Brunswick Heads – tailor time – 3 August 2015

Sunday – Monday

I had managed to get a few days down at South Golden Beach in Northern New South Wales and was very keen to see if the Tailor where around on the beaches.

On Sunday morning I was up before dawn. I wrapped up in warm clothes and pulled on my waders. The house we were staying in was right behind the beach and I had seen a few fisherman pull in some small Tailor the night before, using pilchards.

As I came out on to the beach conditions were very calm. I had noticed a long wide gutter the day before so I tied on a 55g HALCO Twisty in the brassy/ gold colour and started putting in long casts towards the mouth of the gutter. I was doing a fairly fast steady retrieve and this soon warmed me up. Just after first light I briefly hooked a fish but it shook itself free after a few seconds. I carried on for another 30 minutes and just before the sun came over the horizon, I felt the rod tip bend over. It was a fair way out but I gradually pulled it in. It was soon at my feet in the surf, but as I pulled it clear of the water the treble pulled out of its lip and it was gone. I put in a few more casts before changing to a jerkshad soft plastic but I did not find another fish.

On Monday morning I decided to explore the mouth of the Brunswick River. I picked the rock wall on the north side and arrived just after first light at about 5.45 am. It was another fantastic sunrise with the whole horizon glowing a rich orange colour. I walked to the end of the rock wall with my light rock fishing rig. The NS Blackhole rod and Shimano Sustain 4000 reel, 15lb braid and 30lb fluoro-carbon leader. I tied on a 55g HALCO Twisty and cast it diagonally across the river mouth. I cast about 15 times in various directions with no luck. I swapped to a suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow hard bodied lure and cast this across the same area. On my third cast a fish hit the lure and I set the hooks. It was a small (approx.35cm long) tailor. I photographed and threw it back. On the next cast a fish hit the lure again but I did not connect. I continued for another 20 minutes in this spot with no further action so I decided to swap to a small soft plastic lure.

I moved a little way back along the rock wall, up river. I dropped the fluorocarbon leader down to 12lb, tied on a 1/6th ounce, size 1/ hook jighead and loaded it with a GULP 2.5 cm Crabbie in the Chocolate sparkle colour. This immediately attracted the attention of some Bream, I caught a couple and threw them back, both were between 25cm and 30 cm long.

The wind had picked up but I could see a big flock of birds dive bombing a little way up the beach. I decided to go and investigate. They were about 300 metres offshore but gradually moving in closer around the small rocky platform, just north of the rockwall. There was clearly a big school of bait with something feeding on it from below, which had attracted their attention. I walked along the beach and found a long gutter that runs up to the rocky platform. This looked about 1.5m deep at its deepest point and the main channel was very well defined. When I got level with the birds I started casting my soft plastic. The first takers were a few small dart, close to the beach. Then something bigger grabbed the soft plastic and started shaking its head. It presume it was a tailor and it soon chewed through the leader. I tied on the 30lb leader again and rigged up a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour and threw this out. A fish grabbed it almost as soon as it hit the water. This time I pulled it almost to the wave break, then it wriggled free.

I decided treble hooks would give me a better chance of landing a fish so I swapped back to the suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow. My strategy paid off. The lure was slammed as soon as I started the retrieve. I managed to get this tailor, safely up the beach. Now the fish were clearly feeding in the gutter and almost every cast hooked up. I caught somewhere between 10 and 15 fish over the next 40 minutes. The largest was 48cm long. I dropped plenty before they reached the beach, but kept a couple of bigger ones. Then just after 9.00 am, I hooked up again but the YOZURI Crystal Minnow was bitten clean off after just a few reel turns. I tied on the HALCO 55g Twisty again and landed a couple of smaller tailor with this lure, but then the same thing happened.

At about 9.15 am I swapped to a larger floating YOZURI Tobimaru 130mm hard bodied bibbed minnow. I tied this on with a 40lb rated wire trace and threw it out. More or less as soon as it landed I felt the fish bashing it around and about 2-3 metres into the retrieve I hooked up. I turned the reel a couple of times and then the line went slack. Clearly there was now something very toothy out there and I am not sure I really wanted to catch it, so at about 9.30 am I gave up for the morning.

It had been a great tailor session and confirmed for me that they will eat anything when they are feeding in big schools like this. I think lure choice was fairly unimportant but I did get the slightly larger fish on the hard bodied minnows, rather than the metal slugs.

Bribie – Oyster jetty flats – 7 January 2013

Monday

The fishing was still tough but I had found fish in one location, so that is where I returned on Monday. It was a pretty high high tide at 2.4m, at about 7.30 am. I started fishing the last of the run in at about 5.45 am.

I waded south from the bridge, casting parallel with the edge of the mangroves into about a metre of water. I started with a suspending YOZURI Crystal Minnow lure, as I am convinced a big flathead would happily attack one, in the right conditions. Unfortunately these were not the right conditions and this one came up covered in weed on each cast. I gave up swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour, rigged on a 1/8th 1/0 NITRO Saltwater Pro jighead with OWNER hooks.

There is a quite a range of NITRO stock in most shops and over the years it seems to have been called all sorts of different things. Basically, I like their jigheads that have black OWNER hooks (thin) and don’t much like their jigheads that have silver hooks (thick).

Jig head selection can be important when the fish are fussy. Generally, the less metal that is sticking out of the plastic the better – especially when you are fishing in the estuaries. This needs to be balanced with strength requirements.But as long as your drag is set correctly and you can be patient – even the softer (cheaper)hook styles will safely pull in very big fish.

I waded further south past the jetty, towards the drain that runs off the Sandstone Points flats. This often holds a few fish. I stayed close to the mangroves and cast round in a semi-circle, retrieving my lure slowly and methodically. Just before 7.00 am I found my first fish of the day – a solid 50cm Flathead. I released it and fished on.

The tide was running out now and unfortunately it was taking even more weed with it. I carried on fishing the drain area as I was sure there would be more fish there. At about 7.20 am I connected with another, slightly smaller Flathead, but it wriggled free before I could photograph it. At 7.25 am, I either caught it again, or caught another one, about the same size. I took this one back to the Mangroves to photograph and release. It was another handsome fish, just under 50cm.

By now the weed and wind were again making things difficult and although the tide run and the water level were ideal, it was just impractical to carry on. That’s fishing – too many variables. Just when you think it’s all falling into place some element of the environment changes and its back to the drawing board.

Fingal Head – Plenty of Tailor – 5 November 2012

Monday

The weather looked OK for some rock fishing on Monday. It was forecast as a slight south easterly breeze and swell. It has been a while since we have had the wind from this direction, at dawn. It means that the swell can be difficult but I think the dawn bite is more aggressive when the wind is blowing this way.

I decided on Fingal Head again. I have been catching fish there and it is a beautiful spot even when you are not. I arrived just after 4.30 am to find 3 fishermen out on the rocks already and I could see one was half way through a battle with a decent fish. He had a very light rig and had tempted the fish with a metal slug. He landed it safely and it was a good sized Tailor around 55cm. By now one of the others had hooked up. He was fishing with a shallow diving 110mm Minnow and a wire trace. He landed his fish and several others over the next 30 minutes.

I wasted no time rigging up but in my excitement lost a DUO Beachwalker MD 120 minnow to the rocks, on my first cast. I put on another and moved round to the front of the platform. The wind was stronger than forecast and this made getting down low on the rocks to get the most action out of the shallow diving minnow, difficult. The fish seemed pretty aggressive so I switched to a RAPALA ‘walk the dog’ lure. I got the fish to follow this one and even saw a couple of aborted strikes, but I could not hook up.

In the meantime the other three now had about 6 good fish in the bleeding pond. I swapped again, this time to a the DUO Bay Ruf Manic sub surface stick bait. I had toughened this one up a bit with stronger single hooks and split rings. A fish knocked it out of the water and then there was a good swirl beside it, but I still could not hook up. This was a good bite but the shallow diving minnow was definitely out fishing everything else. I looked for something similar in the tackle box. I found an 18 gram, 90mm, sinking YOZURI Crystal Minnow in a silvery colour and tied this on with 30lb fluorocarbon leader.

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Things had slowed a little and the others had stopped to clean their fish – they had about 10 between them – all between 50 and 60cm. This gave me access to a bit more waterfront. The swell was slapping against the rocks and making it tricky to finish the retrieve without getting the lure snagged. I cast out at 45 degress to the north east of the rock platform and let the lure drop down in the water column. I retrieved it fairly slowly with plenty of pauses. Three casts in and bang – a fish grabbed it. The line slackened momentarily, as it pushed the lure towards me and then it took off. It was a decent Tailor and it put in a few jumps trying to head south. The only place to land them safely when the swell is up, is on the north side of the platform, but the current is usually pulling them round to the south and so you have too subdue them fairly quickly.

I took the sting out of this one and got it round to the north, where the trebles pulled free, just as it came up on to the rocks. Fortunately the fish fell between two rocks and I reached down and grabbed it behind the gills. It was a good Tailor just short of 50cm. I bled the fish and cast out the lure again. I felt another hit in the same spot but on the next retrieve I connected with a rock and lost the lure. I was reminded once again why I should buy shares in lure manufacturers.

I looked through the tackle box and was disappointed to discover that I did not have another shallow diving minnow with me. I tried an 85g and 65g Raider metal slug, but these did not raise a bite. By about 8.30 am I had switched to soft plastic lures and I was fishing on the lighter Shimano Catana rod. I was using a GULP 4” Minnow soft plastic in the Smelt colour and because of the swell I had put it on a ¼ ounce 1/0 jighead. As I was finishing a retrieve, a fish hit the plastic right at the base of the rocks. I set the hook and it took off. It broke the surface a few metres out and it looked like a small Tailor. Then it managed to bite through or rub off the 10lb leader I had dropped down to.

At about 9.00am with the swell building so I decided to give up. The hour either side of dawn remains the most consistent fishing time at the moment. I will be back again soon.