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There’s plenty happening
  |  First Published: June 2010



Plenty has been happening around the traps and there’ll be plenty more going on this month.

As a last flourish to an otherwise restrained Autumn, the coast received an extremely heavy yet mercifully brief deluge in early June.

That east coast low had the lot, with hailstorms, waterspouts and even the tornado which sucked up a fair chunk of downtown Lennox Head and spat out a pile of matchwood, bent roofing iron and fibro fragments. Miraculously, injuries were few and minor.

Evans Head received around 220mm of rain in 30 hours and places on the Alstonville Plateau had close to 280mm in less than 12 hours.

A lot of fish – bream, jewfish, flathead, bass and estuary perch – were still well up-river to around Woodburn but there was enough rain to encourage them to head towards the lower reaches and the estuary fishing around Ballina over the next month or so should be quite good as a result.

As it moved further south and seawards, that low-pressure cell stirred up the ocean a little but sea conditions mostly haven’t been too rough, allowing for plenty of beach fishing and a few reasonable days offshore.

BEACH GOLD

The beaches have produced some golden days, with masses of kilo-plus tailor chasing the white pillies right into the shore break on some days and good numbers of school jew hitting worms and soft plastics at other times.

For those happy to don waders, beanies and warm jackets and brave the night chill, there’s been plenty of fun on the beaches after the sun goes down.

Big tailor have been main attraction on beaches including New Brighton, Seven Mile (north of Lennox), Sharps and Angels (between Lennox and Ballina), Patchs, Airforce, Evans Main and Black Rocks, in Bundjalung National Park.

As usual, the biggest tailor like to hunt in relatively quiet, deep water in dead of night and they just love 20cm-plus strips of fresh or salted bonito. A couple of 5/0 or 6/0 suicide hooks joined by a length of 50lb mono wire with about as much again above the top hook seems to do the job pretty well.

So far there haven’t been many migrating mullet schools observed locally, with itinerant beach netters active to the south and the local crews intercepting around 40 tonnes of Richmond fish on their way to sea. So reports of the big jewies that shadow the travelling mullet have been pretty sparse so far, although there’s still some hope.

Bream are yet to hit their straps along the beaches, too, although this month they should be in numbers if we’re going to see many at all.

Dusky flathead have been migrating along the beaches from one estuary to another, with some nice catches from the sand south of Ballina and all the way down to Woody Head. Soft plastics are a great way to have some fun with these fish, which often can be found only metres from shore in the gutters and holes.

Some Winters seem to be better for the beach flatties and this one seems better than most. It’s also common to pick up these duskies when chasing snapper in 10m to 25m over the patchy inshore reefs and shell beds.

The snapper have started out reasonably well with a few good hits before the big wet came through. Before that there were still some Spanish mackerel lurking about and who knows, this month there might even still be a few hurrying back to warmer waters.

But with growing numbers of reds over the inshore reefs and the prospect of more tasty pearl perch moving into the shallower waters, mackerel will become an afterthought or a very interesting by-catch.

What with the RAAF bombing range controversy, the Evans Head Classic and the big outdoor show at Lismore, the place certainly will be jumping in July!

Facts

STIRRING THE HORNETS’ NEST

With the arrival of a couple of dozen new FA-18 Super Hornet attack aircraft, the RAAF has come up with a plan to shut down around 100 square kilometres of prime fishing grounds off its Evans Head Air Weapons Range – but it’s finally realised it has a fight on its hands.

For some reason the RAAF thinks the new planes need more space to chuck smaller practice bombs and wants to close down up to 7NM seawards of the range. Yet the target area itself is only about 5NM from the Evans CBD…

Anyone who’s ever fished off Evans will tell you that the expanded zone covers practically all of the reef options available for any trailer boats under 6m – and that means most of the fleet of maybe a thousand rec fishing boats which use the area each year. That would spell economic disaster for the tourist town.

There’s also a bit of a backlash against the Defence personnel stationed at Evans, long considered one of the most desirable postings in Australia. Those ‘Evans Head Bombing and Fishing Club’ T-shirts they’ve been seen wearing haven’t exactly won over the hearts and minds of many of the locals.

When the story leaked out, the RAAF was saying nothing officially but Local MP Janelle Saffin, who doesn’t mind wetting a line when possible, took the issue to Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner. Now some RAAF heavyweights have started the PR campaign by promising a review of the range activities and meetings with ‘stakeholders’.

Among those sharpening their stakes will be the Evans Head Marine Management Committee, formed when the National Parks Association wanted much of the same area for a no-fish sanctuary. – TZ

Facts

TOP SHOW

From modest beginnings around 10 years ago, the Lismore 4WD, Caravan, Camping and Marine Show has become one of the best, brightest and biggest outdoor leisure shows outside a metropolitan area.

Organiser Howard Atkinson said the 2010 event, from July 9 to 11 at Lismore Showground, will be a ripper, reflecting the growing popularity of life on and around the water. There’ll be special fishing guests and industry experts and even more variety than last year.

“There’s no other show like it in this area,” he said. “So if people are looking to buy a boat or upgrade their existing one, the Lismore 4WD Caravan Camping and Marine Show is a great opportunity to come and see what is available.

“It’s an outdoor, family leisure show with all kinds of recreational equipment and we’re looking forward to an even bigger fishing and boating exhibition this year.”

The show is proudly presented by Yellow Pages and is a major fundraiser for the Lismore-based Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter – another good reason to head to Lismore and check it out – you’ll be surprised just how good it is. – TZ

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