Set up for spring
  |  First Published: August 2005

We seem to turn a corner around here every August as we head into a dry spring season but after the moderate flooding early last month, the fishing couldn’t be set up any better.

Just when areas west of Casino were entering a second month of drought declaration, down came enough rain to bring the depleted water table to the surface send a big pulse of fresh water seawards.

At the time of writing the rivers were still subsiding but it appears that it’s been a fairly benevolent fresh in terms of fish kills – at least so far.

All the swamps and billabongs on the floodplain are filled and there’s been a rather nasty aroma of ‘black water’ as inundated vegetation decomposes but for now we seem to have escaped any major fish kills, at least on the scale of February 2001, when a 17km anoxic cloud of water descended on the middle reaches of the Richmond River, killing everything in its path.

Perhaps the cooler daytime temperatures didn’t allow the water to ‘cook’ or maybe there was better management of a few critical flood gates.

Whatever the case, the next few weeks will provide some good fishing in the lower estuaries, along the beaches and on the inshore reefs.

The clean-out occurred around the period of a major spawning time for bream so there should be plenty of those knocking about in the last few kilometres of all the local rivers as some clean oceanic water moves back in. In the muddy water smelly baits have been very effective, with mullet gut and strips working well for the bream.

Dead and ever-so-slightly ‘off’ yabbies have also worked their charms on bream, blackfish, flathead and quite a few whiting. Given the rush of fresh water, these yabbies are a natural for any fish comprising the vanguard of species returning to the estuaries after spending some time around the river mouths.

Live-baiters and lure-tossers scored some reasonable jewies from the breakwalls and adjacent beaches and now that the surf has cleared enough, tailor have come in as well.

The tailor should improve further as the southern schools head up the coast and as the schools of baitfish re-form the tailor will have plenty of cause to stay a while and feed up before they head further north for their breeding season.

Offshore anglers have made a few preliminary sorties and it looks like the snapper have started to come in and see what all the fuss is about, too. With snapper spawning season just around the corner, there should be some good catches over the next couple of months.


The bass won’t know which way to turn. Just before the rain there were fish heading down to the brackish middle reaches to spawn but we can expect these fish to travel a lot further before they strike the salt now.

Some bass may well have used the inundation over parts of the floodplain to look for habitat farther afield in the billabongs and swamps, while those which need to breed will possibly be doing so within earshot of the ocean this season.

Whatever the case, the next few months should provide some great post-spawn bass angling as these fish begin their trek back to their summer sweetwater haunts.

They should also have one less obstacle in their path if the removal of the Norco Weir, just downstream of Casino, goes ahead on schedule next month.

I would have thought that the removal of this unnecessary obstacle was a foregone conclusion but there has been bleating in the local media from a selfish few who think the loss of a visual amenity and water views is far more important than the future well-being of the entire river and its migrating fish.

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