The colours of Spring
  |  First Published: August 2009

Spring has some typical colours around here and I’m not talking about the gold of the native wattles or the scarlet of the feral coral trees now so common along much of the Richmond.

I’m talking about the pink flanks of prime snapper, their electric-blue spots vivid in the early light over the inshore reefs.

There’ll be good numbers of reds still available over the reefs, although they’ll be working a bit deeper than in the depths of Winter when they were hunting the washes and bommies.

With the water crystal-clear after offshore winds and low rainfall, any reds working the shallows will be gone not long after daylight. Better catches will come from the gravel beds and reef edges in 25m to 50m, and the commercial trappers will ply their trade on the wider reefs out to 90m and beyond.

Teraglin should also be strong candidates in similar depths, especially at night for the bigger fish.

At times barely-legal (38cm) trag are abundant but the relatively small size of these fish means it’s hardly worth pursuing them for the legal bag limit of five. Far better to let them grow bigger and fatter.

There are plenty of other Spring colours on the Richmond.

The chocolate, vanilla and caramel hues of the river flathead are always attractive and there should be improving catches of flatties as the weather and water warm up.

The old lizard really does show some remarkable colour variations. Some are a pale caramel with almost white spots, while others are almost black and there are many shades in between.

The ocean water is still quite cool and the river is definitely yet to warm up, so wherever you find them in the rivers, flatties will be looking for warmth as well as food. When the two combine, the fish will be there.

There are plenty of dark, muddy banks on the Richmond and the lizards quite often can be found close to or on these banks. If the mud is too fine, irritant and easily disturbed, they’ll probably be adjacent to it rather than on it, but this stuff really does suck up the heat.


You can also colour the local Spring khaki, cream and olive, the tones of the bass that are working their way back to their freshwater haunts of Summer.

The good news is that this year they won’t have to bash their heads into a couple of metres of concrete where the Manyweathers Weir once stood between the road and rail bridges at Casino.

State Water dismantled the weir in the last week of July and with high water levels prevailing over recent months, there doesn’t appear to be much difference in the look of the river.

Perhaps the best thing about having the old weir there was that anyone chasing bass and doing the wrong thing was in clear view of the thousands of people who cross the bridges each day.

Everyone seems to think that the Jabour Weir upstream of the rail bridge is a far more negotiable barrier for the bass so maybe there won’t be a bottleneck for them.

Anyway, the vast majority of the Richmond bass won’t be in the Casino area until later this month or into October, they’re still being caught within earshot of the ocean and probably the late fish are still breeding.

This month there should be migrating bass from around Coraki to Lismore on the Wilsons River arm and closer to Casino on the Richmond.

If you’re planning a bass trip to Toonumbar Dam early this month, you just might not get there.

The World Rally Championship circus pulls into the Tweed-Kyogle region in the first week of September and the forests around Toonumbar are quite possibly part of the course. I can’t see a whole lotta love happening if a long line of Sebastians and Svens in millions of dollars’ worth of horsepower are queued up behind a couple of blokes in a ute towing a tinny to Toonumbar!

There’s one more set of Spring fish colours that almost leave me for words.

School jewfish have that silver metallic hue but if you look a bit deeper, there’s this pearly-purple colour across the flanks that’s really hard to describe.

Put these colours together with those cut-gem scales along the lateral line and the gold around the mouth and it’s hard to think of a more attractive fish, especially if it’s about a metre long and just lobbed in your landing net!

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