Iluka – Woody Head – 17 July 2021

On the 17th the swell was forecast to be light again so I decided to try fishing at Woody Head. Low tide would be at about 7.30 am and we were about a week away from the full moon. I arrived at about 6.00 am, 30 mins before first light. I walked out onto the rock platform and the swell was disappointingly powerful again.

I started fishing at the north end, casting a 60g metal slug towards the gap in the rocks north of the area known as the barnacles. There are nearly always tailor or trevally here on dawn and sometimes jewfish. It was too rough to cast a soft plastic so I stuck with the slug. I hooked and dropped a couple of fish, just after first light, which I assume were tailor. Then I lost my slug to the rocks.

I dropped to the lighter rig and put on a GULP 4″ Minnow soft plastic on a 1/4 ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I cast out in front of the rock platform and let the plastic sink through the wash. You cannot leave the plastic long on the bottom as it will get snagged, but you need it down there for five or ten seconds, to be in with a chance of attracting a bite. After a few casts I caught a decent bream and then dropped another.

After sunrise things went quiet and I moved further south along the rock platform, casting in various spots. I moved back up to the heavier rig (40lb braid/ 30lb fluorocarbon leader), as I approached a few known jewfish spots. I was now fishing with a GULP 5″ Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour. I was still using 30lb leader but I had changed to a 1/4 ounce, 2/0 jighead. The swell was little lighter now and the tide was running in.

I kept casting and retrieving the soft plastic and leaving it for as long as possible right at the base of the rock ledge, on the bottom. I felt a pretty faint bight and then lost my rig to the cunjevoi again. I retied with the same set up and kept going south along the rocks.

It was now about 8.30 am. As I pulled up the rod tip to recast, the jighead stopped. I pulled again and it moved a little more and then line started peeling. Unfortunately, I could immediately feel the line rubbing on something, so the fish was probably swimming in, under an overhang. I tightened the drag a fraction and it slowed. I got some line back and hoped it was coming out. However it got its breath back and ran the wrong way again. I decided to flick the bail arm open to see if it swam out, once I had released the pressure. I left the fish with slack line for about 15 seconds. In this time I got a little nearer to the edge, in between the wave sets. I then flicked the bail arm over, took up the slack line and heaved the fish out. It was just clear of the overhang and the line flicked free. I now had the drag very tight. The fish was pretty much beaten and it popped up, a big slab of silver. It rolled over on its side in the wash. The Daiwa Saltist 962 MH rod would not be able to lift it clear of the water so I would have to use the wave sets and the stepped rock ledges to land it. I managed this and got a soaking in the process. It was a solid jewfish / mulloway about 85cm cm long. I put it in a fresh rockpool to recover for a while. After a few photos I decided it looked well enough to release so I sent it on its way.

I released this one after a swim in the recovery pool

The leader was pretty shredded, as was a good section of braid, so I cut it all off and re-rigged. I decided to stick with the winning combination and dug out another GULP 5″ Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour. I cast out in the same spot let the lure flutter down and wash in to the base of the rocks. By the second hop I felt a bite and dropped the rod tip again and paused. After a few seconds pulled up hard and set the hook. It was another jewfish. This time I had started with a tighter drag and I kept the fish from getting its head down and swimming under the ledge. It made a solid run bit fortunately it was in the direction of the open sea. I turned its head and again used the waves to to lift it onto one ledge, then another and then up to my feet. It was another nice fish, closer to 90 cm this time. After five minutes this one did not perk up in the recovery pool, so I decided it would be dinner. I spiked it, then gutted and scaled it and later weighed it in at the shop – 5.7 kg. It was a beautiful fish.

I decided that two good fish was more than enough for one session and gave up for the day.

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.

Woody Head – Dusk – 11 Feb 2011

Friday – PM

On Friday afternoon the swell had eased significantly, so I decided to try fishing off the front at Woody Head, another of Iluka’s great rock fishing spots. I started at the rock known as Barnacle Bob. I was casting a ½ oz weight soft plastic but it kept getting snagged and I kept getting soaked so I moved south.

I stopped in every safe place I could and put in casts with various plastics. I lost plenty of jigheads but only one went to a fish. It just grabbed the lure (a 4” minnow) close into the rocks and took off. It ran for no more than 5 or 6 seconds before busting me off. As the sun set I had nothing from a couple of hours of fishing. The wind had turned to a very slight northerly. I decided to give up around 7.30pm and headed home.

Fingal Head – The Lighthouse Rocks – 1 Feb 2011

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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.