Brunswick Heads – Joe Blake – 3 August 2015

Monday

I could not resist returning to the same beach gutter at Brunswick Heads on Monday evening to see if the fish were still there. The gutter that had produced so many tailor in the morning now only seemed to hold a few dart. After a while I caught one tiny flathead on a small soft plastic. The birds were nowhere to be seen and the wind had turned to a northerly.

As the sun dropped below the horizon I walked to the car and drove back along the dirt road that runs alongside Marshalls Creek. I slowed down when I saw what looked like a big stick on the road in front of me. The stick suddenly moved so I jumped out to have a look. It was a good sized python of some kind. It was fairly sluggish in the cool evening and after sticking its tongue out at me, it slowly slithered off into the undergrowth.

Remember – it’s a jungle out there!

A bit slow in the cold Marshalls Creek - Python Snake in the grass Stuck its tongue out

Iluka – Middle Buff – Tailor – 14 June 2015

Sunday

The wind had picked up from the south-east on Saturday afternoon and then dropped off again overnight. I was not sure where to fish on Sunday morning. The swell had made the fishing tricky all week. I decided to try Middle Bluff, the headland between Frazer’s Reef and Woody Head, in the Bundjalung National Park.

I was up early and was pleased to walk out on to the beach to only a light breeze. It was about 6.00 am and the remainder of the moon was clearly visible as the horizon started to glow. I disturbed a couple of big kangaroos who were standing around down at the water’s edge. They took off into the undergrowth.  The broken clouds made for a fantastic pre-dawn with the red sun taking a quite a while to break through. The tranquillity was soon broken by the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks. The wind was light but the swell was definitely still up.

I walked round to the northern end of Middle Bluff and watched the surf for a while. Fishing safely off the front of the Bluff was going to be impossible. I decided to move to plan B and try spinning for some Tailor.

I rigged up the heavy rod. I wanted to try the DUO Pressbait Saira 175. This is effectively just a beautifully crafted and weighted 175mm, 50g sinking metal slug/jig. I fish it just like any other metal slug – long casts with a mixture stop/ start, continuous, slow or fast retrieves depending in the conditions and terrain. I was sure this would appeal to the tailor, if they were around.

The rocks protrude a long way into the bay at this spot so you need to put in long casts and keep the lure moving. I was now using a fairly short (0.6m) 30 lb leader tied on to 20lb braid with a long, solid uni-knot. The DUO Pressbait Saira is nicely weighted so you really do not need to hurl it out there. You just let gravity do the work.

I started casting at about 6-30 am, well after first light but before the sun had come over the horizon. On very long casts it is difficult to keep contact with the lure. The long length of line means there is a fair amount of slack which often initially disguises a hook-up. The rod tip only starts wiggling as the line gets really tight. After a few long casts and high-speed retrieves I felt a bit of weight and then the rod tip bent over. I had found a tailor. Frustratingly, about 20 metres from the shore it started leaping around and managed to free itself. I cast out in roughly the same location and after a few turns of the reel I had another fish. This one stayed hooked and I landed it successfully. I took a few pictures and threw it back, then cast out again.

Things went quiet for a while and the sun came over the horizon. At about 7.00 am I had the lure about 40 metres from the shore when something grabbed it and the reel started screaming. I held on tight but after taking about 15 metres of line the fish was gone and so was the Pressbait. I wound in a severed leader. I re-rigged with a 65 gram Raider metal slug and tried to find the fish with this. After another 30 minutes I had had no luck and I was exhausted.

I walked down to the corner of back beach and cast some soft plastics around in the shallows, I watched as a few schools of garfish follow and grab at the lures but I did not hook any. The swell showed no signs of calming down so at about 8.30 am I went off to find breakfast.

Iluka – Woody Head – Bream & Tailor – 10 June 2015

Wednesday

Woody Head had been promising on the previous afternoon so I decided to go back the next morning. The wind was a light south-westerly but was forecast to turn into a very strong south-easterly in the early afternoon.

I arrived before first light at about 5.45 am and walked out on to the rock platform.  I walked carefully to the south with my headlamp on. Moving very slowly across the slimy rocks. By the time I reached the spot I know as Snapper Rock it was about 6.00 am and the horizon was glowing.

I thought the tailor might be around so I started with my heavy rod and a big red and white Halco Roosta popper. I threw about 25 casts in all directions with no luck. I was joined on the rocks by another keen fisherman and he effortlessly landed a good-sized bream of fresh bait, right next to me.

I decided to swap to the other extreme. I picked up my lighter rig and tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was using 20lb fluorocarbon leader and I chose a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour. This was slammed as it sank and line started peeling. I kept in touch with the fish but the light rod did not give me the power to force the pace and the swell kept crashing in against the rocks. It was pulling hard but in the low light I could not be sure what it was. With the help of a wave I got it up one ledge but then it buried itself in a small valley in the rocks and left me snagged as it swam away. It had a yellowish dorsal fin so I think it may have been a small kingfish or amberjack.

So back to the heavy rig, 35lb leader, a 1/6th ounce 1/0 hook jighead and a GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. It took a couple of casts but then I was on again. The drag was set quite tight and the fish pulled a fair amount of line with ease. I tried to apply some pressure and then the line went slack. I pulled it in and saw that the hook on the jighead had straightened. I re-rigged again with a heavier hook jighead but it seemed the fish had moved on.

I moved down to the area known as ‘Mossies’ and fished various plastics for about an hour with no luck. I then moved back to ‘the Barnacles’ towards the north edge of the rock platform. It was now 8.30 am, just about on low tide and the wind was building from the south-east. I was fishing with the GULP 4” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour, but I had put on a heavier ¼ ounce jighead to cope with the rising swell. I was using the light rod with 20lb leader. I cast the plastic out and counted to five, a ¼ ounce jighead would sink very fast so I had to try to keep it moving with only the briefest of pauses. After about two pauses I felt a solid knock then another, and another and as I pulled the rod tip up, it bent over and started shaking. It was a 40cm tailor, well hooked and so I soon had it at my feet. I bled it and put it aside for supper.

I cast out again and the soft plastic was thumped, as it landed in the water. This was a bigger fish but it buried itself in the rocks and left me snagged. I re-rigged and after a few cast this happened again.  I decided to move back to a spot where I had a better chance of pulling the fish clear of the rocks.

I swapped to the GULP Mantis Shrimp in the Lime Tiger colour, a few casts with this produced a solid 36cm bream, at the base of the rocks. I continued for another hour but only had a few bites and soon the south-easterly wind made fishing impossible for the rest of the day.

1770 – Getaway Beach – 21 October 2014

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I was up early to fish the rocks at Getaway Beach. This can be reached from Springs Road along a walking track, or by walking north around the headland from the new road that was constructed for the desalination plant inlet.

I have caught and dropped a few jewfish/mulloway here in the past. There are lots of spots that look promising, in fact it is pretty much perfect with rocky overhangs and sea caves all around the headlands. But I am much less confident in my ability to find them here than I am down south, in Southern Queensland or Northern New South Wales. They are very much creatures of habit but the more I think about it and the more I fish for them, I realise that there must be ready supply of bait for them to hang around. The moon and tides are also important. The run up to the full and new moons both seem to make them more active but, like most fish, it is a constant food supply that they are most interested in. I agree that they also prefer the water to be stirred up and foamy but not necessarily dirty.

The new moon was only a few days away.  The tide was running in. I started fishing about 5.30 am, a little after sunrise (late for work again!). I started with my lighter rock and beach fishing combo, based on 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 match this rod with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. This is rigged with 15lb braid and I usually fish it with a 12lb to 16lb fluorocarbon leader. Today I had some 14lb. When I am looking for a jewfish I start with the lightest jighead that will sink in the swell. That varies between a 3/8th ounce, down to a 1/8th ounce. A ¼ ounce was perfect for the conditions – a light south-easterly swell. I started with some big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshads and then regular Jerkshads, then 4” Minnows and finally 3 “ Minnows. Nothing produced a jewfish.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I caught plenty of stripey perch and lost tails to small dart/ whiting. At one point, I hooked the resident turtle – who set off for New Zealand, before unhooking himself. I moved around the rocks and cast into every crevasse and at every bommy – but nothing produced what I was looking for.

The wind started to build and by 9.00 am it was a 25 knot south-easterly so I gave up. No fish pictures because you all know what a dart and stripey perch look like by now.

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.

Brooms Head – The Sandon River – 27 March 2012

Tuesday

On Tuesday afternoon the wind and swell were up again, at Iluka, so I decided to drive down to fish the lunchtime high tide on the north side of the Sandon River – near Brooms Head. This is a very shallow estuary but it is sheltered from the wind and can produce some good fish.

I parked on the roadside, just past the first set of shacks, but before you reach the main camp ground. I arrived at about 12.30 pm, just after high tide. I put on my waders and picked out my light spin rod, the 6’6” Loomis GL2 which I am now fishing with Shimano Stella 2500. This is the perfect light weight estuary combo for flicking soft plastics and small hard-bodied lures.

Along the shore line there is lots of structure left over from the now abandoned oyster leases. There are also plenty of weed beds and sandbanks. It’s a perfect spot for wading around and flicking soft plastics.

I started with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I loaded it on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead, I was not expecting any really big fish so I dropped right down to an 8lb fluorocarbon leader. There are a few oyster covered rocks around but generally it is a sandy bottom.

The tide was just beginning to run out so I cast up river and let the lure sink to the bottom. Then I slowly bumped it back towards me. I gradually moved along parallel with the shore repeating this process. I was wading in a about a metre of water and casting out into no more than two metres.

I soon had a fish – a tiny 25cm Flathead – I released it and carried on. I caught three more over the next twenty minutes – all about the same size. Then, as I reached a patch of slightly deeper water, something hit hard and took off for the middle of the channel. I tightened the drag a little – it was way too fast for a Flathead, and too powerful for a Bream. I tightened up the drag a little more and started to get some line back, but it was still pulling hard. After a couple of minutes, I could see stripes and silver and realized it was a small Trevally. I got it up on the shore, photographed and released it.

I moved further along the shore towards the river mouth. The tide was now running out strongly and the sky was ominously grey. Now I switched to the GULP 3” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour. A few casts with this lure and I finally caught a Flathead that was just about legal size. I decided to let it go and moved on. The next fish was a small Bream and then another Flathead that might also just have been legal.

Buy now the grey skies were on top of me and the rain started spitting so I beat a hasty retreat to the car as the downpour started.

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.

Tweed Rockwall – Tailor – 4 August 2011

Thursday

On Thursday morning conditions looked perfect – light north-westerly breeze, low tide just before dawn, not much swell and not much moon. I went to bed early but sleep was elusive, the big Snapper encounter of Tuesday morning was playing on my mind. By 3.00 am I gave up on sleeping any longer and decided to go back down to the Tweed River north rockwall. By 4.30 am I was walking along the rockwall under a fantastic night sky. There were a few clouds but no moon so the stars formed and impressive canopy.

I stopped at couple of points along the wall, on the ocean side and put in a few casts. I find fishing these locations on a moonless night pretty difficult. You cannot see where you cast lands or keep track of how fast / slow you are retrieving line. You have to estimate when to ‘jump’ the plastic over the rocks at the end of the retrieve. I caught the line in the rocks a few times, snapped it off and re-rigged. It was now about 5.30 am and I had not had a touch from a fish.

I was fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour rigged on a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead. I had about 2 metres of 30lb fluorocarbon leader tied onto 40lb braided main line. This set up will work well with both a heavily weighted soft plastic lure and a metal slug or popper, so it is great for fishing the rock walls.

I moved on to the end of the wall as the horizon began to glow. The first few casts produced nothing. There was no surface action – things did not look good. The hour around dawn is always the most productive for me, in this location – if nothing happens in the first few casts, it is often the same for the rest of the session. I cast all around the end of the rock wall, I changed the plastic from a bright colour to a dark silhouette, from a Jerkshad to a Paddletail, and tried heavier and lighter jigheads – still nothing.

Finally at around 6.00 am, just before the sun came over the horizon, I felt a couple of touches. I was now fishing with the trusted GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was casting into the river mouth and letting the last of the run out tide sweep the soft plastic around the end of the rock wall. I got another solid hit, then another and I struck. It was a Tailor – just over 35cm – nothing spectacular but at least I had a fish. I confidently let it go – hoping for something bigger. A fish also hit the next cast but there was no hook up – just a solid bite mark through the plastic.

A 35cm Tweed rockwall Tailor


Despite numerous further casts, that was it. I fished on for another hour or so, but there was no further action and needless to say, the Snapper did not reappear. Finally around 8.00 am I gave up. If fishing was easy it would be no fun – but right now, I am struggling with just how hard it can be!

Tweed Rockwall – Trevally and a Snapper encounter – 02 Aug 2011

Tuesday

I was fed up with the weed in the Pumicestone Passage so this morning, I decided to head south from Brisbane and spend the morning fishing the north side of the Tweed River rock wall. Conditions were perfect – a light breeze, low tide just before dawn and very little swell.I arrived about 5.30 am and walked to the very end of the wall in the dark. I used my head lamp to rig up. I was fishing with the big rod – the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood and the Shimano Stradic 6000 reel. I had it loaded with 40lb braid and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I decided to start with a soft plastic and chose a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. I rigged it on a Squidgy fish-shaped jighead – 9 gram, 2/0 hook.

Tweed Rockwall - Trevally

The first glow of dawn was on the horizon but sunrise was still about 30 minutes away. There was virtually no moon and the sky was pretty clear. I cast out about 15 metres and counted to 10 while I let the lure sink. As I picked it up there was a solid ‘thud’ as something took a swipe at it. Next cast there were a couple of bites and then, as I paused, a hook up. It was a small Trevally , I released it and cast out in the same spot. A few casts later I caught another about the same size. I lost the next one – which was a bit bigger, as I tried to haul it up the rocks. I switched to a Gulp 5”Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I caught yet another small Trevally.

Another Tweed Trev


I moved round to the river side of the rock wall and cast out into the river. The sun was just over the horizon now. A big fish grabbed the soft plastic as it sunk. It took line for about ten seconds, in a solid run back around towards the ocean side of the rockwall. It soon had my line tight against the rocks and after a couple of seconds the line snapped. I tied on a new 40lb fluorocarbon leader and another of the same jigheads. I decided to try a different plastic – the GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I cast out into the same spot and bang – the lure was slammed on the drop. This time I put the pressure on straight away and kept its head out of the rocks. It had plenty of power but it was not fast like a Tailor or Trevally. I thought it might be a Jew but it kept making determined attempts to burrow down into the base of the rockwall. It was too fast for a Jew. After about 10 minutes of play I had the fish coming round to the ocean side of the wall where I thought I might be able to grab the leader. I slid down the rocks on my backside to the lowest rock that was fairly dry. I tightened the drag a little and heaved – suddenly a big pink tail slapped the surface of the water – it was a Snapper. It was a good size with a big knobby forehead, perhaps 60 or 70 cm long. It was exhausted but still had plenty of kick. It lolled over on its side and I grabbed the leader just as a surge washed it over the rocks at my feet and pushed it down into a gap in the rocks, behind me. It was now temporarily stuck but out of reach. I had no gaff and therefore no choice but to try to pull the fish out by the leader. As I tried to pull it up, another surge washed over and it wriggled off the hook. With the next set of waves it wriggled free – and slowly swam off! I rarely get Snapper from the rocks and to lose a great fish like this was heart-breaking. Still he is there for someone else to catch now.

Close but no Snapper


I sat trembling for 10 minutes or so and then re-rigged and put in a few more casts. By now my heart was not really in it. Just out of casting distance the birds were working over a bait school that was being smashed from beneath. I put on a slug but I could not reach them. Around 8.30 am I headed home – but I’ll be back!

Iluka – Middle Bluff – Tailor – 11 April 2011

Monday – am

I have just got back from a week fishing the rocks at Iluka in Northern New South Wales. The weather was fantastic with only a couple of showers and very little swell, the whole week. For the beginning of the week we had early morning low tides, which also made it possible to fish some usually inaccessible spots. The week produced some great fish, as you will see.

I started on Monday morning at Middle Bluff in the Bundjalong National Park, just north of Iluka Bluff and Frasers Reef. I arrived around 5.00 am and faced a mild swell and a very light northerly wind. Low tide would be at about 7.00 am. I watched a few big waves slap over the rocks and decided to wait for better light to start fishing. At about 5.30 am I could see my feet and had got a feel for the wave pattern, so I started casting.

Dawn at Middle Bluff - Iluka

I bought a new rod for this trip – the Daiwa Demon Blood 9ft 6. The Rovex Bario 12ft and Aureus 9ft have served me well, off the rocks, but I needed a rod with a faster action and more sensitivity when casting lighter weighted jigheads. I also broke the 9ft Aureus while landing a decent Jewfish a few months back and although Rovex backed the rod with a replacement straight away, I have lost a bit of confidence in it. The Daiwa is a much pricier rod but it is really light and should also be able to lift big fish – we will see.

I started with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour rigged on a 3/8/ 3/0 jighead. I was using my Shimano Stradic 8000, loaded with 20lb Fireline and about 2m of fluorocarbon leader. I join the mainline to the leader with a uni to uni knot. The first half an hour produced nothing. I used a few other large plastics in fairly bright colours but nothing got a bite. It had been raining on and off, for about three weeks before we arrived and the Clarence River was pumping out a solid stream of sediment. As a result the water was very murky and got dirtier as we approached low tide.

At about 6.00 am I decided to put on a GULP 4” Minnow in the Vader colour – this has a black back and crème coloured underside. On my second cast it was grabbed close to the rocks. There were plenty of head shakes and then a decent Tailor leapt clean out of the water as it tried to shake the jighead from its jaw. The swell helped wash him up the ledges and after a short fight, I had him safe at my feet. It was a great way to christen the new rod – a 55 cm Tailor.

55cm Middle Bluff Tailor

I bled the Tailor, dropped it in a rock pool and cast out the rather mashed Vader Minnow again. Before I had lifted the rod tip – bang – a fish grabbed the lure and took off. It was a good size and peeled line for 10 seconds or so before – ping – it snapped the leader on a rock. I was out of Vader Minnows so I switched to a 4” Minnow in the Rainbow colour. This soft plastic is very similar to the Vader pattern but with a slight silvery sparkle on its underside. Second cast and I was on again this fish gave me plenty to think about by lodging itself down low in the rocks. I loosened the drag and as the line wafted free of the rocks I thought I had lost the fish. I started to wind in and bang – it was off again. This time it did not have much strength and with the next big wave I had it up on the rocks – another good Tailor at about 60cm.

60cm Middle Bluff Tailor

I fished on for another hour or so through the tide change without another touch. I gave up around 8.00 am and headed home. A great start to the week.

Iluka – Frasers Reef – Jewfish/Bream – 12 Feb 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday – am

I woke around 4.30 am Saturday to meet a very sweaty dawn. There had been a northerly wind change overnight and it had brought warmer temperatures. Fortunately the wind was light so I decided to head back out to Middle Bluff to see whether the fish would still be biting.

I arrived on the rocks in the dark and carefully rigged up and edged out for my first cast. I was full of anticipation as the first few casts had produced some good results over the preceding few sessions. I was using the GULP 5” Jerkshad soft plastic in the lime tiger colour as I had run out of the ‘crazy legs’ version. It was rigged on a 3/8th oz 4/0 jighead.

The first cast produced nothing, nor did the next. In fact, after an hour of fishing, I had not registered a touch on the lure. I switched to a 70g HALCO Twisty slug to try and spin up a Tailor, but that technique was also unsuccessful. I reverted to the lime tiger soft plastic and at about 6.30am I connected with a fish. It was a small Jewfish/ Mulloway, just under 45cm so I released it.

I decided to move along the rocks to Fraser’s Reef. You can only reach this rocky outcrop about one to two hours either side of low tide. When the water is calm, there are a number of great spots to fish, particularly on the front of the promontory. In a number of places the waves break into narrow cuttings in the rocks which are constantly filling and draining. These provide great cover for the fish.

It was now around 8.30am and I decided to fish a paddle tail plastic. I chose the GULP Jigging Grub in the Nuclear Chicken colour. I put it in a 3/8thoz 4/0 hook jighead and fished it in as close to the rocks as I could. I would put in a few casts every few metres or so. The water was quite murky at the bottom of the tide – probably because of all the sediment that has been washed out of the Clarence River by the floods.

I cast down into a v-shaped channel between the rocks, as I lifted the rod I felt a double tap, I let the plastic sink again and when I lifted it for the second time, I had a fish on. I played it with the swell and eventually lifted it clear of the water. It was a monster Bream – around 39cm long. I continued fishing all around these rocks for another half an hour, but I could not find any more. At 9.30 am I gave up.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – Even more Jewfish – 11 Feb 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Friday

The weather was getting better and on Friday morning the rain had stopped and the wind had dropped. There was virtually no swell so again, I decided to fish at Middle Bluff at Iluka. This time I walked out to the rocks just as the sun was beginning to glow behind the horizon, at around 5.45am. The wind was light from the south east.

I started with a soft plastic on a 3/8 oz 4/0 hook jighead – the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. This plastic has a forked tail that curls in at the ends. The tail creates a flutter effect as it sinks and most fish find it hard to resist. I put in a couple of casts and on the third, the lure was hit very close in. It was still pretty dark but after a short fight I had a 55cm Jewfish/ Mulloway at my feet. Things looked promising.
I cast the same plastic back out, after straightening it on the jighead. It was smashed before it hit the bottom and a solid fish started heading out to sea with it. It was a slow and rhythmic run and it took around twenty metres of line before it paused, then set off again. On the next pause I tried to get some line back but it immediately set off again. I tightened the drag and then it started to swim back towards me. I took up slack as fast as I could but the fish had now got the line round something on the bottom – there was a bit of see-sawing back and forth and then the line snapped.

I re – rigged with the same set up and cast the soft plastic back out. Things went quiet for a while and then at about 6.30 am I got a couple of touches, very close to the base of the rocks. I then got snagged and lost the jighead. I swapped to a Jerkshad in the satay chicken colour and slowed the retrieve right down. After a few more casts I had another fish on. This time it was a smaller Jewfish/Mulloway around 48cm. I threw it in the keeper pool.

I fished on for a couple of hours and caught another two Jewfish of a similair size. At around 9.00 am I stopped and cleaned the fish. It had been a great session fishing from the rocks in Northern New South Wales.

Iluka – Middle Bluff – Jewfish – 9 Feb 2011

Wednesday

I was early to bed on Tuesday – about 8.00 pm (7.00 pm QLD) – in fact. It still did not seem to make getting up at 4.30am Wednesday any easier, especially as it was raining solidly outside. I pulled on the felt soled rock boots and rain jacket and jumped in the car. I drove down to the beachside carpark for Frazer’s Reef, grabbed my gear and walked north along the beach, in the dark. The rain was gradually easing off, but there was no sign of dawn on the horizon, just dark cloudy shadows.

I passed the rocky peninsula which is actually called Frazer’s Reef and carried on to the next headland which is usually called Middle Bluff. Every now and then, I could hear a big wave slap against the rocks and then hear the water come crashing down. The wind was coming from the south east, but very light.

By about 5.30 am I was in position at the northern end of Middle Bluff. There is a large bommy just off shore here, and it provides a bit of shelter for the fish. There was now a faint glow on the horizon and the rain had turned to a fine drizzle.

I was fishing with the 9’ Rovex Aureus, my Shimano Stradic 6000, 20lb Fireline and about 1.5 metres of 30 fluorocarbon leader. For my first cast I chose the GULP Crazylegs lime tiger jerkshad soft plastic which I rigged on a 1/2oz 5/0 jighead. I cast out into the gloom and let it sink. You can’t leave it long – the bottom is littered with rocks and there are only a few sandy patches in between. There was plenty of swell and it was difficult to tell when the plastic had hit the sea floor. I generally count slowly to about ten then jerk up the rod tip, let it sink and then repeat.

I fished for about three more casts and then the line came up taught. There was a quick initial run and then just a few, slow tail slaps. I lifted the fish clear of the rocks on an incoming wave and got soaked in the process. It was a 51 cm school Jewfish. I unhooked it and dropped it into a rock pool, for safekeeping. It was 5.15 am and only just getting light. I carried on with the same plastic for about half an hour and then switched to a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the satay chicken colour. After a couple of retrieves I caught another school Jewfish, but it was just under 45cm so I threw it back. A few casts later I had another and this one was around 50cm, so it went in the rockpool.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was now fully light and the rain had stopped. The tide started running out at about 7.30 am and just as the tide changed I caught another fish – another Jewfish, about 50 cm. As the tide built up flow and the sun started to peek through the clouds, the swell really picked up and I got a good soaking from a couple of waves. At about 8.30 am I stopped fishing, cleaned up my catch and headed back to a hot shower.

Iluka – Shark Bay – 8 Feb 2011

Tuesday

I arrived at Iluka around lunch time and it was raining heavily. I checked into the cabin – too wet for camping – and drifted off to sleep thinking of where to fish that evening. A few hours later I wandered out on to the rocky promontory at the southern corner of Shark Bay. This is a good spot to spin for Tailor in the cooler months, using metal slugs. But at this time of year they can be hard to find. The rain had flattened out the sea and I decided to fish with my light spin rod again – using lighter jig heads and soft plastics lures.

Iluka - Shark Bay - rock promontory

The rain just kept coming and I fished for an hour or so, with little success and plenty of gear lost to the rocks. About 7.00 pm, as it started to get dark, I switched from a 1/4 oz to a 1/6th oz jighead and rigged a GULP 4″ Pearl Watermelon minnow soft plastic. I cast out into the whitewash and bang, a fish grabbed it. There was not much weight to the fish but it used the swell to try to bury its head in the rocks.

Iluka - Shark Bay Bream - 28cm

I pulled it out and wound it in. It was a 28cm Bream but had felt much bigger. I let it go and on the next cast scored another. I caught 3 more over the next half hour, all around the same size and all on the same soft plastic. It was now dark and wet and I was actually feeling cold for the first time in a few months, so I headed home for a hot shower.

Fingal Head – Jew & Trevally – 8 Feb 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Fingal Head – Nothing for dinner – 3 Feb 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thursday

Back to Fingal Head in Northern New South Wales – a big drive down from Brisbane – left around 2.45 am – but the Jewfish from the last session had got me all fired up.

I arrived before dawn – and walked all around the headland casting everywhere. I got a few bites just as the sun came up – probably Dart or Bream and then nothing. I started with GULP Jerkshad soft plastic lures on a 1/2 oz jigheads and also tried a HALCO 70g Twisty metal slug. Nothing produced fish. The swell was a bit bigger than on Tuesday and half an hour after dawn it was already stinking hot. I waited until the tide peaked at around 8.30 am and then gave up.

A great spot but I could not find the fish today. I will blame Tropical Cyclone Yasi which was crossing the coast at Cardwell/ Tully just as I started the session.

Fingal Head – The Lighthouse Rocks – 1 Feb 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tuesday

With the cyclone bearing down and the prospect of another wet and windy period, I thought I had better get out for a fishing session. So early Tuesday morning I headed down to the Tweed river mouth before dawn. I fished around the end of the rockwall for a couple of hours, either side of dawn but failed get a bite so, at around 6.30 am, I decided to head further south to Fingal Head, to fish the rocks there. There is no shortage of great rock fishing spots in Northern New South Wales. Fingal is another beautiful spot with some unique octagonal rock formations. There are good fishing locations in front of the lighthouse, all along the headland but my favourite area is just to the south of the main rock platform.

I started fishing here at about 7.15am. I was using my ROVEX Aureus 9ft rod with the SHIMANO Stradic 6000. It is spooled with 20lb Fireline and I had tied on a 25lb fluorocarbon leader. I attached ½ oz 4/0 jighead and decided on my favourite soft plastic lure for Jewfish – the GULP 5” Crazylegs Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. On my first cast – I let the plastic sink to the bottom then jerked it back towards the rocks. As I lifted it clear of the water something took a swipe at it – but I could not see what. Next cast I slowed it down even further and let it drift in very close to the base of the rocks. As I lifted it I felt the bite, I dropped the rod tip, paused, then struck hard. I had a fish on and due to the proximity of the rocks I tightened the drag and just winched it up. It was a good size Tarwhine at just over 35cm.

The soft plastic was pretty mauled so I changed it for a new one in the same colour and pattern. I still had about half an hour of run in water before high tide. I got a good soaking from a passing rain squall but that was no hardship as it was so hot and humid. I was standing on the mainland to the south of the narrow causeway that leads out to the main rock platform. The water washes over the causeway at high tide and I was casting in to the area just south of it. The bottom is very rocky so inevitably I lost a few jigheads as my lures got snagged. After a couple of re-rigs I felt the line go taught and then the rod tip started wiggling and I could see silver. I waited for a wave to bring it up over the rocks onto the ledge below me. Then I tightened the drag and pulled the fish up successfully. It was a Jewfish, just on 50 cm long.

Four or five casts later I had the plastic down deep at the base of the rocks and again, I felt a solid bite and then lost a bit of line. Fortunately the swell pulled the fish out from under a ledge and on the next wave I brought it up, out of the water and onto the ledge below. Again, I winched it up to my feet and it was another Jewfish – perhaps a couple of cm smaller than the first.

I carried on for half an hour or so, but then the sky darkened and really heavy rain started, I decided to give up. I presume we will get some fairly big seas and rain as the cyclone passes through up north, but this might bring the Jewfish on in greater numbers. The challenge will be finding somewhere safe to target them.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Another Duck

My lure arsenal for the Tweed rockwall

Saturday

Oh dear , oh dear , oh dear – another morning with no fish. As I have said before, this is the worst time of the year for me. The main estuary species – Flathead & Bream – have long finished spawning and as the water temperature climbs and weather patterns get more unpredictable they get harder to find. Add to that – flooded river systems and constant changes in wind patterns and I get stuck focusing on the ocean rock walls and ledges.

In these locations the fish come and go with the bait and the wind. Tailor, Trevally, Kingfish, Queenfish and even good sized Mackerel and Tuna will all come in close to the rocks if the bait is around. The Tailor are particularly voracious in these situations and you can catch them on almost any type of lure or bait. The Trevally are sometimes harder to please, often limiting their feeding period to an hour or so either side of dawn and dusk. The other species require you to be in the right place at the right time and this means putting in the casting hours – and it can be a long time between fish!

This morning I arrived at the north rockwall, at the mouth of the Tweed River at around 4.00 am. The horizon started to glow just as I rigged up and I started by fishing soft plastic lures through the last of the run out tide. I switched to a surface popper for about 30 casts and put in 50 casts with an 85 gram metal slug. Nothing I used produced results. At one point a fellow fisherman caught a 30cm Tarwhine on a fresh beach worm, but that was the only fish I saw caught.

Apparently a few decent Trevally had been caught at dusk, on Friday and everyone was hopeful that this mornings session would produce fish – But it didn’t! I gave up around 7.30 am as another of this summer’s rain showers arrived.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Tailor / Trevally – 14 Jan 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Friday

Living on the north side of Brisbane – meant that I was thankfully completely unaffected by the floods. With the Gateway motorway now open and easy to access, I decided to make a trip down to the Tweed River mouth again.
I arrived to meet a fairly strong east south east wind and a good two metres of swell. I walked out to the end of the north rock wall at about 4.00 am. It was a beautiful dawn sky and as the tide was still running in – the water was not too discoloured.
I started with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour and rigged it on a ¾ oz 4/0 jighead. I am now using a ROVEX Aureus 9 Ft rod (the Aureus is just the new name for the old Bario) with the SHIMANO Stradic 6000 reel. I have loaded this with 20lb Fireline and a 40lb fluorocarbon leader.
The wind made it hard to cast but after a couple of attempts, I had the plastic just about where I wanted it – right at the base of the rockwall. As I was about to lift the plastic clear of the water it was slammed and I was onto my first fish of the day. I had no chance with this one. It put its head down and went straight for the rocks and a big wave washed the leader onto the sharp edges and ‘ping’, it was gone.
Another local rock fisherman had a couple of Taylor by now – on a slug – so I switched to a 90g slug for a few casts but then lost it to the rocks. Back to the soft plastic lures. This time I tried the same pattern in a more natural colour – sardine. This did not seem to tempt them, so I switched to the brighter lime tiger again. First cast I got a couple of hits and the tail was bitten off. I threw it out in to the surf again and as soon as it hit the water (minus the tail) it was grabbed. Landing the fish is always a challenge here and it is even worse when the swell is up. With a bit of luck and a fairly tight drag setting, I got the fish safely up the rocks. It was a Tailor just on 50cm.
I put a new soft plastic on and cast it straight back out in the same spot. There were plenty of bites and I thought I had a fish on at one point, but then it either let go or wriggled off. I pulled up the jighead with only ½ a inch of soft plastic left on it. I lost another two or three plastics in this way, over the next 20 minutes.
By now it was about 6.30 am. The tide was running out strongly and the brown slick of the Tweed River was gradually spreading out from the mouth. I put another plastic on, this time on a 1 oz jighead. I cast right out in front of the rock wall and again felt a series of knocks and nudges on the retrieve. I kept pausing but I could net connect with a fish. About fifteen minutes later the line finally came up taught and I had another fish on. I played it round to the ocean side of the rock wall and used a surge to get it safely up to my feet. It was a 40cm Big Eye Trevally. The swell gave me a couple of soakings and I lost a few more plastics, so at around 7.00 am I packed my bags and headed back to Brisbane.
With a cyclone passing out to sea, big swells are forecast for the next few days – the weather is not giving us many breaks this year!

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Zilch! – 3 Jan 2011

Monday

At some point you have to be reminded that fishing is a dark art and certainly not a science. It was my turn this morning, I was up early and fishing at first light (4.15am QLD) off the north wall of the Tweed River mouth. Conditions were good, with a slight northerly breeze, forecast to change to a southerly later. There was no rain, no swell, a run in tide and the water was really clear. It was hot and humid.

I started with 110mm Popper and got nothing from 20 casts. Then I put on a GULP 7″ soft plastic jerkshad – no joy. Then I put in about 100 casts with a 70 gram slug – still nothing. I witnessed one surface bust up, close into the rocks at about 6.30 am. Finally I got one hit, but no hook up, on a GULP crazy legs jerkshad in the watermelon colour, at around 6.45 am. I tried every weight of jighead from 3/8 oz to 1 oz and I tried all the slugs from 40g to 95g.

By 7.30 am I decided it wasn’t going to happen and so I headed home. Every now and then you have to score a duck! What a woeful start to 2011!