Fingal Head – Moses Perch, Tailor, Bream & Dart – 26 March 2015

Thursday

I was delighted that my cousin’s visit had shamed me into carving out time for another fishing session and we decided to drive south to fish the rocks at Fingal Head in northern New South Wales, on Thursday morning.

I usually find the hour either side of dawn most productive in this location. This means an early start, so we left at about 4.30 am. The weather was grey and rainy for most of the drive down and we arrived at about 5.30 am, close to first light. Fortunately the rain had stopped.

We walked up to the lighthouse and down to the small causeway the leads out to the rock platform.  The headland was first spotted and recorded by James Cook in 1770, and its strange regular shaped basalt pillars were pushed up by the long extinct Tweed volcano. The advantage of the overnight rain was a light swell and virtually no wind.

I was fishing with my N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rodlight rock fishing rod matched with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. The rod is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. This is rigged with 15lb braid and I usually fish it with a 12lb to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. Today, I started with 12lb leader. I provided cousin Joe with a similair set up based on a Shimano Coastline Light rod of the same length.

Flushed with recent success fishing the GULP 3’ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour we decided to start with this soft plastic again. We both rigged up with 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jigheads. After a few casts the fish were tapping at the lure and it did not take long for Joe to hook and land a small 30cm ‘chopper’ tailor. He learned the ‘wet’ way about getting too close to the edge and was given a good soaking by a decent set of waves. The rain then started pouring down so I got nicely soaked, in sympathy.

I moved around to the front of the rock platform and tried a few different shapes and sizes of soft plastics before something grabbed my GULP 3 inch Lime Tiger Minnow, very close to the base of the rocks. I am not sure what it was but it moved around slowly at first, suggesting it did not know it was hooked. Once it realised something was wrong it headed for the nearest bommy and snap went my hopelessly light leader.

I re-rigged and Joe moved into position in roughly the same spot, with the same soft plastic lure pattern. A few casts later a fish struck at the base of the rocks. The Shimano Catana bent over and ot took some line. Joe was not going to let this one go. As he moved closer to the edge of the rocks I had visions of him floating up on a beach, face down, somewhere near Ballina.  Fortunately the swell was light and when he did get a soaking, it was a fairly gentle one.  The fish was doing its best to bury itself in the barnacle covered rocks but Joe swung it round and I grabbed the leader. It was a chunky 33 cm bream and would be dinner.

I tried a few different larger soft plastics but it was the 3 inch minnow that was consistently getting hit. I caught a few small Moses perch and then swapped to a 3 inch minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour. After a few casts something grabbed it and headed straight for the rocks. It felt like a good sized fish but when I pulled it clear of the water it was just a small, but very fat, Moses perch.

Over the next hour we pulled out a few more dart, one of which was missing its tail. As we got further away from sunrise the fishing slowed and at about 9.00 am we gave up and went for breakfast.

Advertisements

Fish stealing friends – Shark Bay – November 2014

Every time I fish at Shark Bay, near Iluka in Northern New South Wales,  I clean my fish in the rock pools. It is not uncommon to have an octopus stick a tentacle out and grab some floating fish guts or watch a crab sneak out to grab a free meal. But without fail, about three to five minutes after first drawing blood, the wobbegongs arrive.

Last time I was down there I caught a tiny moses perch on a big DUO lure and got mugged as I reeled it in. Watch where you are paddling in those rock pools!

 

Bribie Island – Whitepatch – 13 February 2014

Thursday

I am afraid this post relates to a fishing session which is now almost three weeks old. My apologies but for the sake of keeping my fishing diary up to date, I will summarize what happened.

 

I decided to fish at Whitepatch on Bribie Island, low tide had passed at about 2.45 am and it would be a fairly big run in tide. There was a very light south-easterly wind blowing when I arrived, just after 5.30 am.  I parked by the stairs and waded out towards the drop off. I stopped to pepper the area of weed beds just in front of the ledge. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Orange Tiger colour. The first few retrieves were grabbed at by something….moses perch, pike, maybe.

I persisted and after about fifteen minutes I found a small flathead. I released it and carried on fishing. Fish kept hitting the big plastic but I was not hooking them. The tide was getting higher and it was now difficult to cast over the edge of the drop off. I swapped down to a smaller GULP 3” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. This did the trick and I soon caught a few small yellowfin pike.

As the tide came up I waded further south. I kept casting and soon started to catch a few small moses perch. They gradually got bigger but none were bigger than the legal size of 25cm. I swapped through a few different small soft plastics and caught more moses perch and a few tiny whiting.

I put on a GULP jerkshad again, in the Satay Chicken colour and turned to wade back to the car. It was now about 8.30 am and heading for high tide. As I waded to the north I cast in front of me. After a few attempts this method produced the best fish of the day – a 46cm flathead.

After this I gave up. I had caught plenty of fish but only one would have been big enough to keep. Despite the lack of dinner it had been an interesting fishing session.

Bribie Island – the Seaside Museum drain and flats – 19 July 2013

Friday

A late start on Friday and wet weather again. I drove up to Bribie and passed through several showers on the way. I arrived at Bongaree at about 9.30 am. I stopped in front of the Seaside Museum again and parked up. The tide had been high at 5.45 am, so I could now easily reach and cast over, the coffee rock ledge that runs along, parallel with the road.

Surveyors were measuring up for a new sea wall – the current slope is sinking and sagging after all the wild weather. Hopefully work on the new one will create some new fishy structure.

I started fishing with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was using 8lb leader again. After a few casts I hooked a fish. It made a few runs then I pulled it over the edge. It was a good bream, about 34cm long.

It was not long before I had another fish on. This time it swam under the ledge and soon rubbed me off. I did not get a look but it felt like another decent bream. I carried on in the same spot and after a few more casts, I felt another solid bite, as I lifted the soft plastic off the bottom. On the next cast, I paused a little longer with the soft plastic on the bottom. When I lifted it, a fish struck. It pulled quite hard but I was now level with the ledge and so I could keep the fish away from it. When it came in to view it was only a 25cm Moses Perch!

I moved a bit further south and kept casting. A few more casts and I had another fish on, this time it was a Tailor. It pulled very hard but it was nicely hooked so it could not bite through the leader. I pulled it up to the sand. It was just about 35cm long but I released it after a few pictures.

I checked the leader and thought about upgrading to 12lb, but could not be bothered. On the next cast I wished I had. A fish hit my plastic just a few inches out from the ledge and took off. This fish had weight and power but was not mad like a Tailor. I started swimming north, parallel with the shoreline and I went with it for about 10 metres. I tried to keep it away from the edge but my light spin rod was no match for it. It found a ledge and I could feel the leader rubbing and then it was gone. I suspect it was a jewfish but I will never know.

I fished on as the tide slowed and picked up another respectable 32cm bream on the Gulp 3” minnow in the Sardine colour. On the bottom of the tide the weed was clogging every cast and the sky looked ominous so I packed up.

Bribie – Under the bridge and on the flats – 19 March 2013

Tuesday

The wind has now been persistent from the south for some time. This is usually a good sign. Although it can push the swell up, in my experience, it makes fish a little easier to find. The problem on Tuesday was that it was forecast to blow up to about 20 – 30 knots, which would make fishing almost impossible.

So I was limited to fishing in the calmest period – the very early morning and decided to go back to the flats, by the Bribie Island Bridge. There is a bridge survey or cleaning process going on at the moment. Divers are spraying the barnacles/ oysters off all the pylons during the daylight hours. This would either scare the fish off or create a great berley mix to bring them in.

I arrived just before 5.00 am. Low tide would be at 0.9 m at 8.24 am. The moon was about 60% full and so the tide flow would not be very strong. The wind was a south-easterly, blowing about 10 knots.

There was still plenty of water lapping at the mangroves. I stood in the shadows and rigged up with a small GULP Alive split tailed grub, in the Smelt colour. I found a few tubs of these in a NSW fishing shop a couple of years ago, but I can no longer remember what they are called. They are probably about 2” long and have proved pretty useful when the fish are fussy.

I cast to the north, into the darkness and let the lure sink to the bottom. I got a few hits and pulls, but did not hook up. I kept casting and after a while I caught a couple of small Moses Perch. Ten minutes later, the same soft plastic attracted a small Flathead. I was now sure I was fishing in the right place and I think the previous days pylon blasting had created some good berley.

I kept casting around the same area and at about 5.40 am I connected with a solid fish. It took some line and I tightened the drag a little, to keep it away from the pylons and then the mangrove roots. When it was worn out I towed it up, onto the oyster covered area of beach, under the bridge. It was a good-size flathead, about 55cm long.

I fished on and caught a couple of bream (both about 30cm) and a couple more much smaller moses perch. I swapped over to a 2” GULP Shrimp soft plastic in the banana prawn colour. I was still fishing with a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. The thick dark clouds obscured the sunrise and just after 6.00 am, I found another small flathead lying at the base of one of the bridge pylons.

I moved south towards the oyster jetty and got rained on by a passing shower. By 8.15 am I was about half way between the oyster jetty and the channel marker. I had had a few grabs from fish that I thought were long toms, but could have been pike or small tailor.

I was now fishing with a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour, which has proved effective recently. Suddenly my jighead caught on something. It made a very slow run. It was not very heavy and I slowly pulled it to the surface. It was a very ugly spiny puffer fish, hooked through its eyebrow. It kept spitting jets of water at me, but after a while I shook it free.

Another massive rain cloud was now headed in my direction so I decided to wade back to the car. I had caught a few fish but had only really secured one keeper – the 55cm flathead. Still, on balance I would say the fishing is getting better.

Bribie Island – Banksia Beach and Whitepatch – 31 December 2012

New Years Eve

I was still at Bribie Island and the big south-easterly wind and swell would make it just too hard to fish on the surf side. This gave me an excuse to go over to the western side of the island and fish in the Pumicestone Passage.

The wind would still be a pain but usually it calms down for a few hours either side of dawn and this morning was no exception. I started at Banksia Beach, just to the north of the wading bird roost. There is a nice coffee rock ledge along here and the area produces snapper in the cooler months and plenty of Flathead, all year round.

Low tide was just before 5.00 am and this is when I arrived. I waded out to the ledge and cast around on top of it and just over it. I was using might light spin rod and reel and had rigged a GULP satay chicken Jerkshad on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead, on 10lb fluorocarbon leader. After a few casts a felt a solid thud and the rod tip started wriggling. I struck a bit too hard and the fish was gone. Too long between fish and this can easily happen!

I peppered the same area with about 50 casts but could not find the fish again. I gradually went smaller and lighter with my jighead and soft plastics, until I caught an angry 20cm moses perch, on a GULP 3” minnow, in the emerald shine colour. I got a good soaking from a passing shower and at about 7.30 am, decided to move locations. I drove up to the north end of Whitepatch and waded out into the water.

The tide was about half way in and I focused on an area where I had seen some flathead lies the week before. I had swapped to the more natural coloured GULP Jerkshad in the smelt colour but was still using a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. I was casting at the area, just on top of the ledge which now has some thick weed beds growing on it. I felt a very slight hit and decided to cast into the same spot again. As soon as the plastic hit the water the fish swallowed it and took off. It hooked itself and I just had to hang on. I soon had it back at the tree line and safely out of the water. It was a handsome 57cm flathead.

I was so relieved to have broken my duck that I decided not to push my luck. I took a few photos, released the fish and gave up for the 2012.