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.

 

 

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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.