Iluka – Woody Head – 25 November 2014

Tuesday

Morning

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.

Afternoon

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.

Wrasse

Soft plastics will catch anything

Iluka – Shark Bay – 14 February 2013

Thursday

On Wednesday afternoon the south-easterly wind had not really dropped off, as forecast. I had a quick fish around Woody Bay but it only yielded one very small flathead, on a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic.

Thursday was my last day and once again it started with rain and a strong south-easterly wind. Low tide was due at 5.40 am, just after first light. I decided to sit out the rain. Once it stopped, at about 6.30 am, I drove round to Frasers Reef and walked along the beach to Middle Bluff. The swell was just too big here and after an hour of losing gear to the rocks and getting soaked, I gave up.

By afternoon the weather had improved and the sun was out. The wind was still blowing from the south-east, so I decided to try fishing on the Shark Bay rock platform, as the tide ran out. I had intended to fish the north side of the rock platform, but when I arrived the wind was light enough and the tide was at just the right level to make it possible to fish on the south side.

After a week of fairly tough fishing, I was not confident of finding big tailor or jewfish, so I started fishing with my ‘light’ rock fishing outfit. I was using a 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a GULP 3” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour. The swell was light and the water fairly clear so I dropped right down to a 1/8th oz 1/0 jighead. There are a number of low rocky outcrops on this side of the platform that extend into the sea like fingers. There a kelp and barnacle covered bommies all round. The area is dotted with patches of open sand and I concentrated on casting around the edges of these patches. I moved the lure slowly, letting it waft around in the surf. At about 3.00 pm a fish grabbed the lure and took off. It bit hard and took some line. It soon settled and it was not long before I had it safely on shore. It was a cracker bream that measured just fewer than 40 cm long. It had almost swallowed the soft plastic and jighead, whole.

I felt a few other nips over the next couple of hours and I swapped through a range of soft plastics and small hard bodies, but I could not find another fish.

Although the weather had made life tough it had actually been a pretty good week of fishing. I had caught some good bream and a great flathead. I am sure the school jewfish were around but I had just failed to find a spot where I could successfully get at them.

I hope the bait sticks around for a while and then as we move into the cooler months the land-based fishing will only improve.

Iluka – Shark bay – Plenty of Variety – 30 March 2012

Friday

Unfortunately the wind and swell were up again so my favorite Rocky spots were out of bounds. It was however, a beautiful clear morning. The wind was from the south at about 10 knots but there were also gusts from the west which made things very cool, once my legs were wet.

I started at Shark Bay with the light rod. I focused on the shallows, on the west side of the rock platform. There is often a Flathead lurking in here, amongst the rock bars and sea weed. I started with a big soft plastic – a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead, with 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I had a few hits and then lost the tail. I moved down in size to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and 8lb fluorocarbon leader.

The down-sizing converted the bites to fish but only tiny Moses Perch and then a Long Tom. I moved along the edge of the platform and there was a bite on almost every cast, but nothing significant. When the Tailor are around this is a great place to cast a 65g slug on the big rod.

I watched another great sun rise and kept catching small fish. Soon it was time to call it quits for the week. It had been a challenging week. The weather had made things tough, as it often does, but I had found some good fish – particularly the Bream. I had seen a few Tailor in the waves but only caught one from the rocks and one in the river. I always think that its a good trip if you are catching stuff and there was plenty of variety.

I managed 10 species this week – Bream, Flathead, Tailor, Luderick, Trevally, Jewfish, Moses Perch, Long Tom, Pike and even a few tiny Whiting. The weather had been too difficult for the hard bodies, so everything was caught on soft plastics.

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I drove back to Brisbane in the afternoon and as I unloaded the car, I was already considering my options for avoiding the wind and the Easter crowds to find some fish.

Bribie Island – North of Pacific Harbour – 24 November 2011

Thursday

Not much to say – drove up to Bribie Island for a late morning fish – caught nothing. I used both small hard-bodied bibless vibes and soft plastic lures. I waded the flats to the north of the entrance to Pacific Harbour, from about 9.30 am through to 1.00pm. The tide was running out the whole time. Despite forecast heavy rain it stayed dry and the wind was from the south-east – turning north-east, part way through the session. The water was very murky.

I guess you have to come home empty handed every now then!

Bribie Island Bridge & flats around the old Oyster Jetty – 13 November 2011

A long wade - for no fish

Sunday

Northerly winds – I don’t like them. They stir up the water and send most estuary species off the bite. Over the last ten days we have hit that frustrating Queensland summer pattern of an early morning calm, followed by a 15 to 25 knot north-easterly by lunch time. Add in the big tides of the full moon and the Pumicestone Passage is very murky on the bottom of the tide and full of weed, sea grass and other debris on the top of the tide.

Excuses, Excuses – you still have to get out there and try. The Mangrove Jacks don’t mind the northerly and nor do the pelagic species (they just have to keep eating whatever the weather). Therefore, on Sunday morning, I arrived at Bribie, under the bridge on the mainland side, just after first light at 4. 15 am. I waded around, cast soft plastic lures in various colours and sizes, all over the sea grass beds and sand banks for the next three and a half hours, but apart from one persistent Pike, I did not get a bite.
Finally around 9.00 am I gave up – bring on a good south-easterly breeze!

Brooms Head – Back Beach – 18 September

Sunday

I have my 9 year old daughter with me this week so 4.30 am starts are out of the question. She likes to fish, but not that much! At around 8.00 am I persuaded her to walk from Brooms Head south, past the Brooms Head Bluff to Back Beach. It was already warm and fairly still with a very light northerly wind. Low tide had passed at about 5.00 am.

Brooms Head Sunrise


After a disappointing session with the heavier fishing rod and reel the day before, I swapped down to my favorite light beach rod, a Gary Howard Estuary, 9ft. It is excellent for Whiting, Dart and Bream – very whippy with loads for spring and great at hooking fussy fish. It works best with a 1/8th or 1/6th jighead and although it is really designed for an Alvey, I use a Shimano Seido 2500 spinning reel. I have never really mastered the Alvey. I use 10lb Fireline or Braid and usually a 10 or 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

As the fish had been reluctant to bite the day before and because we were outside ideal fish feeding hours (dawn and dusk) I decided to start with a 6lb leader. I waded out to about waist deep and cast in to the northern corner of the bay, just where the rocks meet the sand. I had loaded up with a 2” GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. I could feel the 1/8th 1 jighead bumping on the rocks and it soon got snagged. I swapped down to a 1/16th 1 hook jighead and put on a 3” GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow soft plastic. It is not usually possible to cast such a light weight into the surf, but today conditions were calm enough to do it.
After a little while I started to cast over the top of the rocks as the tide was moving up quite quickly. The jighead was now light enough to bump over the top rather than get snagged. Just as the lure reached the edge of the rocks it was grabbed. The rod tip bent over and I had a fish on. It took some line but then swam into the rocks and made short work of the 6lb leader.

I re-rigged with a 10lb leader and cast back out with the same weight jighead and soft plastic lure. After a few casts, I felt a couple of bumps and knocks and then bang, I had a fish. This time the leader held and I steered the fish back up the beach. It was a Bream around 30 cm. I put it in the bag and carried on fishing. About ten minutes later the same thing happened, this time it was a Tarwhine, about the same size, but with much more fight in it.

A Bream from Back Beach at Brooms Head


Now I had dinner so it was time to quit and go for a swim. Conditions were perfect and the water was crystal clear. Even without a mask you could see plenty of Bream swimming around and good schools of bait fish in close to the shore.

Bribie Island – the Oyster Jetty to the Channel Marker – 19 June 2011

Sunday

I managed a quick dawn session at Bribie on Sunday. I arrived at around 6.00 am. Dawn and low tide were at about the same time. I was fishing the area of sand banks and muddy weed beds south of the old oyster jetty, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage.

I started with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Pink Shine colour, rigged on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I have now upgraded to a 12lb fluorocarbon leader as I have been getting bitten off by the Tailor that are around in the estuaries at the moment.

As I waded out I noted how cold the water has become in the last couple of weeks. I presume this is down to the consistent westerly winds. It was a westerly again this morning but not the predicted 10 to 12 knots. The first hour, through the slack water period on low tide, was a bit slow, but as the sun started to really light up the water, I started to catch fish. I had now switched to the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour – basically, yellow on top of pumpkinseed.

I opened the account with a monster Pike – at just over 45cm I think it’s the biggest I have ever caught. Around 7.00 am I caught the first Flathead. It was about 35cm long. I then put in about ten more casts in a radius of a few metres of where I caught it. After slowing my retrieve and pausing longer, I hooked up to another – this was a much better fish. I dragged it on to the sand, photographed and released it. It was just over 50cm.

I fished on until 8.00am and caught another six Flathead between 30cm and 58cm. They seemed to feed more aggressively once the sun was a little higher over the water and the tide started to run in, solidly. There are plenty of fish in our fridge at present, so I released all the Flathead I caught today. I kept the monster Pike for the cat.

If you want to try land-based fishing with soft plastic lures, now is the time in southern Queensland. I expect they are sitting on sandbanks and weed beds in all the major estuaries at present. You will need to wrap up warm though!