Looking good offshore
  |  First Published: November 2015

The Richmond River in the last month has seen some great catches of one of my favourite fish in the rivers, the estuary perch. I know a lot of anglers who reckon this species is right up there with the best, and feel like it’s the Holy Grail when one is landed.

These fish are not as hard to get as you might think though. When the timing is right, you can catch these fish in great numbers. Some hot spots have been Emigrant Creek around most of the moored boats, and you’ll find that any other current breaks are also worth a try. Small hardbody lures or very lightly weighted soft plastics have been the best producers. A lot of bream fishers have been getting a big surprise when hooking these things on light tackle. They can give you some real curry. It would be interesting to see a tug of war between a 35cm EP and a 35cm mangrove jack. I think the jack might win but only just!

Mud crabs have started to move up around Rileys Hill in numbers and even further up towards Woodburn. This will continue if the water stays clear, which it has been for a while now. The best crab baits will be blackfish frames and fresh mullet.

The flathead have also started to move upriver. Look for deep holes with freshwater flowing in. Live baits of herring and poddy mullet are the best producers for the bigger fish as well as big jerk minnow plastics like the 6” Atomic Plazo Jerk Minnow in ghost pearl colour.

There have been a few of our red friends showing up, with some good-sized catches of mangrove jacks coming in the past few weeks. They are certainly not biting their heads off just yet, but as the weather warms up and we get the balmy, sticky afternoons these guys will really start to fire. The more I chase them the more I catch, and as stupid as that sounds, it has a simple message: persistence pays. So many people get disheartened by not catching mangrove jacks consistently, to the point where they give up and start chasing something else. Talk to anyone who gets these fish consistently and they’ll all say that you need to hang in there to get the rewards. Nothing helps out more than time on the water. Just like flathead, a well-presented live bait will always get interest. And if you’re a lure fisher, the ones that really produced last jack season were the Atomic Shiner 75 and 85 Double Deep and also the Lucky Craft Pointer 78. The best colours in the Atomics were blood red and silver wolf. The flash of the chrome in things is key. Get the lure bumping into the rocks, as this is often what triggers the strike, and hold on.

Offshore things are looking good for a solid mackerel season. The water has started to heat up and there are some big bait schools moving into the closer reefs. If this continues and the water clarity stays good like it has been, the mackerel will most likely come on earlier. Reardons has been fishing really well and the 32s are producing good numbers of snapper, while over the previous full moon there were some really quality mulloway caught.

The bass are well and truly on the go at the moment. Locals around Coraki and Casino tell me there are good numbers of fish consistently being caught as long as there is tidal run. Crankbaits like the Megabass Mr Griffon X in kinkuro and GG gill have been some of the best performing lures, along with the ever-reliable Bassman Spinnerbaits. The surface action has just started so dust off the walkers and poppers and get out and amongst the action in the early mornings and late afternoons.

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