John McCutcheon

Prawn mystery keeps fishos guessing

FOUR tonnes of school prawns hauled out of the Clarence River on Monday has Don Mowbray optimistic the Lake Wooloweyah prawn trawl season might soon see a decent catch more than two weeks after the lake opened.

The Clarence River Fishermen's Co-op chair and long-term fisherman said conditions in the lake were perfect for good prawn growth.

"There is nothing wrong with the lake or the system; it's perfect for prawns at the moment and there are a lot of really little prawns in there," he said.

When asked what was responsible for the low numbers of good-sized prawns in the lake, Mr Mowbray hinted at the cooler temperatures and southerly winds experienced recently.

Ultimately, he said, anyone who had a definitive answer to why the prawns weren't plentiful in the lake currently would be a multi-millionaire.

"They have come down the river and there has been quite a few good catches of up to 600kg below the Harwood bridge," he said.

Instead of chasing the schoolies, Mr Mowbray said he decided to focus on a more-guaranteed catch - mullet.

"Because there were no prawns in the lake I changed my operation back to chasing fish," he said.

Professional Fishermen's Association executive officer John Harrison said despite good catches of school prawns in the Clarence River, decent catches had not yet been hauled out of Lake Wooloweyah.

"In the lake there has been basically a zero catch but the pocket netters seem to be catching some good prawns in the river," he said.

Mr Harrison said he could not put his finger on why the prawns had not yet migrated to the lake.

"I have no idea, it's just one of those mysteries of the fishing industry," he said.

"Maybe when the river opens (for trawling) we will see a different situation then but it depends on whether some of the prawns go into the lake."

He said a meeting will be held on October 31 to decide if the river may be opened early for trawling.

The scheduled opening for the river trawl season is November 28.

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