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So many opportunities
  |  First Published: May 2003




This month provides many opportunities for anglers in almost every aspect of our sport. The recent rains have helped fishing in so many areas after one of our worst droughts.

Beach fishing has improved out of sight, with excellent deep gutters formed up. If conditions further improve this month the Cabarita Greenback comp will be a ripper. Between Kingscliff and the Brunswick Heads, beach anglers have reported great catches of whiting, dart, tailor after dark and some encouraging reports of jew.

Deep, well-formed gutters are present close to the shore on the high tides, offering fish and anglers good access to each other. Best baits are those that are fresh. Live beach worms, fresh pipis, fresh cut baits or, better, live baits, will provide anglers with more action. Sharp hooks these days are a mere formality, with even the moderately-priced hooks being sharp straight from the packet.

The estuaries to have improved greatly over recent weeks. This month the mangrove jack will peak before the mature fish head for a new life offshore. Don’t ask me how big a mature fish from the North Coast is because every year I see bigger fish. My guess is somewhere in the high 50cm range. Every year we catch a couple of 60s and bigger. Whether they’re just slower to mature than their brethren is all part of the wonderful puzzle.

Flathead-luring will improve in the shallow broadwaters as Winter approaches. For land-based anglers Terranora Inlet is easily accessed on foot, as is the area along the shore at the golf club at South Tweed. The tick gates and The Anchorage can also have a lot of fish in the shallows. Soft plastics such as paddletails, single and double tails with a 1/4oz head will cover all locations. Chartreuse is my preferred colour but pink, white, clear and watermelon are all good lizard-takers. For those with a boat this month is good for trolling with plenty of trophy-sized lizards but remember these fish are our brood stock and should be treated carefully and released. Any water from four to six metres deep that drains off the flats will often see big fish congregate. Best lures here for this time of year are the Bomber 24A and 26A with the XB10 or grey ghost colours hard to go past.

Bream have started their move to the mouth of the river with some big residents already showing along the rock wall along the Fingal straight. If you’re looking to target some Tweed bream on plastics this stretch is hard to beat. In the early mornings some better fish will be found close to the shore in the shallows. As the sun gets up the bigger fish tend to drop back into the deeper sections and are replaced by smaller fish.

The seagrass in shallow water is often overlooked for stud fish on surface lures. Fizzers are a fun way to catch these fish, I like about a metre of water with a little broken weed to cast at.

Offshore

This is a good time to chase big pelagics. Wahoo, mackerel, cobia, kingfish and some better than usual black marlin are caught this month. The Brumbies, Nine Mile, the northern end of Fidos, Mary’s Rock at Cook Island and the reefs off Kingscliff should produce some big fish. If you love your lure-trolling then there is no better person to learn from than Peter Pakula. Look for and check out any of his material on the subject and you will be a better for it. Learning how to set a lure pattern properly and understanding why the pattern works is half the battle.

Reef fishing is also pretty good, with the area north of the Nine Mile the pick for quality blue-throat wrasse, grassy sweetlip, pearl perch and morwong .Most of the quality snapper have come from the close reefs. The Mud Hole is definitely worth effort, as is the Ten Minute Reef, Wommin Reef, Chincogan and, farther south, the Black Rock reefs. Early morning rising tides or full tides are the ones to fish. Berley cages with last trip’s pillies are always worth deploying and the first bait floated down the current can often pick up the better fish.

Clarrie Hall

The Australian Bass Association will conduct its annual Invitational Bass Classic at Clarrie Hall Dam at the end of the month. The dam is at 85% capacity with the original boat ramp back in working order, which is great news for tournament organisers.

The dam has gone through a slight lull in action. With all of the new ground that has been covered, the vegetation had to eventually sap a lot of oxygen out of the water. The good news is the mixer at the bottom of the dam is doing a great job replenishing the oxygen.

This year is going to be very different from previous years. Soft plastics have been dominant on the dam over the past few tournaments. Unless you were able to fish them with any real effectiveness, you really didn’t get a chance at the honours.

Last year the association introduced the best bag of 15 fish per angler. This helped bring more anglers into the top end of the scoring. Soft plastics were still very effective, fly very competitive and, had it not been for the loss of a few very important hours due to mechanical failure, yours truly may have scored enough points catching fish on the surface.

This year will be different with a lot more anglers in with a show than previously. The soft plastics have not been the single most dominant lure. Spinnerbaits have been successful, as have small crankbaits. There have been recent days when the tournament could have been won on surface lures alone. Fly-fishing has also produced days that leave the others behind for sheer numbers of fish caught.

From the Australian Bass Association’s point of view, a competition that produces lots of fish for all anglers and an opportunity for those from the industry to have a weekend to enjoy each other’s company will be a success. So I will stick my neck out and say that this year could produce that sort of result.

The fishing has started to improve over the past week and even with another deluge the dam won’t rise enough to pose many problems. A great percentage of the dam’s foreshore has submerged cover, which is why this dam is ideal for casting and trolling. There will be so many good anglers in this field any number of people could win it.

1) Shore-based anglers will catch more flathead as winter approaches.

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