Great session fishing from the rocks off the Tweed at dawn……

Conditions: Light swell from the south east & moderate southerly breezes
Season: Late autumn
Strategy: Arrive at dawn to target Tailor off the rocks
Technique: High speed retrieves of slugs & lures
Gear set up: 9ft 6-8kg graphite rod 4000 size spin reel, 20lb braid & 20lb leader
Lures: 4” plastic minnow 1/6oz size 2 jighead, 40g slugs & 125mm medium diving hardbody
Session Rating: 8/10

With great memories from the previous week fishing the Tweed fresh in my mind, I decided to visit again and try to replicate my form. I got there well before sun up this time, rigged my 9 footer with a 4″ plastic and threw it out in front of the rocks. I slowly brought the bait back through the wash to the where I was standing. It start getting attention almost immediately. The bait came up looking chewed so I suspected the culprit was a school of juvenile Tailor. I cast out again and my theory was proved correct as a 40cm Tailor was hooked and pulled out of the water.

The bait was done and so I switched over to a 40g slug and put it out beyond where the school was. Whipping it back through the school, I hooked up again and pulled another Tailor out of the wash and into the rock pool. Tailor are a very energetic fish with soft scales and so by putting them in the pool they don’t get damaged and it allows me the option of upgrading with better fish and releasing smaller ones at the end of the session.

The next fish I put into the pool swallowed the treble. This meant I was keeping him and letting one of the other ones go. I cut the line and re-rigged with another slug. This was hit immediately and I soon had a fourth fish on the deck. This fish also had a treble caught in it’s throat so it too went into the pool. Two was all I wanted for a fresh feed and so it was time for a change in tactics. I had only been there a very short while and already had lunch sorted, I now just wanted to enjoy some catch and release fishing.

Lose the trebles for singles

Knowing that there were fish there, it was  a great opportunity to test some lesser used lures from my collection. I pulled out a 125mm medium diving hardbody whose trebles I had replaced with singles. I had long suspected that this was going to be a good lure and so I was satisfied when on the first cast, it cast well over 30m out into the surf. As a diver, it is not really meant for quick retrieves, but this is what was getting the bites on the slugs and so I wound the reel hard to see how the bait would handle it. To my pleasant surprise it maintained its beating action at speed through the water for the whole retrieve. I noticed a bump on the way back in and so cast out again beyond where I believed the school was swimming.

This time the bump got hooked and there was a better quality fish taking line off the reel.  I worked it in toward the base of the rocks, tightened the drag and heaved a 50cm Tailor into the pool. This session was getting interesting. Staying with the same lure over the next 30 minutes, I pulled in fish after fish ranging in size from just legal up to around 50cm long.

Two’s company….

At this point a couple of older blokes arrived to throw some slugs around. I had met one of the guys on a previous trip and he was excited to hear that the fishing was good on this particular morning. He then lamented that despite putting in plenty of time he struggled to catch Tailor even when others were catching them. I continued fishing, catching and releasing more Tailor before stopping to see how the guys were going.

I noticed that despite the fact they were using slugs, their retrieves were quite slow. I gave them a couple of useful tips. Firstly; slugs imitate fleeing bait fish and so the lure should be retrieved at high speed, secondly; rather than having the lure skipping along the surface for the second half of a high speed retrieve, once it is half way in, drop the lure to the bottom before recommencing the speedy retrieve again.

Within 5 minutes of offering this advice, both of the guys were on and had some little choppers on deck. They thanked me for the helps and we all continued to pull in fish. I was happy to see these guys doing well and even more so with what happened next.

Just a bit jealous

One fella had cast and nearly pulled his slug out of the water when something large and angry smashed it at the base of the rocks. His rod bent over and he had what looked like to be a very good fish. After a solid fight he finally landed an awesome looking Trevally. I have to say – I was a more than a just a bit jealous of his fish but I was also very happy for the guy too. Obviously he was absolutely stoked with his catch. I cast out where he had pulled the Trevally from but could did not find any more.

At this point his mate started targeting the schools of mullet that had taken refuge from the swell behind the headland. He jagged one of the large Sea Mullets in the tail which then set off for the deeper water. After a tough fight, he finally brought in a big Sea Mullet and proudly showed him off to the rest of us.

The Tailor finally moved on but my grand total of 14 Tailor for the session had left me in a very good mood. I switched to throwing plastics on the south side of the rocks. This change in approach worked and I nabbed a little Dart and Bream before the bite completely shut down by 9am.

I collected my two Tailor with trebles caught in the mouths, cleaned them and left the blokes to keep fishing the rocks. I returned to this spot two weeks later and did not get a touch all day. This of course is the both the beauty and frustration of fishing. Sometimes you hit a home run and sometimes you just suck.

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