Plastics vs bait smackdown
  |  First Published: July 2014

This month’s story is a little different because it’s about fishing some of the famous marks out at sea off the Tweed.

I have quite a few mates with boats but unfortunately they are bream tournament boats, and their skippers are reluctant to go outside – mainly because they don’t have the experience to cross the Tweed bar and are worried that the boats are too small.

Enter my mate Pete. He’s had numerous boats over the years and his latest acquisition is a slick fibreglass model with a very old Suzuki 40hp on the back. Now Pete’s been asking me for ages to come outside with him, but after a fish in the river off his boat with the engine stopping several times I told him there was no way I was going out through the notorious Tweed Bar with that on the back.

He kept trying anyway, and called a couple of weeks ago saying it was a perfect weekend and that he’d had the motor serviced as well. “So let’s do it!” he said.

I gave in. “Righto! See you at 4am.”

As I live right on the river with boat ramp out front it was pretty easy for Pete to launch the boat. Off we went, roaring up the river and as we approached the bar my heart skipped a beat. There were waves, big ones.

“Sure you can do this mate?” I asked.

“Yep.” The skipper was determined so I rang VMR to log in then out we went. I quickly discovered that Pete can drive a boat through a bar with skill and confidence and, what was even better, he was teaching me how to do it. Cool.

We made it out and headed straight to Fidos, and the motor worked like a dream thank goodness. Once at Fidos we rigged up and started a drift over the reef. It looked good as a lot of fish were showing up on the sounder. Pete was using his trusty squid and I had on a 3/4oz TT jighead with a 5/0 hook and Gulp Squid Vicious. I went through a packet in as many drops, because little fish were chewing the dangly bits off and leaving just the body.

Pete, on the other hand, was pulling up a variety of fish including snapper, parrotfish and one nice size (don’t know the name) fish that hangs out under sharks.

This isn’t good, I thought to myself. He’s walloping me with bait! What gives! I tried all different types of plastics but nothing worked. My mate’s repeated remarks of “I’m on again” was starting to grate on my nerves.

I looked at my jighead and suddenly thought, it’s a hook! I’ll try some bait on it. While Pete was pulling in his next fish I grabbed a squid, wacked it on the jighead and let it drop. My mate didn’t see a thing.

So far Pete had caught a heap of squire but nothing legal. Well, with the first bit of bait I’d used in years I landed my first ever snapper (squire) and legal at that. I was dancing around the boat, teasing Pete, holding my fish out.

I shouldn’t have held my fish out. Pete noticed the squid hanging out of the fish’s mouth. Oh dear, I’d been done – but to Pete’s credit he shared his squid and we caught a lot of fish out at Nine Mile and the Pinnacle though I have to say he hasn’t stopped paying me out ever since.


The river is at times crazy with bait and predators. Mates using dead bait have been smashing the bream off the Kirra groin and the Tweed seaway. Nice mulloway have been caught with deep divers off these walls but be careful fishing like this as it’s not always easy to get a big fish up from the rocks. You’ll get some nice tailor using a popper or fast moving metal slug. As far as I’m concerned though it’s schoolie time, as I love catching a mulloway on my light Nordic Stage rod (I have teamed it with a Stella FE 1000).

I try a lot of different approaches when hunting schoolies but two lures stand out on the Tweed. One is a hidden 1/40oz TT jighead teamed with any colour Z-man 2.5cm grub, and probably the most deadly is the Ecogear VX 35 Blade, so it’s a heavy and light approach. So far it’s worked for me.

One last thing – don’t forget about Jack Evans Boat Harbour as the other night I went for a drive to check the groin out but the sight of all the bait there made me pull up for a look. The place was chockers with pretty well everything bait-wise. Note to self: always carry a rod in the boot from now on.

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