Eye on the temp gauge
  |  First Published: September 2009

Premature strong currents on the wider grounds and some really warm days might indicate the start of an early summer this year.

Mangrove jacks, whiting and flatties are the talking point with most fishos looking forward to this season.

Although we are not quite there yet, these species will definitely be worth a look, especially if that water temperature comes up a few more degrees.

Early-season jacks are usually keen to steal a few lures and the key to catching them is to look for the areas in the river that contain warmer water.

I recall a session last October when a mate and I went out to target jacks and found water of 23° around the Barneys Point bridge.

The fish were there and we managed to land two good-sized jacks from a few bites.

We decided to head out the following morning to try our luck again. The same area we fished previously had water of 21° and after 45 minutes of fruitless casting we decided to relocate.

I ran upstream, watching my temperature gauge, and found 23° water up around Tumbulgum and as we travelled farther up river the water dropped back down to 20°.

‘We wheeled the boat around and started to work the mangrove-lined banks and were rewarded for our efforts with another two jacks on soft plastics.

I learnt a good lesson from this as to just how much the overall body of water moves around in the early season on the Tweed.

Obviously the fish will be very transient as well, following baitfish and other forage species.

Once summer sets in the whole system will settle into a regular pattern and the fish will tend to move around a lot less.

Live-baiting for jacks is a popular technique throughout the year but is very effective on the early-season fish that may still be a bit lethargic. Mullet, whiting and herring are the pick of the live baits.

Herring is a top bait and your hook-up rate increases significantly because of the smaller bait. But the only drawback is that everything else in the system loves herring, too.

This can be very frustrating if you are specifically targeting jacks. Bream can often eat the herring off the hook before it even reaches the bottom.

If you do want to pin a trophy class jack then try to use larger baits.


Flathead should be around in good numbers this month with many of the weed beds throughout the river producing good numbers of these fish.

Trolling minnows around the fringes of the weed beds and along the drop-offs is a good way to catch a few flatties.

This is also a good technique to use to get younger anglers or the inexperienced involved, as all they really have to do is wind in a flattie when it jumps on the lure.

Casting plastics and using flesh or live baits will also account for good numbers of flatties with the odd bream or trevally as by-catch.


The snapper fishing is still going off on the reefs of the Tweed and this month will be no different.

It has been interesting to see how the preferences of these fish seem to have changed.

Many of the guys out there that have been targeting the snapper for a few years now have sworn by the 7” Gulp plastics. They also generally keep a few fish for a feed and then release the others that they catch.

This season it has often been necessary to use a plastic other than a Gulp to get amongst the fish.

We have had numerous sessions when the fish are clearly visible on the sounder and we can’t get a bite on a gulp. A change to an Atomic or a Squidgy has usually resulted in a solid hook-up first drift.

Could the fish be working out these types of things? More likely, it is probably the fact that I am getting old and losing my touch, but it is still an interesting talking point.

The current should be starting to increase on the wider grounds this month, making it a bit of a lottery as to wether you will still be able to catch a feed out wide.

Hopefully the leatherjackets should have left by now, giving us all a bit of respite from getting bitten off every second drop.

On one jigging trip we lost six jigs to the jackets in double-quick time for three kingfish before we decide to move to shallower water.

Jackets are indeed incredible fish but I would hate to fall in the water when they are in feeding mode.

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