This is a great month to fish anywhere here, with all manner of species concentrated within a mile or two of the coastline.
The lower estuaries, the beaches, rocks and inshore reefs should all be fishing about as well as they can, with the southern migratory species moving in to mix with the spawning locals as the remnants of the autumn pelagics grabbing one last bite before they dash north.
The best mackerel season for more than a decade is drawing to a close but quite often the best is saved for last. The water seems to be taking its time to cool off and that suits the mackerel just fine, as long as there’s no deluge of dirty fresh water pouring from flooded rivers.
After feasting on the baitfish as far south as the Illawarra coast, the spotties should be fat and sleek and there’s every chance of encountering a fish of 10kg. And if you think a 10kg Spanish can move along, a lit-up spotty of the same weight might really impress you.
Some big Spaniards have been captured this year but don’t be surprised to see some scissor-mouthed monsters this month as the bigger solitary fish shadow the migrating schools of tailor and mullet.
They should hang over the closer reefs but you’ll also turn up some real ‘beachcombers’ that lurk just wide of the nervous mullet schools and dash in to dismember 2kg of mullet. And don’t be afraid to troll a fresh or even live bonito or mack tuna of 2kg plus but be prepared to lose an awful lot of line when you hook up!
As if the surface action wasn’t enough, the snapper should be bunching up for their pre-spawn shindigs over the close reefs and the calm, cloudy and cool days often seen this month can prolong the shallows bite for many hours past dawn.
The reds have already been in quite good form so there’s the promise of a good winter ahead.
Out a little deeper, the bite can go on all day in cloudy conditions and the first influx of pearl perch also will be made most welcome.
Many of the Richmond River mullet ran to sea during a strong fresh after heavy rain around Anzac Day but there should be schools migrating north along the beaches and headlands – if the beach netters further south have left any.
Some big jewfish follow the mullet and if the schools linger in rough weather around the breakwalls, deep beach holes and in the lee of the headlands, the big jewies feast well, along with the ever-present sharks.
Tailor should also be in greater numbers, especially if the bait schools keep close to the beaches and headlands.
North of Ballina there have been some reasonable catches of tailor already although numbers and sizes have been poor in comparison with the Mid North Coast and the South Coast.
Longtail tuna should also be terrifying the baitfish that the tailor are working, while the first of the not-so-welcome salmon are also likely this month.
There should be plenty of bream around the mouths of the Richmond, Evans and Brunswick rivers as they bunch up for spawning.
The middle reaches of the rivers have been fresh water, thanks to regular dumps of rain, so all the focus is on the final kilometre or so.
The Richmond has had plenty of bream all year although whether you fish bait or lures, it might take a bit to find the quality fish.
If the falling tide is producing muddy water, concentrate on following the cleaner water on a rising tide up the river. If the ebb tide water is merely stained, as is often the case in the Brunswick or Evans, there’s still hope of a fish on the run out.
Naturally, with so many mullet around, a piece of flesh or gut will pick up plenty of bream, especially in discoloured water.
Heavily scented plastics and blades work well in murky water, while crankbaits and deep blades do the job when it clears up.
And don’t be too surprised when a big jewie climbs onto your lure. They might be hanging around for a mullet but they don’t mind a smaller snack while they’re waiting.Reads: 959