The close in reefs have been producing a few tuna, bonito and horse mackerel of late. The best way to target these are trolling big metal slugs or pint skirted lures. If you find a bait school, get your slugs and start casting, because this action can be crazy. Fish often come cast after cast while you’re on the school. There’s still a fair few snapper around Lennox Point, Riordans Reef and Black Head.
The latter can be hit and miss. There are a lot of smaller fish, but these are still great eating and can provide some great fun on light gear. As the water starts to really warm up, mahi mahi will become hungry and be around in solid numbers. Best spots to check are the FADs and the wave buoy.
The beaches along South Ballina can produce some amazing whiting fishing at this time of year. Scout the beach a few days before the bigger tides and head out at night with live worms and pipis. The pipi numbers will increase as the water warms up. Watch out though, if a northerly is blowing, blue bottles will be out in numbers and while not deadly, they’ll pack a punch and are very uncomfortable.
Whiting in the lower reaches of the Richmond are on and firing on small surface lures. The best lures to try are the Bassday Sugapen 70s in a variety of different colours, depending on water clarity and sunlight. The most popular are the C95 in orange, MB16 clear with pink stripes and C137 banana prawn. Get these walking as fast as you can over the weed or sand flats, until you find a concentration of fish. Then keep going, as they can be in big numbers together.
Be prepared to hook a few things as by-catch like small trevally, bream and very hungry flathead. When there’s water moving over these flats, the fish know it’s time to feed. A good little trick is to change the rear trebles out and replace them with assist hooks in size 10. This will help increase your hook-up rate when the fish are not as committed.
Flathead are well and truly on the bite in the middle reaches of the river around Pimlico Island and right through up to Woodburn. If you’re bait fishing, get some white pilchards (salt keeps the flesh harder), fresh prawns and live poddy mullet. If you’re into throwing lures or trolling them behind the boat, this can be the best time of year for this type of fishing. Get as bright a lure as you can – flathead can’t seem to get enough of these fluoro things.
The freshwater reaches of the river are well and truly hitting their straps. The Aussie bass are out in numbers and eating surface lures in the early and late parts of the day. The best lures to try are any cicada copies. Mornings and afternoons, these guys are out and singing – you can’t hear yourself think. It’s the best time to get these out and give them a go.
The old faithful Bassman Spinnerbaits are always a go to, but try this early in the season: small hardbody crankbaits like the Atomic Crank 38 in ghost gill brown, muddy prawn and black hot tail. These small profile lures imitate prawns and that’s what the fish are hitting this time of year.
Bass Caught on small crankbait chasing prawns.
Aidan Kane with a tuna off Ballina.
Aidan Kane with a good eating-size snapper at Riordans Reef.Reads: 357