Paul Braven

Fishing: Winds and swells rule out offshore fun

RATS! Yet another southerly change looks like spoiling the offshore fun for the weekend warriors - but those still on holidays will reap the mid-week rewards.

Tomorrow and Sunday, winds of 20 knots and more plus swells over two metres will rule out fishing over the inshore reefs which have been alive with a great early-season run of Spanish and spotted mackerel.

These toothy tropical pelagics have been rounding up schools of baitfish from the Black Rock Reef north of Brunswick Heads to the Black Rocks reefs south of Evans Head, and just about all points in between.

Boats out of Ballina have fished Lennox Head, Black Head and Riordans Reef and the Evans Head fleet has been heading up to Riordans or down as far as South Reef.

Unfortunately, a few fishos have been a bit over-enthusiastic, taking more than the bag limit of five spots and/or Spanish per person.

That's an awful lot of fish meat and if you don't have a big enough esky and enough ice to keep them chilled, it's a waste of fish.

In this weather it takes only an hour or so in the sun to turn a magnificent table fish into a bag of smelly mush you couldn't in all honesty give away - nobody wants to eat rotting fish.

If you don't want to carry a big esky, consider buying an insulated fish bag and carrying enough ice to cover the fish you think you'd like to catch and keep. Even if you don't catch anything, at least your drinks will be icy-cold.

Brett at Ballina Bait and Tackle says that as the sea rises, there should be a few decent mulloway caught off the Ballina breakwalls on lures and live bait.

A nice fresh (not "thawed for your convenience") octopus straight from the bait shop or co-op is also a great jewie delicacy.

There is the temptation to downsize the 8/0-10/0 hook to one small enough to catch the often large bream that gnaw on the tentacles. Do so and you'll straighten the smaller hook when the mulloway of your dreams turns up.

The estuaries should be worthwhile this weekend, with flathead, bream and whiting the major quarries and the possibility of a mud crab to add to the seafood banquet.

There's still a bit of colour in the Richmond at low tide but the Brunswick and Evans remain clear and clean.

Yabbies and worms are the best all-round baits at the moment because they will attract whiting and even luderick as well as the bream, flathead and mulloway that take fish flesh or preserved packet prawns.

The neap tides mean there isn't much difference between high and low tides and not a great deal of run, so you can fish with just enough sinker to keep your bait drifting along.

With the bigger swell around over the weekend, the safest places to fish the surf will be in the sheltered corners of the beaches, where bream, whiting and dart will take worms and pipis and perhaps the odd tailor can be caught early and late in the day on lures and fish baits.

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