Winter pretty well winds up around here after a couple of weeks of August, so get out there early if you want to make the most of the cool-weather fishing.
I think last year Evans Head had one 37° August day and we certainly had some afternoon nor’-easters, so it really is a transitional month these days.
Most years it’s pretty dry from here to December, allowing post-spawn bream to move up the estuaries as the mullet and whitebait make the same trek. However, we’ve had quite a humid, overcast Winter so far, meaning we still could be in for a drop or two of rain so the lower-river season could linger a little.
If you’re following those bream further upstream you’ll more than likely still run into plenty of spawn or post-spawn bass and perch but it’ll be another month before you can legally drop one in the livewell or the icebox.
Jewfish should be working their way up the system as well, after some big spawning events on the reefs inshore.
After a pretty dodgy start to the season, blackfish have made a welcome appearance in the Richmond River and by now should be well accustomed to a diet of green and/or black weed.
When they first come into the river they often prefer their cabbage-based diet from the ocean rocks but soon prefer long, thin strands of weed.
Some of the Ballina locals who eagerly await their arrival say this year’s crop are quite late but at least they’ve turned up. One of these days, given the number of greedy grey-headed bucket-fillers dotting the rocks, the fish just might not make it.
It’s all very well to blame the netters on the beaches and in the river, but there are plenty of selfish old coots who think it their right to take 40 blackfish a day, week after week.
Back out on the reefs, snapper breeding should be in full swing.
There have been times over the past month or so when plenty of pre-spawn reds have come right into the shallows, providing ample action on bait and lures.
Off Evans Head, Kahors and South reefs have been very productive, especially when the water is not extremely clear and the moon is not very bright. The broken coffee rock all the way south to Woody Head has also been worthwhile.
Some days the reds have been mostly in the squire category to around 2kg, while at other times there have been unstoppable moments, even on heavy gear. In snaggy shallows, a big red that knows where it’s going and with only a few metres to get there, will almost inevitably win.
Those 10kg-plus reds over sandy bottom in South Australia or New Zealand might be easier to handle but even a 5kg knobby with a bolt-hole close by can bust off just about any tackle.
Early this month the snapper could still be a bit shy after the 24/7 saturation (in good weather) of the Evans Head Classic, but once they settle they should be more prevalent on the gravel beds slightly wider and deeper, where spawning takes place.
The closer grounds off Ballina aren’t as readily visible as the Evans ones, but there’s Pipis Reef east of the bar and Black Head and Lennox Point to the north and the Riordans complex around 5NM about 215° from the bar and a mile off the beach.
All these spots can hold good squire in the cooler months and there’s always the chance of some real quality reds, especially if there’s bait on Riordans.
The beaches should be tapering off a bit now, although there are plenty of people who were still waiting for travelling bream in early July – they’ve been conspicuous by their absence so far. Maybe they’ll turn up now.Reads: 2613