Iluka – Middle Bluff – 22 November 2020

The swell came up and then subsided, a little. The wind swapped to south easterly, then northerly, then south easterly and then back to a morning south westerly, all in the space of about 48 hours. The moon had reached its first quarter. The dawn tide would be too high to fish at Woody Head so I decided to give Middle Bluff a try.

The challenge at Middle Bluff is the distance between you and the water, if you hook a fish. In some places on this rock platform you are fishing three or four metres above the water. In calm conditions you can gently coax a fish along the front of the rock ledges to a lower one and grab the leader to pull the fish up. But if there is any swell this is next to impossible. I have never mastered using a gaff as I am convinced I will most likely end up gaffing myself (I also like to release fish, if I am not planning to eat them). So like so many other rock fishing ledges it is only really safe when the swell is around 1 metre. Even then all the usual rules apply; wear boots or shoes with excellent grip, wear a life jacket, check the swell for 20 minutes or so before fishing and try to stay permanently on dry rocks – if in doubt, don’t.

I arrived and parked at Frasers Reef just after 4.00 am and walked north to Middle Bluff. By the time I reached the ledges I wanted to fish there was a long line of orange on the horizon. I started on the north end of the platform.

I cast out a 3/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead with a GULP 5″ Paddleshad soft plastic in the Pink colour on my heavy rig. I tried to get it as close to the edge of the ledge as possible as I believe the mulloway and other fish school up in the sea caves and overhangs which extend under the ledges. The idea is to drop it down next to the rocks and then hop it slowly along the bottom, parallel with the shoreline. The period between first light and sunrise is definitely my most successful period for catching mulloway/ jewfish from the rocks. I cast around close to the edge and just before dawn the line pulled tight and I felt the weight of a fish. It set off under the ledge but I turned it around. I was fishing with my heavier rod and reel with 40lb fluorocarbon leader and a fairly tight drag. I pulled hard to keep it away from the rocks but I was going too hard and fast and the hook pulled out. I was a little too eager. I carried on casting through dawn and swapped through a few different soft plastics. I had another bite that felt like a tailor but it also spat the hook. I had eaten all my mulloway/ jewfish so I needed something for dinner.

At about 6.00 am I moved south along the ledge, nearer to Frasers Reef. The swell was a little more relaxed here. I swapped to my lighter fishing rig which was rigged 16 lb fluorocarbon leader down to a 1/4 ounce, size 1 hook jighead and GULP 3″ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour. I cast this out and again focused on the area close to the base of the ledge. Leaving the plastic on the bottom for as long as I could without getting snagged. This tactic worked and I caught a decent bream just over 36 cm long. It hit the lure inches from surface and inches from the rocky shore. I put it in a rock pool and tried again in the same spot. A few casts later I caught another one about the same size.

Twins

A disappointing morning but I would have fish for supper.

Iluka – Woody Head – 27 November 2014

Thursday

It was another grey and humid start on Thursday morning in Iluka. There had been several showers overnight and the rain seem to have stifled the wind and swell. I had been doing well at Woody Head so I drove back out there, before dawn.  It would be an early morning low tide – which is pretty much perfect for fishing the rock ledges.

The recent bite offs suggested there was something big and toothy around so I tried again with a big shallow running hard bodied lure – the DUO Jerkbait 120 SP. I cast it around all through dawn but could not stir anything up.

I moved south along the rocks and swapped to a GULP 3 “ Minnow in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/0 jighead. I was now on my lighter rock fishing NS Blackhole rod. I was using 14 lb fluorocarbon leader. I caught a small bream at about 5 am, from the spot which I believe the locals call the ‘Jew Hole’. It is a large inlet with a deeper channel in the middle, to the south of the area known as the ‘Barnacles’, where I usually start my fishing.

The sun came over the horizon and there was a brief glow of red before it got lost again, in the thick cloud. At about 5.30 am I hooked a fish and it took off. It was moving fast and I caught a flash of silver and realized it was a solid dart. I soon subdued it.  I caught another on the next cast and about 4 more, smaller ones over the next 20 minutes.  Then, I swapped to a GULP 3“ Minnow in the Green Camo colour and caught another, bigger dart. I bled the two bigger dart and left them in a rock pool that had a ledge overhanging it. Hopefully the various freeloaders – kites, pelicans, crows, crabs and wobbegongs, etc, would not find them.

Things slowed down a little so I moved further south to an area known as ‘Mossies’. This is a large, flat set of rocks covered in ankle deep green weed, at the southern end of the Woody Head platform. It is really only safe to fish here in gentle conditions, around low tide.  It was now about 6.00 am and low tide had been at 5.51 am. The first fish to grab the plastic was another solid 30 cm + bream. Another bream followed, on the next cast.

I was now almost as far south as I could go on the Woody Head rocks. I cast out the Green Camo minnow and let it waft down beside the ledge. Before it hit the bottom something smashed it. It took off to the south with a blistering run then turned back and torpedoed into the base of the rocks and snap went the leader.

I looked for tougher leader but I had used it all, so it was 14lb or 10lb. I tied a strong knot with the 14lb and put the same soft plastic minnow on a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook jighead. I cast back in the same spot and after a couple of tries, I was on to a fish again. I had the drag set tighter this time and I pulled pretty hard from the minute I hooked up. It was a tough fish but this time I kept it out of the rocks. After a few minutes it was tired and I landed it with the aid of the swell. It was a small king fish (or possibly an Amberjack – not sure) about 55cm long. I took some pictures and threw it back. A few casts later I was on to another one. This one was slightly smaller but put up just as tough a fight.

Next taker was a golden trevally which was longer than the king fish but not quite as mad. It was still a tough fight on the lighter rod and great fun. It was not even 6.30 am and I had caught four species. That is the beauty of Iluka.

I fished for another hour until the sun was really out and the cloud had burned away. Things slowed down a little but the bream and dart kept coming. I ended up keeping a few of the bigger dart, the trevally and a couple of bream, to make a mixed fish fried rice. I find using different flavoured and textured fish is great for this kind of dish. I fillet the fish and fry it, then add it to the cooked rice with some fried spring onions, crushed garlic, fresh coriander, Thai fish sauce and fresh lime juice.

By 8.00 am I was back at the car after a great mornings fishing.