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.

Rockhampton – Fitzroy River – 22/3 November 2013

Friday

Friday saw me back in Rockhampton. I am enjoying fishing up here, whenever I can, but I am also missing the Bribie Island flathead fishing. I have completely missed the busy months of September and October. I hope to get this job finished and be back out there soon.

Rocky is warming up and by 3.00 pm, its usually over 35 degrees and extremely humid. There have been a few more storms and the Fitzroy River is looking murkier and murkier. I arrived in town just after lunch. I had a few meetings, dumped my kit in the motel and headed across the bridge to the north side of the river.

I wanted to see if I could find any more giant herring, grunter or tarpon. The locals insist the last few hours of the run out tide are the best time to fish here, especially when they coincide with dawn or dusk. Full moon had passed on Thursday, so their would be plenty of tidal flow. The sun was dropping, as was the tide and it was hot and sticky. I arrived at about 5.30pm and wandered out under the railway bridge, to the edge of the rocks. Low tide would be at about 9.00pm. It had rained the night before and there were rumbling grey clouds on the horizon with a few, far away lightning flashes. I could smell the rain but it was not falling yet.

There were a few prawns jumping, so I started with a GULP 4″ Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I had rigged it on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead and I was using 12lb fluorocarbon leader. I was using my new 6′ Shimano Catana rod and the 2500 size Shimano Stradic reel.I was casting along the edge of the rocks, so I did not need a long rod – the fish are usually close to the shore, lurking around the rock bars and overhangs.

As the sun dropped the surface activity picked up and there were small jelly prawns scattering, each time I pulled the soft plastic up close to the rocks. After about 15 minutes, I decided to let it drop down right next to the rocks. Once I was sure it was on the bottom, I paused for a good ten seconds. I then jigged the soft plastic shrimp up and down few times and paused again. It was third time lucky and something fairly powerful grabbed the plastic and headed off. It quickly surfaced – a barramundi, about 45 to 50 cm long. It tail walked on the surface a couple of times, trying to spit the lure. After a short fight, I lifted it out of the water. Although I was delighted to catch a decent Fitzroy barramundi, it is currently the closed season for barramundi, so after a quick picture, I released the fish unharmed and decided to moved round to the next set of rocks. You are not supposed to target these fish at this time of year and whilst you cannot decide which fish is going to eat your lure, it was a fair bet that there would be more than one barramundi lurking at the base of those rocks, so I moved on.

The jelly prawns were all over the place but there was nothing much feeding, close in. I lobbed the soft plastic a little further out, and let it sink again. As I lifted it off the bottom, I felt a tentative bite but did not hook up. I kept casting and put in some long pauses, close to the base of the rocks. The sun had set and the rain and thunder was close. At about 6.15 pm, something slammed my shrimp at the base of the rocks. I knew it was another barramundi straight away. It soon surfaced and made a couple of leaps. I let it settle and pulled it gently out of the water. It was a little bigger than the first. I photographed and released it.

I moved to another location, about 10 metres further south for a few more casts. It was now about 6.30 pm and pretty much dark. The rain was imminent and the wind was gusting in all directions. I continued with the soft plastic lure that was catching fish – GULP 4″ Shrimp. In a carbon copy of the two previous captures, a third barramundi grabbed the lure at the base of the rocks. It was also about 45cm long. I released just as the rain started spitting and decided it was time to go. By the time I reached the car I was soaked to the skin.

The session confirmed all the local advice I had been given – fish during a big falling tide, at dawn and dusk. I think the humidity and pending storm also helped. The next morning, I swapped sides to avoid the barramundi and found a few small fish, some of which I have never caught before. The rain seemed to have fired up the small grunter and tarpon and I caught a few of each, in the hour around dawn.

That was it for Rocky for a while – hopefully I will get back around March, when those barramundi will have grown big enough to keep.

Fingal Head – Jew & Trevally – 8 Feb 2011

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Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bribie Island – The Old Oyster Jetty – 26 Aug 2010

Thursday morning did not look that promising with gusty, cold, westerly winds. I decided to fish at Bribie as you can usually find some reasonably sheltered spots by swapping from one side of the Pumicestone Passage to the other, if necessary.
It was a late start and I waded out in to the water just to the south of the old Oyster Jetty at around 9.30 am. High tide was at around 10.00 am, so the tidal flow had almost stopped. There a couple of good drains in this location that often produce a few Flathead. However to maximise my chances I knew I really had to wait for the tide to start running out. The water was probably the coldest I have felt all year. I flicked various shrimp and minnow soft plastics around on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I didn’t get a touch for more than hour. I was so cold I retreated to the car for more clothes. I went out again this time to the north of the old oyster jetty. I was wading back towards the bridge, about 4 metres from the edge of the mangroves. I put on a fresh GULP 3” minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour and cast it out towards the bridge at a 45 degree angle to the shore. I jerked it a couple of times and then felt the plastic stick. There are a few rocks on the bottom in this area and I thought I had snagged the line on one. As I lifted the rod to try and jerk the jighead free, it slowly started to come towards me. Then suddenly the line started peeling in a long, slow, deliberate rhythm. I knew it was a good size lizard. I started to wind and apply some pressure with no result. I thought the drag might have been set to light so I checked it, but it was good. I gradually tightened it and got a bit of line back, but the fish took off again. We went back and forth for a while like this – perhaps for 5 minutes or so. Big flathead can’t be rushed but they will eventually just saw through you leader, so you have decide on a plan pretty fast. I had a 12lb leader on but I was using my very light 6’6 Loomis GL2 spin rod so there was no way to force the pace. I just had to wear the fish out and keep her away from the mangroves and rocks. I gradually steered her towards a small gap in the mangroves and shortened the line down to about 3 metres. I then walked backwards, towards the gap, tightened the drag some more and in one long sweep, heaved her up onto the sand. The leader broke as I did that but fortunately, not until the fish was metre clear of the water.
It was a beautiful fish that measured in at 78cm. I took a few pictures and then sent her on her way. I cast around for a bit longer in the same area without a touch. I ended up fishing for 4 hours and apart from the monster flathead, I got no bites at all. The Pike, Bream and everything else just failed to show up. May it was the wind – maybe the water temperature – who knows?

Iluka – Frazers Reef Tailor – 13 August 2010

Friday brought a slightly warmer morning so I headed back to Frazer’s Reef at Iluka to see if there were anymore Jewfish to be had. I was fishing with a mate who is yet to land one and expectations were high. The conditions were still very good but the wind had turned around to a light northerly. We started just in the pre-dawn light and predictably lost a few jigheads to the bommies. Just on dawn my mate’s rod goes off and he is on to a very solid fish. It had better be a Jewie – me thinks – but it looked a bit too lively and it was taking plenty of line. Then it jumped and we realised it was an Australian Salmon. The fun of the capture made up for it not being a Jew – well that’s what I told him anyway. He pulled it up via a few rock ledges and weighed it at 3kg. He was using the GULP 5” Crazy Legs in the Lime Tiger colour on a 3/8 3/0 jighead on 20lb leader. These fish taste awful but everyone takes the first one home just to see for themselves and this one was no exception – yes, it went home and yes, it tasted like rubber. However we made sure the kids were starving before dinner – so they scoffed most of it.
Back to work and we were still hopeful that the Jewfish would come back on the bite. I was now fishing with the GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Peppered Prawn colour. When things get slow I often find switching back to the more natural colours can tempt a reluctant fish. Sure enough on about the 5th cast with this lure, I scored a solid hook up. The rapid head shakes and frenetic runs suggested it was a Tailor and with the aid of a big wave I had it up on the ledges before it could chew its way up the plastic to bight through the 25lb leader. It measured up at just over 50cm.
We fished on but the Jewfish did not put in an appearance. It was interesting to note that all the fish we gutted during the course of the week had virtually nothing in their stomachs. There was plenty of bait around so one can only assume they were not really feeding.
I decided to walk right around Frazer’s Reef putting in casts wherever I could. After half an hour, this strategy paid off and I caught another similar sized Tailor. I hooked him quite a long way out and through the very clear water, I watched his mates take several snaps at the plastic that was hanging from his mouth. They followed him right to the base of the rocks.
We retreated to stop ourselves from being caught by the tide and although we did not find the Jewies we had seen some good action.

Iluka – Frazers Reef – Jewies – 12 August 2010

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

Brisbane River – Boggy Creek – 23 July 2010

If you have children of school age you will know that most officially classified biological weapons are far less toxic than the coughs and colds they bring home. I succumbed this week and I have been feeling like crap. I missed my usual fishing session on Thursday, so I decided to put in a couple of hours this morning, close to home, at Boggy Creek, on the Brisbane River.
For those of you who don’t know it, Boggy Creek is a small arm off the Brisbane River on the north side of the Pinkenba Shell oil terminal. You can fish all along the northern bank, but I usually start by the small pedestrian bridge that leads across to the refinery. You cannot fish on the bridge as it has a security gate and belongs to the refinery.
I find this creek fishes best for a couple of hours on either side of the high tide and it is a great spot pre-dawn. There is a small rock wall on either side of the bridge and the channel narrows significantly at this point. This has cut a fairly deep channel under the bridge. There is always plenty of bait under the lights and once the tide is running there are large swirls, eddies and sections of slack water where the big fish lurk.
I started around 9.00 am – the wind (from the southwest) was getting up and the run out tide was really moving. The water was fairly clear so I started with a 3” GULP Pearl Watermelon Minnow on a 1/6th 1 jighead on 10lb leader. My strategy was to cast out, upstream and let the plastic float with the current down under the bridge. I would jig it every 5 seconds or so to stop it getting snagged. There is plenty of manmade structure under that bridge ranging from tyres to shopping trolleys. After a few prospecting casts I switched to the GULP Pumpkinseed Minnow Grub. I find the paddle tail pattern is good when there is a strong current. The tail moves realistically even when the plastic is at rest on the bottom and it is almost irresistible as it sinks. Sure enough – second cast a hungry Pike wallops the plastic. This scenario played out a few more times and then I cast over towards the far rock wall. On the retrieve there were a few nudges and tickles and then a solid hit and hook up. As I brought the fish in, a great school of Pike scattered before it. It turned out to be a 28cm Bream with a Mohican fin! I released him after a picture or two and then decided to move up the bank towards the Brisbane River.
There are a number of openings all along the bank from which you can fish. I stopped at each one and did a semicircle of casts in each location. When I reached the mouth of a small drain I was a bit more thorough with my coverage and on about the 6th cast I pulled up a 35cm Flathead. I let him go and got another smaller one from exactly the same spot. The water was getting very shallow now and it was blowing a gale so decided to give up for the day.
It was good to get the rod in the water and find a few fish – even if there was nothing for dinner.

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole – 15 July 2010

Thursday morning – I got up at 4.15 am and drove from Brisbane up to Bribie looking forward to a good fishing session. Low tide would be around 6.40 am and although the forecast was for moderate West to Southwest wind, it was pretty flat when I arrived.

I decided to start off under the Bridge lights on the island side. I find the bridge lights attract the bait and there is often something waiting to pounce on your lure/ bait from the dark water around the pylons. I loaded a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead with Gulp 3” minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour and sure enough, first cast I pulled up a Pike and next cast 15cm Tailor. I moved up and down the weed banks, along the edge of the Passage, on either side of the bridge. After about half an hour I picked up a 45cm Flathead about 15 metres north of the bridge., right on the edge of the weed.

The first glow of dawn was showing so I decided to move down to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole. This is an excellent Bream spot especially when they are schooling up to spawn. Using the same plastic and weight I cast up into the last of the run out tide and let it sink down along the coffee rock ledge – jigging every 5 seconds or so. After a few casts I caught an undersized Bream, followed by a few Pike and gradually I started to catch a few keeper Bream. Every third fish or so, was legal and after an hour I had 5 keepers between 25cm and 30cm.

At about 8.30am I called it quits and went to find a hot drink.

PASSAGE BREAM ARE BEGINNING TO FIRE
BREAM FROM BUCKLEY’S HOLE – BRIBIE ISLAND

Fishing From the Shore in Queensland and New South Wales

Hello – I am Landangler AKA the Mullet Musketeer – so named because my early attempts at casting were closer to fencing than fishing. I love to fish the estuaries, rocks, beaches and bays of the beautiful Queensland and New South Wales coasts. This is my blog where I will post fishing reports  from time to time. Hopefully my experiences will enable you to learn about great fishing spots and techniques and also quench your thirst for fishy tales when it feels like a long time until the next trip.