Whether you fish the estuaries, the beaches, headlands or offshore, things are set up for a very fishy June around here.
Flooding earlier in the year and monotonously regular coastal rains have flushed out plenty of nutrients for the inshore food chain to really kick in and the results are already apparent.
Bream are fairly abundant in the lower estuaries and along the beaches and are preparing for spawning this month. It would be great to see a successful spawning season this year to recruit a new generation of bream to top up the large numbers that died in the January fish kill at Ballina.
However, the beach netters are likely to take their annual heavy toll on fish gathered to breed and nobody in any position of power seems to care much about this unsustainable practice.
The lower Richmond seems to be recovering reasonably well from the kill but there hasn’t been much activity in the suspect middle reaches, mainly because there’s still plenty of fresh water there because of all the coastal rain.
This month things should begin to dry out and we should see these sections begin to clear, although as the water table lowers the acid runoff should become more prevalent.
The first cold snap early last month galvanised the mullet and the food chain that centres on them kicked into gear. Jewfish and sharks have showed up and the bream that clean up the scraps are also shadowing the schools.
Mullet gut and fillets become the top baits for estuary anglers, particularly at night, while the lure casters should have good fun on scented plastics and whatever hard lures are the flavour of the month.
The soft lures are also still producing well on the beaches with quality bream, flathead and school jew hitting lures in the shallow gutters and off the back banks for those prepared to wade.
Big Spanish mackerel can also follow the mullet and some of the best Spaniards of the season can be encountered only a few hundred metres off the surf line.
There have been some good catches of tailor on occasions but the normally productive April was a bit of a fizzer because incessant onshore swells broke up the bait and stirred up the surf – conditions far from conducive to tailor.
Things should be different this month as the offshore weather regime predominates and the swell flattens.
Snapper have been about in reasonable numbers and now is about the best time to chase them over the close reefs. The traditional method has been to anchor around the reef edges and fish floating or lightly weighted pilchards, squid and tuna strips sent down through a berley trail.
Soft plastics are taking hold over the shallower reefs and, in the right conditions, can far outfish bait, to the extent where even the traditionalists are being converted. In water under about 35m snapper can be released without fear of barotrauma so its makes sense to practise catch and release on snapper, rather than just load up on fish.
Humpback whales will be heading north in big numbers so offshore anglers should keep an eye out for them at all times.
They’re not so much of a problem to avoid when you’re drifting but whales do foul on anchor lines and the results can be extremely nerve-wracking if not potentially fatal. If a pod is headed directly for your boat, it can pay to start your engine to alert them and it’s also wise to keep a knife handy around the anchor line if the worst happens.
I’ve often caught plenty of cobia as the whales come through – more than enough to dismiss them as coincidental. Cobes tend to ride shotgun with mantas, big sharks and other large critters and I see no reason why they don’t travel with humpbacks.
This is the last chance for a go at the spotted mackerel in what has been a very disappointing season plagued by flooding, prolonged bad weather and a dearth of the bait schools they follow. But, provided the ocean stays warm enough, June can produce some good spots and the odd big Spanish.Reads: 732