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 – Frasers Reef – 27 March 2012

Tuesday

There had been some very heavy showers through the night and at 5.30am, when I left the cabin, it was still pitch black with low cloud cover. But the wind seemed to have dropped so I headed for the rocky headland just to the north of Frasers Reef.

First light was well after 6.00 am but I could tell from the sound of the sea and the lack of spray crashing over the top of the rocks that I was in with a chance. I waited for about 20 minutes and watched the swell as the waves sets came in. It was a fairly light sea with the swell below 1.5 metres, but every 15 minutes or so a bigger set of waves would come through and soak everything. As it was just past the dark of the moon the tidal variation was still very big. On the turn of the tide, which had been at around 5.30 am, the swell can also behave erratically – so you always have to keep your eye on it.

I have felt-soled rock fishing boots which I ordered online from Cabelas in the US – http://www.cabelas.com. I currently have the Cabelas Ultralight 2 Felt-soled Wading Boots and I am very happy with them, so far. With the high Australian dollar they are currently reasonably priced at about A$80.00 a pair. They provide excellent grip even on the slimiest surfaces and also provide good ankle support. My last pair lasted about 3 years which I think is pretty good considering the work out I give them.

I started with the heavy rod and loaded up with a 3/8th 2/0 jighead, 30lb fluorocarbon leader and a Gulp Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Lime Tiger Colour. I fished around in the pre-sunrise light for a bit, lost a few jigheads to the rocks and copped a soaking from a few waves. It is rarely easy fishing this spot.

As the sun came over the horizon I switched to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Vader colour – which has been successful here before. On the first cast I felt a tug, on the second I had a fish. It was a small Jewfish, about 43cm long. I snapped it and let it go. I peppered the same area with casts and about five minutes later I felt a solid bite. The fish took a bit of line and I thought it was well hooked. I put some pressure on but then the line went slack and it was gone. It was no monster but probably a bit larger than the previous one. Now I was fired up but repeated lure changes could not raise another fish and after an hour I moved further south along the rocks – in the direction of Frasers Reef.

I was now fishing with the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Vader colour again, still with the same weight jighead and leader. I cast out into the foamy water at the base of the rocks and felt a solid hit. I was probably 4 metres above the water line so I slowly tightened the drag and lifted the fish up onto the rocks – it was another good sized Bream – about 35cm long. The rain and perhaps the dark of the moon seemed to have the big Bream fired up. I continued to fish all along these rocks but could not find anymore and at about 10.00 am I gave up and went in search of breakfast.

Tweed River – South Rockwall – Tailor, Trevally – 6 Aug 2011

Saturday

I have not been doing so well at Bribie Island lately so I decided to fish the Tweed River mouth on Saturday morning. I chose to fish the southern rock wall which you reach by driving through Fingal Head.

The forecast was for a light northerly wind and low tide would be just before dawn. You have to be in this spot before dawn, as the light change often brings the fish on to the bite – often just for half an hour or so. I left Brisbane around 3.45 am and arrived just after 5.00 am. I walked out the end of the rock wall and rigged up with my headlamp. I try to keep the light off the water when I am doing this.
I rigged up a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – this is a black soft plastic with a purple/ pink underbody. I put it on a ½ oz 3/0 hook jighead. I had the Daiwa Demon Blood 9 foot rod loaded with 40lb braid and about 2 metres of 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I had a couple of casts in the dark, but with no bites, I decided to wait for some light.

A choppy morning on the South Rockwall at the Tweed River mouth

About 10 minutes later, I could see what I was doing and I cast my soft plastic straight out into the river mouth. It landed about 15 metres off shore and slowly sank, as it ran out with the tide. Before it reached the bottom I felt a couple of solid strikes. I jerked the lure up and then paused and let it sink again. As I started to repeat the process there was a solid pull on the end of the line and the rod tip started wiggling. The fish took some line and then raced out towards the middle of the river. It was moving fast and then broke the surface with a vertical, head shaking leap. It was a good size Tailor – probably around 60 cm long. I tightened the drag a little and played it to the base of the rocks. I tightened the drag some more and gradually heaved it up the rocks towards me – just as I grabbed the leader the hook pulled from its mouth and it was gone. Bugger!

I checked the plastic – it was pretty mauled but serviceable, so I cast it back out. This time the action was instant – bitten off, as soon as it hit the water. I re-rigged – same colour plastic, same weight jighead. First cast – nothing, but I hooked up again on the second. This time it was a small Tailor – about 40cm and I pulled him safely over the rocks. I presumed they had just moved up the river and would be back again shortly but they did not return. It was just before 7.00 am and it had all gone quiet.

A Tweed Tailor grabs the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad

I finished the session with this Trevally

I moved around the front of the rockwall casting in a broad semicircle. I changed to different colored plastics, I tried lighter jigheads. I tried various minnows and grub shapes. By 8.00 am the sun was up and the choppy swell had started to settle down a bit. The tide was now running in again. I had dropped right down to a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead and I was using a 4” Gulp Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. Just as I was about to flick it up, out of the water, at the base of the rocks, a Trevally grabbed it. It was around 40cm long and I landed it safely. I hoped there would be more but after another 30 minutes without a bite I decided to pack up and head home.

Bribie Island – Bridge & Sandstone Point – 3 March 2011

Thursday

Thursday was set to be another hot day with a possible thunderstorm. There would be a slight northerly wind in the Pumicestone Passage, which would freshen through the day. I decided to keep looking for Flathead, as these have been the only consistent fish for me, in recent weeks.

I started under the bridge on the Island side about 4.15 am. The tide was running in and there was about 30cm of water at the base of the rockwall by the shore, to the north of the bridge. There was not much surface action and I think the Pike prefer a little more depth, to feel safe. I cast out a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Banana Prawn colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and bounced it along the bottom under the lights. Three casts later, after a pause on the bottom, the line came up tight. There were a few head shakes and a short run and then the fish was gone. A couple of casts later; same soft plastic, same place, maybe the same fish, I hooked up again. This time I got him to the rocks – a Flathead – around 45cm, but as I was lifting him in to the bag, he spiked me and slithered out of my grip to freedom.

Dawn by the Bribie Island bridge - the fish come to the lights

After 30 minutes more, prospecting both north and south of the bridge, I could not find any more fish so I decided to change location. Just as the sun was coming up, I drove round to Pebble Beach and walked along the beach to the far end, towards Sandstone Point. The water was fairly high but there were still a couple of hours before high tide. It was a beautiful, calm, still morning. The thunderstorms had passed over earlier and there were still a few flashes of lightning as they moved in land, but the sky was bright red.

A very calm morning

At the end of the beach, I walked out in front of the fringing Mangroves and cast out over the rubble and boulders that dot the ground. I was aiming for the sandy patches in between the rocks, where the Flathead often shelter. As I moved nearer to the corner I had a few encounters with the Long Toms, who kept grabbing and then dropping, the lure. When one finally did get hooked it started leaping and splashing and effectively shredded the 16lb Fluorocarbon leader I was using. I re- rigged and tied on a new leader and put on a GULP 4” Jigging Grub soft plastic in the Pepper Prawn colour, on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. A few cast later as the lure bumped over the rocky bottom, a fish grabbed it and took off. It only made a small run and then settled in the current. I pulled it on to some rocks – a 48cm Flathead – I released it and carried on casting. A few casts later I had another on the same plastic, this time it was just over 50cm.

After working the corner thoroughly I move round it, heading north and on to the broad flats of Sandstone Point, which almost form a tidal lagoon. With another hour to go before a 2.3m high tide, I could still wade out to the middle of the area and cast back in towards the Mangrove roots along the shore. The Long Toms where patrolling and I had a couple of tussles with them. After 30 minutes, the water was getting too deep to stay in the middle so I turned and headed south, in closer. I switched to a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour and put in long casts parallel with the shore. A fish grabbed the lure as it landed and this time it was a Flathead, I dragged it in under the Mangroves – it was around 40cm – and after a quick picture, I unhooked it and sent it on its way.

That was the last fish for the morning and even thought it was only 8.15 am, it was already blisteringly hot. I dumped the gear in the car and had a quick swim before heading home. Another good session, the water is still full of sediment on these big tides but there is plenty of bait around and so the fish will come.

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Fingal Head – Jew & Trevally – 8 Feb 2011

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Tuesday

I could see that the weather looked reasonable for a few days so I decided to head south. Plenty of showers to come but the wind and swell looked like they were finally calming down.

I was heading for Iluka, in Northern New South Wales, to chase a few Jewfish from the rocky headlands of the Bundjalong National Park. I decided to stop at Fingal Head for a fishing session on my way down, on Tuesday morning. I arrived around 4.45am and crossed the causeway out onto the rock platform and rigged up my light 2-4g 7ft Nitro spin rod. I wanted to try fishing with lighter weighted jigheads – around a 1/4oz – and to do this effectively, I had to dump the traditional heavy rock fishing rod.

Unfortunately the wind was howling (southerly) and the swell was up – fishing a 1/4 oz jighead was not working, so I switched to a 3/8 oz. I was fishing with the GULP Crazy Legs Lime Tiger Jerkshad and using a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. I was casting out from the northern side of the rock platform and bumping the lure back along the sand to the base of the rocks. As dawn broke there was a huge school of birds working above a bait school, but they were too far to cast at.

After fishing for about 45 minutes the lure was hit about 6 metres from the rocks and I hooked up. It was a Jewfish – just over 50 cm and after a couple of runs, I landed it safely. I tried for another 30 minutes and then swapped to a more natural GULP 4″ Peppered Prawn minnow soft plastic. The birds were still working but not moving any closer.

I was casting out from the northern tip of the rock platform. The wind and swell was washing the plastic back into the rocks fairly quickly, but it was on the bottom. Suddenly there was a jerk and the line started peeling. There was a blistering initial run and then I tightened the drag and started to get line back. On a decent surge I pulled the fish up, on to the platform. It was a 45cm Big Eye Trevally.

Now it was really blowing, the tide had started to really run and the heavens opened. I took it as an omen and packed up. – Next stop Iluka.

Bribie Island – Buckley’s Hole – 5 Feb 2011

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Saturday

Ok – no fish at Fingal. Where next? Well there is no shortage of coastline to try in Queensland. I had loads of excuses for my recent poor performances – warm water, floods, cyclones etc, but I have concluded that this summer, northerly winds have been the key factor in making life hard. The Mangrove Jacks and a few other species that like it humid, are not put off, but I think the fish I usually catch – Flathead, Bream, Tailor, Jew, etc – don’t like them.

I decided to go back up to Bribie Island and see what the water was like now. Was all the silt flushing out of the bay and the Pumicestone Passage? I started under the bridge lights on the island side, just before low tide at 4.15 am. There were small jelly prawns jumping everywhere, especially sitting just on the weed beds, in the shallows. There were also hardy heads and other small baitfish all around. It was new moon and it looked very promising. I rigged up the light spin rod – 1- 3kg and tied on a 10lb leader. I put in a 1/8th 1/0 hook jighead and started by fishing a GULP 2”Shrimp soft plastic in the banana prawn colour. After half an hour of walking up and down and watching surface busts ups, jumping prawns and big bait schools swimming between my legs, I had not had a bite.

I swapped locations and drove down to the saltwater lagoon just in front of Buckley’s Hole, on the southern end of the island. The topography at the mouth of the lagoon has changed dramatically because of the wild weather we have had. It now drains out into the Passage much further north than it did even a few months ago. The tide was just turning and there was a lot of weed in the water. The water is still holding a lot of sediment but as I walked south along the flats it looked quite clear.

I walked south, parallel with the shore, casting and retrieving and again, there was a lot of surface activity. I tried all sorts of soft plastic lures – big and small minnows, minnow grubs, jerkshads and shrimps. I tried bright colours and natural colours, I tried a heavier jighead – nothing. As the tide started to run in it brought a few jellyfish with it and the water clouded up. Obviously the incoming tide now lifts all the sediment that has settled on the bottom.

At around 7.30am I turned around and waded back north. I put on a GULP 3” Minnow in the pearl watermelon colour and started to pull this along the bottom with long pauses between each lift. After about 10 mins, I felt a bit of weight on the rod and the tip started shaking. At last – a fish. It was not a big one but I waded back to the beach and pulled it out onto the sand – it was a Flounder, about 30cm long. It had completely swallowed the jighead so I cut it off and released it.

It was now very hot and the water had turned really brown so I gave up and headed back to the car. There is no shortage of bait in the Passage but the water quality is still very poor – it looks like it may take quite a while for things to settle down.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Jewfish/ Tailor Round 2 – 29 Dec 2010

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Wednesday

With rain flooding into all our river systems, the estuaries are full of fresh water, mud and other rubbish. Therefore, the only real fishing option for a land based angler is to look for a river mouth rockwall or rocky headland, where you can still find some cleaner water. This is why I have been so focused on the Tweed River rockwall lately.

I arrived there on Wednesday morning, just before dawn and unfortunately there was a fairly fresh south easterly breeze blowing. As the sun came up I could see the extent of the milky tea coloured cloud that was pouring out from the mouth of the river. I started with a soft plastic but as the sun moved a bit higher in the sky a sizeable flock of birds started feeding on the surface about 125m north east of the wall. There was a school of something busting up out there and the birds started to move nearer with it. I tied on an 95g SPANYID Sniper and started casting as far as I could. It was the usual story – they stayed just out of casting distance.

I decided to put in a few casts off the end of the wall, into the milky tea. Half way through the retrieve I realised I had a small fish on. When I got it to the rocks I was pretty surprised to see a 30cm soapie Jewfish had grabbed the slug. Back he went and I continued to cast at the birds. Eventually after about 30 mins of arm stretching casts the birds came within casting range and after two or three more casts, into the middle of the boil, I was on to a fish. I had switched to an 85g SPANYID Raider by this stage.  The fish did not give me much trouble and I got him safely up the rocks – a Tailor around 40cm. He went back and after another ten minutes I had one more similar sized fish at my feet.

All along the wall land based anglers were picking up similar size Tailor on bait, slugs and even hard bodies. Just one or two every half an hour or so, as the school moved in close. It was great to see that when the fish are there and they are hungry, you can catch them with almost any technique.

At about 8.00 am I walked back to the car. Just as I was leaving a NSW fisheries officer arrived and walked off to the rockwall. The weather obviously meant he could not be out checking boats – there weren’t any, so he had decided to come and spread his good cheer amongst the land based anglers! I hope everyone had their fishing licenses with them!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Tailor & Queenfish – 23 Dec 2010

On Wednesday morning – the rain looked like it would stop for a bit and as the wind was forecast to come from the south for a while, I decided to go for one more Tweed rockwall session before Christmas. The couple of hours either side of dawn has always been the most productive for me in this spot, so I was up at 3.00 am again. I drove down from Brisbane and was at the end of the rockwall, watching the red glow on the horizon at about 4.15 am.
There was a light south westerly blowing and it was quite cool. There was a little more swell as a result. I started with a River 2 Sea 110mm Dumbell Popper in the Pilchard colour. I was blooping it back slowly across the front of the rockwall. Suddenly there was a boil on the surface so I cast out, in that direction. The popper was knocked out of the water by a marauding fish but there was no hook up. After several more casts and hits – but no connections. I quickly tied on a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. I used a ½ oz 4/0 jighead. As soon as it hit the water is was snaffled by a solid fish. I had the drag fairly tight and got the fish round to the left (north) side of the rockwall, fairly quickly. Its head was shaking and then there were a few leaps and I could see it was a Tailor. I got it up the rocks and it measured up at just over 60cm.
Then everything went quiet. I switched from popper to metal slug, to plastic, several times but I could not raise a bite. I could not find any Kingfish but after another hour or so, I had another hook up on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. This time it was a tiny Queenfish. The range of species in this spot is amazing. After a quick snap I returned it to the water. I carried on for another ½ hour without success and finally headed home around 7.30 am.
Happy Christmas to all and I wish you the best of luck for your holiday trips. Get out there (in your rain gear) and find some good fish. Even if it is raining, the fish still have to eat!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Kingfish and Amberjack – 19 Dec 2010

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Saturday

As you may have read, my latest early morning foray on the Tweed River rockwall ended with no fish but a close encounter with something powerful. Predictably, I kept replaying the final moments of losing that fish in my mind and it grew and grew.
On Friday night I went to bed primed for an early start. I wanted to get back down to the Tweed River rockwall before dawn. Rain or shine, I was on a mission. The wind and tides looked good. I was on the road at 3.00 am and wandered out along the north rockwall at about 4.15 am, just after first light. Conditions were perfect. There was virtually no breeze or swell, the water was very clear and it was very humid and overcast.
This time of day is definitely the best time for a surface popper lure. I rigged up my favourite – the RIVER 2 SEA 110mm Dumbell Popper, in the pilchard colour. This time I had 40lb PLATYPUS Bionic Braid on the spool with a 40lb fluorocarbon leader. In my experience, the most likely time you will catch fish on poppers is during the first few casts in the pre-dawn light. If the water you arrive at has not been disturbed all night and the fish’s predatory instincts have just been triggered by first light, you have a winning combination. My theory was spot on. I cast the popper out about 35 metres and slowly blooped it back towards the base of the rockwall, pausing for a second or too, every few metres. About 8 metres from the wall there was a great surge of water from the left and the popper just disappeared, the line went slack as the fish swam towards me. I wound like mad, yanked the rod tip up to strike and then all hell broke loose. Line was peeling off the spool and I immediately started to try and pull the fish round to the north side of the wall, where I might have a chance of landing it. I soon realised that was probably not going to happen. It turned and headed in the opposite direction – round towards the Tweed River mouth. I still had not really seen it. I thought I was making headway but as soon as I got line back, it would just make another blistering run. I scrambled over the rocks at the front of the wall, in the vain hope that I could keep it clear and maybe land it round the other side. Now I could see it and it was a big Yellowtail Kingfish – perhaps around the 80 cm mark. Directly out front, it finally decided to dive down to the base of the rocks and successfully left the popper locked in the barnacles somewhere down below.
My next popper was the HALCO 105mm Roosta Popper in the pink fluoro colour. I had to wait for a moment to stop my hands shaking, so I could tie it on. I cast straight out in the same direction and there were plenty of swirls and lunges, but no hook up on this retrieve. Two or three casts later, I could see the fish following the lure in and again. There were several hits but no hook up. On the next cast, I slowed it right down and less than 2 metres from the wall the popper was completely snaffled. This time I had no chance. The reel screamed, the fish went straight down. I never even saw it and that was the end of my second popper.
I was out of poppers and now it was really getting light so I switched to a metal slug – a SPANYID 85g Raider. I cast round in a semicircle, off the end of the rock wall and most times I got a group of Kingfish following the lure in but they would not strike.
At around 5.30am I decided to switch to a soft plastic lure. I put on a ½ oz, 4/0 jighead and loaded a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the banana prawn colour and cast out as far as I could. I let the plastic sink down and then started jigging it along the bottom. It was hit almost straight away. I set the hook and moved down to a flat rock, as close as I could get to the water. I decided I was not going to mess about this time. After a couple of runs, I tightened the drag and started winding in as fast as I could. The fish tried to dive into the rocks several times but I eventually dragged him clear and up onto the ledge where I locked it down under my foot. It was a Yellowtail Kingfish, just over 65cm and therefore legal in NSW. About 500 metres north, in Queensland, the size limit is 60cm. I wonder if the fish know how long they are and where they are safe? I cleaned it and then put it in the bag.
I put on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour and cast this out. At about the same spot, it was grabbed and the fish charged off. Once more, before I could get any leverage, the fish was down in the rocks at the base of the wall and gradually it pulled and pulled, until it rubbed through the 40lb leader. I tied on another soft plastic in the same colour and after another three or four retrieves, I had a fish on again. This was a slightly smaller fish and with a fairly tight drag I managed to land it. It was another Kingfish – but at only about 55cm – it went back.
Things had now quietened down a bit and it was around 6.30 am. I was still casting the same weight jighead but now I had switched to the GULP 4” Minnow in the peppered prawn colour. Just before 7.00 am a fish whacked the lure close into the rocks. Again it tried for the base of the wall but, after a short fight, I heaved it out and got it safely up the rocks. It was a 48cm Amberjack and there is no size limit on these in NSW, so he went in the bag with the Kingfish. In Queensland, they have to be over 50cm.
After a about another ½ hour I gave up and headed home. It had been a fantastic morning of land-based fishing with plenty of action in calm, safe conditions.
I did conclude that the size and bag limits don’t seem very logical in this area. I think most fisherman want to do the right thing, but such small differences between the states only serve to confuse us. Surely it would be better to standardise the size limits for as many species as possible. I can’t believe that the science can support no limit for Amberjack in NSW and a 50cm limit further north in Queensland. If the intention is to protect breeding size fish, are the scientists saying that Kingfish breed at fewer than 60cm in Queensland, but they need to get bigger (65cm) to breed in NSW? If anyone understands the science behind it please add a comment.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – 14 Dec 2010


Tuesday

I had seen a few recent reports of anglers catching good fish off the Tweed River mouth rockwall. I have always loved fishing this spot, so on Tuesday I decided to give it a try. The problem with the Queensland summer is that early starts need to be really early. To be at the Tweed for the best fishing, you really need to arrive just before dawn. That means a 3.00 am departure from Brisbane at this time of the year.
The Tweed River (like just about all the rivers in Queensland and New South Wales at the moment) is in flood. It’s brown and murky, like the colour of strongly brewed tea. Theoretically, the most likely time to get fish around the mouth is the end of the run in tide, when the water will be at its clearest and saltiest. However, fish hang around the mouth all the time in these conditions, as the surge of fresh water washes down all sorts of potential food for them. There is often a clear line on the surface were the brown river water mixes with the clearer blue/ green ocean. This is usually my target area.
The rockwall on the north side of the Tweed is easily accessible and has a number of rock ledges that make for great casting platforms. I walked out to the end of the wall at around 4.30 am. Unfortunately I had missed dawn, but I rigged up as quickly as I could and got started. I have caught fish here on soft plastics, metal and hard-bodied lures, but at this time of the year I prefer to use slugs and surface poppers. The surface poppers seem to work best for me, just before dawn, in the half light. I believe it is the combination of slightly lower light and hungry, feeding fish that makes them successful. I have caught plenty of Tailor and Trevally at this time, in this spot.
As I had missed dawn I decided to fish lower in the water column and use a metal slug. I like to use the HALCO Twisties in the 85gm weight or the SPANYID Raiders/ Snipers in the 85/95gm weight, but just about any metal lure will catch fish here. I use my trusty 11Ft ROVEX Bario rod with a SHIMANO Stradic 6000 reel. For line I use 40lb PLATYPUS Bionic braid in the hi-vis pink colour and tie on a two metre, 25lb fluorocarbon leader. The knots need to be good and the reel needs to be carefully spooled. The long rod and relatively heavily weighted lures means you are putting a lot of pressure on the terminal tackle with every cast so, it needs to run smoothly.
I started with an 85gm HALCO Twisty in the chrome colour. I generally cast the slug about 30 to 40 metres, let it sink (count to ten) then wind it in very fast, keeping the rod tip down as close to the water surface as I can. The idea is to keep the lure sub-surface for as long as possible. If I believe the fish are in close, I may stop the retrieve twenty metres from the wall, allow it to sink back down and crank it up again.
I cast all around the end of the wall with no result. The tide was running out and it was around 8.30 am. I started putting in big casts, along the line were the dark water from the river meets the sea, directly off the end of the rockwall. About 25 metres out, half way through the retrieve – whack! The rod tip bends and line starts peeling. Initially the fish is running out to sea – ok, at least it is not heading for the base of the rocks. I look around for where to try to land it and conclude that I have to get it round to the side of the wall. The front is too rocky and there is still too much swell. I opt for the ocean side as this is a little more accessible. The fish has made a couple of solid runs but a couple of minutes into the fight it decides to head towards the wall. All the work I had done trying to get it round the corner is instantly undone, as it dives down towards the base of the rocks. The first surge of water lodges the leader firmly in the barnacles and on the next one – ping, the fish is gone.
I don’t know what it was. I doubt it was a Tailor as there was no mad shaking – my guess would have been a Trevally or possibly a Kingfish. I will never know. I carried on until my shoulders burned from the casting but I could not find another. At about 10.00 am I was drenched by an incoming shower and so I gave up. The fish definitely won today – perhaps I will try a forty pound leader next time!

Iluka – Shark Bay in the rain – 3 Dec 2010

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Friday
It wasn’t raining at 4.00am Friday – so I walked out on to the rocks in front of Woody Head. I was disappointed to still see a big sea. I tried casting from a few safer spots but after losing four jigheads to the rocks, I decided I needed another plan. I walked along the beach to Shark Bay. It is probably one or two km but at this time of the morning, it was a beautiful stroll. There were big black clouds everywhere but initially, at least, it stayed dry and there was not much wind.
I had swapped my heavy rod for a lighter set up and I was fishing with a 7’6” Nitro 2-4 kg Distance Spin Rod matched with a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel. I had loaded the reel with 3.8 kg Fireline in the yellow colour and tied on about 1.5 metres of 12lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader. I had decided to fish lighter as I wanted to see if there were any good Bream around. This rig is also quite capable of land the odd small jewfish or Tailor should they show up.
I walked out onto the rock platform at the southern corner of Shark Bay and moved out to the north east corner. I had a few hours in this spot before the incoming tide would force me off. Just as I put in the first cast a shower came over and I was soaked in a few minutes. At least it wasn’t cold.
I started by fishing the GULP 4” Pearl Watermelon minnow soft plastic. This is a great imitation of a pilchard and has proved to be excellent bait in this location. But today I could not raise a bite. Maybe it was the murky water. I switched to one of my new favourites the GULP Crazy Legs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour. I also switched down in weight from a ¼ oz to a 1/6th oz jighead both with 1/0 hooks. This gives me a little less distance when casting but increases the sink time and gives the fish more time to strike. After a few casts with the new rig, a fish slammed the lure at the edge of the kelp covered ledge. I struck hard and then let it have some line. On the next surge I pulled it up through the kelp. It was a nice 36cm Bream. I cast out again and over the next few casts pulled in three smaller fish around the 30cm mark all on the same plastic.
With another rain squall on the horizon and the tide moving up rapidly I decided to head back to the campsite to try to dry out. I would think with all the rain, good Bream would be all around these rocky headlands. The only problem would be finding a safe place to fish for them.

Iluka – The Rockwall – 2 Dec 2010

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Thursday

I went to bed in a heavy rain shower and woke up to yet another one at about 4.00 am. After a while it eased off so I pulled on the (now very wet and fairly malodorous) fishing boots and made a cup of tea. The wind was light from the north east but as I walked out from Woody Head in the half light of dawn, I could see the swell was significant and the rocks were going to be too dangerous. I jumped in the car and headed down to the rock wall that runs out from the northern bank of the mouth of the Clarence River, at Iluka.
Fishing the Iluka rock wall is not for the faint hearted. You need good boots and good knees. It is a long walk from where you park to the best fishing spots. The first half of the wall has a nice pathway along the top, but as you reach about half way, the fill underfoot gets bigger and bigger until you a walking across wobbling boulders. Finally in the last 200 metres all the loose fill has been washed away and what is left is a mass of boulders. If you persist and clamber on, there are a few good flat boulders that make excellent fishing platforms on either side, but the most consistent fish holding spot, for me, is the wash around the base of the wall at the very end. Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side
Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side. I recommend giving both a try. I usually put in a few casts whilst walking out and one of these got smashed at the foot of the rocks by a small Tailor. I was using the GULP 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad soft plastic lure on a 3/8 2/0 jighead. I landed this fish after a short fight and as it was only just legal size at around 35cm, I threw it back. I had a few more casts here with no further action and so I moved on to the end of the wall.
The swell was calming down a bit, but the rain was still blowing over in 10 minute showers. There was too much swell to fish directly off the end of the wall, so I started off fishing the north side of the wall. The tide was running out and I assumed that the fish would shelter from the current on the ocean side of the wall. I switched to a ½ oz 4/0 jighead and put on a GULP 7” Limetiger Crazylegs Jerkshad. This is a great plastic with a split curly tail that flutters, as it sits or sinks, in the current. I was sure there would be some Jewfish around. I put in about 50 or 60 casts without result, so I switched to the river side. Fortunately, the rain was flattening the sea now. After a few casts out into the mouth of the river, the line came up tight and the rod tip started shaking. This is a tricky spot to land a fish. You are a couple of metres above the water line and you just have to heave the fish up. If you are on your own this is your only option. I find a long handle gaff is too hard without someone to hold the rod. I had a good size Tailor on. Tailor have such soft mouths that the final lift is even more difficult. Sure enough, as I tried to raise it clear of the water, I pulled the hook. I put on a fresh soft plastic and cast out in the same spot. After a few seconds I got a solid hit and I dropped the rod tip. When I lifted it I had another fish on. After a short fight, I successfully landed another Tailor. At about 45cm, I decided to keep this one.
I continued to cast in semicircle in the area but the fish had moved on or they had stopped eating because I could not raise another bite. Finally after another rain squall I packed up.

Iluka – Frasers Reef – 30 Nov 2010

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Tuesday
I am just back from a week down at Iluka. There were fish around but the weather did its best to stop me catching any. The consistent northerly winds created a constant swell at most of the rock fishing spots and the rain just kept coming.
I arrived last Tuesday, 30th Dec and, in hindsight, the conditions that day were the best. I started early in the morning, just on dawn, looking for some jewfish from the rocks around Frasers Reef. The swell was just fishable but every now and then I got soaked by a surge that slapped up against the rocks and came straight down on top of me – at least it was warmer than June and September. The tide was about half way in.
Any plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour is a firm favourite with the locals and I rigged a GULP 5” Jerkshad which has worked well for me in this spot. The swell was big and after a few casts with a 3/8 oz jighead, I switched to a heavier ½ oz jighead. Soon after sun up I got a few bites and nudges at the foot of one of the bommies that I like to cast at from the shore. As always, it is very difficult to get a plastic down on the bottom and leave it there for any length of time. If you jerk it off the bottom too quickly the fish don’t find it and if you leave it too long you get snagged. Add in the swell and the murky water and things did not really look promising.
I persisted and got soaked and snagged a few times and then switched to a smaller GULP. I also changed down from 30lb to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. It started to rain. A couple of casts later I had a fish on. I played it for a bit and then noticed a huge wave building, about fifty metres offshore. I tightened the drag and made an effort to get the fish up on the preceding, smaller wave, but I just could not pull it up. I crouched and the wave smashed against the rocks. The plume of water went straight up for 5 metres or so before absolutely soaking me. But as the water receded, I was delighted to hear some tail slapping and just beside me there was a small school jewfish, just about legal in NSW, at a little more than 45cm. I decided to release this fish in the hope of finding a better one. I removed the jighead without too much trouble and speared the fish back into the foam.
About twenty minutes later I had another one on and despite the strong current, it felt a bit bigger. I decided to walk it round to a more sheltered landing spot and got another soaking in the process. I managed to hold on and let the swell lift it onto a ledge. I then grabbed the leader and pulled it up. It was a better fish at around 50cm long, but it was no monster. This one I kept for dinner and after cleaning it up in the rain I decided to give up at around 9.30 am.

Landangler’s View – Fishing Forums

I bet they wish they had BFO/ AUSFISH/ NUGGET/ TACKLEBOX in those days

Warning this is not a fishing report or a tackle tip or even a “How to catch Mullet on my Grannies week old banana fritters” article. This is Landangler’s view. My take on something vaguely related to fishing that I have decided to share with you whether you like it or not.
What is it about the keyboard? It removes inhibitions faster than Bundaberg rum. People will happily type things they would not dream of saying. Punctuation goes out the window, correct spelling is optional and text speak creeps in, LOL. It’s so much easier to just blurt out a verbal vomit in an email or a tweet, or on an online forum, which brings me to my topic for today – Fishing Forums.
Over the last few years, prior to starting the Landangler Blog, I have been regularly posting fishing reports in online fishing forums – and overall, I love them. They are a great way to share information and stories. They put like minded people together. They provide solace when you think you are the only sad bugger who fished all day for one undersize Moses Perch and a 23.5cm suicidal blind Bream. But lurking out there in cyberspace are some interesting characters, with fairly fanatical views.
Let’s call our first on-line fishing forum poster – Big Boat Big Esky Bill. Bill loves to catch anything and everything and loves to tell anyone and everyone, all about it. Whatever you have caught, Big Bill has caught a bigger one. However many fish you have caught, Big Bill has caught more. He usually posts to let you know that even though you thought you had a great session, you have used the wrong; bait, line, rod, lure, sinker, leader, hook and were wearing the wrong sunglasses. He also lets you know that he knows all about that spot and used to get more, bigger fish there, when he was nine. Of course back then, he fashioned hooks from old safety pins and used his unravelled old school jumper wrapped around an empty ginger beer bottle, for line. Despite his forthright opinions, Big Bill can rarely string together a fishing report. When he does manage something it reads along the lines of: “Went to super secret spot X, one day last week and caught a massive snapper on my favourite secret lure/bait. It was 25 kg but unfortunately didn’t have the camera.” Thanks Bill.
Next is Newbie. Newbie has just joined the forum and he will do anything to escape his novice status. He logs on every 30 seconds to check if anyone has read his posts. He posts a response to everybody else’s posts. This is usually something highly informative or insightful like: “Nice fish”, “Well done” or “Good on ya”. I can imagine that Newbie has the attention span of a small insect. He is permanently plugged into his iplod whilst constantly texting, Tweeting, Facebooking and probably twitching. After about five hundred posts Newbie finally reaches ‘Gold’ status – then we never hear from him/ her again. Thank goodness for that!
Now onto EcoFish Ed – Yes, you guessed – Ecofish Ed is a committed environmentalist, but you didn’t need to guess that because he is going to tell you all about it. You can almost smell his Birkenstock sandles and see him sitting in his Toyota Prius deciding on which lead free hooks to use. He actually pays the electricity company the extra cash every month for the ‘green’ power. Ed releases every fish he catches – in fact, he rarely catches anything so as not to harm the environment. He never eats fish or anything else – he is a vegan – so he survives on soy sawdust bars and organic vegetables. He vigorously patrols the forums pointing out our environmental failings at every opportunity. He attacks, without mercy, anyone who keeps more than one fish for dinner and if he uses his forensic photoshop techniques to determine your flathead is 39.8cm long – God help you.
One of my favourites is Optmistic Ollie . He makes even the crappiest of us look good by never catching anything – but he has always got something chirpy to say about it and his positive attitude cannot be dented. “Took a run out into Moreton Bay this arvo to look for some Snapper. I crashed the car at the boat ramp, scraped the hull on some shallow reef, the young fella vomited all over the sounder, forgot the bait and we snagged all our lures, didn’t get a touch from the fish all day. Unfortunately a storm came over and the wind whipped up to 25 knots. Got done by the water police on the way back in, because of a hole in a life jacket. Sorry no pics as I dropped the camera over board. Even though we came home empty handed – we all had a great time – what a wonderful day to be out on the water.”
Then there is Inappropriate Ian. Ian uses the forum a bit like the telephone. He does not seem to realise that the whole world can read his posts and is therefore listening in. He responds to every report by his mates in a chummy fashion with a reference to some private joke or shares some totally inane private titbit with us, just to emphasise that he knows the bloke who is posting. “Great bag of Snapper you got there Dave. Saw Marge at Aldi yesterday she was buying some lamb chops, they were on special – How is she going with the piles?” or “Nice Bream Brucie – can’t believe Dazzer did the dirty on Suzie and is now shacked up with the Kinde teacher.”
Finally there is Tedious Tim. He likes to start from the very very very beginning. You get it all from Tim. Which rod, which reel, which line, which lure, when he went fishing, where he went fishing what the tide was doing, what the wind was doing, what the moon was doing, which hat he was wearing , when he put his sunscreen on, which brand of insect repellent he used, which underpants he chose etc. His posts frequently have to be broken into two parts and you are often fast asleep by the time you reach the bit where he catches a fish. He rarely gets to go out fishing as he spends most of his time writing his reports.
Keep up the good work fishing forums – there maybe be a few nutjobs around and we may not all agree on what makes a good days fishing – but the fishing world is a better place for all those posts!

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole – 17 Sept 2010

Friday
I am off to Broomes Head in northern New South Wales next week so I thought I would get a quick fishing trip in before departure.
I headed up to Bribie and straight for the flats to the south of Buckley’s Hole, arriving around 9.30 am. The water was fairly clear and the tide was running in. I put a 3” GULP Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic on a 1/6th ounce weight, size 1 hook, jighead. I then waded south gradually from Buckley’s Hole, casting up into the run-in tide, just on top of the ledge that runs parallel with the shore.
It was not long before I found the fish. First a couple of Pike attacked the lure and then, a few minutes later I found the flathead. They were in just about 60cm of water sitting in the hollows in the weed beds that are just starting to sprout. In that first spot I caught two undersize flathead, both around the 35cm mark.
I moved on and kept putting in long casts out over the sand flats. Suddenly the lure was slammed, the line started peeling and the rod tip was rattling. I had a chopper Tailor on the lure, about 30 cm long. The water was crystal clear and as I wound him towards me, I could see a monster (70cm plus) Flathead following him. Was he going to eat the Tailor or had been following the plastic? I was hopeful, although not quite sure how to play it. I did not have to wait and see as, at that moment, the Tailor munched his way through the 10lb leader and was off. The Flathead sat there, looking disappointed. Then I cast the lure at the sand a metre or so in front of him, but he just turned and swam slowly away into deeper water.
I carried on towards Red Beach and caught another three flathead in similar terrain. Two were just legal size at around 43-44cm, and one was smaller. After a couple of hours of good fishing I headed back to Brisbane.
I will be posting my Broomes Head reports when I get back on the 27th September.

Bribie Island – Plenty of Flathead – 14 Sept 2010


Tuesday
After a really disappointing land-based fishing session at Bribie Island (see previous post)on Sunday, I was a little concerned on when we were going to eat fish next. Rain was forecast for Tuesday morning but I had to get back out there. So I was up early and fishing under the Bribie Bridge, on the island side at about 4.45am.
I started on the south side of the bridge – a logical spot as the tide was running out and the fish often feed in the eddies, behind the pylons. I put on a 3” GULP Minnow soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. The water was moving fairly slowly so I rigged it on 1/8th 1 jighead. After a few casts up under the bridge, I felt the solid thud of a Flathead. It was only a little one so I photographed it and sent it on its way.
The northerly breeze had blown most of the weed away. This enabled me to try a 1/4oz blade vibration lure in amongst the bridge pylons. The tide was running out and would be low at about 7.00 am. I gradually waded to the north side of the bridge. I was now standing at the foot of the oyster covered rocks in the sand, in about 70cm of water, casting as close as I could to the foot of the third bridge pylon. Just as the sun started to rise behind me, a fish hit the blade. I dropped the rod tip for a few seconds and then I struck. After a few headshakes I had my first Snapper on a blade. At about 25cm he was not going to be dinner and back he went.
It was a good start but after another half an hour and a few Pike, I decided to move. I drove down to Bongaree and waded out onto the sand flats in front of Buckley’s Hole. The Pike were plentiful here as well. Just on low tide another angler, further along the beach, pulled in a nice 70cm flathead on a whole, fresh herring bait.
I decided to move south, along the coffee rock ledge, in the direction of Red Beach. My strategy was to target the Flathead as they moved up over the ledge with the incoming tide. The water was now very clear and the sun was fairly bright. Although it seems counter intuitive, I have often been told that these are the best conditions to use a bright coloured plastic. So I switched to a 2” GULP Shrimp in the green and orange Lime Tiger colour. After about 15 minutes this seemed to pay off as my line came up tight on another small flathead. I carried on and after covering another 10 metres or so, I was on to a much bigger fish. The problem in fighting a fish in this location is that they will immediately try to get themselves back down deep, below the rock ledge. You need to keep their head above the ledge and walk them back towards the beach, the drag needs to be set fairly tight to achieve this and with only a ten pound leader you really have to be careful. Perhaps I was pulling too hard or had not really set the hook properly. Either way, almost as soon as the Flathead came into view (about 3 metres away), it dropped the hook. It just sat there on the sandy bottom for a few moments then turned and made its way back, very slowly, to the ledge. It had two smaller fish following it the whole time. A few metres further on and I caught yet another undersize flathead.
I switched back to the Minnow soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour and as the tide was now running in quite strongly, I put it onto a 1/6th oz 1 hook jighead. I felt a knock on the first retrieve and after a few more casts in the same spot, I hooked up with 48cm Flathead. I walked it back to the shore and finally I had something to keep for dinner. Using the same tactics I caught four more undersize fish as I gradually waded south. By now it was around 9.15 am and I was almost at the point where the shore turns left and becomes Red Beach. I decided to give myself a few more casts before turning for home. I clearly saw a decent Flathead just miss my lure as I lifted it up at the end of the retrieve. So I immediately cast it out just a couple of metres away, in the same direction and let it sit on the bottom for 10 seconds. As I lifted it, it was smashed by what I presume was the same fish. After a long walk back to the beach I pulled it safely up onto the sand and it was the best fish of the day – a 60cm Flathead. It was now starting to rain so with two nice fish for dinner; I called time on the session and headed back to Brisbane.

Bribie Island – I tried everywhere – 11 Sept 2010

Saturday
Well just to show that I am not a ‘good news only’ fishing blogger, Saturday morning was a disaster. It went like this – I had high hopes for a good catch, with a big tide and good weather. I started off under the Bridge on the island side at Bribie. It was just on 4.00 am. I cast soft plastic lures up against the pylons – I tried paddle tails, shrimps and minnows in various colours, with no luck.
Ok, onto Plan B. As the sun came up I drove down the island, through Bongaree to fish the coffee rock ledge in front of the saltwater lagoon, at Buckley’s Hole. This is a great position on low tide, the lagoon empties out and the fish usually congregate just south of its mouth. It was around slack water on dawn, with low tide at 5.20am. I walked up and down, up and down but I could not even raise a bite.
Ok, on to Plan C. I jumped back into the car and drove north, up to Whitepatch. The tide was just starting to run in. I walked down the wooden staircase to the spot I have christened ‘Pike Rocks’ and put on a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. I cast out as fair as I could and let it sink for 10 seconds or so. I then began a slow and steady retrieve. Well at least the Pike did not let me down. About 4 metres from the shore I got a hit, then another and then a hook up with a fairly small Yellow fin Pike. I started to move south along the sand flats, casting out over the rock ledge and bouncing the plastic along the bottom. About 15 minutes passed and the 2” Shrimp plastic I had switched to was slammed as it came up over the ledge. After a good tussle I was disappointed to find it was only a 20cm Moses Perch. I carried on along this stretch until the run in tide drove me to far from the ledge and my lure kept getting snagged. I turned around and waded back to the car. I was now casting my lure on top of the ledge. By 9.30am I still had nothing for dinner.
Ok, on to plan D. I climbed back into the car and drove down to the old Oyster Jetty on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage, to the south of the bridge. By 10.30 am I was wading along the edge of the weed banks just south of the jetty casting a 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th 1 jighead. That big tide I had been looking forward to was now, unfortunately stirring everything up, so just to add to my woes, the jighead was constantly getting clogged with weed. I walked round the corner and cast out over a big sand bank. The tide was streaming in and I felt sure the flathead would have moved up to sit in the cover offered by the sandbank. There was a bit of surface activity with bait jumping so I wound in and cast at it. There were a couple hard bites so I dropped the rod tip for a few seconds and then struck. There was a load of splashing and then I saw the unmistakable writhing thin silver body of a Long Tom. I took this as an omen and decided to give up for the day. It was 11.45am. There was plenty of bait around and the water was fairly clear, the tide was good – I just could not find the fish.

Bribie Island – Choppers, Snapper & a few Flathead – 7 Sept 2010

Tuesday
I headed north from Brisbane very early on Tuesday. I wanted to get fishing under the Bribie Bridge an hour before first light. I was on the road at 3.45am and in position on the island side right under the bridge lights by about 4.30 am. As usual there was plenty of surface action with Chopper sized Tailor and Pike feeding on the smaller bait that is drawn to the lights. Unfortunately the rain and westerly breeze had washed a huge amount of weed up against the beach but this gradually moved away as the tide started to really get running. Low tide had been at about 3.30 am.
Perhaps predictably the first fish I caught was a Pike. I was using my usual light estuary rod and reel (see previous posts) and fishing a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic lure in the Peppered Prawn colour on 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I cast out again and found another one. I moved north along the bank and put in a long cast towards the foot of the third bridge pylon. I let it sink for about ten seconds then jerked the plastic up. Smash – it got hit on the drop and the ferocious jerking and splashing indicated Tailor. Sure enough, a minute or so later, I had a 30cm Tailor on the sand – I took it up to the light and pavement for few snaps and off it went. I decided to move further north to the sand banks that sit beneath the lights of the seaside path. If there is enough water here it is an excellent flathead spot. Unfortunately, today it was covered with a floating mass of weed in the shallows. I waded a bit further out and cast out into the current. The first glow of light was showing over my shoulder. As I retrieved the lure it was slammed just metres from my feet. The fish took off but the self contained, persistent head shakes suggested snapper and so it was. Despite the rod bend and solid fight, when I finally subdued it and got it too the sand, it was just too small – so back it went. The fishing was good but there was nothing for dinner yet.
As dawn broke I jumped in the car and moved up to Whitepatch and fished the sandbanks until the top of the tide. I waded up and down casting out so that the plastic was landing just on top of the coffee rock ledge, at the edge of the main channel. The Pike were consistent all the way along but, after a while I decided to switch to a 1/5th oz blade lure. Predictably, the Pike loved it and I had a hit, but no hook up with something larger. The weed was a problem so I dumped the blade and put the GULP Shrimp plastic back on. As the tide got higher I walked closer to the shore. I was now casting into 70 – 90 cm of water. At the edge of a drain I hooked a just legal flathead at 40 cm. I carried on peppering the area with casts and after about 5 more, I caught another, better fish at 50 cm. It was a two metre high tide which meant that the water was right up to the tree line. As I walked along I caught another three undersize Flathead on the same soft plastic before things seemed to slow down.
As the high tide peaked and the weed started to stand still in the water, I decided to give up for the day. Although I only had a couple of keepers, the fishing had been very varied and entertaining! Once more the Snapper capture had coincided with the start of the run in tide and the first glow of dawn.

Iluka – Frazers Reef – Jewies – 12 August 2010

On Thursday morning conditions were as near perfect as you can get on the rocky headlands around Iluka. There was a light (but cold) westerly wind which had flattened the swell and despite the rain earlier in the week, the water was fairly clean. I decided to fish the rock ledges around Frazer’s Reef, a rocky outcrop, located just to the south of Woody Head at Iluka. This is another spot you can only get to 3 hrs or so, either side of low tide. As the tide rises, it swamps the rocky causeway of boulders that you cross to get to the fishing spots.
At dawn on Thursday, the only other sign of life on the walk along the beach were the tracks in the sand made by the kangaroos. It was seriously cold. I was hoping for something more than a Tailor or Trevally. So again I rigged up a plastic on a 3/8 3/0 jighead but this time I went for a 5” GULP Lime Tiger Crazy Legs Jerkshad. This is a Jerkshad shaped plastic with twin curly tails and has a fantastic action both on the drop and when sitting in the current on the bottom. I not convinced about the colour, but I love the action.
I started fishing in the red glow before the sun came up and had a few bumps and nudges and lost the tails on the first plastic. As the great orange ball broke the horizon just on 6.00 am, I hooked a fish. It put in a solid run but it was difficult to follow as the Stradic’s (my expensive reel !!) drag ratchet chose this moment to give up on me. The drag was still working but I could not hear the clicking as the fish took line. It is a very strange sensation fighting a fish without the ‘zzzzzzzzzzzzz’ every now and then. I had subdued the fish but now had to get him up the rocks. I moved him to a corner where there are a few stepped ledges and used the swell to lift him on to the lower one. Then I jumped down one step, wrapped the leader round the glove and lifted the fish clear. It was a beautiful school Jewfish. It was in great condition and measured just on 80cm.
I bled the Jew and put him in a keeper rockpool (one without a wobbegong!). I then got straight back into it. This time I got snagged on a bommy. Next cast produced another, smaller (65cm) school jewfish which I again landed with the aid of the swell. Now I knew they were obviously right on the bottom just behind the bommy. This kind of fishing requires deep pockets – I must have lost 10 more jigheads to that bommy over the next hour. I had a couple of runs with decent fish which I judged from the headshakes were Tailor, but I failed to hook up with either of them. Finally, as the tide was going to force me off my spot I was on to a fish again. This time I had swapped to a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Pumpkinseed colour. This fish felt big but when I got him up the rocks he was actually the smallest of the day at around 60cm – another school jewfish.
I now had to wade, waist deep, through the water to get back across the causeway to the beach, but I reckon getting my nuts chilled was a reasonable sacrifice for some great fishing.

Bribie Island – Sandstone Point and Buckleys Hole – 5 August 2010

BRIBIE - THE MAKINGS OF A FISH PIE

Thursday looked like a great fishing morning – cool, not much wind and a run out tide through dawn. I decided to start off on the sandbanks of Sandstone Point. I put the waders on in the dark and wandered along by the old oyster jetty, on the mainland beside the Bribie Bridge. The sky was beginning to glow red. I have noticed that I don’t seem to catch many flathead in the dark. I get them around the bridge lights at night, but rarely seem to catch them out on the flats until there is a bit of light on the water. This may just be because I spend more time fishing in the daylight!
High tide was around 4.00 am and I started fishing at about 5.30am. I walked as far as I could along the sand banks and then turned back northwards. I was wading in about a metre of water, parallel with the exposed sand bank. I was casting up into the outgoing tide, trying to land my soft plastic lure right on the edge of the weed banks. As usual, it was the Pike that struck first – a few small ones then a monster – I thought initially it was a flathead but soon realised it wasn’t when it started thrashing around. I got it to the shore and measured it at 46cm – the biggest Pike I have ever caught.
Usually in these conditions I would expect to be getting plenty of flathead but things were a bit slow. I hooked then dropped a small on, about 30 metres short of the jetty and then a couple of casts later; I caught a 42cm fish. I was using the 4” GULP Minnow Grub in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I could not raise anymore so I walked back to the car and drove over the bridge to Buckley’s Hole to fish the drop off there.
I arrived there at about 8.00am – with low tide scheduled around 10.00 am. I walked to the south and started wading north and casting a 2” GULP Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I was looking for the Bream that are often to be found here. The tide was running fairly hard so I rigged the soft plastic on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead – this meant that I could get the plastic down deep fairly quickly. I waded up and down the beach casting out over the drop off and letting the plastic float down to the bottom with the current. After about 45 minutes of this, I found a patch of Bream and caught seven in quick succession, all on the soft plastic shrimp. Only three were big enough to keep and all three were about 28cm. The wind was now getting up and it was still cold and overcast so at about 10.00 am I decided to give up and grab a hot cup of coffee.
Next week I am off to Iluka in Northern New South Wales, to fish the rocks and beaches of the Bundjalong National Park. I am hoping to find some Tailor, monster Bream and no doubt, a few surprises. I will post the results as soon as I am back.