Never a better time
  |  First Published: June 2005

Bream, tailor, jewfish, snapper, blackfish, mackerel and whales – that’s June around here and there’s never a better time to wet a line.

While it gets nippy during the mornings and evenings, the windless days are very pleasant and the water should still mostly be above 20°, meaning the warm-water speedsters like mackerel and tuna should be working hard rounding up the baitfish.

There’s still the strong possibility of some rough, wet southerly weather but the cool south-westerlies that follow will usually flatten the tops of the swells pretty smartly and bring back favourable fishing conditions.

The inshore reefs, rocks, beaches and lower estuaries are the focus of angling action and there should be plenty to keep even the most choosy angler happy.

The tailor season so far has been pretty rewarding, with good catches of quality fish north from about Boundary Creek, between Evans Head and Ballina. The headlands from Ballina to Cape Byron have been particularly bountiful for nice choppers on lures and pillies at dusk and dawn, and for some quality greenbacks to 5kg on big cut baits at night.

It’s been a different story for me at Evans Head, where I’ve been plagued with small choppers on most rock outings since Easter. And I’ve had to watch boaties returning from the inshore bommies cleaning some very hefty tailor that seem to be holding a fair bit wider than I can cast.

Still, the onshore joggle and clouds of sand in the washes haven’t been good tailor water so I’ll be happy to wait it out until the offshore winds kick in more regularly.

The up side of the poor local tailor conditions is the number of hefty bream that have been ghosting around in the washes. I’ve even had good success on bream to about 1.5kg by fluttering tailor spoons down onto the sandy patches between the reefs and switching to 4” to 5” soft plastics has enabled me to have plenty of entertainment, even if the tailor have been unco-operative.

Jewfish have been a bit hit-and-miss, mainly because the mullet have lingered in the rivers and haven’t really made their major run at the time of writing. This should have all changed by the time you read this and the mullet should be packing the inshore gutters and swirling around in spawning aggregations with those big silver shapes lurking nearby.


The mackerel season has been far better than the previous two with healthy numbers of spotties persisting on the inshore grounds most days, although on the calmer days in clear water they can take some persuading to hook up on a small live slimy mackerel.

When things are tough it pays to try other methods, such as cubing pilchard chunks and using only the slightest amount of fine wire trace and a single hook, or to try high-speed vertical jigging to give the fish limited time to make a decision to strike.

This is also a good time to troll right behind the breakers for those big ‘beachcomber’ Spaniards that shadow the mullet schools. You can try big deep-diving minnows or, if you can get one, a lip-hooked bully mullet with a couple of trebles lightly pinned in its nether regions.

Snapper should enter the inshore equation more frequently this month, especially if you’ve laid out a good berley trail and use pilchards, fresh squid or fresh slimy fillets.

Do be aware at all times that the humpback whales are migrating past these shores and they’re usually in a hurry to get to northern waters. The majority don’t seem to waste much time moving north and the young bucks are often particularly frisky and inquisitive, so keep a good look-out and always have a knife handy to the anchoring cleat. If a whale does foul the anchor rode you won’t have much time to react before a disaster occurs.


Back in the rivers, bream and blackfish are the centres of attention.

There has already been a fair number of sea-run bream in the Evans river on occasion and, to a lesser extent, the Richmond. This month there should be more action and the Ballina bream should start getting bigger and hungrier.

There have been plenty of bream in the mid sections of the Richmond but, like the mullet, these fish seem to be playing a waiting game before heading towards the entrance. This month the cooling river water and the running mullet should help them make up their minds and the rocky foreshores from about Pimlico to the sea walls should produce plenty of fish.

Bait anglers will do best at night in the Bream Hole, just off the RSL Club and along the Porpoise Wall while the lure-tossers will work the rock walls and other structure from Pimlico to the sea walls.

Blackfish should improve this month, too. I’ve seen some nice schools of very fat fish lolling in the rocky gutters around the headlands and increasing numbers should enter the rivers this month.

When there’s been a sea running there have been some good fish captured from the ocean walls at Ballina and Evans Head as the fish seek shelter and feed on the growth dislodged from the rocks. Sooner or later, these fish will like the rivers so much they’ll want to stay.

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