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Doing things by halves
  |  First Published: May 2014



May is the month you just start to notice a few subtle changes on the river. The sun doesn’t rise so early, there is a slight nip in the air, and if you’re an early starter you’ll often find you have the river all to yourself.

The summer species are still around it’s just getting a little harder to find them. Mangrove jack and mulloway are being caught at the usual haunts such as under and around the Tumbulgum Bridge, and around the Condong Bridge has been fishing great as well. One mate of mine caught a bull shark, a mulloway and on his last cast a GT there. He was out during the week so I didn’t get an invite!

Behind Condong sugar mill during the night will keep you on your toes as a lot of action goes down at that spot, particularly when the mill is working as it pumps cold water from the river to cool the plant down. The water goes right through the factory then comes out boiling hot at what looks like a big spar complete with mist and steam.

I’ve got a story about this place – it was around 4am, just before sun up. I was on my yak alone and I paddled up to the spar, stood up on the yak and started casting straight into the bubbles. It was too dark for the workers above me to see my yak or me as I’d turned my headlight off to be more stealthy.

Using a 3” Gulp Shrimp in the banana prawn colour, It it drop into the soup then started jigging. On my third cast I got nailed. I pulled the fish away from the snag, got it right near the yak, then bang! There was a big splash and a whack on the yak and I ended up with half a schoolie as a big bull shark smashed it. I was scratching my head wondering what just happened but it didn’t take long to find out; as it got lighter the boys working up in the mill noticed me. Two of them were waving and yelling, telling me to sit down as I was in the middle of a school of feeding sharks!

Oops. I sat down, held up my half fish and said, “Yeah, tell me about it!” They had a good laugh and I quickly paddled back to my car with my half fish.

Funny old place the Tweed… that stretch of the river is most famous for its sharks and water skiing, two things you wouldn’t think would go together in the same area. Still, I haven’t heard of anyone being attacked by a bully as I reckon the roar of the motors would scare them away. I don’t fish there in a yak anymore though, only from a boat.

Whenever I try to bring this story up my girl throws a tea-towel over her head and mimics the old RACQ ad: “Charter boat, what charter boat?” I think she’s pointing out that it would be a dumb thing to do again.

BREAM

As I’ve mentioned before I hunt bream with lures and with the cooler weather will come the bigger bream. In the summer I chase them on the surface but as it gets cooler I find shallow divers and deep divers work well. I also bring the plastics out, and my go-to softies are Z-Man Curly Tail GrubZ and Berkley Gulp Shrimps in the 2.5cm size.

A great place to try for a horse bream is all the walls around the Blue Hole (it’s right where you either go to Mur-bah or out to sea). I align myself next to the wall and cast, letting the lure run down the rock face to the sand. You can catch fish in all kinds of ways at this spot. Sometimes they will take it on the drop, while at other times you may need to just let the lure sit on the sand, moving it a little, and they’ll take it just like you’re bait fishing with a real prawn.

THE MONTH AHEAD

Now for a quick overview of the fishing in our area.

Bream, tailor, mulloway and yellowtail kingfish have all been caught in the Seaway. The tailor have been coming off Fingal Beach and the causeway along with the odd Australian salmon. Flathead are everywhere but finding the bigger fish amongst the smaller ones isn’t always easy. Your best bet is to try the shallows near the Golf Club opposite Fingal. Bream? Never heard of ‘em!

Remember in NSW you need a fishing licence, which you can get online. If you don’t have computer access, the only other place I know of on the Tweed where you can get a licence is right next door to Scales Seafood at Drift Bait and Tackle. There you’ll meet a lovely couple called Neil and Susan Ridings and while you are there check out their range of ‘Berko Soft Plastics’. I hadn’t seen them before but after grabbing a packet I found them to be a deadly lure. The store also sells live bait.
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