After some excellent Spring rain the rivers are running hard and the fish are keen to hit a lure. Mick Booth and I had our first bass trip of the new season last weekend and although the river was running high, the water was still clear and the fish more than prepared to slam our 3” soft plastics.
I've never seen so many platypus in the river on a single morning's fishing; every new pool we entered had several platypus breaking the surface as they hunted shrimp and crayfish.
All 18 of the bass we caught and released disgorged shrimp and guppies, with many of the prawns eaten only moments before one of our slowly-twitched offerings arrived on the scene.
Most fish were taken hard against cover with long casts on light leaders, with patient retrieves needed to turn lookers into strikers. While I was still living in the after-glow of a 47cm fish I'd landed earlier in the morning, Mick who stole the show with a 52cm monster that flew out from underneath a massive underwater tree trunk to hit his lure. Pushing the 2kg line and 3kg leader to the limit, he only just managed to coax the fish out from the tangle of wood that surrounded the metre-wide trunk.
My big fella also came from a large log lying parallel to a shallow bank, in no more than a metre of clear and running water.
Yesterday Mike Colless and I rigged up our jew-spinning rods and headed down to the ocean rocks to throw 6” plastics around the bommies and rocky fingers at the bottom of the late arvo tide. Making the most of the first flat sea for a while, we were able to walk out onto the rocks and introduce our lures into every jew hidey-hole we could find.
Unfortunately, a build up of dead weed seemed to put the jew off the bite, with only one small bump to show for two hours of hard yakka. While jewfish have been hard to find around the broken points, anglers fishing the deeper headlands have been getting salmon and tailor, with metals and soft plastics accounting for most fish.
In the rivers there have been good numbers of luderick coming from around the breakwalls on the run-out tides, with good flathead and the odd jewfish falling to live mullet and herring baits.
Further up-river, there have been reports of the odd mangrove jack bust-up with unsuspecting bream anglers on the end of the dustings. Bream lurers have reported some surface activity on poppers but most fish that have come from the Kalang or Nambucca have fallen to deep plastics or slowly twitched hardbodies.
By the time this article goes to print I'd say the insects will be filling the air and the bream will be looking up for a feed; small poppers and fizzers will be the lure of choice for many North Coast bream lurers.
Offshore, the snapper have been biting well for those prepared to brave less than comfortable sea conditions. I'm reliably told that good reds to 7kg have come from the reefs off Moonee, Korora and Sawtell.
Further out to sea there have been yellowfin, striped tuna and even spearfish landed in recent weeks, with most action occurring on or just wide of the continental shelf.
Over the next few weeks I'll be targeting jewfish around the ocean rocks with 6” minnows cast on 3/8oz jig heads with 50lb leader. The secret to this sort of luring is to keep the plastic as close to the bottom and adjacent to structure for as long as possible.
Fishing the same spot regularly can help minimise, but not eliminate, snag-ups. On most trips I'd lose two or three rigs to snags. Generally speaking if you're not getting snags, then you're not really in the slot consistently enough to catch fish.
Apart from jew, I'll also be heading up river in search of jacks – it's a tough life!Reads: 500