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It’s all close to the coast
  |  First Published: May 2005



There’s plenty of good stuff happening this month and all of the action is within only a few kilometres of the coastline.

That’s no surprise, really, with mullet heading north just off the beaches and more joining them as they pass each estuary, along with increasingly nervous schools of pilchards of all sizes sheltering behind the low surf in the offshore breeze – and a heap of predators going to town on the lot.

Tailor, tuna (northern blues and macks), mackerel, bonito, snapper and kings will be heading towards the coast to join the feast so it all makes for pretty easy fishing whether you’re in a boat, hopping the rocks or working the beaches and walls.

The bait schools you find rippling the surface could be anything from tiny whites to big blue pillies, gars or slimy mackerel but whatever they are there’s a good chance they’ll be getting mauled by something.

Tailor numbers are increasing and they make short work of the smaller stuff around the rocky washes, foamy reefs and surf gutters. Chrome lures and poppers will take plenty although blue pilchards on ganged hooks generally take more fish and are self-berleying, so the schools tend to stay around a while longer within casting range.

This is also a good time to lay out a slab of bonito, tuna or mullet at night in the calmer gutters for some big greenbacks. Try the Boat Channel at Lennox Head, the northern end of Seven Mile beach at Lennox, Flat Rock north of Ballina, Lighthouse and South beaches at Ballina and Chinamans Beach at Evans Head.

The schools of bigger bait, like blue pillies, gar and slimies, will likely cop a hammering from the tuna, bonito and mackerel around the inshore reefs off Ballina and Evans Head. Snapper also follow the schools and it pays to have a few baits set deeper to pick off some rather good reds and the odd kingie.

Let’s not forget the mullet, with the jewies shadowing them along the beaches and the bream picking up the scraps the jew and tailor leave behind.

ESTUARY

And if that’s not enough, it’s a peak month for bream and blackfish in the lower estuaries and all the action should be within a couple of kilometres of the sea entrances.

The bream, which have spent the last eight months way up the rivers or along the rocks and beaches, will all be getting together for a month or so of lovin’ and joining them should be whatever stocks of travelling bream from down south have escaped the haulers’ nets.

Yep, ’fraid so, it’s pro beach hauling season and macho crews from all over will be elbowing everyone out of the way to enforce their god-given right to shoot nets around anything that swims, from bait pillies to mullet, bream, blackfish and whatever else they think they can make a fast buck out of. There’s no other group of pros around here who generate so much friction with the general public and recreational fishos. I think it just seems to attract a certain type of bloke…

Blackfish will also be entering the Richmond River to take up residence for the Winter and Spring and judging from the schools of fat fish I’ve seen while spinning the ocean rocks lately, there could be some good times ahead for the weed-and-float brigade.

As they first enter the rivers, blackfish seem to be fond of the sea lettuce (‘cabbage’) that they’ve been dining on around the ocean rocks but, as they settle into the estuarine environment, they become partial to green weed and the coarser black stuff. So it pays early in the season to have a variety of weed of whatever types you can find.

Most of the estuary action should also be in the final few kilometres of the rivers. Judging by the numbers of baitfish of all kinds, bream, trevally and jewfish in the middle reaches over the past few months, there should be some good times ahead when they go downstream.

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