Monday had been a tough day. The weather had really made it too hard to fish. Any normal person would have had a day relaxing at the pub or fixing up their gear – but by now regular readers will realize that I am far from normal.
Tuesday morning was a different story weather wise. The north-easterly had dropped off considerably to about 10 knots. I decided to try fishing the rock platform at Woody Head. I arrived about 4.00 am and rigged up my heavy rig. Having seen the popper working the day before. I tied on a DUO Realis Popper 64 in a red colour. I tied it on with 30lb leader and lobbed it out. With a fair breeze it was hard to cast it very far on the heavy rig. However I eventually succeeded in getting more or less parallel with the edge of the rock ledges and worked the popper through the foamy wash. On about my tenth cast there was an explosive strike, short run and then my leader was flapping in the wind. Whatever it was, 30lb leader was clearly not going to stop it. It was only just light enough to see. I tied on another bigger RIVER TO SEA Dumbbell Popper but this did not interest the fish.
As the sun came up I decided to switch to soft plastic lures. GULP have a fairly new pattern – the 3” Mantis Shrimp. This is basically a prong tailed shrimp shape. I had it in the Molting Shrimp colour. I tied it on with 30lb fluorocarbon leader on a ¼ ounce, 1/0 jighead. I cast it out and let it sink for as long as I felt it would take to get to the bottom. The problem with fishing these ledges is that the fish are always very close in. This means getting you soft plastic to the bottom and keeping it there long enough for something to grab it – without getting snagged. The Jewfish like to sit under the overhangs and in the caves that are under the ledges. You have to use your lures in a way that will persuade them to come out and eat.
The sun was now over the horizon. I dropped the soft plastic just over the edge into the foamy water. After a couple of hops my line was almost touching the face of the rocks. There was gentle tug and I dropped the rod tip – rock, swell or fish? I paused for a few seconds then struck hard – it was a fish. It had plenty of power and it took off to the south in a long and powerful initial run. But it was slow and powerful so I was pretty sure it was a jewfish/mulloway. I took a little line back, as it paused for a breather, but I could not turn its head. It put in another powerful run but then it slowed and I tightened the drag and put some pressure on. It was tired now but it still kept trying to dive down underneath the rocky ledge. I used the swell to get it to the foot of the rocks. I could now see it was a very decent fish – perhaps 80 or 90 cm. On a couple of wave surges I tried to get it up on the stepped ledges below me. I succeeded initially but as soon as the wave receded the dead weight of the fish was unmovable and it would wriggle back off with the receding water. It seemed solidly hooked and pretty tired so I waited for a decent wave set and heaved it up two steps. I waited for the next surge but as I pulled, the hook came free. It slid back down, and with the next wave and swam away.
When I examined the jighead I could see it had started to straighten. I suspect that the only way I would have landed that fish would have been with a long handled gaff and I do not intend to start carrying one of those around the rocks with me. I re-rigged with the same outfit but after 30 minutes I had not had another bite so I decided to change to another soft plastic. I chose the GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. After two casts, something slammed this and briefly headed out to sea before biting through the leader. I tied on a repeat rig and fished around for another 20 minutes with no result.
I decided it was time to switch to the light rig and lighter leader. I started with 20lb fluorocarbon and tied on a smaller, GULP 3” minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I stuck with the ¼ ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. It had been an interesting morning and it wasn’t even 6.00 am yet.
I cast the smaller lure out and it was hit, at the base of the rocks on the first cast. I soon landed a solid bream – well over 35cm. I released it – I was determined to get a jewfish that I could keep for supper. About 5 minutes later I had another fish on. I was sure it was another jewfish but I only had the light rod this time so patience was the key. I left the drag alone and gradually tired the fish out. The tide would be high at 11.00 am so the rising water was gradually improving my chances of using the waves to help wash the fish up on to the rocks. I pulled the fish up the ledges in a couple of stages and safely grabbed the leader. Finally I had a keeper size Jewfish – just on 72cm. I put it in a keeper pool and cast out again. The fish were suddenly on the bite, I caught another decent bream and then was on to a similair sized jewfish but once more I was unable to get it up the rocks.
By about 6.30 am I had swapped to a GULP 5 inch Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. After a few casts I connected with another jewfish. I managed to land this one but it was just under 70cm, so I sent it on its way.
By about 7.30 am the wind had picked up again and the tide was washing over the ledges so I had to give up. I cleaned up my jewfish and walked back to the car.
The wind was forecast to drop off and then turn south-easterly in the afternoon. After a great morning I decided I had to go back to Woody Head and fish through dusk. I arrived at about 3.30pm and walked out to ‘the Barnacles’ area. The tide was running out to an afternoon low at about 5.30 pm. The moon was a waxing crescent – 11% full.
I used my heavy rod with 30lb fluorocarbon leader. This area is tough to fish as you are casting over lots of shallow reef to reach a drop off. A surface lure is a therefore a good option. I tied on a River to Sea 110m Dumbbell Pop surface popper and hurled it out. I wore myself out for twenty minutes casting this in all directions but I could not stir anything up. I swapped over to a ¼ ounce, 1/0 jighead and GULP 5 “ Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. On the first cast I caught another good (35 cm+) bream and then I lost the jighead to the rocks.
I re-rigged and cast out again. There were a few fish knocking and bumping the plastic just as it reached the ledge, but I could not seem to hook them. Just before 4.00 pm something grabbed the plastic just as I finished my retrieve. It tried to dart under the rocks but it was not a big fish and the heavier rod and tightened drag soon pulled it clear. It was an amazing coloured wrasse of some sort – a really pretty fish. After a few pictures I released it.
I caught a couple more bream on smaller soft plastics but the south easterly started to blow hard at about 4.30 pm, so I gave up for the day.