Wild weather mix up has settled down
  |  First Published: May 2017

It seemed someone flicked the switch when summer finished. February was one of the hottest and driest on record, but since then we’ve had the whole mix. We have seen multiple flood events, cold foggy mornings, strong southerly changes, giant swell, intense storms and even an ex-cyclone visit. These significant weather happenings have had varying effects on the fishing around the region, but it wasn’t long before the fishing was back into the swing of things.

Fortunately the fishing offshore wasn’t hampered dramatically at all. The main effect has been reducing the on water time. Large swell and wind have hampered the offshore fishing at times, but only due to access issues. For those able to get out, even during inclement weather, the offshore fishing has been in hot form. When the weather windows have opened again there has been decent fishing for all.

The mackerel have not shown any signs of running away from a rain flooded coastline. There have been good captures even in some of the dirty water in close, although the best fishing has been a bit wider and away from the colder, freshwater plumes around the coast. Live baits are best if you’re doing some prospecting to find the fish. Stickbaits are producing the results once the mackerel have made their presence known.

Over the last month we’ve had a lot southerly winds that push the warm surface waters towards the coast. This has helped keep the mackerel quite close to the coast, at least during the small periods over the last couple of months when there has been large swell, strong winds or flooding rains. The islands and wider bait reefs have been the most popular.

Kingfish and snapper have been around in good numbers with both species often stealing live baits intended for mackerel. The kingfish have also been a common by-catch for mackerel anglers throwing stickbaits, particularly around the islands and washes.

The river mouths have been, and will likely continue to be, a centre for the action due to the increased output from our rivers after all the rain. Large amounts of fish were pushed out of the rivers by flood waters and the mulloway, jacks and sharks have been taking advantage of the situation. The Urunga River and Nambucca River breakwalls have been particularly productive.

Mulloway have been the main target. Decently sized mangrove jack have been a bonus for some. Some anglers have been targeting sharks in these locations, although mostly they have just been a pest to those who have had good fish pinched by the taxman.

In the estuaries there have been brief periods where fishing has been semi normal. Mostly this period has been dominated by high rainfall and very coloured water. One of the positive aspects in our area is that our local river catchments are largely free of floodgates and irrigation drains.

During the recent floods we have seen large fish kills in the rivers north and south of our region. Our rivers have stayed fairly well conditioned and recovered well from each event. The floods tend to shut down the estuary species for a little while. Once the tide has begun to play its part again the estuaries have bounced back nicely.

These flood events will have allowed the early movers in the bass populations to make their way down the river systems towards the brackish stretches. This journey is made so they can breed during the winter and is also the reason why this month signifies the start of the no-take bass season.

For many anglers this means leaving the bass alone to do their thing and targeting other fish. Unfortunately, due to the bass being further down towards the estuaries, there are inevitably some captures of bass, even when targeting other species. Please remember that you must immediately release any bass caught between 1 May and the end of August.

The trout have had mixed treatment this season with a long, hot and dry summer followed by a seriously wet autumn. The streams are all running well at present and should provide a fairly comfortable environment for the trout coming into their breeding period at the end of the month. It’s likely that some of the populations were spread down river systems due to the very heavy flow in some catchments.

The river levels have remained elevated for quite a while though, which allows the fish to move a bit more freely up and down the creeks. It’s a little early to tell now, but we should find the trout setting up their preferred positions for the breeding season. If you have a few of those gravelly corners that you know are preferred spawning locations, you may find them occupied. Even early this month the fish can be getting in position while the water is good.

Ultimately it’s likely to be the weather either allowing us to fish, or preventing us from fishing that’s going to affect our success. If you can get out there, fish are there. You just have to pick the right window.

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