Around the traps with the new writer
  |  First Published: May 2015

Hello readers, my name is John Goodwin and I’m the new Ballina and environs correspondent. My passion for fishing runs high like any fishing junkie — if it swims and has fins I’ll have a crack at trying to catch it on lure, fly or bait.

I enjoy all forms of fishing, from offshore, estuary, land based game fishing, fly fishing and freshwater, so my columns may be on a broad subject matter, but that’s because of my love of fishing.

The new law regarding being able to target wild bass, but not to take any from May 1 to August 31 has come into force. They’ve done this as some bass leave the upper reaches of rivers early to spawn in the brackish water. To me, it’s a little bit of a grey area, but the law states you can target them.

I’ll soon be back at dams like Toonumbar and Clarrie Hall to fish the edges with surface lures such as OSP Bent Minnows, Jackall Pompadors and Duo Shumushie Cicadas. Bassman Spinnerbaits, Imakatsu Alive Chatters, and plastics rigged on Beetle Spins will also get some good fish once the sun has risen and before they head to deep water off points and start schooling near dam walls.

Clarrie Hall received a stocking of 3,710 mangrove jacks back in March. The NSW mangrove jack breeding and stocking project think they’ll reach 500-700g in the next 2 years. Some people are frowning upon what has been done, while some are rubbing their hands together at what the next few years will bring.

The Richmond River around Wardell Bridge to Burns Point Ferry has had a lot of school size flathead, but trying to get anything of size has been a little hard. The area has plenty of bait about after the flush of water early last month, so if you do some searching I’m sure the bigger fish will show up, with the odd school mulloway thrown in for some fun on light line. Plastics around the 3’’ size with a paddle tail seem to get more attention, as well as blades around 1/4oz in weight.

Whiting should still be found from the ferry to North Creek, but this just depends on what weather we get this month. Popping for these fish can be real heart-in-mouth stuff, but water temperature can play a massive part and a change in weather will play games with them as well.

Mangrove jacks have been in great numbers in the lower reaches of the river along the retaining walls, with some fish getting up around the 60cm mark. Some of the better jacks have been taken on surface lures. Lucky Craft G-Splash and walk-the-dog surface lures have been a hit with them. Also try the Atomic 75mm Shiners, Maria MJ Twitch in the 90mm version, as well has Jackall 79 Hank Tunes if fishing deeper water.

The breakwalls and headlands have seen some great mulloway and tailor last month along the dirty water line, so let’s hope this continues. Some of the better fish have come from the guys casting hardbodies and big soft plastics, but those using bait have been getting the quality fish more often. Some anglers have even hooked the odd Spanish mackerel while targeting the mulloway on the headlands, just to throw a spanner in the works.

Offshore, Evans Head, Ballina, Lennox and Byron has had mackerel playing the game on the closer reefs, with slow trolled live slimy mackerel, yakkas and pike getting some great fish. High speed trolling Hex Heads and 190DD Laser Pros has pulled fish as well. May can see some XL models turn up, so don’t put the mackerel gear away just yet. Water around the 35-50m mark can see better fish on the bottom using live baits.

Jigging for kingfish has been ‘up and down’, with the current having a major influence on how easy it’s going to be. On some days we’ve been using 400g jigs, then move to the next spot and only need 210g, so take a mix of weights with you.

Snapper and pearl perch should start to pick up around the end of the month, with the arrival of the cooler water and the current letting up a little.

I went for a ride in a mate’s light aircraft from Evans Head to Tyagarah and was amazed at how many good looking gutters we saw on the flight, but still spotted a little dirty water trapped between Evans and Ballina. Whiting, dart, flathead, tailor and school mulloway have been caught, but still not in any kind of numbers. The whiting and dart have been favouring beachworms, as have the school mulloway, but if you want a schoolie or a tailor, try flesh baits like bonito.

If you’re after any additional information about the area, give us a call at Suffolks Outdoor Sports in Lismore, as we fish regularly and can point you in the right direction.

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