March is the ‘M’ month around here, good for mulloway, mackerel (maybe) and – moisture!
January signed off with its customary drenching, although the Richmond fared a whole lot better than the flooded river systems north and south of us. There was only nuisance flooding but those endless weeks of onshore winds were even more of a nuisance than the dirty water.
Mulloway of all sizes came and went around the breakwalls at Ballina, Evans Head and Brunswick Heads as the small flood peaks pushed through, carrying many resident baitfish from their respective rivers.
There were also some great jewies caught from the beaches, especially when the ocean came up rough enough to drive the river refugee mullet into the surf shallows, where the predators could have their way with them.
February, long known as a notorious raincoat month, started out producing more of the same. However, it’s been quite a few years since all 28 days were wet and miserable and this leap year offers the chance of an extra day to produce some fine fishing weather!
Plenty of offshore fishos will be hoping for at least some calm river bars and clean inshore water – it’s time for some of the biggest and best Spanish mackerel of the season.
Variable water quality, cool and murky upwellings and lack of consistent bait schools have made for a disappointing and patchy start to the mackerel so far.
Be out there when the water is clear and warm and there are fish to be had, but sometimes overnight the conditions change and the fish move on or shut down.
One trip with local veterinarian and mackerel tragic Rod Blake was typical. Despite hitting all the haunts, yellowtail were the only live bait available but we persisted, towing live yakkas around all the usual happy hunting grounds for about four hours.
Every time bait showed on the sounder, we stopped and dropped down a sabiki rig, only to come up with an endless string of yakkas, bullseyes, tarwhine, sweep and so on.
Then up came one lone slimy mackerel, which Rod gleefully sent back out pinned on a wire rig. He’d hardly put the rod in the holder and kicked the engine into gear when the big strike came, the terrified slimy putting enough slack into the line to allow for a clean bite-off…
This month La Nina should relent a little and hopefully peter out by April-May, so there is the promise of better weather or at least longer breaks between the major rain events.
I’m sincerely hoping for some inshore baitfish; they have been conspicuously absent for many months and the predatory pelagics have no reason to hang around. It’s almost upsetting to hear about the huge schools of all types of baitfish a few hundred kilometres south of here and all we can do is cross our fingers that they all want to head north for the Winter.
A run of Summer tailor did briefly show up in patches and I heard of a couple of greenbacks nudging 5kg but they were a rarity.
Fortunately some reasonable whiting kept beach anglers from missing their salmon and the whiting should be back for a few months before the water cools down and they head back into the estuaries for Winter.
The estuaries themselves have been truncated by a series of freshes and mini-floods with the main action in the Richmond mostly below Wardell and frequently below Pimlico.
Fortunately there hasn’t been enough of a serious flood to entirely scour out the Richmond, with school flathead mangrove jacks and bream lingering in the lower reaches and some good action on school jew and bigger flatties as the spring high tides helped push in some cleaner ocean water.
The river water is at its peak temperature now and it’s a great time for the ‘estuary lucky dip’ with soft plastics, blades and crankbaits.
What’s coming in on the next cast? It most likely would be a bream, flathead, mulloway, forktail catfish or even a luderick. But this
At least the fresh has picked up the crabbing season from its rather dismal earlier performance. There are now reasonable muddies in the lower reaches of Emigrant and North creeks and the main river.
Just remember that traps are banned downstream of the Burns Point ferry.Reads: 1660