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.

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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.