All set up for a cracker
  |  First Published: May 2004

THIS IS going to be one of the great months in the fishing calendar.

We have had a number of very good flushes of fresh water from depressions and low-category cyclones through Summer and into Autumn. Big swells have hammered the beaches and headlands, cutting and gouging the coastline. The rivers have had very good clean-outs with large numbers of baitfish, prawns and other life forced into the open water. The build-up of nutrients that accumulate over long periods is cleaned out of the system.

The great northwards fish migration has begun. Everything from whitebait to mullet, sharks and even whales have started their northern migration. The recent rainy season has pretty well been the ideal start to this season’s movements. It is a time when just about anything can turn up and put on a show for anglers.

Bream have started their congregations around estuary entrances and the main body of brood stock has begun its migration along the beaches.

With the ever-increasing popularity of casting lures to these fish, the pressure to protect bream during their spawning seasons will hopefully gather momentum. The bream is possibly one of the great holiday species that just about everyone can catch. There is a real future for improving their chances of successful spawning seasons.

The effects impacting on small guided fishing boats, tourism and, of course, the commercial fishing returns could benefit from better planning and protection of a species that can take many years to achieve substantial sizes.

Flathead will move into the shallow broad waters where these masters of disguise make finding a meal easy. This is a great time to wade the shallows or drift along the banks while casting soft plastics. This can be done in many locations around the Tweed. The lower reaches along the golf club stretch will always produce fish, while the Terranora and Cobaki broadwaters are the pick as things begin to cool down.

Blackfish will congregate along the recognised spots. The end of Dry Dock Road has fished well over recent years. The rock wall between the tick gates and Boyds Bay bridge will see fish school at times with the bridge pretty reliable. The small rocky outcrop at the golf club is worth a try, as are the rocks at the junction of the Tweed and the Terranora Arm.

Already some great schools of tailor are located between Ballina and the border. Though lacking in body weight and condition, this will change over coming months.

Without doubt the most sought-after fish from the beaches is the mulloway and the lead-ups to the new and full moons will be prime times for these great fish. Those anglers who look forward to this time of year prepare well in advance, freezing big stumpy beach worms and stocking up on baits like slimy mackerel, a favourite of the jew.

Ideal locations to look for are areas where tailor and bream are present or holed up for a period. Chances are come the evening on a rising tide, the jew will be sniffing around for an easy feed. The beaches have some really clear gutter formations and by checking the beaches early and late, the locals will be signposting where the fish are most active.

This month the size of Spanish mackerel and the numbers of spotted mackerel will increase. The main methods are to troll-high speed lures, spin large chrome lures, troll bibbed minnows and tow dead or live baits such as small bonito or slimies. Slimies are the preferred baits used by local pros. You will find the bait on the reefs and there will be bigger predators close by. The Mackerels are a fine eating fish when bled and iced down. If you go to the trouble of chasing these fish, look after them.

Snapper will make increasing appearances. Inshore reefs and berley are the perfect combination for snaring a few good fish. Quality hooks like the Gamakatsu or Black Magic ranges are perfect for good hook-sets on better fish. Floatlining with minimal lead will always present a more natural bait and fresh baits are best.

Small whitebait rigged three or four at a time look like terrified fish trying to use the group strategy of survival. Snapper love them, so don’t go without a few whites. The first baits into the water after starting up the berley can often produce the best fish of the day so be aware of this when you start fishing.

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