The Off Season..

2 10 2011

With September 1st coming too soon I had began those dreaded 3 months of not knowing what to do with my spare time while I allowed for the cod to do their deeds and ensure healthy populations for years to come.
Luckily I was able to head over to the coast for a week to try my luck chasing flathead in small creeks on lures and soft plastics. This also gave me a great opportunity to try out my new spinning combo of a Gladiator Snake Skin Sports Spin 2.1m 4kg rod matched with a Banax Snake Skin Spin 800 sized reel.

A week on the coast

Saturday
Arriving mid-day Saturday, the weather was hot and sunny which was just wonderful and it looked like a promising week ahead of us. Fishing a small creek Saturday afternoon seen a couple of light bumps and the occasional quick hook up and drop but that was all we could come across. Wading through a shallow sandy area Greg stupidly managed to catch, by hand, a sickly shovel nosed shark which we quickly measured in the shallow water and released back to a deeper hole.

Greg and his shovel-nosed

No fish landed on lures for Saturday but after staking out the area we knew where to head the following day.

Sunday
Sunday the weather had turned bad with a pretty bad wind and raining on and off, despite the weather we still headed out quickly at the end of the run out tide. Meeting another keen young fisherman from Forster, Chris, we decided to walk up the creek from the mouth to the boat ramp a few hundred metres upstream at low tide.
Chris’ experience fishing for bream and fllathead was really showing with him knowing exactly where to put his plastic and how to present it catching a few fish in a short period of time.
I had eventually started to think how the fish would and decided to cast at the only bit of structure about, a large boat marker in the deeper channel, and fish my plastic along the bottom where I managed to hook and land my first lure caught flathead on a Gladiator SMASH Bait 7cm.

Smashed a SMASH bait!!

For the rest of the walk both Greg and I were hooking the odd flathead and dropping them but Chris managed to land a couple more. After the walk the score had ended up 5 flathead to Chris, one to myself and none to Greg.

 

Monday
Monday Greg and I had ventured over to the wall at the mouth of the river. I had done no good using lures but Greg had a ball with the bait catching many small fish and even a little moses perch.
Back to the creek at low tide with Chris we were doing our walk upstream again. The fish were really on the bite but I could not seem to keep them on the end. I dropped a total of 9 fish, Chris landed only a couple himself. However on the walk back I decided to chuck another cast in front of a tree which I had deemed ‘my tree’ where I flicked out my SMASH bait and lost another fish first cast and then hooked and landed one the following cast.

On the SMASH bait again

That afternoon while I was fishing the mouth of the creek Greg was keeping himself amused with a the eels hiding in the rocks when a great big mud crab climbed out and decided to play. After a lot of careful handling and some moments where I thought I was about to lose a finger we caught the crab.. And now named him dinner.

Just before cooking

 

Tuesday
Tuesday seen some very awful weather which turned the fish off. When the wind had settled slightly we gave the poppers a go. Gladiator Spray Poppers seemed to attract the most attention with a lot of hits and constant follows but the fish were just a bit too uncooperative and the only fish landed was a little trevally caught by Chris.
Even the creek walk ended up not producing any fish for me with only getting a couple of taps and short hook ups. However Chris was at it again landing one nice flathead and then hooking into something which pulled a lot of line and fought well. Both expecting a large flathead to be bought to our feet we were disappointed yet suprised when a stingray of reasonable size was brought in. A quick line snap to avoid any tangling with a barb and we continued on fishing.
Through the afternoon the weather settled slightly so a trip after dark was planned.
Just after the sun had gone down we were flicking our poppers around in the now water covered sandflats but to no reward. Chris suggested change over to a small shallow diving lure and the change was made. Only my second cast and I was surprised to have my lure hit hard by what turned out to be another small flathead.

Night time flathead

 

Wednesday
Wednesday weather was much the same so we decided to head to another smaller creek which was sheltered from the wind. First up in the creek I tied on a Gladiator Hip Baby and started my adventure losing at my feet a whiting just over legal on about my 3rd cast. Not much further upstream I cast in under a tree where I hooked into a tiny little flathead.

Tiny flathead on Gladiator Hip Baby

From here up the creek was looking very promising being crystal clear and full of structure but fish were proving difficult to come by.
Eventually I cast along a shallow weedbed where my lure was grabbed once again by a whiting, this one not getting away.

Whiting caught on Gladiator Hip Baby

Further on upstream the holes were getting a little bit deeper and I was spooking fish in shallow, including a quiet sizeable sand flathead, so I was getting a little more excited.
I cast along a shadow cast by a snag in some deeper water where I was hit pretty solid but failed hook up, another cast into the same place I hooked a fish which was dropped after a single headshake, Chris then decided it was his turn to have a crack so he cast his Spray Popper in and slowly worked it across into the shallow waters with a large dark figure following it and then there was an explosion at the popper followed by many quick hard runs and a good healthy flathead of around 55-60cm was at our feet but sadly dropped while trying to land it.
Once it was low tide again we returned to our orginal creek for our walk where Greg joined us once again. Greg and I had no luck landing any fish and Chris only managed one for himself.
So back it was to the other creek where I had the bit of success in the morning. Walking only a little upstream from where we were I found a nice open hole with plenty of structure, weedbeds and deeper areas. I had no luck until just before I was going to leave when I was hit hard by a fish which gave plenty of headshakes and pulled rather hard. I had landed my new personal best flathead of 46cm on a Gladiator Hip Baby.

PB flathead on Hip Baby

 

Thursday
Thursday we were up early but the weather was getting worse so we decided to try and access a place we had found on google maps. However due to muddy mangroves and lack of access we did no good. Once again fishing creek #2 we had done no good once again. Now soaking wet and freezing cold we called it quits at about lunchtime.
As the day progressed the afternoon cleared up and the weather got much better, just in time for our low tide walk.
The water in the creek was very stirred up and murky so I opted toward a curltailed grub style plastic instead of a flickbait. This time the walk proved a little more productive landing two legal sized flathead from a deeper channel running in-front of  ‘my tree’.

Flathead caught on small plastic

Another flathead

 

Friday
Friday we were up nice and early to hop aboard the Sea Urchin for a charter out in the deep water. It was now that I learnt I am far from a sea goer and I first started feeling queezy before we even reached the bar at the mouth of the river, was a long day.
Once out at sea the fish weren’t co-operating however I managed to land the first keeper in the form of a teralgin just over 40cm.
The crew were great and when the fishing was tough they done everything they possibly could to find us fish which was just amazing.
Eventually we were finding the fish and my whole family, bar me were, pulling in fish every drop nearly, sometimes two a drop.
A great day was had with many fish of all different species boated including teralgin, pearl perch, nannyghai and snapper just to name a few.
If you are ever at South West Rocks and looking at heading out on a charter I can recommend Sea Urchin Charters as they were just fantastic, very helpful, great people and done their best to find us fish.

Mum and a pearl perch

Once back on land and when I was feeling a bit better I headed out for my final low tide walk along the creek.
The creek was again very stirred up and murky. Playing around with the plastic in the shallows I came up with a new retrieve to try out. I cast out and straight away on my very first retrieve I got myself another small flathead.

Flathead caught using the 'JJ' retrieve

With my new retrieve set I named it the ‘Joe’s Jiggle’ or shortened the ‘JJ’. Not too long after doing the same retrieve I managed to catch another flathead being my final fish of the trip.

Final fish of the trip

I will do a post in techniques explaining the ‘JJ’ shortly.

It turned out to be a very rewarding week spent on the coast and a great way to meet other keen anglers and pass away time during the cod closed season.

The new Gladiator Snake Skin Sports Spin rod handled casting the light lures that I was using beautifully. Another advantage came with it being 2.1m long giving me the added bit of distance and accurracy. The Banax Snake Skin Spin 800 size reel which has been designed and developed by Banax to match the Snake Skin Spin rod perfectly and that is what they have achieved, they go together beautifully. This rod and reel combo really do go together perfectly and I could not fault them when fishing the estuary and will be sure to test them in many more areas.
A full review on the rod and reel will be completed shortly.

I hope you enjoyed the read and pictures.

Cheers, Joe.

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