Estuaries receive a flush-out
  |  First Published: April 2004

THE ESTUARIES have finally received a flush from a big deluge at the beginning of March. The floods on the North Coast generally occur over five to seven days but this one occurred over only 48 hours, with coastal areas copping 300mm.

The build up of nutrient-rich sediments and the acid sulfate soils is not a healthy recipe for any system so the quick flush that has occurred has been very good for the local rivers.

Over the next month, providing there are no more floods, the fishing should improve a great deal. Mangrove jack often peak this month with a major feeding cycle occurring towards the end of the month. In past years this has continued into May, depending on water temperature and food supply.

Lures and live baits are the way to go. Shore-based anglers are more likely to be successful with live baits like small mullet and herring, while anglers in boats will have a lot more fun throwing lures. Lure selection is a personal choice largely dependent on the size of one’s wallet.

Flathead will be found up along the shore in greater numbers with areas like the Cobaki and Terranora broadwaters the pick of locations. The start of the flooding tide is almost certain to produce fish as they position themselves at the entrances to filling channels. Throwing soft plastics, flies, or just a good old whitebait in areas like these could prove successful

Bream have also responded well to lures, with soft plastics the clear leaders. Just prior to the rains I had a couple of great sessions on bigger than average fish using small bibless crankbaits. Fishing deep water with a quick retrieve got aggressive responses. Reports from the Gold Coast indicate that other anglers had similar success on these lures.

The beaches have been almost unfishable for the past few months due to the mass of cornflake weed. At the time of writing the weed had pushed down towards Byron Bay so at last the beach fishos will get a crack at the whiting, tailor, flathead, and dart and jewfish. If another fresh occurs this month, the mouths of the creeks and rivers would well be worth targeting with a fresh mullet fillet or a big lure for a jewfish. Most beaches have seen masses of juvenile frogmouth pillies moving along. Small tailor have been present with the occasional bigger school thrown in so it is worth getting up and having a look.

The offshore pelagic season has been on again then off again, with the East Australian Current possibly running wide of the coast in recent times. Local mackerel fishermen have been tearing their hair out in frustration. Every time the seas calm down enough to rip outside, the northerlies kick in and drive the warm water wide of the coast.

However, with the recent fresh in the rivers and the dominating south-easterlies, warm water and bait should be driven inshore again. This will hopefully see a bit more action from the bigger predators. Slimy mackerel and small bonito are the best of the troll baits. Alternatively, a high speed lure will cover more area and trigger the feeding response when things are a little slower.

During the fresh snapper appeared from the deeper water to feed on the inshore reefs, producing a few excellent sessions for anglers switched on enough. At places like the Nine Mile Reef, the odd coral trout has turned up, so what will be caught this month is anybody’s guess. I would be packing the pillies, a few troll baits, lures and whatever else I could fit into the boat.

I recently had a chat to the manager of the Tweed sand pumping bypass jetty. Much discussion has taken place as to its effect on the river mouth and the beaches to the north. There is no doubt that the Gold Coast beaches are better protected from a cyclone. With the price of land on the beachfront these days, that’s a good thing.

The river mouth has been better than ever with a navigable channel. Further dredging is to take place each year, though for shorter periods. The topic of our discussion was around the small boats that frequent the end of the jetty to collect bait. The jetty, though a stationary facility, is, in fact, a dredge. It’s been difficult to ascertain what the regulations are but there is the possibility that you need to keep your distance from this structure.

If you have a mishap against the pylons or damage the structure you could be liable to big fines. So don’t be surprised if the Waterways boat suddenly starts handing out fines.


In late February Clarrie Hall dam was host to the first ABT Bass Electric tournament of the season. A record number of boats attended, testament to the organisation’s ability to run such an event and to the draw of this picturesque waterway.

The dam is one of the finest casting lakes of its type and most of the fish inhabit the fringes or the visible structure, such as the trees. The winning technique used by both of the anglers who tied for top placing were as I suggested last month: Crankbaits fished along the weed margins and the smaller Beetle Spins with a single curl tail.

Many of the country’s finest bass anglers were present at the event but found conditions tough, to say the least. Methods that have proven so effective on the dam have now become ineffective due to alterations in food source and the changing conditions in structure.

Little will change this month except that the bass may move farther down towards the dam wall. At the recent event some of the better bass came from the Ugly Gully area, or Middle Basin as I prefer to call it. The numbers of fish in this area will increase as the breeding season nears.

However, the dam doesn’t contain a great number of large breeding fish because a large number went over the wall last year. So the small crankbaits that will dive to one or two metres in green and/or gold will be the pick of the lures. Small spinnerbaits or a No 2 Beetle Spin with a crawdad-coloured tail will also be effective.

Remember, Clarrie Hall Dam is one of the State’s top surface-fishing locations and small Torpedo-style lures and poppers are dynamite here.

The creeks and the area downstream from the dam have fished well this year. The Rous River and its many tributaries have produced a good number of fish for regular local anglers. Small spinner baits and small bibbed crankbaits have produced many of the fish.


Bream have been responding well to lures lately, with soft plastics the clear leaders.


Clarrie Hall’s bass have been taking small spinnerbaits and No 2 Beetle Spins with a crawdad-coloured tail.

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