Iluka – Woody Head – 14/15 November 2020

Very strong south easterlies had been blowing all week. I had tried a few sheltered spots around Iluka, but had only managed a few bream and small trevally. Everything was just too stirred up and finding anywhere safe to stand was too hard.

The winds dropped off on the Friday and the south easterlies were replaced by a strong northerly wind. This flattened out the seas a little and by lunchtime on Saturday I decided to try fishing at Woody Head. It was an early afternoon low tide at about 2.30 pm. The northerly wind was forecast to fall through the afternoon. The moon would be new on Sunday. The wind was still gusty from the north but the swell had flattened considerably.

I started fishing with my heavier set up – 40lb leader, 40lb braid, casting a DUO Drag Metalcast around. This produced nothing. Then a Gulp Jerkshad (various colours). This produced a 45cm trevally and then a 35cm bream. Initially I was fishing with a 1/4 ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead and then on a heavier 3/8th ounce, 2/0 hook jighead, to counteract the fairly strong northerly wind.

I had been casting a GULP Lime Tiger coloured jerkshad around and I was thinking of swapping to a more natural coloured soft plastic when something grabbed the plastic very close. It initially turned to swim away but soon rethought its strategy and headed under the ledge. The drag was pretty tight but the fish didn’t even pause. My braid was soon rubbing on the rocks and then – snap! I re-rigged and tightened the drag, but things seemed to go quiet for a while. The tide was now pushing in quite quickly. I kept casting and the next fish on the scene was a trevally, about 45cm long.

At about 3.30 pm I had moved a little south along the ledge. I dropped down to the light rock fishing rig with 16lb leader and 20lb braid. I cast out a GULP Lime Tiger coloured Crazylegs Jerkshad. This was smacked on the drop and taken straight under the rock ledge – the braid snapped almost instantly. I cursed my impatience and swapped back to the heavy rod with 40lb leader and a 3/8th ounce size 2/0 jighead. I put another GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad on. This paid off and after a few casts something whacked the soft plastic on the drop and took off. Fortunately it decided to swim away from the ledge and this gave me some time. It was powerful but after an initial run I seemed to have it under control. I pulled it up with a wave surge and was delighted to see it was a snapper (later weighed in – gutted and scaled – at 3.8kg)

The next day would be an even lower low tide and I started fishing in the same spot at about 3.00 pm. The swell had continued to drop off and the wind was a light south-easterly. The first taker was a bream. I released it and carried on. About 10 minutes later I felt a fish grab then lure then drop it, a few metres out from the ledge. I cast out again and slowed down my retrieve. Something fast grabbed it and took off with a long run. I got some line back but then it ran again. I tightened the drag and wound like mad as it suddenly turned and decided to swim straight for the ledge. Fortunately, by the time it tried to change its mind, I had virtually locked up the drag and pulled it in on a wave. It was a surprising small (50cm) kingfish. I have only ever caught a few of these and their power and speed always surprises me. I released it, hoping for more, but did not get any.

Kingfish fight very hard

I moved further south to where I had caught the snapper the day before. I was temporarily out of the Crazylegs Jerkshads so I found a 6″ GULP Squid Vicious in the New Penny colour and cast that out. It was now almost 5.00pm and the tide was running in. On about the third cast I thought I had the bottom, then it started wriggling and took off. One long solid run and then a couple of head shakes but no real power (compared to the kingfish). It was decent school jewfish and I was able to successfully pull it up to my feet. It was just over 75 cm long and so it joined the snapper in the fridge.

A couple of great sessions once the weather allowed me to get to the fish, lets hope it stays calm for a while.

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Ballina – North and South rock walls – July 2020

As we moved from June into early July, the COVID 19 virus restrictions eased up a bit and, if you were not getting married, buried or going to an all-night dance party, life pretty much returned to normal. Victorians continued to face restrictions and the Queensland border remained closed to visitors from outside the state, but in the little town of South Golden Beach the organic chai turmeric lattes and kale smoothies still flowed.

For most of the month the swell stayed strong (often well over 2m) and the wind was predominantly from the south-east, south west and west. Early in the month, in the run up to the full moon we had a few days of very calm conditions, but these were exceptional. The sea temperatures continued to drop and at the end of the month an offshore east coast low passed and dumped a lot of rain into the Richmond and Brunswick river catchments.

I did some of my best bream fishing in the run up to the full moon on the 5th, but I caught plenty of them all through the month. I caught a lot of fish over 35cm on small GULP soft plastic minnows/ shrimps. The Watermelon Pearl or Smelt colours seemed to work best on the minnows and the Peppered Prawn for the shrimp pattern. I loaded them on a 1/6th or ¼ ounce jighead and stuck with a light leader (12lb to 16lb fluorocarbon).

On the calmest day of the month I fished at Flat Rock, south of Lennox Head. I was generally casting off the south side of the rock platform. As long as I could get my soft plastic beyond the fringing reef, I caught good sized bream on almost every cast. I also caught a very small school jewfish (about 45 cm) in this spot and was sawn off a couple of times on the reef.

When it wasn’t calm enough to fish the rocks (which was most of the month) I focused on the Richmond River mouth, fishing both the south and the north walls. In the first half of the month the birds and dolphins were constantly smashing into the ever-present bait schools. At the mouth, the most vigorous feeding seemed to take place as the tide turned to run in and the salt water started to push back up the river. As long as the bait was there so were the tailor and I caught a few but none over about 40 cm. I also caught a few small trevally and even a Luderick during a couple of north wall sessions.

Plenty of bait usually means plenty of tailor

But late in the month the passing east coast low and the wild weather that followed seemed to wash out the bait and the tailor with them.  By the end of the month the river was a brown soup during the runout tide. This was perfect for the jewfish/ mulloway fisherman and they were all in position most mornings and evenings around the new moon on the 21st and again for the last days of the month.

I did catch a couple of school jewfish  – one at the beginning of the month which was just under legal size and so I returned it to the water and one in the dirty water later in the month, that was just on 80cm. I kept that one for dinner. In between I hooked and got a look at several more that either buried their noses in the rocks or bent my jigheads and freed themselves. I caught both of the jewfish I landed on GULP 4 inch minnows in the Smelt colour. I am still not patient enough to persist with the heavy gear for hours and wait for a big jew bite.

The swell had really limited the rock and offshore fishing in July but the fish were definitely there. August should be good.

Ballina & Broken Head – February 2020

In February I started the month with a couple of morning sessions fishing along the Ballina river bank, close to the centre of town. If you follow the riverside walkway that runs parallel with the main high street you often see big schools of bait fish hanging close to the rocky banks. I worked my way along, casting soft plastics. I caught a couple of small bream and then a few small flathead. The air was still, hot and humid and the water was very clear.

A few days later the rain started and didn’t really stop for a week. The weather turned wild and fresh water poured off the parched paddocks into the estuaries. It looked like the drought was breaking. I went down to the Brunswick River but it was a brown frothy soup.

During a few breaks in the weather I drove down to Ballina to look around. The Richmond was also running brown, full of sediment and other rubbish. There were quite a few dead juvenile flathead, bream and other species floating in the flotsam and jetsam.

When the rain finally stopped it was clear I would have to fish in the ocean as the estuaries would stay dirty and full of fresh water for some time. By the middle of the month the swell had dropped off sufficiently to try fishing at Snapper Rocks at Broken Head. I started by trying to cast soft plastics over the froth churned up by the storms. There was also a lot of weed to contend with, especially when I let the soft plastic reach the bottom. Despite the obstacles, I caught a few dart using a 3 inch GULP minnow soft plastic weighted on a 1/4 ounce jighead. I stuck with the lime tiger colour as this seems to be a favorite with the dart.

A few days later with a light swell I was back in the same spot. I was casting soft plastics again and the dart were there again. I caught a few but then got bitten off by something more aggressive. I changed my leader from 16lb to 25lb flurocarbon and after a few more casts I hooked a tailor, which wriggled off as I tried to pull it up to my feet. Finally, about 20 minutes later I landed one, it was about 45cm long. I caught one more, a little smaller, but then they were gone. I tried a metal slug for a bit but did not get any hits. I swapped back to the GULP Minnow and started casting over to the south and letting the soft plastic float down slowly beside the base of the rocks. I had a couple of hits (presumably from the dart or bream) and then something took off with the lure. It was pulling hard so I tightened the drag a little and just wound in as fast as I could. After a couple of runs a decent trevally came into view. With the aid of the swell I pulled it clear of the rocks and up to my feet.

The next day I was back, to fish the last few hours of the run out tide. I started with a 40 gram metal slug but soon swapped back the same set up that had produced fish the day before; the GULP Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic on a 1/4 ounce size 1/0 hook jighead. This turned the fish on and I caught a dart and then a couple of tailor in quick succession. I fished on and had a few more bites but after a couple of hours I was about to pack up. Just a few more casts and bang zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz – another trevally. This one did its best to bury itself in the cunjevoi covered rocks. We had a fair fight and I thought I had lost it but fortunately it untangled itself and I landed it.

That was it for the day but this is definitely a great spot to fish when there is little swell.

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.

Woody Head – “The Barnacles’ – Bream – 27 June 2011

Monday

Monday morning was my last session, land-based fishing at Woody Head. The weather had improved and we had clear skies and no swell. I started fishing around 9.30 am at ‘the Barnacles’ area, again. Low tide would be around 11.30 am.

The first cast produced a small Trevally, who fell for the GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour. I then caught a few snags and then a small Bream. Over the next hour or so I caught six or seven more Bream – all between 25 and 35cm.

I moved all along the front of the rock platform, casting at any fishy looking water. There were plenty of people around – taking advantage of the excellent conditions. One guy had caught a nice looking 50cm Tailor on a slug. It was the only Tailor I had seen caught in the whole weekend. Further along I saw another fisherman with a 50cm school jewfish, which he caught on some fresh mullet strips.

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I caught more Bream as I walked along the rocks, down to the area at the southern end of the platform, known as ‘Mossies’. I caught more fish on the smaller 3” GULP minnows on light jigheads – 1/6th and 1/8th oz. Another fisherman was catching plenty of Bream on unweighted squid pieces.

By about 12.30pm it was time to go. It had been another great few days of land-based fishing, from the rocks in Northern New South Wales. The big Jewfish had been the highlight but there were plenty of Trevally and Bream, as well. I had not been fishing at dawn, but I was a little surprised by the lack of Tailor – maybe next time.

Iluka – Woody Head – Trevally at ‘the Barnacles’ – 25 June 2011

Saturday

Saturday morning was dull, grey and cold. The wind was still from the south west and there had been some early showers. Low tide would be around 10.45 am. There was a light swell off the rocks in front of Woody Head.

I arrived about 9.00 am and I started with a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad soft plastic in the Pink Shine colour. I had it rigged on 3/8 oz 3/0 jighead. On my first cast a fish grabbed it, just at the edge of the rock shelf. It ran up and down the ledge and then I lifted it over the edge, with the swell. It was a decent Trevally, around 55 cm long. I bled it and went back for more.

I cast out and a fish hit the lure as it sank – but there was no hook up. On the next cast as a fish grabbed it as I jigged it up off the bottom. After a few runs I calmed it down and lifted it over the rocks, with the swell. It was another Trevally – about 50cm long. I carried on for a while and caught a couple of Bream and a smaller Trevally, which I released.

Iluka – Woody Head – 11 April 2011

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Monday – pm

After a good start earlier in the day, I could not resist an afternoon fish. We were staying in a cabin at Woody Head – so I was ideally placed to fish off the rocks, on the afternoon low tide. I walked out on the rock ledges, directly in front of the camp site, at about 5.00 pm. Low tide would be at about 7.30 pm.

There was a strong north easterly breeze and a few small rain squalls were coming over. I started around 5.00 pm with a 3/8oz 3/0 hook jighead and a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I was using a 30lb fluorocarbon leader again.
It is always difficult to avoid losing tackle in this location. The fish tend to bite just at the edge of the rock ledges and very close in. If you pull your lure to safety to fast, you will miss them. If you leave it too long, you get snagged. After a couple of casts I was stuck firm in the rocks, so I snapped off the jighead and plastic and re-rigged with the same set up.

I sent out five or six casts in a semi – circle, from my position on the edge of the rocks. Every now and then I would carefully retreat in the face of a big wave but only my feet were getting wet. The rocks are incredibly slippery so you need good rock fishing boots and you need to move slowly – running away from a wave is a recipe for disaster as you will almost certainly fall over. It is better to duck down and hang on if you see a big one coming – you may get wet, but hopefully you will not break your neck! Remember rock fishing is a dangerous activity, stay safe and if in doubt – don’t go out.

I moved along the rocks and just on 5.15 pm I hooked a fish. I let it run until I could see a good wave that would bring it up the rocks. I then tightened the drag and lifted the fish clear. The wave pushed it up and broke over the ledge. It was a school Jewfish/ Mulloway, just under 50cm. I unhooked it and cast out into the same spot. Before the lure had hit the bottom it was grabbed again. This time it was a much faster and more powerful fish. It headed out to see and then turned and ran along the edge of the rock ledge. I tightened the drag to slow it down as I could see it was going to try and bury itself in the rocks. The leader got stuck between the sea squirts that line the rocks, but a big wave lifted it clear and up came the fish. I was soaked but I had a good sized (45cm +) Trevally at my feet.

These two would be dinner and as another rain squall came over I decided to head back to the cabin for a warm shower. It had been another great land based session fishing with soft plastics from the rocks.

Brisbane River – Pinkenba Rockwall – 4 April 2011

Monday

Today I decided to walk along the north bank of the Brisbane River at Pinkenba and fish the rock wall that gradually breaks down, near the Oil refinery at the mouth of Boggy Creek.

There are fishy holes all along this wall but I like to fish on or around high tide, when there is plenty of water. Today I arrived just as the tide started to run out, at about 9.45 am. The wind was getting up but it was still possible to fish. I parked on the bank next to the Queensland Cement Plant and walked along the rockwall, towards the river mouth.

I was fishing with my light spin rod. I had about 1 metre of 10lb breaking strain fluorocarbon leader tied to a spool of 10lb braid. I decided to fish with soft plastics and started with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Smelt colour. I rigged the plastic on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. The water was quite cloudy but there was plenty of bait in close to the bank. I walked along the wall, casting about 8 to 10 metres out into the river and slowly retrieving the lure.

After ten minutes I felt a tug at the lure, right at the foot of the rock wall. It is always difficult to tell if the lure has just caught on a rock or whether it’s a fish. I cast out in the same spot and as I brought the plastic slowly back to the base of the wall, it was grabbed. The fish made a hard initial run and then I tightened the drag a little and it stopped and just sat in the current. As I tried to get some line back it took off again on another long run. Fortunately, it was heading out into the middle of the river. I let it run and thought of what it could be. It was too fast for a Flathead and too strong for a Tailor or Bream. I tightened the drag again and started to get line back. My light rod has no real power so it would have to be a battle of attrition using the drag. We went back and forth a few times but finally I got the fish to the bank and realised it was a decent Trevally. I wasn’t expecting that and when I got home and checked my diaries and the blog, I realised it was the first I have ever caught in the Brisbane River.

I released the fish and moved along the wall, casting every ten metres or so. As I reached the point where the rockwall forms a promontory, with water on both sides, I swapped to a 3” GULP Lime Tiger Minnow soft plastic and started to cast on either side of the wall. After a few casts into the tidal lagoon on the inside, I caught a small Bream. Again the fish grabbed the lure just as I was about to lift it clear of the water.

I carried on as far as I could and peppered both sides of the rock wall with casts. I swapped plastics again. This time I put on a Gulp 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. By 12.30 pm the wind was really howling and the tide was running out fast. I cast out into the river at a 45 degree angle to the bank, back in the direction of the cement plant. About 20 cm from the base of the rocks, whack – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. It went straight out into the river but soon turned and started to run along close to the oyster covered rocks. I decided to hop along the rocks with it for a bit but then realised I needed to slow it down. I got some line back and managed to keep it off the oysters. This was a bigger fish and took quite a bit of subduing. Eventually I saw silver and confirmed it was another Trevally. I got it in close and grabbed the leader and successfully pulled it out. It was a 40cm Trevally.

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Now I had found them and after a couple more casts, I was on to another one – but not for long. This one headed straight down to the base of the wall and ping – the line snapped on the oysters. They were obviously cruising up and down and twenty minutes later I got the biggest one of the day at around 45cm. I had to head back so I turned around and kept casting, as I walked. I switched to a – 5” GULP Jerkshad in the curried chicken colour. After three or four casts another Trevally grabbed it. Again the strike was right next to the wall and the fish put up a terrific fight.

I walked back to the car and finished up at about 1.30pm, after another great session fishing the Brisbane River.