Iluka – Woody Head – Middle Bluff – More Tuna – 11 April 2013

Thursday

On Thursday morning I decided to fish from Middle Bluff, just north of Frasers Reef. This is a short drive south from the Woody Head camp ground. I arrived just before dawn and got rained on straight away. I now had a good waterproof jacket on, which helped. The wind was a slight south easterly/ westerly – swapping from one to the other. Low tide had passed at about 2.45 am.

I decided to start with the heavy rod. My theory was that if the Tuna were around, I would have more chance of landing one on my Daiwa 9’ Demonblood with 30lb leader. I have been trying out another couple of excellent hard body lures from DUO, on this trip. I decided to start with the DUO Tide Vib Slim140. This is effectively a large sinking vibe lure. It weighs 32g, has the usual superb DUO paint job and casts like a bullet.

The rain had passed over and I started casting the Tide Vib Slim in a semicircle and retrieving it in long, sideways sweeps, to get the most of the action. Just before sunrise, I felt some solid knocks. I was casting out about 50 metres and the lure was getting attention just after it hit the water and started vibrating. After about ten minutes, there were two big bumps and a bite. I dropped the rod tip, then struck hard and the fish took off. It was another blistering initial run. This time I was fishing with my Stradic 8000 reel and the heavier rod and leader, but that initial run felt just as powerful as the mac tuna, earlier in the week. I just held on and watched 250 metres of braid peel off the spool. I was pretty sure it was another tuna. It went straight out to sea. Eventually it slowed, so I gradually cranked the reel and turned its head. Now it was sitting parallel to the shore, about 200 metres out and the Daiwa Demonblood rod tip was fluttering in time to its tail beats.

I started to gain line but each wind was met with solid resistance – this fish was far from worn out. I left the drag alone and was determined to be patient. With the fish this far out, there was not much structure to tangle with. It made another short run, taking perhaps 50 metres of line, but I just let it go and then started the pressure again. I gave some thought to where I would land it. If I was lucky I would be able to coax it round to some stepped ledges on the north side of the headland and grab it, between wave sets. As it came closer to shore, I started to put more pressure on it but it was hard to move. Every time I brought it within sight of the rocks it took off again. The runs were getting shorter but they were just as powerful.

And then with no real sign of why, the line went slack and it was gone – bugger. I had not felt a bite off or seen any evidence of a bigger predator and I still had the lure, when I wound in. I suspect it had been hooked on the side of the mouth, through some of the softer tissue and I had just pulled the hooks.

I gathered my thoughts, checked my knots and cast out again. Half way through the retrieve, there was a grab followed by zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz pht! The leader snapped and the lure and fish were gone. Not sure what it was, but that was the end of my DUO Tide Vib Slim 140. I have had four of these lures, to test drive this year and they have all hooked fish before disappearing. I am pretty sure two were grabbed by Kingfish, earlier in the year, off Fingal Head and the last two tangled with Tuna. I will definitely be getting more.

I tried casting a popper for a while but this did not produce anything so I decided to swap to a metal lure – a 95g Sniper slug. After ten or so casts, I felt a bit of resistance and realised I had a small fish on. I pulled up a Tailor that was only just longer than the lure. A few more casts with the slug did not yield anything. So I swapped to the lighter Shimano Catana rod and decided to try some soft plastic lures.

I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour on a 3/8th oz, 2/0 jighead. Something hit the plastic on the first cast and took it for a quick run, then dropped it. I got it back with the tail mashed and I guessed it was a Tailor. I dropped down to a 4” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour and after a few more casts, I connected with a better Tailor – about 40 cm long and landed it.

The tide was rising but the swell was very light, so I dropped back to a ¼ oz and then a 1/6th oz, jighead and selected a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I put on a few different colours and caught a few more tailor – the biggest was about 45cm long. I also caught good sized dart and bream.

Things started to slow down so I decided to put on a smaller, 3” GULP Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour, on a ¼ oz, 1/0 jighead. This was the same lure that had caught the mac tuna a few days before. I fished around, varying my casts; some in close to the rocks, some further out. It was now about 8.45 am and another line of rain clouds was lining up and the wind was picking up. I put out a long cast and dropped the lure into the water about 25 metres out.

I felt a few grabs and pulls as the lure sank and suddenly I was connected with another fish. It pulled left, then right and suddenly took off in another blistering run. I was pretty sure it was another tuna as the line kept peeling. I was on the light rod so I just held on. It was another very long initial run but this time the fish was smaller and tired faster. I turned its head and gradually got my line back. I was playing it very carefully as I knew the 16lb leader would not stand any contact with the rocks. I gradually walked it round towards the rock ledges to my left. I checked my watch and I had been fighting the fish for 12 minutes, but it felt like much longer.

Once the fish saw the rocks it took off again. The Catana did not have the strength to apply much pressure but the tuna was gradually tiring. I watched the wave sets. I could see the fish now and it was a small mac tuna. It was on its side but still furiously beating its tail. Unfortunately a big wave set was coming through and I had little choice but to pull the fish up on to the lower ledge with the wave. It came up effortlessly on the surge but once it realised it was out of the water, it went ballistic and before I could get down to it, it had wriggled free of the jighead and bounced down the rocks to freedom – double bugger.

Appropriately, the heavens chose that moment to open above me and add insult to injury by covering me in a downpour. As I squelched back to the car I was rewarded with a great rainbow – but I would rather have had another tuna!

In the afternoon the rain stopped again and so I walked out to the rocks in front of Woody Head to fish “the barnacles” again. Not much happened through the afternoon. I caught a few more dart and bream on soft plastics. A watched as another fisherman caught a few 45cm Tailor casting slugs into the white water zones.

As the sun dropped behind Woody Head, the bite rate increased and I caught three good bream in quick succession. I swapped up to a bigger GULP 4″ Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/4 oz, 2/0 jighead. The swell and wind was picking up a little and it was getting dark quickly. I put in a long cast and let the lure waft down in the swell. As soon as I took up the slack a fish hit it. It pulled pretty hard on the Catana and then a good size tailor leaped out of the water. I subdued it and pulled it in. It was just over 50cm long. By then I had had enough for the day so I cleaned it and headed home for a fish supper.

The Tweed River Estuary – Boyds Island – 19 January 2012

Thursday

Fortunately the worst of the rain went somewhere else, but it had dumped plenty into our estuaries, so the options for fishing were not that good on Thursday morning. I decided to head south, for the Tweed River mouth. The tide would be high at about 6.00am (NSW) and would be running out all morning.

I started out on the north rock wall, at the river mouth. I was fishing with my heavy rig and from dawn through until about 6.45 am, I threw slugs and big soft plastics lures in all directions. I did not get a touch, so I decided to change tactics.

I went back to the car and drove around to Dry Dock Road to fish around the Mangroves and weed beds by Boyds and Turners Islands. I got out the light spin rod and reel and pulled on my waders. This area is fairy shallow but with a few deeper channels and gutters. It is good to explore on a falling tide, so that you don’t end up swimming back to the car. I waded along the edge of the Mangroves, casting soft plastics and small hard bodied lures. Despite the recent rain, the water was still clear and there was no shortage of small fish. Mullet, Whiting, Bream and small Herring were everywhere. Every now and then, I would come across a decent Bream, hovering beside a weed bed, but by then, I was too close to cast at them. I had a couple of bites and runs but after a few hours, I had covered plenty of ground and still not landed a fish.

The weather was perfect. The sun had come out and there was now a light breeze. I reached a point to the south where the water runs out of this area, back in to the Tweed River. It runs over a long sand bank in to the main channel. I loaded a fresh 3” GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and start to cast and retrieve it along the edge of the sand bank. First cast, I felt a decent bite, but I struck too soon and pulled the lure from the fish’s mouth. I cast back in the same spot and slowed everything down. Two jerks of the soft plastic and I felt another bite – I paused, counted to 10 and when I lifted the rod there was a fish on it. Nothing spectacular – a 43cm Flathead, but after about 3 ½ hours of fishing I was pleased to see it.

I then caught a few more, smaller Flathead. I moved along the bank stopping every few metres and casting into the shallows. There were plenty of fish here. Over the next 40 minutes I caught another six, but only two were big enough to add to the keeper bag.
It was now about 10.30 am and I made my way back to the car. Sometimes you need to cover a lot of ground to find them, but this is such a pleasant spot that it really was no hardship. I will be back here again soon.

Iluka – Woody Head – More Salmon – 7 December 2011

Wednesday

Wednesday morning was windy again – a light south-easterly with squalling showers. I walked round to the rocks on the eastern side of Woody Head, at day break but the swell was still sending big sets crashing over the top.

I gave up on the mornings fishing and drove off into Maclean for breakfast and a chat with the helpful folk at Big River Bait & Tackle. They confirmed the presence of a few Jewfish around the rocks but also pointed out the weather would be my biggest obstacle for the next week.

I drove back to Iluka to find the birds working, out in the calm waters off Woody Bay. They were staying too far off shore initially, but gradually through the afternoon, they moved closer in. The netters showed up on the beach at about 2.00 pm and as the whitebait came closer to the shore, they rowed out with a long net to encircle them. They clearly got a good haul as it was too heavy to pull up on the beach. They dragged it along through the water, back to the boat ramp. Then they winched the bulging net up.

The commercial netters row out their net

Another decent Salmon from the Woody Head Beach

Two more Woody Head Salmon

By about 2.30 pm the birds had followed another school in close enough to cast at and a group of beach fisherman had come down to try and catch a few. Suddenly the Salmon started to bash into the school, sending Whitebait flying everywhere. I put on a HALCO 65g Twisty and fired a cast over the boiling water. After a couple of cranks I had a fish on. It was another solid Australian Salmon which put on a great display of acrobatics. As I landed it I saw my son was stuck into another but was turning into hard work as he only had my light Nitro 6’6” spin rod. All along the beach the kids were hooking up. The fish destroyed plenty of gear, but the patient fishermen eventually landed a few decent sized Salmon. My son got his after an epic battle. The fish had grabbed a GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic, attached to a 10lb leader. It was just under 50cm.

Australian Salmon on the light rig

A few more casts with the HALCO Twisty failed to hook up so I decided to try out some of the bigger DUO lures I had brought with me. The first one that had been calling to me from the tackle box, is called the DUO Tide Vib Slim. It is a 32g, 140 mm sinking Vibe lure. Once again, it is a beautifully engineered lure with a very high quality finish. It is comparatively light for its length but has a great action. Although it is very slim it still contains a decent internal rattle. I think this will prove to be big hit with the pelagic species – especially Tuna. I had it in the Qantas colours – red head with a white body. I cast it about fifteen metres off shore and played around until I found what I considered was the ideal retrieve speed – which was fairly slow. I was using the Daiwa Demon Blood rock/ beach rod with a 30lb fluorocarbon leader.

This one fell for the DUO Tide Vib Slim

Tide Vib Slim - weighting system

The Qantas colours often work well - DUO Tide Vib Slim

It did not take long to catch a fish – on the fourth cast a Salmon knocked it out of the water and then lunged at it again and was hooked. It took plenty of line on a very determined initial run and then put in a few leaps and rolls but eventually, I had it safely on the beach. It was a bit over 60cm long.

I caught two more with this lure and then things went quiet again. The soft plastics were still catching fish but I decided to try out another DUO hard bodied lure – the Tide Minnow 105LD. The Tide Minnow is one of their long established best sellers in Japan. It is also used extensively in Europe to target Sea Bass. It looks like a fairly standard sinking minnow but its internal ball bearing weighting system means it casts like a rocket. Consistently with the rest of the range, it is finished to a very high standard. I had it in a shiny purple colour with a dark underbody. It finds it rhythm easily in the surf and it has a rolling body with a wiggling tail action. The fish were thick and did not have to wait long. After about five casts another Salmon slammed the lure just a few metres from the shore. I landed it and cast out a few more times and then, bang I was on to another fish. This one was a little larger and took longer to subdue, but eventually I got him up the beach.

I should point out that these DUO lures have been provided to me at no cost to test drive but as with all freebies, I will only write them up positively if they catch fish. So far the DUO range have delivered fish for me and so I am happy to recommend them. If you want to know more about them contact Steve at http://www.swldistributions.com.au

Australian Salmon on DUO Tide Minnow

Australian Salmon on Tide Vibe Minnow

Another Salmon grabs the DUO Tide Minnow


Suddenly, after an hour or so of mayhem, the fish were gone. The birds were still circling and occasionally diving for the odd, wounded Whitebait, but the Salmon had moved on or stopped eating. It had been a great session and over the course of an hour I had witnessed five guys catch about 25 Australian Salmon between them and lose plenty more. They may be awful to eat but they are great fun to catch.