Rock Fishing for Bream & Tailor at Iluka

Rock fishing from the headlands at Iluka can be dangerous but rewarding…..

Conditions: Dropping tide, big swell and lots of white wash on the surface
Season: Autumn
Strategy: Repeat the techniques from the day before at the same spot
Technique: Slow rolling plastics over snags & rock bommies
Target: Bream & Tailor
Gear: 9ft 6-8kg graphite rod, 4000 size spin reel with 20lb braid & 20lb leader, 8ft 3-5kg graphite rod 2500 spin reel with 10lb braid & 12lb leader
Lure Types: 4″ plastic minnow on 1/4oz size 2/0 jighead, 3″ soft plastic minnows on 1/6oz size 1/0 jigheads
Session Rating: 6/10

We needed to be checked out of the Woody Head camp ground by 10am so it was my last opportunity to do some rock fishing while down at Iluka. The wife seemed surprised when I told her I was going fishing again. I assured her I would be back by 8:30 to help with the packing and with that, I was on my way.

I got to the car park well before dawn and walked all the way to the northern side of the headland. This area is semi-protected from the surf and has a platform from which the locals frequently pull Tailor. I spent about 30 minutes casting out 40g slugs without a touch. I finally lost the metal slug to a weed covered rock in front. It was time to move on.

I went back to the southern end of the headland which had proved to be so entertaining the previous day. Despite the tide dropping, the swell had picked up overnight and big sets were regularly smashing into the cliff. Each wave sent white water straight up over the cliff face to drench everything on top. The amount of white wash meant that I was not able to see the lure in the water and I wasn’t sure of the depth it was running at on the retrieve.

I love this spot

My first cast was lost to the rocks. After re-rigging, I sent a cast down to the wash near the base of the big outcrop island to the north. The lure was half way back in when it was hit pretty hard and I immediately started tussling with a determined fish. I got him to the surface then hauled a respectable 33cm Bream up the cliff face. I launched him back into the surf and cast out again.

A big set was coming through so I pulled the lure in as quickly as possible before the wave hit. I did not get the lure out of the water in time and the lure got caught on something down at the base of the cliff face. At least that is what I thought had happened. When I went back to the edge to see what the lure got caught on, the rod started wiggling in my hand. After a short battle and another awkward lift up the cliff face, I had a nice 45cm Tailor up on the rocks.

It was a decent size for a feed and so I bled him before putting him in the bag.  Mother nature then became even more uncooperative as the swell got bigger and I lost more gear. It was 7:20 am and I had less than an hour of fishing before I had to go back and help with the packing.

Swell was making fishing a bit hairy

I took a quick walk down to the rocky outcrop in front of the beach car park with my light outfit. The swell was bigger than yesterday. Big sets were frequently washing through the area I had been fishing the day before. I knew I couldn’t stay long so I moved to the front where I could see the swell and cast just over the rocky lip that sits about 4m out. I immediately hooked a Bream and pulled him up the rocks as a big wave came through and doused me in saltwater spray.

Rock fishing tips for staying upright

I waswearing a quality pair of studded rock boots which helped hold my footing when waves came through and I also wore a PFD just in case. While it is definitely better to be fishing where the waves are not reaching you, if you do find yourself in a situation where a wave is coming for you; face the wave with one leg behind the other and put all of your weight on the front foot. I use my hands in this situation to cover the reel to prevent  splash from entering the front of the spool and keep it held high above my head. If you do manage to stay on your feet after the wave is gone then it is time scram. Getting washed off your feet by a big wave is a quick way to ruin a session.

A strong finish

It was time to leave this spot and so I moved over to the north side. This offered much better protection from the swell and I soon found the fishing was better too. Over the last 15 minutes of the session, I pulled in and released another 4 Bream measuring between 28 and 30cm. It was hugely entertaining as every cast was producing a a bite or a hook-up . I lost a few too but that just added to the fun. As always it was very difficult to leave in the middle of hot bite. I managed to pull myself away and went back to the beach to clean the Tailor. It had been a great little session and well worth the early rise.

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