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.
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.