Be there at daybreak
  |  First Published: November 2012

Morning northeasterlies, afternoon storms, increasing offshore current and warming estuaries are what November is all about.

It’s a period of sometimes violent weather that strongly influences where and when we can hunt for the fish available in the rivers, beaches and offshore.

Typical weather patterns seem to have returned after a series of wet years, meaning we can expect more sun and a hotter landmass to trigger those nor’easters by mid-morning. With the land temps getting above 30°, it’s simple physics that the cooler, moister air over a 23° ocean flows in under the land air that rises as it heats up.

That moisture can get drawn up into some pretty awesome storm clouds so it pays to get most of our fishing done before things get too frisky.

The advent of daylight saving means that we don’t have to get up just before we go to bed in order to experience a pre-dawn bite – the best time to be wetting a line.

Whether you seek snapper on the reefs, flatties on the drop-offs or bass in the sweetwater, first light is when it all happens at the moment.

If the big rain events continue to stay away, river and coastal water will be quite clear and as soon as that bright sun gets doing, the fish tend to retire to deeper, dimmer water.

Snapper and teraglin are the main objectives around the closer reefs, although there could be some cobia in the mix as well. Further out, the current might be kicking in a bit stronger but it should still be OK to get baits and jigs to the bottom for reds, pearl perch, kings and amberjack.

It’s wise to head back home pretty well before the sea breeze gets too strong, especially if you’re pretty wide. Sometimes that big chop doesn’t kick in until you’re a few miles from shore and if the tide is running out, the bar can become a real washing machine. Pressure waves from wind against tide, on top of prevailing swell, can make things very tricky.


The sea breeze can make things tough for the beach angler, too.

With the surf temp rising, it’s a good time to chase whiting and dart in the shore break and the banks adjoining the holes and gutters. Anywhere from Seven Mile Beach at Lennox down to Evans and Black Rock will be worth a shot, it’s just a matter of hunting down where the best numbers are likely to be.

Fresh beach worms, slimies preferably, are the top bait for the whiting although dart will hammer pipi strips as well and both don’t mind a freshly-pumped yabby.

I’m also keen to try some of the Marukyu Isome artificial sandworms that made some waves at the AFTA Trade Show – my back will be grateful if they mean I won’t have to catch local worms. I hear tell that in places where National Parks sprayed the bitou bush by helicopter mid-year that the worms on the adjacent beaches have been very rare.

Pipis were a bit more common in recent months but have been heavily harvested commercially from Patchs Beach to Broadwater and the grey nomads and other visitors have been taking plenty home from the beach nearer Evans. They can’t be taken away more than 50m from the high tide line and are for bait only.

It’s not a great month (or year!) for tailor and the salmon haven’t been anywhere near as common as in previous years but if you see birds working a school of bait, it’s worth having a good go for some.


It’s Flattie Central in the rivers this month with the big girls and their harems doing their thing in the lower reaches of the estuaries, often very close to the mouths of the Richmond, Brunswick and Evans rivers.

Emotions can get pretty heated this month as trophy hunters and those who don’t know any better bring home big, dead female lizards that could have spawned potentially millions of offspring. It’s still legal to keep one flathead over 70cm in NSW but that doesn’t mean it’s right, nor is it in the best interests of the local fishery.

They provide great photo opportunities and handle thoughtful catch-and-release techniques well. These days most people have some sort of camera handy so just take some brag shots to show around and you’ll impress a lot more people than you would by nailing a head to a tree.

There have been plenty of tasty school fish of 45cm-55cm around most of the rivers, with the best spots in the Evans River from the Iron Gates to the golf course. On the Richmond they’re pretty well spread from about Pimlico to above Woodburn, although there are also fair numbers below the ferry on both sides of the river.

Bream seem to have spread out as far upstream as Coraki and there are no real concentrations of them, although late in the month or early in December we could see a false spawn run around the lower estuaries.

School jew have also moved well into the brackish reaches where mullet, herrings, prawns and whitebait have proliferated in the dry conditions. Fish have been taken around Woodburn and probably well beyond, although the stretch from Pimlico to Wardell has also been popular, especially at night.

Trevally, mostly GT to about 3kg and a few patches of big-eyes, have also been hunting widely in the Richmond, Evans and Brunswick systems. They’re not ultra-keen on poppers but just love to snaffle a blade or plastic retrieved rapidly up the water column.

Get hold of some of the bigger ones and you’ll need to chase them on outboard power; try to quickly place the boat between the fish and the structure they’re heading for or they’ll bury you. If they keep smashing the bait in the rivers for another month or so, there’ll be some GT unstoppable on conventional river luring outfits.

I’ve heard of the odd mangrove jack around Ballina already and this month they should become quite active, especially in that pre-dawn calm they seem to love. There’ll be some good bust-ups on the coffee rock in the Brunswick and Evans, too.

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