South Ballina – 7 September 2020

In early September the wind began to signal a change of seasons. The northerlies kept creeping in but they were often tempered by a persistent cool westerly, in the mornings.

On the first Monday of the month I decided to fish off the rockwall at South Ballina. The moon was in its waning gibbous phase and would be 77% full. An easterly wind was forecast and the swell was still stubbornly high, so I wasn’t expecting much. Low tide had passed at about 5.00 am. I took the Burns Point Ferry across the Richmond River, just after it started running at 5.30 am and walked out to the end of the south wall at about 6.00 am. The sun had broken the horizon a few minutes earlier but almost immediately been obscured by a band of low cloud. I said good morning to the two resident ospreys who were surveying the beach gutter from their rocky perch.

Cloudy start to a South Ballina fishing session

I started with my heavier rock fishing rig with a 30lb leader and a 60g slug. I cast out to the north east and ripped the lure back pretty quickly. After two or three casts, I felt a fish grab it, drop it, grab it and then I hooked up. It was a 35cm tailor and I pulled it up safely to my feet, un-trebled it and threw it back. I carried on casting the slug for a while and had a few more bumps and grabs but no hook ups, so I decided to change tactics.

Tailor on a 60 g slug

I tied on a 3/8th ounce 1/0 hook jighead and loaded a GULP 4″ Minnow in the Smelt colour. I would always rather fish with a lighter jighead, so that the soft plastic spends more time sinking but the easterly onshore wind would have made casting anything lighter a real challenge. As it was, I could only get the jighead to land 10 to 15 metres out. On my first cast it was hit on the drop. Unfortunately I did not hook up but instead pulled up a soft plastic with a neat bite mark but no fish.

How did I miss ?

I put another of the same plastic on and cast out. It only took a couple of hops and I was on to a fish again. This time it was a small bream with a big appetite. I threw it back. The bream kept biting the tails off the minnow or pulling the soft plastic off the jighead. So I swapped to a 5″ GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. These tend to stay on the jighead better and I was hoping the bigger profile might attract a bigger fish.

On about my fifth cast with a bigger plastic, I felt a hit at the base of the rocks but jumped the lure up quickly, thinking I might be snagged. A few minutes later I felt a similar hit and I paused to let the fish eat the plastic. It obliged and took off. Initially it ran out to sea but as I had to keep the tension on the line, the swell soon pushed it back in to the base of the rocks. It was a school jewfish, it looked around 70 to 80 cm long. It was soon washed in between the rocks at the base of the wall and I could feel the leader rubbing against the rocks. Then – snap, and it was gone and was gone.

I re-rigged with a stretch of 45lb leader (the toughest , I carry) and the same set up and cast out again. About five casts later and a found another one in the same spot (that’s why they are called ‘school’ jewfish). I tried to wear it out and pull it gently up to me but the hook bent and pulled out and it dropped back to the water and swam off. I worked through a few soft plastics and they nearly all found a fish in this same spot but I could not land any of them. I need to buy, and learn to use, a gaff.

I was frustrated but the fish were clearly biting so I swapped back to a metal lure. I chose the 40 gram DUO Drag Metal Cast Slow (I assume this sounds more catchy in Japanese). This is a slow jigging lure that can be used like any other metal slug. My Japanese angling friends say it is great to use from the shore as it flutters around a lot, even at very low retrieve speeds. I have been trying it whenever I think the tailor are around, to see if they like it. I cast it out towards the centre of the river mouth and jigged it back towards me. After two or three casts I hooked up, quite a long way from the shore. This lure has two assist single hooks at one end and a single hook at the other. I was making progress but then my line went slack. I picked up the retrieve again and a few moments later I had hooked up again. This time the hook stuck but the fish felt more powerful. I backed off the drag a little and let the fish run. I then gradually retrieved line and tightened the drag again. It was a decent tailor and it leaped clear of the water a couple of times but stayed hooked. Fortunately, two of the hooks had pinned the fish and I was able to pull it up to my feet. It was just over 50 cm long. One of the three hooks on the lure was gone, perhaps the first fish that hit it, took that one. Much as I would have liked a jewfish, it would have to be tailor for dinner.

IMPORTANT NOTE – Last time I visited South Ballina – in early October, 2020 – the road out to the rockwall had been closed by National Parks. They have had it surveyed and the initial finding is that it is no longer safe for vehicles. This means fishing at the end of the wall requires a 1300m walk before and after – see photo)

South Ballina Rockwall – Early August 2020

I fished off the South Ballina rockwall for the first few days of August, in the run up to the full moon on the 4th. It had been consistently cold at the end of July but the weather warmed up for a few days and the wind and swell kept changing. Each morning, I arrived just after firstlight and was fishing before sunrise. The resident ospreys were always in position, above the gutter on the ocean side of the rockwall.

One morning I was taken for a ride by a couple of big fish that I could not stop. I presume they were jewfish/mulloway. I was fishing a 5″ Powerbait Nemesis paddletail soft plastic in the ‘bleak’ colour, on a 3/8th ounce jighead (see pic) on the first occasion and a 4″ GULP Minnow in the ‘smelt’ colour on a 1/4 ounce jighead, on the second occasion. They both headed out to sea around the end of the wall and rubbed through my 30lb leader.

I caught plenty of bream in the first few mornings of the month but they slowed down a little on the day of the full moon. The were nearly all decent sized, with most measuring over 35cm. I filleted a bagful for our weekly fish pie.

The tailor were completely absent. We had some rain and then a north westerly wind for a few days. This flattened the sea and perhaps it pushed the bait away for a while. The surprise catch was an Australian salmon, on a 5″ GULP Jerkshad soft plastic in the ‘lime tiger’ colour rigged on a 1/4 ounce jighead. It was part of a huge school that floated around the rivermouth for an hour or so. I tried everything in the lure box to get another one, without success.

NB – Landangler is now also on instagram, so please follow me if you use that platform https://www.instagram.com/landangler/ . I am afraid attempting to create more video and a You Tube channel would most likely result in falling over even more often, so it’s off the agenda for now.

Iluka – Woody Head – March, 2019

I had a fair amount of time fishing the rocky headlands around Iluka in March. Many of them are situated just north of the town in the Bundjalung National Park. The typical wind pattern was a southerly in the morning turning to a northerly in the afternoon. It was very warm and the water temperature was consistently warm. There were a few storms early in the month and we had had the tropical storm pass through offshore, at the end of February, so the water quality was pretty average. I caught all the usual species; dart, bream, various types of trevally, tailor, flathead but I only caught and released 1 small 45cm Jewfish during the whole trip.

Tailor were the most prolific and I caught plenty when the swell was low enough to fish Woody Head, Iluka Bluff and the Shark Bay rock platforms. I got them on metal slugs from 40 to 60 gram. The colour or type did not seem to matter much.  They were either there and you got four or five good fish in a session or they just weren’t there. I also had success with big bibless sinking hard bodies (see pics). I tend to stick with a 30lb fluorocarbon leader when fishing for tailor. I lose the odd fish but I find anything heavier makes good casting hard. My favourite rod for throwing a big hard bodied lure is my Daiwa Demonblood, which is now looking very battered.

I had a few early morning savage bite offs, which I assumed were mackerel. There were a few Spanish mackerel and tuna around and I saw one good sized Spaniard landed minus its tail, at Woody Head.  The tuna appeared from time to time but pretty much always just out of casting range.

 

Skennars Head, Brunswick River – Flathead, Dart, Bream and Tailor – January 2018

The Brunswick River turned into a water park for January with kayaks, canoes, tinnies, paddle boards and anything else that floats, ploughing up and down from dawn until  dusk. I caught a few flathead and dart at Northhead and out on the beach but fishing was tough

On my explorations of the northern New South Wales coast I had driven past the rocks at Skennars Head a few times and seen people fishing them. This is not a spot for big seas. In fact, it is very dangerous when there is anything more than a metre of swell, so be very careful here. There is rocky outcrop in front of the headland and at the end there is an old iron pole driven into the rocks and a cement set rod holder. At low tide on a very calm day you can fish from this spot.

As the water cools I think this would be a good/ jewfish tailor spot. As I needed to fish at low tide my first few sessions were during the day time. I caught bream, dart and the odd butter bream on light leader and 1/8th ounce jighead mounted minnow and shrimp soft plastics. On one morning a school of mullet thick enough to walk on cruised by, finning on the surface.

Later in the month dawn started to coincide with low so I fished a couple of sunrise sessions. These were much more successful. I started by spinning with a fifty gram Halco Twisty in the gold colour. I use a Daiwa Demonblood 962H paired with a Shimano Stradic FJ 8000. It is getting old now but this rod and reel combo has caught a lot of big fish for me. It is a great set up when you need a chance of landing a big fish from the rocks. When casting a lure or slug I rig up with 30lb braid, and a short 25lb fluorocarbon leader.

I arrived pre-dawn and I could just see the birds working a long way out.  It is Landangler’s first law of fishing that feeding schools of fish will remain approximately 10 metres clear of you casting range for the duration of your fishing session.

It was a fantastic sunrise and I cast the slug all through it with no result. My shoulders get sore pretty quickly now and it was hot, so I swapped down to the lighter Daiwa Crossfire 862 rod which I have been using to cast plastics and light lures from the beach. I match this with a Shimano Stradic 4000 reel. This is rigged with 12lb braid and 16lb fluorocarbon leader and I started with a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead and a Gulp Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour.  After a few casts this one did the trick and I felt a good grab and short run, but no I did not hook up. I cast back in the same direction and almost as soon as the lure hit the water the rod bent over. It was fast and furious but not very big. It was a tailor – just about 40 cm long. I bled it and dropped it in a keeper rockpool. I cast out again in the same area but they had moved on.

As the sun rose, the schools of bait and birds remained mostly out of reach. I swapped down to a more natural GULP Peppered Prawn coloured, shrimp shape soft plastic.  At one point a spinning wheel of what looked like bonito came within casting distance and I landed my plastic close by, but they were not interested. The next takers where few good bream, caught close the base of the rocks on the GULP shrimp. As the day warmed up the bream disappeared but a few good dart took their place.

I cooked the tailor whole for lunch, a few hours later. My view is tailor are pretty good for 24 hrs from capture, as long as they are bled and cleaned in the saltwater, soon after landing, after that even my cat turns its nose up.

Overall a great session – no monsters, but it was a beautiful morning and there would be fish for lunch and dinner.

 

For anyone who fishes the rocks please note – this is a dangerous environment so wear a PFD, good boots with a decent grip and watch the surf all the time. Finally, remember the old adage, if in doubt…… don’t.

 

 

Iluka – Shark Bay – Tailor / Bream – 16 March 2016

Wednesday

Wednesday in Iluka and more rain was forecast.  I woke to grey skies and the persistent south easterly wind and swell.

Shark Bay would be the only sensible place to fish. Low tide would be about 9.30 am. By standing on the north side of the rocky outcrop, I would be able to cast out with the wind behind me. I was fishing with the Rovex Bario (good) and the Penn Spinfisher (awful, but just about functional).

My current line of choice for the big rod is the 17lb breaking strain Aldi ‘Crane’ braid, in the yellow colour. I picked up about ten 250 metre reels when they were reduced to A$ 11.99 each to clear, earlier in the year. This stuff is great. Alibaba offers me 184 braided fishing line suppliers in China so it could be from anyone but my sources tell me that braid this good is probably made by either Sunline or by Innovative Textiles (now owned by Shimano). I am pretty certain the breaking strain is almost double the listed 17lbs. It’s tough and does not fray. The colour fades after a while but that happens with almost all the brands I have used. When it comes round again, grab some.

I started with a big (150 mm) red and white Classic Lures plastic popper. This stirred up the long toms, initially. But after about twenty minutes of casting around it connected with a good size tailor. Unfortunately the fish swam straight for a bommie and managed to unhook itself but leave the popper firmly lodged in the cunjevoi. To add insult to injury the heavens then opened and I got soaked by a brief downpour.

I swapped to a big new Spanyid Maniac 45g metal spoon. This looks like a great lure. It’s a nice wide target for the tailor to attack. The only downside is that it’s much wider profile makes it less aerodynamic and therefore hard to cast long distances. I could still get it 40 metres or so out, which would be enough. It proved irresistible and after a few retrieves during which it was bumped and nudged a few times, a fish grabbed it and the rod bent over. It was another tailor about 35 cm long. I continued casting and soon caught two more fish of about the same size.

By about 10.00 am the tailor seemed to have gone off the bite. I swapped to the light rod and tied on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic on a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 jighead. After a few casts this found a fish. This time it was a bream. It was about 30 cm long so I put it aside for dinner. The next cast produced another bream, about the same size, so I kept that as well.  Things quietened down again, so I cleaned my fish and went home to dry out.

By 4.00pm I was ready for more fishing. I drove out to Iluka Bluff. The swell was still pretty lively. Between waves I managed a few casts with the lighter rig and caught another good bream – about 38cm long – on a GULP Jerkshad in the Sweet & Sour Chicken colour.

There was no shortage of fish in the area but I just needed the swell to go away. At about 6.00pm I packed up for the day.

Brooms Head – 3 October 2015

Saturday

On Saturday we were heading back to Brisbane. The looming thought of returning to work forced a right turn at Brooms Head. This coastal area in the Yuraygir National Park is a land-based fisherman’s paradise. There are plenty of estuaries, rocky headlands and beaches to choose from. You can catch all the common species; tailor, kingfish, mulloway, trevally, dart, bream, whiting and flathead.

We drove up to the Brooms Head lookout. It was a beautiful day and just as we arrived a whale and its calf swam by, stopping for a brief tail slapping session.

Brooms HeadBrooms Head fishingMagnificent view from the lookout

It was just about lunch time but I could not resist getting the fishing rod out and clambering down the rocks for a quick cast. I put on a small soft plastic and felt a few small bream bites, close to the foot of the rocks. After about twenty minutes, I pulled up a tiny wriggling tusk fish of some kind.

The sun was out, the water was crystal clear and I could have stayed here another week – but unfortunately there are bills to pay.

Iluka – Shark Bay – Tailor, Tailor, Tailor – 12 April 2013

Friday

Friday was my last morning in Iluka. The weather had been good for fishing – light winds and swell. But it had been miserable for camping, with endless rain showers and no time to dry out in between. Fortunately, I had been in a cabin.

A big south-easterly blow was forecast for the weekend and on Friday morning; it was already about 15 knots on the Woody Head platform. The seas had not really picked up yet but it would be too hard to cast from ‘ the Barnacles’ so I decided to give the Shark Bay rock platform a try. This is a great spot in a south-easterly wind, as you can cast off the north tip with the wind behind you.

I arrived just after 6.00 am. The sky was fairly clear, initially. Low tide had been at about 3.40 am. The wind was blowing hard so it would only be possible to fish on the north edge and cast to the north-west. These were perfect conditions to get some long casts out of some hard bodied lures.

I knew there might be some big fish around but I have really enjoyed fishing with the lighter 10 ft Shimano Catana Coastline Light, this week – so I stuck with it. It is rated 3-5kg, but as long as you have a tough leader and a good drag, it can land some pretty hefty fish. When I break it (which I inevitably will) I will look for a better quality alternative – but so far, so good.

It has a poor reputation for durability and most coastal tackle shops have put their fair share of new tips on. Despite this, it is a very nicely balanced rod and I particularly like the way you can feel the action of the lighter hard bodied lures through the tip. I really wanted to catch some fish using my latest favourite DUO lure – the Realis Jerkbait 120SP and the Catana is perfect for it. The Realis Jerkbait 120SP is a clever sub-surface suspending lure that you can get down to about a metre below the surface without too much trouble . It is long (120mm) thin and flat sided, which accentuates light reflection, as it moves through the water and it has both a good slow and fast action. I have had a few of these in some great colours and lost them all to fish.

Now I was down to my last one, in a yellow/ cream/ gold colour known as S70 – Dead Ayu. I have swapped the trebles for single hooks, in the hope of hanging on to the lure for a bit longer! I had lost one to a good fish a few days before so I was determined to land something with this one.

I cast to the northwest into the choppy, white water. There is a patch of reef that breaks the surface, about 125 metres to the north-west of the rock platform. I aimed at this and with the wind behind me, I was able to put in a very respectable long distance cast. I started the retrieve, jerking the lure along for a few metres, then pausing and allowing it to suspend. There was action behind the lure on the first cast with splashes and surges, but it took about six casts to hook up.

I am fairly new to single hooks and my view is that they do not connect with as many fish as trebles do, but once they do connect, the fish stays hooked. That was the case this time and I soon had a 40cm tailor at my feet. I cast straight back out and watched as another tailor knocked the Realis Jerkbait 120SP out of the water but then failed to get hooked. Almost every cast was getting hit. Sometimes I could see the snouts and tails of long toms but usually, it felt like tailor.

About 10 minutes after the first tailor, I was on to another better one. This one put on an acrobatic performance with several jumps, before I tamed it. It was just over 60cm and the best of the week. There then followed a good tailor session with the DUO Realis Jerkbait 120SP accounting for six tailor around the 40 to 45cm mark, over the next 20 minutes. It also pulled up a couple of over enthusiastic long toms.

At about 7.00 am things went quiet so I swapped to a 65g Raider metal slug. I tried this for about twenty casts with no result, so I swapped to a soft plastic lure. I started with the small GULP 3” Minnow in Lime Tiger, that had proved so appealing to the mac tuna. I put it on a ¼ oz, 1/0 jighead and cast it out. There were no more tuna but after a few retrieves another good bream took it. I landed it and then caught another.

There was another quiet spell so I swapped to a bigger GULP Jerkshad in the Sweet & Sour Chicken colour. The tailor must have been passing through again because after a number of bites, pulls and aborted runs, I hooked up again. It was another 40cm fish.

The tide was now almost up to my waist so it was time to retreat. It had been a great session and good way to end the week. Bream, dart, tailor, tuna, trevally and flathead – another great week of fishing in Iluka.

Bribie Island – Skirmish Point – 28 December 2012

Friday

Christmas has left me feeling knackered – all that eating and drinking wears you out. As many of you will have realised Landangler is almost a nocturnal creature at this time of year. I am not a good sleeper at the best of times but the full moon seems to really wind me up. So I went to bed early on Thursday night but tossed and turned and it only felt like I had just got off to sleep when I realised it was already light outside. I really did not feel like getting out of bed but I looked out of the window and saw a clear, still sky. The forecast big winds were not blowing so I decided I’d better get going.

I decided to put in the hours at Skirmish Point again. I would be fishing the incoming tide. High tide would be 2.4m at 9.32am. I walked along the beach from Woorim and arrived at Skirmish just after 6.00am. The sun was bright and the water was comparatively still. I stuck with the Catana Coastline Light rod but decided to try a lighter leader and 1/16thoz jighead, for the calmer conditions. I put on a GULP 3” Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour. I immediately felt a few hits and there were a few bait sprays as something attacked the small bait fish that were sitting on the wave break.

I could see tiny mullet all around in the clear water. It looked like small tailor were feeding on them. I kept up a fairly quick retrieve with the soft plastics, to avoid dragging up the glass weed that was all over the bottom. Almost every cast I would feel a bite or a bump, but I could not hook up. The fish kept snapping at the tails right up to the beach, where they would let go and swim away. After about 15 minutes of this, I hooked one and landed it – a 15cm tailor.

It was now about 6.30 am and over the next three hours of run in tide I walked up and down this area of beach, casting all sorts of 2”, 3”, 4” soft plastics and small hard bodied lures. The water was clear enough to see the schools of tiny mullet follow the lures in. I caught five more tailor – the largest of which was just about 25cm. I tried brighter colours – the GULP 3” Minnow in the lime tiger colour. Something bigger hit this and took off. It felt big but everything is relative – it was only a 25cm Dart, but things were looking up.

Unfortunately as the sun got higher in the sky even the small fish decided to slow down. I caught a tiny Whiting at about 8.00 am and then it all went quiet. It had been a better morning and at least I had caught a few fish – just enough to keep me coming back!

Fingal Head predator – 21 November 2012

Wednesday

A couple of big storms over the weekend and this week, the wind was back to blowing from the south east. The tailor have been pretty solid at Fingal Head and despite the long drive and the early start, that looked like the best option on Wednesday. The wind was forecast to gradually drop through the morning, from about 15 knots down to 10 knots. Low tide would be just before 8.00 am.

I arrived about 4.15 am (QLD time) and it was already past first light. There was a small shower of drizzle as I walked out to the rocks. It was cloudy and overcast but the south easterly was blowing a good deal harder than 15 knots.

I rigged the heavy rod – I am still using the 20lb Fireline and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader, for the first casts of the day. I tied on the RAPALA SXR 14 hard bodied minnow. After only a few rock fishing sessions it is looking a bit battered, but I always think you should try the biggest, most daring lure in the bag for your first cast, as it might just tempt something which has been lurking around all night.

It hit the water and bait sprayed in all directions which was a great sign. They were tiny smelt coloured anchovies about 3cm long. They certainly did not look much like a red headed RAPALA SXR 14 but on the next cast – tug, tug – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. That’s how the tailor seem to play. Sometimes I think a couple of fish hit the lure at about the same time and that’s why there is a slight delay before they start running. It’s only when the faster/ more aggressive fish wins and clamps down on the lure that the fun starts. This one tried to head south but with the heavy gear I turned its head and soon had it round on the north side and safely landed. It was another very handsome Tailor – just over 50cm long. It was spitting up plenty of the 3cm bait fish.

It had given the RAPALA SXR 14 a good work over. As I have mentioned, I like these lures – great action, good colours, consistent swimming depth and tough trebles and rings but the paint job and their lack of overall durability lets them down. This one had now lost more than 50% of its paint, it was missing a chunk off its rear end and the wire frame was bent sideways. It had caught three or four fish and was only in its third session. This not a cheap lure at approximately A$20, so it should be tougher than it is. I straightened out the wire frame and peppered the areas with casts again. But I did not get another hit.

After about 10 minutes, I swapped to a smaller RAPALA Clackin Rap CNM11 hard bodied minnow. This lure is 110mm long and weighs 20 grams. I had it in the Grey Ghost colour. RAPALA describe it as ‘slow sinking’ which really means it suspends in a big swell. The ‘clack’ is caused by a big ball bearing that rattles on a cylinder across the body of the lure. It has a lighter set of trebles and, on the back treble, one of the hooks is slightly elongated. It has a fairly standard slashbait /minnow action. The smaller profile or the louder rattle obviously did the trick because I hooked up on the first cast. It was a smaller tailor – about 35cm long.

By 6.30 am things had gone quiet, so I decided to try a soft plastic lure. I tied on a 3/8th ounce, 2/0 hook, jighead and loaded it with a GULP 4” minnow in the pearl water melon colour. I still had the heavy rod but I had dropped down to 20lb fluorocarbon leader. I dropped the lure down close to rocks on the eastern side of the rock platform. I could see a thick school of bait sitting there. I let it sink to the bottom and immediately got snagged. I broke off the line and re-rigged. This time I cast out a bit further and let the plastic waft in, close to the rocks, as I retrieved it.

Just before I lifted it from the water there was a big bait spray and a Jewfish engulfed it. The fish turned and took off. I had got a clear look and it looked like a 10kg fish. At first it started heading north but it soon turned south, in the direction of a load of rocky snags. Even with the big rod and a fairly tight drag, it was taking plenty of line. After a few minutes of sustained pressure I brought it to the surface, close to the rocks. Landing it would be very tricky, but the problem was solved before I had to think about it. With a shake of its head, it spat the bent hook out and was gone.

I swapped the bent jighead and mangled soft plastic for a tougher one and cast out again. After a few casts and a couple more jigheads lost to the bottom, I hooked up again. I did not get a look at it this time. It swam straight around the corner to the south and broke the leader on the rocks. This was getting frustrating.

Con – another local rock fisherman was spinning with a ’waxwing’ lure on the north side of the rocks. He gave me a shout and I went over. He had hooked a small tailor and something had decided to eat half of it on the way in – ouch. I tried a few casts in the area with a soft plastic but could only manage to catch a dart and then a long tom, neither of which seemed like likely suspects for the tailor robbery. Something bigger was prowling around but despite trying every lure in the bag, neither of us could tempt it.

At about 8.30 am I gave up for the day and drove back up to Brisbane. Still plenty of bait and plenty of fish around.

Fingal Head – a lone Tailor – 28-08-2011

Sunday

The only Tailor caught - but not by me


Back to Brisbane and off down to look for some Tailor at Fingal Head. It was a beautiful morning but the fishing was poor. I arrived just before dawn, hopped across the causeway and rigged up a Jerkshad soft plastic on a 9g 3/0 jighead on a 30lb leader. I was soon joined by another fisherman who was casting a slug. Half an hour later there were about seven of us standing on the rocks.

This stretch always looks so 'fishy'


I lost the tails of a few plastics and had a couple of solid bites, but no hook ups. The chap with the slug, dropped a small Tailor at the base of the rocks. This all happened around 6-30 am. Then it all went quiet. I swapped plastics and tried a few different weights of jighead. Just before 9.00 am one of the other fisherman caught a decent 45cm Tailor. We all cast out in the same direction for another hour and I tried all up down the headland, but could not find a fish. It’s now been a while since I have taken a fish home. I will have to see what is going on at Bribie, next weekend.

Tweed River – South Rockwall – Tailor and Jewfish – 7 August 2011

Sunday

Back down to the south rockwall, at the mouth of the Tweed River. I arrived around 5.30 am, just as a hint of dawn appeared on the horizon. There was a fair swell and about 10 knots of north-westerly breeze. The tide was running out and would be low at about 8.00 am. The moon was about half full. A few boats were loitering in the river mouth. I suspect they were not keen on crossing the Tweed bar, which looked a bit lively.

I loaded a ½ oz 3/0 jighead with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. I cast it out into the river mouth, let it sink and slowly hopped it along the bottom, back towards the rocks. Right at the base of the rocks, on the first cast, bang – a fish grabbed it. It was a 45cm Tailor – a good start. The chap fishing just along from me also got one on a GULP 7” Jerkshad, in the Cajun Chicken colour. We bled our fish and cast back out. A few casts later he got another. I felt a couple of solid bites and pulled up a mangled, tailless soft plastic. Things were looking good. A few casts later the other fisherman got another Tailor, about the same size. This time he was using a white 7” Jerkshad soft plastic.

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Then, at about 7.00 am it all went quiet. I tried changing colours, weights, etc. – but nothing would raise a bite. Finally, just before 9.00 am something grabbed my lure, right at the base of the rocks. By now I was using a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Vader colour, on a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead. After a brief fight I pulled up a small Jewfish, just over 45cm long. For some reason I felt it I should let it go as I was fishing so close to the Queensland border (where the size limit for keeping Jew is 75cm). I took a quick picture and threw it back.

Catching the Jew fired me up for another ½ an hour but by 10 am I had really had enough and drove back up to Brisbane. The Tailor only seem to be active in this area right on dawn, at the moment – perhaps they will thicken up as we get into September.

Tweed Rockwall – Tailor – 4 August 2011

Thursday

On Thursday morning conditions looked perfect – light north-westerly breeze, low tide just before dawn, not much swell and not much moon. I went to bed early but sleep was elusive, the big Snapper encounter of Tuesday morning was playing on my mind. By 3.00 am I gave up on sleeping any longer and decided to go back down to the Tweed River north rockwall. By 4.30 am I was walking along the rockwall under a fantastic night sky. There were a few clouds but no moon so the stars formed and impressive canopy.

I stopped at couple of points along the wall, on the ocean side and put in a few casts. I find fishing these locations on a moonless night pretty difficult. You cannot see where you cast lands or keep track of how fast / slow you are retrieving line. You have to estimate when to ‘jump’ the plastic over the rocks at the end of the retrieve. I caught the line in the rocks a few times, snapped it off and re-rigged. It was now about 5.30 am and I had not had a touch from a fish.

I was fishing with a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour rigged on a 3/8th oz 2/0 jighead. I had about 2 metres of 30lb fluorocarbon leader tied onto 40lb braided main line. This set up will work well with both a heavily weighted soft plastic lure and a metal slug or popper, so it is great for fishing the rock walls.

I moved on to the end of the wall as the horizon began to glow. The first few casts produced nothing. There was no surface action – things did not look good. The hour around dawn is always the most productive for me, in this location – if nothing happens in the first few casts, it is often the same for the rest of the session. I cast all around the end of the rock wall, I changed the plastic from a bright colour to a dark silhouette, from a Jerkshad to a Paddletail, and tried heavier and lighter jigheads – still nothing.

Finally at around 6.00 am, just before the sun came over the horizon, I felt a couple of touches. I was now fishing with the trusted GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I was casting into the river mouth and letting the last of the run out tide sweep the soft plastic around the end of the rock wall. I got another solid hit, then another and I struck. It was a Tailor – just over 35cm – nothing spectacular but at least I had a fish. I confidently let it go – hoping for something bigger. A fish also hit the next cast but there was no hook up – just a solid bite mark through the plastic.

A 35cm Tweed rockwall Tailor


Despite numerous further casts, that was it. I fished on for another hour or so, but there was no further action and needless to say, the Snapper did not reappear. Finally around 8.00 am I gave up. If fishing was easy it would be no fun – but right now, I am struggling with just how hard it can be!

Bribie Island – Buckleys Hole – Tailor, Bream, Flathead – 10 July 2011

Sunday

Unfortunately the requirement to feed my family (they want to eat something other than fish) has resulted in a pause in my fishing reports. This morning I had an opportunity to get back out there and even though the wind was up (south-westerly at about 15 knots) and it was only 5 Celsius , I drove up to Bribie Island in search of fish.

I had a couple of casts under the bridge, on the island side, just before dawn with a GULP 2” Shrimp soft plastic, but got no touches. As the sun started to light up the sky, I headed down to the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole. I waded out towards the drop off at about 6.30am. I carried on fishing with the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour, mounted on a 1/6th 1 hook jighead. I was using 10lb Fluorocarbon leader tied on to 10lb breaking strain braid.

30cm Bream

I could not find the Flathead but at about 7.00 am, just to the south of the mouth of the drain I caught a good Bream, around 30cm long. I few casts later I caught another, smaller Bream. The Pike seem to have disappeared from this area at the moment – not sure why.

20cm Bream

I waded further south. The wind was very cold but was beginning to drop off. The tide was running out strongly – high tide had been at about 4.30 am. I waded, casting all around, all the way down to the corner with Red Beach. After about an hour, all I had caught were a couple of 20 cm Flathead, so I turned around and walked back to the north.

30cm Flathead

I soon found myself back at the mouth of the Buckley’s Hole drain. The tide had slowed down and I had switched to a 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Pepper Prawn colour, rigged on a lighter, 1/8th 1 hook jighead. I felt a couple of hard hits and then I hooked a fish. The rapid rod tip movement showed it was a Tailor. I unhooked it and took a quick picture before releasing it. It was just under the legal size at about 28cm. Over the next hour I caught three more that where all around the same size. They took both natural and brightly coloured plastics. It seemed like a small school was moving up and down along the coffee rock ledge, which runs parallel with the shore at this point.

30cm Tailor

By 9.30 am I was too cold to carry on, so I packed up and drove back to Brisbane. I released all the fish today.

Bribie Island – From Buckley’s Hole Lagoon to the Jetty – 15 June 2011

Wednesday

I only had time for a late morning session on Wednesday. I decided on the Pumicestone Passage again. I arrived at Bribie Island around 9.00 am. It was just about high tide. I decided to go back to the area where I had caught so many Flathead last week – the mouth of the tidal lagoon in front of Buckley’s Hole.

The sky was clear but there was a cold, westerly breeze blowing at about 10 knots. The wind was blowing the weed on shore. I waded out onto the sand spit and started walking north, along it to the point where the lagoon drains over the coffee rock ledge into the Passage.

I was fishing with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and using the old favourite GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic lure, in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I had a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Something aggressive grabbed at the plastic a couple of times but I could not seem to hook up. Usually this means small Choppers (juvenile Tailor) are hanging around. A few casts later, I lost the lure to a bite off. I re-rigged with the same set up. With my first cast I hooked another fish. The frantic headshakes suggested it was a Tailor and then it leapt out of the water to give me a better view. It was hooked nicely in the mouth and I dragged it back to the sand. It was just about legal at around 35 cm, but I released it.

35 cm Tailor


Unfortunately then Dolphins turned up. They are beautiful creatures and it is nice to get close to them but their presence does nothing for the fishing! They splashed around just beyond the drop off and made a couple of surges, sending bait flying everywhere.

55 cm Flathead


I moved a bit further north and waited for things to settle down. The tide was really running out now. The weed had cleared and the wind had dropped away. As I waded towards the Island jetty I caught my first Flathead of the day – it was just under 40cm so I released it. I then caught two more small ones from the same spot. I moved further north and cast into the shallow water, just before the drop off. There was a solid thud – I dropped the rod tip and counted to ten. When I picked it up, I had a decent Flathead on the end. I waded back to the steps and landed the fish. I kept this one for supper – it was just over 55cm.

At about 12.45pm I gave up and went home, to thaw out. The fish were certainly not as thick as last week but they are definitely still around.

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.

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 – Tailor & Queenfish – 23 Dec 2010

On Wednesday morning – the rain looked like it would stop for a bit and as the wind was forecast to come from the south for a while, I decided to go for one more Tweed rockwall session before Christmas. The couple of hours either side of dawn has always been the most productive for me in this spot, so I was up at 3.00 am again. I drove down from Brisbane and was at the end of the rockwall, watching the red glow on the horizon at about 4.15 am.
There was a light south westerly blowing and it was quite cool. There was a little more swell as a result. I started with a River 2 Sea 110mm Dumbell Popper in the Pilchard colour. I was blooping it back slowly across the front of the rockwall. Suddenly there was a boil on the surface so I cast out, in that direction. The popper was knocked out of the water by a marauding fish but there was no hook up. After several more casts and hits – but no connections. I quickly tied on a GULP 5” Jerkshad in the lime tiger colour. I used a ½ oz 4/0 jighead. As soon as it hit the water is was snaffled by a solid fish. I had the drag fairly tight and got the fish round to the left (north) side of the rockwall, fairly quickly. Its head was shaking and then there were a few leaps and I could see it was a Tailor. I got it up the rocks and it measured up at just over 60cm.
Then everything went quiet. I switched from popper to metal slug, to plastic, several times but I could not raise a bite. I could not find any Kingfish but after another hour or so, I had another hook up on a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the pearl watermelon colour. This time it was a tiny Queenfish. The range of species in this spot is amazing. After a quick snap I returned it to the water. I carried on for another ½ hour without success and finally headed home around 7.30 am.
Happy Christmas to all and I wish you the best of luck for your holiday trips. Get out there (in your rain gear) and find some good fish. Even if it is raining, the fish still have to eat!

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.

Iluka – Shark Bay – 1 Dec 2010

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Wednesday

It rained all night on Tuesday and most of Wednesday morning. I got up early and surveyed a few rock fishing spots around Woody Head and Iluka Bluff, but the swell had got up during the night and there was really nowhere to fish on the morning high tide. The Clarence River was now a tea coloured soup with lots of debris floating around, so that was not really an option.
I grabbed a cuppa and watched the rain pour down from my tent. Thankfully, it was doing a good job of remaining waterproof. Around 11.00 am the rain eased off and so did the wind. I decided to have a fish in Shark Bay which is a little to the north of Woody Head. There is a low rock promontory in the corner of the bay, which you can walk out to at low tide. On the north east side of the promontory there is a pronounced rock ledge that is covered in kelp. About fifty metres further east there is a partially submerged patch of reef that rises just above sea level, at low tide. As the tide runs in and out, it funnels bait into a twenty to thirty metre channel which is a great area to target all kinds of species. There are often birds smashing into the baitfish in this area but there was no action when I arrived around 11.30 am.

I had my new felt-soled Cloudveil fishing boots on. I prefer these to the rubber booties with studded soles, which I have been using. The felt gives you an excellent grip but the tougher boot also gives good ankle support. To cast out over the kelpy rock ledge you really need to stand about knee deep in the water. You can only really get close enough to it for a couple of hours, either side of low tide. The water was certainly cooler than I expected and definitely much cooler than usual for this time of year – maybe it’s all the rain. I started with soft plastic lures on a 3/8 oz 3/0 hook jighead. I tried a number of shapes in the Pumpkinseed and also a few other colours and apart from a tiny Moses Perch, I did not catch anything.

After an hour or so, I decided to put a metal slug on and have a spin for some Tailor. I put on a 60g Mojiko (Anaconda) slug in a pink/purple colour and started casting. I like the colour of these slugs but I suspect the reason Anaconda can’t give them away, is that after about ten casts, all the colour chips off and you are left with a zinc coloured battered piece of metal. This can still catch fish but it doesn’t look too impressive. I was putting in very long casts, trying to land the slug as close as I could to the exposed reef. With all the kelp and rocks it was very difficult to tell whether I was getting hit or just catching on debris on the retrieve. However after about 50 casts I tried to yank the lure free of what I thought was some kelp and the rod tip started shaking and line started peeling. As the fish came towards the ledge it made a good leap and I could see it was a nice Tailor. It tried to get down under the ledge but I tightened the drag and pulled it over the top and up to my feet. My arms were burning from all the spinning so after a couple of follow up casts, I cleaned up the fish and headed back to camp. After a couple of hours on ice, I ate fresh fried Tailor fillets for dinner. Only one fish – but a good one at about 55cm.

Bribie Island – Wild & Windy – 30 Sept 2010


Friday
With the SSE wind gusting to at least 25 knots this morning; I really should have stayed in bed. However there is something in all diehard fishermen that makes us think it might not really be that bad.
When I arrived at Bribie Island at 4.45 am it really was that bad. In fact, it was probably worse! The wind was howling from the south east, so the only option was to try and fish the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. I waded out under the bridge at Bribie, on the island side, just before the first glow of dawn. There was no surface activity under the bridge lights – not a good sign. However things looked up after a couple of casts, as I caught a few Pike. I was using the 4” Gulp Minnow in Pearl Watermelon on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader.
There is some good submerged structure in this area. Between the third and the sixth bridge pylons there are some rocky outcrops. These are just visible at low tide. In amongst them are a few channels with a sandy bottom, dotted with clumps of tall sea weed. This area is just below the bridge lights and at night it is often a hive of activity. There are usually Flathead on the sandy bottom looking for the Pike and other baitfish that are drawn to the lights, on the surface. The dolphins often come surging in here, following the Pike.
This morning I walked round to the south and then cast up, into the run out tide, so that my lure was floating back with the current. I got snagged a few times in the weed and rocks but always managed to pull the jighead free. Just on dawn there was some surface commotion and I flicked the soft plastic straight into a jumping boil of Pike. A fish hit the lure instantly and the mad shaking and running indicated a chopper Tailor. I was right and I wound him in quickly. I did not want him to munch his way up through the leader. As soon as I got him to shore he shook the hook free. He was probably just legal size, but I released him after a couple of pictures. We are all still eating Flathead (see previous posts).
The wind was building as was the swell and after an hour or so, I had really exhausted my fishing options in this area. I headed home, cursing the weather gods all the way.