The depths of winter around here really aren’t that deep compared with places further south, but they necessitate breaking out the beanies and thermals and huddling around fires and heaters for a while.
The overnight minimums might still be above zero but that wind chill can get pretty dramatic.
It’s a mere 160km, as the southwester blows, from Evans Head to icy Ben Lomond, near Guyra. This highest part of the New England Plateau shares its altitude with Thredbo Village and every year the New England Highway gets closed by snow and ice for a day or so.
Cold air sinks and where does it go? Here.
An icy air mass often comes rushing down the Great Divide an hour or so after sunrise, creating those blustery offshore conditions that seemingly spring out of nowhere just as you deck the first few snapper of the morning.
It makes a trip out wider quite rough in most boats but fortunately there are usually enough snapper in close to make a packet or two of soft plastics or a block of pillies a good investment.
The reds are in pre-spawn aggregations so where there is one there are usually quite a few more. Take enough for your immediate needs and don’t be too greedy. By the same token, snapper do freeze better than most local fish so if you can seal out the freezer burn, they’ll keep for a month or so.
That offshore wind usually blows over the tops of the dunes so a session on the beach can be quite warming once the sun hits the sand.
Unless it’s cloudy, the best tailor stop biting not long after sunrise but there could be a few salmon about if the water has cooled enough by now.
Bream spawn in the surf and migrate this month, so they’re an all-day option unless the ocean is super-clear and calm from the westerly.
The 28km strip of beach from Evans to Ballina has been pretty good lately, especially when there has been some bait in close. Tailor and school mulloway have been fair to good and there’s been a run of dusky flathead on the move from one estuary to the next, too.
Unless there’s a cold front or a southerly operating, that wind can die off come mid-afternoon, leading to clear, calm evenings.
When the shadows of the land hit the surf there’s always a good chance of another hot bite. You’ll definitely need your beanie and waders for this one.
The rocks also fish well then, with tailor, bream and school mulloway the major targets. Catches have been reasonably good from the rocks at Evans Head and the headlands from Ballina north to Lennox Head, Broken Head and Cape Byron, which are all back on the agenda now you can fish from the shore in sanctuary zones.
The Boat Channel at Lennox, which many thought would have been crawling with fish after being a marine park sanctuary for several years, has been a pretty dismal producer, according to local reports. Makes you wonder why they fenced it off in the first place.
There’ll be plenty of boats heading offshore for the evening bite, too.
The grounds out in 30m-40m can really turn it on after dark for snapper, mulloway and teraglin. This is the time most favoured by the black-market shamateurs, who respect no bag limits of any kind apart from what they can fit into their bags. Why make bag limits to try to kerb these people when honest fishos do the right thing?Reads: 1088