Fishing Iluka before the weather set in provided lots of fish and lots of fun…..

Conditions: Clear skies, 1.5m swell on  a dropping tide & light breeze from the south east
Season: Late autumn
Strategy: Revisit some old spots to see if they still produce
Technique: Casting slugs off the rocks for Tailor & slow rolling plastic minnows over a rocky bottom for Bream
Target: Tailor & Bream
Gear Set 1: 9ft 6-10kg graphite rod, 4000 size spin reel with 20lb braid & 20lb leader,
Gear Set Up 2: 8ft 2-5kg graphite rod, 2500 size spin reel with 10lb braid & 10lb leader
Lure Types: 40g metal slugs and, 7″ soft plastic jerkshads &  3″ soft plastics on 1/6 oz size 2 jigheads
Session Rating: 7/10

I love fishing Iluka so the drive down went quickly as I planned for the coming four days with the excitement of a kid. I arrived Wednesday evening and checked into my motel. The weather forecast was not looking great over the next four days, especially for the weekend. The dirty three of “swell, wind and rain” were all predicted to steadily pick up from Friday. Sunday was meant to be the worst with 30mm of rain, 25 knot gales from the south east pushing a 3m swell up along the coast – Jeez!! I was thankful I was staying at a motel and not in a tent.

Dawn start pays off

Thursday morning I was up before dawn and headed to one of the headlands to fish the protected northern side of the rocks with my 9 foot light surf rod. Casting 40g slugs into the surf, I felt I was in with a good chance for some Tailor. Ten casts later I felt my first bite. I kept casting and it was soon followed by my first fish. On the light surf rod, a jumping 40cm Tailor is great fun and I soon had him near the base of the rocks. This spot has a large, gently sloping slab of rock which helped me wash the fish up with the wave action. I pulled the lure out, snapped a photo and sent the fish back into the wash.

Two casts later and a familiar bump had me on with another similar sized fish. It found the current in front of the incoming swell and moved itself parallel with the rock platform. After tightening the drag, I pulled it past the various rock outcrops and heaved him up the rock slab. I had planned on releasing all fish today. There was no kitchen in the motel I was staying at but this fish had engulfed the trebles and so was not going back.

I cut out the line and tied on another slug before sending my lure straight back into the middle of the same school of Tailor. Right on cue I hooked and landed my third Tailor for the morning and once again the treble got swallowed meaning the fish would also be un-releasable.

I decided that with two fish bagged already and without any slugs set up with single hooks to facilitate easy release – this Tailor session had come to a premature end. Walking back along the beach to the car park, I checked out the front of the rock platform. I snuck a few cast in between the bigger sets coming through with no luck. I kept losing them to rocks and big swell so I moved on.

Love this spot

The tide was low enough to fish the north side of the island reef in front of the car park. I love this spot. The Bream were feeding very aggressively on anything washing off the rocks. They were holding right in close off the ledge so every cast in this zone was getting taken. They darted up to hit the lure as it came to the surface in the white wash just before it was being lifted out. Faster retrieves out in the middle got the interest of the school of Longtoms that had moved into the area. Over the next 40 minutes I landed and released a fish every few casts. It really was a lot of fun.

Catching Longtom

The Longtom are an aggressive feeder and will readily strike hard bodies or plastics. Their long hard bony mouths mean that hooks do not penetrate easily. Even when hooks do connect properly, the frenetic jumping routine results in numerous thrown hooks. In my experience, the trebles tend to hook them better than singles. Once you finally land one, they go into a berserker rage mode and attempt to bite you with their razor sharp teeth. If they can’t bite you they often turn around and start munching on their own tail. It is also not unusual for Longtoms to turn back around after release to swim back and have a go at you. Longtoms don’t taste bad however they do have a lot of bones which makes them a difficult fish to really enjoy on the plate.

After landing and releasing 7 small to medium sized Bream and 4 Longtom it was time to go back to the motel. There was an outdoor BBQ on which I cooked up some Tailor before enjoying an afternoon nap.

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