A hint of spring in the air
  |  First Published: August 2008

This month winter usually has a last couple of westerly shots at us but normally peters out pretty quickly and by month’s end, it’s well and truly spring.

All those pheromones that the mating bream, blackfish, estuary perch and bass have been flinging around in the lower estuaries and inshore waters subside and the fish begin to head up-river, foraging hungrily as they go.

In a normal season there’s not much to stop their upstream travels because the high pressure cells move over the country’s middle latitudes and the rains taper off.

Last August we got a late soaking from a final couple of east coast lows which put a spanner in the works but that’s not normal – if anything can be considered normal these days.

This used to be a great time to target post-spawn bass but the new closed season regulations, geared to more southern fish populations, might tone down the local enthusiasm a mite.

At least the meat merchants who kill big numbers of migrating bass will now be breaking seasonal closures as well as bag limit laws, not that it’s proved any deterrent in the past.

It’s a good month for flathead in the middle to lower reaches of the local rivers with a few big females stirring and plenty of smaller school fish chasing prawns and increasing supplies of baitfish.

On the colder days you’ll often find fish basking in the warm shallows, sometimes in less than 50cm of water at high tide. The darker, muddy banks retain warmth better than the sandy ones so it’s there the flatties prefer to lie and soak up the sun.

It’s becoming obvious that plenty of big whiting also seem to winter over in the middle reaches of the Richmond, rather than hit the beaches.

Over the past couple of years there have been quite a few encounters with significant numbers of these quality fish and it’s worth exploring to find them.

Back down towards the mouth of the Richmond, jewfish have made a welcome return with some large fish from the sea walls and increasing numbers of schoolies from a little further up-river.

After a pretty poor river jew season last year it would be nice if they hung around.


While there’s the hint of spring in the air, the ocean is still cooling down and sea temps are likely to drop below 20° for a good while yet.

The salmon have been on the beaches for a few weeks already and reports from further down the coast indicate there are plenty more coming and they’ll stay until around early November, or whenever conditions become too hot for them – bit like the Victorian tourists, I guess!

In recent seasons the salmon have brought along some unwelcome southern visitors in the form of white and mako sharks, which also have hung about until their food source heads back south. Surfers used to the odd whaler and rare tiger shark have been paddling in frantically, wide-eyed and jabbering about big, dark-eyed curious bities.

With increased salmon numbers the tailor have plenty of competition for food these days but there should be a few schools working the bait in calmer conditions as they head north to Fraser Island for their mating rituals.

Early in the month the beach fishing should be OK, although not quite on par with the previous few months when bream were abundant and school jewfish eager to take worm baits and plastics.

On the days when the land warms over 25° we should even see the first of the afternoon onshore breezes for the season, too.

Offshore, the snapper which have been gathering in loose schools for the past month or so gravitate towards the offshore gravel beds to spawn.

Lack of hard ground on which to bed a reef pick can make things a bit tougher for the anchor-and-berley brigade but when the wind permits, those who like to drift soft plastics or paternoster rigs baited with squid or flesh baits will do well on some quality fish.

The pearl perch which have moved in closer to spawn also tend to hang around this month before heading back to their preferred depths.

The winter side of August tends to fish better than the end of the month so if you’re planning a visit, do it earlier rather than later.

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