Staying safe around the rocks in October
  |  First Published: October 2014

I’ve been struggling to catch anything worth a mention in the upper reaches of the Tweed, so after discussing this dilemma with my mate Pete, he suggested a rock wall expedition around Fingal Light House targeting tailor at a place known to the locals as Devils Island!

Now I have to stress, rock fishing is one of Australia’s most dangerous sports! Really? Yep, sure is!

Here’s why I haven’t fished the place for months, another mate, Dic and I were fishing for tailor off Fingal Beach when we saw a group of panicked people heading past us to get to their car. One bloke was in strife, his chest was covered in blood and he had a nasty gash on his head, his mates were carrying what was left of his rod and reel - half a rod and 1/3 of an alvey - it turned out he suffered broken ribs and concussion and an obviously bruised ego. In my opinion, he’s lucky to be alive, as to get to Devils Island you have to cross a causeway, which on the high tide can be extremely dangerous in some conditions and it was like that on that particular day. Old mate panicked, lost it, then got worked by a big wave.

Rock fishing will always pose risks but there are ways to counteract them. I’ve been a rock hopper for 4 decades, so I’d love to pass on some of the safety tips that I’ve come to develop and incorporate in the rock fishing hunt.

Rock Fishing Safety tips

1. Check out from a distance where you intend to fish, which is very easy to do at Fingal, watch what the waves are doing for at least 15-20 minutes, longer if you’re unfamiliar with the place. Trust me, if the unease is too strong, don’t do it, better to be safe than sorry!

2. Although I do it sometimes, I suggest never fish off rocks alone.

3. Definitely wear a life jacket.

4. The most important while observing your spot, pick an escape route in case you go in. If you can’t swim, don’t try rock fishing!

5. Let someone know where you are going.

6. The use of good shoes is recommended as it gets slimy. I prefer bare feet, but I noticed some guys the other day wearing boots with metal spikes, which would be ideal.

7. I always wear a pair of fingerless gloves and carry a phone in a water proof bag

8. If the worst happens, don’t worry about your gear, think of your escape plan; preserving your own life is more important!

In all the years I’ve been rocking I’ve never gone in the water. I’ve fallen off my kayak about 20 times, but that’s a story for another day.

What’s biting

Luderick are running amuck in the usual spots and there’s been a significant drop in yellowtail kingfish numbers, maybe they’ve gone!

I thought I’d try the popper out last weekend in the shallows and within a half hour I’d caught 4 fish, 2 bream, a flathead and a whiting, all undersize but encouraging none the less.

There’s been a lot of small trevally caught under the bridges, particularly Boyd’s Bay.

The usual choppers, bream and school mulloway have been caught off the rock walls out front.

Last month we were getting pounded by big swells, so maybe this month things in the river could turn around as the fish love a good wash.

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