Iluka – Woody Head – 20/21 November 2020

We had great conditions on the Friday and Saturday with an early morning low tide and light wind from the northwest. There was about a metre swell forecast and we were about 5 days past the new moon.

Another early start
Woody Head – the Barnacles

I went straight back to fish “the Barnacles” at Woody Head, through dawn, on Friday. I walked out onto the rock platform at about 4.30 am. The sun was starting to glow below the horizon and the swell was pleasantly light, as forecast.

I started with soft plastics. I find it very difficult to fish a big hard bodied lure in the dark/ twilight. I tend to lose it to the rocks pretty quickly. I was fishing with the heavy rig – Daiwa Demonblood 962H rod, Daiwa TD SOL III LT6000 DH reel, 40lb braid, 40lb fluorocarbon leader. I tied on a Nitro Saltwater Pro 3/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and loaded it with a GULP 4″ minnow soft plastic in the lime tiger colour.

There are plenty of brands of jigheads out there. It is important to carry a range of weights and hook sizes, so that you can vary your selection according to the swell/wind/terrain and what is biting. Be aware that whilst they all have standard weights (1/4, 3/8, 1/2 ounce, 7,10, 14 grams) marked on them, if you weigh them they are all actually a little different in weight. This is because some include the hook in the weight and some don’t and they vary considerably in their design. There is also the complication of metric vs imperial weights and what they choose to put on the packaging. Strength is an important factor, especially when fishing from the rocks. The Nitro Saltwater Pro jigheads on Owner hooks rarely give at all and are very unlikely to straighten, but if you need a stealthy presentation, for shy fish, they are not the right choice. The kingfish had not been shy around dawn in my last few sessions.

I cast the soft plastic out towards the glowing horizon and saw the bait spook as it landed. I was in the right spot. On the first few casts I tend to rush my retrieves a little as I work out where the submerged ledges start and finish and how far I am likely to be able to cast. After ten minutes I had not had a touch and thought of changing lures. I put in one more cast; about 45 degrees out to the north east of the rock the locals sometimes refer to as “Barnacle Bob”. I left it to sink and counted slowly to ten, then started my retrieve. I felt it rub along the bottom as I lifted it, but on the second hop – the line pulled tight and there was a fish there. It swam fairly slowly towards me and as I wound in, I assumed it was a decent bream. Then it saw the ledge coming or realised it was hooked and took off in a long hard run. The rod tip was pulsing, but not frantically – so it was not a tailor. It made several small arcs and then I landed it with the aid of a wave surge. It was 60cm kingfish.

That started a great morning of fishing with 10 kingfish hook ups over the next few hours, interspersed with a couple of dart and bream. I landed 6 of them. A few times I tried to tempt them with a hard bodied lure and a popper but whilst they would follow the bigger lures, they just would not bite. I swapped back to the soft plastics and I hooked up immediately. The most prolific soft plastics where the GULP 4″ Pink Paddleshad and the GULP 4″ Lime Tiger Minnow. Unfortunately none of the Kingfish were over 65cm, so I released them all.

At about 6.30 am the tide was running in and pushing me back from my favorite spot, so I moved further south along the Woody Head platform to the spot known as “Snapper Rock”. I got snagged and lost my jighead after a few casts and so I picked up my lighter Daiwa Crossfire 1062 rod with a lighter 25lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/4 oz, size 1/0 hook jighead. I put on another Lime Tiger Minnow. I cast out and as the plastic sank a fish ate it and headed straight down into the rocks. I tightened the drag and manage to pull it out. It was a small snapper, about 35 cm long. I threw it back and cast out again. The sea was fairly flat but the wind was now picking up from the north. I kept casting and hooked another kingfish. the fight was longer and harder because of the light rod – these fish just never give up. Eventually I landed it with the help of the swell, and got a fair soaking in the process. At about 7.30 am I gave up battling the wind.

Small Snapper

The next morning the wind was light again from the northwest and there was almost no swell. I started fishing at “the Barnacles” with the GULP 4″ Paddle shad in pink colour. I caught a decent 35cm + bream. It was a very dark colour but pretty fat. I cast all around but the Kingfish were either not there or not eating. A couple of other anglers joined me and we threw every kind of popper, hard body, bait and soft plastic, without success. Then, just before 7.00 am, we saw them feeding on the surface on a school of bait. I hurled a single hooked 40g brass coloured Halco Twisty (metal slug) at them, retrieved it fast and hooked one. It pulled hard but I eventually got it right up to my feet. Then, almost in slow motion the single hook came loose, and it swam away with the next wave.

A great couple of sessions, but the weather was closing in again for a big south-easterly blow, so it was time for a rest.

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Iluka – Woody Head – 14/15 November 2020

Very strong south easterlies had been blowing all week. I had tried a few sheltered spots around Iluka, but had only managed a few bream and small trevally. Everything was just too stirred up and finding anywhere safe to stand was too hard.

The winds dropped off on the Friday and the south easterlies were replaced by a strong northerly wind. This flattened out the seas a little and by lunchtime on Saturday I decided to try fishing at Woody Head. It was an early afternoon low tide at about 2.30 pm. The northerly wind was forecast to fall through the afternoon. The moon would be new on Sunday. The wind was still gusty from the north but the swell had flattened considerably.

I started fishing with my heavier set up – 40lb leader, 40lb braid, casting a DUO Drag Metalcast around. This produced nothing. Then a Gulp Jerkshad (various colours). This produced a 45cm trevally and then a 35cm bream. Initially I was fishing with a 1/4 ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and then on a heavier 3/8th ounce, 2/0 hook jighead, to counteract the fairly strong northerly wind.

I had been casting a GULP Lime Tiger coloured jerkshad around and I was thinking of swapping to a more natural coloured soft plastic when something grabbed the plastic very close. It initially turned to swim away but soon rethought its strategy and headed under the ledge. The drag was pretty tight but the fish didn’t even pause. My braid was soon rubbing on the rocks and then – snap! I re-rigged and tightened the drag, but things seemed to go quiet for a while. The tide was now pushing in quite quickly. I kept casting and the next fish on the scene was a trevally, about 45cm long.

At about 3.30 pm I had moved a little south along the ledge. I dropped down to the light rock fishing rig with 16lb leader and 20lb braid. I cast out a GULP Lime Tiger coloured Crazylegs Jerkshad. This was smacked on the drop and taken straight under the rock ledge – the braid snapped almost instantly. I cursed my impatience and swapped back to the heavy rod with 40lb leader and a 3/8th ounce size 2/0 jighead. I put another GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad on. This paid off and after a few casts something whacked the soft plastic on the drop and took off. Fortunately it decided to swim away from the ledge and this gave me some time. It was powerful but after an initial run I seemed to have it under control. I pulled it up with a wave surge and was delighted to see it was a snapper (later weighed in – gutted and scaled – at 3.8kg)

The next day would be an even lower low tide and I started fishing in the same spot at about 3.00 pm. The swell had continued to drop off and the wind was a light south-easterly. The first taker was a bream. I released it and carried on. About 10 minutes later I felt a fish grab then lure then drop it, a few metres out from the ledge. I cast out again and slowed down my retrieve. Something fast grabbed it and took off with a long run. I got some line back but then it ran again. I tightened the drag and wound like mad as it suddenly turned and decided to swim straight for the ledge. Fortunately, by the time it tried to change its mind, I had virtually locked up the drag and pulled it in on a wave. It was a surprising small (50cm) kingfish. I have only ever caught a few of these and their power and speed always surprises me. I released it, hoping for more, but did not get any.

Kingfish fight very hard

I moved further south to where I had caught the snapper the day before. I was temporarily out of the Crazylegs Jerkshads so I found a 6″ GULP Squid Vicious in the New Penny colour and cast that out. It was now almost 5.00pm and the tide was running in. On about the third cast I thought I had the bottom, then it started wriggling and took off. One long solid run and then a couple of head shakes but no real power (compared to the kingfish). It was decent school jewfish and I was able to successfully pull it up to my feet. It was just over 75 cm long and so it joined the snapper in the fridge.

A couple of great sessions once the weather allowed me to get to the fish, lets hope it stays calm for a while.

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Flat Rock – 23 October 2020

On Wednesday the swell was forecast to drop right off to about 0.7 metres all along the northern New South Wales coast. So it was time to try fishing off the rocks again. Low tide would be around 6.30 am so I decided to fish at Flat Rock, just to the south of Skennars Head.

I arrived about 5.45 am, just after first light and walked out on to the eastern edge of the rock platform. As the sun came over the horizon and low tide approached, the swell remained a good deal heavier than the forecast 0.7 metres.

I was fishing with my light rock fishing rig – Daiwa Crossfire 1062 rod and Shimano Stella 4000 reel, 20lb braid and 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I started fishing with 1/6th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and loaded it with a 4″minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. After half an hour I had only felt a couple of light tugs at the soft plastic so I decided to move round to the southern edge of the rock platform and fish there.

This was just too hard as with persistent swell I could not cast my hard bodied or soft plastic lures over the ledges into the deeper water beyond. With no luck and now thoroughly soaked, I went back round to the eastern side. The tide was now coming in. I put on a GULP 2″ Shrimp soft plastic in the Nuclear Chicken colour and cast it out as far as I could. A fish picked it up on the drop and the rod tip bent over. It was a solid dart, just of 40 cm long. I kept casting and the dart kept coming. When I ran out of my Nuclear Chicken Shrimps I swapped to a GULP 3″ Lime Tiger minnow soft plastic and this continued to catch more dart. They seem to like the high contrast colours. I also caught a couple of small bream.

Eventually the tide forced me to retreat from my spot. The final tally was 14 dart of which I kept the best five for supper.

South Ballina – 17 August 2020

We had some wild weather and rain over the weekend, so I decided to fish on Monday. The swell was set to drop throughout the day. I walked out onto the rockwall at South Ballina just after first light but about 20 minutes before dawn. The wind was cold but light from the west. As the sky lit up, the birds started circling as did the dolphins, so the bait had to be there. Sunrise was at 6.15 am and high tide was at about 7.00 am. It was three days to the new moon.

I started fishing with my heavier Daiwa Demonblood 962 rod, Daiwa TD SOL III LT 6000 D reel, 30lb main line braid and 30 lb fluorocarbon leader, a 1/4 ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead, loaded with a 5″ GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I caught a couple of decent bream, but then I started losing the tails of my soft plastics at the base of the rocks. I then swapped to a 60 gram Halco twisty and threw that around until just after dawn. That lure did not elicit any hook-ups.

Once the sun was up, the birds started dive bombing but there were no surface bust ups.

The bait was back

I swapped back to soft plastics and a couple of times I saw decent sized tailor follow my soft plastics in and swipe at them but they always missed. I swapped down to Daiwa Crossfire 1062 with 20lb braid, 16lb leader and 1/6th oz size 1/0 jighead. Then predictably, a big tailor grabbed my Mad Scientist Lime Tiger jerkshad (I had finished all my GULPs in the Lime Tiger colour) at the base of the rocks, pulled for a few seconds and then bit through. I re-rigged with a 1/4 ounce jighead and put on a GULP 4″ minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour. This caught a solid 35 cm plus bream, followed by a few smaller ones, then they bit through the tail. I put another Mad Scientist Lime Tiger coloured Jerkshad on and, after a few casts I hooked and landed a decent 50 cm tailor.

The birds were really working now, but always just out of reach. I was casting and retrieving fairly quickly now. I saw a group of tailor follow the lure in and right at the base of the rocks a decent sized one swallowed the jighead and lure and bit through. I moved back to my heavy rig and tried the 60 gram Halco Twisty for about twenty casts with no luck.

I fished here a few more mornings later in the month, after the new moon. I caught and was bitten off by tailor during both sessions but it was long time between the fish. As usual I swapped down to my lighter gear when things got quiet. I caught a few good bream and then got monstered by something at the base of the rocks. Not sure when I will learn some patience.

Flat Rock and Whites Head – 14 August 2020

After weeks of heavy swell it appeared it would relent for a bit on Friday. The forecast was for a light north westerly breeze and a 1.1 metre swell. I arrived just on first light and walked out to the rock platform at Flat Rock, just north of Ballina. It was about a week to go before the new moon and during dawn I would be fishing off the southern side of the platform. I walked out as the horizon was glowing and rigged up. However, as I got to the south side I could see the swell was still pretty heavy and the tide was too high to fish safely, so I changed direction.

I walked back along Sharps Beach to Whites Head. The tide was running out and the swell had eased a little, but there were still some bigger wave sets coming through. I was fishing with my light rock fishing set up – Shimano Stella 4000 and Daiwa Crossfire Surf 1062 , 20lb braid and 20lb leader. For my first cast I tied on a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and loaded a GULP 4″ minnow in the Watermelon Pearl colour. I cast straight out in front between a couple of bommies, after a few casts I was getting hits close to the base of the rocks. I slowed things down and let the lure sit about 1 metre off the ledge, for as long as I dared. This did the trick and I hooked and landed a bream, about 30 cm long. After a few more casts I landed a good sized dart. The dart are often around and seem to get fired up when the wind turns northerly.

The smaller bream kept trying to pull the soft plastic off the jighead and eventually they succeeded. I reloaded with a GULP 4″ shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour and kept casting. I lost a couple of rigs to the rocks and then after about 30 mins of nothing I felt a solid bite very close to the base of the rocks. I dropped my rod tip, paused and then struck. I set the hook and the fish took off on a powerful first run. I was pretty sure it was a school mulloway/ jewfish and I soon saw a flash of silver. It looked around 70 to 80 cm long. After couple of decent runs it was pretty much spent, but I looked up to see a big set of waves coming. I tried to muscle the fish up the rocks on a smaller wave ahead of the set, but as I pulled I felt the rod tip snap. A few seconds later as I retreated from the big set, the line went slack and the fish was gone with the jighead.

I did not have a back up rod but I was determined to have another try, so I re-rigged with no tip, same jighead, same soft plastic. I waited for what looked like a fairly calm period. I cast out and tried to keep the soft plastic travelling along the same path as its predecessor. Once more I paused the lure as close as I could to the base of the rocks. When I lifted the rod there was a fish there. I had the drag fairly tight this time and after a quick fight I used the swell to pull a handsome looking jewfish up to my feet. Unfortunately it measured in at about 72 cm , so I released it, unharmed, after taking a few pictures.

I decided that I did not want an even shorter rod so I packed up for the morning.

Bribie – the Sandstone Point flats – 21 January 2016

Thursday

The forecast was for a 10 knot northerly wind which looked good for a quick fishing session. So I drove up to Bribie, to fish the run out tide on the old oyster jetty flats. It was a few days before full moon and the tides were getting big. It had been a 2.39m high tide at 7.35 am. Ideal fishing time on the flats would therefore be between about 10.00 am and 1.00 pm.

I started fishing at about 9.30 am. I rigged up my light spin ring and waded out under the bridge. There was still plenty of water so I cat around under the bridge for a while. I did not get any bites and the high tide meant there was a lot of weed floating around so I decided  to wade south alongside the mangroves and fish around the corner on the Sandstone Point flats.

On a big tide these flats are covered in 2 metres of water in places and there is plenty of structure and food for the fish that move up into these areas. There are a number of piles of oyster covered rocks and the remains of some old fish traps and old oyster racks.  There are also some big weed beds and patches of sandy bottom.

Today I could see some big mullet schools finning around and as I came around the corner I saw a couple of small tuna, of some kind, chase a school of smaller baitfish into the shallows. I was initially fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime tiger colour. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I saw a few long toms grabbing at the plastic and hooked and then dropped one. They seem to love this area.

The wind was picking up and now coming from the north-east at about 20 knots. I was about waist deep behind a mangrove island and fishing alongside a small submerged rockwall. I felt a solid bite but struck a little too quickly and probably pulled the lure out of the fish’s mouth. I cast back in the same spot about five times and on the sixth the fish struck again. This time I dropped the rod tip for a full ten seconds and when I lifted it again I hooked the fish. It was a healthy looking 45cm flathead and I kept it for dinner.

It was now about 10. 45 am and I could not find any more fish around the mangrove island so I wandered back towards the main channel. There was still plenty of bait around and a cormorant was successfully fishing in the shallows. I waded along the sand bar that runs down towards the green channel marker, casting along the edges of the weed. I was now in less than a metre of water and the tide was running out quickly.  I felt a very aggressive smash and grab and a fish took off with the same Lime Tiger Minnow. It was a bigger fish and after a short fight I pulled it up onto the sand. I later measured it at 63cm.

By about 11.45 am the wind and weed were making fishing just too hard. I am sure the fish were there but I did not have the patience to carrying on battling the elements to find them.

Bribie – Stout longtoms -4 January 2016

Monday

The bad weather continued. It had rained heavily over the weekend and most of the night. I decided to try for a few fish on the dawn high tide on the old oyster jetty flats at Bribie. High tide would be at 5.30 am. After all the rain the temperature had dropped to about 20 degrees. I aimed to arrive and start fishing at first light which would be at about 4.30 am.

The wind was forecast to be a 10 knot easterly, but soon after I arrived it was actually blowing at about fifteen knots from the south west. The sky was grey and sunrise was completely smothered by the low cloud. There moon was not doing much and therefore there would be little run on the tide.

Everything looked grey so I decided to use a brightly coloured GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken (red and yellow colour). This soon attracted the attention of the resident longtoms. They, or perhaps a particularly persistent individual, seemed to be everywhere. I think they find it hard to resist a big curly tailed soft plastic. According to the Australian Museum’s website the Stout Longtom, Tylosurus gavialoides (Castelnau, 1873) is “a long slender species, coloured blue to green or grey above and silvery below. The snout and fins of adults are usually dusky. The species is endemic to Australia”.  When I have seen people kill them to eat there are two strange facts that emerge:

  • They have no stomach, so gutting them is a very simple process, if you avoid the teeth
  • They have bright green bones

If you can get past the green bones I am told they taste sweet. Because of their long snouts and sharp teeth they are quite difficult to hook.

At about 6.00 am after several bites and semi-hook ups, I seemed to be attached to a fairly big one. It thrashed about and when I pulled it in, I realised it had probably only stayed on the line as it was hooked under one of its fins. I did not want to keep it for dinner so I unhooked it and released it.

At about 6.30am, it began to rain steadily, so I gave up for the day. A tough session, but at this time of year it often is.

Hat Head – Connors Beach – 1 October 2015

Thursday

Thursday was another clear warm morning. It had rained overnight but the wind had disappeared and there was only a light northerly blowing when I woke up.

I walked round to the corner of Connors Beach again. I started at about 5.30 am with a large River2Sea Dumbbell Popper. This produced nothing so I swapped down to a 65g Raider metal slug. This also could not find any fish.

I swapped down to my Daiwa Air Edge Surf 96 L rod and put on a 1/6th ounce, #1/0 hook jighead and dropped down to 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I loaded the jighead with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. After a few slow retrieves I felt some good bites. The tide was running out and there was a strong current pushing water along a pronounced gutter, at the base of the rocks. I let the soft plastic sink in the fast moving current and the when I lifted the rod tip I had a fish on it. It was a 25 cm bream. The next cast yielded another one – slightly bigger.

Things went quiet for a few casts. Then, at about 6.15 am something grabbed the soft plastic at the base of the rocks and tried to bury itself. It was not particularly quick but it was much more powerful than the bream. It wedged itself down between some rocks so I loosened the drag and gave it some slack. A few moments later, it swam out and I landed it. It was a fairly solid Spotted Hind – a pretty fish that does not taste much good – so I let it go. By about 7.30 am I was not getting any bites so I gave up for the morning.

At about 3.30 pm I came back for an afternoon session. After a few casts the first taker, on the same light rig and soft plastic, was another bream. It was followed by two more – neither was much more than 25cm long and the third one looked like it had been in the wars.

As the sun dropped and we moved closer to 5.00 pm, I tied on a small 45g cheap, cream painted metal slug. I cast out to the north east, in the direction of a patch of semi-submerged rocks. I wound it in fairly quickly and saw a couple of swirls come up behind it, about 15 metres from the shore. I carried on casting for about 20 minutes, varying the speed of the retrieve. I could now see the tailor following the slug in, but they would not bite.

Just as the sun was setting at about 5.30 pm I felt a solid bite and then the rod tip bent over. I dropped the first tailor a few metres from the shore. A few casts later I had another on and this time it was solidly hooked. I landed it and released it. I connected with a couple more but did not land them and at about 6.00 pm, I gave up.

It had been a great week of fishing at Hat Head. The scenery is truly fantastic and I will certainly be back.

Hat Head – Korogoro Creek – 28 September 2015

Monday

On Monday I did not have time for the walk out to the headland so I decided to see what the monster, full moon morning high tide would push up Korogoro Creek. On the low tide the day before the water had looked like gravy, as the tannin stained water drained off the surrounding swamps. As I walked along the edge of the creek the contrast was stunning. I was about an hour off high tide but the water was crystal clear and the current was pushing up the creek.

I had my waders on. The sun had come out but the water was still pretty fresh. I was fishing with my current light estuary fishing rig – a very light NS Blackhole trout rod. I was using 10lb fluorocarbon leader, a 1/8th of an ounce, size 1/0 jighead and I stared with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour. It was very early but people were popping up all along to bank to fish or launch kayaks or stand up paddle boards or even have a swim.

I walked and waded along the northern bank, stopping at each gap in the vegetation to throw a few casts. I could see schools of small bream and Blackfish cruising the now submerged tree roots and some big whiting out nearer the centre of the main channel. Even on a big tide the creek is rarely more than 1.5m deep. I moved slowly northwards and stopped at a small bay about 100 m east of the road bridge. The water was so clear I could see the bream inspecting the shrimp soft plastic, each time it hit the water. But I could not entice them to strike. A whiting followed the lure all the way to my feet, but also would not bite.

I swapped soft plastic to the GULP 3’ Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and started to pepper the far bank with casts. The tide was slowing but the water was still crystal clear. After a few casts I felt the solid thud of a flathead bite. I dropped the rod tip and paused for about 8 seconds then struck. The fish was hooked. I reeled it in and took a few snaps before releasing it. It was a flathead about 40cm long.

It was only 7.00 am but the creek was getting busy with the kayaks, canoes, swimmers, and other fishermen. I decided to retire for breakfast. The creek would definitely fish well on the big tides when there is a little less traffic around.

Bribie – the old oyster jetty flats – 8 September 2015

Tuesday

It looks like winter maybe behind us and we are in to the sub-tropical spring which usually lasts all of two weeks. I was back in Brisbane and decided to drive up to Bribie Island on Tuesday, to look for some flathead.

I chose to fish the flats in front of the old oyster jetty at the newly opened Sandstone Point Hotel. I thought it would be easy but initially at least, the fish were quite hard to find. I started at about 8.45am with low tide set for about 11.30 am. The wind was forecast to be light at first rising quickly to 15 knot north easterly. However, within 20 minutes of my arrival the wind was gusting 15 to 20 knots and the water was weedy and very stirred up.

I moved south from the bridge fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour on a 1/8th ounce size 1 hook jighead with a 12lb fluorocarbon leader. This yielded absolutely no bites. After an hour, I was south of the old oyster jetty battling the weed and wind. I decided to swap to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. After a few casts, I felt a solid bite but pulled the rod tip up too quickly and did not connect with the fish. I slowed things down and cast out to the same spot. I paused and let the plastic stop for a while, just where I thought the fish was. This time it worked. I lifted the rod tip and the fish was there. It was a small flathead just over 40cm long.

It was now 10.10 am and I was wading steadily to the south as the tide ran out. I followed the edge of the weed beds but as the water got shallower and murkier it became difficult to see where to cast. Gradually I started to find the fish. I caught a couple more small flathead at about 10.30 am and then a 50cm fish just before 11.00 am.

I had now reached the green channel marker. I swapped to a GULP Mantis Shrimp soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour and this almost instantly got a bite. It was another smaller flathead. I waded slowly back to the bridge and caught another six flathead on the journey. They were fairly spread out but seemed easier to tempt at the bottom of the tide.

I ended up with 4 fish over 40cm which is a good dinner. But the wind and weed had made it hard.

North Stradbroke Island – Tailor – Dune Rocks – 14 August 2015

Friday

I had managed to arrange a weekend away at Stradbroke Island with the family. Although there would be the inevitable expectation that I would spend some time with them, in the usual holiday fashion, I felt confident of sneaking off at dawn each day for a quick fish.

Thursday had been clear and sunny but with a strong, cold westerly wind. On Friday morning I woke just before first light. It was pretty cold – around 9 Celsius. I put on a few layers and pulled on my Cabela’s stocking foot chest waders. I then put on my felt-soled rock fishing boots, also from Cabela’s http://www.cabelas.com/ . Cabela’s seem to be one of the few retailers that produces excellent quality own label gear. I have yet to find these in Australia, so if you want some you will have go online. This combination works well on both the rocks and the beaches. The felt soles give excellent grip on wet rocks and from the chest down, they keep me completely dry. The water is rarely very cold in Queensland but once you get wet on a breezy day, it feels a lot colder.

I walked down to Deadman’s Beach as the horizon started to glow, just after 6.00 am. It was still cold but the westerly had dropped off and flattened the sea. I was fishing with my light rock/ beach fishing rig. The NS Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod matched with a Shimano Sienna 4000 (a substitute for my Sustain 4000 which is in for an overdue service). Just to prove I will try anything I had loaded the Sienna with ALDI 15lb yellow braid. This stuff looks like you could pull a tractor with it and the breaking strain must be way above 15lb.

I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead tied on with a 14lb fluorocarbon leader. I cast around the rocks and into the gutters as I walked along the beach towards Dune Rocks. At the submerged rocks, about half way along Deadman’s Beach something quick had a couple of grabs at the soft plastic, but did not take it.

As the sun gradually broke the horizon I saw a big flock of birds feeding just out in front of the rocks. I could not cast that far but perhaps there were also fish closer in. I swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the lime tiger colour and cast out as far as I could. Something grabbed the soft plastic just after it hit the water and I soon had it hooked. I assumed it was a tailor and I wound it to a few metres away. But as the swell pulled back and forth the jighead fell out of its mouth. I cast straight back out and was soon connected to another fish. However the line suddenly went slack and I wound in my leader minus my jighead and soft plastic.

I went back to the rocks to re-rig. I tied on some 30lb fluorocarbon leader (the heaviest I had) and a 55g HALCO Twisty metal slug. After a few long casts and a fairly slow and steady retrieve I felt a couple of hits on the lure and then hooked up. This time the fish stayed attached and I had a 35cm tailor at my feet. I released it and cast out again in the same spot. I hooked six fish on the same slug over the next thirty minutes but only managed to get 2 to the shoreline. They were all about 35cm to 40cm long. After a while one of them chewed through the leader and I lost the Twisty. I tied on a YOZURI suspending hard bodied Crystal Minnow lure and cast it around for a while, but this drew a blank.

I did not have another HALCO Twisty but I did have a 65 gram SPANYID Raider metal slug. I tied this on and put in another long cast. It took about three casts to find the fish again. I caught another couple and then things slowed right down. I looked out beyond the rocks and could see the birds had stopped feeding and moved on.

I tried moving around the rocks and tried a few different spots but by about 7.30 am the fish also seemed to have moved on. It had been a great introduction to land-based fishing on Stradbroke Island.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – Shark Bay – Iluka Bluff – Tailor – 16 June 2015

Tuesday

Tuesday morning was dry but the big swell was still hanging around. I decided to try fishing for some more Tailor at Middle Bluff and set off before dawn. The walk from the Frasers Reef carpark along the beach to Middle Bluff in the pre-dawn light is always great. The sky is usually beginning to glow and I am conjuring visions of huge jewfish, tailor and tuna in my mind.

The wind was light from the east and not particularly cold. It was the day of the new moon so it would be a big tide. High tide would be at 7.45 am so I had to watch the rising water levels and surges carefully.

I started fishing at about 6.20 am with the River to Sea 110mm Dumbbell Popper. I cast this around until my shoulders were sore and did not get any hits. I swapped over to the 50g DUO Pressbait Saira jig/ slug and started to put in some long casts, off the north end of the headland. This soon paid off and at about 7.00 am, just before the sun came over the horizon, I hooked up and then dropped two tailor before finally holding on to a chunky 50 cm model.

I carried on spinning the Pressbait until the inevitable happened and I lost it to the rocks. I decided to try a soft plastic and rigged up a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour on a ¼ ounce, size 3.0 hook jighead. I was using my heavier Daiwa Demonblood rod with a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. You really need to tie on at least a ¼ ounce jighead to make this combination work. Anything lighter and you cannot feel the jighead or cast it past the rocks close that line the shore. By way of proof, even with the ¼ ounce weight, I lost the first rig to the rocks on the first cast. I re-rigged and cast out again.

The sun was up but it was still cloudy and it was just after 7.30 am. After a few casts I felt a solid thump and then another and another. I let the plastic go for a few seconds then pulled the rod up hard and I had a fish on. It managed to keep it on and pull it, wriggling hard, over the rocks with the help of the swell and landed it safely. It was another bigger Tailor about 55 cm long.

I noticed the tailor had a good sized bite mark on its back (probably from another fish in the same school). I photographed and released it and re-rigged with a fresh Crazylegs Jerkshad. I fished around for another hour, but the rising tide made things very difficult so at about 8.30 am I gave up.

I went for breakfast and then thought I would try the Shark Bay jewfish spot again. The sky had clouded over again but with a new moon and big swell I thought I had a pretty good chance of catching another jewfish/ mulloway. I arrived just after 1.00 pm and fished around with the heavy rod and leader and some big jerkshads, without much luck. I swapped down to the light rod and 12lb leader. This did the trick and I caught another stonker 38 cm bream on a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad. The rain arrived again and forced another break.

At about 4.00 pm it had eased off so I decided to try fishing at Iluka Bluff. A keen Korean fisherman from the Gold Coast had been there all afternoon and had caught a few good sized silver trevally and some small giant trevally and also been bitten off a couple of times. The swell was tricky and the tide was running, I was tired and had only brought my light surf rig with me form the car. I rigged up a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour. As I pulled it close to the rocks on the retrieve it was slammed and the fish took off. I had no chance and after a few seconds I was bitten off.

I re-rigged with 20lb leader and cast out the same colour soft plastic. After a few casts I was hit again and this time I held on to the fish. It was a 45cm silver trevally. The other fisherman was regularly broadcasting berley and had been doing so all afternoon which may well have brought the fish in.

I decided to try a small 18g MARIA Duplex hard bodied sinking minnow. This lure is only about 60mm long and has a tight action. It casts like a bullet. I threw it around for about ten minute. On about the sixth cast something absolutely slammed it and took off.  I immediately regretted having only brought the light rod. It bent over and the line continued to peel. The fish was moving straight and fast out to sea and I was very quickly into the backing line. I held the spool and tried to slow it and then turned the drag slightly tighter. None of this made any difference and the fish was still running. I tightened the drag and pop, the line went slack. It was faster than a jewfish but I have no idea what it actually was. It was certainly the biggest fish I had interacted with all week but I did not have the right gear to face it. The leader was still attached when I wound in but there was no sign of the lure.

It was getting dark and I did not have another lure so I gave up for the day.

Iluka – Shark Bay – More bream and jewfish – 13 June 2015

Saturday

Once more low tide would be in the middle of the day, at around 11.25 am. The wind had dropped considerably over night but showers were still passing through. It was now blowing from the south-east, at about 10 to 12 knots. The new moon was still three days away but it would be a pretty low, low tide, at 0.3 metres.

After a successful session the day before I decided to revisit Shark Bay at Iluka, just north of Woody Head. It was perfect jewfish/ mulloway weather with stirred up seas, grey skies and plenty of tidal run.

When you have a formula that is catching fish it is best to stick with it. I estimated that the rocks I had fished the day before would be accessible from about 8.00 am, so I did not get up for sunrise. I walked out on to the rocks and found a dry spot to leave my gear on. I rigged the light rod with 16lb fluorocarbon leader and put on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I chose the soft plastic that had worked the day before – the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the BBQ Chicken colour.

I flicked it out in to the breaking surf and let it sink. The first cast lodged firmly in the rocks and I could not free it. If you are not losing gear you will never catch fish but it always hurts. There is a lot of kelp in this area which is also confusing when retrieving a fairly lightly weighted soft plastic. Initially you think you have found a fish but as it turns to dead weight, you realise it is just vegetation.

I re-rigged with the same terminal tackle and cast out again. This one wafted around for a few seconds and was slammed by a hungry fish. It pulled hard initially but I soon realised it was a big bream, not a small mulloway/ jewfish. It was another solid broad shouldered fish that measured 36cm.

I carried on fishing the same area and after about 10 minutes I felt another solid bite. The fish took off on a long initial run but at a much slower pace than the bream. I let it go and left the drag alone. As soon as it paused I started winding and gradually turned its head. A few minutes later I had a nice school jewfish mulloway at my feet. It was too small to keep at about 65cm – so I photographed it and dropped it in to a large deep rock pool to recover. Once it had calmed down and looked like it had recovered, I picked it up with two hands and speared it back into the surf.

I was not going to change the winning combination but the plastic was pretty mashed up so I swapped it for a new one. After a few more casts. The new plastic was grabbed by another solid bream. I landed it took a few pictures and let it go, I was sure there was another jewfish out there.

The wind had picked up and another shower came over. It was now almost 10.00 am and I was putting long casts out beyond the breaking waves. Suddenly the line pulled tight and I felt a solid fish on it. This one took plenty of line and initially headed straight out to sea. It took three long straight runs before I could turn its head. It started to swim back towards the kelp and the rocks. I used the surf to gradually steer it towards a good landing spot and after a few minutes, I reached down and grabbed it behind the gills.

It was a solid mulloway/ jewfish about 85cm long and it weighed about 6.5 kg.  The jighead was still lodged in the corner of its mouth. This would make several dinners so I dispatched it and cleaned it up in the salt water.

I fished on for an hour or so but the rain kept coming in heavy squalls and I could not find any more fish so at 11.00 am, I decided to pack up for the day.

Bribie – a bagful of flathead – 2 June 2015

Tuesday

I have concluded that the bottom of the tide is my best chance of catching a fish on the flats around Bribie Island.  The fish must still be around on the higher tides but they seem to disperse over a larger area and it is much harder to know where to look for them. So on Tuesday I decided to only fish the last few hours of the run out tide.

I drove up to Bribie and waded out under the bridge at about 11.00 am. Low tide would be at about 3.00 pm but it was full moon, so it would be a fast running tide and would run out very quickly to a lower than usual low. I was fishing with my new G.Loomis short, light spinning rod with 8lb braid and a 10lb fluorocarbon leader.

I had promised the Mrs a few fish for a family event and she was relying on fresh flathead fillets for her recipe. This is usually the kiss of death for my fishing sessions, but not today.  I decided to try a different soft plastic and had found my last packet of Lucky Craft Mad Scientist Optishad soft plastic lures. Now everybody knows I love my GULPs but they really do not yet have a good paddle tail soft plastic. Their Swimmow shape is pretty good but a little too small and the Shaky shad is very hard to load on to a jighead. The Mad Scientist Optishad is a brilliant shape and size and comes in some great colours. I load it onto a 1/8th ounce size 1/0 hook jighead. As with so many good lures you probably will not find them in the big stores and may need to order them online.

 

By 11.05 am I had my first flathead on the end of the line – just to the south of the old oyster jetty. It was about 38cm,  so I let it go and moved on. I caught another a few minutes later and this one was big enough to go in the bag. The next was about 55cm, close to the mouth of the drain that runs out from the Sandstone Point flats. Things slowed down. There was lots of very small bait around, sitting just over the weed beds. I swapped to a GULP 3“Minnow in the Smelt colour, which pretty closely resembled these small fish. A few casts later I found the biggest fish of the day – a 58cm flathead.

I continued to the channel marker, swapped back to the Mad Scientist Optishad and caught a couple of 45 cm long fish, just beside it.  I now had a full bag so I turned for home. On the way back to the car I caught and released another 8 flathead, most of which were legal size.

It seems that the fish have are now around in large numbers so it’s time to get out there.

1770 – Tom’s Creek – 4 December 2014

Thursday

On Thursday morning I drove down to Wreck Rock to fish through dawn. When I arrived the wind and swell was up and the tide was higher than I had expected. After an hour and a spectacular sunrise, I decided to give up and look elsewhere for some fish.

I stopped in town for a quick breakfast and decided to go back to Tom’s Creek. I wanted to know what had bitten me off the day before. By the time I drove down the four wheel drive track to Tom’s Creek, it was about 10.30 am. I rigged up the light rod with relatively tough, 16lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. I cast this around in the same area I had been fishing the day before.

The tide was about half way out and was running quickly. I used the same technique as previously. I was casting at the base of the mangrove roots on the far bank. Inevitably I lost a couple more jigheads but when I finally put the soft plastic right up against the roots, something slammed it again. I tried to pull it out but the rod did not have the power and with the aid of the current the fish slipped into the rock bar and that’s where I left the jighead.

I re-rigged using a heavier ¼ ounce, 1/0 hook jighead and the same 16lb fluorocarbon leader. This enabled me to cast more accurately at the base of the mangroves, and helped the soft plastic get down in the water column faster. The first taker was a small grunter bream. I released it and carried on casting.

I swapped to a GULP Mantis Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. There were big yabby holes all over the banks, so I thought this might be a good shape to offer up. After a few casts I was on again, but after a short and furious fight I got half the yabby back with a bent jighead, but no fish.

It was now just after 11.00 am. I re-rigged with another ¼ ounce jighead, but I had no more Mantis Shrimp soft plastics, so I went back to a Jerkshad – this time in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just a few casts later, a solid fish grabbed it. This time I had the drag tight and I pulled hard straight away. The fast running current helped me get the fish away from the rocks. It put in a few more determined runs but after a few minutes, I had the fish subdued at my feet. It was a great looking crimson coloured mangrove jack. I measured it at about 47cm, took a few pictures and released it to fight another day.

I fished on for about half an hour but could not find another fish so, at about noon, I gave up for the day.

1770 – Getaway Beach and Tom’s Creek – 3 December 2014

Wednesday

Wednesday was a beautiful morning but a disappointing one, from a fishing point of view.  I was still at 1770 and I decided to walk round from the beach that has the desalination plant intake to Getaway Beach. There is some really fantastic looking fishy terrain along here but apart from small dart and Moses Perch I have yet to catch anything decent here. I started at about 4.30 am and witnessed a beautiful sunrise but after a couple of hours of casting hard bodies and soft plastics all I had caught was a tiny sand flathead.

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I decided to retire and do something different for the afternoon session. I drove down to Tom’s Creek which is a tributary of Round Hill Creek. The boats can only get up to it for an hour or so, either side of high tide, but there are a few spots where you can fish it from the shore. I have had some powerful hit and runs, whilst fishing with soft plastics here but, apart from a few good grunter bream (javelin fish), I have landed very little.

It was now about 9.30 am and I started fishing with my light rod and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I fitted a 1/8th  ounce, 1/0 jighead and loaded it with a GULP 4” Minnow in the New Penny colour. I lost a few rigs working out where the snags were located.  I kept getting fast, aggressive bites but was struggling to hook up. I slowed things down and after about twenty minutes I connected with a mad fish – it was a Tarpon about 35 cm long, and it leapt around all over the place. I photographed and released it. I had a couple more bites from its mates, but could not hook up.

The tide was running out fast and so I swapped to a slightly heavier, 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead, but continued with the same soft plastic lure. This soon produced results and I caught a couple of grunter bream, the largest of which was about 35cm long.

I swapped to a bigger GULP jerkshad soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was casting as close as I could to the mangrove roots, on the far bank. At about 10.30 am something slammed the soft plastic, as it sank. It immediately headed for some rocks and after a couple of runs, it unhooked itself.

By about noon the water was fairly shallow and the tide had slowed, so I gave up for the day.

1770 – Wreck Rock – 2 December 2014

Tuesday

Once again I apologize for not writing up my fishing reports sooner but Christmas got in the way.  This one and the few that I will publish over the next few days, are from early December 2014 – better late than never.

I managed to get a few days off in Gladstone in early December. That enabled me to shoot back down to Agnes Water and 1770. Once again Gavin and Kim found me a great deal at Loka Santi – through http://www.1770beachaccommodation.com.au/. These apartments could easily become my home away from home.

I started at Wreck Rock on Tuesday morning. Low tide would be mid-morning and there was a light north-easterly wind blowing. It was a bright sunny day and the water was fairly clear. I was using my NS Blackhole light surf/ rock fishing rig and started with 12lb fluorocarbon leader and 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was fishing on the northern set of rocks.

I started at about 9.20 am but did not get a bite until around 10.00 am. I was using a GULP 3” Minnow in the Sardine colour. I was right at the north end of the line of rocks that are exposed as the tide runs out. Over my last few trips there have always been fish at the end of this set of rocks. Last time, it was mostly dart and stripey perch but in the cooler months it is often tailor, trevally and bream. You regularly see the tuna further out but they very rarely come close enough to cast at.

Today the first fish was a small trevally. It was followed by two more, in quick succession. None of them were more than about 35 cm long. Then things went quiet so I walked over to the rocks at the south end of the bay. I fished all round these and even dropped right down to 10lb fluorocarbon leader, but I did not get a bite.

By noon the easterly wind was making things tough so I gave up for the day.

Iluka – Woody Head – 26 November 2014

Wednesday

Morning

It rained overnight on Tuesday and it was warm and cloudy on Wednesday morning. I chose to fish at Woody Head again. The wind had settled down and had turned north-easterly again. I was in position early. With first light at just after 5.00 am local time (which is 4.00 am Queensland time) bedtime is about 8.00 pm.

I arrived on the rock platform just before first light and rigged up my heavy rod. Low tide would be about 5.00 am.  I was using 30lb fluorocarbon leader and I put a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. The swell had settled considerably and I could safely get fairly close to the edge of the rock ledges.  I knew where to cast – as close as I could to the edge of the rocks. Sure enough, on my third attempt I felt the gentle pull of a jewfish mouthing the plastic. I paused, then struck. With the big rod and light swell, this fish was fairly easy to subdue. It was 5.30 am and I had my first jewfish of the day. It was probably just over 70 cm, but I had left over fish from the day before, so I speared it back into the foamy wash.

I stayed with the heavy rod for about another thirty minutes  and caught a great bream but I was having trouble keeping in touch with the soft plastic, so I swapped to the lighter rod with a 14lb fluorocarbon leader. I moved to the south along the rocks, casting at any likely looking water. I soon found a few more good bream. I caught about 6 over the next hour – most were over 35cm. I used both big and small soft plastics in various patterns and colours.

At one point something bit hard on a 3 “ minnow soft plastic and took off, after a few seconds the line went slack and I retrieved just half a jighead. You need good teeth to bite clean through the jighead – mackerel? Shark?

At about 8.30 am the rain started falling and gradually got heavier until I decided to stop for the morning.

Afternoon

At about 3.00 pm the rain stopped and I went back to Woody Head to fish the afternoon low tide. The wind had picked up a bit from the north. I caught a few more bream on soft plastics all along the front of the rock platform. I caught one 35 cm on a GULP Jerkshad, but in general the fish where smaller than they had been in the morning.

As the sunset behind the headland the wild weather turned the sky a great colour. I fished through dusk and kept catching small bream and a couple of dart. At about 6.30 pm I decided I had had enough and walked back to the carpark.

Iluka – Middle Bluff and the Clarence River – 23 November 2014

Sunday

With another year almost over I was determined to get in a few more days of fishing down at Iluka. The weather looked good so on Saturday, I drove down from Brisbane in the afternoon. I rented a unit in the Riverview Apartments – which look straight out on to the Clarence River. I love to camp at Woody Head, but the weather looked a bit tricky so I chickened out. I arrived in time for a beautiful sunset. I sorted out my rock fishing gear, checked the weather forecast for the morning and went to bed early, with the alarm set for 3.30 am, NSW time.

On Sunday morning I got up in the dark had a cup of tea. Then I drove round to Frazers Reef beach car park. I walked down the path and onto the beach. There was not much moon in the sky – it had been ‘new’ on Saturday. There were a few clouds along the horizon and there was a light north-easterly wind blowing. A couple of kangaroos were close to the water but they decided to bounce back to the undergrowth, when they saw me walking along the beach.

I walked north, past Frasers Reef to Middle Bluff. This rocky platform sits about half way between Iluka Bluff and Woody Head. My favorite spot to fish is at the north end. Before I start, I will offer my words of warning. The wind and swell are very unpredictable here, so always take care. I now wear a pfd and felt-soled rock fishing boots. The wave sets and swell heights vary dramatically between high and low tide, so tread carefully and watch what’s coming all the time.

This morning the swell was fairly tame but every 15 minutes a big set would come through and slap against the rocks. The tide had been low at about 3.30 am and it was now running in. I rigged up the heavier of my two rock fishing outfits – the Daiwa Demon Blood 962H rod matched with a Shimano Stradic FJ 8000 reel.

Now a whinge for Shimano – I have had a lot of trouble with the drag clicker arrangement on your reels. On the previous Stradics – the problem was the part kept breaking. This has now been changed to a more robust part. But it keeps going silent on me.  Aside form the springs and clips that keep failing or popping out, I think the basic problem is the clicker is metal and the wheel it clicks against, is plastic. I know I use my reels a lot and I treat them mean, but I think this sort of basic design fault should not keep appearing.  To add to my disappointment in Shimano it took three months for you to find a new bearing for my Stella, last year. I could have flown to Japan (Kuala Lumpur, Shenzhen) myself and machined one. The folks at Jones Tackle have done a great job of repairing the reels and covering for you, but overall the product is not robust enough for Australian conditions. I have decided my next reel of this size will have to be another brand.

Back to Middle Bluff – I started by casting big shallow diving hard bodies without much luck. You can catch just about anything off these rocks. Tailor are around all year, as are jewfish, dart, trevally and some monster bream.  I have seen a 25 kg Spanish mackerel caught off here, on a 40 cm live tailor. It’s a very fishy place.

However, this morning it was proving tough. I swapped from the hard bodies to big soft plastics – a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. To counter the swell I initially rigged it on a ¼ ounce jighead and later dropped down to a 1/6th ounce jighead. I moved up and down the rocks without much luck. I was fishing with 30lb fluorocarbon leader. The water was murky because of the big tides of the last few days.

I fished through the dawn with hardly a bite. I swapped rods to my lighter rock fishing rig – the N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod. It is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. I dropped the leader down to 20lb fluorocarbon. I put on a smaller GULP 3” Minnow, also in the Lime Tiger colour. The smaller soft plastic immediately attracted attention, with a couple of grabs and even a solid bite, but I did not hook anything. After another 20 minutes of casting I connected with a fast fish, I soon subdued it and pulled it clear of the water. It was a dart.

I moved a little further south. I cast down into some foamy water and let the plastic sink to the bottom. I paused for about 20 seconds and as I lifted it – bang – something grabbed it and took off. It went hard and fast and I struggled to slow it down. I tightened the drag a little and it paused, then took off again. I just kept pumping and winding, whenever I could and eventually it started back towards the base of the rocks. I suddenly realized I was a long way away from anywhere I could safely land this fish. I was standing about four or five metres above the water on the rocks and there was no way the 20lb leader would pull this fish up. I saw a flash of blue/silver as it headed in to try and bury itself. Kingfish/ Tailor/ Salmon – I am not sure, but it was a good size. I started to walk it towards the south, where I might be able to land it. I got about 20 metres along the rocks and after a big surge, the line went slack. I pulled up the mashed plastic. The hook must have just fallen out.

Now I had found some fish I decided to go back to the bigger soft plastic and tied on a 5” Lime Tiger jerkshad. I fished this around the rocks hoping to find the fish that got away. It was only about 7.00 a.m. but it felt like I had been fishing all day. The sun was high in the sky and it was very hot. At about 7.15 am a fish grabbed the lure close in to the rocks. After a brief site it pretty much gave up. It was a small jewfish about 45cm long. After a few pictures I threw it back. At about 8.00 am I set off back to the car, stopping for a morning swim on the way.

The wind picked up during the day and the sky clouded over. I decided to try fishing the rock walls just to the south of the boat ramp, in town. I started at about 4.00 pm. It was almost low tide. I dropped down to my light spin rod with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I was expecting a few bream to be swimming around this area, so I started fishing with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I had it rigged on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I cast parallel with the base of the rock wall and soon found a few bream. I moved to cast at a gap in the wall and swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. I felt a few bites, so I left the plastic to sit in the bottom for a while. This did the trick and when I lifted the rod tip there was a fish on it. It was heavier than a bream and after a while I saw a longer flash of silver – it was a school jewfish, about 40 cm long. On the way back along the rock wall, I caught a small flathead.

With good weather and a few fish, it had been a good start to the week.

1770 – Deepwater Creek – 4 November 2014

Tuesday

On Tuesday I had some work to do in the morning and the wind was blowing hard. By lunchtime, I was keen for a fish, so I decided to drive down to Deepwater Creek, which is just south of 1770 and see what I could catch.

At about 3.00 pm I set out to explore. I have fished a few sections of the creek. It has both freshwater and saltwater parts with a weir separating the two. When it rains heavily, the water runs over the weir and it would be possible for fish who can survive in both, to move up stream. Last year I caught my first tiny barramundi in this creek. I am sure that there are some bigger ones lurking in this system.

It’s important to protect yourself from the bugs. You want to be fishing at dawn or dusk and unfortunately this is the time when they are at their fiercest.  This is a fresh/ saltwater swamp, so after a bit of rain it is buzzing. I find minimising your exposed skin is really the best solution, so I wear long trousers and a long sleeve shirt and fishing gloves. I then use a good repellent on my neck and face.

I started on a section of the fresh side of the creek. Finding a spot to cast from is always a challenge. There are overhanging branches and vegetation everywhere. There are also fallen trees and stumps at regular intervals. You must be prepared to lose plenty of gear. I was fishing light. I was using my G.Loomis TJR fast action, light spin rod, Shimano Stella 2500 reel, 10lb braid with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. There was no movement and the wind was ruffling the tree tops. I decided it was time to think out of the box – the DUO lure box. With so many snags I decided to give a small surface popper a try. I tied on the DUO Tetraworks Pocopoco in the Clear Rainbow colour. This is a very small popper that is great for catching bream over weed beds. It is well made with the usual great DUO paint job and excellent finish – but its real strength is its noisy blooping action.

I cast it out to mid-stream and let it sit for about ten seconds. I took up the slack and it loudly blooped towards me. After each jerk with the rod tip there was another bloop and splash and then I would pause. After three pauses, there was a swirl in the tea tree stained water behind the lure. On the next bloop a fish attacked and ran for bit but then spat the lure out. I could not see what it was.

I cast out to the same spot, there was another swirl and then a surface strike but the fish missed the lure. Popper fishing is always like this – you swing from delight to disappointment, all within a 10 second retrieve. I cast out again and again and I had another bite and run but no hook up. I decided to return later.

 

I moved down to the saltwater section and found a good looking stretch of bank with sunken timber and lots of mangrove roots. I swapped to a soft plastic lure – a GULP 3” Smelt Minnow and as the water was hardly moving, I dropped down to 1/12th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. As I cast along parallel with the bank, small bait fish hopped along in front of my lure. It was now about 4.30 pm and there were a few surface bust ups, in close to the mangrove roots. I lost a few jigheads and leaders to the submerged timber, but I kept re-rigging.  At about 5.00 pm something slammed my lure just before I was going to lift it clear of the water. The rod bent over and it tried to head straight back towards the mangrove roots. With 10lb leader I was not going to force the fish out once it buried itself – so I quickly tightened the drag and gambled that the G.Loomis would be a good enough shock absorber. This worked and I turned the fish back towards mid-stream. It pulled hard but after a minute or two it was tired and I carefully pulled it clear of the water. It was a Mangrove Jack and measured 38cm. I took a few pictures and released it.

After another 30 minutes I decided to turn my attentions back to the fresh water section of the creek. I wanted to see if I could catch what had been chasing my popper, earlier. I went back to the other spot and I tied the popper back on. It was now about 5.30 pm and the shadows where getting longer. I cast into the middle of the stream, where the fish had been earlier, but with no luck. I cast closer to some tall swamp grass on the far bank and saw a faint swirl behind the popper. I put the next cast back in the same spot and this time the fish took it in one great gulp. It was a chunky spangled perch – about 30 cm long. There is obviously plenty to eat in this system.

I don’t think the strikes earlier in the day had been from this species, they had been much more aggressive. Perhaps they were from some tarpon, which can be caught all through this system.  By about 6.30 pm it was too dark to carry on so I stopped for the day. Exploring new systems can be hit and miss but this afternoon was definitely a hit!