Iluka – Middle Bluff, Iluka Bluff & Fraser’s Reef – February 2017

In early February, I had a few days fishing at Iluka. The weather was not ideal with strong northerly winds, but generally clear skies. These made casting difficult but I fished all the rocky headlands of the Bundjalung National Park – Shark Bay, Woody Head, Middle Bluff, Frasers Reef & the Iluka Bluff.

I fished with soft plastics, metal slugs and some hard-bodied lures. For the soft plastics, I generally used 1/4 ounce and 1/6th ounce jigheads and the most successful slug was a brass colored 70g Halco Twisty. I swapped up and down between 12lb and 30lb fluorocarbon leaders. I caught Trevally, Bream, Pike, Dart and the highlight was a keeper size jewfish on a GULP Cajun Chicken Jerkshad soft plastic at Iluka Bluff. I did not catch a tailor all week but did see a few pulled from the water at Iluka Bluff.

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Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – 9 September 2015

Wednesday

On Wednesday the forecast was for light winds and a clear day. I could not resist another spell at Bribie on the sand/ mud flats, on the mainland side of the Pumicestone Passage. Low tide would be in the middle of the day at 12.36pm.

The wind had dropped off significantly from the day before but it was now cooler and coming from the south west, at about 10 knots. The sky was clear and so was the water. As I walked out under the bridge a couple of Kiwis arrived, one with a fly rod. I politely explained that there were no trout to be had here. I reckon it’s hard enough catching a fish with a regular rod but it seems there is always someone looking for an additional challenge. At least with the wind behind them they were in with a chance.

It was about 9.45am and I started off casting into about 60cm of water, just to the north of the bridge. The tide was running out fast over the weed covered boulders that dot the gravel bottom, in this area. I was fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Lime Tiger colour loaded onto a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I was using my light spin rod with 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied on to 12lb braid. The first flathead was lying amongst the boulders about 10 metres north of the bridge. It grabbed the plastic and I landed it safely. It was about 44cm long.

I moved south under the bridge and waded under the old oyster jetty, casting as I went. The jetty now has a selection of fairy lights hung along it and a railing down one side. I hope the fairy lights will attract more bait.

I fished around fairly thoroughly in the area just north of the jetty but did not get any bites. It was about an hour before I found another flathead. Just to the north of where the big drain empties out into the main channel. By now I had swapped to the GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Curry Chicken colour. This soft plastic is a Jerkshad with a prong shaped split tail which flutters as it hops and sinks. It is a great lure. Its only problem is that dart, bream and other small fish often bite the tails off. I cast it out beyond the dark edge of the weed beds and paused for 10 seconds. I slowly hopped it back along the bottom. After a few hops a felt the solid thud as the fish hit it. I dropped the tip and counted slowly to 10. I lifted again and hooked the fish. It was another 45 cm flathead.

I carried on wading the south and fishing with the big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad. I soon found a couple more under sized flathead and released them. At about 11.00 am I was halfway between the jetty and the green channel marker, standing about 3 metre back from edge of the weed beds. I had hooked another flathead and was taking a few photographs of it, as I reeled it in. It suddenly got very animated and started leaping out of the water. As I pulled it closer a sanding coloured shape loomed up on its tale and I understood its concern. It looked like a big wobbegong, about 1.5m long, but its more pointed nose and uniform colour suggested it was some other kind of shark. When it saw me it turned away and decided not to pursue its lunch.

I carried on towards the channel marker and caught 3 more keeper sized flathead and another 4 undersized fish, which were all released. At about noon the tide had slowed and I decided to give up. Another bagful of flathead and a great morning of fishing.

Fish stealing friends – Shark Bay – November 2014

Every time I fish at Shark Bay, near Iluka in Northern New South Wales,  I clean my fish in the rock pools. It is not uncommon to have an octopus stick a tentacle out and grab some floating fish guts or watch a crab sneak out to grab a free meal. But without fail, about three to five minutes after first drawing blood, the wobbegongs arrive.

Last time I was down there I caught a tiny moses perch on a big DUO lure and got mugged as I reeled it in. Watch where you are paddling in those rock pools!

 

Iluka – Woody Head – Woody Bay – 8 April 2013

Monday – Morning

I have managed to sneak down to Woody Head for a few days and even though there are plenty of showers around, the wind and swell forecasts look pretty good for some rock fishing.

On Monday I awoke to a cool, light south westerly wind. It was a morning high tide at about 7.00 am. The new moon is due on Wednesday. I could not go far as the family are with me and they apparently think that fishing is not the only activity on offer here. I decided to have a fish around the rock bars on the edge of Woody Bay, in front of the Woody Head camp site.

I was fishing with my light spin rig – a 6’6” Loomis GL 2 rod and Shimano Stradic 2500, 6lb Fireline and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I started with Gulp 2” Jigging Grub soft plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour, on a 1/8th oz, 1/0 jighead.

The tide was a fairly big one and by first light it had almost submerged all the rocks in the bay. I had not bothered with my waders, as the water was fairly warm. This was a mistake – as soon as my shorts got wet, the light south westerly had me chilled to the bone.

After a couple casts, a fish grabbed my plastic, next to one of the rock bars and took off. It made two good runs before I tightened the (loose) drag and subdued it. It was a handsome tarwhine, just over 30 cm long. I took a few pictures and threw it back.

A few casts later, I felt and saw a long tom try to grab it. I swapped to a GULP 3” Minnow in the Banana Prawn colour – gold and grey with a black fleck. I felt a good bite, then another, then I was on to a fish, a biggish Pike about 35cm long. I put that back and carried on.

An early morning Woody Head tarwhine

An early morning Woody Head tarwhine

The long toms kept grabbing, but I could not hook one. At about 8.00 am I connected with a small fish that turned out to be a very small trevally. At 8.30 am I gave up and went for a hot shower.

A good sized pike

A good sized pike

Monday – Afternoon

With a lunchtime low tide and clear skies I decided to go and have a look out the front of the Woody Head platform, with my Shimano Catana Coastline light combo. This is a good rod, heavy enough to land school jewfish, but still light enough to feel the bream bite.

I use it with a size 3000 Shimano Sustain reel and 16lb Super PE braid. I started with a 15lb leader. The water is fairly clear and the swell was very light. I decided to start big and colourful and put on a GULP Jerkshad soft plastic, in the Lime Tiger colour. I attached it to a ¼ oz, 2/0 jighead and started fishing.

The first cast produced nothing but on the second a fish grabbed the plastic and ran with it for a few seconds, before dropping it. As is often the case, it had struck very close to the rocks. On the next cast the same thing happened. I swapped down to a smaller soft plastic – the GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. This did the trick and I pulled up a bream – just under 30 cm. In the next 5 casts a caught 2 more, about the same size. Then things went quiet. It was about 3.00 pm and the wind had turned south easterly and was blowing a huge rain cloud in my direction. I caught a small dart and then decided to give up for the day.

As I cleaned the bream for supper, the resident wobbegongs soon appeared. In the end there were five, swimming around trying to figure out where the fish blood was coming from. I had not caught any big fish but I had dinner – not a bad start to the week.

Iluka – Woody Head – 11 August 2010

Tuesday was a washout with 24 hours of almost solid rain. Fortunately the tent kept me dry throughout. By the lunchtime low tide on Wednesday, the sky was still overcast but things where brightening up. The ‘Barnacles’ at Woody Head, where I had been fishing the day before, were out of bounds due to the swell. I decided to try fishing the northern side of the Woody Head rock shelf which was a bit more sheltered. I started with the same terminal tackle as the day before – 3/8 3/0 jighead, 25lb fluorocarbon leader and a 4” Pearl Watermelon Minnow. Fishing these spots is always difficult. You need the plastic down in the water column, but leave it too long or weight it too heavily and you will just get snagged. On the first three casts I lost three jigheads to the rocks. This was the price of getting a feel for the swell and terrain. After a few more successful casts I felt a distinct hit but no hook up. Two more casts and just as I was about to jerk the jighead out of the water, at the end of the retrieve – bang! I had a solid fish. It tried to dip down and bury itself in the rocks but fortunately the swell was on my side. I tightened the drag and towed him straight up to my feet with the rising water. I had a nice trevally, about 45cm. I fished on for an hour or so and lost two similar fish to the barnacle covered rock ledges.
I then decided to clean the Trevally in a rock pool. I gutted the fish and started tidying it up when I noticed a splash a few feet away. A decent sized Wobbegong had turned up hoping for a free meal! I retreated, in case he mistook my foot for a fish and made a mental note to check the content of the next rock pool before I start gutting.