Norah Head has long been a popular area for surfing and fishing, with locals and visitors enjoying all it has to offer for many years. Although there is some great beach fishing around Norah Head and many offshore anglers use the boat ramp at Cabbage Tree Bay, rock fishing is also first-class and there are plenty of good spots to try.
Living within a short drive of Norah Head, I’ve been lucky enough to have spent many great days hooking into a variety of fish there over the years.
While it may not have the land-based game fishing potential of some of the major headlands and platforms of the south or north coasts, it does have just about everything else.
Probably the most obvious and easiest place to cast a line from the stones at Norah is the huge platform just below the lighthouse.
Getting down to these rocks couldn’t be any easier. You can park the car at the lighthouse carpark, take a stroll past the lighthouse and an easy walk down the stairs. Alternatively, park at Cabbage Tree Bay and walk around from there past the rock pool. It’s all incredibly easy.
Because the lighthouse platform is so big, it may be a bit confusing to those who’ve never been there before when it comes to picking a spot to fish.
The main point is quite high and really stands out, so most people probably try there first. However, it faces the main force of the ocean and has little protection from wind or waves, so it’s best fished in calm conditions.
Pretty much any type of fish is possible from the point but tailor, salmon, kingfish, bonito, groper and drummer are most likely.
The northern side of the platform is also quite exposed but reasonably safe and it’s easy to fish when a southerly is blowing.
Drummer are possible right along this whole ledge, but the better fishing is normally towards the western end. There you’ll see a high flat ledge covered with green cabbage and quite often waves will be spilling over it. But at low tide in calm seas or a southerly blowing and low swell, it’s quite safe and is a reliable blackfish spot.
It’s also pretty good for spinning up bonito, salmon or rat kingfish at times. The only problem is that there’s a submerged ledge in front of you and fish often try to bury you under the ledge. But once you’ve got them over it, they don’t have anywhere to go.
Just south of the main point you’ll see a couple of finger-like formations with channels cutting back into the rocks. Towards the end of these fingers can be good for drummer when it’s a bit washy, or for groper when it’s calm.
Salmon, tailor and the occasional bonito can be caught here as well, but it’s a bit snaggy so don’t let the lure sink for more than a few seconds. The main channel here isn’t a bad spot to catch a few pike or yakkas for bait.
Towards the southern end of these rocks is very shallow, snaggy and exposed so it can really be fished only at low tide during very calm seas. The better fishing, however, really is back on the main part of the big platform.
Another smaller platform between here and Soldiers Point is also quite low to the water and exposed to the elements.
Drummer, bream, luderick and trevally are possible close in around the washes, mainly around the north-eastern part of the rocks.
At low tide try gathering a few crabs for bait and cast them out on heavy gear for groper.
At the northern end of Soldiers Beach, this large flat platform is very easy to access. You can just walk over the sand spit that’s normally quite dry at low tide. On some of the larger tides, though, it does get covered with water so keep that in mind when planning to fish there.
The main fishing area is a weedy ledge facing north-east, which is a popular and productive blackfish spot at times. From this spot other fish like bream, drummer, groper, jewfish, tailor and bonito are all possible, depending on the season.
It’s normally quite safe here with a southerly blowing but you’re likely to get a bit wet when the winds come from the north-east.
Closer in around the sand spit area, bream and squid can be caught when seas are relatively calm. The rocks right next to the beach are also worth fishing and I’ve caught bream, tailor, salmon and jewfish there over the years, although it can get a bit weedy with kelp after a few days of rough seas.
To the south of Soldiers Beach is Pelican Point, which is well known for drummer, tailor, bream and jewfish. Other species that can be caught here include salmon, snapper, trevally, blackfish, frigate mackerel and flathead.
‘Pello’ is all quite low, exposed and very snaggy but when conditions are favourable it can be very productive. That normally means average swell that creates a bit of whitewash without being hazardous and the first few hours of a rising tide.
Cast lures or lightly weighted baits from the south-facing rocks towards the washes for tailor, salmon and bream early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Fish some of the pockets at the east for drummer, bream and blackfish closer in or cast surface poppers for tailor, salmon and the chance of a kingfish. Metal lures will catch fish out the front but they tend not to last long because it’s so snaggy.
BY THE SEASONS
Drummer and blackfish are the main Winter targets around Norah Head with bream, trevally, tailor and salmon possible at some spots, mainly through the earlier part of Winter.
When the seas are flat, try gathering a few crabs for bait and fish for groper with heavy tackle.
This isn’t the easiest time of year but when seas are calm, groper can be caught from most of the spots mentioned here.
At times, good numbers of salmon move in close to the rocks and they’ll respond best to small metal lures or whole pillies on ganged hooks. But sometimes they’ll be nearly impossible to catch.
Drummer and blackfish are about the next best option through Spring.
Early Summer can be a bit tough, with drummer, blackfish, groper and salmon the most reliable targets. In the second half of Summer warmer currents may move in and then bonito, kingfish and frigate mackerel spark up.
In recent years, mack tuna have also been common for those high-speed spinning with metal lures.
This is the best time to fish the rocks around Norah Head. Most species are possible but the main fish are bream, tailor, salmon, bonito, drummer, blackfish and squid.
In some spots, mainly around Soldiers and Pelican Point, jewfish are worth chasing on bait or lures, and occasionally a few big kingfish will be lurking around the rocks.
Frigate mackerel sometimes move into the protected bay on the southern side of Pelican Point.
With map 2
LIGHTHOUSE ROCKS GUIDE
A – Very low area where crabs and cunjevoi can be gathered at low tide during calm seas.
B – High ledge with plenty of green cabbage growth. Best fished around low tide when seas are calm and not bad when a southerly is blowing. Reliable for blackfish through the cooler months. Bonito, salmon and frigate mackerel can be caught by casting metal lures or suspending pilchards under floats.
C – One of the safest and driest spots to fish, although not overly reliable. Fish for drummer close in or luderick when the seas are a bit rougher. Occasionally bonito or salmon can be caught by spinning or casting whole pilchards.
D – Very low ledge that can be fished only at low tide when the seas are flat. Drop baits straight down for drummer or cast lures or pilchards for bonito, salmon, frigate mackerel, tailor or kingfish.
E – Main front ledge. This is reasonably safe and dry and is higher from the water than most other spots around. Most species can be caught here and it’s one of the better spots to cast lures, pilchards or live bait for bonito, kingfish, frigate mackerel, tailor and salmon. Also a chance of mack tuna or samson. Try crab baits for groper and be prepared for snags.
F – Shallow, snaggy and always washy here and best when north-easterlies are blowing. Try for drummer close in or drift weed or cabbage baits under floats for blackfish and drummer.
G – These fingers are normally quite safe and reasonably dry. Try for drummer when it’s a bit rough and trevally, bream or groper when it’s calm. Yakkas and pike can be caught in the main channel and the occasional tailor, bonito or salmon can be spun up with metal lures or poppers.
H – Low area that’s often under water but at low tide in calm seas a variety of fish can be caught, with drummer being about the most reliable.