Tough fishing in clear water
  |  First Published: September 2014

It’s been a tough month on the Richmond River, in fact the last few months have been tough for the regular punters just out looking for a feed. This is mainly due to the lack of rain which has resulted in some incredibly water clarity. In fact, last weekend I could see the bottom of the river in 6m of water while anchored up at the Porpoise Wall on the run-in tide. The only species that has been reliable and biting readily in numbers has been the humble luderick and even then I’ve had to drop down to 2lb trace to get some consistent action, and use a variety of green and black weeds.

For those of you who haven’t yet mastered the art of catching luderick, the most successful technique to get onto a few fish in the river has been to use a variety of fresh and live baits. The run-out tide, which provides a bit of colour to the water, has been the best time. Lightly weighed live yabbies, prawns and mullet gut have fooled some wary bream and the occasional flathead.

The lure fishermen have been doing it especially tough. Forget about trying to fool a super wary bream in these clear waters – I’ve even struggled to get a decent feed of flathead lately. The only reasonable success I’ve had is targeting pockets of sand amongst the weed beds with natural looking soft plastics and small hardbodies. With the hardbodies you generally only get a few cranks of the handle across the sand pockets before the lure fouls up on weed so make that first cast count. Soft plastics on the other hand are a lot easier, and rigged weedless they are a deadly and snag-proof option for tough days.

The rock and beach fishing has been the saviour for many locals lately with good bream, drummer and grouper falling to well presented (lightly weighted) baits fished close to the rocks. The swell has been forgiving enough lately to access some of the harder-to-reach spots, and structure such as bommies and rocky outcrops with sufficient white water have been producing fish.

Lately I’ve also done quite a bit of tailor spinning around the beach gutters and rocky headlands in the mornings, and have been surprised with the quality of fish on offer. Solid winter greenbacks are common, and I watched a young lad lose a fish of about 6kg spinning off Flatrock. He was devastated. I tried to console him by reminding him that half the attraction of fishing is ‘the one that got away’ but I don’t think that helped much!

I can’t comment much on the offshore fishing because every weekend it seems the swell manages to get up and the fishing gods prevent me from doing some much-needed research for readers. The anglers who have managed to sneak out mid-week have reported that plenty of snapper are located on the close reefs as well as the 32 and 48 fathom lines, with quite a few pearl perch, kingfish and amberjack also coming over the side. Unfortunately the plague of leatherjackets has also arrived so remember to take plenty of wire and hooks when you head out. The humble leatherjacket can make a great feed but those scissor-like teeth can be mighty expensive on terminal tackle.

Funding open for NSW Habitat Action

I noticed in a recent email from NSW Fisheries that funding is now available for NSW Habitat Action Grants which are provided through the NSW Recreational Fishing Licence Trust. Individuals, angling clubs, community groups and local organisations interested in rehabilitating fish habitats in freshwater and saltwater areas throughout NSW can apply for grants. These include such projects as re-snagging your favourite bass or cod stream, bank stabilisation works, removal of exotic vegetation and rehabilitation of riparian lands. This is a great opportunity for anglers to take an active approach in the future of their local waterways. More information can be found on the NSW Fisheries website at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/hag. Applications close on September 19, 2014.

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