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!

Brisbane River – Pinkenba Rockwall – More Trevally – 7 April 2011

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Thursday

Everywhere I looked the wind was blowing 20 knots – add a few showers and things did not look promising. I decided that the Brisbane River was the best option so I drove down to Pinkenba around 9.30 am and walked along the rock wall.

The tide was running in and the water was still very cloudy – I am not sure if it is the wind, the recent rain or left over silt from the floods. I was still using my light spin rod – the Loomis GL2 – but I had upgraded my leader to 14lb. I tied on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and loaded it with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Pink Shine colour.

I was hoping for a few more Trevally and it was not long before I ran into them. I was walking along the shore towards the river mouth, putting out fairly short casts, straight from the bank. I had started beside the cement plant and walked about 500 metres without any bites. Just before I crossed the oil pipeline, the lure was snatched right at the bank and the fish took off. It was a nice junior Trevally and I soon had it under control. I put it back and moved on.

The first Trevally of the day - close to the pipeline

After another half an hour or so, the wind got really gusty and a rain squall came over. I sheltered under some trees and switched to a small GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic in the Pepper Prawn colour. I cast it out under the tree branches and just as I got it back to the bank, I felt a few tugs and then I was losing line at a blistering pace. I bumbled through the tree branches following the fish along the bank. I tightened the drag but initially, it did not make much difference. It kept pulling line but eventually I got some back and after a few more runs I grabbed the leader and pulled a good size Trevally up the rocks. It would have been around the 45cm mark. I put it back and carried on towards the river mouth looking for more.

Second Trevally - around 45cm


The tide was now running out strongly and the wind was probably blowing well over twenty knots. It was a challenge to cast. I reached a spot where water was running over the rockwall and I cast around on either side. I switched back to the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Pink Shine colour and after a couple of casts; it was snaffled at my feet. It was another blistering initial run. I made a mental note that the GL2 light spin rod is not the right rod for these fish, and hung on. This was another good fish and I was very concerned it would rub me off on the oyster covered rocks. It took a while and I must have scrambled up and down about 10 metres of shoreline but eventually the fish surrendered and I grabbed the leader. I lifted it out of the water and the leader broke just as I did. Luckily it fell into a little depression in the rocks and I got a couple of pictures before I released it. It was another solid Trevally that measured approximately 50 cm.

The biggest Trevally of the day at 50cm


I walked until I could walk no further – because the rockwall was submerged and cast around on both sides. It was now about 1.15pm and the tide was running out, strongly. Again the lure was grabbed right next to the rocks on the river side of the wall. This fish was tough and it decided to cross over the partially submerged rockwall and try to escape on the other side. I watched as it swam in between the oyster covered rocks and somehow did not manage to bust me off. It was a smaller Trevally and I released it.

At around 1.30pm I got drenched in another rain squall and decided the make the long walk back to the car. It had been another great session fishing with soft plastics on the Brisbane River.

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.

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

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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 – A bit better – 7 Jan 2011

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As a committed fisherman – or perhaps a fisherman who ought to be “committed” – I have to work around this awful weather. Mid week I thought I might be able to get back out in the estuaries but then the rain arrived again and everything turned to chocolate. So on Friday morning I was off down to the Tweed River rockwall again at 3.00 am.
The forecast was for 10 knot East South East wind but when I arrived it was considerably more than that and gradually building. There was a faint glow of red as the sun came up and then a three mad souls headed out over the river bar in what looked like a very small boat. I thought I was brave standing on the rocks!
The wind made throwing a surface popper lure too difficult so I started by casting an 85g SPANYID raider slug out in a semicircle around the end of the rockwall. I tried fast and slow and jerking the slug around a bit but after about 50 casts I decided to change tactics. I put a GULP 7” jerkshad in the pumpkinseed colour, on to a 1oz 4/0 jighead and started to cast it around at the base of the rocks. Even the 1oz head could not really hold the bottom, as the wind was catching the line and holding the jighead too high in the water column. It was, however, just heavy enough to get nicely snagged in the rocks. I put on a 5/8oz 3/0 jighead and switched to a GULP 4” jigging grub in the peppered prawn colour. I was trying to get the plastic in close to the base of the rocks without getting snagged. This was proving increasingly difficult. I was about to give up at around 7.00 am, when I got a hit, right in the foamy wash. I dropped the rod tip and when I lifted it, I had a fish. The drag was set pretty tight for a Tailor or Trevally so I did not have much trouble winding it in. When I got it to safety it was a Stripey Snapper. Not what I was expecting but at least it was a fish. It was just over 35cm long.
Next cast I was hopeful but the wind was now blowing the barnacles of the rocks and the swell was give me a soaking now and then. When the rain started I finally took the hint and walked back to the car. Another frustrating morning on the rocks but that’s fishing.

Tweed River – The Rockwall – Jewfish/ Tailor Round 2 – 29 Dec 2010

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Wednesday

With rain flooding into all our river systems, the estuaries are full of fresh water, mud and other rubbish. Therefore, the only real fishing option for a land based angler is to look for a river mouth rockwall or rocky headland, where you can still find some cleaner water. This is why I have been so focused on the Tweed River rockwall lately.

I arrived there on Wednesday morning, just before dawn and unfortunately there was a fairly fresh south easterly breeze blowing. As the sun came up I could see the extent of the milky tea coloured cloud that was pouring out from the mouth of the river. I started with a soft plastic but as the sun moved a bit higher in the sky a sizeable flock of birds started feeding on the surface about 125m north east of the wall. There was a school of something busting up out there and the birds started to move nearer with it. I tied on an 95g SPANYID Sniper and started casting as far as I could. It was the usual story – they stayed just out of casting distance.

I decided to put in a few casts off the end of the wall, into the milky tea. Half way through the retrieve I realised I had a small fish on. When I got it to the rocks I was pretty surprised to see a 30cm soapie Jewfish had grabbed the slug. Back he went and I continued to cast at the birds. Eventually after about 30 mins of arm stretching casts the birds came within casting range and after two or three more casts, into the middle of the boil, I was on to a fish. I had switched to an 85g SPANYID Raider by this stage.  The fish did not give me much trouble and I got him safely up the rocks – a Tailor around 40cm. He went back and after another ten minutes I had one more similar sized fish at my feet.

All along the wall land based anglers were picking up similar size Tailor on bait, slugs and even hard bodies. Just one or two every half an hour or so, as the school moved in close. It was great to see that when the fish are there and they are hungry, you can catch them with almost any technique.

At about 8.00 am I walked back to the car. Just as I was leaving a NSW fisheries officer arrived and walked off to the rockwall. The weather obviously meant he could not be out checking boats – there weren’t any, so he had decided to come and spread his good cheer amongst the land based anglers! I hope everyone had their fishing licenses with them!

Iluka – The Rockwall – 2 Dec 2010

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Thursday

I went to bed in a heavy rain shower and woke up to yet another one at about 4.00 am. After a while it eased off so I pulled on the (now very wet and fairly malodorous) fishing boots and made a cup of tea. The wind was light from the north east but as I walked out from Woody Head in the half light of dawn, I could see the swell was significant and the rocks were going to be too dangerous. I jumped in the car and headed down to the rock wall that runs out from the northern bank of the mouth of the Clarence River, at Iluka.
Fishing the Iluka rock wall is not for the faint hearted. You need good boots and good knees. It is a long walk from where you park to the best fishing spots. The first half of the wall has a nice pathway along the top, but as you reach about half way, the fill underfoot gets bigger and bigger until you a walking across wobbling boulders. Finally in the last 200 metres all the loose fill has been washed away and what is left is a mass of boulders. If you persist and clamber on, there are a few good flat boulders that make excellent fishing platforms on either side, but the most consistent fish holding spot, for me, is the wash around the base of the wall at the very end. Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side
Depending on the wind and tide you can either fish the river side or the ocean side. I recommend giving both a try. I usually put in a few casts whilst walking out and one of these got smashed at the foot of the rocks by a small Tailor. I was using the GULP 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad soft plastic lure on a 3/8 2/0 jighead. I landed this fish after a short fight and as it was only just legal size at around 35cm, I threw it back. I had a few more casts here with no further action and so I moved on to the end of the wall.
The swell was calming down a bit, but the rain was still blowing over in 10 minute showers. There was too much swell to fish directly off the end of the wall, so I started off fishing the north side of the wall. The tide was running out and I assumed that the fish would shelter from the current on the ocean side of the wall. I switched to a ½ oz 4/0 jighead and put on a GULP 7” Limetiger Crazylegs Jerkshad. This is a great plastic with a split curly tail that flutters, as it sits or sinks, in the current. I was sure there would be some Jewfish around. I put in about 50 or 60 casts without result, so I switched to the river side. Fortunately, the rain was flattening the sea now. After a few casts out into the mouth of the river, the line came up tight and the rod tip started shaking. This is a tricky spot to land a fish. You are a couple of metres above the water line and you just have to heave the fish up. If you are on your own this is your only option. I find a long handle gaff is too hard without someone to hold the rod. I had a good size Tailor on. Tailor have such soft mouths that the final lift is even more difficult. Sure enough, as I tried to raise it clear of the water, I pulled the hook. I put on a fresh soft plastic and cast out in the same spot. After a few seconds I got a solid hit and I dropped the rod tip. When I lifted it I had another fish on. After a short fight, I successfully landed another Tailor. At about 45cm, I decided to keep this one.
I continued to cast in semicircle in the area but the fish had moved on or they had stopped eating because I could not raise another bite. Finally after another rain squall I packed up.

Brisbane River – Pinkenba Rockwall – 7 Oct 2010


Thursday
I only had time for a short fishing excursion today. I checked the tide and saw we had a pretty high high-tide at around 9.00 am at the mouth of the Brisbane River. I could not start fishing until about 9.30 am so I decided to walk out, along the Pinkenba rock wall in search of some Flathead.
You can get access to the rock wall down a small track that runs down to the river side, behind the Queensland Cement Plant, which is next to the Pinkenba boat ramp. I have caught Flathead, Bream and Tailor all along this wall. When the high tide is over 2 metres, as it was today, I like to walk along the wall until the water is flowing over the top of the broken down sections. The tide forms small drains and channels as it runs out and usually, this is where the fish are lurking.
I walked for about 35 mins until I could walk no further. I then turned around to walk back along the wall, casting out on either side and working my lure back along the bottom beside the wall. The tide was now running out strongly. Unfortunately the big tide had made the water a bit murky. I have always found the more natural coloured lures work well in the Brisbane River so I started fishing with the GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic on a 1/6th 1 jighead. I lost a few jigheads to the oyster covered rocks on the river side of the wall and watched a few tiny Bream follow it in – but after an hour I had nothing to show for my efforts.
I turned my attention to the lagoon side of the rock wall. The lagoon sits between the wall and the BP Refinery Tank Farm. It is less than two metres deep, even on a high tide but it has plenty of weed beds that attract the Flathead. I found a break in the wall where the water was running into the lagoon. I cast in a semi-circle, into the eddy that had formed a few metres behind the opening. I felt a few small hits then hooked a 10cm Whiting. I carried on and after a few more casts the lure was slammed by a Flathead, just at the base of the rock wall. I landed him – took a picture and sent him on his way. He was just over 40cm but there is more than enough Flathead in the fridge at present. I carried on in the same spot, peppering the area with casts and after about 5 more I had another Flathead around the same size. I also released him.
I gradually moved back along the rock wall casting as I went but despite changing colours and even trying a blade lure, I did not get another touch from the fish. I arrived back at the car at about noon.

Brisbane River – Pinkenba Rockwall – 25 Aug 2010

After a great week of fishing down at Iluka I was keen to get back out on my home patch around Brisbane. On Wednesday the weather was not too promising. With limited time and strong westerly winds I decided to try fishing along the Pinkenba rock wall on the north side of the Brisbane River. I usually access this spot by parking next to the QCL Cement Plant and walking around the plant to the river bank. There is a long stretch of rock wall that goes from the plant all the way to the mouth of Boggy Creek. It is fairly shallow all along here so I find it fishes best around high tide. My timing was good as I arrived right on high tide at around 9.45am. All along the rock wall there are areas where it has it has broken down and there is therefore plenty of structure at its base and as you move further out the lower rocks are completely covered in oysters.
My tactics here are to walk along the rock wall casting back up river and letting the soft plastic bump along the bottom with the current, with a few jerks every now and then. I have almost always caught fish right at the foot of this rock wall – I assume this is because the riverbed further out is fairly featureless and the bait stays close in. I walked slowly along the wall towards the river mouth but after an hour of casting, I had nothing to show for my efforts. I had been using my favourite GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I decided to swap it for a ¼ oz blade lure in a silver rainbow colour. Sometimes the blades can be more effective at getting reluctant fish to bite. I think they annoy the fish into an attack. They have a great action and fish will feel their vibration in the water long before they see them.

Buy this time I had reached the spot where the rock wall has water on both sides. The north side is a shallow, tidal inlet next to the refinery tank farm. The bottom is mud and weed beds and as long as there are a couple of feet of water, there are nearly always flathead in here. After a few casts with the blade I finally found my first fish of the morning – a flathead just on 40cm – I took a picture and put him back (we are still finishing the Jewfish from Iluka at home). I carried on in this spot for a while but could not raise anymore. The water was very cloudy after the recent rain. I then put on a smaller, GULP 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow and decided to walk back along the wall, up river. This is an excellent soft plastic for Bream – especially when lightly weighted. I swapped the jighead down to a 1/8th 1/0. The tide was really running out hard now and I started to get a few touches close into the oyster clad rocks. After another twenty minutes with no hook ups, the lure was slammed by a solid fish. The initial hit was very hard but it was only a 30cm Bream. I put him back assuming there would be more but despite trying a few other weights, plastics and putting the blade back on, I could not find them.

By now it was just past 1.00pm and even though it was warm and sunny, the wind was really blowing and there was less than a foot of water at the base of the rock wall, in places. I decided to stop for the day.

Landangler’s Tailor on Soft Plastics

I am sure you have all heard it said a million times – if you want to catch some Tailor you can’t go past a lightly weighted, West Australian Pilchard floating down off the back of the boat or a well place chrome slug cast from the rocks. Don’t get me wrong – it’s sound advice and it definitely will get you some fish, but I thought I would offer my experience of catching Tailor on soft plastic lures.
As you may have worked out, I love to fish with soft plastics and I almost only fish from the shore. So my experience of catching Tailor is based on those parameters. Firstly, most of the time when I get a good (keeper size – 35cm + QLD or 30cm + NSW) ‘chopper’, it is an accident. I am usually not targeting them; they just wallop whatever I am fishing with. I am usually prospecting on some sand flats, beside a bridge or rock wall and suddenly the line starts peeling and the rod starts shaking and I realise that I either have a Flathead on steroids or it’s a Tailor. This usually results in a bite off as I fish pretty light (10 to 12lb leader), but occasionally, if the fish is nicely hooked, I will get it safely to the bank. The plastic is usually pretty smashed up but if I cast it straight back out, I often get another. Then they are gone.
So this year, as the weather cooled, I decided I would actually try to catch some tailor with plastics. The first thing I did was switch to heavier tackle. I decided on a 6000 size spinning reel, loaded with 12lb Fireline down to a 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I also made sure I had the toughest jigheads that I could find, from 1/6th to ½ ounce. Then I thought about my rod. The problem, when choosing a rod for plastics in these circumstances, is the immediate compromise between strength and sensitivity. A ‘medium’ weight estuary spinning rod (something like a 7’6 3-6kg Berkeley Dropshot) gives you a good, sensitive connection to the soft plastic and so you can fish fairly light weight jigheads (1/8 to ¼ ounce) and still cast them out effectively. However if you hook up to a decent fish (in my book that is anything over 2kg) you are really going to struggle, especially if you need to pull it up a rock wall or onto a ledge. The alternative is to go heavier but then, inevitably, you lose a bit of the sensitivity. My ‘heavy’ plastics rod is the 11 Ft 6-15kg Rovex BARIO. This rod still has some feel in the tip but it is strong enough to heave some decent fish up the rocks. The downside is that it is very difficult to fish with much less than a 3/8 ounce jighead, as the rod is really too stiff to feel anything lighter. I have landed plenty of 2 to 5 kg fish with this rod – if you hook up with anything much heavier then you really need a mate with long handled gaff.
Once I had decided on the set up I looked for likely locations. This was tricky as I have caught Tailor from Yamba in Northern NSW right up to 1770 in Queensland, but I have usually caught the bigger ones when chasing jewfish from the rocks.
So my first experimental Tailor plastics session was fishing the end of the rock wall at the mouth of the Tweed River, about a month ago (in mid June). I find that the north side of the north rock wall is a good fishing spot, so I arrived an hour before dawn and found a large flat boulder near the end of the wall. I rigged up the ‘heavy’ rod. So which plastic to choose? Working on the principle that Tailor love Pilchards – I chose the GULP 4” Minnow in Pearl Watermelon – as it looks quite like one. It is basically a dark green on top with silver coloured under body and v shaped tail. It is an excellent all rounder that I often start with it. I rigged it on a 3/8 2/0 jighead. The first few casts – in the dark – produced nothing. Fishing from the rocks in the dark is pretty hit and miss, not to mention dangerous, so I usually wait for the pre-dawn light to see what I am doing. Yes – I have a headlamp but it is pretty easy to spook the fish by shining a few high powered LEDs down at them. Sure enough just as the horizon started to glow I got a couple of solid hits and then a good fish took the plastic right at the foot of the wall, on a fairly quick retrieve. A bit too big for a Bream and a bit too frenetic for a trevally, sure enough it was a good ‘chopper’, probably around 40cm. Once I turned it around, it broke the surface, in the foam, by the rocks, but as soon as I lifted it clear of the water, it started wriggling and wriggled off the jighead. In the space of half an hour, I had four more fish of a similair size. I landed two and lost two in a similair manner to the first. They have very soft mouths and once they are out of the water it is very difficult to stop yourself pulling the hook out. Then all went quiet for about forty minutes and they were back again. They were obviously chasing the bait schools up and down the rock wall. This time round (using the same plastic) I dropped the first fish and was bitten off by the second. By the time I had re-rigged they were gone. I stayed the rest of the morning and caught a few bream but the Tailor did not come back. The plastics had certainly taken a beating – I had to put a new one on after every successful hook up – but it seemed like a reasonable trade off.
The next trip was down to Iluka Bluff in Northern New South Wales. I had a couple of days there but due to the weather I could only manage two fishing sessions – the morning and evening of the first day. Conditions on that morning were perfect with only a light swell and virtually no wind. The Bluff is a large flat ledge at the end of a headland and there are tailor here all year round although they improve in size and numbers in the cooler months. Again I arrived in position pre-dawn on the southern side of the Bluff. I started with the same rig except I ran a 40lb leader and switched to the same shaped plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour. About 30 mins after dawn I was bitten off, then after re-rigging, I landed a nice 50cm Tailor and dropped two more in quick succession. Things slowed for an hour or so and then I down sized to a twenty pound leader. Third cast with the lighter leader and I was onto a decent fish which rubbed me off, but after a quick re-rig I got another 45cm fish which I landed. Downsizing the leader as the sun gets higher in the sky often works for me in this way, as does matching the size of the plastic, as closely as possible, to the bait that’s already in the water.
That evening the wind was up and so was the swell. Again the fish appeared to come on and off every 20 to 30 minutes. It certainly seemed like they were cruising up and down in front of the headland, chasing the bait. Each time they came by I would get a couple of knocks and nudges and sometimes a hook up. I like to use a pretty standard retrieve – it is always a tricky balance between getting the fairly heavy jigheads (3/8 ounce) down low in the water column and not getting snagged on the bottom. I usually cast out and count slowly to ten. On ten, I jerk the rod tip up, and pause while the plastic sinks again. Then I wind in some line and repeat the process. Finally, just on dusk I got the best fish of the trip – a 65cm Tailor and fortunately the rising swell more or less landed it for me, by washing it up over a ledge right at my feet. This time I had switched to the 5” Jerkshad plastic also in the pumpkinseed colour.
Although two trips hardly make a definitive study, I have had many rock fishing sessions which have produced Tailor on soft plastic lures and I think I can draw the following key conclusions.
There are a few disadvantages to using plastics. Firstly, they are expensive – the Tailor destroy them and you will rarely get two fish out of one plastic, often they will get munched before you even get a fish to the shore. Secondly, you certainly cannot cast them as far as a heavily weighted bait or slug. Thirdly, jigheads often do not hook up as solidly as a treble right in the mouth – so slugs can make it easy to lift the fish to safety without pulling the hook.
However, the single biggest advantage of using soft plastics for Tailor is the ability to fish a moving lure through the lower part of the water column, more consistently, than you could a bait or a slug. You simply cannot move bait along the bottom with the action of a plastic and a slug is almost always on an upward trajectory once it gets up to speed. So if the fish are travelling along, or close to the bottom, I think you will get more hooks ups with a soft plastic, than with a slug or bait. Of course, if they are feeding on the surface they will still take the plastic on the drop, but maybe they will be more interested in a surface popper, fast moving slug or lightly weighted pilchard.
Of course, none of the above applies in the weeks that lead up to spawning off Fraser Island. If you can locate the fish at that time – they are usually so thick and so competitive that you can catch them with almost any type of bait, lure or even an old sock!
I hope you found this useful and, as always I would welcome any comments – questions or experiences that you may wish to share.

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