It’s greenback time
  |  First Published: June 2004

ONE of the premier beach fishing events on the east coast will run this month on the Queen’s Birthday weekend (June 12, 13).

The Greenback Tailor Competition has been an institution for beach anglers on the North Coast for nearly two decades. Last year the event was cancelled due to insurance costs but the 2004 event is on again and is destined to be bigger than ever. With $35,000 in prizes and money up for grabs, it will draw anglers from all over.

This year the event should see some real greenbacks weighed in with reports of plenty of locations producing big tailor along the coast.

Ballina, Brunswick Heads, Byron Bay and the Tweed are firing for good fish. Most of the best fish will come after dark on large cut baits such as slimy mackerel, yellowtail and small bonito, as well as the ever-popular pilchards and gar.

If I gave away locations in this article there would be plenty of unhappy locals who have been putting in the time to locate better schools and gutters so, for this month, readers will have to work out their own spots or wait.

The most favoured rig is a twin-hook rig on wire with a 7/0 on the bottom and a 4/0 suicide 10cm to 15cm above it, rigged on the ‘weld wire’ style of trace or the knottable steel leader now available. The small hook goes somewhere in the tail with the large hook exiting the gill cover. A half-hitch over the tail will secure the bait for casting.

There are other species that will be encountered using this method, with jewfish and bream featuring in the competition. Cabarita Bait, the old Ginger Bob’s Tackle, is the local store closest to the event, which is being run from the South Casuarina development. Ring Bevan for an update on where they’re being caught or for some of the baits I have mentioned.

The estuaries will fire up with bream hitting their straps this month. The main rock wall along the southern shoreline, known as the Fingal Stretch, will have fish all the way along it. Small 1/8oz jig heads and small single tail grubs should be the pick of the lures.

You can catch bream right throughout the length of the Tweed but the lower end of the estuary will be the pick for the month. A number of Jacks will fall to the same methods. They love hugging the banks at this time of year, with the areas with warmer water the best locations. The stretch below the sugar mill’s hot water outlet is a case in point.

The broadwaters will have plenty of flathead up in the shallows. A 3” tail in green, pink, motor oil and any colour you care for in between, will catch you a good feed of fish.

In the reaches between the salt and freshwater, bass will be on the move. If you have a canoe or small boat, this is a good time to fish these reaches. Remember to exercise catch and release as these fish are the breeding fish for the next season’s fingerlings. Bass are just to good to catch just once.

Offshore, the area is experiencing a late season run of juvenile black marlin along with spotted and Spanish mackerel. Whether this continues into June will depend on the prevailing conditions.

There have been plenty of billfish from 25kg to 50kg from Byron to Kingscliff – lots of fun on light tackle. The mackerel will best be targeted close to shore as the bait schools begin their run along the coast.

Any good reef in close will probably have fish nearby, not forgetting the possibility of catching fish behind the surf break. Many good tailor are caught this way, as are the Spaniards.

The snapper season is already under way with some good reds caught on the reefs to the south of the Tweed. As June continues they will appear in greater numbers.

Berley is without doubt the best way to catch a few fish. It’s best to start the days fishing on the inshore reefs and as the sun gets higher in the sky, a move further out will maintain the catch rate. The big reefs like the Nine Mile and Fidos are great at this time of year. Snapper, parrot, sweetlip and the most delectable of all, pearl perch, can be caught on the deeper reefs.

There will also be plenty of big kingfish around. Judging by the schools of juvenile fish I saw over the Summer, the kings are well and truly back after so many years of depletion from traps.

Kings at this time of year can be real hoodlums and big bust-ups on heavy tackle are the norm. at this time of year. If your hooked fish does run away from the reef after hook-up, let it go and do the fighting out wide. The old softly, softly approach does work but it’s not easy letting a fish have its way.

The big jigs are going to come into their own now. If you’re keen, seek out stores where the guys actually fish with them. Jones’s Tackle and Gold Coast Tackle are two such stores which stock a good range and have staff adept at the technique.

There are many Japanese anglers coming to Australia to tap into the great Winter fishing. They practise catch and release predominantly so it’s great for the sport.

June weather can be picture-perfect with slight seas and sunny but cool days. No wonder so many anglers make the yearly trip to fish the area. It’s definitely not the time to be packing your fishing gear away!
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