This column is starting to resemble a weather report. It’s hard to get away from it, though, as over the past 18 months the weather has determined where and what we can fish for.
Three weeks after the devastating floods here on the Northern Rivers, the fishing was just starting to turn around. Good-sized bream, with a few bass mixed in, were being caught from the river mouth to around Maclean.
The Broadwater above Maclean had also started to yield a few good flathead, and then down came another four days of solid rain.
This time of year, the winter run of lizards is usually in full swing but all the fresh has had them pretty sparse. If the rain stays away, August has the potential to be an amazing month for flathead and bream from Browns Rocks through to Lawrence.
We have had poor water quality hanging around since February and as a consequence many bream have suffered from red spot disease.
I am pleased to say that as the flood had pushed a lot of the fish out to sea, the antiseptic qualities of saltwater means they’ve re-entered the river in pretty good health and the number of fish with red spot is on the decline.
The winter run of luderick has started with plenty of good fish being caught around the rocks. The southern end of Woody Head is producing plenty and as the water clears, they will push up river.
Three weeks after the flood some quality fish were being caught as far up as Maclean. The latest small fresh has pushed them back out but by August, they will be on their way back up.
There’s just enough time to race into your local tackle shop to look for a size and pattern of hook that has not been made for years or a brand of line that went out of production in the 1970s, then maybe have a quick three-hour chat on the merits of cedar floats over balsa
The run of tailor that so many tackle shops rely on (myself included) has been all but non-existent this winter.
There is still time to see a late run of fish, with the water cooling and clearing quickly, you get the feeling a large concentration of fish might not be too far away – fingers crossed!
Last August we saw plenty of nice rat kingfish being caught, or at least hooked, from the rock platforms south of the river mouth.
If you like to throw large bloopers for greenback tailor, expect to encounter a few kings. Last season they were 3kg to 6kg and there’s reason to surmise that they’ll be bigger this year.
The ocean off the Clarence coast is still quite warm, around 19°, keeping some of the larger snapper on the wide grounds.
The bait fishers are having the better time of it, with good catches of reds, pearlies and the odd trag coming from the deeper water.
The pick of the inshore grounds lie between Brooms Head and Wooli, as the water down south is much cleaner than around Yamba.
August should see all the close reefs teeming with XOS knobbies just waiting for my soft plastics.
I am hopeful the tally of fish landed to lost can swing back in my favour this time because last season I was dusted too many times.
This month we also see large schools of pearl perch in very close as they come in to spawn. There’s never a better time to tangle with a few of these highly prized table fish on the inshore grounds.
Almost weekly, someone comes up with another method of catching snapper on lures.
Larger vibration blades, octopus-style metal jigs and even lipless crankbaits like Jackalls are taking their share of fish.
I am looking forward to trying another method, a few locals are having some good success using jig heads with the Mumbler-style shaker bibs on them. When slow-rolled over the reef, the early results have been fantastic.
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