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Inshore comes alive
  |  First Published: May 2013



Let’s hope we’ve turned the corner with the bad weather because if things go well this month, they tend to go very well indeed.

There have been years when we’ve had floods right through to mid-June but if there are no further nasties, this should be a classic turnover month.

The increased nutrients and a sediment top-up from the floods mean the inshore grounds are attracting plenty of life, including migratory baitfish and predators. The current has been charging south or north and has been warm travelling in either direction but, as May goes on, the north-flowing eddy edges should start to cool.

The mackerel came late this season, after the floodwaters eventually cleared up inshore.

With all the baitfish around, they could well stay late, especially the Spanish, although many of the spotties are getting towards Spaniard size.

I had one decent spot absolutely smash a 40cm live pike – something I’ve rarely encountered. The spots generally tend to like smaller livies, especially small slimy mackerel.

After one of the next big southerly blows the water will start to cool a little and the first waves of pre-spawn snapper will venture into shallower water, so a small slimy meant for a spot could also be whacked by a decent red. That’s hardly a problem!

Migrating humpback whales generally kick in this month, riding those currents north, so it will pay to be vigilant when moving about offshore.

BEACHES

Local beaches copped a real hammering from the Autumn storms and have become seriously eroded in places. Even in calm weather, at high tide the waves lap the bases of the sandy cliffs in a number of places so driving the beaches is best done at half tide or lower.

Many sea mullet didn’t bother to re-enter the estuaries, gathering in larger schools in the shore break as Autumn progressed. The big jewies haven’t been serious threats to them yet but there have been some fair-sized sharks taking their toll and it would be a brave fisho who’d wade the gutters too deep after dark.

Whiting, flathead and bream have been welcome catches and the odd decent patch of tailor has been encountered whenever the small baitfish come in close enough. There should be plenty more this month.

This is also a fair month for longtail tuna from the headlands and inshore reefs, again when the baitfish are about.

I suppose those same southerly storms will also bring us the first wave of salmon as the water cools off.

And with the bitou bush coming into flower again, there is a growing band of locals worried about helicopter spraying by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. We’ve recorded in these pages before the worries of a number of beach fishos who see a direct correlation between aerial spraying and the disappearance of beach worms from adjacent beaches.

Some more Evans locals who know what they’re talking about have said that once-prolific beach worms have practically disappeared from areas where spraying operations have been undertaken. Given that the spraying happens when the wind blows offshore, it’s almost a certainty. I suppose the spraying needs to happen next to a marine park for it to raise any concerns with the NPWS.

ESTUARY

The fish are repopulating the flood-hit rivers, slowly making their way upstream. Flathead and school jew should be as far up the Richmond as Wardell, although the bream and blackfish should be lingering in the final few kilometres of the river and gathering loosely in preparation for spawning.

The luderick kicked into gear as the Richmond River cleared and some of the local experts took big bags on cabbage weed. The fish also like to hang around the Evans breakwalls when it’s rough and there’s good weed to be harvested around the headland.

Mangrove jacks were concentrated briefly along the lower rock walls in the Richmond and some quality fish were taken on live bait, cut bait and lures. The river fish should spread out a little this month and some of the bigger ones will venture out to the close reefs.

The bass shut up shop as the floods came down but they kicked in again as the headwaters cleared up. No doubt some of the fish will be heading downstream for spawning this month – let’s hope they don’t get an easy ride on a flood!

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