This month’s weather is like Baby Bear’s porridge in the Three Bears: Not too hot, not too cold – just right!
It’s not only the weather that’s ideal. Warm-water fish like marlin, mackerel and mangrove jacks remain on tap along with the early Autumn smorgasbord of tailor, jewfish, mullet, blackfish and bream. And to top it off, we get a fistful of public holidays to go out and enjoy it all. What more could you want?
Murky water in close, triggered by endlessly tiresome onshore winds, has mostly kept the mackerel from their usual hunting grounds but we should see the first westerlies of the oncoming Winter sorting out that in April. The bait schools are already here, luxuriating in relative safety from larger predators, although they have been copping a hammering from schools of tailor.
Anyway, if we are to have a mackerel season this year, it should kick in soon. Across the border they’ve apparently been having a great time on the macks so it should be our turn soon.
Snapper and teraglin have been going reasonably well in close and will be supplemented by fish from wider out on the shelf as the season progresses. The wider grounds have held good reds and, when the current runs consistently through the water column, members of the jigging brigade have returned home sore but smiling from encounters with big kings and amberjack.
In 2005/06 it was the season of the cobia all along the coast but this Summer appears to have belonged to the wahoo, which have featured more prominently in catches than I can remember. I wonder what will be the fish of the year next Summer?
The beaches have provided some excellent action but the onshores have meant you’ll have to go searching for a suitable gutter or hole because they’re not prolific. At least that means that when you do find a suitable formation there’s the promise of good fishing.
The tailor have kicked in pretty well despite the often murky water. A high tide at first light should provide plenty of action once you’ve found some good water. Most of the fish I’ve encountered so far have been of good quality, with choppers of 600g to a kilo ready and willing to smash anything thrown at them until the light gets too bright. By then you should have caught more than enough fish for a couple of meals and released plenty as well for next time.
Whiting and dart remain quite common on the beaches, especially if you use fresh beach worms. You’ll catch a few on fresh pipis, which are easily obtainable, but they run a poor second to worms in the productivity stakes.
Up around the Broadwater coffee rock has been one of the most worthwhile spots for just about anything, including tailor, bream, jewfish and flathead.
There is a growing local band of light-tackle beach fishos devoted to throwing 3” to 4” soft plastics on 2kg to 3kg braid and their results speak for themselves. They’re using Samurai S001X or 002X blanks extended to about 8’ or 9’ and other estuary bream-style tackle and having a ball on flatties, bream, tailor and, as the season rolls on, school jew. It’s worth trying on your local beaches for a whole lotta fun, some great catches and memorable bust-ups.
This month estuary action should slowly move back to the lower reaches. A flood-free Summer meant many fish could forge into the middle sections of the Richmond and Evans rivers, where bream, school jew, mud crabs and flathead were rubbing shoulders with the estuary perch, mullet and bass. The March Autumn equinox and that first westerly should be enough to get them scurrying back downstream with spawning and maybe migration on their minds.
It would be nice to see a decent mullet run this year as the westerlies kick in. So much marine life revolves about these fish that we really should nurture and develop poor old Mugil cephalus, not just run nets around them, rip the roe out to sell at a premium and then dump the rest on a local market that quickly becomes saturated. Few people truly realise how delectable a grilled clean sea-run mullet fillet can be and most of the fish seem to end up as crab or crayfish bait.
Jewfish certainly know how nice a fresh sea mullet can be and the biggest fish of the season are often caught within coo-ee of a school of nervous mullet. Bream often shadow the schools, too.
After a pretty poor 2006 season, the Richmond blackfish came on fairly strongly in early March with some rewarding catches at most of the popular haunts, including the Prospect Bridge, the gaps in the Porpoise Wall and the Burns Point ferry. Those fish that remain upstream should supplement their numbers this month.
It’s been a pretty poor bream season on the Richmond after many of the larger fish left on the February 2006 flood but there should also be an improvement in numbers and quality over the next few months as well.
Many bream lure fishos have turned to other entertainment, usually in the form of mangrove jacks, trevally, jewfish and flathead.
The big-eye trevally and GTs have certainly been terrorising the bait schools, as have the jacks in the dark and the half light of dawn and dusk. If you’re a latecomer chasing these species, you’d better get out now and discover what you’ve been missing before these fish taper down for the Winter.
School jew have been steady, if not spectacular, from Ballina up to Woodburn. Find the bait and some deep water close by and you’re in with a good chance, especially on a tide change at dawn or dusk. As the mullet head down to the lower reaches, so will some of the larger jew. Try with livies or lures around the Ballina RSL, Burns Point or along the Porpoise Wall, especially after the sun goes down.Reads: 822