A promising start
  |  First Published: June 2011

I think by now we are all quite aware that it may be a bit of a cold one this Winter. But the chill may be the only down side to a really good season, judging by some of the action we have already experienced leading into Winter.

Good numbers of snapper are starting to show up and those ever-present kingies are stealing floatline and soft plastic rigs over our inshore reefs.

The odd good-sized mackerel was still being caught in May and the bass and bream have made welcome appearances in the Tweed River.

All the rain that provided us with endless difficulties over the warmer months may well have prepared everything for some good fishing this Winter.

June falls pretty much right in the middle of our Winter season and is a good indication of what will happen through July, August and September.

Last year we experienced a late run of our cool-water species.

It took a bit longer for the water temperatures to come down but once they did, the fish weren’t far behind. It will be interesting to see how the scenario pans out on the Tweed this year.

There were a few good fish around in May and early signs look like June may well be a cracker.

The current should have slowed right down this month and those early morning westerlies should flatten the inshore sea right off, allowing a lot more of us to get out there and enjoy one of Australia’s favourite pastimes.

The inshore reefs off the Tweed really start to fire this month with good numbers of snapper, spangled emperor, tuskfish and the odd kingfish on the cards.

Floatlining baits and throwing soft plastics usually account for the better class of snapper while standard bottom-bouncing rigs will catch their fair share of squire and tuskies.

The offshore reefs like those in 45 fathoms and 50 fathoms should produce some good pearlies, snapper, trag and amberjack.

Similar techniques to those used on the closer reefs will work in the deep water, with the addition of live baiting and jigging as very effective ways to get your arms stretched by a big king, amberjack or samson fish.

With the plastics and floatlining rigs it will simply be a case of upgrading the weight of the jig head or ball sinker to accommodate the deeper water.

We generally find good numbers of bonito on the deeper reefs throughout the Winter and these are excellent bait for floatlining because they are quite tough and can handle a bit of attention from the smaller squire, giving the bigger knobs a chance to find the bait.

The trick is to cut the fillets lengthways into long, thin, streamlined strips.

When you hook the strip onto a set of gangs or a double-hook rig, ensure that it is straight and doesn’t spin in the water. This will help to keep the bait looking more natural and you will catch a lot more fish by doing this.


The upper reaches of the Tweed River should start to fire up as the bass begin their spawning migration. Remember, these fish are illegal to possess in NSW until September 1 to protect the spawning run.

However, there’s still a great year-long bass fishery at Clarrie Hall Dam, near Uki.

It has been fishing reasonably well with some good bass falling to small paddletail soft plastics slowly wound out from the weedy edges or retrieved through schooling fish.

I have been taking my son, Kevin, 3, out there quite regularly and we have been trolling deep-diving minnows like the Lucky Craft Pointer or Lucky Craft Clutch around the edges while keeping an eye on the sounder for any schools of bass.

I run a Humminbird 898 on my tinny and set it up on side-imaging mode to allow me to see to the sides of my boat at all times. Quite often when we hook a bass trolling we don’t see any fish marking up under the boat but will see fish on the port or starboard screen.

We then stop the boat and cast the plastics to the school of fish. Once you get used to doing this, it cuts out a lot of aimless casting and your catch rate increases significantly.

I have attached a picture in this month’s column of a massive school of bass that we found by doing this.

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