Good numbers of mulloway have been landed throughout November.
The estuary was the first hot spot, then from there the fish have spread throughout, with reports as far up as Sapling Creek. The old hotspots are still getting the lions share: Taylors Straight, the border area below Donovan’s, both sides of Dry Creek, Princess Margaret Rose Caves, Sandy Waterhole and Hutchessons through to McLennans Punt.
As in other years, trolling lures and live bait initially was quite fruitless. When mulloway enter the river the water is quite dirty, and the fish seem to hang lower in the saltwater wedge that pushes into the river from the ocean. This creates the need to target the lower saltwater with good fresh baits and deeper diving lures.
As the water cleans up the local trolling gang start to get the cherries. Baits such as blood worm, squid, fish strips fished off the bottom, lures such as metal vibes, well weighted worm style plastics and deep diving hard bodied lures all get their fair share. Now that the waters are clearing the local trolling brigade has had a bit more success with live mullet and the much loved Rebel Fastrack jointed lures. There is obviously a huge choice of lures out there but the Rebels have been amazing for a long time now and as much as you experiment with other lures, you seem to go back to the old favourite and why not, they work.
Bream at present are playing the game, as massive numbers of fish have migrated to the mid-section of the river; Sapling Creek [26.4 km] with its excellent boat ramp facility has been the spot to launch your boat. Fishing upstream from there has produced huge numbers of fish of 35-40cm. It’s the spawning run which occurs every year around this time in this section of the river that creates such good fishing. I know of one couple who camped at Battersby Landing for a week and their catch was 102 bream, a couple of mulloway and half a dozen perch, now that’s a good week.
As the river is still coloured from the winter rain, targeting depths of 2-4m is the go. Over summer as the water returns to a clearer blue/green colour as the river cleans itself and becomes more saline from the massive tidal effect from the ocean, targeting the edges of the river will produce more fish.
The reed beds that abound along the banks have really flourished this year, and are a great sanctuary for a variety of fish including bait species which in turn attract good numbers of bream.
I suggest you target the reed beds that have a good depth of water on their edge. I have two light four-prong hook anchors that work a treat. Simply nose into the reeds and piff your anchors port and starboard at 45 degrees into the reed bed and tie off to your stern quarters, this will hold you steady and it’s easy to pull anchor and move to your next spot. Cast along the edges of the reed beds, this should see you in the target zone.
The beauty of the little hook anchors is it enables you to quickly up-anchor and move around. In a good day session we can change spots 20 or more times, only giving about 10-20 minutes to each spot. Often the best results have come from pilchard cut into 2-3cm bits, hooked on a 1 or 2 size hook, preferably long shank making it easier to try and pull out as the bream usually gulp it down. We also use cheap hooks, cutting the line and leaving the hook in the fish because we don’t want to damage the bream trying to pull your hooks. Studies have proven that bream will pass a hook through themselves without any problems.
This year, because of the extraordinary winter rain the river has had a great flush, especially in the upper reaches 50km upstream and more. I believe this will create an excellent environment for all species to explore this section of the river.
In years past Pritchard’s landing (45 km) and beyond has produced fantastic angling: over the last several years this hasn’t been the case. Launching from Pritchard’s landing places you right into a beautiful part of the river, slightly narrower than the lower sections but still with an average 6m of depth with banks covered with all sorts of fallen trees, reeds and rock walls: it all looks fishable.
Estuary perch have mainly been caught from Nelson through to Donovans landing, mainly on hardbodied and blade style lures. Phil Knight from the Roadhouse here in Nelson along with Clay ‘Bricky’ Smith have been having a ball with fish to 46cm.
Over December and January we should see a migration of these fantastic fish back upstream, with Donovan’s to Sapling creek the area to try.
Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and a ripper New Year.
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Bream are playing the game.Reads: 1963