spot called ‘the Barnacles’, by the locals. This is a fairly treacherous place and you need to watch the swell carefully for 30 minutes or so before figuring out where is safe to fish. Even then, you can still get caught by a rogue wave, so good boots, a pfd and a willingness to get wet are essential.
I soon got wet as a huge wave slapped against the rocks and came down on top of me. In the bright sunshine, it was quite refreshing but it was a timely reminder to watch my step. I cast around with the big rod using the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastics in the Lime Tiger and New Penny colours. I initially rigged them on 3/8 oz 3/0 jigheads and then dropped back to the ¼ oz 2/0 size.
Low tide had been at 2.15pm and the swell was making keeping the lures in the strike zone hard. The water was pretty dirty, but each time I pulled the lure in close to the rocks, small whitebait would scatter in front of it.
This was perfect jewfish water but the problem was getting my lure to them. During the daytime they will hug the rocks and sit underneath the overhangs. If you want to catch them you lure has to be on the bottom right in front of the overhang. They also can be fussy, so you have to fish light, even a ¼ oz jighead is sometimes too heavy. With a 1.5m swell it was very difficult to keep my lure where I wanted it.
Barnacle Bob – at Woody Head
The swell was still pretty lively
Big eye trevally
It would do for dinner
I swapped to the light rig and dropped to a finer wire 1/6th 2/0 jighead and 12lb leader. I put on a plain GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. It was now just after 3.00pm. After a few casts, something hit the lure right beside the rocks and took off. It was fast and stripped some line. It was not a jewfish. I waited for the swell to bring it up over the ledge and then tightened the drag a little. It was a big eye trevally, about 40cm long. I snapped it and bled it – just enough for dinner.
I continued fishing but as the tide turned and the afternoon breeze picked up, I was forced off ‘the Barnacles’. I walked back to camp cleaned the fish and washed up. I got the fire going and the red wine open and planned the next morning’s session.