Good rain over the past month has seen most of the estuaries and freshwater reaches come to life with resident and migratory species feeding more aggressively.
Bass anglers have been faring well with the upper reaches of the Clarence, Orara, Bellinger and Nambucca rivers producing fish on surface lures, divers and plastics. Our last two trips have produced over 20 fish, many over 40cm. The best fishing has been late afternoon and into the night using fizzers and chuggers.
The Summer sun has brought out plenty of big black and brown snakes and these can be deadly if you're bitten at the top end of a bass river with help a few hours away. To avoid snakes I'd recommend that you avoid walking on the river bank and stay in the shallows when doing canoe portages.
By the time you read this the mangrove jacks should have started their Summer terror campaign with the breakwalls and dominant snags up and down most rivers their favourite feeding stations.
Big, gold, shallow divers are my favourite jack lures and if you're serious about stopping jacks on baitcast tackle I recommend 30lb braid, a short bimini double, 60lb leader and extra-strong trebles.
Live mullet or herrings are also successful on jacks and in this case you'll have to anchor up on a snag and do some waiting while jack decides whether he wants your offering.
Live baits can be drifted back towards a snag under a small cork with the reel left in free spool for only short periods.
When jack fishing it pays to always keep your reel in gear and never let go of your rod. When a jack hits a bait you've got only the first few seconds of the fight to stop the fish getting back under the snag from whence it came. Reacting too slowly or using too little drag will result in countless bust-offs.
As with all estuary species the run-out tide is my favourite and most successful period.
On the beaches there have been very good catches of school jewfish with Sapphire, Hills, Boambee and North Beach producing school fish to 5kg. Beach worms have been the most successful bait, with squid and fresh mullet fillets also working well.
Jewfish can be caught from the beach on most tide changes, with high tides early in the morning or late in the afternoon good options for those who aren't keen on night fishing.
Targeting jew with soft plastics has also proven successful, with fish to 15kg showing a preference for this method. In the past fortnight I've landed a 5kg and a 7kg jewfish, both taken on 6” plastics and 1/2oz jig heads.
Rock and beach anglers having been getting tailor and salmon on metal lures and pilchards worked back slowly through gutters or along wash lines.
North Beach, near Repton, and Moonee Beach near the creek mouth have been the pick of the possies, while the end of Mutton Bird and the Southern Breakwall have also been living up to their fish-rich reputations.
Anglers chasing bream, luderick and pigs from the stones have also been finding fish, with Woolgoolga and Charlesworth headlands worth a look if you're into mixed-bag rockhopping.
The LBG brigade has been putting in some time at the end of Mutton Bird in recent weeks but apart from mack tuna and rat kingfish I haven't heard of any significant captures. As the water warms and the garfish schools arrive, the bluefin, mackerel and cobia shouldn't be too far away.
Offshore there have been plenty of snapper with anglers working the inshore reefs with bait and soft plastics landing plenty of fish to 5kg. Further out there have been reports of school yellowfin to 25kg with striped marlin to 75kg hitting lures trolled along the shelf.
With the Hot Currents Tournament a few weeks away, I'm sure that the increase in fishing activity will see some bigger yellowfin and blue marlin hitting the weigh station.
The Solitary Islands have been producing kingfish and samson fish on live and dead baits. For those keen on deep bottom fishing there have been plenty of squire, teraglin, pearl perch and tusk fish on all the reefs from about 3km out producing fish on the drift.
Over the next month I'll be spending plenty of time with the sandflies chasing jacks and I'll dust off my LBG gear and send a few garfish seaward.
I'm still to crack a 50cm bass for the season so I guess I'll have to visit a couple of my favourite freshwater holes as well.
Chasing jewies from the rocks on plastics should also hit full swing in the next month and the broken bommies along this shallow coast will probably need some special attention on the high tides. So many choices, so little time!
Michael Delolmo with a plastic eating school jewie
The tuna and mackerel should show up this month.
Now’s the time to get the LBG gear in order.Reads: 596